The Power of Foods to Kickstart your Health!

I'm reading Dr. Neal Barnard's new book which is the basis for an upcoming Food for Life class series I'll be offering at the PenBay YMCA later this month. Its such a great read that I thought I'd share some of this vital information with you as a lead up to the series.  This book is hot off the press and the classes and recipes are brand new!

In the book Dr. Barnard devotes a section to Complete Nutrition, and smoothes over any concerns regarding not getting enough nutrients by choosing a low-fat, plant-based diet. He talks about the same concerns many people have expressed to me. Where do you get your PROTEIN and CALCIUM if you don't eat meat or dairy??? The book explains in plain english how when we replace animal products with other healthful foods you are not only getting the fiber, vitamins and antioxidants from a nutrient-rich diet but you are eliminating the cholesterol and reducing the fat!  We will be addressing these same topics in the class series as attendees prepare to embark on what might be their first exploration of a plant-based diet.
In the book and in the class we will compare this concept of dieting to other popular diets. One of the studies cited in the book, done by Harvard Researchers who developed the Alternate Healthy Eating Index,  rates the intake of healthful and unhealthful foods in order to rate diets. It turns out that cutting carbs and calories does not improve the healthfulness of a person's diet but switching to a low-fat, plant-based diet does! In fact Index scores improve dramatically when eating a low-fat, plant-based diet.

Where do nutrients such as Protein come from? Dr. Barnard talks about his interview with Dr. Denis Burkitt, who was a pioneer for realizing how important fiber is for the diet, he raises the question of protein. Read on to find Dr. Burkitt's response & Dr. Barnard's own words on protein:
"Neal! Forget about protein!" 
As he pointed out, if you have any normal variety of grains, legumes, vegetables, and fruits, you'll easily get all the protein you need. If you are keen on boosting your protein intake for whatever reason, you'll find plenty of it in beans and bean products, such as tofu, tempeh, soy milk and vegan deli slices.
The section on Complete Nutrition then goes on to discuss Fat. Hands-down most people get too much of it. When I talk about eliminating added fat in the diet there are always those who say "what about healthy fats such as Omega 3's?" We do need some fat in our diets and the book explains this nicely.  Dr. Barnard discusses ALA's and LA's in plant foods vs the saturated fats found in animal products.

When it comes to calcium, "beans and greens" are your best options with Broccoli, Brussels sprouts, kale & collards all being healthy sources which have a higher absorption fraction than milk and dairy products meaning our bodies can more readily use the calcium from these plant sources.  Finally the book talks about the problems associated with sourcing calcium from dairy products even though the "got Milk" campaign would never wish you to know it.  Studies have been done which prove milk-drinking children do not have stronger bones than non-milk drinkers and that older woman who drink milk to not have greater protection from bone fractures (due to osteoporosis) than woman who drink little or no milk.  Also noted, if you get your calcium from milk or dairy, you are missing out on the benefits of beta-carotene, fiber, iron, and other nutrients provided by plant-based sources but you are adding excess FAT and CHOLESTEROL!
In this section we learn that keeping calcium is just as important as getting it! Our bodies eliminate calcium by the minute and the process speeds up with the consumption of animal protein and sodium, which are in milk/dairy products to begin with so avoiding these things will actually help our bones. Something else which helps to keep our bones strong, EXERCISE! Both in children and adults so lets get up and go! On that note, I'll head to the PenBay YMCA for some strength training!
We'll delve in to more from Complete Nutrition and other interesting sections of the 21 Day Kickstart book in the coming few weeks until the KICKSTART series begins. We'll have loaner copies of the book at the series or you may purchase one from me.
Sláinte!

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