Lose weight and live longer on a vegetarian diet.? From the Harvard Medical School Health Guides
There is a lot of attention being paid to switching to a plant-based diet. There are many published articles on plant-based diets to achieve a lower body mass index, lower blood pressure, and reduced risks for heart disease, diabetes type 2, cancer, and longevity. Plenty of attention is being paid to the health benefits of those centenarians living in the Blue Zones, particularly ones that live with a vegan diet as well as those with a modified vegetarian approach.
The predominant American Blue Zone is represented by the Seventh – Day Adventists in Loma Linda, California. “The first Adventist Health Study (AHS-1) was funded by the National Institutes of Health followed 34,000 Adventists in California for 14 years. It was found that the Adventists who most strictly followed the religions’ teachings lived about 10 years longer than people who did not.
The practices most likely to yield that longevity were narrowed down to five, each adding about two years to life expectancy.” Dan Buettner, The Blue Zones Solution: Eating and Living Like the World’s Healthiest People. 2015
Eating a plant-based diet with only small amounts of dairy or fish
Maintaining a medium body weight
Eating a handful of nuts four to five times a week
Doing regular physical activity
A flexitarian diet – meat is limited as a condiment and not considered the main attraction. Use vegetables, appetizers instead.
Semi vegetarian diet (no red meat)
Pescetarian – avoid meat and poultry but eat fish and seafood.
Lacto -ovo -vegetarian – skip all meat, fish, and poultry but include dairy and eggs in your diet.
If you’re trying to lose weight -go heavy on fruits, vegetables, and whole grains but limit foods high in saturated fats (ice cream, whole milk, and cheese.)
An important aspect of losing weight is often not what you eat – but how much you eat to keep daily calories in check.
“Our meals and snacks are taking on gargantuan proportions. The food industry decided they had to make portions larger to stay competitive and people got used to larger sizes very quickly. Today, normal sizes seem skimpy,” says Marion Nestle,PhD, MPH, Professor of Nutrition and Food Studies at New York University.
When eating out, the transition to a plant-based diet is easier than thought. Fill your plate with vegetables – cooked, raw, or in a salad. Check out the sides that are offered. Then gradually introduce all vegetarian meals once or twice a week and if you like, increase it until you are as “vegan” as you want to be.
“The DASH Diet (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) has generally come in right near the top in U.S. News and World Report’s annual best diet rankings.” Mark Bittman, David L.Katz, M.D. How to Eat: All Your Food and Diet Questions Answered. 2020.
The 1950’s brought a renewed hope for the country after two decades of Depression and War. However, food historians deplore the state of the cuisine during this period – it mainly consisted of processed foods which many blame for this anti-gastronomic desert. In addition, the rise of the fast food industry, i.e. hamburger chains that sprouted up along side the newly build national highway system did not offer any better fare. Freeing Mom from the kitchen seemed to be the dominant theme as appliances and prepared foods became the ‘norm”.
After WWII, America’s economy boomed, women entered the workforce as never before and food got a little strange. Housewives spent less time in the kitchen, so food companies came to the rescue with a buffet of processed foods. Foods were purchased in a can, package or pouch. Soups were available as liquids or in dry form. Tang landed on supermarket shelves and frozen dinners laid on trays in front of TV sets. TV dinners were introduced in 1953 by Swanson and with a flick of a wrist you could turn back the foil to display turkey in gravy, dressing, sweet potatoes and peas ready in about 30 minutes – all with no dishes to wash.
Better Living Through Chemistry
“Better Living through Chemistry” was the slogan of the times along with “I like Ike” referring to the popular Dwight D. Eisenhower, the 5-star general from WWII winning the U.S presidency from 1953 to 1961. This change in processing came from the demand of the Army during WWII to provide needed ready-to-eat meals. The food industry responded by ramping up new technologies in canning and freeze-drying to feed the troops. The marketing of these foods presented a challenge, however. At first, many of them were less than palatable, so food companies hired home economists to develop fancy recipes and flooded magazines, newspapers and TV with ads to broadcast their virtues. Actually the first cake mix was available in 1931, but was met with disdain due to the use of dehydrated eggs, e.g. Women later would respond more favorably if they could crack their own eggs into the batter so they would feel like they were doing something positive in the kitchen.
People rushed to buy appliances, houses, cars, dishwashers, washing machines, dryers and backyard barbecue grills and new home freezers. They also bought television sets in record numbers and watched shows that represented their new idealized lives like Ozzie and Harriet and Leave It to Beaver. Beaver’s mother, June Cleaver was depicted as a housewife freed from household chores and often was serene and perfectly dressed with pearls and high heels pushing a vacuum cleaner and putting meals on the family table, all before solving the family problems.
Fast Food Nation
The birth rate soared and created what is known as the Baby Boomer Generation. Fifty million babies were born from 1945 to 1960. Food marketing shifted to kids with Tony the Tiger and fish sticks leading the campaign. Fast food had its beginnings strengthened in 1955 when Ray Kroc bought a hamburger stand from the McDonald’s brothers in San Bernadino, California. Disneyland opened in 1955 and was so popular they ran out of food on the first day.
The Seven Countries Study
In 1958, the American scientist, Ancel Keys started a study called the Seven Countries Study, which attempted to establish the association between diet and cardiovascular disease in different countries. The study results indicated that in the countries where fat consumption was the highest also had the most heart disease. This suggested the idea that dietary fat caused heart disease. He initially studied 22 countries, but reported on only seven: Finland, Greece, Italy, Japan, The Netherlands, United States, and Yugoslavia.
The problem was that he left out:
Countries where people eat a lot of fat but have little heart disease, such as Holland and Norway and France.
Countries where fat consumption is low but the rate of heart disease is high, such as Chile.
Basically, he only used data from the countries that supported his theory. This flawed observational study gained massive media attention and had a major influence on the dietary guidelines of the next few decades, i.e. cut the fat out of our diets.
The First Artificial Sweetener
In the diet world, Saccharin was manufactured in granules and became a popular sugar substitute for dieters. It was first produced in 1878 by a chemist at Johns Hopkins University, but became popular after sugar shortages in WWI and WWII. In the United States, saccharin is often found in restaurants in pink packets as “Sweet’n Low”. It was banned later but it remains on the market today. The basis for the proposed ban was a study that documented an increase in cancer in rats being fed saccharin. The “Delaney clause” of the Food Additive Amendments to the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act states that no substance can be deemed safe if it causes cancer in humans or animals. In suspending the proposed saccharin ban, Congress ordered that products containing the popular sweetener must carry a warning about its potential to cause cancer. The FDA formally lifted its proposal to ban the sweetener in 1991 based on new studies, and the requirement for a label warning was eliminated by the Saccharin Notice Repeal Act in 1996.
1951 I Love Lucy debuts on CBS.
1952 The Lipton food company rolls out its dehydrated onion soup that will earn it fame as a base for onion soup mix: 2 envelopes of mix plus 1 cup of sour cream. Lipton eventually prints the recipe, “California Dip” on the package.
1953 Eggo Frozen Waffles are introduced.
1954 Employee Gerry Thomas from the C.A. Swanson Co, has an idea (although fellow workers nearly laughed him out of the Omaha plant): package the left-over turkey, along with some dressing, gravy, cornbread, peas and sweet potatoes into a partitioned metal tray, sell it frozen, and consumers could heat it up for dinner. His name for the leftover meal: TV Dinner.
1954 The first Burger King opens in Miami. A burger is 18 cents, as is a milkshake. The Whopper is introduced in 1957 and sells for 37 cents.
1955 Milkshake-machine salesman, Roy Kroc tries to persuade Dick and Mac McDonald (owner of the original McDonalds in California) to franchise their concept. They aren’t interested but tell Kroc to go ahead and try his hand. Kroc opens his first restaurant in Des Plains, ILL., and eventually buys out the McDonalds.
1956 Jif Peanut Butter is introduced.
1956 More than 80 percent of U.S. households have refrigerators. By contrast, only 8 percent of British households have refrigerators.
1957 Better Homes and Gardens prints its first microwave-cooking article.
1957 Margarine sales take the lead over butter.
1958 Eighteen- year-old Frank Carney sees a story in the Saturday Evening Post about the pizza fad among teenagers and college students. With $600 borrowed from his mother, he and his fellow Wichita State classmate, opens the first Pizza Hut in Wichita, KS.
As many as 95% of Americans are not getting enough fiber. Even though fiber is super important for gut health, new research suggests that without adequate fiber, you may be increasing your risk for dementia. According to the author of a recent study, “one possibiity is that soluble fiber regulates the composition of gut bacteria (microbiome). This composition may reflect neuroinflammation, which plays a role in the onset of dementia.” Soluble fiber is found in foods such as oats, legumes, apples, carrots, and citrus fruits. Unless you like statistics, skip them.
Greater Cruciferous Vegetable Intake Associated with less Aortic Calcification
“Aortic calcification, also known as aortic valve calcification (or sclerosis) is a condition where large calcium deposits get accumulated in the aorta of the heart. These calcium deposits can cause the opening of the aortic valve to become narrow and reduce the flow of blood to the heart resulting in chest pain and heart attack.”
“Aorta – the main artery of the body, supplying oxygenated blood to the circulatory system. In humans. “
A study published in the British Journal of Nutrition showed an association between an increased intake of Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, and other cruciferous vegetables and less extensive abdominal aortic calcification (AAC defined above) in older women. The study population included 684 women with a mean age of 75 who previously had enrolled in the Calcium Intake Fracture Outcome Study (1998) conducted at the University of Western Australia. Diet intake questionnaires were given to participants and calcification detected as extensive or not extensive was determined by imaging techniques.
A correlation was observed between greater cruciferous vegetable intake and a reduction of AAC. Women whose intake of the vegetables was more than 44.6 grams a day (equivalent of 1/4 cup of steamed broccoli or 1/2 cup of raw cabbage had a 46% lowered adjusted risk of extensive AAC, compared to those whose intake was less than 15 grams a day. Total vegetable intake, including other types of vegetables, was not related with risk.
Interestingly, cruciferous vegetables have had positive results with lessening disease risk not only in heart calcification but in cancer prevention. Vegetables in this family not only include broccoli, cabbage and cauliflower, but bok choy, kale, kolrabi, and Swiss chard. These vegetables are excellent sources of a family of anticancer phytochemicals called isothocynates that fight cancer by neutralizing carcinogens.
Broccoli also contains high levels of a phytochemical called sulforaphane. Sulforaphane increases the activation of enzymes known as phase-2 enzymes, which help fight carcinogens. According to the Department of Urology at Stanford University published in Cancer Epidemiology Biomarkers and Prevention, sulforaphane is the most potent inducer of phase-2 enzymes of any phytochemical known to date.
SOURCE: Life Extension, February, 2021
Bowden, Jonny, Ph.D., C.N.S. The 150 Healthiest Foods on Earth, 2007
HARVARD STUDY: EATING WALNUTS MAY EXTEND YOUR LIFE
By Michael Downey
Walnuts once had a bad rap because they have a high calorie and fat content. However, recently it has been found that these assumptions are false. These nuts are packed with healthy fats, vitamins, antioxidants, protein, fiber, and trace minerals. These nuts also have a small amount of sodium, are free of cholesterol, and contain polyunsaturated or good fats.
“Walnuts provide an array of health benefits shown by an observational study that spanned almost 20 years of follow-up data. The study was published in the journal, Nutrients in 2021. Compared to people who never ate walnuts, people who consumed five one ounce serving of walnuts per week resulting in an approximate 1.3 year increase in life expectancy for 60 –year olds and:
A 14% lower risk of death from any cause
A 25% lower risk of dying from cardiovascular disease”.
Walnuts contain healthy fats, fiber and other nutrients. One ounce contains 4 grams of protein, 2 grams of fiber, and 45 mg of the mineral magnesium. They also contain ALA
(alpha – linolenic acid, an omega-3 found in plants. ALA may improve blood lipids as well as the function of endothelial cells that line the arteries. ALA is also associated with a lower risk of oxidative stress.
Walnuts are believed to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease since regular intake is associated with blood pressure reduction. Also, regular intake can reduce blood levels of LDL, triglycerides which that increase heart disease risk. A clinical trial of healthy adults between 63 and 79 years old showed that eating about two ounces of walnuts daily for two years.
Help Controlling Diabetes
Type 2 diabetes has the potential for complications that include: heart disease, chronic kidney disease, nerve damage, vision problems and cognitive impairment. Some studies have shown that walnuts may help lower blood glucose and help to reduce these health risks. A human trial showed that consumption of walnut oil daily for three months lowered blood sugar levels and three-month HbA1c glycemic control. Fasting blood glucose should be <85mg/dL and a A1c less than 5.0%.
Lab and animal studies indicate that walnuts reduce oxidative damage and inflammation in brain cells. In an animal model of Alzheimer’s disease, mice were fed walnuts for 10 months and when compared to mice fed no walnuts, showed improvements in memory-learning ability.
Other studies found in Parkinson’s, depression, or stroke, walnuts lowered the progression of these diseases.
Try to use walnuts on salads and as snacks by the handful.
Source: Life Extension: The Science of a Healthier Life, April 2022.
“There’s been a lot of buzz recently about the need to eat probiotics — -living microorganisms found in foods such as yogurt and fermented vegetables. Probiotics add to your gut microbiota, the collection of 100 trillion or so bacteria and other critters living in your gut. Having a healthy microbiota may help foster a healthy immune system and reduce damaging inflammation in the body. Eating probiotics regularly may also help to prevent the intestinal environment from being overrun by unhealthy bacteria, which have been linked to everything from mood disorders and obesity to diabetes and neurodegenerative diseases.”
How to Feed your Microbiome
Aim to maximize gut microbial diversity (a good thing) by maximizing regular intake of naturally fermented foods and probiotics.
Reduce the inflammatory potential of your gut microbiota by: Cutting down on animal fat in your diet. Try to increase your intake of omega-3 fats and cutting down on omega-6 fats.
Highlights of the Mediterranean diet – source Life Extension, Dec. 2021 Michael Ozner, MD
In thousands of studies, the Med diet has been reported to be one of the best lifestyle strategies for extending longevity and avoiding the common disorders of aging, including heart disease and cancer.
In 1990s, the first Mediterranean Pyramid was created by a non-profit group called the Oldways Preservation Trust, in cooperation with the Harvard School of Public Health and the World Health Organization. It was based on food patterns seen in the Mediterranean island including Greece (especially the island of Crete and southern Italy in the 1960’s.
A clinical trial showed that those who adhered most closely to a traditional Med diet appeared less likely to suffer sudden cardiac death than those who at least had a better chance of healthy aging, defined as living to 70 years or older with no major physical or mental impairments. For more diet details, search this blog key words: Mediterranean Diet.
Components of the Med Diet to show proven health benefits:
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Omega-3 Fatty acids
Vegetables and fruits
Clinical trials and observational studies have found particularly strong evidence that the Med Diet protects the heart and lowers the risk of heart attacks, strokes, and cardiovascular death.
However, this diet pattern is beginning to show that the diet can reduce the risk for other chronic diseases associated with aging.
A meta analysis of 50 studies including nearly 535 people found that following the Med Diet was associated with a reduced risk of metabolic syndrome. The metabolic syndrome is a cluster of symptoms associated with heart disease that include:
Decreased HDL (“good cholesterol”)
Increased waist circumference
Increased blood pressure
High glucose levels
Increased triglyceride levels
Diabetes type 2
Another study of subjects with a high cardiovascular risk showed that a Med Diet compared to a low fat diet reduced the risk of developing diabetes type 2 by 52% .
In a study lasting four years, in patients showing no signs of dementia at baseline, greater adherence to the Med Diet was associated with a significant reduction in risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease.
In a meta-analysis of 83 studies that included 2, 130, 753 subjects, the highest adherence to a Med diet was associated with the lowest rates of many cancers, including colon, breast, stomach, liver, and prostate and a lowest risk of cancer mortality. The diet’s benefits were attributed to a higher intake of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, i.e. a plant based diet.
Several studies have specifically shown that the Med Diet increases longevity.
One study analyzed the diets of 10,670 women in mid-life with a median age of 59 years. Greater adherence to the Med Diet was related to 46% greater odds of surviving to 70 years or older with no major impairments in physical function or mental health.
Another study of adults 65 and over also found that closer adherence to the Med Diet was associated with prolonged survival. Many components of the Med Diet including omega-3 fatty acids from fish oil and polyphenols from fruits and vegetables have been shown to reduce chronic inflammation. Be sure and search Food, Facts, and Fads for diet and disease as well as the Mediterranean diet for more details about this powerful diet and its benefits.