-Plant-Based Ultramarathoner Scott Jurek Wins Races on 5,500 calories/day-
"Becoming vegan wasn't like, 'Oh, I can't eat this, I can't eat that.' It brought so many new ways to explore cooking."
-Scott Jurek, Sierra Club Magazine, July/August 2011-
I'm changing it up today with some "Quick Bites"! Nothing too dense or heavy. All topics that caught my eye & interest this week. Take just a taste--or click on the links if you want to know more.
1. Scott Jurek, 37, is a vegan ultramarathoner who's "won the 100-mile Western States Endurance Run seven times. And he does it all on a diet devoid of animal products." He's a former hunter & fisherman, who used to live on double McChicken sandwiches & extra-large fries. A short interview with Scott was featured in the July/August 2011 issue of Sierra Magazine caught my eye. But, click here to learn a whole lot more about Scott: how he deals with restaurants, his favorite foods and footwear, what he thinks about barefoot running, his thoughts about the environment, and why he's a vegan, not a vegetarian.
What made him want to go vegan? The short answer? He switched over to a vegan diet gradually, between 1997-1999 as a way to "gain optimal health".
Can he credit a vegan diet for his wins? Here's what he told Kevin Gray in, "The Power Vegans," published in Men's Journal October, 2010.
"What Jurek realized during his remarkable winning streak is that eating vegan allowed his muscles to heal faster between training sessions, a discovery that in turn allowed him to train more.
'On race day everyone is looking for the magic bullet, but it really comes down to training harder. If you can bounce back faster, you can train more,' said Jurek.
[His] results aren't backed by any significant studies, but his theory is sound. Extreme exercise inflames muscles and builds up free radicals that lead to what's known as exercise-induced oxidative stress.
High-fiber foods like fruits and vegetables are rich in naturally occuring antioxidant vitamins minerals, carotenoids, and flavonoids, which help limit inflammation in [the body, and in the] arteries. Animal fat, on the other hand, is pro-inflammatory..."
For a link to an excerpt in Men's Journal , click here. Just scroll past Michael Douglas' story to get to it~
And don't miss this link to the Men's Journal Guide to Going Vegan that includes the "ground rules", what to expect, a shopping list, and Scott Jurek's recipes, click here.
2. BPA & Canned Food--The Fix. "Canned foods & drinks are a major source of the hormone disrupting chemical BPA, suggests new research. But here's the good news. When study participants SWITCHED FROM CANS TO A DIET OF FRESH FOOD, their BPA levels dropped by 60%." Sierra Club Magazine, July/August 2011. Read the whole article in Environmental Health Perspectives 2011 Mar 30. [Epub ahead of print], right here.
My Best BPA Tip: No time to cook your beans from scratch? No worries. You can still enjoy the convenience of canned beans if you switch to the Eden Organic brand. Not only are the linings of their cans BPA-free, but Eden cooks their beans with KOMBU SEAWEED. So what's the big deal with kombu? When it's added to grains or beans, it makes them more alkaline (a good thing), more tender, more digestibile, adds minerals, and best of all, reduces gas production. No joke--it really works. Try it out for yourself.
3. What convinced my healthy weight-lifting-cyclist friend to switch from an omnivore diet to a plant-based one?
When my friends, the Beas, turned the barbecue they were hosting last Friday night into a vegan burger barbecue I scratched my head! Huh? What's up with that? This couple prefers the real thing--namely, ground beef. Not anymore, I guess. Here's what happened:
- First, Mr. Bea started making Green Smoothies with his new power blender--increasing his vegetable intake.
- A "not so good family health history" was a powerful motivator.
- Then the Bea's saw "Forks Over Knives," which had them on the edge of their seats.
- Days later, through some coincidental serendipitous perfect-timing magic, Mr. Bea's business was asked to assess some storm damage at the Esselstyn's house. Suddenly, he had a face-to-face opportunity to talk to, & question, the experts about the benefits of the plant-based no-oil diet.
- Ann Esselstyn gave Mr. Bea a copy of Dr. Esselstyn's book & some good advice on how to keep his energy high while weight-lifting & working-out.
- Then Mrs. Bea bought Mr. Bea a copy of Rip Esselstyn's Engine 2 Diet--and that's how our Friday night dinner turned into a vegan burger barbecue extraordinaire.
Amazing Vegan Burgers, Grilled Onions, Raisin & Pumpkin Seed Cole Slaw, Fruit Salad, Grilled Vegetables, & Spicy Blue Potato, Roasted Corn Salad Topped with Guacamame
4. New Harvard Study: The top foods for weight loss--and weight gain. When Harvard researchers wanted to figure out why the average person gains about one pound of weight a year, they carefully looked at the data collected from 120,000 nurses & health professionals who have been keeping track of their eating habits for 20 years. Just so you know, this group is mostly white & well-educated. The study was just published last Tuesday in the New England Journal of Medicine.
Mozaffarian, D., "Changes in Diet & Lifestyle and Long-Term Weight Gain in Men & Women" N Engl J Med 2011 Jun 23;364(25):2392-404. Click here for the NPR story.
The researchers knew that the advice "to eat less & exercise more" wasn't doing a thing to keep Americans from gaining weight, so they decided to analyze the foods that people were eating to figure out which ones packed on the pounds--and which ones kept them off.
The Top Foods that Promote Weight Loss:
- Yogurt (This one was the biggest surprise! Why would yogurt hold the top rung as a weight-loss food? The researchers cite "intriguing evidence suggesting that changes in colonic bacteria might influence weight gain."
- Whole grains
- Vegetables--includes beans & soy
The Top Foods that Promote Weight Gain:
- Potato chips
- Potatoes or fries (this category lumped together French fries, mashed, baked, & boiled potatoes--and didn't account for potato "add-ins" like butter, margarine, milk, or cheese)
- Processed meats, like bacon, hot dogs, & deli meats
- Red meat
- Sweets & desserts
- Sugar-sweetened beverages
Looking at the results, it's pretty clear to me why a plant-based, no-added oil, whole grain diet with very little sugar keeps the weight off--although I didn't need a study to tell me that. As you'll see below, all the foods on a nutrient-dense plant-based diet fall into the negative side for weight gain.
Too bad the diet surveys used in this study didn't have the participants to track fats, like oil, mayo, or margarine--they only tracked butter consumption. (at least as far as I could tell from the appendix)
Coincidently, guess what my latest super-fast breakfast fave just happens to be? Unsweetened soy yogurt topped with berries, a couple of walnuts, & a tablespoon of chia seed. What's my go-to yogurt: Plain Wildwood HIgh Fiber Probiotic Soyogurt. So delicious, filling, & apparently, weight-reducing!
This Week's Breakfast Fave: Wildwood Plain Yogurt Topped with Berries, Walnuts, Peaches, & Chia. The New England Journal of Medicine Says It's the #1 Weight Loss Food!
Blog reader, Tom, who does an amazing job of keeping up with all the health news, sent me his "value-added" version of the New England Journal of Medicine's food ranking graph--along with his "easy-to-understand" explanation of why all foods aren't created equal.
Your body has a hard time handling the sugar spike that comes with eating easily-digested high-glycemic foods.
- Damage to your blood vessels
- Developing insulin resistance and eventually Type II diabetes
- Abnormal storage of this excess blood sugar as fats in your fat cells rather than directly burning the sugar in your regular metabolism.
5. The Higher the Dose of Statins, the Higher the Risk of Diabetes--The Reasons are Unclear
"Last year, Lancet published an analysis of major statin trials involving 90,000 patients that showed statin users had a 9 percent higher risk of developing diabetes than those who didn’t take statins. But questions remained about whether the effect was real or something that may have just been due to chance." NYT June 21, 2011
Now, "a just-published meta-analysis of some of the more high-profile statin trials testing the effectiveness of high-dose therapy has revealed a significant increase in the risk of diabetes mellitus associated with statin use in high doses.
Compared with moderate-dose therapy across five statin trials, investigators report that treatment with high-dose statins increased the risk of diabetes by 12%, which translates to a 20 percent overall increased risk of diabetes for high-dose statin users, compared to those who don’t take the drugs, according to the study’s senior author.
Senior investigator Dr Kausik Ray (St George's University of London, UK) said that while there might be consequences from the raised blood glucose levels, researchers do not yet know what these long-term effects mean.
The net benefit of high-dose statin therapy "is definitely in favor" of using the drugs, he said.
'One thing we do know is that there does appear to be a dose effect with statin therapy, with the risk of diabetes mellitus increasing with higher doses,' Ray told Heartwire.
'Statins have multiple effects and cause a number of changes. What we're seeing is probably an off-target effect, and right now we have no obvious mechanisms.
However, lowering LDL-cholesterol levels is probably more important than the increase in blood-sugar levels.'" Excerpted from HeartWire June 21, 2011. Ray, KK, "Risk of incident diabetes with intensive-dose compared with moderate-dose statin therapy: a meta-analysis," JAMA 2011 Jun 22;305(24):2556-64.
So, I'm wondering...
The researchers have no clear explanation for why statins raise the risk of diabetes as the doses go up.
Is it possible that statins aren't to blame for the rise in diabetes risk?
Could it be as simple as the eating & lifestyle habits of high-dose statin-takers.
Do statins make people worry less about what they eat, or how much they exercise--knowing that the statins will easily take care of their cholesterol for them?
Do they think statins will protect them from the negative effects of weight gain, food indulgences, or lack of exercise? Could that account for the increased risk in diabetes as statin doses rise?
A one NYT's commenter confessed: "Perhaps the reason people who take statins are at a slightly higher diabetes risk is because the statin - which has clearly demonstrated its effectiveness in lowering cholesterol levels- may provide one with the mirage of safety when it comes to deciding whether to avoid a food of questionable nutritional value.
I take statins and I know I eat more red meat than I would if I didn't take statins. I might also cheat a bit more on the sugar-based foods as well. Perhaps I should take my head out of the sand!"
6. Are you living with a Plant-Resistant-Person? Wondering how to help them find better health and embrace your plant-based diet? You're not the only one with this predicament. You've got plenty of complany. Be sure to check out this Peas & Thank You blog post with some really down-to-earth advice.
Make My Man Eat Plants! It includes a terrific assortment of recipes for the Plant-Resistant-Person in your life.
My Husband's Not Plant-Resistant, But Boy Did He Love this "Chicken Burger" Recipe
It's sure to please the pickiest plant-resistant-person (based on an old Perdue Chicken Burger favorite of mine)
Makes 5 big burgers--Prep time: 15 minutes
1 pound package of MATCH "Chicken", thawed
1 cup whole wheat Panko crumbs
1/2 cup chopped onion
1/2 cup chopped red pepper
3 TBS. worcestershire sauce (vegan or regular)
1 TBS. dry mustard
1 TBS. Dijon or brown mustard
2 TBS. ketchup
1 1/2 tsp. Bone Suckin' sauce Seasoing & Rub (or another spicy Cajun mix)
1 tsp. curry powder
Feel free to come up with your own spice mix!
Mix all the ingredients together. Form into patties. Spray very lightly with a canola spray to prevent sticking to the grill.
Grill on medium for about 5 minutes on each side--until grill marks appear, and burgers are firm, & look done. Do not overcook.
Top with grilled onions or sprouts, & pass the ketchup. I like to use Alvarado Street Sprouted Burger Buns. Enjoy the leftovers.
Cook's Notes: When you're short on time, this really beats mashing beans, & chopping ingredients to make your own veggie burgers.
A Husband-Pleasing Hearty "Chicken" Burger with Oven-Roasted Potatoes
Check out the July/August 2011 issue of Natural Health for recipes for the "The Best Veggie Burgers in the the U.S". Make 'em at home. pg. 80