Counting the Hairs in Your Hairbrush?
Excuses, Excuses! How about Hair Loss, Some Success Stories, My B-12 Update, My Date-Nut Bathing Suit Diet & Four Articles You Don't Want to Miss?
If you received this post via email, be sure to click here to get to the web version with all the links, and to comment.
You spoke. I listened. One down. Three more to go. Here are the four most requested topics you asked me to write about next. Click here for the complete list.
But, I have so few hours to post much of anything for the rest of July--and all of these are time-intensive posts, if I want to do them right. Excuses. Excuses. The grandson is coming to visit & then it's on to a family vacation.
1. Two cardiologists and one cardiovascular surgeon who decided to follow Esselstyn's plant-based no-oil diet. What's their story, why did they decide to take this route for themselves, and how has it benefited their health.
2. The "Strong Bone" diet. It's not just Vitamin D & Calcium. A summary of three recent articles that spell out the protocol for strong bones--the right nutrients & the questionable supplements.
3. How our gut bacteria work for us: protect us from heart disease, diarrhea, inflammatory bowel disease, obesity, type-2 diabetes, clear out the toxins, & boost our immune system. What kind of a diet promotes a healthy gut microbiota? And what kind doesn't? When do you need to take pre or probiotics? Hint: It's definitely not daily.
4. A presentation by Dr. Mladen Golubic of the Cleveland Clinic Wellness Institute: "Take Control of Your Health: A Proactive Approach to Wellness & Aging" Diet, Exercise & Stress Reduction will make it happen.
Will you accept a substitute today? Hope so.
From My In-Box: Hair Loss & Two Success Stories
As much as I'd like to, I can't always answer all the emails I receive, but after I wrote this long reply to one email this morning, I decided to share it with all of you.
I knew just the source to go to for the answer: Jack Norris, RD & Virginia Messina, MPH, RD, Vegan for Life. Everything You Need to Know to Be Healthy and Fit on a Plant-Based Diet. Philadelphia: Da Capo, 2011.
If you're looking for just one book that will give you knowledgeable research-backed plant-based nutrition information, this is the one.
This morning I answered an email question about hair loss, straight from "Vegan for Life".
Hair loss is a universal concern--no matter what kind of diet you are on. Whether you're a man or a women. A twenty-something or a seventy-something. So, I figured if this reader is concerned, maybe others are, too.
Hey, I can remember counting the hairs in my hairbrush when I was 22 years old, and eating a meat-heavy diet--certain I was going to go bald at the rate I was shedding.
Here's what one reader wrote me:
Dear Healthy Librarian:
I have been following the Esselstyn plan since May of 2011 after seeing him on Dr. Oz.
I even had the pleasure of speaking with him.
My issue was obesity, not so much cholesterol. Although, I haven't been totally strict on this diet, I've lost 32 pounds, already. But, for me a major problem is my hair is falling out. Are you aware of this being a problem with others?? Am I getting enough protein??
Here's what I wrote--rather, here's what I quoted straight from "Vegan for Life":
First congratulations on your weight loss. I have heard from only 2 other people with concerns about hair loss on a plant-based diet--but, the cause is so varied--and so common among women.
Don't know your age---but from menopause on, most women lose some hair because of the loss of estrogen.
Here's what Ginny Messina MPH, RD, a well-respected vegan dietitian, says about hair loss:
"Every so often, we hear from women who believe that they have been losing hair since going vegetarian or vegan. While there are no studies of this issue in vegans, there is research on general nutrition factors and hair loss.
Reasons for hair loss vary among individuals, and they are not necessarily related to diet. About 1/3 of all younger (premenopausal) women experience some hair loss at one time or another (and the vast majority of these women are not vegan). And it is an unavoidable fact of life that hair thins as we age. Women going through menopause may notice a significant thinning of their hair.
Hair loss can be associated with certain medical conditions, including thyroid problems, so if you are convinced that you are losing hair at an unusual rate, it's important to see a physician. Sometimes a dermatologist can diagnose the problem.
Rapid weight loss can cause an increase in hair loss, and the hair growth should return to normal after the weight loss ceases. Women who become vegan sometimes initially lose weight quickly and this might account for the hair loss.
At one time, there was a widespread belief that zinc deficiency was a common cause of hair loss, but zinc supplementation has not been shown to help. Some studies have linked low iron status to hair loss in women, and it is possible that iron levels that are at the lower end of normal may not support optimal hair growth.
The essential amino acid L-lysine plays a part in the absorption of iron and zinc, and vegans who don't eat many legumes could find themselves falling short on lysine. (H.L.'s recommendation: Head straight over to Jack Norris' most excellent page on protein and lysine--with his chart on the lysine content of common foods.)
Iron supplementation alone doesn't always increase iron stores. But in one study, iron supplementation plus a supplement of 1/5 to 2 grams per day of L-lysine increased iron stores and decreased hair loss by half.
Other supplements, like excessive intakes of vitamin E & folic acid, can adversely affect hair growth. (Rushton, DH "Nutritional Factors and Hair Loss," Clinical and Experimental Dermatology 27(5):396-404, 2002.)
Finally, women who feel they are losing hair may choose to shampoo less frequently in the belief that this will preserve their hair. This hasn't been shown to prevent hair loss. In fact, since everyone loses some hair on a daily basis, if you shampoo less often, you'll see more hair in the tub each time you shampoo, which may convince you that your are losing more hair.
If you believe you are losing more hair than usual, be sure to consider other factors first. If you've recently lost weight, gone through menopause, are shampooing less often, are dealing with increased stress, or have been taking supplements of vitamin E or folic acid, any of those might be the culprit.
If you think diet might be the cause, you may want to have your iron levels measured."
This comes from: Jack Norris, RD & Virginia Messina, MPH, RD. Vegan for Life. Everything You Need to Know to be Healthy and Fit on a Plant-Based Diet, pg. 80-81. Philadelphia: Da Capo Press, 2011.
Hope this helps!
The Healthy Librarian
Just Eat Your Beans! More About the Lysine-Protein Connection
"The most important thing to be aware of regarding protein in vegan diets is that you need to get enough of the amino acid lysine.
Protein is important for maintaining muscle and bone mass, for keeping the immune system strong, and to prevent fatigue.
[L]et's just cut to the chase - the RDA for lysine is more important than for protein. If you meet lysine requirements on a vegan diet, you will most likely meet protein requirements.
There is evidence that people over 60 should be eating well above the RDA for protein to prevent muscle and bone loss.
Legumes are the foods highest in the amino acid lysine. Tofu, tempeh, and soy meats are the highest, followed by other legume foods.
Other than legumes, quinoa and pistachios are decent sources of lysine."
-Jack Norris is a registered dietitian, who provides research-based nutrition advice on his blog, JackNorrisRD.com, as well as authoring a web-based nutrition resource VeganHealth.org. He is the co-author of "Vegan for Life: Everything You Need to Know to Be Healthy and Fit on a Plant-Based Diet"
Do you want to read more about the whole plant protein/lysine connection? Read this extensive post I wrote in April 2011:
Two Readers' Success Stories
Dear Healthy Librarian,
I had my cholesterol checked after following your recommended plant-strong, nutrient-dense vegan diet whole-heartedly for 5 months.
My total cholesterol dropped 54 points - now at 204, HDL-66, LDL-126 (down 23%), triglycerides-60. All of my ratios are in the "ideal" rangeI lost 8 pounds "effortlessly" and love the new size 6 clothes that I "have" to buy!
I've been reading your blog for many years and appreciate the wealth of knowledge you have shared so generously.
You changed my life and I am very grateful.
All the best,
Hi! Just had a wonderful weekend due mostly to my cholesterol results!
I am 42 years old, and weighed 130 lbs. When my numbers jumped from 207 to 256 this past spring, my Dr. started talking statins.
I had just read about your plant-based - cholesterol-lowering adventures and I just "finagled" with my Doc's nurse to get permission to try this before acquiescing to his drugs.
Four short weeks later of doing the "Esselstyn/Health Librarian diet" as we called it here at home, it dropped to a beautiful 145! I have been sooo relieved... so on cloud 9.... and lost 12 pounds to boot!
I cannot thank you enough for your blogging!
Because the nurse seemed so intrigued about the whole matter, I dropped her (& the Doc) a "lookee-lookee/celebratory" email note thru the MyChart system - I just didn't want something this monumental to slip past their radar-
The nurse called me back to re-ask the details... Gave her (again) the brief Esselstyn scoop and your blogsite. I told her you were like a total stranger cheering me on - just not knowing it! (I also told her to TELL folks about this option!)
And truly u were quite my cheerleader! I thank God for finding your site.
I hope u keep up the amazing job you're doing. I love the candor in your posts and the excellence in the links. I feel like reading your blog is never a waste of time.
My B-12 Follow-Up Advice from "The Expert"
If you recall, last month I posted about my over-the-range B-12 test results.
I asked a B-12 researcher for advice. Should I cut down, or not worry about it?
Here's what he told him--rather technical info:
For my personal situation only (please consult your own physician)--"Stick with methylcobalamin rather than switching to cyanocobalamin. Methylcobalamin is a natural form of B12 and serves as a coenzyme for B12-dependent methionine synthase. Drop back to 3 times a week." He also wanted to know who manufactures the B-12 I was using. I haven't followed up on that yet. But, I will.
Two possible explanations for the high B-12:
- You have high levels of the 2 serum cobalamin-binding proteins, transcobalamin and haptocorrin. Because of your near daily intake of 1,000 µg of methylcobalamin (MeCbl), transcobalamin and haptocorrin are likely to be fully saturated with B12
- Your levels of transcobalamin and haptocorrin are lower (and fully saturated with B12) and you have free MeCbl in your serum.
Free cobalamin (B-12) in circulation is usually excreted in the urine. But since your intake of supplemental MeCbl (methylcobalamin) is high, it is likely that you probably have some free Cbl in your serum. The assay for total serum B12 will measure both protein-bound B12 and free B12.
Because B12 is a water soluble B-complex vitamin, it is considered to be non-toxic.
Just to refresh your memories, here's what I wrote about my test results:
About That High B-12 Test?
If you're eating a vegan diet you need to take a vitamin B-12 supplement. The amount in a multivitamin isn't enough. The amount in nutritional yeast or enriched non-dairy milk, is not enough. You need a supplement. No ifs, ands, or buts.
A prominent vitamin B-12 researcher advised Dr. Esselstyn early on to recommend a dose of 1000 mcg of vitamin B-12 to anyone who is following his plant-based diet. So that's what I take. I used to remember to take one about 3 times a week, but once I started to leave the bottle in my car I remembered to take one every day.
There are plenty of good reasons to take B-12, even if you aren't planted-based, especially if you're over age 50. Preventing dementia & brain shrinkage are two pretty good reasons, for starters. I've written a lot on this subject, so if you want a quickie review on who should take vitamin B-12 & why, click here and here.
Last December 2011 I was fortunate enough to hear Dr. Donald Jacobsen of the Cleveland Clinic interviewed on Dr. Ronald Hoffman's radio show--and here's what he had to say:
1. All vegans need to take 1000 mcg of B-12 a day in the form of cobalamin, methylcobalamin is not necessary.
2. Take it sublingually for the most absorption. It's a safe vitamin & you cannot take in too much--any extra is excreted in the urine.
3. We only absorb 10% of B-12--which gives an actual net dose of 10 mcg.
4. B-12 taken intramuscularly is not necessary & that's been proven with research studies.
5. For the most accurate test of B-12 deficiency Jacobsen recommends the MMA (methylmelanic acid test). Note: results are inaccurate in the presence of kidney disease.
6. Jacobsen says the common Serum B-12 test is not an accurate measure because of the way B-12 binds to proteins in the blood. It can say you're level is normal, when it is not.
7. A newer B-12 test, the Holotranscobalamin Test may be a good choice--but, more research is needed. You can listen to the interview here--just 17 minutes long.http://podcast.wor710.com/wor/3231275.mp3
Turns out my hospital's lab doesn't use the MMA (methylmelanic acid test) that is recommended as the most accurate way to assess vitamin B-12 levels. Oh, well, I've got to make due with less than perfect testing, which casts some doubt on my over-the-top test results.
The hosptial uses the common serum B-12 test--so honestly, I have no idea if I need to cut back my daily dose or not. I feel fine, and according to vegan dietitian Jack Norris, if you're regularly supplementing with B-12, and you're not experiencing any symptoms, like fatigue or tingling--don't even bother getting tested in the first place--the test results are just not that accurate, in the first place. According to Norris, if you're supplementing--assume you're OK. Too bad I found that out after my test. To read more about B-12 from Jack Norris, click here.
My Date-Nut Bathing Suit Diet
Flat Bellies at 25 are Easy (me & my husband on the left) - I'm Getting Close to Revisiting It at 62
My whole family is heading to a beach vacation in a few weeks.
With all the traveling I've been doing since April 1, I haven't time to be as regular as usual with my exercise workouts. Less exercise, plus eating too many dates, too many walnuts, & using cashews in recipes? It all adds up to gaining a few extra pounds.
That's why I'm going back to Esselstyn basics. I don't care what the medical journals might say--there is no doubt in my mind that eating nuts will put on the pounds. Dates, too.
If you haven't read Jeff Novick, RD's eye-opening piece on "A Date with Disaster: The Pleasure Trap of Whole Natural Foods" 6/27/12, read it now. HERE.
Unless you're exercising like Scott Jurek or the Lab Rat--and most of us aren't--or you're one of the lucky few who have a hard time keeping weight on: Just Ditch the Dates & Nuts Now, if you want to look good in a bathing suit, among other reasons.
Take my advice: If you want to avoid eating nuts or dates--KEEP THEM OUT OF YOUR KITCHEN!!
Four Important/Useful Links You May Have Missed If You Don't Read Me on Facebook
1. Dr. McDougall's List of Canned & Packaged Foods for plant-based diet. Thanks to KC for sharing this.
2. What's wrong with Gary Taubes' research? You be the judge! Taubes launched his career in 2002 as a journalist-quasi-nutrition-expert by blasting low-fat diets, and advocating a high-protein low-carb diet as the best route to weight loss & health. His career set sail with his New York Times Magazine article: "What If It's All Been a Big Fat Lie?"
Taubes was recently back in the news, big-time, with his latest opinion piece in the Sunday New York Times Review section with, "What Really Makes Us Fat". In response to Taubes' pontificating, I present you with Bonnie Liebman's original Taubes rebuttal (2002), "Big Fat Lies" ( go to this address if the link doesn't open: http://www.cspinet.org/nah/11_02/bigfatlies.pdf Don't Miss This! ) and Sally Squires' 2002 article in the Washington Post, "Experts Declare Story Low on Saturated Facts". Turns out, Taubes totally twisted the words of the physicians & researchers he consulted for his original career-launching NYT article. Shameful journalism.
3. Got Milk? You Don't Need It! by Mark Bittman in the New York Times, July 7, 2012. At last count, 771 comments! Hands down the most balanced rational convincing argument I've ever read about what's wrong with milk. Read it. Go, Bittman!
4. Has "Organic" Been Over-Sized? by Stephanie Strom in the New York Times, July 7, 2012.
There you have it!
Expect slim blog & FB pickins' until August--but check back--you never know when I'll get some free "posting-minutes".
Can't wait to play with the grandkids--and the grown-up kids, too.