Category: Diet and Food Choices
Researchers Study Vegan Diet and Overall Health Issues
Vegan Diet Found to Improve Blood Sugar Levels in People With Diabetes
Researchers at the Department of Medicine, George Washington University School of Medicine, Washington, DC studied dieters who lead a strict vegan diet to determine whether this lifestyle could improve glycemic control and cardiovascular factors with a benefit for people who suffer from diabetes.
The vegan diet in the study consisted of vegetables, fruits, grains, and legumes. The participants were instructed to avoid food items which consisted of animal products and added fats and to favor low–glycemic index foods, such as beans and green vegetables. During the research study, portion sizes were not restricted nor were carbohydrate intake levels.
To combat the vitamin B12 deficiency that can result from a strict vegan diet, participants were asked to take a vitamin B12 supplement every two days.
The results of the twenty-two week study showed that a low-fat vegan diet and a diet following ADA guidelines improved glycemic control and helped to control blood sugar in patients who suffered from diabetes. Overweight women benefited from the vegan diet lifestyle with weight loss and increased insulin sensitivity.
Critics of Vegan Diet
Critics of vegan dieting state that if not managed properly, vegans can starve their body of important nutrients such as a vitamin B12 and protein. But if managed properly, a vegan diet can result in dramatic weight loss. It is important, however, that before embarking on a strict vegan diet, people learn more about a vegan lifestyle.
Woman Switches to Raw Diet and Loses More Than Half Her Body Weight
Angela Stokes was only thirty years old but weighed over three hundred pounds due to an under active thyroid problem. One day, a friend gave her a book about raw vegan dieting and her life changed. Now, nearly four years later, Stokes weighs less than one hundred forty pounds and has kept her excess weight off. She feels better and comments that her health has improved dramatically.
Stokes stated that eating raw food just makes sense and it is simple plus natural. It is easy to get started and takes no special skills. "Once you understand the simple principal that no other animal in the wild eats cooked or processed foods. That's it."
Results of a Vegan Diet Can Vary
Some researchers comment that a raw vegan diet is too extreme and can lead to vitamin and protein deficiencies. And although researchers differ on the results of a vegan diet, Ms. Stokes is an interesting case study. Upon learning about the vegan lifestyle, she immediately changed her diet and began eating raw foods and within one year had lost over one hundred and sixty pounds.
Stokes does recommend now, however, that people embark on a vegan diet as quickly as she did. Stokes went cold turkey, but she recommends people start at fifty percent raw vegan diet, then take it slowly from there. She admits that the change in lifestyle can be challenging at times and recommends their start by eating things like spinach, peaches or plums. By starting slowly, then over time incorporating a stricter vegan diet into a lifestyle, it can be more easily adapted. Also, Ms. Stokes recommends that people connect with other vegans to help build a support network of people who also share the same vegan lifestyle.
Stokes was never an overweight child, but as she aged her weight increased leaving her feeling tired, unwell and miserable. Nearly six years later, she feels healthy and in charge of her life. Her diet consists of vegetables and fruits in an unheated, unprocessed condition. She admits that she often gets asked if her diet consists of sushi, and Ms. Stokes acknowledges that no – her diet does not consist of only sushi but rather a healthy combination of raw fruits and vegetables.
Consult a Professional
As with any major lifestyle or health change, if you or a loved one is considering a vegan diet for weight loss, it is recommended that a licensed dietician of physician be consulted.
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Is Milk Nutritional?
By consuming a small amount of low fat or skim milk daily, a level of protection is launched against a host of health problems, according to a new study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. Researchers break ground by reporting that adults who had at minimum one serving of low fat or other milk products daily had a thirty-seven percent smaller chance of insufficient kidney function linked to heart disease in comparison to individuals who drank none.
Soy Instead of Cow's Milk?
Cow's milk is often used as the benchmark for most existing nutritional recommendations. Conversely, non-dairy milk emerged later and, on many occasions, is fortified with additional nutritional vitamins and minerals that were produced later in an effort to escalate their nutritional value so that they are similar to the nutritional value of cow's milk. And without fortified vitamin and mineral add-ons, soy is below the nourishment that cow's milk delivers. Although lacking the default nutrients cow's milk provides in nature, soy milk does contain almost identical group of nutrients. Vegans, which is a dietary practice in which an individual omits animal products from their diet, need to be sure that they include a source of vitamin B12 in their menu or as a supplement because otherwise without cow's milk, a vegan could have difficulty getting a sufficient level of vitamin B12 in their diet, which can be harmful.
Nutritional Benefits of Soy Milk
There are great nutritional and health benefits of soy milk. Soy provides a well-balanced nutritional equilibrium. Soy delivers balanced nutrition through high-quality protein and carbohydrates and is also low in fat with no cholesterol with the added benefit of being low in saturated fat. With soy milk and many other soy foods packing so many health benefits, researchers say that cultivating soybeans could well be an increasingly popular use of land to combat food shortages.
Cow's Milk May Reduce Chances of Heart Disease
Single-handedly, cow's milk is a rich, health-giving food. Skim and low fat do not consist of high fat content and is believed to be extremely nutritious. A recent international study indicated that by drinking low fat or skim everyday, people may lower their chance of developing heart disease.
To determine the chance of developing heart disease, researchers from multiple universities in the United States and Norway calculated the kidney function of more than five thousand individuals who are within the age range of forty-five to eighty-four years old. They tracked consumption habits and tested albumin-to-creatinine ratio (ACR) ? a grade that when extra low, according to the American Heart Association, can determine poor kidney function and an exceedingly high chance for cardiovascular disease. The researchers discovered that the people who regularly consumed this low-fat drink had improved kidney function as suggested by their low ACR rate. Study members who regularly drank at the minimum one glass of low fat daily had a shockingly high rate of thirty-seven percent fewer kidney function disorders.
A Link with Ovarian Cancer?
A recent conglomerate study of twenty-one individual analyses explored the possible connection between ovarian cancer and the ingestion of these products and discovered some support for the theory that high consumption of cow's milk is associated with a higher cancer risk. The results of this conglomerate, which were released in the August 2005 entry for the International Journal of Cancer, suggested that support was stronger in studies involving large groups of people.
By studying a group of patients who had ovarian cancer and comparing them with a group of patients who did not have the cancer, it was theorized that whole milk in one's diet was associated with a higher risk of developing ovarian cancer. The study, however, did not offer any support for the possibility of lactose in the initial advancement of ovarian cancer.
The study also found a thirteen percent higher chance of cancer risk with a daily intake of ten grams of lactose, which is approximately one glass. Moreover, it was found that yogurt consumption was associated with a non-significant chance of increased cancer risk, while cheese was not found to increase the risk of this type of cancer.
Soy More Healthy than Cow's?
Soy was recommended by health care advocates as a natural alternative to drinking cow's milk. Unfortunately, however, advancements have developed which show the negative environmental impact of soybean farming as well as the alarming recognition that many soybeans that are grown today are more often than not from varieties that are genetically modified. And many soy products that are on the market today have been sweetened so as to improve taste, which means that they are no longer nutritionally better than cow's milk.
A leading medical researcher, Carolyn Dean, MD, ND, did extensive research on digestive associated issues. Dr. Dean stated that soy has a high level of phytic acid, which has the likelihood of blocking the digestion of grains, which are a necessary originator of minerals. Furthermore, soy has trypsin inhibitors which interfere with the digestion of protein. Toss in the fact that the body does not absorb vitamin B12 in soy, which could result in a dangerous condition for vegans who use soy as a means of obtaining their vitamin B12. The one exception to this is soy products which were fermented.
What Alternatives are There?
There are many good sources for these nutrients, such as rice or almond milk which do not involve the serious health issues that may be possibly associated with cow's milk or soy milk.
Get a Professional Opinion
If you are concerned about the nutritional elements within your diet, it is highly recommended that you consult with a licensed dietician or professional health care provider.
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Vegan Diets and the Dangers That Can Evolve Through Improper Planning
For many dieters, a vegetarian diet has helped to maintain a healthy weight by eliminating meat in the diet. Others partake a vegetarian lifestyle for moral reasons and dieting has nothing to do with their decision to eliminate meats from their diet. Regardless of the reason, studies show that by the year 2005, there were roughly twenty-five million vegetarians in the United States.
A vegetarian diet can be a very healthy way of life, but taken a step further some people have undertaken a more extreme diet called a "vegan diet" which contains no food of animal origin at all. Generally a vegan diet consists of a mixture of fruit and vegetables, whole grain cereals, pulses, and nuts.
Because vitamin B12 is found in most animal products, meat, fish, eggs, and butter, people who follow a vegan diet need to plan accordingly to ensure they are getting enough in their diet. Vitamin B12 is a crucial part of a balanced and healthy diet. It helps with brain function and provides energy.
Vegan Diet Dangers
Scientists reveal that adhering to a strict vegan diet can lead to a dangerous side-effect called vitamin B12 deficiency. The most crucial function of vitamin B12 is the formation of red blood cells within the body and the upkeep of a healthy nervous system. With proper planning, vegan diets may not lack the needed B12 nutrients, but researchers warn that without forethought, a vegan diet participant may suffer from insufficient B12 vitamins. In fact, the threat is so sever that if a baby is deprived of nutrients that have B12 vitamins, they can suffer from retarded growth, rickets and even nerve damage. A study conducted by Swedish participants revealed that of people seventy-five years and older, more than half of the elderly who were diagnosed with dementia and Alzheimer's type dementia also had low levels of vitamin B12.
The Need for Vitamin B12
Vitamin B12 is needed for cell division and blood formation. Neither plants nor animals make vitamin B12. Bacteria are responsible for the production of vitamin B12. Animals receive their vitamin B12 from eating foods that consist of vitamin B12 nutrients, and then the animal in-turn becomes a source of vitamin B12. Plant foods do not contain vitamin B12, except when they are tainted by microorganisms or have vitamin B12 incorporated into them.
Vitamin B12 is Composed of What?
Vitamin B12 is a chemically complex vitamin. The foundation of vitamin B12 consists of corrin ring, which is the core of the mineral. Vitamin B12 cannot be manufactured without bacteria, which has a precise balance of enzymes required for its production.
Symptoms of B12 Deficiency
There are numerous symptoms of vitamin B12 deficiency which can signal to us that a person is afflicted with this dangerous ailment. They include constipation, loss of appetite, weight loss, anemia and fatigue.
Vitamin B12 Supplements That Are Often Used in Vegan Diets
Scientists recommend that people who follow a vegan diet may need to find healthy alternatives for eggs and dairy products in order to be sure that their menu includes enough B12 vitamins. The following suggestions are listed as healthy alternatives. These items may be used when planning a meal or cooking.
As an alternative to cow's milk, researchers recommend soy milk, rice milk or almond milk. As an alternative to cooking with butter, one can instead use olive oil, vegetable broth, wine or fat-free cooking spray. Cheese alternatives are easily found in the form of soy cheese or nutritional yeast flakes. Eggs, which are an important source of vitamin B12, can be replaced with commercial egg alternatives which is a product made of potato starch. Tofu and flaxseed are additional egg alternatives that are a healthy replacement. Most of these items can be found in the health food section of major grocery stores.
What About Vitamin Supplements?
Nearly 30,000 dietary supplements that are sold and marketed today have not undergone the extensive scientific testing which is needed to confirm their safety and efficiency. Vegans are recommended to ensure their diet includes foods fortified with vitamin B12 by eating healthy, natural alternatives, rather than taking a vitamin supplement alone. A wide variety of B12 fortified foods are available.
What Can I Do?
Any diet plan should be well planned with the assistance of a licensed dietary professional. There are many unregulated dietary professionals who are well trained, however, for the purpose of vegan diet planning, it is recommended that you consult with a professionally-regulated dietician who is educated by the American Dietetic Association. A consultation with a professionally-trained dietician who knows the dangers of vitamin deficiency is a great starting point. The goal is to prevent B12 deficiency in your vegan diet so that, if are committed to a vegan diet, you can maintain your diet goals without damaging your health.
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Portion Control and Dieting: A Successful Weight Loss Combination
Dieters are often concerned about the ingredients in foods they eat, menus and diet plans. But a very important part of weight loss that is often overlooked is portion control. Portion control is not difficult to learn and is easy to maintain, yet the impact achieved can be tremendous to your weight loss goals. If learned properly, portion control can make a big difference in the overall success of a weight loss plan.
By utilizing portion control, you can lose weight and still enjoy your favorite foods. The plan is simple: decrease your portion sizes by half. If you are used to eating an entire foot-long sandwich at Subway, cut the portion in half and instead order a six inch sandwich. After eating the sandwich, wait a few minutes and you may learn that you are now full after eating only half of what you usually eat.
If you are eating at a restaurant and portion control is not an option, ask for a to-go box. Most restaurants will be happy to provide a to-go box, even offering to prepare the box for you. The following day you can enjoy your leftovers for lunch and as a side benefit, you will have cut the expense of your meal in half.
Some restaurants offer lunch size portions of their special dishes. Don't be afraid to ask if you can purchase the lunch sized portion during dinner hours.
Portion Control Tips
- Eat slowly and enjoy each bite. If you are racing through a meal, you will have a tendency to over eat.
- Pay attention to how often you eat. You might be surprised at the frequency.
- Be mindful of eating. Monitor your choices. Do not eat standing up, but instead sit at a table and make it a meal.
- Snacking is a dieter's downfall. Keep snacking to a minimum.
- If you are still hungry after eating your smaller portion meal, try drinking a glass of water. It could curb your hunger and make you feel full.
Benefits of Portion Control
Portion control allows you to eat your favorite foods, but in smaller quantities. This minimizes the chance of feeling deprived. The smaller portions lead to natural weight loss and condition your body and metabolism through the reduced portions. More frequent feedings might be necessary, but by keeping the portions under control, your weight loss efforts could be more successful.
By keeping a portion control schedule, you can eat smaller portions of the food you love, enjoy meals more frequently, and never be hungry. If you are looking for a long-term weight loss solution, portion control may be the answer you are looking for.
Are low carbohydrate diets the answer to healthy weight loss?
It has long been known that increased fat storage raises blood cholesterol. And a high level of cholesterol in the blood is a major risk factor for coronary heart disease. Coronary heart disease can lead to heart attack or stroke.
The American Heart Association recommends limiting foods high in saturated fat, trans fat and cholesterol such as whole milk dairy products, fatty meats, oils, hydrogenated vegetable oils and egg yolks. Instead, the AHA recommends substituting foods that are low in saturated fat, trans fat and cholesterol such as fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grain products, fat-free and low-fat milk products, skinless poultry and lean meats.
Is weight loss as simple as dropping carbohydrates?
Scientists have long probed the assertion that avoiding carbohydrates or dropping them altogether can reduce the storage of fat, which leads to lethargy, junk food addiction and health conditions such as heart disease and cancer. But is dropping carbohydrates from your diet the answer to dropping fat from your waistline? Is it true that saturated fat and cholesterol are not really the cause of heart disease? The American Heart Association, American College of Sports Medicine and the American Diabetes Association disagree.
Low-carbohydrate gurus argue that carbohydrates make us secrete insulin. And since insulin is driving fat accumulation, if people were to eat fewer carbohydrates, fat accumulation would decline.
So which diet is better? Low fat or low carbohydrate?
Scientists state that if weight loss were a race, low carbohydrate diets would win hands down. Weight loss on low carbohydrate diets is most likely faster because a low-carbohydrate diet helps to suppress appetite, which in-turn makes it easier to achieve the ultimate goal of reducing calorie consumption. But a chief complaint of low carbohydrate diets is that they can increase levels of bad cholesterol. However, according to a study performed by the Harvard Health Letter, both low carbohydrate and low fat diet plans had the same effect on LDL cholesterol levels. And low carbohydrate diets won with respect to other blood fats related to heart disease.
Improvement to the low carbohydrate diet
According to the Harvard Health letter, a low carbohydrate diet plan can be improved by sticking with polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats and choosing whole grains as your carbohydrates. If you are planning on losing weight, talk to your doctor first about getting a cholesterol test. Before following any diet plan, it is highly recommended that you seek the advice of a doctor or health care professional.
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