Thursday, January 28, 2016

Plant Based Diets, Offbeat Medical Mnemonics, An Easy Plant Based Recipe

Plant Based Diets  Last month, I mentioned that I am experimenting with eating a plant based diet.  This was on the suggestion of  my doctor who recommended it for a stubborn cough that’s hung around for months, well, actually years.  While the causes are multiple, his purpose was to cut the amount of inflammation in my body.   

The results were quite surprising – the post nasal drip & cough that had been plaguing me, dropped to almost nothing within 10 days.  Six weeks later, blood tests showed a glucose tolerance test that went down 15 points, an improved lipid profile, and reduced inflammation.  I also lost 4 pounds without dieting.
What surprised me was that my HMO, Kaiser, is actively advocating this diet.  As I researched the science behind plant based eating, I learned that Kaiser was one of the participants behind a very large study on plant based nutrition several years ago.  I was handed a brochure that outlined how to proceed, a very brief explanation of what conditions this diet has benefited, and some references.

Research Based   The conditions that are favorably impacted are an impressive list, based on over ten years of accumulated research.   The diet has lowered the risk of heart disease, diabetes, and may also reduce some forms of cancer.  In some cases it has lowered blood pressure, improved digestion, & even reversed heart disease.  Many of these diseases have an inflammatory component, which eating unlimited amounts of fruits, vegetables, beans, lentils, nuts & whole grains can help.  The increased fiber also helps with weight loss.  Many people lose more dramatic amounts than I did.  Fifteen pounds the first month is not unheard of.

The China Study (2005)  by T. Colin Campbell was the initial study that brought the benefits of a plant based diet to everyone’s attention.  There are numerous variations including the Mediterranean diet, flexitarian, Ornish, VB6, MIND, DASH, and others.  Only you can decide if you can stick with the requirements of any particular plant based, vegetarian, or vegan diet.  Many people work out their own variation of publishes diets that work for their lifestyle.  See below for suggestions on how to explore this world.

My Adventure    I started about 8 months ago with VB6, the eating plan advocated by Mark Bittman of the New York Times.  He actually invented it himself on his doctor's recommendation.  Although there is now a book, you can find the original column online.  With VB6 you eat like a vegetarian before 6 PM, and then eat normally for dinner.  In his book, Bittman outlines how his blood work and weight improved after just a month on his plan.  My original goal was to avoid being put on statins, and also to lower a fasting glucose level that consistently skirted the pre diabetic level.

My personal results weren’t as dramatic as Mark Bittman’s, but my lab values did improve enough to take the discussion of statins and pre diabetes off the table.  However, due to other factors, my cough did not disappear.  

Just before Thanksgiving, my doctor made his recommendation to remove animal proteins completely from my diet – including dairy products.  This time the results were fairly significant, as I related above.  Being able to breathe in the morning is a new experience.  I’ve actually discontinued taking Allegra, and one of my nasal sprays.  I’m not breathless while walking.  I’ve lost a little weight, and the cough is much improved.  I'm smelling things that I was oblivious to before.  Its only been a bit over two months so the final outcome is still unknown.

Was it hard?….it wasn't as bad as I thought it was going to be starting a new way of eating two weeks before Thanksgiving.  In fact, my doctor almost chuckled as he made the suggestion.  Maybe it was the implied challenge,  but I decided I could do it.  We are fortunate to live in California where we have many dietary choices….and for Asian Americans, there is a whole tradition of vegetarian eating with tofu prepared multiple ways.  For the holidays, I explored Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s & Sprouts’ freezer cases & shelves.  I even had a "turkey" roll stuffed with mushrooms for Thanksgiving dinner.

While the faux turkey roll was tasty & had a great mouth feel, it was highly processed, so except in rare cases, I avoid such products now.  I also have mixed feelings about such things as vegetarian butter, vegenaise and cheese substitutes that are called for in some vegetarian recipes, since they are highly processed.  I’ve discovered great resources in books, and websites that have a plethora of information. I do a lot of label reading.

Resources  For those of you who want to know more, here are some resources:

The China Study, T. Colin Campbell
The Engine 2 Diet,  Rip Esselstyn. See also
Forks Over Knives  - a documentary film.  The trailer is on YouTube.  See also 
Forks Over Knives Cookbook,   Del Stroufe
21 Day Weight Loss Kickstart, Neal D. Barnard, MD (Has a plan that eases you into vegan eating)
Plant Based Diets  - for Kaiser members – ask for the brochure in the medical library.
VB6 – Mark Bittman  - recipes, and cute animal videos.
Yummly – a website & app
NYTimes Cooking – a twice a week column providing great recipes, many which are vegetarian or vegan.

In the future I'll discuss "how do you get your protein", "how do you eat out", "is the cooking time consuming?" and other important questions. This adventure is still ongoing for me, and I don't know where the journey ends.

Odd Useful Ways To Remember Medical Facts

Do you have a hard time remembering the difference between LDL & HDL lipids?  Just think of
L = lethal or low and H = healthy or high.  You want to Lower your LDL, and raise your HDL Higher.

Has your doctor told you that your blood pressure is high, particularly the systolic?  What’s that??  You know there are two numbers – one over the other, but which is which?  Think
Diastolic = D = Die as in when you die you are relaxed, so this is the lower number. The heart is relaxed when you are in diastole.  Systolic = S = Sky and the sky is high so this is the upper number.  And Systolic is the opposite of diastolic, so the heart is contracting when it is in systole. (This one’s a bit off the wall, but that’s how grad students who have studying too much think.  Thanks, Cyndi)

Fast  And Easy   Here’s a plant based recipe that I have enjoyed, thanks to One Green Planet.  These go together quickly and can be frozen separately.  Its a forgiving recipe where the amounts used aren't critical.  The sliders or burgers hold together well without adding any binders.   I used Trader Joe’s black lentils, which speeded up things considerably. On the other hand, red lentils cook fairly quickly.

Dairy-Free, Gluten-free, Vegan, Wheat Free

3/4 cup quinoa, cooked
3/4 cup red lentils, boiled
2 roasted sweet potatoes, mashed
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
Salt and pepper, to taste

Preheat the oven to 392°F.
Combine the ingredients together.
Form the mixture into patties.
Bake for 10 minutes on each side.
Serve on slider buns with smashed avocado and kale.

That’s all for this month – e-mail any questions or comments.  Are any of you vegetarian, vegan or other plant based diet eaters?  And please, like & share on Facebook.  Thanks!


© January 28, 2015, Fitness Spark Personal Training