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The right plant-based diet for you March 12 2020

Plant-based diets can help reduce your risk of heart disease, but they're not all created equal.

from Harvard Men's Health Watch

Published: January, 2018


Image: © RomarioIen/Thinkstock

It's clear that following a plant-based diet is associated with a lower risk of heart disease. But do all plant-based diets have the same effect? And do you really have to cut out all meat for your heart's sake?

"For heart health protection, your diet needs to focus on the quality of plant foods, and it's possible to benefit by reducing your consumption of animal foods without completely eliminating them from your diet," says Dr. Ambika Satija of the Department of Nutrition at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.

Make good choices

There are many types of plant-based diets, but they all emphasize certain foods associated with heart benefits, such as whole grains, fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts, and healthy oils like olive oil. The diets that have been most studied for their impact on heart health include the Mediterranean diet, the DASH diet, and the MIND diet. These diets are rich in fiber, vitamins, and minerals that help lower blood pressure and LDL (bad) cholesterol, reduce the risk of diabetes, and help maintain a healthy weight, all of which can lower your risk of heart disease.

Yet, the types of plant foods and their sources are also important. For example, white rice and white bread are plant-based foods, so you would think they're good to eat. But they are highly processed, and so are depleted of many heart-healthy nutrients and have a high glycemic index, which means they can make blood sugar levels spike and increase hunger, leading to overeating.

Drinking 100% fruit juice is not the same as eating the whole fruit, since juices can be high in sugar and squeeze out valuable fiber and vitamins. And many canned plant foods include extra additives, sodium, and sugar.

The look of a plant-based meal

A healthy plant-based meal should consist of proper portions of vegetables, fruits, whole grains, healthy protein, and healthy oils. What does this look like? The Harvard Health Eating Plate is a helpful visual guide created by nutrition experts at Harvard School of Public Health and editors at Harvard Health Publishing.

The meat of plant diets

The other question deals with a man's appetite for animal products. When it comes to your heart, are all animal foods off the table? Maybe not — if you're smart about your choices.

Dr. Satija led a study, published in the July 25, 2017, Journal of the American College of Cardiology, that examined the dietary data of about 209,000 adults (43,000 of whom were men) over two decades. The researchers compared the heart disease risk posed by these three categories of plant-based diets:

  • an overall plant-based diet that emphasized consumption of all healthy plant foods while reducing intake of all animal foods, like dairy (skim, low-fat, and whole milk; cream, ice cream, yogurt, and cheese), eggs, fish, meat (chicken, turkey, beef, and pork), and foods that contain animal products like pizza, soups, and mayonnaise

  • a healthful plant-based diet that emphasized consumption of only healthy plant foods, such as whole grains, fruits, vegetables, nuts, legumes, and healthy oils, while reducing intake of less healthy plant foods as well as animal foods

  • an unhealthful plant-based diet that emphasized consumption of less healthy plant foods, such as fruit juices, refined grains (pasta, white rice, and processed breads and cereals), potatoes (French fries and potato chips), and sugar-sweetened beverages, while reducing the intake of healthy plant foods as well as animal foods.

No surprise, they found that the people who followed the healthy plant-based diet (the second group) had the lowest risk for heart disease. They were also more active and leaner. On the other hand, those who followed the unhealthful plant-based diet (the third group) had a substantially higher risk for heart disease.

Thus, the study found that reducing animal foods doesn't necessarily lead to a healthier diet and greater heart protection if the resulting diet is based on less healthy plant foods.

While this study didn't look at which animal foods, especially meat, could have an impact on heart health, other research has shown that, as with plant foods, the type and amount matter most.

For instance, a study in the January 2017 American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that eating 3 ounces of unprocessed red meat, three times per week, did not worsen blood pressure and total cholesterol levels.

However, a 2014 study from the American Heart Association showed that men ages 45 to 79 who ate 75 grams or more per day of processed red meat, like cold cuts, sausage, bacon, and hot dogs, had a 28% higher risk of heart failure compared with men who ate less than 25 grams.

Protect your arteries: Eat a high-energy breakfast

Need another reason to begin your day with a hearty, healthy breakfast? Doing so may lower your risk for atherosclerosis, the hardening and narrowing of the arteries caused by plaque buildup, says a study in the Oct. 10, 2017, Journal of the American College of Cardiology.

More than 4,000 adults who were free from cardiovascular disease or chronic kidney disease were classed into three groups: those who consumed less than 5% of their total energy intake in the morning (they either skipped breakfast or had only coffee or juice); those who consumed more than 20% (high-energy-breakfast consumers who ate complete meals with more whole grains and fruit); and those who consumed between 5% and 20% (low-energy-breakfast consumers who had meals like toast or pastries and coffee).

About 28% ate a high-energy breakfast, while almost 70% had a low-energy breakfast, and 3% skipped breakfast. Breakfast skippers were between 1.5 to 2.5 times more likely to have atherosclerosis compared with high-energy breakfast eaters, while low-energy breakfast eaters were about 1.15 times more likely.

Making the change

What is the right plant-based diet for you? You don't need to go full vegetarian or vegan (avoiding all animal products, even eggs and dairy) to get the best heart health benefits. The focus should be on eating more of the right plants, avoiding the wrong kind, eliminating unhealthy foods, and moderating your intake of healthier animal products.

A heart-healthy diet doesn't need to be daunting either. "For many men, this may be a matter of switching out their current foods," says Dr. Satija. For instance, replace white rice with brown rice or other whole grains, and white bread with whole-grain bread. Choose oatmeal instead of processed cereal, and water instead of juice drinks.

If embracing a full plant-based diet feels intimidating, then begin small. "A moderate change in your diet, such as lowering your animal food intake by one to two servings per day and replacing it with legumes or nuts as your protein source, can have a lasting positive impact on your health," says Dr. Satija.

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The diets cutting one in five lives short every year April 09 2019

 

By James Gallagher Health and science correspondent, BBC News

4 April 2019

 

The food we eat is putting 11 million of us into an early grave each year, an influential study shows.

The analysis, in the Lancet, found that our daily diet is a bigger killer than smoking and is now involved in one in five deaths around the world.

Salt - whether in bread, soy sauce or processed meals - shortened the highest number of lives.

Researchers say this study is not about obesity, but "poor quality" diets damaging hearts and causing cancer.

So which diets have got it in for me?

The Global Burden of Disease Study is the most authoritative assessment of how people are dying in every country in the world.

The latest analysis used estimates of countries' eating habits to pin down how often diet was shortening lives.

The dangerous diets were those containing:

  1. Too much salt - three million deaths
  2. Too few whole grains - three million deaths
  3. Too little fruit - two million deaths

Low levels of nuts, seeds, vegetables, omega-3 from seafood and fibre were the other major killers.

"We find that diet is one of the dominant drivers of health around the world, it's really quite profound," Prof Christopher Murray, the director of the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington told the BBC.

 

How is this killing people?

About 10 million out of the 11 million diet-related deaths were because of cardiovascular disease and that explains why salt is such a problem.

Too much salt raises blood pressure and that in turn raises the risk of heart attacks and strokes.

Salt can also have a direct effect on the heart and blood vessels, leading to heart failure when the organ does not work effectively.

Whole grains, fruit and vegetables have the opposite effect - they are "cardioprotective" and lower the risk of heart problems.

Cancers and type 2 diabetes made up the rest of the diet-related deaths.

How far is the world off a perfect diet?

No country is perfect and each favours some part of a healthy diet more than others, but this is how far the world is from an optimal diet.

Nuts and seeds again?

The healthy foods missing from the most diets around the world were nuts and seeds, according to the study.

Eager readers will have noticed they featured heavily in the planetary health diet, unveiled in January, to save lives, save the planet and feed 10 billion people.

So why don't we munch them?

Prof Nita Forouhi, from the University of Cambridge, said: "The perception is they are little packs of energy that will make you fat, whereas they are packed full of good fats.

"And most people don't see them as mainstream food; and the other issue is cost."

 

I thought meat and sugar were the bad guys?

The huge fat versus sugar debate and the link between red and processed meats with cancer have attracted huge headlines in recent years.

"These can be harmful as we show, but they are much smaller issues than low whole grains, fruit, nuts, seeds and vegetable intake," said Prof Murray.

Although, the study did show too many fizzy drinks were being drunk in every corner of the world.

The researchers say it is time for health campaigns to switch from talking about nutrients like fat and sugar and instead promote healthy foods.

But is a tasty unhealthy diet worth it?

Bad diets are knocking a couple of years off life expectancies around the world, according to the researchers.

But Prof Murray warns this is just the average and says the real question we should be asking is: "Am I going to die in my 50s from a heart attack? Or am I going to have some of the diet-related cancers in my 40s?"

Are any countries doing well?

Mediterranean countries, particularly France, Spain and Israel, have some of the lowest numbers of diet-related deaths in the world.

Countries in South East, Southern and Central Asia are at the opposite end of the spectrum.

  • Israel has the lowest diet-related deaths - 89 per 100,000 people a year
  • Uzbekistan has the highest diet-related deaths - 892 per 100,000 people a year

Japan and China have curiously contrasting fortunes that reflect their changing relationship with salt.

China consumes enormous amounts of salt with soy and other salty sauces being a key part of the country's cuisine.

But the rising popularity of processed foods is introducing yet more salt to their diet. It has the highest death rate because of salt of any country.

Prof Murray said: "Japan is very interesting because if you go back 30 to 40 years, they like China today had enormous salt intake.

"Salt is still their number one problem, but it has come down dramatically,

"And they have a diet that is higher in many of the things we think are protective for heart disease such as vegetables and fruit."

What about the UK?

The UK is behind countries like France, Denmark and Belgium.

The biggest problems are a lack of whole grains, fruit, vegetables and nuts and seeds.

The study estimates 14% of UK deaths are related to diet, with 127 diet-related deaths per 100,000 people a year.

Any advice?

Prof Murray said: "Diet quality matters no matter what weight you are.

"The really big story for people to act on is increase your whole grains, fruit, nuts, seeds and vegetable intake and reduce salt if you can."

But money is an issue.

It is estimated that having your five fruit and veg a day would take up 52% of household income in poorer countries.

But Prof Forouhi warns: "The public can make healthier choices if informed and have the resources, but if what is on the shelves as buy-one-get-one-free is always unhealthy, then that message will fall down.

"Cheaper options that are healthy are badly needed."

Both agreed there needed to be a shift from focusing on nutrients (fat/sugar/salt) and on to which actual foods people should eat.

Follow James on Twitter.

 


Can exercise reverse the ageing process? March 22 2019

Can exercise reverse the ageing process?

By Stephen Harridge & Norman LazarusKing's College London

20 March 2019 by BBC

Irene Obera (l), Emma Maria Mazzenga and Constance Marmour compete at the World Masters Athletics Championships in 2015

 

While many in their 80s and 90s may be starting to take it easy, 85-year-old track star Irene Obera is at the other end of the spectrum.

Setting multiple world athletics records in her age category, she is one of a growing band of "master athletes" who represent the extreme end of what is physically possible later in life.

Another is John Starbrook, who at 87 became the oldest runner to complete the 2018 London Marathon.

Studies suggest regular exercise is more effective than any drug yet invented to prevent conditions facing older people, such as muscle loss.

To reap the full benefits, this pattern of behaviour should be laid down in a person's teens and early 20s.

What can we learn from elderly athletes?

 

Studying master athletes - sportspeople aged 35 and over - gives us an idea of what is physically possible as we age.

Analysing the world record performance times of each age group unsurprisingly reveals that physical ability does ultimately diminish, the older you get - but doesn't fall off rapidly until after the age of 70.

It is reasonable to assume these top athletes have a healthy lifestyle in general; as well as exercising, they follow a balanced diet and don't smoke or drink heavily.

So their results can help us determine how much of this decline is due to the ageing process itself.

Can exercise reverse the ageing process?

The greater health of older exercisers compared to their sedentary counterparts can lead people to believe physical activity can reverse or slow down the ageing process.

But the reality is that these active older people are exactly as they should be.

In our distant past we were hunter-gatherers, and our bodies are designed to be physically active.

So, if an active 80-year-old has a similar physiology to an inactive 50-year-old, it is the younger person who appears older than they should be, not the other way around.

 

Kazuyoshi Miura, 52, is the world's oldest professional footballer

We often confuse the effects of inactivity with the ageing process itself, and believe certain diseases are purely the result of getting older.

Actually, our modern sedentary lifestyles have simply speeded up our underlying age-related decline. This contributes to the onset of diseases such as type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease and cancer.

Many of us are simply not active enough. In England fewer than half of 16-24 year olds meet the recommendation for aerobic and muscle strengthening exercises; for 65-74 year-olds, it falls to fewer than one in 10.

Quality of life

Not only does exercise help prevent the onset of many diseases, it can also help to cure or alleviate others, improving our quality of life.

Recent studies of recreational cyclists aged 55-79 suggest they have the capacity to do everyday tasks very easily and efficiently because nearly all parts of their body are in remarkably good condition.

The cyclists also scored highly on tests measuring mental agility, mental health and quality of life.

 

Professor Stephen Harridge (l) and Professor Norman Lazarus, who is aged 82 and has the immune system of a 20-year-old

The younger you start exercising the better.

Analysis of American adults aged 50-71 found those who had exercised between two and eight hours a week from their teens through to their 60s, had a 29-36% lower chance of dying from any cause over the 20-year study period.

The study suggests active young people should keep their activity levels up, but also that those aged 40 and above may be able to become more physically active and reap similar benefits.

Master athletes

Modern problems

In today's world we have largely been able to get away with problems related to our inactivity, by leaning on the crutch of modern medicine for support.

But while our average life expectancy has increased quite rapidly, our "healthspan" - the period of life we can enjoy free from disease - has not.

Many benefiting from projected life expectancy increases by 2035 will spend their extra years with four diseases or more, according to a study in England.

 

Martina Navratilova won the mixed doubles at Wimbledon in 2003 at the age of 46

While pharmaceuticals are improving all the time, exercise can do things that medicine cannot.

For example, there is currently no drug available that can protect against loss of muscle mass and strength, the biggest factor in our loss of physical function.

Ageing population

Being more active is not only better for an individual, it is also vital for the functioning of our wider society as it ages.

In 2018, almost one in five Britons were over 65, while one in 40 were over 85.

The number of people aged 65 and over is projected to rise by more than 40% in the next 16 years.

The average 85-year-old costs the NHS more than five times as much as a 30-year-old, analysis suggests.

 

More stories like this

What can you do?

Most people should not be aiming to become a world-beating athlete in their advanced years; they don't need to be to reach optimal health.

Instead, incorporating small regular bouts of physical activity - brisk walking or ballroom dancing - into your routine is the key.

Physical activity is one of the cornerstones of a healthy life. Even if you can't be a competitive athlete, starting to regularly exercise in your 20s and 30s is likely to pay off later on.

And if you're past that point, just gently becoming active will do a huge amount of good.

About this piece

This analysis piece was commissioned by the BBC from experts working for an outside organisation.

Stephen Harridge is professor of Human & Applied Physiology at King's College London.

Norman Lazarus is Emeritus professor at King's College London and is a master cyclist in his 80s.

Edited by Eleanor Lawrie

 


Meditation: A simple, fast way to reduce stress March 18 2019

 

Meditation can wipe away the day's stress, bringing with it inner peace. See how you can easily learn to practice meditation whenever you need it most.

By Mayo Clinic Staff

If stress has you anxious, tense and worried, consider trying meditation. Spending even a few minutes in meditation can restore your calm and inner peace.

Anyone can practice meditation. It's simple and inexpensive, and it doesn't require any special equipment.

And you can practice meditation wherever you are — whether you're out for a walk, riding the bus, waiting at the doctor's office or even in the middle of a difficult business meeting.

Understanding meditation

Meditation has been practiced for thousands of years. Meditation originally was meant to help deepen understanding of the sacred and mystical forces of life. These days, meditation is commonly used for relaxation and stress reduction.

Meditation is considered a type of mind-body complementary medicine. Meditation can produce a deep state of relaxation and a tranquil mind.

During meditation, you focus your attention and eliminate the stream of jumbled thoughts that may be crowding your mind and causing stress. This process may result in enhanced physical and emotional well-being.

Benefits of meditation

Meditation can give you a sense of calm, peace and balance that can benefit both your emotional well-being and your overall health.

And these benefits don't end when your meditation session ends. Meditation can help carry you more calmly through your day and may help you manage symptoms of certain medical conditions.

Meditation and emotional well-being

When you meditate, you may clear away the information overload that builds up every day and contributes to your stress.

The emotional benefits of meditation can include:

  • Gaining a new perspective on stressful situations
  • Building skills to manage your stress
  • Increasing self-awareness
  • Focusing on the present
  • Reducing negative emotions
  • Increasing imagination and creativity
  • Increasing patience and tolerance

 

Meditation and illness

Meditation might also be useful if you have a medical condition, especially one that may be worsened by stress.

While a growing body of scientific research supports the health benefits of meditation, some researchers believe it's not yet possible to draw conclusions about the possible benefits of meditation.

With that in mind, some research suggests that meditation may help people manage symptoms of conditions such as:

  • Anxiety
  • Asthma
  • Cancer
  • Chronic pain
  • Depression
  • Heart disease
  • High blood pressure
  • Irritable bowel syndrome
  • Sleep problems
  • Tension headaches

Be sure to talk to your health care provider about the pros and cons of using meditation if you have any of these conditions or other health problems. In some cases, meditation can worsen symptoms associated with certain mental and physical health conditions.

Meditation isn't a replacement for traditional medical treatment. But it may be a useful addition to your other treatment.

Types of meditation

Meditation is an umbrella term for the many ways to a relaxed state of being. There are many types of meditation and relaxation techniques that have meditation components. All share the same goal of achieving inner peace.

Ways to meditate can include:

  • Guided meditation.Sometimes called guided imagery or visualization, with this method of meditation you form mental images of places or situations you find relaxing.

You try to use as many senses as possible, such as smells, sights, sounds and textures. You may be led through this process by a guide or teacher.

  • Mantra meditation.In this type of meditation, you silently repeat a calming word, thought or phrase to prevent distracting thoughts.
  • Mindfulness meditation.This type of meditation is based on being mindful, or having an increased awareness and acceptance of living in the present moment.

In mindfulness meditation, you broaden your conscious awareness. You focus on what you experience during meditation, such as the flow of your breath. You can observe your thoughts and emotions, but let them pass without judgment.

  • Qi gong.This practice generally combines meditation, relaxation, physical movement and breathing exercises to restore and maintain balance. Qi gong (CHEE-gung) is part of traditional Chinese medicine.
  • Tai chi.This is a form of gentle Chinese martial arts. In tai chi (TIE-CHEE), you perform a self-paced series of postures or movements in a slow, graceful manner while practicing deep breathing.
  • Transcendental Meditation®.Transcendental Meditation is a simple, natural technique. In Transcendental Meditation, you silently repeat a personally assigned mantra, such as a word, sound or phrase, in a specific way.

This form of meditation may allow your body to settle into a state of profound rest and relaxation and your mind to achieve a state of inner peace, without needing to use concentration or effort.

  • You perform a series of postures and controlled breathing exercises to promote a more flexible body and a calm mind. As you move through poses that require balance and concentration, you're encouraged to focus less on your busy day and more on the moment.

 

Elements of meditation

Different types of meditation may include different features to help you meditate. These may vary depending on whose guidance you follow or who's teaching a class. Some of the most common features in meditation include:

  • Focused attention.Focusing your attention is generally one of the most important elements of meditation.

Focusing your attention is what helps free your mind from the many distractions that cause stress and worry. You can focus your attention on such things as a specific object, an image, a mantra, or even your breathing.

  • Relaxed breathing.This technique involves deep, even-paced breathing using the diaphragm muscle to expand your lungs. The purpose is to slow your breathing, take in more oxygen, and reduce the use of shoulder, neck and upper chest muscles while breathing so that you breathe more efficiently.
  • A quiet setting.If you're a beginner, practicing meditation may be easier if you're in a quiet spot with few distractions, including no television, radios or cellphones.

As you get more skilled at meditation, you may be able to do it anywhere, especially in high-stress situations where you benefit the most from meditation, such as a traffic jam, a stressful work meeting or a long line at the grocery store.

  • A comfortable position.You can practice meditation whether you're sitting, lying down, walking, or in other positions or activities. Just try to be comfortable so that you can get the most out of your meditation. Aim to keep good posture during meditation.
  • Open attitude.Let thoughts pass through your mind without judgment.

 

Everyday ways to practice meditation

Don't let the thought of meditating the "right" way add to your stress. If you choose to, you can attend special meditation centers or group classes led by trained instructors. But you can also practice meditation easily on your own.

And you can make meditation as formal or informal as you like, however it suits your lifestyle and situation. Some people build meditation into their daily routine. For example, they may start and end each day with an hour of meditation. But all you really need is a few minutes of quality time for meditation.

Here are some ways you can practice meditation on your own, whenever you choose:

  • Breathe deeply.This technique is good for beginners because breathing is a natural function.

Focus all your attention on your breathing. Concentrate on feeling and listening as you inhale and exhale through your nostrils. Breathe deeply and slowly. When your attention wanders, gently return your focus to your breathing.

  • Scan your body.When using this technique, focus attention on different parts of your body. Become aware of your body's various sensations, whether that's pain, tension, warmth or relaxation.

Combine body scanning with breathing exercises and imagine breathing heat or relaxation into and out of different parts of your body.

  • Repeat a mantra.You can create your own mantra, whether it's religious or secular. Examples of religious mantras include the Jesus Prayer in the Christian tradition, the holy name of God in Judaism, or the om mantra of Hinduism, Buddhism and other Eastern religions.
  • Walk and meditate.Combining a walk with meditation is an efficient and healthy way to relax. You can use this technique anywhere you're walking, such as in a tranquil forest, on a city sidewalk or at the mall.

When you use this method, slow down your walking pace so that you can focus on each movement of your legs or feet. Don't focus on a particular destination. Concentrate on your legs and feet, repeating action words in your mind such as "lifting," "moving" and "placing" as you lift each foot, move your leg forward and place your foot on the ground.

  • Engage in prayer.Prayer is the best known and most widely practiced example of meditation. Spoken and written prayers are found in most faith traditions.

You can pray using your own words or read prayers written by others. Check the self-help section of your local bookstore for examples. Talk with your rabbi, priest, pastor or other spiritual leader about possible resources.

  • Read and reflect.Many people report that they benefit from reading poems or sacred texts, and taking a few moments to quietly reflect on their meaning.

You can also listen to sacred music, spoken words, or any music you find relaxing or inspiring. You may want to write your reflections in a journal or discuss them with a friend or spiritual leader.

  • Focus your love and gratitude.In this type of meditation, you focus your attention on a sacred image or being, weaving feelings of love, compassion and gratitude into your thoughts. You can also close your eyes and use your imagination or gaze at representations of the image.

 

Building your meditation skills

Don't judge your meditation skills, which may only increase your stress. Meditation takes practice.

Keep in mind, for instance, that it's common for your mind to wander during meditation, no matter how long you've been practicing meditation. If you're meditating to calm your mind and your attention wanders, slowly return to the object, sensation or movement you're focusing on.

Experiment, and you'll likely find out what types of meditation work best for you and what you enjoy doing. Adapt meditation to your needs at the moment. Remember, there's no right way or wrong way to meditate. What matters is that meditation helps you reduce your stress and feel better overall.

 


6 Science-Based Health Benefits of Eating Vegan September 06 2018

 

Source: Healthline.com

Vegan diets are known to help people lose weight.

However, they also offer an array of additional health benefits.

For starters, a vegan diet may help you maintain a healthy heart.

What's more, this diet may offer some protection against type 2 diabetes and certain cancers.

Here are 6 science-based benefits of vegan diets.

  1. A Vegan Diet Is Richer in Certain Nutrients

If you switch to a vegan diet from a typical Western diet, you'll eliminate meat and animal products.

This will inevitably lead you to rely more heavily on other foods. In the case of a whole-foods vegan diet, replacements take the form of whole grains, fruits, vegetables, beans, peas, nuts and seeds.

Since these foods make up a larger proportion of a vegan diet than a typical Western diet, they can contribute to a higher daily intake of certain beneficial nutrients.

For instance, several studies have reported that vegan diets tend to provide more fiber, antioxidants and beneficial plant compounds. They also appear to be richer in potassium, magnesium, folate and vitamins A, C and E (1234).

However, not all vegan diets are created equal.

For instance, poorly planned vegan diets may provide insufficient amounts of essential fatty acids, vitamin B12, iron, calcium, iodine or zinc (5).

That's why it's important to stay away from nutrient-poor, fast-food vegan options. Instead, base your diet around nutrient-rich whole plants and fortified foods. You may also want to consider supplements like vitamin B12.

BOTTOM LINE:Whole-food vegan diets are generally higher in certain nutrients. However, make sure you get all the nutrients your body needs.

  1. It Can Help You Lose Excess Weight

An increasing number of people are turning to plant-based diets in the hope of shedding excess weight.

This is perhaps for good reason.

Many observational studies show that vegans tend to be thinner and have lower body mass indexes (BMIs) than non-vegans (67).

In addition, several randomized controlled studies — the gold standard in scientific research — report that vegan diets are more effective for weight loss than the diets they are compared to (8910111213141516).

In one study, a vegan diet helped participants lose 9.3 lbs (4.2 kg) more than a control diet over an 18-week study period (9).

Interestingly, participants on the vegan diet lost more weight than those who followed calorie-restricted diets, even when the vegan groups were allowed to eat until they felt full (1011).

What's more, a recent small study comparing the weight loss effects of five different diets concluded that vegetarian and vegan diets were just as well-accepted as semi-vegetarian and standard Western diets (17).

Even when they weren't following their diets perfectly, the vegetarian and vegan groups still lost slightly more weight than those on a standard Western diet.

BOTTOM LINE:Vegan diets have a natural tendency to reduce your calorie intake. This makes them effective at promoting weight loss without the need to actively focus on cutting calories.

  1. It Appears to Lower Blood Sugar Levels and Improve Kidney Function

Going vegan may also have benefits for type 2 diabetes and declining kidney function.

Indeed, vegans tend to have lower blood sugar levels, higher insulin sensitivity and up to a 50–78% lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes (718192021).

Studies even report that vegan diets lower blood sugar levels in diabetics more than the diets from the American Diabetes Association (ADA), American Heart Association (AHA) and National Cholesterol Education Program (NCEP) (10121322).

In one study, 43% of participants following a vegan diet were able to reduce their dosage of blood-sugar-lowering medication, compared to only 26% in the group that followed an ADA-recommended diet (22).

Other studies report that diabetics who substitute meat for plant protein may reduce their risk of poor kidney function (232425262728).

What's more, several studies report that a vegan diet may be able to provide complete relief of systemic distal polyneuropathy symptoms — a condition in diabetics that causes sharp, burning pain (2930).

BOTTOM LINE:Vegan diets may reduce the risk of developing type 2 diabetes. They are also particularly effective at reducing blood sugar levels and may help prevent further medical issues from developing.

  1. A Vegan Diet May Protect Against Certain Cancers

According to the World Health Organization, about one-third of all cancers can be prevented by factors within your control, including diet.

For instance, eating legumes regularly may reduce your risk of colorectal cancer by about 9–18% (31).

Research also suggests that eating at least seven portions of fresh fruits and vegetables per day may lower your risk of dying from cancer by up to 15% (32).

Vegans generally eat considerably more legumes, fruit and vegetables than non-vegans. This may explain why a recent review of 96 studies found that vegans may benefit from a 15% lower risk of developing or dying from cancer (7).

What's more, vegan diets generally contain more soy products, which may offer some protection against breast cancer (333435).

Avoiding certain animal products may also help reduce the risk of prostate, breast and colon cancers.

That may be because vegan diets are devoid of smoked or processed meats and meats cooked at high temperatures, which are thought to promote certain types of cancers (36373839). Vegans also avoid dairy products, which some studies show may slightly increase the risk of prostate cancer (40).

On the other hand, there is also evidence that dairy may help reduce the risk of other cancers, such as colorectal cancer. Therefore, it's likely that avoiding dairy is not the factor that lowers vegans' overall risk of cancer (41).

It's important to note that these studies are observational in nature. They make it impossible to pinpoint the exact reason why vegans have a lower risk of cancer.

However, until researchers know more, it seems wise to focus on increasing the amount of fresh fruits, vegetables and legumes you eat each day while limiting your consumption of processed, smoked and overcooked meat.

BOTTOM LINE:Certain aspects of the vegan diet may offer protection against prostate, breast and colon cancers.

  1. It's Linked to a Lower Risk of Heart Disease

Eating fresh fruits, vegetables, legumes and fiber is linked to a lower risk of heart disease (3242434445).

All of these are generally eaten in large amounts in well-planned vegan diets.

Observational studies comparing vegans to vegetarians and the general population report that vegans may benefit from up to a 75% lower risk of developing high blood pressure (20).

Vegans may also have up to a 42% lower risk of dying from heart disease (20).

What's more, several randomized controlled studies report that vegan diets are much more effective at reducing blood sugar, LDL cholesterol and total cholesterol levels than the diets they are compared to (79101246).

This may be particularly beneficial to heart health since reducing high blood pressure, cholesterol and blood sugar levels may reduce the risk of heart disease by as much as 46% (47).

Compared to the general population, vegans also tend to consume more whole grains and nuts, both of which are good for your heart (4849).

BOTTOM LINE:Vegan diets may benefit heart health by significantly reducing the risk factors that contribute to heart disease.

  1. A Vegan Diet Can Reduce Pain from Arthritis

A few studies have reported that a vegan diet has positive effects in people with different types of arthritis.

One study randomly assigned 40 arthritic participants to either continue eating their omnivorous diet or switch to a whole-food, plant-based vegan diet for 6 weeks.

Those on the vegan diet reported higher energy levels and better general functioning than those who didn't change their diet (50).

Two other studies investigated the effects of a probiotic-rich, raw food vegan diet on symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis.

Both reported that participants in the vegan group experienced a greater improvement in symptoms such as pain, joint swelling and morning stiffness than those who continued their omnivorous diet (5152).

BOTTOM LINE:Vegan diets based on probiotic-rich whole foods can significantly decrease symptoms of osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.

Take Home Message

Vegan diets may provide an array of health benefits.

For the most part, the exact reasons why these benefits occur are not fully known.

That said, until further research emerges, it can only benefit you to increase the amount of nutrient-rich, whole plant foods in your diet.

 


Antioxidants In Purple Vegetables High, Say Scientists June 10 2016

 

 GUELPH, Ont. - Researchers have long known that eating a variety of brightly coloured vegetables daily is good for health: red, orange, yellow, dark green — and purple?

New research by Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada scientists suggests that purple vegetables are associated with higher levels of antioxidants, which can help reduce the risk of some types of cancer and heart disease.

 

Dr. Rong Cao of AAAFC and a team at the Guelph Food Research Centre suggest vegetables high in anthocyanins have an even stronger antioxidant activity than other varieties of the same vegetable.

Anthocyanins are the phytochemicals responsible for purple (or blue or red) pigments in highly pigmented vegetables such as purple carrots, potatoes and tomatoes. Antioxidants are substances such as vitamin E and vitamin C, or beta carotene, thought to protect body cells from the damaging effects of oxidation.

Cao's team has the go-ahead to examine how anthocyanins in purple carrots and potatoes contribute to reducing blood sugar.

A previous study with Dr. Dan Ramdath, also of the Guelph Food Research Centre, showed that anthocyanins inhibit enzymes such as alpha-glycosidase, which is needed to metabolize sugar. Inhibiting this enzyme slows the rate of glucose production, which helps maintain blood sugar levels, crucial for those living with diabetes.

Root vegetables have an advantage over fruits because they can be a fresh staple in the diet year-round.

Cao's research will be done through collaborative animal and human clinical trials.

Which purple foods can benefit you? Check these out:

 

Eggplant

Probably the first purple food most think of, eggplants have plenty of antioxidants, as well as potential cholesterol fighting and brain enhancing properties. However, because of the oxalates naturally found in eggplants (which can crystallize in the body), people with kidney and gallbladder problems may want to avoid them.

 

 

Blueberries

Hugely popular blueberries are rich antioxidants, can help with memory, cardiovascular health and boast a low glycemic index. Opt for organic blueberries, as the berries do get a high pesticide rating.
Freshly harvested blueberries are pictured on June 28, 2009 on a farm in Klaistow, eastern Germany. (MICHAEL URBAN/AFP/Getty Images)

 

 

Purple Grapes

We hear a lot about the resveratrol in grapes (and wine), and its role in increasing longevity, but these grapes also help with blood sugar balance and pump up the immune system.
Merlot grapes sit in bunches after being freshly picked during a night harvest for Artesa Winery October 1, 2007 in Napa, California. (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

 

Purple Tomatoes

A bit more rare than the usual red variety (which already has benefits from lycopene), purple tomatoes are usually heirloom and thanks to their hue, rich in those helpful anthocyanins.

 

Cherries

Put a cherry on top! In addition to their anthocyanins, cherries have also been found to help with arthritis pain (thanks to their anti-inflammatory qualities) and sleep (thanks to their natural melatonin).

 

 

Purple Carrots

Like purple tomatoes, purple carrots can be a bit harder to find, even though they date back to 2000 B.C.E. They taste sweeter than their orange cousins, and are high in fiber. Their anthocyanins can also help with the effects of diabetes.

 

 

Purple Potatoes

Like sweet potatoes, purple potatoes are rich in colour, which helps lead to their numerable health benefits. These pretty spuds help lower blood pressure, have tons of fiber, and of course, fight free radicals like all these purple foods.

 

Blackberries

Delicious and nutritious -- what more can you ask for from a berry? In addition the anthocyanins, blackberries are also rich in vitamin C (for eyes), vitamin K (for bones) and ellagic acid (for sun damage).

 

Cabbage

Though it's traditionally known as "red" cabbage, the leaves of this vegetable are no less rich in anthocyanin -- and as a bonus, cabbage is well known for its help with healing stomach ulcers.

 

 Source: Huffingtonpost


Free Delivery April 15 2016


Top 10 Tips to Help Children Develop Healthy Habits January 31 2016

Father Helping Son Toss Salad

You can help your child develop healthy habits early in life that will bring lifelong benefits. As a parent, you can encourage your kids to evaluate their food choice and physical activity habits. Here are some tips and guidelines to get you started.

  1. Be a good role model - You don’t have to be perfect all the time, but if kids see you trying to eat right and getting physically active, they’ll take notice of your efforts. You’ll send a message that good health is impor­tant to your family.
  2. Keep things positive - Kid’s don’t like to hear what they can’t do, tell them what they can do instead. Keep it fun and positive. Everyone likes to be praised for a job well done. Celebrate successes and help children and teens develop a good self-image.
     
  3. Get the whole family moving - Plan times for everyone to get moving together. Take walks, ride bikes, go swimming, garden or just play hide-and-seek outside. Everyone will benefit from the exercise and the time together.
     
  4. Be realistic - Setting realistic goals and limits are key to adopting any new behavior. Small steps and gradual changes can make a big difference in your health over time, so start small and build up.
     
  5. Limit TV, video game and computer time - These habits lead to a sedentary lifestyle and excessive snacking, which increase risks for obesity and cardiovascular disease. Limit screen time to 2 hours per day.
     
  6. Encourage physical activities that they’ll really enjoy - Every child is unique. Let your child experiment with different activities until they find something that they really love doing. They’ll stick with it longer if they love it. check out these activities for kids.
     
  7. Pick truly rewarding rewards - Don’t reward children with tv, video games, candy or snacks for a job well done. Find other ways to celebrate good behavior.
     
  8. Make dinnertime a family time - When everyone sits down together to eat, there’s less chance of children eating the wrong foods or snacking too much. Get your kids involved in cooking and planning meals. Everyone develops good eating habits together and the quality time with the family will be an added bonus.
     
  9. Make a game of reading food labels - The whole family will learn what’s good for their health and be more conscious of what they eat. It’s a habit that helps change behavior for a lifetime. Learn more about reading nutrition labels.
     
  10. Stay involved - Be an advocate for healthier children. Insist on good food choices at school. Make sure your children’s healthcare providers are monitoring cardiovascular indicators like BMI, blood pressure and cholesterol. Contact public officials on matters of the heart. Make your voice heard.

Originally published on http://www.heart.org/


Healthy Eating Habits for Your Child January 31 2016

By teaching your children healthy eating habits, and modeling these behaviors in yourself, you can help your children maintain a healthy weight and normal growth. Also, the eating habits your children pick up when they are young will help them maintain a healthy lifestyle when they are adults.

Your child's health care provider can evaluate your child's weight and growth and let you know if your child needs to lose or gain weight or if any dietary changes need to be made.

Some of the most important aspects of healthy eating are portion control and cutting down on how much fat your child eats. Simple ways to reduce fat intake in your child's diet and promote a healthy weight include serving:


  • Low-fat or nonfat dairy products
  • Poultry without skin
  • Lean cuts of meats
  • Whole grain breads and cereals
  • Healthy snacks such as fruit and veggies

Also, reduce the amount of sugar sweetened drinks and salt in your child's diet.

If you are unsure about how to select and prepare a variety of foods for your family, consult a registered dietitian for nutrition counseling.

It is important that you do not place your overweight child(ren) on a restrictive diet. Children should never be placed on a restrictive diet to lose weight unless a doctor supervises one for medical reasons.

Other approaches parents can take to develop healthy eating habits in their children include:

  • Guide your family's choices rather than dictate foods. Make a wide variety of healthful foods available in the house. This practice will help your children learn how to make healthy food choices. Leave the unhealthy choices like chips, soda, and juice at the grocery store. Serve water with meals.
  • Encourage your children to eat slowly. A child can detect hunger and fullness better when they eat slowly. Before offering a second helping or serving, ask your child to wait at least 15 minutes to see if they are truly still hungry. This will give the brain time to register fullness. Also, that second helping should be much smaller than the first.
  • Eat meals together as a family as often as possible. Try to make mealtimes pleasant with conversation and sharing, not a time for scolding or arguing. If mealtimes are unpleasant, children may try to eat faster to leave the table as soon as possible. They then may learn to associate eating with stress.
  • Involve your children in food shopping and preparing meals. These activities will give you hints about your children's food preferences, an opportunity to teach your children about nutrition, and provide your kids with a feeling of accomplishment. In addition, children may be more willing to eat or try foods that they help prepare.
  • Plan for snacks. Continuous snacking may lead to overeating, but snacks that are planned at specific times during the day can be part of a nutritious diet, without spoiling a child's appetite at meal times. You should make snacks as nutritious as possible, without depriving your children of occasional chips or cookies, especially at parties or other social events.
  • Discourage eating meals or snacks while watching TV. Try to eat only in designated areas of your home, such as the dining room or kitchen. Eating in front of the TV may make it difficult to pay attention to feelings of fullness, and may lead to overeating.
  • Encourage your children to drink more water. Over consumption of sweetened drinks and sodas has been linked to increased rates of obesity in children.
  • Try not to use food to punish or reward your children. Withholding food as a punishment may lead children to worry that they will not get enough food. For example, sending children to bed without any dinner may cause them to worry that they will go hungry. As a result, children may try to eat whenever they get a chance. Similarly, when foods, such as sweets, are used as a reward, children may assume that these foods are better or more valuable than other foods. For example, telling children that they will get dessert if they eat all of their vegetables sends the wrong message about vegetables.
  • Make sure your children's meals outside the home are balanced. Find out more about their school lunch program, or pack their lunch to include a variety of foods. Also, select healthier items when dining at restaurants.
  • Pay attention to portion size and ingredients. Read food labels and limit foods with trans fat. Also, make sure you serve the appropriate portion as indicated on the label.

originally published on www.webmd.com


Surprising Health Benefits of Vegetables January 26 2016

 

September 08, 2014

By Dr. Mercola @ http://articles.mercola.com/

Eating more fresh vegetables is one of the simplest choices you can make to improve your overall health. A vegetable-rich diet can help protect you from arthritis, heart disease, stroke, dementia, cancer, and can even help slow down your body's aging process.

A recent study found that people who consume seven or more portions of vegetables and fruit a day have a 42 percent lower risk of dying from any cause, compared to those who eat less than one portion—and vegetables have the greatest impact.1  

But vegetables can also benefit you in some surprising ways. Did you know that certain vegetables can help reduce bloating, and others can give your skin a more youthful glow? They can even improve how you handle stress—and adapting to stress is critically important to your mental AND physical health.2

Could Vegetables Be the REAL Comfort Foods?

Move over mac-and-cheese... vegetables are the REAL comfort foods, with nutrients that actually improve your resilience to stress. Eating vegetables helps replenish your magnesium and vitamin C, which can be depleted by stress.

Vegetables also provide you with omega-3 fats and B vitamins, proven to help reduce anxiety and depression. The vitamin K in veggies helps reduce inflammation in your body, which stress can aggravate.3

Green leafy vegetables, such as kale, spinach, and Swiss chard, are loaded with magnesium, which helps balance your cortisol, one of your "stress hormones." Magnesium and potassium relax blood vessels, helping keep your blood pressure low.4

Magnesium also plays an important role in calcium absorption, helping you maintain good muscle and nerve function and a healthy immune system. Low magnesium levels have been linked with anxiety disorders and migraines, both of which are typically aggravated by stress.5

Avocados are one of the best stress-busting foods you can eat, replete with potassium, glutathione, healthy fats, and more folate than any other fruit. Folateis extremely important for your brain. Asparagus is also rich in folate.

The Causes of Gas and Bloating

Bloating and gas are usually tied to what and how you eat. Vegetables can help reduce bloating—but if your gut is not healthy, they can make bloating worse.

A major cause of bloating is gas in your abdomen, half of which is simply swallowed air.6 You can reduce swallowed air by refraining from habits like drinking through a straw, chewing gum, or drinking carbonated beverages.

The remaining abdominal gas is produced by the bacteria in your gut that help digest your food. If food doesn't move quickly enough through your digestive tract, gas can build up in your intestines, resulting in that uncomfortable bloated feeling.

Foods that tend to make bloating worse include sweeteners like sorbitol andfructose, grains, legumes, dairy products (if you have difficulty digesting lactose), and certain fruits and vegetables such as cabbage, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, and prunes.

These foods contain sugars and starches that some people have trouble digesting. Overeating, eating too quickly, and not chewing your food adequately also contribute to bloating.

Fiber May Be Friend or Foe, Depending on Your Gut

You have probably heard that fiber is important for good health, but it is important to realize that eating a high-fiber diet with a damaged intestinal lining can lead to serious health problems. If high-fiber foods make you feel bloated, then it may indicate your digestive tract is in need of healing.

Your digestive system is not designed to break down fiber. It is actually because your body can't digest fiber that it plays such an important part in digestion.

Soluble fiber, like that found in cucumbers, blueberries, beans, and nuts, dissolves into a gel-like texture, helping to slow down your digestion. This helps you to feel full longer and is one reason why fiber may help with weight control.

Insoluble fiber, found in foods like dark green leafy vegetables, green beans, celery, and carrots, does not dissolve at all and helps add bulk to your stool.

This helps food to move through your digestive tract more quickly for healthy elimination. Many whole foods, especially fruits and vegetables, naturally contain both soluble and insoluble fiber.

If your gut flora is healthy, i.e. dominated by beneficial, probiotic species, then these microbes will feed on the undigested fiber in your bowel, allowing it to thrive and proliferate.

Fiber Helps Nourish Your Gut

Many of these dietary fibers are digested by the beneficial bacteria in your distal colon and they produce short-chain fatty acids, like butyric acid, that are highly nourishing to your intestinal cells. This creates a very healthy symbiosis.

However, if your gut is filled with pathogenic organisms (dysbiosis), fiber will actually make your symptoms worse, as it is a non-specific growth promoter for intestinal bacteria that doesn't discriminate between pathogenic and beneficial microorganisms. One of the best ways to restore your gut health is by regularly consuming naturally fermented vegetables, which I will be discussing shortly.

A temporary low-fiber, low-residue diet may also be quite helpful, such as theGAPS diet (Gut and Physiology Syndrome). Part of the GAPS program is removing fiber because it feeds microbes.

Most healthy people need upwards of 32 grams of fiber per day, but the majority of Americans fall quite short of this amount. Most of your fiber should come from vegetables, fruits, nuts, and seeds—not grains. Psyllium seed husk and flax are also beneficial. Also drink plenty of fresh, pure water every day, as this too is important for a healthy GI tract.

Vegetables May Reduce Bloating—But Increase Them Gradually

Once your digestive tract is working optimally, the fiber in vegetables will help flush out waste and gastric irritants, thereby minimizing bloating by keeping things moving along. When changing your diet, do so gradually, because suddenly eating lots of vegetables, or radically increasing your dietary fiber when you're not accustomed to doing so, can be a shock to your system.

The microbial environment in your gut is accustomed to certain conditions, and changing this too abruptly can result in gastric distress, bloating, and other GI symptoms. Whenever making changes to your diet—even beneficial ones—take care to acclimate over time. If you introduce new foods and experience a problem, back off a bit and see if it helps.

According to Dr. Wayne Pickering, improper food combining is another major factor behind gas and bloating, as well as heartburn and upset stomach. If the food you eat is not digesting properly, not only can these symptoms arise, but your body will also be deprived of critical nutrients.

The two foremost rules of food combining are: 1) No proteins and starches at the same meal, and 2) No fruits and vegetables at the same meal. For more information about the principles of food combining, please listen to my interview with Dr. Pickering. More of his information is available on his site,MangoDiet.com.

Veggies for That Youthful Glow

Vegetables hydrate your skin, which can help reduce wrinkles. Not only are some vegetables 85 to 95 percent water, but they also contain a plethora of phytonutrients that help guard against aging by preventing cell damage from stress, ultraviolet light, and environmental toxins.7 Vitamin C, abundant in tomatoes, cucumbers, bell peppers, broccoli, and others, aids in collagen formation. 

Brightly colored red and orange vegetables such as carrots, peppers, and winter squash, give you beta-carotene and help protect your skin from sun damage. Tomatoes contain lycopene, which acts as a natural sunscreen. A Scottish study involving college students suggests that fruit and vegetable consumption may even increase your attractiveness! Researchers found that the pigments (carotenoids) in many fruits and vegetables impart a warm glow "sufficient to convey perceptible improvements in the apparent healthiness and attractiveness of facial skin."8 Translation: vegetables make you appear more healthy and beautiful!

Vegetables Build Healthy Bones

Fresh vegetables are like rock stars when it comes to bone health. They offer highly bioavailable forms of calcium, magnesium, silica, and a host of other minerals that work synergistically to build strong, healthy bones. One of the fat-soluble vitamins playing a critical role in bone health is vitamin K2, as its primary function is to move calcium into the proper areas (teeth and bones). Vitamin K2 also helps direct calcium away from areas where it can cause problems, such as your arteries and soft tissues.

One of the best sources of vitamin K2 is fermented vegetables made with a special starter culture designed to optimize this nutrient. Fennel is also very good for your bones—the seeds in particular. Research has shown that eating the seeds of the fennel plant has a beneficial effect on bone mineral density, as well as bone mineral content. Researchers found that fennel seeds show potential in preventing bone loss in postmenopausal osteoporosis.

Tips for Selecting the Best Vegetables

If you want your vegetables to have the highest nutritional density, take a look at my list of powerhouse fruits and vegetables. Generally speaking, the greener the vegetable, the more nutritious it will be. I strongly advise you to avoid wilted vegetables, because they lose much of their nutritional value. It is wise to eat a variety of dark green leafy vegetables, plus other vividly colored veggies (purple, red, yellow, and orange) to make sure you receive a broad range of those powerful plant nutrients.

Eating foods that are in season, especially in your local area, will help ensure they are fresh and at peak nutritional value, as well as typically being less expensive. Here is a graphic for determining what veggies may be in season:

Three Ways to Boost the Nutrient Power of Your Vegetables

Eating a variety of fresh vegetables is always desirable, but there are ways to boost their nutritional value even further. My favorites are fermenting, juicing, and sprouting.

  1. Fermenting

Fermenting is one of the best ways to turn ordinary vegetables into superfoods. The culturing process produces beneficial microbes that are extremely important for your health as they help balance your intestinal flora, thereby boosting overall immunity. When fermenting vegetables, you can either use a starter culture or simply allow the natural enzymes, and good bacteria in and on the vegetables, to do all the work. This is called "wild fermentation." Personally, I prefer a starter culture, as it provides a larger number of different species and the culture can be optimized with species that produce high levels of vitamin K2.

For more than a year, we've been making two to three gallons of fermented vegetables every week in our Chicago office for our staff to enjoy. We use a starter culture of the same probiotic strains that we sell in our store as a supplement, which has been researched by our team to produce about 10 times the amount of vitamin K2 as any other starter culture.

  1. Juicing

Juicing provides an easy way for you to consume more vegetables and a greater variety of them, as well as providing ALL of those important nutrients in an easily assimilated form. Virtually every health authority recommends that we get six to eight servings of vegetables and fruits per day, but very few of us actually get that. Juicing is an easy way to reach your daily vegetable quota. Raw juice can be likened to a "living broth," as it is teeming with micronutrients and good bacteria that many people are lacking.

When you drink fresh-made green juice, it is almost like receiving an intravenous infusion of vitamins, minerals, and enzymes because they go straight into your system without needing to be broken down. Drinking your juice first thing in the morning can give you a natural energy boost without resorting to stimulants like coffee. Since the juice is so easily digested, it can help revitalize your energy levels in as little as 20 minutes. Juicing is also an excellent way to get your vegetables in if you have issues with fiber, as discussed earlier.

  1. Sprouting

Sprouting is a perfect complement to juicing! Sprouts are a superfood that many people overlook, as they offer a concentrated source of nutrition that's different from eating the vegetable in its mature form. Sprouts provide some of the highest quality protein you can eat and can contain up to 30 times the nutrient content of home-grown organic vegetables. They're also easy to grow with very little space and time. Some of the most common sprouts include alfalfa, mung bean, wheatgrass, peas, broccoli, and lentils—but my personal favorites are sunflower and watercress. You can even sprout garlic! Sprouts have the following beneficial attributes:

  • Support for cell regeneration
  • Powerful sources of antioxidants, minerals, vitamins, and enzymes that protect against free radical damage
  • Alkalinizing effect on your body, which is thought to protect against disease, including cancer (as many tumors are acidic)
  • Abundantly rich in oxygen, which can also help protect against abnormal cell growth, viruses, and bacteria that cannot survive in an oxygen-rich environment

Five More Tips for 'Sneaking' More Vegetables Into Your Diet

  1. Grow your own garden. Replace your lawn or shrubs with a vegetable garden—just be careful about your local zoning laws. If a garden is not feasible, join a CSA where you'll get veggies delivered every week.
  2. Put your vegetables on the top shelf of your fridge so you will see them—especially veggies already prepped for snacking on the go. (Sticking a head of cauliflower in the back of the bottom drawer may be a "vegetable death sentence.")
  3. Add vegetables to foods you already love—for example, soups, sauces, stews, chili, etc. You can even add a green veggie powder to healthy chocolate treats, or try "avocado chocolate pudding." There are many creative recipes online.
  4. As an alternative to juicing, make a "green drink" with a high-quality green vegetable powder.
  5. Don't disregard frozen veggies! They are often picked at their peak and frozen right at the farm, so they can be a nutritious alternative when you run out of the fresh, or a vegetable you want is out of season