Benefits of Plant-based Diet

A diet high in animal-based and highly processed foods makes people sick and overweight. But many of these sicknesses can be prevented, halted, and even reversed by eating a whole-food, plant-based diet.

Watch Rip Esselstyn's (author of Engine 2 Diet) TEDTalk on how the Plant Strong Diet improved the health of his fire house.

By the way, Rip Esselstyn is the son of Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn, who was trained as a surgeon at the Cleveland Clinic and at St. George's Hospital in London. Dr. Esselstyn has been associated with the Cleveland Clinic since 1968. He was studying about how a plant-based diet can reverse chronic diseases, such as heart diseases, hypertension, diabetes, cancer, etc.

No kidding...we have cures for these common killers already.

A whole-food, plant-based diet has been shown to:

• Lower cholesterol, blood pressure, and blood sugar
• Prevent and reverse heart disease
• Prevent and reverse obesity
• Lower risk of cancer and diabetes
• Slow the progression of certain types of cancer
• Improve symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis
• Improve overall quality of life

Then, why agen’t we aware of this miracle diet?

Pharmaceutical companies are not advertising it. Doctors are not believing it, because they're trained to prescribe medications.

Anyway, watch "Forks Over Knives" documentary in Netflix, and you'll know who Dr. Esselstyn is and what the China Study discover.


Lower Oxidative Stress & Reduce Inflammation

Studies show that a diet rich in whole plant foods, such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, beans, see, tea, coffee, red wine and olive oil, decreases levels of oxidative stress and chronic inflammation, which are associated with the development of chronic diseases.

In the Adventist Health Study II, a vegetarian diet was linked to lower CRP levels, a marker of inflammation.

Promotes Healthy Gut/Immune System

Increasing evidence shows that a fiber-rich plant-based diet promotes healthy gut microbiota, and it is also linked to better immune support and digestive health.

EPIC study found lower rate of hospital admissions and risk of death from diverticular disease among vegetarians.

Protects the Brain

Chronic inflammation and oxidative stress lead to development of Alzheimer’s. Consuming a plant-based Mediterranean diet is linked to lower risk of Alzheimer’s disease.

Protects the Environmental

All meat is NOT created equal. Lamb, beef, pork and cheese generate the most greenhouse gases. They are also high in saturated fats and have the worst environmental impacts.

Animal meats and dairy products require large amount of pesticides, chemical fertilizer, fuel, feed and water to cultivates. And, as a result, generates an enormous amount of greenhouse gases, toxic manure and other pollutants that contaminate our air and water.

Environmental Benefits of Plant-based Diet

Plant-Based Diet Saves Lives

What is a Plant-based Diet

What is a Plant-Based Diet?

A plant-based diet focuses on whole, unrefined, or minimally processed plants, such as organic fruits, vegetables, tubers, whole grains, seeds, nuts and legumes. It excludes or minimizes animal protein, such as meat (including chicken and fish), dairy products, and eggs. This diet also exclude highly refined or processed foods like bleached flour, refined sugars and oil.

It’s very interesting that a vegetarian or vegan diet is often frown upon in the medical setting. I get lots of consults from concern pediatricians and parents.

A plant-based or vegan diet is almost synonymous as starvation or malnutrition or a cover for an eating disorder in teenagers.

Pediatricians freak out if parents is vegan, and the child is at eminent risk of malnutrition. Parents freak out if their child wants to be vegan. The consult is either for me to educate the family of a proper vegan diet or the parents want me to pursuede their child to change their mind.

Despite all the things we’re taught in school about risk of protein deficiency, iron deficiency, calcium deficiency, vitamin B12 deficiency in a vegan diet, I have never, in my professional life, see a vegan or vegetarian with any of these deficiencies.

I’ve seen iron deficiency in women, children and teenagers who eats a regular American diet. I’ve seen protein deficiency, calcium deficiency and calcium deficiency in very sick children who eats a regular American diet.


How Does the Plant-based Diet Work?

To understand how the plant-based diet works, we need to first understand the chemistry of the human body.

Human Body Chemistry

Don’t worry…I’m not going to pull out my organic chemistry or biochemistry hat and start lecture.

What I want to get to is that the human body is a giant water bag filled with interacting elements. The human body is kept alive and functioning by thousands of chemical reactions. Every single one of these reactions requires a “catalyst” to make the reaction happens.

And coincidently, these catalysts are minerals and vitamins found in lots of fruits and vegetables that God made for us.

So in order for the human body to function well to include staying focus, having energy, fight diseases, etc, we need all our chemical reactions to work at their best, which requires lots of minerals and vitamins.

Antioxidants found in fruits and vegetables also plays significant role in our body functions. Antioxidants help neutralize harmful free radicals and speed the healing process.

The living body is a dynamic structure where cells are constantly dying and being replaced with new ones. With proper nutrition (or ingredients) our body can build better replacement cells and tissues that works even better than the last.

And there’s something to say about “cravings”. We have always been right about cravings. It’s our body’s way to tell us that some important ingredients are missing. But we have been tackling cravings wrong all this time.

We’ve been told to drink water when you have a craving. Or try to figure the texture (crunchy, gooey) or taste (sweet or salty) of the food that you crave, and find the food with the right texture or taste to curb the cravings.

In fact, what our body is really craving for are nutrients. Vital nutrients, such as vitamins, minerals and antioxidants from fruits and vegetables, to facilitate life-supporting chemical reactions.

That’s the point we’ve been missing.

When your body is well-nourished, your cravings will stop. You can look at cravings as thirst or hunger. You need hydration when you’re thirsty, energy from food when you’re hungry, and nutrients when you have cravings.

Look at the United States, you think we’re a well-informed and well-fed nation. But look at our spending on healthcare, and statistics of people dying from lifestyle diseases, such as heart diseases, cancers, obesity, diabetes, etc.

The Healthcare costs well-exceeds the GPD. will eventually bankrupt this country. And 1.2 million deaths that could have been prevented.

Leading Causes of Death in US

All these are diseases of malnutrition (or overnutrition) and nutrient-deficiencies.

What About the Nutrients in Animal Protein?

It’s true that animal protein does provide all 20 essential amino acids (building blocks of protein) in one source. However, it turns out animal protein is not the best or only source of protein or amino acid, or calcium, iron, zinc, etc.

High intake of animal protein (to include dairy and eggs) are associated with increased risk of certain cancers and chronic conditions.

According to the China Study, dairy products are not even a good source of calcium as we’ve been told by the Dairy Council.

It’s a big fat lie to get us drink loads of milk and eats tons of cheese so dairy farmers to make money.

In fact, the milk protein in dairy products increase risk of osteoporosis and osteopenia, and certain types of cancer. Studies have also shown that countries with the most dairy consumption also have the highest incidence of osteoporosis and osteopenia.

Red meat, as we know, increases risk of cardiac disease due to the oxidative effects of iron.

Despite the fact that plant protein is consider “incomplete”, it is the best source of protein. The human body does have 20 essential amino acids that we just can’t create on our own, and we need to acquire these essential amino acid from food that we eat. We’ve been told for decades that animal protein is ‘the best” source of protein because it provides ALL 20 essential amino acids. However, our body does not care where these amino acids come from.

Consuming animal protein to acquire these amino acids comes with a price - carcinogens, hormones, antibiotics, free radicals, etc.

On the other hand, assuming you’re eating a wholesome plant-based diet with a variety of unprocessed fruits, vegetables, nuts, beans, seeds and whole grains, you’re guarantee to have all your essential amino acids complete.

Keep reading: Benefits of a Plant Based Diet

One of Many Healthy Recipes for Dinner

Garlic String Beans
Sausage Stuffed Mushrooms

This is how it looks like to eat a healthy plant-based dinner.

I know how hard it is to come up with healthy recipes for dinner, I hope my simple dinner will inspire you to make more healthy choices for your family.

I have a hungry teenager with bottomless stomach, who plays tennis, which means she can eat, and you better feed her quick before the hangry monster comes out of her.

Tonight, I made something very simple that she actually enjoyed to my surprise. So I decided to share.

It’s not totally support health nut level healthy, but decent for a typical teenager. And it worked out perfect as you’ll see.

Here it go:

I first started by stuffing some stuffer mushroom with Italian sausage. I got this idea from Whole Foods. We used to buy the stuffed mushroom from Whole Foods, but now I figure how to do it.

I left the stuffed mushroom in the fridge, while I went to pick her up from her tennis match at Kamehameha School. Super nice school, BTW.

When my child got in the car, of course, the first thing she asked was “what’s for dinner?”.

Anyway, fast-forward driving and getting home.

I put the stuffed mushroom in the oven while it is pre-heated.

In the mean time, I preheated the frying pan on the stove, while I prepared the string beans (trimming both ends). When the string beans are ready, I throw them in the hot pan with oil in it.

While the string beans are cooking on the stove, I chopped up cloveS of garlic, because my child asked specially for “lots of garlic”.

When the green beans are almost done, I added salt, pepper and chopped garlic and cooked longer.

The string beans finished before the stuffed mushroom, so we started dinner with eating just string beans. We finished all the string beans before the stuffed mushroom was even close to finish, and my child wanted more string beans. So I made more string beans while still waiting for the stuffed mushroom.

While I repeated the whole process of making string beans, my hungry child started eating pineapples.

By the time the string beans are done, the stuffed mushrooms are done too.

We sat down to eat our dinner together, just like any other family.

Our dinner is kind of a short-order cook, but it worked well to feed my child a healthy meal that is mostly vegetables and fruits - string beans and pineapples. By the way, between the two of us, we ate a whole pound of sting beans just this one meal.

Have you notice we didn’t have any starchy items? Dinner is so much easier and healthier without any starchy items.

And most importantly, my hungry child is fed to her satisfaction.

Hope this inspires you…

Anti-Inflammatory Diet for Cystic Fibrosis

Cystic Fibrosis. Inflammation. Nutrition.

Progression of CF

Cystic fibrosis (CF) is a degenerative disease characterization by it's chronic inflammatory process.

The abnormal CFTR protein results in abnormally thick mucous in the airways. This thickened mucous further results in obstruction in the airway allowing pathogenic bacteria to growth and thrive. The respiratory become infected and inflamed.

This progress continues on throughout the life of the person with cystic fibrosis.

Mucolytics, such as pulmozymes, helps to loosen the mucous. Antibiotics, such as tobi, helps to fight the bacterial infection. Anti-inflammatory drugs are used to help reduce inflammation.

Cystic Fibrosis and Inflammation.

Because of the chronic inflammation associated with CF, patients tend to have low levels of glutathione (GSH), which is an important modulator of the immune and inflammatory process.

GSH bathes the extracellular space of sensitive tissues that come in contact with the oxygen in the air, and this includes the eye, the lungs, and the gastro-intestinal system, among others. The epithelial cells in these systems releases GSH into the extracellular space to protect them from oxidant damage. Unfortunately, in most of the systems just described, the epithelial channel used to release GSH is the CFTR. This means that those with CFTR mutations releases much less GSH.

CFTR defect is also associated with defective fatty acid metabolism resulting in low levels of anti-inflammatory fatty acids, such as linoleic acid and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), and high levels of pro-inflammatory fatty acid, such as arachidonic acid.

Nutrition and Inflammation

Saturated and trans fat intake is associated with increase risk of cardiovascular disease and chronic inflammation, which is likely an important component in the pathophysiology of many chronic diseases, such as type 2 diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease, and many types of cancers.

As the longevity of CF population extends, we’re dealing with adult CF patients with adult chronic medical problems, such as hypertension, CVD, etc.

As we know, many chronic adult medical problems are diet- and lifestyle-related, and are the results on chronic inflammation.

How does the current CF diet measure?

Smith et al analyzed 136 food diaries in 27 children and found a high proportion of calories from fat (38% - recommendation for CF is 40%), high proportion of fat from saturated fat (134% of recommended intake), and a mean polyunsaturated fat intake was 92%.

Can Nutrition influence inflammation?

Food can activate the inflammatory response.

Food can inhibit the inflammatory response by correcting a nutrient deficit that causes inflammation.

Food can also inhibit an inflammatory response by restricting pro-inflammatory agents, such as saturated and trans fat.

Inflammation Causing Food

Unhealthy Saturated Fats (including trans fat): processed/convenience foods, fried foods, dairy products, animal protein

Foods that Fight Inflammation

Refined Carbohydrates: processed/convenience foods, bread, pasta, crackers, baked goods, most breakfast cereals, sweets/desserts, soft drinks, juices…

Inflammation Fighting Food

Omega-3 Fatty Acids (DHA & EPA): fatty fish (salmon, tuna, trout, herring, mackerel), chia seeds, flaxseed, walnuts, grass-fed beef & butter

Polyphenols: fresh fruits/ vegetables, whole grains and green tea

Can we create a diet that maximizes health and still meet nutritional needs of people with CF?

Anti-Inflammatory-Diet for Cystic Fibrosis

The Mediterranean diet or anti-inflammatory diet is rich in omega-3 fatty acids, antioxidants and restricted in red meat, processed food, saturated fats and trans fats.

The anti-inflammatory diet has an increased mono-unsaturated fatty acids to saturated fatty acids ratio, and ω-3 to ω-6 fatty acids ratio. It has been shown to have anti-inflammatory effects when compared with a typical North American and Northern European diet.

Rich in omega-3 fatty acid: cold water fish, flax seeds, chia seeds, walnuts, fish oil supplement 4-6g daily.

Rich in antioxidants & fiber: fresh fruits/vegetables, nuts, seeds, beans, whole gains, dark chocolate (no fiber).

Rich in herbs and spices: garlic (allicin), turmeric (curcumin), hot peppers (capsaicin), ginger (gingerois), cinnamon, onions, cilantro, parlsey, basil, rosemary…

Limit red meat, processed/convenient foods, sweets, baked goods, butter/margarine, trans fat…

Anti-inflammatory Diet for Cystic Fibrosis

Nutritional goals are still to achieve appropriate weight gain, meet nutritional needs and prevent malnutrition or deficits.

This diet still needs to be high calorie and high fat (40% of total calories).

Studies show DHA and EPA supplement can reverse the CF-related fatty abnormalities in CFTR.

Current CF Diet vs Anti-Inflammatory diet for Cystic Fibrosis

Regular Cystic Fibrosis Diet
Anti inflammatory diet for Cystic Fibrosis

Both diets provides about 4,200 calories per day and more than 40% of dietary fat, the current recommendation.

The anti-inflammatory diet has a much lower ω-3 to ω-6 fatty acids ratio of 1:4. Ideal ratio is 1:4.

And this is not including additional supplementation with fish oil.

Which diet for cystic fibrosis would you be eating?

Anti-Inflammatory Calorie Boosters for Cystic Fibrosis

Flaxseed oil or extra virgin olive oil or coconut oil (45kcal/tsp) drizzle on everything.

Coconut cream (50kcal/tbsp) use in recipes or beverages, smoothies

Nuts (170kcal/oz) tossed in salads, blended in smoothies, added to baked goods, granola/trail mix.

Beans in stew/casserole, soup, brownies

Chia seed or flaxseed (omega-3 & fiber) add to smoothies, breakfast cereals, baked goods, stews and casserole

Nut butter (190kcal/2 tbsp) spread on toast, crackers, pancakes, chips, crackers, eat with fruits/vegetables.

Bean dip (hummus 25kcal/tbsp) or avocado dip (guacamole 25kcal/tbsp) with vegetables, chips, salads, etc

One Republic – I Lived

Why is Nutrition Important in Cystic Fibrosis?

What is Cystic Fibrosis?

CF is genetic disorder that is inherited in an autosomal recessive manner. It is caused by the presence of mutations in both copies of the gene for the cystic fibrosis transmembrane conductance regulator (CFTR) protein.

Those with a single functional copy of the gene are carriers and are otherwise mostly normal. CFTR is involved in production of sweat, digestive fluids in the GI tract and mucus in the respiratory tract. When CFTR is not functional, secretions in the lungs and GI tract, which are usually thin, becomes thick and sticky.

The condition is diagnosed by a sweat test and genetic testing. Screening of infants at birth takes place in some areas of the world.

What are some Cystic Fibrosis Symptoms?

Chronic coughing, frequent lung infection, failure to thrive in infant and children, malnutrition in adults, steatorrhea (fatty stool).

Cystic Fibrosis and Nutrition

“Pass the Butter, Please” is probably a very common phrase whispered at the dinner table of families with CF.

We all know people with CF needs a lot of calories in forms of fats and butter, they also need a lot of salt and other nutrients.

Research suggested that nutrition is linked to CF survival. The research shows that the CF population in Toronto, Canada had a significantly better survival rate compared to the CF population in Boston, MA. The only difference found between the groups was that the CF patients in Canada weighed more.

Study also shows that nutrition is linked to lung function. A study of about 3,300 CF patients over the age of 2, shows that CF patients who have normal body weight (regardless of infection status) maintain better FEV1% predicted and have less lung function decline over years compared to CF patients who are malnourished.

CF Foundation Guidelines

Data collected by the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation over the years also suggest a link between nutrition and lung function. Based on these data, the CF Foundation put out guidelines for children to achieve a BMI of 50%ile or above, and the BMI recommendation for adults are 23 for men and 22 for female.

Malnutrition may affect lung muscles that are needed for breathing. Malnutrition may also affect tissue repair mechanism in people with CF. Malnutrition also affects the immune system and increase susceptibility to infection.

How Does CF Affect Digestion?

The absence or malfunction of the Cystic fibrosis transmembrane conductance regulator (CFTR) prevents the movement of Cl- ion into and out of cells, causing buildup of thickened mucous in the airway.

This defective CFTR is also present in the GI tract affecting proper digestion and absorption of nutrients.

The organ most affected is the pancreas, resulting in exocrine pancreatic insufficiency.

The exocrine pancreas normally produced digestive enzymes, such as amylase, protease and lipase to digest carbohydrates, protein, and fats respectively.

In exocrine pancreatic insufficiency, the production of these enzymes is halted by the buildup of thickened mucus just like in the lungs.

The nutritional consequences of exocrine pancreatic insufficiency is steatorrhea (or fatty stool), fat-soluble vitamins (A, D, E, and K) deficiency and minerals (calcium and zinc) from fat malabsorption.

CF and Inflammation

Another less frequently noticed reason why nutrition is important is that nutrition can affect inflammation.

CF is an inflammatory disease. The abnormal CFTR causes thickened mucous in the lungs, which results in obstruction, then infection, and inflammation. This process goes on and on, damaging lung tissue along the way.

Patients with CF has lower levels of glutathione, which is an important immune modulator to help reduce inflammation. CF patients also have a defective fatty acid metabolism, which results in low levels of linoleic acid and DHA, which are anti-infammatory, and increased level of arachidonic acid, which is pro-inflammatory. The current diet for CF in high in saturated fats, trans fats and omega-6 fatty acids, all of which are increase inflammatory.

We know there are food that can cause inflammation and there are food that can reduce inflammation.

An anti-inflammatory diet can help reduce the inflammation and slow down the progress of CF lung degeneration.

The anti-inflammatory diet is rich in omega-3 fatty acids (DHA & EPA) and polyphenols. It replaces unhealthy pro-inflammatory fats with healthy fats, such as extra virgin olive oil, organic grass-fed butter, fish oil, etc.

Research suggested that supplementation with DHA & EPA may reverse the defective fatty acid mechanism in CFTR.

The anti-inflammatory diet is also rich in antioxidants from fresh fruits, vegetables, herbs, and spices.

Read Anti-inflammatory Diet for Cystic Fibrosis