Arthritis

Dr. McDougall's Health and Medical Center

Painful joints can be divided into “degenerative” and “inflammatory” forms of arthritis. Osteoarthritis is the name often given to the degenerative form and can be helped by losing weight. Inflammatory forms of arthritis, like rheumatoid, Lupus, psoriatic, and ankylosing spondylitis are all very responsive to the McDougall Program. About 70% of people with rheumatoid arthritis (the most common form of inflammatory arthritis) can expect dramatic benefits, and often a cure, in less than 4 weeks of diet change.

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Anti-Aging

Dr. McDougall's Health and Medical Center

Life is short and as a result most of us want to make the most of our 90 plus years. Look around the world. Who are the people who look the youngest and are most agile, trim and functional? It’s people who live on starch-based diets. When these same people move to the West, and switch to burgers and pizza, they age faster. The rich Western diet places serious burdens on our bodies. Rapid aging is one consequence of all this avoidable wear and tear. Dietary excesses, especially in the form of animal protein (and isolated soy protein), cause the production of growth hormones (like IGF-1). As an adult you do not want to grow (age) any faster than is necessary. Plants are abundant in antioxidants which slow aging. All of the components of a starch-based diet with fruits and vegetables keep your skin, eyes, ears, heart, and bones in top condition throughout life. Don’t forget: moderate exercise and clean habits (like not smoking) also support a youthful body. Follow this advice and you will soon be hearing well-deserved compliments from friends and family.

 

From Couch Potato to One of the World’s Fittest Men

RichRollBeforeAndAfter 570x299 From Couch Potato to One of the World’s Fittest MenAlthough I had been a collegiate athlete, I had completely lost touch with health and fitness. For many years, my focus was on things I think we can all relate to: building my career as a lawyer, getting married, raising four kids and just getting the bills paid. Along the way, I became sedentary without a second thought devoted to how and what I put down my throat. As I inched towards forty, my addiction to cheeseburgers, pizza, fries and buffalo chicken wings began to catch up to me. I was fifty pounds overweight, but I continued to convince myself that I was still that fit college athlete, bulletproof to obesity and declining health despite the fact that I was perpetually exhausted, lethargic and depressed. Never underestimate the power of denial.

On the precipice of my 40th birthday, I was blessed with a moment of clarity. It was very late, and as my family slept, I walked upstairs to go to bed after a long night of mindless television on the couch eating fast food. My chest tightened, and I was so winded, I came close to passing out. As I watched my wife and our little baby girl sleeping in my bed, I was gripped by fear. I was reminded of the heart disease that runs in my family and how it took my grandfather’s life at an early age. I was face-to-face with the reality that I was no longer fit and youthful, but very overweight, terribly out of shape, and – more likely than not – facing the strong likelihood that I would suffer the same fate that stole the young life of my grandfather.

The next day I formulated a plan to take back my health. My plan started with embarking on a 100% whole-food, plant-based diet. When I began this journey, I had no desire whatsoever to return to competitive athletics. My goal was simple:  Avoid a heart attack. Lose some weight. Feel better. If you had told me five years ago that I would be standing where I am today as a successful ultra-endurance athlete at age 45, I would have said you were completely insane.

Yet against all odds, I have clocked two top finishes at the Ultraman World Championships. Widely considered one of the most grueling endurance races on the planet, Ultraman is a three-day double Ironman-distance triathlon that circumnavigates the entire Big Island of Hawaii. Kicking off with a 6.2 mile ocean swim, it’s followed by 270 miles of cycling and culminates with a 52.4 mile run.

In 2009 I was actually the race leader, holding a ten minute lead over a professional field of hand-selected athletes from all over the world. I ultimately finished in sixth place due to a bicycle crash on Day 2 that took me out of podium contention. In 2010, fellow Ultraman Jason Lester and I accomplished something no other human being had ever even attempted: completing five Ironman-distance triathlons of five different Hawaiian Islands in under seven days.

I do not describe these accomplishments to massage my ego, but to underscore just how radically my life has changed. The difference is nothing short of miraculous. The point is this: everything – and I mean everything – that I have achieved as an endurance athlete, begins and ends with how I significantly changed my perspective on food.

Of course, not everyone has the desire to compete in the Ultraman. But everyone wants to be healthy. In my opinion, a whole-food, plant-based diet is a critical first step on this journey towards taking your life back. My message is this: when the body, mind and spirit are healthy and balanced, anything is possible. The power to change exists within you. It’s never too late and is there for the taking. Believe me, if I can do it, you can too.

To read more about Rich’s incredible journey, check out his inspirational memoirFINDING ULTRA: Rejecting Middle Age, Becoming One of the World’s Fittest Men, and Discovering Myself (Crown / Random House). View the book trailer below. 

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Rich Roll

Rich Roll

High Blood Pressure (Hypertension)

Blood pressure rises naturally in response to a clogging of your blood vessels in order to deliver oxygen and nutrients to your body. The pharmaceutical industry’s answer is to inhibit the natural mechanisms of the body, causing the pressure to fall. The problem with this artificial reduction of pressure is that nothing helpful has been accomplished by the medication to improve the health of the blood vessels themselves. The arteries remain fragile and ready to burst into a stroke or heart attack. Attacking the cause of the problem – the rich Western diet – cleans up and strengthens the blood vessels and reduces the resistance to blood flow. Your blood pressure will then fall naturally. In less than 2 weeks of following the McDougall Program, people with high blood pressure (150/90 mmHg or greater) experience an average reduction of 23/14 mmHg and in most cases significantly reduce or stop all blood pressure medications.

Researchers Unveil Six Dietary Guidelines for Cancer Prevention

WASHINGTON—Six dietary guidelines – more aggressive than previous cancer prevention advice will be unveiled in the June 30 issue of theJournal of the American College of Nutrition.

The cancer prevention guidelines, emphasizing a diet rich in plant-based foods, such as soy beans and cruciferous, allium, and carotenoid vegetables, are based on the principle that diet changes are justified, even when evidence on certain issues are up for debate. The recommendations urge the same kind of precautionary approach health experts took against tobacco decades earlier, before smoking bans were enforced, and warn about the association between cancer and alcohol, red and processed meats, dairy products, and carcinogens in well-cooked meats, including beef, poultry, and fish.

“The key recommendation is to build meals around fruits, vegetables, and legumes,” says study author Neal Barnard, M.D., president of the nonprofit Physicians Committee and an adjunct associate professor of medicine at the George Washington University School of Medicine and Health Sciences. “Plant-based foods provide an antioxidant boost and help promote a healthy weight, reducing the risk for all types of cancer in the long run.”

The six dietary recommendations to reduce risk of several types of cancer are:

1. Limit or avoid dairy products to reduce the risk of prostate cancer.

Findings: Consuming thirty-five grams of dairy protein each day, the equivalent of one large cup of cottage cheese, increases risk of prostate cancer by 32 percent. Drinking two glasses of milk each day increases risk of prostate cancer by 60 percent.

Note: Calcium supplements appear to have the same effect as milk intake. Men who supplement with more than 400 milligrams of calcium per day increase risk for fatal prostate cancer by 51 percent.

2. Limit or avoid alcohol to reduce the risk of cancers of the mouth, pharynx, larynx, esophagus, colon, rectum, and breast.

Findings: One drink per week increases risk of mouth, pharynx, and larynx cancers by 24 percent. Two to three drinks per day increase risk of colorectal cancer by 21 percent.

Note: The alcohol itself (rather than additives) appears to be the cause of cancer, and all types of alcoholic beverages (wine, beer, and spirits) are problematic.

3. Avoid red and processed meats to reduce the risk of cancers of the colon and rectum.

Findings: Each 50-gram daily serving of processed meat, equivalent to two slices of bacon or one sausage link, increases risk of colorectal cancer by 21 percent. Each 120-gram daily serving of red meat, equivalent to a small steak, increases risk of colorectal cancer by 28 percent.

Note: The heme iron, nitrites, heterocyclic amines, and overabundance of essential amino acids in red and processed meats are all believed to contribute to cancerous cell growth in the body.

4. Avoid grilled, fried, and broiled meats to reduce the risk of cancers of the colon, rectum, breast, prostate, kidney, and pancreas.

Findings: Four types of heterocyclic amines (HCAs) are associated with cancer of the colon and rectum. HCAs form from creatine and amino acids in cooked skeletal muscle, increasing with higher cooking times and higher temperatures. When ingested, HCAs can disrupt DNA synthesis.

Note: In addition to the cancers listed above, HCAs are also associated, to a weaker extent, with cancers of the breast, prostate, kidney, and pancreas.

5. Consume soy products to reduce risk of breast cancer and to reduce the risk of recurrence and mortality for women previously treated for breast cancer

Findings: Evidence from Asian and Western countries shows that soy products are associated with reduced cancer risk. Chinese women who consume more than 11.3 grams of soy protein, equivalent to half a cup of cooked soybeans, each day during adolescence have a 43 percent reduced risk of premenopausal breast cancer, compared with women who consume 1.7 grams.

Research in Shanghai shows that women with breast cancer who consume 11 grams of soy protein each day can reduce mortality and risk of recurrence by about 30 percent.  U.S. populations show similar findings: the higher the isoflavone intake from soy products, the less risk of mortality and recurrence in women with breast cancer.

Note: When choosing soy products, opt for natural forms, such as edamame, tempeh, or organic tofu, as opposed to soy protein concentrates and isolates, common in powders and pills.

6. Emphasize fruits and vegetables to reduce risk of several common forms of cancer.

Findings: Fruits and vegetables, especially leafy greens, help reduce overall cancer risk. A high intake of cruciferous vegetables, such as broccoli, kale, and cabbage, is associated with an 18 percent reduced risk of colorectal cancer and reduced risk of lung and stomach cancers.

Women who consume the most carotenoid-rich vegetables, such as carrots and sweet potatoes, lower their risk of breast cancer by 19 percent. Overall, women who consume the highest quantities of any kind of fruit or vegetable reduce breast cancer risk by 11 percent.  A high intake of tomato products has been shown to reduce risk of gastric cancer by 27 percent. Garlic and other allium vegetables, such as onions, significantly reduce risk for gastric cancer, while a Western diet (high amounts of meat and fat with minimal amounts of fruits and vegetables) doubles the risk.

Note: Some components in soybeans, green tea, turmeric, grapes, tomatoes, and other plant foods have the ability to regulate apoptosis (a natural process for destroying unhealthy cells), an important pathway for cancer prevention.

six dietary guidelines for cancer prevention
Dietary Guidelines for Cancer Prevention (PDF)

“There’s considerable benefit–and no harm—in loading up with plant-based foods,” notes study author Susan Levin, M.S., R.D., C.S.S.D., director of nutrition education for the Physicians Committee. “Large bodies of research show fruits, vegetables, and legumes offer a variety of protective properties, so why not move these foods to the center of our plates?”

The World Health Organization states that a significant percentage of cancers can be prevented by following a healthful diet, avoiding tobacco, leading an active lifestyle, and limiting alcohol intake.

From Meds to Marathons

Rob Dube 570 From Meds to Marathons: How Eating Whole Plants Reversed My Asthma and Eczema

 

Imagine an active eight-year-old boy playing baseball, basketball, and tennis …  going nonstop. Now, imagine that same boy hindered with difficulty breathing ― something most of us take for granted.

 

That was me, diagnosed with asthma and immediately put on all types of medication. The meds made me feel jittery and not “right.” I tried my best to not let the asthma or drugs slow me down, but it was difficult. In college, I was placed on “better” medications and given a “rescue” inhaler, which I used consistently. In addition, a severe case of eczema developed on many parts of my body. Many trips to the doctor and expensive lotions didn’t help.

Still active, I took up running but could go for only a few miles at a time. Inspired by a coworker, I decided to train for a marathon and in 2008 completed it with a time of 3:51:17. I got the “running bug” and began to train more seriously.

In addition, I started studying nutrition and paying close attention to what was working best for my performance and recovery. After reading an article about eliminating red meat from my diet, I tried it, and gradually moved to a vegetarian diet. In 2011, I saw a trailer for the Forks Over Knives documentary and knew I had to see it. One day, in the middle of the workday, I checked the movie listings and saw that it was playing in my area. At that moment I felt compelled to see the movie and dropped everything that afternoon to do so.

After seeing Forks Over Knives, I decided to try the plant-based diet approach. Within a short period of time, I noticed my asthma and eczema symptoms were not as prevalent as they had been. Working with my allergist and nutritionist, I reduced the medication and eventually stopped taking medications altogether. For 33 years I had taken medication every day ― this was a life transforming event for me!

And, while this was all going on, I continued to train and run marathons. After moving to a plant-based diet, I noticed my performance and recovery times improved significantly, and I was able to reach one of my goals: qualifying for the Boston Marathon. To date, I’ve run 14 marathons and qualified for four Boston Marathons, running in two of them (including 2013, where I finished ahead of the bombing).

The NBC affiliate in Detroit has a health segment and featured my story earlier this year. I’ve never been more active or felt better. Each day I’m amazed that I no longer take medication and that my eczema is completely gone!

Fed Up With “Fed Up”

By T. Colin Campbell, PhD June 3rd, 2014 News45 Comments

In case you missed it, a new diet and health documentary movie called “Fed Up” was released in theaters on May 9. I’ve never written a movie review before—in fact, I am not much of a moviegoer. But my wife, Karen, and I decided to see this one, partly because this topic has been my career and partly because it seems that an unusually strong public relations effort was mounted to get people to see it.

But mostly, what specifically drew my attention was an op-ed piece by NY Times health science writer Mark Bittman who recommended it, so I took him at his word.

First, for the film’s credits. It mainly speaks of a problem that almost everyone agrees on—the sickening sweetness of too much sugar, especially for children. Who can disagree? But this message seems to me to be the beginning, the middle and the end of the film and it took almost two hours to hammer home what appears to be an obvious truth. A second message blames authorities (especially a few academics) for shoving so much sugar down our throats, a thought shared by many discontented citizens these days.

So, now, let’s look at some stories that failed to make it into the film. First, there is the title. It provides gravitas suggesting that the film is going to tell us what is the real cause of the big health problem that we suffer. They say it’s our excessive consumption of sugar that causes obesity that causes, in turn, other diseases, although they mostly left it to our imagination what these might be. Our really big health problem is obesity, so the film says, and if we could only eliminate this heavy-weight problem, our sickness would disappear. And, we can do this, of course, by eliminating sugar from our diets. So simple…..!

This is a very reductionist idea that seriously short-changes the far more comprehensive diet and health connection. Obesity should not be considered an independent disease outcome or a stepping-stone to other disease outcomes. Obesity was first granted its own independent disease status, with its own medical code number, about twenty years ago to make it easier for physicians to charge a fee for their obesity-treatment services and to bring more public attention to the problem—or so it was said at that time. I was not supportive of this decision then and still do not do so today. Any disease with independent disease status suggested to me that treatments targeted specifically for obesity might be developed, like weight loss pills, bariatric surgery or counting calories. And so it has come to pass, with little or no gain in long-term health.

Obesity is only one member of a broad spectrum of symptoms and illnesses, which are now known to share the same dietary lifestyle. And further, sugar is only one nutrient-like chemical member of a vast array of nutrient-like substances in food. It is unscientific and irresponsible for this film to target a specific cause of one outcome while ignoring countless other outcomes that share the same (collective) cause.

I know of no evidence that were we to eliminate all sugar from our diets, presumably leaving the rest of the diet the same, we could rid ourselves of disease and restore our health.

In a debate of sorts, four scientists, each having reputable research experience, compared their interpretations of the evidence for and against sugar, in its various forms of consumption (high fructose corn syrup, sugar-sweetened beverages, sucrose and/or fructose solutions) as a cause of obesity, diabetes and a few clinical indicators of these diseases. Their evaluations were just published in the April issue of Diabetes Care, the official journal of the American Diabetes Association.[1][2]

It may come as a surprise but the evidence showing sugar to be a major factor in obesity is relatively weak. There certainly is some evidence but closer examination shows that much of this evidence may be attributed to its contribution to calories or other factors not measured, an interpretation shared by both research groups. However you may choose which side of this debate you prefer, I am inclined to favor the argument that sugar is problematic[1] even though the effect is less scientifically qualified than we all tend to believe.

To make the film more authentic, the producers interviewed a large number of people they call experts on the topic of diet and health. In most scientific research disciplines, there usually are guidelines as to who qualifies as an expert. Based on the criteria used in my discipline, I have serious trouble agreeing that journalists (even those who are widely known) are ‘experts’. For that matter, I am equally concerned with some professionals (physicians and even nutrition and food science researchers) who allow themselves to be considered as experts simply because they may have a professional degree but have no relevant clinical or research experience. When these self-proclaimed ‘experts’ are less than candid about their professional qualifications and experiences, they tend to say almost anything they want. Thus, they are more inclined to rely on their personal and institutional prejudices, feeling free to cherry pick which cause and which effect to paint grand pictures. It would help if there were more transparency, which applies both to supporters and deniers of the connection between whole plant-based foods and their remarkable health benefits. The consequence of not being clear about qualifications and biases is that the public mostly cannot know who speaks sense and who speaks nonsense, who speaks truthfully and who tells lies. In such a maelstrom, important ideas can easily be destroyed.

The film hammers the food industry who contributes to this ‘sugar-dependent’ obesity problem—an understandable observation—but reserves its most critical comments for government advisory panels who make food and health policy. They begin with the 1976-1977 McGovern Committee of the U.S. Senate who initially advocated a “low fat” diet, a position affirmed by a few more advisory committees on diet and health during the 1980s and 1990s. According to the film, consumers entered this epic journey adopting low fat diets and actually got fatter! This happened, so they say, because we replaced the missing fat by increasing the consumption of more and more sugar-dense products.

False! During this period (from about 1975 to about 2000), I know of no evidence that we actually ate less fat. If anything we consumed more fat (reviewed in The China Study, page 95[3]). Moreover, the film refers to ‘low fat’ diets as those containing about 30% of diet calories that was recommended by policy makers. This is not low fat, at least when compared to the whole food plant-based (WFPB) diet, at about 10-15% fat. The WFPB diet, of course, also is rich in nutrients and related substances now known to prevent and/or reverse a wide spectrum of health problems—including obesity.

The missing message in this film is that concerning the effects of a multiplicity of dietary factors/nutrients, which prevent a wide range of seemingly diverse diseases and which does so remarkably quickly—days to a few weeks. To explain the significance of this concept, I find it useful to group foods into three classes, animal-based, plant-based and processed or convenience foods.

The benefits of these foods are best assessed by their nutrient contents, most of which were not mentioned in the film. It is very clear that for optimum health, we must consume a wide variety of antioxidants and complex carbohydrates (this includes dietary fiber) that are only produced by plants and that must be consumed as whole foods, thus giving the whole food plant-based (WFPB) lifestyle. Based on fundamental evidence from many years ago, this diet easily provides all the protein and fat needed for good health, as well as appropriate amounts of vitamins and minerals. It is the balance of these nutrients and their integrated functions that explains the exceptional disease prevention and reversal effects of this diet now being observed. In modern day parlance, this diet is anti-inflammatory, anti-oxidant, immune-enhancing, and capable of controlling hormone dependent aberrant cell growth (as occurs, for example, in cancer growth). These, and others, are very complex systems that account for the remarkable biological effects of the foods comprising the WFPB dietary lifestyle. Animal-based and processed foods have no capability for producing the same benefits.

The ‘authorities’ in this film are mostly the same people who have been chanting the same mantra against the WFPB diet at other venues and in other media. They are making headway with the public, partly because they use reductionist argument and experimentation and partly because they have ready access to resources and supporters who want to maintain the present systems of food production and health care.

This “Fed Up” film, aptly named from more than one perspective in my view, is an abysmal failure that lures unassuming consumers to ignore the big picture while mostly maintaining the present status quo. The film’s assertions have little or no credence or potential to resolve the health crisis (poor health, high health care costs) in the U.S.

References

a b Bray, G. A. & Popkin, B. M. Dietary sugar and body weight: have we reached a crisis in the epidemic of obesity and diabetes? Health be damned! Pour on the sugar. Diabetes Care 37, 950-956 (2014)
Kahn, R. F. & Sievenpiper, J. L. Dietary sugar and body weight: have we reached a crisis in the epidemic of obesity and diabetes? We have, but the pox on sugar is overwrought and overworked. Diabetes Care 37, 950-956 (2014)
Campbell, T. C. & Campbell, T. M., II. The China Study, Startling Implications for Diet, Weight Loss, and Long-Term Health. (BenBella Books, Inc., 2005)

My Patient Didn’t Just Control His Diabetes, He Cured It! James Loomis, Jr., M.D

 

 

 

James 570x299 My Patient Didnt Just Control His Diabetes, He Cured It!James Loomis, Jr., M.D

 

Some of you may have read my previous blog post about how I came to embrace a whole-food, plant-based diet and the effects it had on my personal health and my approach to the prevention and treatment of chronic disease in my practice. As I have incorporated plant-based eating as the cornerstone of my therapeutic arsenal, many of my patients have experienced the same near-miraculous results. Take for example “Bob.”

 

Bob was a longstanding patient of mine who was overweight. In February of this year, he presented with blurry vision, increased thirst, and frequent urination, all classic signs of diabetes. His initial bloodwork showed a fasting blood sugar (FBS) of 442 and a hemoglobin A1c (a measure of the average blood sugar over the last 3 months) of 9.8%.

American Diabetes Association
Reference Ranges for fasting blood sugar (FBS) and hemoglobin A1c1
FBS: Normal = < 100; pre-diabetes = 100 to 125; diabetes = >125.
A1c: Normal = < 5.7%; pre-diabetes = 5.7 to 6.4%; diabetes = > 6.4%.
The ADA defines control of diabetes as an A1c < 7%.

Bob and I had a long discussion about the fundamental importance of a whole-food, plant-based diet and exercise in the reversal of diabetes.  I then had him watch Forks Over Knives and read Neal Barnard’s book Reversing Diabetes.

When Bob returned just three months later, I was frankly shocked at his results! His weight had dropped from 275 to 205 pounds, his FBS had plummeted from 440 to 80, and most astounding, his A1c went from 9.9 to 5.3!

To put the significance of that change into perspective, standard lifestyle changes (restricting calories but still including animal foods2) has been shown to reduce A1c by only one to two percentage points. Metformin (a standard medication used as initial therapy) can reduce A1c by another one to two percentage points. And adding other medications can gain another drop of 0.5 to 3.5 percentage points (insulin providing the greatest reduction, at 1.5 to 3.5 percentage points3). Bob had attained better blood sugar results with a plant-based diet and exercise than he would have with a combination of two or three medications (including insulin!) And he not only “controlled” his diabetes ― he had outright cured it! To top it all off, he had significantly reduced his blood pressure and cholesterol readings, as well.

I think this is a perfect example of why the standard of care for treatment of diabetes and most other chronic diseases is fundamentally flawed. By taking a reductionist approach, we expose patients to the cost and side effects of drugs and oftentimes leave them with residual risk. We pat ourselves on the back when a patient’s diabetes is “controlled” (i.e., their A1c  reads < 7%), even though they are on two or three medications, they still have diabetes, and they are still at risk for the complications of diabetes, such as heart disease, stroke, and nerve damage.

This treatment approach is what I was taught in med school and what my patients learn from the media, particularly TV ads.  But the most powerful medication we have available to us to prevent, treat, and sometimes reverse many chronic diseases is NOT the medication from your doctor; it is the food you put in your mouth.

1 “Diagnosis and Classification of Diabetes Mellitus.” Diabetes Care (American Diabetes Association). 33 Suppl 1 (Supplement_1): S62–9. January 2010.

2 http://www.diabetes.org/food-and-fitness/food/planning-meals/diabetes-meal-plans-and-a-healthy-diet.html

3 Nathan DM, Buse JB, Davidson MB, et al. Medical Management of Hyperglycemia in Type 2 Diabetes: A Consensus Algorithm for the Initiation and Adjustment of Therapy: A consensus statement of the American Diabetes Association and the European Association for the Study of Diabetes. Diabetes Care 2009; 32:193-203.

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James Loomis, M.D.

James Loomis, M.D.