Zesty Tahini Oil-Free Dressing

zesty-tahini-oil-free-dressing

We have been trying a number of oil-free dressings lately and this one is definitely the best so far. It’s ridiculously simple, truly creamy, and just explodes with flavor. The recipe below makes enough for a few large salads but you may find yourself doubling it and using it every day (or is that just me?).

Try this and see if you don’t find yourself thinking about it all day…

1 clove garlic, crushed
4 scallions, diced
6 Tbsp sesame tahini
4 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
4 Tbsp lemon juice
4 Tbsp water
1/2 tsp salt
Fresh cracked black pepper to taste

Combine all ingredients in a food processor and blend until smooth and creamy. You may need to add a little water to reach your desired consistency, keeping in mind it will thicken in the fridge.

Nutrition
Servings: 6
Per serving: 109 calories (82 from fat), 9.1g total fat, 1.3g saturated fat, 0mg cholesterol, 236mg sodium, 2.7g total carbohydrate (0.8g dietary fiber, 0g sugar), 2.8g protein, 2% vitamin A, 11% vitamin C, 1% calcium, 6% Iron

  • Good Points: No cholesterol, low in sugar, high in vitamin C and iron
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Galactose metabolism and ovarian toxicity.

Author information

  • 1Center for Women’s Health, Cedars-Sinai Burns and Allen Research Institute, Cedars-Sinai Medical Center/University of California Los Angeles, School of Medicine, 8700 Beverly Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA 90048, USA.

Abstract

Galactose is an energy-providing nutrient and also a necessary basic substrate for the biosynthesis of many macromolecules in the body. Metabolic pathways for galactose are important not only for the provision of these pathways but also for the prevention of galactose and galactose metabolite accumulation. Problems with galactose metabolism can cause a variety of clinical manifestations in animals and humans. It has been found that the mammalian ovary is particularly susceptible to damage from the accumulation of galactose and galactose metabolites. The galactose metabolites Gal-1-P, galactitol, and UDPgal are all considered to be important in this toxicity and proposed mechanisms include interference with ovarian apoptosis and gonadotrophin signaling. This review addresses the most recent scientific findings regarding the possible mechanisms of galactose-induced ovarian toxicity and also the possible protective role of hormonal and antioxidant therapy. In addition, the available epidemiologic and scientific evidence linking galactose intake with risk of ovarian cancer is discussed.

Milk and lactose intakes and ovarian cancer

Milk and lactose intakes and ovarian cancer risk in the Swedish Mammography Cohort1,2,3

  1. Susanna C Larsson,
  2. Leif Bergkvist, and
  3. Alicja Wolk

+Author Affiliations


  1. 1From the Division of Nutritional Epidemiology, The National Institute of Environmental Medicine, Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm (SCL and AW), and the Department of Surgery and the Center for Clinical Research, Uppsala University, Central Hospital, Västerås, Sweden (LB)

Abstract

Background: High intakes of dairy products and of the milk sugar lactose have been hypothesized to increase ovarian cancer risk, but prospective data are scarce.

Objective: We examined the association between intakes of dairy products and lactose and the risk of total epithelial ovarian cancer and its subtypes.

Design: This was a prospective population-based cohort study of 61 084 women aged 38–76 y who were enrolled in the Swedish Mammography Cohort. Diet was assessed in 1987–1990 with the use of a self-administered food-frequency questionnaire. During an average follow-up of 13.5 y, 266 women were diagnosed with invasive epithelial ovarian cancer; 125 of those women had serous ovarian cancer.

Results: After adjustment for potential confounders, women who consumed ≥4 servings of total dairy products/d had a risk of serous ovarian cancer (rate ratio: 2.0; 95% CI: 1.1, 3.7; P for trend = 0.06) twice that of women who consumed <2 servings/d. No significant association was found for other subtypes of ovarian cancer. Milk was the dairy product with the strongest positive association with serous ovarian cancer (rate ratio comparing consuming ≥2 glasses milk/d with consuming milk never or seldom: 2.0; 95% CI: 1.1, 3.7; P for trend = 0.04). We observed a positive association between lactose intake and serous ovarian cancer risk (P for trend = 0.006).

Conclusions: Our data indicate that high intakes of lactose and dairy products, particularly milk, are associated with an increased risk of serous ovarian cancer but not of other subtypes of ovarian cancer. Future studies should consider ovarian cancer subtypes separately.

Statin Use Promotes Diabetes and Obesity

Statins promote diabetes and obesity, according to a study published in the Journal of General Internal Medicine. Researchers monitored new cases of diabetes or diabetes complications and overweight/obesity rates in 25,970 patients. Those on statins had higher rates for diabetes, diabetes complications, and weight-gain when compared to those who do not take statins. The higher risk increased incrementally with higher dosages.

10 Foods High in Vitamin E

Why You Need Vitamin E

American Optometric Association

Lutein & Zeaxanthin

BroccoliLutein (LOO-teen) and zeaxanthin are important nutrients found in green leafy vegetables as well as other foods such as eggs. Many studies have shown that lutein and zeaxanthin reduce the risk of chronic eye diseases, including age-related macular degeneration (AMD) and cataracts.

AMD and cataract incidence are growing. Worldwide, more than 25 million people are affected by age-related macular degeneration and the formation of cataracts. AMD is the leading cause of blindness in people over age 55 in the Western world and the incidence is expected to triple by 2025.

Benefits to Eye Health

Lutein and zeaxanthin are carotenoids that filter harmful high-energy blue wavelengths of light and act as antioxidants in the eye, helping protect and maintain healthy cells. Of the 600 carotenoids found in nature, only two are deposited in high quantities in the retina (macula) of the eye: lutein and zeaxanthin. The quantity of lutein and zeaxanthin in the macular region of the retina can be measured as macular pigment optical density (MPOD). Recently, MPOD has become a useful biomarker for not only predicting disease but also visual function. Unfortunately, the human body does not synthesize the lutein and zeaxanthin it needs, which is the reason why green vegetables are essential to good nutrition. Daily intake of lutein and zeaxanthin through diet, nutritional supplements, or fortified foods and beverages is important for the maintenance of good eye health.

Lutein, Zeaxanthin and Cataracts

The primary function of the crystalline lens (or natural lens in the eye) is to collect and focus light on the retina. To properly provide this function throughout life, the lens must remain clear. Oxidation of the lens is a major cause of cataracts, which cloud the lens. As antioxidant nutrients neutralize free radicals (unstable molecules) associated with oxidative stress and retinal damage, lutein and zeaxanthin likely play a role in cataract prevention. In fact, a recent study demonstrated that higher dietary intakes of lutein and zeaxanthin and vitamin E was associated with a significantly decreased risk of cataract formation.

Lutein, Zeaxanthin and Age-Related Macular Degeneration

Much evidence supports the role of lutein and zeaxanthin in reducing the risk of AMD. In fact, The National Eye Institute presently is conducting a second large human clinical trial, Age-Related Eye Disease Study (AREDS2), to confirm whether supplements containing 10 mg a day of lutein and 2 mg of zeaxanthin per day affect the risk of developing AMD. Beyond reducing the risk of developing eye disease, separate studies have shown that lutein and zeaxanthin improve visual performance in AMD patients, cataract patients and individuals with good health.

Daily Intake*

Foods with lutein and zeaxanthin
Discover great recipes rich in Lutein

The USDA Nutrient Database offers comprehensive
information on raw and prepared foods.

Although there is no recommended daily intake for lutein and zeaxanthin, most recent studies show a health benefit for lutein supplementation at 10 mg/day and zeaxanthin  supplementation at 2 mg/day.

FOOD SOURCES

Most Western diets are low in lutein and zeaxanthin, which can be found in spinach, corn, broccoli and eggs. The following table lists foods known to be high in lutein and zeaxanthin. If you are not getting enough lutein and zeaxanthin through diet alone, consider adding supplements to your daily routine.

REFERENCES

*At this time, the AOA is unaware of any studies that have examined interactions between medications and lutein and zeaxanthin. The AOA also is not aware of any adverse health reports from interactions between medications and lutein and zeaxanthin. However, the AOA recommends consulting with a health care professional before beginning any supplementation regiment.

Eye and Vision Benefits

Lutein and Zeaxanthin:

Good nutrition is important to keep your eyes healthy and functioning their best throughout your lifetime. Two very important eye nutrients that may reduce your risk for macular degeneration andcataracts have names you may not be familiar with: lutein (LOO-teen) and zeaxanthin (zee-ah-ZAN-thin).

Lutein and zeaxanthin are two types of carotenoids (kuh-RAH-teh-noids), which are yellow to red pigments found widely in vegetables and other plants. Though lutein is considered a yellow pigment, in high concentrations it appears orange-red.

In nature, lutein and zeaxanthin appear to absorb excess light energy to prevent damage to plants from too much sunlight, especially from high-energy light rays called blue light.

Cooked spinach is one of the best natural food sources of lutein and zeaxanthin.
Cooked spinach is one of the best natural food sources of lutein and zeaxanthin.

In addition to being found in many green leafy plants and colorful fruits and vegetables, lutein and zeaxanthin are found in high concentrations in the macula of the human eye, giving the macula its yellowish color. In fact, the macula also is called the “macula lutea” (from the Latin macula, meaning “spot,” andlutea, meaning “yellow”).

Recent research has discovered a third carotenoid in the macula. Called meso-zeaxanthin, this pigment is not found in food sources and appears to be created in the retina from ingested lutein.

Lutein and zeaxanthin appear to have important antioxidant functions in the body. Along with other natural antioxidants, including vitamin C, beta carotene and vitamin E, these important pigments guard the body from damaging effects of free radicals, which are unstable molecules that can destroy cells and play a role in many diseases.

In addition to important eye and vision benefits, lutein may help protect against atherosclerosis (buildup of fatty deposits in arteries), the disease that leads to most heart attacks.

Eye Benefits of Lutein and Zeaxanthin

It is believed that lutein, zeaxanthin and meso-zeaxanthin in the macula block blue light from reaching the underlying structures in the retina, thereby reducing the risk of light-induced oxidative damage that could lead to macular degeneration (AMD)March 2014 — Nutritional supplements containing lutein and zeaxanthin, lipoic acid, and omega-3 fatty acids are effective in preventing the development of retinopathy among diabetic rats, according to a new study.

Researchers at the Kresge Eye Institute in Detroit investigated the effect of carotenoid-containing supplements on retinal oxidative stress and inflammation and the development of diabetic retinopathy. Diabetes was induced and confirmed in all rats in the study, and then some rats were given a diet that included the nutritional supplements while others were given the same food but without the supplements. After 11 months, the retinas of the rats were evaluated for changes in blood vessels, cellular damage and other retinal changes characteristic of diabetic retinopathy.

In rats that had not received the nutritional supplements, diabetes-induced damage to retinal blood vessels was three to four times greater than among rats who had received the added nutrients.

The study authors concluded that the nutritional supplements used in this study prevented diabetic retinopathy and preserved normal retinal functioning. They also said that, though human testing is required to confirm, these supplements “could represent an achievable and inexpensive adjunct therapy” to inhibit diabetic retinopathy in people with diabetes.

A full report of the study was published online in January by Nutrition & Metabolism.

A number of studies have found that lutein and zeaxanthin either help prevent AMD or may slow progression of the disease:

  • Research published in Nutrition & Metabolismfound that a nutritional supplement containing meso-zeaxanthin, lutein and zeaxanthin effectively increased the optical density of the macular pigment in eyes of the majority of human subjects. The macular pigment is believed to offer protection against the development of macular degeneration.
  • Studies published in American Journal of Epidemiology, Ophthalmology and Archives of Ophthalmology found higher levels of lutein and zeaxanthin in the diet are associated with a lower incidence of AMD.
  • Two studies published in Investigative Ophthalmology and Visual Science found that eyes with greater levels of macular pigments were less likely to have or develop macular degeneration.
  • In research published in Archives of Biochemistry and Biophysics, the study authors conclude that lutein, zeaxanthin and meso-zeaxanthin filter short-wavelength light and prevent or reduce the generation of free radicals in the retinal pigment epithelium and choroid. They also suggest that a mixture of these carotenoids is more effective than any one of the individual carotenoids at the same total concentration.
  • In a study published in the journal Optometry, participants with early AMD who consumed 8 mg per day of dietary zeaxanthin for one year improved their night driving and their visual acuity improved an average of 1.5 lines on an eye chart.

In May 2013, the much-anticipated results of the second large-scale Age-Related Eye Disease Study (AREDS2) sponsored by the National Eye Institute were published.

AREDS2 was a follow-up to the original 5-year AREDS study published in 2001, which found use of a daily antioxidant supplement containing beta-carotene, vitamin C, vitamin E, zinc and copper reduced the risk of progressive AMD by 25 percent among participants with early and intermediate macular degeneration.

The goal of AREDS2 was to evaluate the effect of other nutrients — including lutein and zeaxanthin — on the prevention of AMD and other age-related eye diseases. AREDS2 also investigated the effect of removing beta-carotene from the AREDS supplement, since supplementation of this vitamin A precursor has been associated with increased risk of certain cancers among smokers and previous smokers.

The AREDS2 results revealed study participants with early signs of macular degeneration who took a modification of the original AREDS nutritional supplement that contained 10 mg lutein and 2 mg zeaxanthin (and no beta-carotene) every day for the 5-year study period had a 10 to 25 percent reduced risk of AMD progression. Study participants whose diets contained the lowest amounts of foods containing natural lutein and zeaxanthin experienced the greatest AMD risk reduction from taking the daily nutritional supplement.

While AREDS2 and other studies provide evidence that lutein and zeaxanthin may play a role in preventing macular degeneration (or at least reducing the risk of progression of AMD), it’s less clear if these carotenoids help prevent cataracts.

Research published in Archives of Ophthalmology suggests women whose diets include high amounts of healthful foods containing lutein, zeaxanthin and other carotenoids have a lower risk of cataracts than women whose diets contain lower amounts of these nutrients.

In AREDS2, however, supplemental lutein and zeaxanthin had no effect on cataract risk or progression.

Foods Containing Lutein and Zeaxanthin

The best natural food sources of lutein and zeaxanthin are green leafy vegetables and other green or yellow vegetables. Among these, cooked kale and cooked spinach top the list, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).

Non-vegetarian sources of lutein and zeaxanthin include egg yolks. But if you have high cholesterol, you’re much better off getting most of these yellow nutrients from fruits and vegetables.

LUTEIN AND ZEAXANTHIN FOODS
Food Serving mg
Kale (cooked) 1 cup 23.7
Spinach (cooked) 1 cup 20.4
Collards (cooked) 1 cup 14.6
Turnip greens (cooked) 1 cup 12.2
Spinach (raw) 1 cup 3.7
Green Peas (canned) 1 cup 2.2
Corn (canned) 1 cup 2.2
Broccoli (cooked) 1 cup 1.7
Romaine lettuce (raw) 1 cup 1.3
Carrots (cooked) 1 cup 1.1
Green beans (cooked) 1 cup 0.8
Eggs 2 (large) 0.3
Source: USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference, Release 22 (2009)

Lutein and Zeaxanthin Supplements

Because of the apparent eye and cardiovascular benefits of lutein and zeaxanthin, many nutritional companies have added these carotenoids to their multiple vitamin formulas. Others have introduced special eye vitamins that are predominantly lutein and zeaxanthin supplements.

There currently is no Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) or Recommended Daily Intake (RDI) for lutein or zeaxanthin, but some experts say you should ingest at least 6 milligrams (mg) of lutein per day for beneficial effects.

It remains unclear how much lutein and zeaxanthin is needed daily for adequate eye and vision protection. Also, it is unknown at this time whether supplements have the same effect as lutein and zeaxanthin obtained through food sources.

There are no known toxic side effects of taking too much lutein or zeaxanthin. In some cases, people who eat large amounts of carrots or yellow and green citrus fruits can develop a harmless yellowing of the skin called carotenemia. Though the appearance of the condition can be somewhat alarming and may be confused with jaundice, the yellow discoloration disappears by cutting back on consumption of these carotenoid-rich foods. (Carotenemia also can be associated with over-consumption of carotenoid-rich nutritional supplements.)

EYE NUTRIENT AWARENESS

Do You Know Which Nutrients Are Good for Your Eyes?

In a 2011 survey of Americans aged 45-65, more than half the respondents said they take nutritional supplements to protect joints, bones or heart health. But fewer than a fifth said they take eye health supplements.

In addition, 66 percent were unaware of the key role that lutein plays in eye health.

For more results of the Bausch + Lomb-sponsored survey, click here for a brief slide show.

Popular lutein and zeaxanthin supplements include:

  • EyePromise Zeaxanthin (Zeavision)
  • ICaps Eye Vitamin Lutein & Zeaxanthin Formula (Alcon)
  • Macula Complete (Biosyntrx)
  • MacularProtect Complete (ScienceBased Health)
  • MaxiVision Ocular Formula (MedOp)
  • OcuGuard Plus (TwinLab)
  • PreserVision (Bausch + Lomb)

The source of lutein in many lutein supplements is marigold flowers, while for zeaxanthin it is often red peppers. If you choose a lutein and zeaxanthin supplement, make sure it’s a high quality product from a reputable dietary supplement company.

Remember that taking dietary supplements does not replace a healthy diet. Eating a well-balanced diet that includes plenty of fruits and vegetables usually is the best way to get the important eye nutrients you need.

Also, remember that individuals sometimes react differently to certain supplements, which can have unintended effects such as adverse reactions with medications. Consult with your physician or eye doctor before trying any vision supplements.

Health Canada recently announced proposed changes to nutrition labels

Health Canada recently announced proposed changes to nutrition labels as well as the launch of new tools to promote healthier food choices.  The improvements would include a new Nutrition Facts table format and clearer labelling of sugar and serving sizes.  New resources such as the My Food Guide mobile application and the Eat Well Plate will also help Canadians apply the guidance of Canada’s Food Guide to build a healthy meal.  Please pass this information on to your organization’s members or feel welcome to post on your website, share through social media, or on bulletin boards.  

Proposed changes:  

  • Mandating consistent serving sizes will make it easier to compare nutrient contents of similar foods.  The ingredient list on the proposed new label would also be easier to find, read and understand.
  • The addition of a percentage daily value for sugar and the way that it is identified in the list of ingredients will make it easier to understand how much sugar is in a product and what the source is.

New Resources:

  • The  Eat Well Plate helps you follow Canada’s Food Guide when planning and serving meals, showing food group proportions and how to make half your plate vegetables and fruit.
  • The interactive tool My Food Guide customizes Canada’s Food Guide just for you.  You can then print it and stick it on your fridge for quick and easy reference!

Have your say!  To contribute to the consultation on proposed changes to nutrition labels, visit Canada.ca.

Thank you for helping to keep Canadians safe and healthy!

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Health Canada Atlantic Region
www.healthcanada.gc.ca

Santé Canada a annoncé récemment des propositions de modifications à l’étiquetage nutritionnel et le lancement de nouveaux outils pour promouvoir des choix alimentaires plus sains.  Les améliorations proposées incluraient une nouvelle présentation du tableau de la valeur nutritive et l’étiquetage plus clair de la teneur en sucre et de la taille des portions.  De nouvelles ressources telles que l’application mobile Mon Guide alimentaire et l’Assiette Bien manger aideront aussi les Canadiens à préparer des repas santé en appliquant les recommandations du Guide alimentaire canadien.  Nous vous invitons à transmettre ces renseignements à vos membres, à les publier sur votre site Web et dans les médias sociaux, ou encore à les afficher sur vos babillards.

Modifications proposées :

  • Rendre obligatoire l’uniformisation de la taille des portions facilitera la comparaison de la teneur en nutriments d’aliments semblables.  La liste des ingrédients sur la nouvelle étiquette proposée serait aussi plus facile à localiser, à lire et à comprendre.
  • L’ajout d’un pourcentage de la valeur quotidienne pour le sucre et la manière dont il est indiqué dans la liste des ingrédients permettra de comprendre plus facilement la quantité de sucre contenu dans un produit ainsi que sa source.

Nouveaux outils :

  • L’Assiette Bien manger vous aide à suivre la Guide alimentaire canadien lorsque vous planifiez et préparez des repas en présentant les proportions des groupes alimentaires et la façon de remplir la moitié de votre assiette avec des légumes et des fruits.
  • L’outil interactif Mon guide alimentaire permet de personnaliser leGuide alimentaire canadien juste pour vous.  Vous pourrez ensuite l’imprimer et l’afficher sur votre réfrigérateur pour le consulter rapidement et facilement!

À vous la parole!  Afin de contribuer au processus de consultation sur des propositions de modifications à l’étiquetage nutritionnel, visitez le site Web Canada.ca.   
 
Merci de contribuer à la sécurité et à la santé des Canadiens!

Pour vous désabonner de cette liste d’envoi, veuillez simplement répondre à ce courriel en indiquant « Me désabonner » comme sujet.

Santé Canada, Région de l’Atlantique
www.santecanada.gc.ca

The secrets to a healthy life

They say you are what you eat. In the world of medicine, that couldn’t be more true.

What we choose to eat has a powerful impact on both our internal and external environments. When we realize that something as primal as what we choose to put in our mouths each day makes an important difference in these crises, it empowers us and imbues these choices with meaning. If it’s meaningful, then it’s sustainable—and a meaningful life is a longer life.

For almost four decades, my colleagues and I at the non-profit Preventive Medicine Research Institute and the University of California, San Francisco, have conducted clinical research proving the many benefits of comprehensive lifestyle changes. These include:

  • a whole foods, plant-based diet (naturally low in fat and refined carbohydrates);
  • stress management techniques (including yoga and meditation);
  • moderate exercise (such as walking); and
  • social support and community (love and intimacy).

In short—eat well, move more, stress less, and love more.

Many people tend to think of advances in medicine as high-tech and expensive, such as a new drug, laser, or surgical procedure. We often have a hard time believing that something as simple as comprehensive diet and lifestyle changes can make such a powerful difference in our lives—but they often do.

In our research, we have used high-tech, expensive, state-of-the-art scientific measure to prove the power of these simple, low-tech and low-cost interventions. These randomized controlled trials and other studies have been published in the leading peer-reviewed medical and scientific journals.

In addition to preventing many chronic diseases, these comprehensive diet and lifestyle changes can often reverse the progression of these illnesses.

We proved, for the first time, that lifestyle changes alone can reverse the progression of even severe coronary heart disease. There was even reversal after five years than after one year and 2.5 times fewer cardiac events. We also found that these lifestyle changes can reverse type 2 diabetes and may slow, stop, or even reverse the progression of early-stageprostate cancer.

Changing lifestyle actually changes your genes—turning on genes that keep you healthy, and turning off genes that promote heart disease, prostate cancer, breast cancer, and diabetes—over 500 genes in only three months. People often say, “Oh, it’s all in my genes, there’s not much I can do about it.” But there is. Knowing that changing lifestyle changes our genes is often very motivating—not to blame, but to empower. Our genes are a predisposition, but our genes are not our fate.

Our latest research found that these diet and lifestyle changes may even lengthen telomeres, the ends of our chromosomes that control aging. As your telomeres get longer, your life gets longer. This was the first controlled study showing that any intervention may begin to reverse aging on a cellular level by lengthening telomeres. And the more people adhered to these lifestyle recommendations, the longer their telomeres became.

This is a different approach to personalized medicine. It’s not like there was one set of diet and lifestyle recommendations for reversing heart disease, a different one for reversing diabetes, and yet another for changing your genes or lengthening your telomeres. It’s as though your body knows how to personalize the medicine it needs if you give it the right raw materials in your diet and lifestyle.

It’s not all or nothing. In all of our studies, we found that the more people changed their diet and lifestyle, the more they improved and the better they felt—at any age. So, if you indulge yourself one day, just eat healthier the next. If you don’t have time to exercise one day, do a little more the next. If you don’t have time to meditate for an hour, do it for a minute. What matters most is your overall way of eating and living.

These lifestyle changes are part of the most influential trend in medicine today—what is known as “Lifestyle Medicine,” which is lifestyle as treatment as well as prevention.

Health Care Crisis:

There is a convergence of forces that makes this the right idea at the right time. While the limitations of high-tech interventions such as drugs and surgery are becoming increasingly well-documented, the power of diet and lifestyle interventions is also becoming clearer.

More than 86% of the $3 trillion in annual U.S. health care costs (which are really predominantly sick-care costs) are from chronic diseases which can often be prevented and even reversed by making healthier diet and lifestyle choices, at a fraction of the costs—and the only side-effects are good ones.

For example, in the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC) study, patients who adhered to healthy dietary principles (low meat consumption and high intake of fruits, vegetables, and whole-grain bread), never smoked, were not overweight, and had at least 30 minutes a day of physical activity had a 78% lower overall risk of developing a chronic disease.

This included a 93% reduced risk of diabetes, an 81% lower risk of heart attacks, a 50% reduction in risk of stroke, and a 36% overall reduction in risk of cancer, compared with participants without these healthy factors.

That’s really mind-boggling. Type 2 diabetes and pre-diabetes are pandemic, already affecting almost one-half of all Americans. United Health Care projected that if current trends continue, annual costs from these will be more than $3.3 trillion over the next decade, which is clearly not sustainable.

And yet the EPIC study showed that type 2 diabetes is completely preventable for at least 93% of people today. We don’t need a new breakthrough; we just need to put into practice what we already know. Also, lowering blood sugar with diet and lifestyle is more effective at preventing premature death and disease than getting it down with diabetes medications.

Likewise, heart and blood vessel disease is still the number-one cause of death in the U.S. Yet at least 90% of heart disease can be prevented—today!—by changing diet and lifestyle. And that’s probably an underestimation.

It’s not just low-fat vs. low-carb. A study found that animal protein dramatically increases the risk of premature death independent of fat and carbs. In a study of over 6,000 people, those aged 50-65 who reported eating diets high in animal protein had a 75% increase in overall mortality, a 400% increase in cancer deaths, and a 500% increase in type 2 diabetes during the following 18 years. In contrast, plant-based proteins were protective.

At the same time that the power of comprehensive lifestyle changes is becoming more well-documented, the limitations of high-tech medicine are becoming clearer.

For example, randomized controlled trials have shown that angioplasties, stents, and coronary bypass surgery do not prolong life or prevent heart attacks in most stable patients. Only 1 out of 49 people with early-stage prostate cancer and PSA levels below 10 may benefit from surgery or radiation; the other 48 may become incontinent, impotent, or both—i.e., maimed in the most personal ways.

Yet when men are diagnosed with prostate cancer, most want to do “something” if the only alternative is to do nothing—watchful waiting or active surveillance. As mentioned earlier, our randomized controlled trial showed that comprehensive diet and lifestyle changes may slow, stop, or even reverse the progression of early-stage prostate cancer, so this may be a third alternative for many men.

Lifestyle medicine is cost effective as well as medically effective. Our research has shown that when comprehensive lifestyle changes are offered as treatment (not just as prevention), significant cost savings occur in the first year because the biological mechanisms that control our health and well-being are so dynamic.

For example, Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield found that overall health care costs were reduced by 50% in the first year when people with heart disease or risk factors went through our lifestyle program in 24 hospitals and clinics in West Virginia, Pennsylvania, and Nebraska. In patients who spent more than $25,000 on health care in the prior year, costs were reduced 400% in the following year. In another study, Mutual of Omaha found that they saved $30,000 per patient in the first year in those who went through our lifestyle program.

Because of these findings, Medicare began covering my program of lifestyle medicine for reversing heart disease in 2011 when they created a new benefit category. If it’s reimbursable, it’s sustainable. Last year, I began a partnership with Healthways to create a new paradigm of health care based on our work. Already we have trained The Cleveland Clinic, Beth Israel Medical Center, UCLA, and many others. Now that Medicare is covering my program, the other major insurance companies are doing so as well, including Anthem (formerly WellPoint), Aetna, Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield, and many others.

Environmental Crisis:

Many people are surprised to learn that animal agribusiness generates more greenhouse gases than all forms of transportation combined. The livestock sector generates more greenhouse gas emissions than the entire global transportation chain as measured in carbon dioxide equivalent (18% vs 13.5%). More recentestimates are that these numbers are even higher—that livestock and their byproducts may actually account for more than 50% of annual worldwide greenhouse gas emissions (at least 32.6 billion tons of carbon dioxide per year).

More than half of U.S. grain and nearly 40% of world grain is being fed to livestock rather than being consumed directly by humans. In the United States, more than 8 billion livestock are maintained, which eat about seven times as much grain as is consumed directly by the entire U.S. population. It takes over ten times as much energy and resources to eat a meat-based diet than a plant-based diet.

We have enough food today to feed all 7 billion humans on the planet if more people ate lower on the food chain.

Producing 1 kg of fresh beef requires about 13 kg of grain and 30 kg of forage. This much grain and forage requires a total of 43,000 liters of water.

Governor Jerry Brown recently ordered water restrictions in California. Many people don’t realize that a long shower takes 40 gallons of water but it takes 4,000-18,000 gallons of water to make one 1/3 pound hamburger according to the U.S. Dept. of the Interior.

More than half of U.S. grain and nearly 40% of world grain is being fed to livestock rather than being consumed directly by humans. In the United States, more than 8 billion livestock are maintained, which eat about seven times as much grain as is consumed directly by the entire U.S. population.

So, to the degree we choose to eat a plant-based diet, we free up tremendous amounts of resources that can benefit many others as well as ourselves. I find this very meaningful. And when we can act more compassionately, it helps our hearts as well.

Dean Ornish is founder and president of the Preventive Medicine Research Institute and clinical professor of medicine at the University of California in San Francisco.