Preventing the Leading Causes of Death in the US

I wanted to share this powerful video on how we can prevent the leading causes of death.  Important stuff, right?  I highly recommend watching all (or at least part) of this video.  To summarize and hopefully encourage you to watch it, Dr. Michael Greger presents scientific facts on how we can prevent 14 of the 15 leading causes of death. In the US, the 15 leading causes of death (in order) are:

  1. Heart Disease
  2. Cancer
  3. Respiratory Disease, (COPD, Emphysema)
  4. Stroke
  5. Accidents
  6. Alzheimer’s Disease
  7. Diabetes
  8. Kidney Failure
  9. Influenza
  10. Suicide
  11. Blood Infection
  12. Liver Disease
  13. High Blood Pressure
  14. Parkinson’s Disease
  15. Pneumonia

And interestingly enough, the medical system, when you look at side pill-bottles-684648effects from prescription drugs, medical mistakes and hospital acquired infections, results in 187,000 deaths per year making it the 3rd leading cause of death in the US!  (Good reason to avoid unnecessary doctor visits).

CSA 2 ALL of these leading causes of death, with the exception of accidents, can be prevented or combated with a strict vegetarian (i.e.: vegan) diet.

Don’t worry if you are a devoted meat eater.  Small changes in your diet like adding in greens at every meal and cutting out meat a few days a week will still have a positive influence on your health.

But, for me, I have found the vegan route to be the best option.  For example, in one year, my cholesterol has dropped 38 points, and my triglycerides (the measure of fat in the blood) dropped 104 points!  That’s proof enough for me.

Here is the link to the video

Time in the Garden has Mental and Physical Health Benefits

I spent a few hours yesterday working in my garden and with my flower boxes.  

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I enjoy gardening, it is fun, the results are rewarding,  it get me out in the fresh air, it provides exercise and much needed vitamin D in the form of sunshine!    As it turns out these heath benefits of gardening are well documented by research:

Gardening improves our mental attitude.  Did you know that according to a Texas A&M study, gardeners have more “zest for life” and greater optimism.   A recent study in the Netherlands found gardening for even just 30 minutes fights stress even better than other relaxing leisure activities.  Not only did these people report being in a better mood, but they had lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol.

 Yard work and gardening is a form of  weight-bearing exercise (pulling weeds, digging holes, lugging around soil, mulch, etc).  A University of Arkansas study found that women gardeners have lower rates of osteoporosis than women who just do aerobic exercise.

Studies also show that gardening help people with depression and anxiety disorders.  As a matter of fact, there is a whole field of medicine called horticultural therapy that helps people deal with depression, anxiety and sleep issues. 

Some research suggests that the physical activity associated with gardening can help lower the risk of developing dementia.  Studies have shown that older adults who garden regularly had a 36% and 47% lower risk of dementia than non-gardeners.  While these studies are preliminary, they point to the idea that the physical and mental activity involved in gardening may have a positive influence on the mind.

Gardening helps calm agitation, leading to better sleep patterns and improved quality of sleep.

And of course if you grow vegetables, there is the nutritional benefit of eating fresh veggies!






Juicing — More Benefits

You’ve read about how I love juicing.  The following post was written by my daughter, Kelsey and offers some more insight into the benefits of juicing

If you have worked juicing into your diet consistently, you’ve probably already noticed a change in your body.  That’s because raw foods hold more nutrients than cooked food and eating a nutrient rich diet is better and more effective than fat-free, low-calorie, low carbohydrates, and other trendy and exclusionary attempts to lose weight.

Using a technique known as Kirlian Photography, nutritionists have captured the difference in life force between a piece of broccoli that was steamed broccoli(left) and a piece of broccoli that is a raw, “living” organism.  The life force or energy emanating from the raw broccoli is significantly more than the cooked, even though it was only steamed for two minutes!

“Great,” you think, “raw broccoli, that sounds delicious.” —  Don’t sass me yet!  You already know how to juice raw fruits and vegetables together to make a great tasting liquid packed with energy and nutrition (here is just one delicious recipe). Now you can discover how to make solid meals from raw foods and healthy, crunchy and satisfying snacks; ladies and gentleman it is time to invest in a dehydrator.

You can use a dehydrator to make your own banana chips, kale chips (delicious and rather expensive when you buy them already prepared), raw breads, and more. degydratorDehydrators range in price from $40 – $400 depending on your needs.

Checkout this recipe for raw vegan falafel with lemon garlic aioli!

Healthy Restaurant Options

Following is a guest post by Kelsey Duke.  She offers some practical advise for eating out and still eating healthy — not always easy!  As she lives in the DC area, she highlights some DC restaurants.  Here in the Seacoast of New Hampshire, some of my favorites are Blue Moon Evolution and Good Karma Cafe both in Exeter, NH.  What are some health conscious restaurants in your area?

Eating Healthy when Dining Out

Eating at restaurants is an acquired skill. As a publicist for restaurants, I eat out often, which as you can imagine can derail even the most dedicated healthy eater (former vegan here) and cause some serious stress. But there is hope! Common sense says to avoid the fried foods, look for salads and greens, and don’t touch the complementary bread or tortilla chips. But beyond that, restaurants are consciously changing menus to please the more aware consumer.  This past year in food, kale, quinoa and sprouted grains popped up on menus everywhere. Here’s a few other trends that provide hope for the future:

quincenera saladCalorie counts

Recently, some parts of the country have started requiring restaurants to list calorie counts next to menu items. Amongst average diners the general consensus is still, “I don’t want to know.” However, whether they mean to our not, people are choosing healthier options. Dallas Tex-Mex favorite Mi Cocina recently opened a restaurant in Chevy Chase, MD, where they were required by law, for the first time to list calories on menus. “It’s amazing, our biggest sellers in that location are the quinceñera salad (pictured at left)  and the vegetable tamales, which is different from the best selling items in Dallas stores,” says Heather Hancock, Director of Sales and Marketing for Mi Cocina.

Smaller portions:

Here in DC, small portions are a big trend. Don’t expect to save money on these but you may save some room in your stomach. Famed restaurateur vegetable tamalesJosé Andrés has several restaurants serving Spanish or Mexican style tapas (worlds of difference between the two). Dim Sum is also becoming ever more popular, a style of Cantonese food prepared as bite-sized or individual portions and traditionally served on small plates or in small steamer baskets (pictured right).

Vegetarian, vegan, and gluten free options:

With food allergies on the rise (warning sign anyone? Maybe the FDA can explain this but they probably will not tell the public, but I digress), restaurants have started to provide several options for picky diners, on and sometimes off the menu. In Washington DC’s renowned restaurant and wine bar, Ripple, Executive Chef Marjorie Meek-Bradley says of her menu, which changes daily, “I am always sure to keep healthy gluten-free dishes on the menu. I try to do a gluten-free fish option and a meat option as well.”

The other day I went to a restaurant that serves beer, bourbon, and barbeque exclusively, and to my surprise and absolute delight, they had vegan wings, vegan ribs, and BBQ tofu tacos on the menu! Though several veg-friendly restaurants have popped up in the area (my favorite in DC has to be Busboys & Poets), if you can’t find one near you, stick to non-American cuisines like Indian, Chinese, and Vietnamese, which always have several vegetarian options.  America should catch up soon, maybe owhen the government isn’t as full of Monsanto emplyees… and there I go again.

I’d love to hear some of some of your favorite restaurants that offer healthy (maybe even vegetarian and vegan) options!

Have you tried Bikram Yoga?

Following is a guest post written by Kelsey Duke (my daughter) who is a Bikram yoga proponent.  Her experience makes me strongly consider going back to Bikram yoga!

I find myself in the hot room for the first time in over six months, after half a year of inconsistent workouts and trips to the gym. I recently started a new job that requires long hours, happy hours, and fancy dinners that drag on for hours. When I walk in, the heat hits me as soon as I walk in but my brain has been here before, instantly it seeks to shut off the panic mechanism, “you’re okay, this is what you need.”

I lay my mat down strategically in the middle of the room since I’m not new but I’m not entirely ready for this. When class begins with breathing exercises I notice that my breath has become more shallow, my stomach looser and my knees wobbly. “Oh no,” I think to myself. Then “just breathe, you made it to class just do what you can,” a mantra echoed by the yoga teacher.


Then an amazing thing happens, muscle memory. My postures come back, with more balance than before and almost the same depth. My mind is already trained to focus on breathing, listen to the teacher’s constant stream of instruction, and focus my attention and thus all my energy on myself.

When I started this class I thought it would be a good supplement to my workouts, a nice stretch, another way to burn calories. But as I leave with my wet towel and heavy mat, I’m reminded why I need to practice Bikram Yoga more. My mind is clear, my face is radiant, my energy is new and positive thoughts come easily.

For the first time in months my entire being is calm. The worrisome cycle of thoughts, the restless legs, the rash decisions are gone, replaced with a natural, easy peace. “This is why I love it,” I think to myself, “this is how I come to know peace.”

Bandaloop — The Book and the Restaurant

I first read Jitterbug Perfume by Tom Robbins in 1985, shortly after it jitterbug perfumewas published in paperback.  It is the story of Alobar, an ancient king and beet farmer,  who discovers the secret of immortality from the Bandaloop.  I had really enjoyed the book, and I so I kept it all these years.

The book has moved with me 5 times since then, although in the last move remained in a box of old books.  I recently rediscovered the book and put it in a prominent spot on my bookshelf as I remembered that I loved the book and thought someday I’d reread it.  That someday came, and I did reread it and once again, thoroughly enjoyed it!  I got a lot more of the philosophical message out of it this time, now that I am older and perhaps wiser!

Saturday night, I went to a restaurant in Kennebunkport, Maine called Bandaloop.  It was a great restaurant, serving all organic and locally sourced food.  They even had tofu and tempeh entrees.  I had the special fennel soup to start, and the 3-grain tempeh in twin sauces of  zesty Asian peanut sauce and cilantro-pistachio pesto with saffron Basmati rice.   It was delicious!

 I was wondering if the name of the restaurant, Bandaloop was a coincidence when I saw a menu item:

Alobar’s Roasted Beets and Flying Goat Farm Goat Cheese

WOW, the restaurant is definitely named for the book!  Then I noticed a note on the back of the menu confirming the connection and reminding us to “live long, laugh often, dance daily”

Tofu, Kale, Onion, Mushroom and Fennel Recipe!

I made a delicious dinner last night that I wanted to share:

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The dish has no name, it is another one of my open up the fridge and throw something together dinners.  These are typically good, but this was was very good!  I think the fennel seed is what did it.  Anyway here is the recipe  —

Press a block of tofu

Saute in coconut oil for 15-20 minutes until the onion is barely visable

  • 1 medium onion, cut up into very small pieces
  • 1 shallot, cut up small
  • 1 stalk of celery also cut up into very small pieces
  • 2 carrots chopped

Add in and saute another 10 minutes or until the mushroom is soft

  • 1/2 a portabella mushroom cut into 1″chunks
  • 1/2 a red pepper, diced small

Add a small bunch of kale (cut up) on top of the veggies

Add water into the pan, cover and simmer until the kale softens, then mix it all together add spices, cover and continue to simmer

  • turmeric
  • ginger
  • fennel seeds (I imagine if you actually have fennel, you can cut some up and saute that instead, but I didn’t so I used seeds)

Meanwhile, cut up the pressed tofu into small pieces and brown it in more coconut oil another pan.  Once it is cooked to your liking, mix it into the pan of vegetables and spices.  Add more water to blend the spices and tofu, and simmer until the water is mostly all absorbed.