How Many Cigarettes Should You Smoke in the New Year?

And How Much Meat and Dairy Are Safe to Eat?

Will smokers get much benefit from a resolution to smoke fewer cigarettes, as an alternative to quitting altogether? Decades of global research on tobacco use show cutting down on cigarette use is a positive step, but the health impact is not nearly as strong as you may expect.

For example, research in Norway found that smoking just one to four cigarettes a day increased the risk of death during the timeframe of the study by about 50%. An American Cancer Society study found that one to three cigarettes daily cigarette held in persons hand smaller.jpgincreased the risk of cardiovascular disease by 64%.

The Surgeon General's 2010 report, How Tobacco Smoke Causes Disease, outlines 7,000 toxic chemicals in tobacco smoke. These substances, which include cancer-causing chemicals, heavy metals, fine particulate matter, and poison gases, reach every cell in your body when you breathe smoke. These substances interact with each other to produce illness, disability, and death - and it does not take much of these substances to do this. Major mechanisms of tobacco harm include damaging DNA and causing inflammation and oxidative stress.

So think of what happens if you smoke one cigarette every day. Your body is being deeply injured by 7,000 chemicals. As soon as the tobacco exposure stops, your body starts the healing process, but it can't repair all the damage in 24 hours. The next day, the chemical assault happens again. Once more, your body rushes to heal, but does not get very far before being bombarded again with poisons. Thus the damage accumulates, and you suffer disease and early death.

What About Cutting Down on Animal Foods?

The damage from even one cigarette is now obvious. What if you aren't concerned with smoking, but decide for health reasons to cut back on the amount of meat, dairy, and eggs you eat? Perhaps you have seen the evidence that supports the health benefits of plant-based diets, and the power of animal foods to cause chronic illnesses such as cancer, diabetes, and heart disease. So you decide to go for "moderation" in eating animal foods, just like some tobacco users opt for moderation in cigarette use.

There are two major questions you need to think about in seeing if this strategy will work for you:

  • Is it possible to eat small amounts of animal foods and still be healthy?
  • What amount of animal foods in your diet leads to optimal health and well-being?

Click here to learn the answers to these two questions

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How Not To Die: Plant-Based Nutrition Facts and Fun

Dr. Greger Shows Nutritional Science Triumphs Over Dietary Myths

Dr. Michael Greger is best known for his site nutritionfacts.org, which showcases over 1,000 videos on nutrition and health. Each video tells a story using research journals articles and Dr. Greger's commentary on what the facts mean. The popular enthusiasm for this approach shows that people really are hungry for science, and don't want to rely on celebrity endorsements or vague, endlessly-repetitive articles to decide what to eat. People want to know "what's the evidence, how can I break through the confusion of competing diets?"

In his new book How Not To Die, Dr. Greger uses the same evidence-based approach to tell the compelling story of greger book cover smaller.jpgwhole foods, plant-based diets that can prevent, and often even reverse, the chronic diseases that kill most people in richer countries. In fact, there is so much research supporting Dr. Greger's conclusions that the book list 149 pages of references.

But don't worry, you don't need to read all (or any) these thousands of studies yourself. Dr. Greger has sifted through them for you, and woven the findings into a clear outline of what you should eat, what you shouldn't eat, and why.

How Not To Die is threaded with Dr. Greger's signature droll humor, making the book entertaining and easy to read. For example, in the Preface he talks about how modern medicine usually ignores the power of lifestyle to treat disease. He observes, "I think the only medical professional who ever asked about a member of my family's diet was our veterinarian." I had to smile at the accuracy of that statement for my own experience.

Click here to read the rest of the How Not To Die review

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The PlantPure Nation Cookbook Is a Recipe Delight

Kim Campbell Proves That Taste and Health Can Be Best Friends

The power of a whole foods, plant-based diet to transform health is compelling. But even with ample demonstration of this effectiveness, people may be reluctant to move to an eating plan with unappealing food.

This is where The PlantPure Nation Cookbook comes in. Filled with over 150 delicious plant-based recipes, as well as Kim Campbell book cover smaller.jpgstunning photos that will make you want to drop everything and run to the kitchen to prepare the recipe that looks like you most need it now, this cookbook will have just about everyone happy to chow down on plant-based meals.

Author Kim Campbell generously shares her discoveries from 25 years of cooking plant-based meals, much of that time also as a busy working mom. Her recipes are family-friendly, affordable, and appealing to those new to plant-based eating, as well as to those who have been thriving on whole food, plant-based choices for decades. Eating enjoyment is in no way sacrificed to keep out extracted oils and animal foods. The book's style is friendly and readable with clear instructions.

The PlantPure Nation Cookbook contains a wide variety of recipe flavors from around the world, including old favorites such as Mexican, Mediterranean, and Thai, as well as more unfamiliar choices, such as Ethiopian Stew. What all the recipes have in common is that they are prepared with whole foods: vegetables, fruits, beans, potatoes, whole grains, herbs, and spices. Nuts and seeds add texture and flavor in some of the recipes. The only processed ingredient you'll find is small amounts of sweetener in the desserts (hey, it's dessert!).

This cookbook is the official companion to the eye-opening documentary PlantPure Nation. This book is sprinkled with mini-essays about PlantPure Nation - the making of the film, the reality stars, the urgent need to revolutionize how Americans eat, and how to take health and farms back from agribusiness.

I was happy to be able to talk with Kim Campbell and ask her about the fascinating process of creating recipes. "I started cooking when I was 6 or 7 years old, " Kim shared.

Click here to read the rest of the interview with Kim Campbell and link to two of the book's super recipes

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Benji’s Interview With Don’t Lose The Cow

Check out my interview with Matt from DontLoseTheCow.com. We talked about my weight loss journey, what I’m doing now, and where I’m heading in the future. In the interview, you’ll learn:

  • What it felt like to lose that much weight and how my life has changed.
  • The health improvements that I saw after switching to a Plant-Based Lifestyle.
  • How my tastes changed and what I find myself craving now.
  • How I strategically use transition and comfort foods to enjoy life and ensure that I stay on track.
  • How I manage eating out and my go-to restaurants to stay on track while traveling.
  • How I transitioned to a plant-based diet, and how I accelerated my weight loss to lose the last 60 pounds.

Enjoy the interview:

Will Fruit Make You Fat?

Fears of Fruit Flood Ill-Informed Diets

Controversy swirls around the question of whether people who are overweight should eat fruit. On the one hand, this food is regarded as the embodiment of health, unprocessed and rich in vitamins, antioxidants, fiber, and other beneficial substances. But then there is the myth that, because fruit contains sugars, eating fruit will make you gain weight - or at least keep you from losing it.

The facts are totally in fruit's favor, and evidence demolishes any theoretical concerns about its sugar content. Eating Fruit samples.jpgfruit is effective for weight loss. Studies show that people who eat more fruit tend to be thinner and don't gain weight as readily.

The ridiculous myth that fruit should be avoided by dieters should not stop you from enjoying nature's bounty. Summer is an ideal time to eat all the fruit you want, and enjoy it. Popular choices such as peaches, nectarines, apricots, cherries, grapes, melons, strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, plums, pluots, kiwis, and many others fill stores and farmers markets.

SURPRISING FACTS

High quality, peer reviewed studies, published in reputable nutrition and medical journals, generally combine the impact of fruits and vegetables in studies of weight loss. However, research that does focus on fruit is promising.

One analysis is an overview of 16 other studies of the effect of eating fruit on weight. Eleven of these found that eating more fruit is associated with significant reductions in weight or less risk of gaining pounds over time. None of the studies found that eating fruit leads to weight gain.

A 2010 study in the journal Nutrition investigated how fruit consumption impacted weight loss in 77 overweight and obese dieters. The researchers confirmed that participants who ate more fruit were significantly thinner than the others and lost more weight. Vegetables, amazingly, did not have this impact on body mass index.

Another study found that research participants who consume a whole apple before lunch eat significantly less during that meal. Their total calorie intake goes down, even when the energy in the apple is added in with the calories in the meal. The lucky participants who eat the apple also feel fuller - they do not suffer hunger pangs.

Why does fruit spur weight loss and help prevent weight gain?

Click here to learn more about why fruit is healthy and fears about its "sugar content" are so ill-founded

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The Surest Way To Transform Your Eating Choices

How To Keep Going Until You Reach Your Goals

You likely already know a whole foods, plant-based diet is the healthiest and most compassionate way to eat, but perhaps you haven't managed to make the transition despite good intentions. How can you commit to a diet built on vegetables, fruits, beans, whole grains, nuts, seeds, herbs, and spices, with only a drop of processed foods - and make it work for you? A transformation in eating may appear daunting, but when you break it down to a little bit at a time, you can accomplish this.

Understanding and working with predictable stages of change paves the way for lifestyle transitions that stairs downtown LA.jpgmatter. The theory of "Stages of Change" explains why you don't immediately ditch unhealthy choices that are a mismatch for your own goals and values.

The process of change, for most people, is not like whizzing up multiple floors on an elevator. It's more like taking the stairs. The important things are to know where you are climbing to and to keep going. Don't mistake a landing on the stairway for arriving at the top. You may spend long stretches stuck on a landing, but you can be gathering information and strength for the next movement upward.

It takes energy to keep climbing those stairs. The energy comes from your wish to be healthy, help others, care for animals, and other life-affirming goals.

Occasionally you might fall down a few stairs. Not to worry, this happens to everyone. Pick yourself up and keep going.

The Five Stages of Change

Researchers have identified these stages of change on the path to healthier choices.

Precontemplation. At this stage, you are not even aware you have a problem or simply don't care. The fact you are reading this post shows you have likely gotten past this state of denial.

Contemplation. You now acknowledge and care about your choices, and want to improve, but you are not sure the pain of breaking old habits is worth the gains. If you are in this difficult stage of internal conflict, you can still resolve to move forward.

You can break free of contemplation through a number of actions.

Learn the other stages of change and three effective tips to climb to the top of the stairs

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Think Good Thoughts: Read The Pillars of Health

Do Good Deeds When You Are Done

John Pierre, the nutrition and fitness consultant who works with celebrities, the military, corporations, seniors, and children, challenges one-dimensional views of health in his book The Pillars of Health. He describes four categories of daily choices to cultivate to achieve lifelong well-being, fun, and a deep sense of satisfaction and purpose. Even more, this book is suffused with compassion and John Pierre Cover photo smaller.jpgcaring for readers. You will feel like John Pierre is your personal coach, cheering you on to make better choices without demanding perfection.

The essential pillars of health are nutrition, mind, motion, and compassion. Take away any one of these foundations, and support for your health is wobbly. Take away two or more, and you may end up coping with pain, illness, and disability.

The author's solutions are infused with playfulness, delight, and delicious taste. John Pierre gives you hundreds of specific, practical steps, complete with photos, stories, and recipe ideas, to strengthen each of the pillars of health, rebuilding them from the ground up if you need to. You will find out about nourishing foods, creative stimulation for you mind, fun ways to move, and a compassionate way of relating to your fellow beings.

I was fortunate to hear John Pierre present at Healthy Taste of LA and talk with him after to get more insight into how he came to write The Pillars of Health and what he wants you to learn from his book. I was fascinated to discover that, while still in high school, John Pierre adopted a vegan diet, and has found it effortless to stick to for 30 years. "I have never been tempted to eat my friends since I found out how farmed animals are treated," he told me. Even in high school, he intuitively grasped the connection between animal and human suffering, writing papers on both animal rights and women's rights.

Since then, John Pierre has championed the vulnerable, especially senior citizens, women, and children warped by nutrient-deficient food and societal-approved violent lyrics and games. In The Pillars of Health, he shares the creative methods he has developed to get you on the fast track to vibrant health

Continue to read the secrets of the four pillars of health

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Running With Dr. Ruth Heidrich

Lifelong Running, Dr. Dr. Ruth's Latest Book, Will Get You Moving

In Lifelong Running, Dr. Ruth Heidrich observes that children begin to run as soon as they learn to walk, and "stop running" is a frequent refrain parents and teachers aim at children. Adults fall into sedentary habits, their nature to run Ruth Heidrich Borobudur Indonesia smaller.jpgstifled by myths about this activity.

Dr. Ruth is a well-known runner who has won numerous gold medals in her 45 years of competing in marathons and triathlons. She aims to reignite your childhood habit of quick movement, and her love of running is infectious. In fact, of the many things to like about this book, Dr. Ruth's positive outlook, encouragement, and shared experiences top my list. You start out the book running across the Sydney Harbour Bridge with her, and the fun never stops.

Lifelong Running systematically busts 11 common myths about this sport, using science, success stories, and the personal experiences of Dr. Ruth and her collaborator, Martin Rowe. Although grounded in science, this is not a technical book. Dr. Ruth really wants you to get started at whatever level you are at. She describes the necessities of running as proper shoes and socks, and clothes that allow free movement and absorb sweat. Everything else is optional. Her common sense advice short circuits excuses to delay.

You can just go out and enjoy the scenery at a fast pace, feeling yourself getting leaner, fitter, more energetic, with a healthy heart and strong bones. In fact, the book advocates starting out with short distances, gradually increasing your running distance and pace, and giving your body time to recuperate if the new exercise is causing pain.

Yet Dr. Ruth, a cancer survivor whose 1982 victory over metastatic breast cancer is part of the documentary Forks Over Knives, is quick to let you know that diet is even more important than running to maintaining health. But, she points out, this is not an either/or choice.

The whole foods, plant-based diet she recommends optimally supports athletic performance. She describes how her athletic accomplishments soared after she went from a routine American diet to one based on a wide variety of whole plant foods, with an emphasis on fruits and vegetables. She thrives on her diet and shares her enjoyable daily food routines with you as well.

I was fortunate to have the opportunity to talk with Dr. Ruth and find out more about her ideas and experiences. I wanted to know her opinion of why more people aren't runners.

Click to read the rest of the interview with Dr. Ruth Heidrich

 

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Taxpayers Are Showering Money On Meat and Dairy Businesses

Dave Simon's Meatonomics Shows Compelling Economic Reasons to Go Plant-Based

You may be familiar with three major motives to ditch animal foods: your own health, the health of the planet, and animal suffering. To these, Dave Simon - author, lawyer, and animal advocate - adds a fourth powerful argument. His book Meatonomics builds an economic basis to move toward a plant-based diet byDave Simon smaller.jpg showing the high monetary cost to taxpayers of meat, fish, and dairy.

Meatonomics is clearly written, original, and compelling. As vegan choices become more popular and accepted, while the US economy languishes in a frail economic recovery with a dysfunctional government in Washington, Meatonomics is well-timed to ride the wave of plant-based awareness and show a $414 billion dollar hidden drain on economic activity.

If the true cost of animal foods were charged at the grocery store, the price of these items would almost triple. The animal foods industries are even significantly more costly and destructive than tobacco is. Meat, fish, and dairy are a parasitic forces sucking money from needed uses to the subsidy of illness and destruction caused by using animals for food.

Government works hand-in-hand with industry to convince consumers to eat huge amounts of health-destroying animal foods. Children are surrounded with messages to drink milk and eat meat, and in fact have little choice in most school lunches. Dietary choices solidify in adulthood to ensure that the meat, fish, and dairy industries never lack for customers.

I wanted more insight into how Meatonomics came to be written, and was fortunate to contact Dave Simon for his own story. "I used to be a classic junk-food junkie, living on chili dogs, bacon double-cheeseburgers, and sausage pizzas," Dave told me. "I never had the slightest idea that these foods might be hurting me or the planet, or that the animals they come from might be raised in inhumane ways. Today, I’m vegan and eat only plant-based foods. I confess I still have a taste for the greasy and salty, but at least now the things I eat have no cholesterol and very little saturated fat. I try to avoid using oil in cooking or salad dressings, as I figure I get plenty of it in the prepared foods I eat."

Dave made the choice to go plant-based in the spring of 2008. I asked him why.

Read Dave Simon's story of writing Meatonomics

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