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Tips for eating a veggie diet More than 20 years ago, Dr. Dean Ornish showed that heart disease could not only be stopped but also reversed with a vegan diet. Since this lifestyle cure was discovered, hundreds of thousands have died unnecessary deaths. What more does one have to know about a diet that reverses our deadliest disease? CANCER AND STROKES Cancer is our No. 2 killer. Yes, the dreaded "C" word. But look at this promising science. According to the largest forward-looking study on diet and cancer performed so far, "the incidence of all cancers combined is lower among vegetarians." The link between meat and cancer is such that even a paper published in the journal Meat Science recently asked, "Should we become vegetarians, or can we make meat safer?" After Dr. Ornish's team showed that the bloodstreams of men eating vegan for a year had nearly eight times the cancer-stopping power, a series of elegant experiments by the Physiological Science department at UCLA showed that women could boost their defenses against breast cancer after just two weeks on a plant-based diet. What about strokes, another major killer? The key to preventing strokes, according to the Department of Clinical and Experimental Medicine at the University of Naples Medical School in Italy, may be eating potassium-rich foods. Though many of us think of bananas as our ultimate potassium source, dark green leafy vegetables, beans, and dates actually provide much more. Americans eat so few veggies that 98 percent of us don't reach the recommended minimum daily intake of potassium. A plant-based diet can fix that, pronto. ALZHEIMER'S AND DIABETES You might be surprised to learn that Alzheimer's is now our sixth-leading killer. We've known for nearly 20 years that those who eat meat, including chicken and fish, appear three times more likely to become demented compared to long-term vegetarians. The same stuff that clogs the circulation to your heart also affects circulation to your brain. Moreover, exciting new research suggests that one can treat Alzheimer's using natural plant products, such as the spice saffron, which beat out a placebo and worked as well as a leading Alzheimer's drug. Diabetes is next on the kick-the-bucket list. Plant-based diets help prevent, treat, and even reverse Type 2 diabetes. Since vegans are, on average, about 30 pounds skinnier than meat-eaters, this comes as no surprise. Even after controlling for their slimmer figures, researchers found that vegans appear to have just a fraction of the diabetes risk. Having diabetes does not just mean you take a pill or injection every day. It also means you could lose a decade of life. And while you inch toward that uncomfortable end, you deal with an increased risk of heart attack, blindness, amputation, and loss of kidney function. It's a very serious disease. The good news is that diet modifications— such as moving away from animal foods and eating plant-based—really work. Speaking of kidney function, kidney failure is our eighth-leading cause of death, and it, too, may be prevented and treated with a plant-based diet. The three dietary risk factors Harvard researchers found for declining kidney function were animal protein, animal fat, and cholesterol—all of which are only found in animal products. Finally, based on a study of 15,000 Americans, those who eat meat have about twice the odds of being on antacids, aspirin, blood pressure and cholesterol medications, insulin, laxatives, and painkillers. In other words, plant-based diets are great for those who don't like taking drugs, paying for drugs, or risking adverse side effects. With our health care crisis deepening, our obesity epidemic widening, and the health of our nation's children in decline, a plant-based diet may be just the longevity ticket we need. By Shana Hopkins, MS, CN; WAC Nutritionist Are you considering moving toward a plant-based diet? Adopt these tips to ensure you hit your nutritional needs. • Eat vegetarian sources of protein at each meal to meet your daily protein requirement. Beans, lentils, tofu, tempeh, hemp, and nuts are good vegan sources. If you're vegetarian, dairy products, such as yogurt and cottage cheese, are also great. So are eggs. • Utilize protein powders to make healthy shakes. This can be an easy way to add protein to your diet. For vegans, hemp protein is an excellent choice. For vegetarians, whey provides a full array of the essential amino acids. • If you're vegan, be sure to supplement with vitamin B-12, a key nutrient only found in animal products. Deficiencies in B-12 can lead to irreversible nerve damage. • Don't over-consume grains, which is easy to do with this diet. Vary your diet with beans, lentils, nuts, seeds, vegetables, fruits, and cold-pressed oils. If vegetarian, add in healthy dairy and eggs. Kathy Freston is a bestselling author with a focus on healthy eating and conscious living. She is the New York Times bestselling author of The Lean, Veganist, and Quantum Wellness. A version of this article appeared in The Huffington Post. JANUARY 2014 | Washington Athletic Club Magazine | 29

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