5-9 A Day The Fruit and Veggie Way

The 5 A Day for Better Health Program was formed in 1991 after extensive studies and research found that people who eat more fruit and vegetables are less likely to suffer from heart disease, cancer, and a myriad of other health conditions. They recommend a minimum of 1 lb. of fruit and vegetables per day which translates roughly into 5 portions a day.

How It Works

Vegetables and fruits contain many micronutrients, substances that are there only in minute quantities, but which are essential for the healthy functioning of the body. These include vitamins and minerals, some of which contain substances known as antioxidants. The most valuable are beta-carotene, (which the body converts to vitamin A), vitamin C, and vitamin E. What do they do? Normal cell activity of the body produces free radicals, which are molecules that have lost one electron. These deficient molecules will try to take an electron from another molecule and may start a chain reaction that can disturb the body's chemical balance and damage cells. Anti-oxidants will donate electrons for free radicals to take, and thus check the spreading of free radicals. Free radicals can also be created by cigarette smoke and exposure to various chemicals. Fruits and vegetables also provide fiber and are low in fat and calories. Choosing them rather than fatty, sugary foods can help maintain or reduce weight offers many other health benefits.

What is a Portion?

A portion is roughly 3 ounces, which is equal to:

  • One medium-size fruit
  • 1/2 cup raw, cooked, frozen or canned fruits (in 100% juice) or vegetables
  • 3/4 cup (6 oz.) 100% fruit or vegetable juice
  • 1/2 cup cooked, canned or frozen legumes (beans and peas)
  • 1 cup raw, leafy vegetables
  • 1/4 cup dried fruit

How Many Servings Do You Need Each Day?

Children (2-6 yrs.), women, and those who typically need about 1,600 calories to reach or maintain a healthy weight: 5 servings – 2 fruits, 3 vegetables Older children, teen girls, active women, and most men who typically need about 2,200 calories to reach or maintain a healthy weight: 7 servings – 3 fruits, 4 vegetables Teen boys and active men, who typically need about 2,800 calories to reach or maintain a healthy weight: 9 servings – 4 fruits, 5 vegetables

Tips on Getting Your 5-9 A Day

  • Breakfast: Include a glass of orange juice, 1/2 a grapefruit, or a quick smoothie using frozen fruit.
  • Lunch: Include a salad with several vegetables or a leafy green salad.
  • Dinner: Two portions of cooked vegetables (such as carrots and peas) or a baked potato. Whip up a vegetable stir-fry!
  • Snacks: Grab an apple or banana or dried fruit. Keep an easy-to-grab, pre-washed bowl of fruit on the counter.
Footnotes: 

Information from this article was taken from "Eat More Fruit and Vegetables" an article by Harry Mather in Vegan Views Magazine, www.veganviews.org.uk.

Cut Fish for Better Health

People who believe that adding fish to their diet makes them healthier will be surprised to learn this is a myth. Increasing numbers of health professionals and scientists are finding that it should not be mistaken as a health food at all. Consider the facts:

Saturated Fat.

Fish is high in saturated fat and has twice the amount of cholesterol as beef, chicken, and pork. Therefore, it is not uncommon that people who eat fish have higher blood cholesterol levels.

Fish Protein.

Fish protein is highly-acidic and is known to accelerate calcium loss, which contributes to osteoporosis and kidney stones. Eskimos are among the world’s greatest consumers of fish, which is high in protein. Surprisingly, after the age of 40, they have 10% to 15% greater bone loss than their American counterparts. The cause is attributed to the negative effects of protein on bone health.

Environmental Contaminants.

Fish is often highly contaminated with mercury, lead, toxic waste, parasites, etc. The higher up on the food chain, the more contaminated the fish. In fact, the FDA has advised women who are pregnant or plan to become pregnant not to eat swordfish, king mackerel, tile fish, or shark for this reason. And finally, fish contains no dietary fiber or digestible carbohydrates, which is not ideal for optimal bowel function and metabolism. Of course, some people will argue that the Japanese (a fish-eating population) enjoy a low incidence of diseases common to Americans (heart disease, breast cancer, diabetes, etc.). And yes, they are said to have the longest life expectancy of any country in the world. But it is often ignored that their health is most likely due to a diet comprised mostly of rice and lots of vegetables, rather than the small amounts of fish they consume. Others may worry that if they don’t eat fish or fish oils, they won’t get their Omega 3’s, but the hype about fish oil is misleading and overrated. You don’t need to get your essential fats from fish. In fact, fish don’t even produce essential fats, they get it from the algae they eat. Only plants can make essential fats. Likewise, you can easily satisfy your dietary needs for essential fats on a plant-based diet. (See this month’s Health Tip for more details.) There is, however, at least one redeeming thing that can be said about fish. Many people find that eating fish helps them forgo meat and move towards a plant-based diet. In doing so, they eventually reach a clear and unmistakable conclusion:

“The single most important thing an individual can do for their health, for the environment, and for the sake of the innocent animals is to adopt a vegetarian diet.”

E. coli 0157:H7

Unseen by the human eye, dangerous microorganisms can silently contaminate any appetizing meal. Tiny as they may be, once ingested, these one celled bacterium have an extraordinary ability to create havoc within the human body. Although there are many different pathogenic microorganisms, the E. coli 0157:H7 bacterium is one of the most common and dangerous. Even though it was discovered twenty years ago, E. coli 0157:H7 has only recently been recognized by the public because of its sudden prevalence in America's food supply. Most commonly found in ground beef, E. coli 0157:H7 tainted hamburgers are the leading cause of human infection. In the past ten years about half a million Americans have been made ill from E. coli 0157:H7.

E. coli 0157:H7 is a mutated version of the friendly E. coli bacteria which lives in our body. Most E. coli bacteria help us to digest food, produce enzymes, and guard against threatening organisms, but the mutated version is not so friendly; an infected person generally experiences bloody diarrhea and intense stomach cramps while young children and the elderly are prone to much more serious illness and even death. Once ingested, E. coli 0157:H7 releases a toxic substance called a Shiga toxin. Usually the Shiga toxin attacks only the intestinal wall (resulting in bloody diarrhea and stomach cramps) but in four percent of the reported cases it also enters into the bloodstream and can lead to kidney failure, anemia, internal bleeding, the destruction of vital organs, seizures, neurological damage, and strokes. E. coli 0157:H7 infection has also become the leading cause of kidney failure in children in the U.S.

Although anyone can become ill from E. coli 0157:H7, it has had the most drastic and horrendous effects on children. In 1993, after eating a contaminated hamburger, six year old Alex Donley was overcome by extreme stomach cramps and a bloody bout of diarrhea. He was in so much pain that his parents rushed him to the hospital. He was one of the four percent- the Shiga toxins had entered his bloodstream and began to destroy his internal organs. Five days after eating the tainted hamburger meat, Alex was dead. Unfortunately, in the past decade, hundreds of other children have died a similarly brutal death by consuming E. coli 0157:H7 contaminated hamburger meat.

As one great mind of the past said, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. More and more people are becoming increasingly aware of the many dangers of meat consumption and in accordance with the law of supply and demand, meat-free alternatives have hit the market. Now you can buy meat-free hamburgers, deli slices, chicken nuggets, hot dogs, and bacon, just to name a few. In fact, Burger King has now jumped on the bandwagon and added a new item to their menu, a meat-free hamburger! Most cannot even tell the difference between the newly innovated "healthy" meat and the old. Until recently, tasty and healthy did not seem to go hand in hand, but now healthy has gained a whole new meaning. There is no longer a need to eat a diet laced with danger.

Footnotes: 

*The information in this article was taken from Fast Food Nation, by Eric Schlosser.

Health Information Overload

by Michele McKay

There has been a media explosion in recent years that has changed the way we receive information. From the internet, to mail, to billboards and TV, people are being hit from every angle by ads. Several of the billion dollar industries – the diet and pharmaceutical – are known for working every avenue possible to get their products into our hands. But who really pays the price?

There is an array of “Web sites, TV medical reports, magazine and newspaper stories heralding one breakthrough after another,” Newsweek writers Barbara Kantrowitz and Claudia Kalb said. They add that the number of pages devoted to health and medical science in news magazines has quadrupled since 1980. Journalists are seeking “juicy” headlines and readers have become ravenous for quick fixes for everything from cancer to dietary fat. Unfortunately, scientific studies are complex and their full interpretations cannot be captured in a brief description, although this is the how most Americans receive the news.

Reading beyond the headlines

A recent case in point is the barrage of misleading headlines about a 15-year study conducted by the Women's Health Initiative (WHI) on the relationship between breast cancer and low-fat diets. The major newspaper headlines and news coverage led readers and listeners to believe that there are no benefits to a low-fat diet. In fact, the study was nuanced in its design and in its results, and the message that was lost behind the headlines was that researchers hoped women would not jump to a false conclusion and increase their fat intake as a result of the study.

The pharmaceutical media machine

New heights in the interest and reporting of health and dietary issues represent an economic opportunity that is not lost on the pharmaceutical industry. It spent $3.7 billion on magazine and TV advertising last year alone. In addition to mounting major advertising campaigns, “following the money” reveals that pharmaceutical companies often underwrite research and employ physician “experts” to report on scientific developments as a means of promoting their products.

“When corporate sponsors fund research, it's more likely to show beneficial effects," says Dr. Richard Deyo, Professor of Medicine at the University of Washington in Seattle. Because the funding corporations have a stake in the outcome, studies yielding negative results often go unpublished. The situation is compounded because, as Dr. Elias Zerhouni, director of the National Institutes of Health says, "The media reports all studies as if they have the same degree of certainty. There's no real label of quality."

Anyone who wants to be truly informed needs to learn to read beyond the headlines, "follow the money", and separate advertising from independent research. The knowledge gained will be worth the effort.

How to Avoid the Holiday Health Monster

by Angie Smith

As the holiday season arrives and people start gearing up for all of the festivities, a familiar and unwelcome friend comes along to test our immune systems. So, before you pick up that champagne and coffee for some late night partying, there are some things to remember about your health to avoid any unseen attacks.

Influenza, more commonly referred to as the flu, comes onto the scene this time each year, slipping in just before the holiday hustle and bustle takes off. With there being no cure for the flu, and no guarantees from a yearly flu shot, we should fall back onto the best defense that we have, equipping our own bodies for the fight.

The single best way to prepare our health is to take care of our diet. Valerie Green, from the Tufts University School of Nutrition Science and Policy, has said that some of the best tools for our immune systems are right in the grocery store. A few good choices are in the bright colored fruits and vegetables category. Green said that cranberries, blueberries, tomatoes, carrots, and spinach, to name a few, are all high in antioxidants, which protect immune cells from environmental assaults and speed up the production of white blood cells. Zinc is also very important, and can be found in cheese and legumes. For your necessary beta carotene, eat dark leafy greens, carrots, sweet potatoes, and squash. And then of course there is the always important vitamin C, which we can find in peppers, tomatoes, leafy greens, citrus fruits, bananas, and berries.

Another dietary recommendation came out of a study conducted by researchers from the University of California at Davis, in which yogurt was shown to have a positive association with preventing colds and the flu. In a group of people who ate a cup of yogurt everyday for a year compared with a group that ate no yogurt, those that consumed it experienced fewer incidences of coughing, colds and wheezing. In another study by the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, the benefits of tomatoes were highlighted when a group of subjects consuming a tomato-rich diet had 38 percent less free radical damage to their white blood cells than when they were consuming no tomatoes.

There are several reasons why we are more prone to getting the flu in the wintertime, and understanding these reasons can help us work through them. Inevitably, as the colder air comes in, we spend more and more time indoors with the heater on. Ellen Potthoff, spokesperson for the California Association of Naturopathic Physicians, said that indoor heaters produce a dry heat that dries out the mucous membranes which line the respiratory tract, nose, mouth, and lungs, thus leaving the body more open to infections. On the flip side, over consumption of dairy foods promote the overproduction of mucous in the respiratory tract, which can support the growth of bacteria and viruses as well. Most of all, it is during the holiday time that diets tend to be worse, leaving people prime targets for sickness.

Potthoff offers the following suggestions for staying healthy: at the first sign of illness, slow down immediately and rest to prevent the illness from taking hold. Be sure to get a full night sleep every night and decrease consumption of alcohol, coffee, and sugar because these weaken the immune defenses, leaving your body less able to fend off invaders. Viruses are passed by touch, so be sure to wash your hands frequently and keep your fat intake low because this will help keep your heart and immune system healthy.

Footnotes: 

Sources:

  1. Green,Valerie. “Don’t Get Sick This Flu Season: Fight Back With Food” October 29, 2001 . Retrieved November 17, 2003 from Tufts University School of Nutrition Science and Policy web site. Pothoff, Ellen D.C., N.D.
  2. “Naturopathic Physicians Offer Tips to Avoid Becoming Cold or Flu Victim This Season” December 31, 2000. Retrieved Nobvember 17, 2003 from Mercola.com. http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2010/11/22/the-common... Wein, Debra R.D.
  3. “Avoid the Immune Swoon: Supercharge Your Flu-Fighters with this Powerful Menu” Retrieved November 17, 2003 from ABC News.com.

The Vegetarian Diet - A Hopeful Alternative

by Angie Smith

With today’s growing trend of unhealthy lifestyles and health issues like obesity, heart disease, and breast cancer, it is no wonder that the availability vegetarian products are on the rise. Most supermarkets have started carrying items like soymilk and vegetarian alternatives to meat because all types of people, not only vegetarians, are interested in buying them. Family physicians have promoted eating more fruits and vegetables for years, but it is the growing number of deaths which are diet-related that has now prompted many people to begin to change their eating habits.

In a recent article by ABC News, the correlation between an increased amount of body fat and cancer of the breast was shown to be high. Studies have brought to life how the average American diet is excessive in calories and fat, especially saturated fat, which you find in all meat and dairy products. It went on to say that a diet high in fat or calories that results in an increase in body fat may promote breast cancer by increasing levels of hormones, which in turn raises estrogen levels. High estrogen levels are a trigger for breast cancer because it is an “estrogen dependent” cancer.

Most diets that contain more plant products are usually lower in fat because of the elimination of all of the saturated fat that comes from meat. While fat is an important part of everyone’s diet as a source of energy, most fat should be consumed from unsaturated sources, like avocados. So in general, women who follow these diets tend to be thinner and have less potential for the synthesizing of estrogen in fat tissue, and in turn they have less potential for breast cancer.

The article went on to talk about how emphasizing of a vegetarian-type diet could not only help to reduce the chances of breast cancer by helping to reduce body fat, but could also increase a person’s intake of necessary vitamins and nutrients. If a person were to increase the amount of complex carbohydrates they ate, for example, they would be increasing their intake of fiber, vitamins, minerals and nutrients known as antioxidants, and antioxidants are believed to help in the prevention of many cancers.

In another article by ABC News, Cyril Kendall, PhD, a research associate in the department of nutritional science at the University of Toronto, spoke about how beneficial a vegetarian diet was in the fight against heart disease, which is the number one killer in North America . She pointed out the fact that if we were to look at the human evolution over the past 10 million to 15 million years, we were predominantly vegetarian. She said that the great apes of present day are for the most part eating a vegetarian diet, and that in turn humans were designed for basically a fruit, nut and vegetable diet.

Kendall said that they conducted a study to see how diet affects a person’s percentage of LDL, or the “bad” cholesterol in the body. They had one group eat a diet that was low in saturated fat and cholesterol and included about seven servings of fruit and vegetables per day along with some key foods like raw almonds and sources of soluble fiber. And then they compared it to a healthy diet which included statins, which are cholesterol reducing drugs. In both cases, a significant reduction of LDL was observed in two weeks and proved how powerful a person’s diet can be in maintaining their health. But she noted that a person would have to continue the mostly vegetarian diet if they wanted to keep the levels of LDL low because they can shoot up as quickly as they come down.

Footnotes: 

Sources:

Haran, Christine."Eat like an Ape," 2003 Healthology, Inc. 2003 ABCNEWS Internet Ventures.

Grossman, Fran R.D., M.S., C.D.E., C.D.N. 2001 Healthology, INC. 2003 ABCNEWS Internet Ventures. "Reducing your risk of breast cancer: How your diet affects your risk."

"How many adults in the US are vegetarian and vegan?" 2016 Vegetarian Resource Group.

My Journey to Vegetarianism

by Carol Lent

I was just 20 years old when I traveled from southern California to San Francisco, the city of many steep hills, but I was feeling like I was 40. I’d go to the little market just 3 blocks from home and by the time I returned to our cute studio apartment I was huffing and puffing. In high school I ran track and “physically fit” was my middle name. I didn’t like what was happening to me. To my good fortune, the health-conscious movement was beginning to burgeon in northern California.

It seemed a little strange the same people that were taking hallucinogens, smoking pot and engaging in other unhealthy practices were the ones who would sit and talk about certain diets. The raw food diet, the all fruit diet and the macrobiotic diet were the diets that I first heard about. A close high school friend came up to San Francisco to visit and when she saw me, she told me—with no hesitation at all, I might add, "You need to change your diet. You look terrible." "To what, like how, what do ya mean?" was my response. She told me, "Obviously you’re eating too much white sugar and eating too much meat and you’re blood is dirty so your skin is trying to help your body rid itself of toxins so your skin is breaking out!" I had never had trouble with my skin breaking out and I didn’t like this new problem at all. She found the nearest natural food store in the telephone directory and she insisted on doing my shopping for me.

My first trip into a "health food store" is memorable in that I felt like there wasn’t anything in there to eat. My friend filled my basket for me. A little brown rice, tamari (which is soy sauce but without artificial flavors or preservatives), whole wheat bread, a book called Back To Eden and a wonderful herb, Goldenseal.

I was a smoker and it wasn’t considered something too awful for you in those days. Cigarettes were 25 cents a pack so it wasn’t a financial burden to smoke. I began taking the Goldenseal herb to clear up my skin because it is a powerful blood purifier. It worked incredibly well. The only problem was it cleaned my blood out so well that it was cleaning the tobacco out of my blood too. Every time I lit a cigarette I became so nauseous that I had to put it out. My husband told me to quit smoking and wasting cigarettes or stop taking the Goldenseal. I thought, "What, give up the bitter green powder that is clearing my skin up so beautifully—no way." So I ended up quitting smoking and of course am very thankful that I was able to do that.

I found the book Back To Eden very interesting and started to apply what I could. We ate fruit salad for breakfast in place of eggs and bacon. I hadn’t been aware of all the different fruits available and it was fun to try new ones. I discovered some great tasting yogurts and would mix the fruit with yogurt and serve whole wheat toast. Delicious!

Rice cakes became a snack staple instead of cookies. For lunch, I would put a slice of avocado, a little tamari and sprouts on the rice cakes. I would always toast the rice cakes because I liked them crisp and toasting really gives them a good flavor.

Dinner was usually brown rice with vegetables. This was 1969 and there was no tofu. I don’t know where it was, but it sure wasn’t on the shelf in any of the natural food stores. I would make a burger using rice—it was delicious. I still make burgers this way to this day because they are delicious and inexpensive. Many of the meatless burgers in the health food stores are so expensive that it’s pricey to serve them as often as you would like to.

Well, as the days passed I discovered more menu ideas and my husband and I began to feel the benefits of our new diet. We both lost weight and had more energy. I was very excited about our new diet and was anxious to share it wherever we went. We always walked into friends’ homes with a bag of groceries and then I’d go to the kitchen to prepare something I hoped they would like.

When we stopped eating meat we also learned of the waste of land, water, and grains that is caused by cattle farming and meat consumption. I was really horrified. I wanted to tell the world, but to my surprise and frustration, the world didn’t really want to hear it. So I continued to try to prove that eating grains and vegetables as the main course really can taste great. My hope was that my friends would think it tasted even better and would therefore change their diets. Some did and some didn’t.

Now, thirty years later, I am very thankful that this knowledge came my way. I hope someday to come in contact with that girlfriend who told me I looked terrible and thank her for her efforts. Please try our recipes here on the Down to Earth website. They are delicious. And pass them on to your friends and family too. They will thank you for it.

The Lack Of Proper Nutritional Education

by Tandis Bishop

Who do you turn to for advice on food, proper nutrition, and diet? Most people ask their family doctor for advice on diet and nutrition, but a recent study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition indicates that 60 percent of medical schools in the United States are not meeting minimum recommendations for their students' nutrition education.1 This means that doctors are not necessarily nutrition experts, in fact, most of them are not.

So Who Is?

The fact is, many health conditions such as heart disease, obesity, cancer, stroke, and diabetes are related to what we eat. It’s quite common for someone to need nutritional advice on how to loose weight or to bring down their cholesterol levels. But if doctors are not the best people to seek advice from, then who is? It is often better to consult a qualified nutrition expert such as a Registered Dietitian or a Certified Nutritionist (i.e. someone who has had special education, training, and experience in the field of Nutrition.)

Eat your liver… Not!

Here is a common example of how doctors’ advice can be off track. If tests indicate you are iron deficient, a doctor will often recommend that you eat liver. This is bad advice. While liver may contain concentrated amounts of Iron, it also contains concentrated amounts of toxins that are very unhealthy for you to consume. The liver acts as a filter to remove toxins and other contaminants from the body, and therefore is not a healthy source of iron.

Doctors and vegetarianism

Those who are trying to become vegetarians often receive poor nutrition advice from their doctors. For example, you may not have learned how to balance your diet properly to substitute for the meat you are no longer eating. Thus you may experience feeling tired or unhealthy. If you tell this to your doctor, the likely response is that your symptoms are caused by the lack of meat in your diet (not because you just need to eat a more balanced plant-based diet). So while a doctor would probably tell you to start eating meat again, a Registered Dietitian or nutrition expert would tell you the opposite. They would teach you how to balance your meals properly and reassure you that you can have a perfectly healthful, balanced vegetarian diet. In fact, "it is the position of the American Dietetic Association that appropriately planned vegetarian diets, including total vegetarian or vegan diets, are healthful, nutritionally adequate, and may provide health benefits in the prevention and treatment of certain diseases. Well-planned vegetarian diets are appropriate for individuals during all stages of the life cycle, including pregnancy, lactation, infancy, childhood, and adolescence, and for athletes."2 We are not saying you should not see your doctor for regular checkups or if you have health concerns, but if you need nutritional advice, it may be in your best interest to seek out an expert with specific training and experience in that field.

Footnotes: 
  1. Adams, M.K., et al. Status of Nutrition in Medical Schools. Am J Clin Nutr April 2006 vol. 83 no. 4 941S-944S. Available at http://ajcn.nutrition.org/content/83/4/941S.full
  2. Position of the American Dietetic Association: Vegetarian Diets. Journal of American Dietetics Association. Volume 109, Issue 7, Pages 1266-1282 (July 2009)

A Lesson From McDonalds

The primary motivation for choosing a vegetarian lifestyle is the desire to increase one’s health and wellness. It is no secret that a diet rich in fruits and vegetables decreases a person’s risk of cancer, heart disease, and other health problems. In contrast, a diet high in red and processed meats has been shown to increase these risks. Evidence of the dangers of a meat-based diet can be found in the recent fate of McDonalds' CEOs, Jim Cantalupo and Charlie Bell.

After working for the company for 28 years, and CEO since January 2003, Cantalupo died of a sudden heart attack at age 60. Following Cantalupo’s passing, McDonalds named company president and chief operating officer, Charlie Bell, as the new CEO. One month after accepting the position, Bell was diagnosed with colon cancer and died less than a year later this past January. He was only 44 years old.

It is hard to ignore the potential correlation between these deaths and the line of work they were in. Bell had worked for McDonalds since he was 15-years-old, working his way up from burger flipper to manager (at the young age of 19), to vice president at age 27. He then went on to become the company’s president and chief operating officer and finally, chief executive officer. Bell said he ate something from McDonalds almost everyday.

Irony aside, the fact is that a meat-based diet, lacking sufficient fruits, vegetables and whole grains, increases your risk for some types of cancer, especially colon cancer. A study by Chao, Thun, et al examined the relationship between long-term meat consumption and colon cancer. The study looked at 148,610 adults over a period of ten years. The conclusions reported higher risks of colon cancer in those participants consuming higher amounts of meat, especially red meat and processed meats (commonly found in fast-food joints). A similar 20-year study showed that those with the highest levels of red and processed meat consumption were 50 percent more likely to develop colon cancer than those with low consumption. The particular danger of processed meat is its tendency to contain sodium nitrate, another cancer causing agent.

While loading up on meat certainly increases cancer risk, research also confirms that eating more fruits and vegetables can decrease the risks. Studies from the Unit of Nutrition and Cancer at the International Agency for Research report a significant reduction in the risks of cancers of the esophagus, lung, stomach, and colon associated with both fruits and vegetables. Research done at the Health Research Center at the University of Utah examined the correlation between plant foods, fiber, and colon cancer. The results showed colon cancer to be inversely proportional to fruit, vegetable and whole grain intake.

While it would be improper to directly attribute the deaths of Cantalupo and Bell to their McDonalds' diets, it cannot be denied that a diet high in red and processed meat, increases a person’s risk of colon cancer and heart disease. At Down to Earth, we promote a vegetarian diet rich in organic fruits and vegetables, whole grains and vegetable proteins. We encourage you to integrate these life-giving foods into your own diet. Check out our Health Tips for more information about reducing your risk for colon cancer.

The Meat-Cancer Connection

by Tracy Rohland

Science continues to support the conclusion that a diet rich in whole grains, fruits and vegetables is ideal for overall health and well-being. In contrast, new evidence is supporting the idea that high-meat diets can lead to cancer.

A recent study from the University of Hawaii revealed a probable link between processed meat consumption and pancreatic cancer. The multi-ethnic cohort study followed nearly 200,000 people for a seven-year period. It is the largest and most statistically significant study of its kind. In all, 482 cases of pancreatic cancer were reported. The results showed that those people who consumed large amounts of processed meat had a 67 percent higher risk of contracting pancreatic cancer. Additionally, those who consumed large amounts of pork and red meat were shown to have a 50 percent greater risk of this cancer.

Researchers suggest that the carcinogens produced during the processing of meat are responsible for this cancer link. Processed meat includes hot dogs, sausage, pepperoni, lunch meats, chicken nuggets, and of course, the king of processed meats, SPAM. Hormel, the manufacturer of this product, owes much of their success to the Hawaiian market. According to their statistics, "More than 122 million cans of SPAM are sold worldwide each year. In the United States , a can of SPAM is purchased every 3 seconds." On a per capita basis, Hawaii, Alaska, Arkansas, Texas and Alabama are the heaviest consumers of SPAM in the United States, and of these five states, Hawaii is the leader.

There are plenty of alternatives to hot dogs and pepperoni pizza that are free of carcinogens and will actually give you energy, rather than weighing you down or causing bloating. If you can not bear the idea of giving up hot dogs and burgers, try vegetarian hot dogs and burgers from Down to Earth. If you are into trying new ideas, we can suggest some great recipes. You can find these on the recipe section of our Web site. And check out this month's Health Tip for great meat alternatives.

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