The 98-Year-Old Massage Therapist Grandmother

January 26, 2010 by  
Filed under Longevity

Evelyn Blackburn

Evelyn Blackburn

In today’s article on Longevity, meet Evelyn Blackburn: She’s a 98-year-old grandmother who is Britain’s oldest massage therapist, with 60 years in the profession.

Evelyn Blackburn was first granted her license to operate in 1949 and recently renewed it.

Mrs. Blackburn, of Pinner, north London, has treated tens of thousands of people since a friend’s sore neck prompted her to learn the techniques of massage six decades ago.

But she has kept abreast of developments, embracing alternative treatments such as cupping – made famous by celebrity enthusiast Gwyneth Paltrow – and radiesthesia, which treats people’s energy or auras.

Mrs Blackburn said, “I have massaged thousands of people over the years – from mothers and grandmothers to builders and scientists. Back when I started, I used iodine-based oil called Dragon’s Blood. Nowadays, I use the modern substitutes. You have to move with the times.

“I still maintain the best treatment is a pair of hands.

“I don’t think anything can replace massage. I have used lots of therapies and machines, but nothing is quite as effective.

“A massage is much better than all these advertised creams to put on your face and body, although the companies making the cream wouldn’t like to hear that – but it’s the truth.”

Mrs. Blackburn working on a client

Mrs. Blackburn working on a client

Mrs. Blackburn used to treat up to eight people a day at the clinic where she worked in Nower Hill, Harrow, but for the past 24 years has worked from home in a room adapted into a studio.

She stated that, “I started in 1949 and now I’m 98. It has been a long time but I enjoy my work because I help people feel better. I love the contact with people and sharing their problems.

“Now I take on work as it comes. I’m available seven days a week.”

Explaining how she has kept so active, she said: “While you cannot determine how long you live, I have been a vegetarian since I was 20 and never get angry and depressed. When you feel down in the dumps, you must pick yourself up.”

Evelyn Blackburn, the 98-year-old massage therapist grandmother, is another model of longevity, and a model of someone living a Low Density Lifestyle.

One of the common threads you may have noticed amongst all the people featured so far in these articles on longevity is diet: they have all either proclaimed that they are (or in the case of Joe Rollino, was) a vegetarian, or that they ate very little animal foods.

That really is a very important part of it, as eating an animal-food based diet will shorten your life, as the article I wrote not too long ago on The China Study pointed out.

Another thing all of these people have is a sense of purpose, and having a sense of purpose is something that has been shown to help contribute to longevity.

For Evelyn Blackburn, her sense of purpose is in helping people feel better, and she truly loves to be able to do so. As she said above, she’s available seven days a week.

So next time you find yourself in Pinner, in north London, give Evelyn Blackburn a call and make an appointment for a massage from her. You’ll learn a thing or two about longevity along the way.

Jack LaLanne – The Master of Longevity

January 19, 2010 by  
Filed under Longevity

In the previous article in this series on Longevity, I told you about the amazing Joe Rollino, an incredible master of longevity, who died far too soon at age 104.

If you read the article, you will recall that Joe was hit by a car on Jan. 11, 2010, and passed away shortly thereafter. Otherwise, Joe would still be going strong. His daily routine was to get up very early, walk 5 miles, and then possibly go for a swim in the icy, frigid Atlantic ocean by Coney Island, in Brooklyn, NY.

jack lalanneToday I want to tell you about another amazing master of longevity, one that is still going strong - Jack LaLanne.

Jack Lalanne, born in 1914, is now 95. He is considered the “godfather of fitness,” and is well-known for the many books he has written, the fitness television show he hosted from 1951-1985, and for the juicer that bears his name that he sells on TV.

But Jack LaLanne is no hawker of questionable goods. He is the real deal – a model for how to live a healthy, vital and long life, a Low Density Lifestyle life.

His passion is living a healthy and fit life, and he is recognized for his success as a bodybuilder and for his prodigious feats of strength.

But it wasn’t always that way for Jack – he was a sickly child who was addicted to sugar and junk food. At age 15 he heard a lecture on health and nutrition that had a profound impact on him, and from there decided to focus on his health.

He changed his diet and started exercising regularly. He made these lifelong habits, and he blames overly processed foods for many of today’s health problems. He advocates an organic, vegetarian diet as the best type of diet to eat, and his simple rules of nutrition are, “if man made it, don’t eat it”; and “if it tastes good, spit it out.”

Jack in his younger days

Jack in his younger days

His interest in health led Jack to take pre-med courses in college, and to attend and graduate from a chiropractic college. Yet his newfound interest in personal health steered him away from the idea of treating disease for a living, and instead, his focus became helping people to avoid disease by achieving optimal health and fitness.

In 1936 in Oakland, CA, he opened up the first health spa/gym way before it was fashionable, and at the gym he preached the benefits of weightlifting. Meat and potatoes was the standard fare back then, yet LaLanne, far ahead of his time, opened a combination gym, juice bar and health-food store.

In the 1950s, on his TV show, LaLanne suggested that daily calisthenics rather than girdles would keep housewives trim. “My whole career, doctors and so-called experts called me a crackpot and charlatan,” he says. “But I was right.”

He celebrated his recent 95th birthday with the publication of his new book, Live Young Forever. In the book, Jack teaches you how to achieve a vibrant, motivated, stress-free, sexually active life that will make waking up a joy for decades to come.

That sounds to me just like a Low Density Lifestyle life.

Jack at 71

Jack at 71

Even at age 95, Jack LaLanne continues to work out daily, exercising for two hours every morning. He spends an hour and a half in the weight room, and then a half hour either swimming or walking.

And for various prior birthdays, he has done all kinds of prolific activities to show off his fitness. For example:

***in 1976, at age 62: To commemorate the “Spirit of ’76”, United States Bicentennial, he swam one mile in Long Beach Harbor in Southern California. He was handcuffed and shackled, and he towed 13 boats (representing the 13 original colonies) containing 76 people.

***in 1979, at age 65: Towed 65 boats in Lake Ashinoko, near Tokyo, Japan. He was handcuffed and shackled, and the boats were filled with 6,500 pounds of Louisiana Pacific wood pulp.

***in 1980, at age 66: Towed 10 boats in North Miami, Florida. The boats carried 77 people, and he towed them for over one mile in less than one hour.

***in 1984, at age 70: Once again handcuffed and shackled, he fought strong winds and currents as he swam 1.5 miles while towing 70 boats with 70 people from the Queensway Bay Bridge in the Long Beach Harbor to the Queen Mary.

Jack on one of his birthday swims, with handcuffs on

Jack on one of his birthday swims, with handcuffs on

And what is the key to longevity, according to Jack Lalanne, the master of longevity? Let’s hear it from Jack, in his own words:

“You have to work at longevity. Exercise is king and nutrition is queen: together, you have a kingdom. My ‘secret’ is that you have to plan for your life. Some older people are now starting to exercise, but there are too many fat people. They spend time watching TV and drinking at the bar, then they say they don’t have time to exercise. People need to get their priorities straight.

“To live a long life, you have to work at living. Most Americans work at dying. You wouldn’t give your dog a donut and coffee for breakfast. Yet people fill their bodies with junk and then wonder where their physical health has gone.

“Life is like planting seeds. Put junk in, junk comes out. Exercise is also essential. Exercise increases your life expectancy and gives you a reason to get up in the morning. With a sound program of physical fitness, everyone can lead healthy and productive lives in their golden years.

Jack Lalanne at age 88, getting his own star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame

Jack Lalanne at age 88, getting his own star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame

“You control your life. My dad died at 50, but your genetics don’t control your longevity. Do the things that are under your control. Man can live to be 150. Common diseases like diabetes can be controlled by diet and exercise. Stay away from animal fats and processed foods. Read every food label, and if you can’t pronounce the ingredients, don’t buy it. Buying nutrient-empty foods is like putting water in the gas tank of your car. But good food by itself is not enough. You need a healthy lifestyle as well.

“Nutrition and exercise should be an important part of everyone’s life. Life should be a happy adventure, and to be happy you need to be healthy. Just take things one step at a time, and remember that everything you do takes energy to achieve. You need to plant the seeds and cultivate them well. Then you will reap the bountiful harvest of health and longevity!”

Thank you Jack LaLanne. You are a true visionary and pioneer. Listen to his words well, and you too can live a long and vital life.

Goodbye Joe, You Left Us Too Soon at 104

January 15, 2010 by  
Filed under Longevity

As I continue with this series on Longevity, I want to tell you about Joe Rollino.

Sadly, Joe Rollino died this past Monday morning, Jan. 11, 2010. He was out walking near his home in Brooklyn, NY when he was struck by a van.

The above video has the news report. There’s a 15 second commercial at the beginning, so be patient, as it’s worth the wait.

Joe had his morning routine. He would go out early, while it was still dark, and buy the newspaper and a lottery ticket. Then he would walk 5 miles. After his walk, depending on his mood, he might go for a swim. In the ocean. The Atlantic ocean. No matter what the temperature was.

Joe Rollino was 104 when he died, and his 105th birthday would have been in March.

Joe was a lifelong vegetarian – his mother was a vegetarian, which was unusual in that time – who still had all of his own teeth, and ate oatmeal every morning. He never smoked or drank alcohol, he walked five miles every morning, rain or shine, and he also exercised everyday.


Joe Rollino, at his 103rd birthday party

People called him the Great Joe Rollino, the Mighty Joe Rollino and even the World’s Strongest Man, for he was a man of extraordinary strength.

Joe Rollino once lifted 475 pounds, using neither his arms nor his legs but instead, his teeth. With just one finger he raised up 635 pounds; with his back he moved 3,200. He bit down on quarters to bend them with his thumb.

At his 103rd birthday party, he put a quarter in his teeth and then bent it. He apologized for his act, saying he used to be able to do it with dimes.

At this same party, retired NYPD detective Arthur Perry met Rollino for the first time, and didn’t believe Rollino was the celebrant – he looked too good for a centenarian.

“It was astonishing, how he was smiled upon by nature,” Perry said. “If you would’ve said to me he was 80, I’d have said he looked younger. And when he started shadow boxing, I couldn’t believe my eyes.”

He was a member of the Coney Island swimming society, the Iceberg Athletic Club. Members of the club swam into the icy waters of the Atlantic in Coney Island. But Joe was the leader of the pack: he holds the record for swimming everyday for 8 straight years.

The Iceberg members actually swim in the ocean three or four times a week, and attribute the habit to enduring good health. It is called “winter bathing.”

The water temperature, they insist, is often warmer than the air temperature. If they stay in for 5 or 10 minutes, they believe the cold water kills germs that fester inside one’s body. All the members of the club have attested to the fact that since they started winter bathing, they have not been sick.

When asked at his 103rd birthday party, Joe Rollino couldn’t recall the last time he was sick.

One winter, the police asked Joe Rollino to see if he could find the bodies of two people who drowned in Prospect Park in Brooklyn, because the police did not have the necessary protective equipment and it was too cold for anyone else to jump in and bring them to the surface. Joe went in and recovered the bodies.

If it wasn’t for the car striking him down, Joe would still be with us. Even at 104 years young, Joe left us too soon.

Joe Rollino was a role model for what longevity is all about. We all have a lot to learn from Joe Rollino.

A Voice of Sanity in a High Density Lifestyle World

A stressed-out world

A stressed-out, High Density Lifestyle world

In a world in which people are stressed to the max, feel overwhelmed, and are caught up living a High Density Lifestyle existence; and in a world in which things seem topsy-turvy and what is wrong is right and what is right is wrong, voices of sanity are desperately needed.

That’s why we need people who live a Low Density Lifestyle to speak out and to be bold with their vision, because they are the voices of sanity, and the voices to lead us out of the wilderness.

And that’s why I’ve had this series on What Would a Low Density Lifestyle World Look Like? - to inspire the Low Density Lifestyle folks to help point the finger to the way to live a sane existence.

In the above video, you can see the actor Woody Harrelson’s poem Thoughts From Within set to music and images. In the poem he speaks simply, clearly and eloquently to help us understand how we’ve lost our way.


Woody Harrelson

Woody is giving a Low Density Lifestyle perspective to a High Density Lifestyle world. Perspectives like these are voices from the wilderness, voices of clarity. They shine a light to help us see through the darkness of a High Density Lifestyle existence.

Woody Harrelson, best-known as Woody on the TV show Cheers, but also star of many well-known movies, including Indecent Proposal, Wag the Dog, and The Messenger, lives a Low Density Lifestyle. He’s a peace activist, a vegan – in the recent film Zombieland, when the script required him to eat a Twinkie, he replaced it with a vegan-faux Twinkie made from cornmeal – and in October 2009, he was conferred an honorary degree York University for his contributions in the fields of environmental education, sustainability, and activism.

I hope you enjoy the video and it inspires you to become a voice of sanity in a High Density Lifestyle World.

The Obesity Apocalypse is Nearing

November 25, 2009 by  
Filed under Diet And Nutrition, obesity

obesityToday is the last article for this series on obesity, and the last article for this week –  Thanksgiving is upon us, and with it I am taking a few day hiatus.

And what better time than Thanksgiving to talk about the dangers of eating too much food and the wrong types of food?

Because as a nation, here in the U.S., statistics show that obesity is rapidly reaching epidemic proportions.  Already the U.S. is the most obese nation on the planet.

I’ve talked about all the different causes of obesity – diet, sugar/high fructose corn syrup, chemicals, cars and stress – but no matter how you cut the mustard, the truth is that if we continue the path we’re on, there is something ugly looming on the horizon.

And that is the obesity apocalypse.

2012-Doomsday1Forget 2012 and the Mayan Long Count calendar.  That just makes for a thriller of a Hollywood movie.

The real apocalypse will occur in 2030. That’s the year, according to a study that came out in the August 2008 edition of the medical journal Obesity, that nearly every American will be overweight or obese.

The study, led by Dr. Youfa Wang of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in Baltimore, says that if current overweight and obesity trends continue, 86 percent of Americans could be overweight or obese by the year 2030.

And even more troubling, the authors note, is the fact that “by 2048, all American adults would become overweight or obese.”

wall-eShades of the Pixar film Wall-E.  In that film, 700 years in the future, the inhabitants of earth are forced to evacuate the planet, because due to mass consumerism the entire planet is covered with trash. The people of earth are now living in space on starliners, and are grossly obese and no longer able to walk. They have to rely on motorized hovercrafts to get them around.

Dr. Wang of John Hopkins also said that the increase in metabolic disease and other weight-related conditions could have a catastrophic toll on public health — and on the public pocket. If these predictions come to bear, Wang and his colleagues estimate that the additional overweight and obesity burden could add up to an extra $860 billion to $956 billion per year in health expenditures to treat these conditions.

All told, this would mean that $1 in every $6 spent on health care would be spent as a result of the overweight and obesity.

printing_money_for_aigThe reality is that if those dollar figures quoted above are spent on the health demands of obesity, it will bankrupt this nation. We can reform health care until we’re blue in the face, we can create a single payer system that is compassionate, caring and exceeds expectations, but if we have that level of burden to pay on health care, the only way to rescue the U.S. economy will be if every person in the country is allowed to have a printing press in their home in order to print up money.

Obviously, we are in dire need of reversing course, and doing it soon…or else.

Dr. David Katz, co-founder of the Yale University Prevention Research Center says, “We are terribly, ominously off-course. To close the gap, we need to fix everything that’s broken — from neighborhoods without sidewalks, to the high price of produce, to food marketing to children, to misleading health claims on food packages, to school days devoid of physical activity and school cafeterias devoid of healthful offerings. The list goes on and on.”

Others state that the path to reversing course lie in individuals taking responsibility for diet and lifestyle habits. Dr. Neal Barnard, founder and president of the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM) and a staunch supporter of a vegetarian diet, says dietary modification could be a crucial step in solving the problem.

“U.S. eating habits are nowhere near where they should be,” he says. “The average American eats 50 pounds more meat and 20 pounds more cheese per year, compared to the 1960s. … I would strongly encourage Americans to adopt more vegetarian meals.”

Obesity.2007Soon we will be at a crossroads. On one path is the road to a Low Density Lifestyle, while the other is the trail to a High Density Lifestyle.

The choice is ours.

And so with that, I leave you to have a happy Thanksgiving.  I wish you well, and I hope you remember all I’ve written on this important subject.

Obesity, Meat Free Monday, and the Empire Strikes Back

November 13, 2009 by  
Filed under Diet And Nutrition, obesity

Paul McCartney and Yoko Ono get a little help from their friends in announcing the launch of Meat Free Mondays

Paul McCartney and Yoko Ono get a little help from their friends in announcing the launch of Meat Free Monday

Back in September I posted an article about Meat Free Monday, the campaign that Paul McCartney is helping to spearhead, which encourages people to go meat free one day a week.

The theory behind Meat Free Monday is that eating less meat is good for the environment and that even one less day of meat eating a week can help slow climate change.

It’s also well-known that eating too much meat can be harmful to your health, and so Meat Free Monday can definitely be a boost to the health of anyone who partakes.

And it can also be something that can lower obesity rates.

With that in mind, the city of Baltimore public school system became the first district in the U.S. to adopt Meat Free Monday. On October 5, 2009 the school cafeteria workers began prepping their first vegetarian fare.

kidsThis is really such a wise thing for the school district to do, especially in the face of the rising tide of childhood obesity, and obesity in general, in the U.S.

But the Empire was immediately ready to strike back at the news.

A spokeswoman for the American Meat Institute, Janet Riley, recently went on CNN and warned that students aren’t getting enough protein.

And the Animal Agriculture Alliance urged people “shocked” by the once-weekly absence of meat on school menus to write schools chief Andrés Alonso “to ensure this effort does not spread.”

Janet Riley of the American Meat Institute

Janet Riley of the American Meat Institute

“I am not suggesting that every child be forced to eat meat every day,” Janet Riley of the American Meat Institute said on CNN’s Lou Dobbs Tonight. “What I am suggesting is that children and parents should have the ability to choose what they want to eat.”

Riley also voiced concerns that children will not get enough protein. Will someone please tell her that there are lots of other sources of protein besides meat?

And, get this, Riley also didn’t like the idea of  the indoctrination that will occur: she’s concerned that it’s not the place for a school to tell children how to eat.

Riley said that by taking meat completely off of the menu one day a week, the school district was denying students the freedom of choice.  “I am not suggesting that every child be forced to eat meat every day,” said Riley.  “What I am suggesting is that children and parents should have the ability to choose what they want to eat.”

During the segment on CNN, host Lou Dobbs commented, “That’s a real political storm in the making, isn’t it?”

You can watch the CNN segment in the video at the top of this page.

Now, you may consider it a coincidence, but it wasn’t much longer after this segment aired that Dobbs announced his resignation from his show, effective immediately.

To me, it’s no coincidence. It’s obvious Lou Dobbs is quitting in order to get to the bottom of this conspiracy and find out who’s behind this treacherous plot that’s forcing our kids to not eat meat.

Episode_5_Darth_VaderI mean, God forbid, if these kids actually go a day without meat, then they may actually lower the obesity rates amongst children and in the U.S. in general. And we wouldn’t want to upset the apple cart, would we?

I mean, do we really want to invoke the wrath of the Empire, and take a risk of the Empire Striking Back?

And here’s a repeat of the video from the article in September in which Paul McCartney announces the Meat Free Monday campaign:

Meat – As You’ve Never Seen It Before

October 9, 2009 by  
Filed under Diet And Nutrition, Meat

jimmy_dean_3_6001For this last article on this weeks-long series on Meat, I’m going to take you on a tour the likes of which you’ve never seen before.

You may never look at a piece of meat the same way ever, ever again.

These are macrophotographs of various popular meat products. These photographs come courtesy of photographer Mike Adams, who used a Canon Digital Rebel XT camera with a high-end macrophotography lens and an expensive flash unit to capture the intricate detail shown in the photos.

Adams went to a big box store and bought some packages of popular processed meat products, and then started clicking away.

Below are his photos. Keep in mind that none of these photos are photoshopped.

I. Salami

1) Here’s a salami at regular size. It’s made with ground-up cow hearts.


2) Here’s a 1x magnification shot of a stack of salami slices.cotto_salami_1_6003) This is a 2x magnification shot of this meat.


4) This is a 3x magnification shot of the same slices of salami.


5) And this is a 4x magnification shot.


II. Sausage

1) Here’s a popular brand of sausage.


2) Here’s a 1x magnification of a cross-section of the sausage.


3) Here’s a 2x magnification of the very same sausage.


4) Here’s a 3x magnification


5) And here’s a 4x magnification.


III. Weiners

1) Is this your favorite brand?


2) A 1x magnification of the inside of a weiner.


2) Here’s a 2x magnification.


3) And here’s a 3x magnification of the weiner.oscar_mayer_2_6001

4) And last but not least, a 4x magnification.


So, I hope you enjoyed this series on meat, and it gives you food for thought (no pun intended).

See you next time.

Where’s the Protein? Where’s the Beef?: Part 2

October 8, 2009 by  
Filed under Diet And Nutrition, Meat

vegetarian-dietI will now continue from yesterday’s article, which was Part 1 of this two-part series. In that article I discussed what are our protein needs on a daily basis, and that we can meet all our needs with a diet of no or less meat.

I left off talking about foods from the vegetable world that are good sources of protein. Interestingly, I said that 100 calories of spinach contains more protein than 100 calories of steak.

Another powerhouse protein food is the grain quinoa. Quinoa is not only high in protein, but it is also a complete protein, meaning it contains all nine essential amino acids. Vegans and vegetarians concerned with protein intake should incorporate this healthy grain into their meals.

A quinoa dish

A quinoa dish

Quinoa is also a good source of magnesium, iron, copper, phosphorous and is well-endowed with the amino acid lysine, which is essential for tissue growth and repair.

Cooked soybeans are another good food, and they rank 10th on the World’s Healthiest Foods Containing Protein List beating out eggs, all dairy and most meats. In the nutritional community, soybeans are regarded as equal in protein quality to animal foods. One cup of soybean provides approximately 57.2% of the daily value for protein for less than 300 calories and with only 2.2 grams of saturated fats.

Studies have also shown that soy helps reduce cholesterol levels while consumption of animal proteins makes cholesterol levels rise. Soy is also rich in iron, magnesium and omega-3 fatty acids.

Tempeh - a soy product

Tempeh - a soy product

Soy can also be found in a variety of forms such as soy milk, soy yogurt, soy cheese, soy ice cream, tempeh, meat substitutes, miso, soy protein powder and tofu.

Other foods that are excellent sources of dietary protein include mustard greens, artichokes, corn, lentils, nuts, seeds, hot cereals and other beans.

Now, let me switch gears a little and go back to a theme that I touched on two days ago with my article about the vegan bodybuilder Kenneth Williams. As I said in that article, a common misperception is that to be an athlete you have to eat a meat-based diet and that there’s no way you can be vegan/vegetarian.

This is the misperception about vegans

This is the misperception about vegans

Well, consider the following list of current vegan and vegetarian athletes: Prince Fielder (MLB), Tony Gonzalez (NFL), Mac Danzig (Martial Arts), Pat Neshek (MLB), Scott Jurek (Ultra marathoner), Brendan Brazier (Iron man), Kenneth Williams (Body Builder), Christine Vardaros (Cyclist). Other vegan and vegetarian athletes include: Peter Brock, Carl Lewis, Salim Stoudamire, Ricky Williams, Ed Templeton, Bill Pearl (former Mr. Universe), and many other Olympians, world record holders and top athletes.

Most athletes take protein powders, and vegan and vegetarian athletes can also supplement with soy, brown rice and hemp protein powders.

Finally, I want to say a word about protein consumption in general. As I mentioned in yesterday’s Part 1, Americans eat way too much protein.

According to U.S. RDA calculations, the average person in America consumes 100 to 120 grams of protein per day, with the majority of it coming from animal sources. As I reported in yesterday’s article, the U.S. RDA states that an individual on a 2,000 calorie diet only needs 75 grams of protein – that means that the average American is consuming an excess of 25 to 45 grams of protein per day.

An excess of protein, particularly animal protein, is exceptionally harmful to the body. This was the findings of The China Study, and I talked about the findings of this landmark study in an earlier article.

I’ll sum it up again: The China Study examined the relationship between the consumption of animal products and diseases such as cancer, diabetes, heart disease, osteoporosis, autoimmune diseases, obesity and other degenerative diseases.

thechinastudyThe authors of the study concluded that based on long-term scientific studies, diets high in animal proteins from both meat and dairy are strongly linked to heart disease, cancer and type 2 diabetes. The authors recommended a whole food, vegan diet as a means to minimize and/or reverse the development of chronic diseases.

Excess protein, especially coupled with America’s sedentary lifestyle, can also be taxing on the kidneys. Animal proteins are inherently stressful on the kidneys, but overages will cause the kidneys to underperfom. When the kidneys are not operating optimally, the risk for premature aging or developing kidney stones sharply increases.

Bone health is also effected by excessive protein consumption. Excess protein consumption causes calcium to be leeched from the bones, which may then cause osteoporosis, acid reflux, obesity, plaque build-up in the arteries, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and arthritis.

So there you have it. If you are eating vegan or vegetarian, or you are eating not much animal-based foods, the next time someone asks you how can you be getting enough protein, you’ll have plenty of ammunition to counter back.

Where’s the Protein? Where’s the Beef?: Part 1

October 7, 2009 by  
Filed under Diet And Nutrition, Meat

proteinYesterday’s article was about vegan bodybuilder Kenneth Williams, and his busting of the myth that in order to build muscle and be an athlete you need to eat animal protein.

I wrote this article not necessarily to encourage you to become vegetarian or vegan as much as to show you that eating animal foods is not the key to feeling strong and vital, and that you can do the same (actually better) with a diet of less or no animal foods, because there are health issues inherent with a diet that stresses animal foods.

As I pointed out in the China Study article, a diet high in animal foods is detrimental to the health.

Also, a diet high in animal foods is not conducive to living a
Low Density Lifestyle.

luiz-freitas-bodybuilder-vegetarianProtein is synonymous with strength, and so it is assumed that in order to build strength and be an athlete, you need to eat protein, and since it is assumed that meat is the best source of protein, the thinking is that you need to eat meat to achieve your goals.

It is also thought that if you don’t eat meat, or don’t eat enough meat, whether you are an athlete or not, you will not get enough protein and therefore become protein deficient.

One of the most common questions anybody who doesn’t eat animal foods gets is “where do you get your protein?”

Like carbohydrates and fats, protein is one of the essential building blocks of the body. It is an essential nutrient needed by the body in order to function properly. Protein’s primary function is to build and repair muscles but it also keeps the immune system functioning properly and is involved with the synthesis of hormones and enzymes.

Protein may also be used as an energy source when there has been insufficient carbohydrate consumption.

The molecular structure of protein

The molecular structure of protein

Protein is made up of 20 building blocks, known as amino acids. Amino acids are classified as essential and non-essential amino acids. Essential amino acids are not created in the body and therefore must be consumed through dietary protein.

How much protein do we need? There are two ways to calculate total protein needs. The U.S. Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) for protein is 0.4g of protein for every pound of healthy weight (or approximately 0.8g per every kilogram of weight). For example, a man who weighs 150 pounds needs approximately 60g of protein per day (150 x. 0.4 = 60).

Alternatively, protein can be calculated based on total caloric intake. Generally, 15 percent of total caloric consumption must come from protein. For example, on a 2,000 calorie diet, 300 calories must come from protein. To determine the number of grams needed, divide the resulting number of calories by 4. Thus, on a 2,000 calorie diet, 75 grams of protein must be consumed.

Since one ounce equals about 28 grams, the body actually needs very little protein to function properly – we need less than three ounces a day of protein.

vegetarian-proteinAs I said above, protein is commonly associated with animal foods – meat, eggs and dairy products – but these foods are not the only sources of protein nor are they necessarily the best sources for protein. Protein is found in every food. Fruits, vegetables, grains, nuts, seeds and legumes all contain protein.

It is impossible to become protein deficient eating a well-balanced vegan diet, largely due to the fact the body needs very little protein to perform. For example, one cup of black beans contains 15.2 grams of protein (roughly 30.5% of the daily value for protein), plus approximately 74.8% of the daily value for fiber. The total calories for a cup of black beans is only 227 calories and there is virtually no fat. Similarly, 100 calories of spinach contains more protein than 100 calories of steak.

Spinach also delivers a boost of fiber, anti-cancerous properties and iron for only a small amount of calories and no fat. Steak on the other hand, which not only provides less protein and no fiber, also contains saturated fat and harmful cholesterol.

I will be back with tomorrow with part 2 of this article. So tune in tomorrow…

Can You Build Muscle Without Meat?

October 6, 2009 by  
Filed under Diet And Nutrition, Meat

Dexter "The Blade" Jackson - Mr. Olympia

Dexter "The Blade" Jackson - Mr. Olympia

There’s this belief that to build muscle you have to eat meat, and to build lots of muscle, you have to eat lots of meat.

“There’s no way you can be a pro bodybuilder without meat. I’ve never heard of anyone who doesn’t eat protein,” says Dexter “The Blade” Jackson, who last year won the premier international bodybuilding championship, Mr. Olympia.

Jackson routinely bookends a day of steak and chicken eating with 10 egg whites. (“My metabolism is very special,” he notes.) Meat is such an obvious delivery device for protein that bodybuilders often use the two words interchangeably.

But can someone become a bodybuilder without going this route? Is it a myth that if you don’t eat meat that it’s impossible to build muscle?

“I can’t think of any reason why muscle can’t be built on a vegan diet,” says nutrition professor Marion Nestle, the author of What to Eat. Going vegan, she explains, should have no effect on the performance of normal athletes, provided they eat a balanced diet.

Kenneth Williams

Kenneth Williams

Kenneth Williams is a prime example of the fact that not eating meat and building muscle are not mutually exclusive. He’s a professional body builder who five years ago made the switch from a full-blown meat eater to a vegan.

Now 41 years old, he’s currently 6 feet and 190 pounds. He took the last four years off from body building, but is now back in full training mode and hopes to gain another 25 pounds. And he’s doing it all on a diet of fruits, vegetables, seeds, nuts, legumes, and lots of soy protein.

In 2004, before he went on his hiatus from body building, Williams did the same thing most every other body builder did: eat lots of meat-based protein. But then one night in 2004, Williams had what he called “the awakening.” He was fixing a meal of two pieces of fried chicken, rice, and salad, but for some reason, he couldn’t stop glaring at the chicken.

“I was thinking about all the killing and the destruction going on in the world. And I looked down at that chicken and said, ‘I’m eating death, and I don’t even know why.'” He scraped the meat off his plate and went back to sleep a changed man.

Isn't this guy's name Wimpy, even though he eats a lot of hamburgers?

Isn't this guy's name Wimpy, even though he eats a lot of hamburgers?

He had never heard the word “vegan” before. All he knew was, “The spirit told me, ‘Nothing from an animal. You don’t eat nothing from an animal until you find out what’s going on.'” He entered the 2004 Natural Olympia, which is the one of the pharmaceutical-free-bodybuilding circuit’s premier contests, to prove a point to his meat-loving gym buddies.

In a feat that he claims “shocked the world,” Williams placed third in the novice division of the Natural Olympia in 2004, becoming a major figure in the exceedingly minor subculture of vegan bodybuilding.

So far, just a few vegans have infiltrated the elite levels of professional sports, such as Kansas City Chiefs tight end Tony Gonzalez, the former Atlanta Hawks guard Salim Stoudamire, and Ultimate Fighting Championship bruiser Mac Danzig.

Williams is on a mission to inflate his body into a bulging rejoinder to the myth that you can’t build muscle on a plant-based diet.

“If you think of a vegan,” he says, “you think of someone who is skinny and frail, who has issues. A tree hugger. Smells funny. I’m putting the breath of life back into people. I’m out to save lives.”

Williams generally eats between 210 and 250 grams of protein a day—what you’d find in about 2.5 pounds of lean top sirloin. He eats six or seven meals daily, and a few mornings before the most recent Natural Olympia, he prepared his second breakfast: a shake of water, 50 grams of soy protein, and three supplement powders made by HealthForce Nutritionals, his sponsor.

He has three of these a day, supplementing a diet of tofu, red and black beans, nuts, lentils, and leafy greens like kale.

The point of this article is that even if you have no intention to become a professional body builder and enter the Natural Olympia, there are many ways to build muscle, and it’s a myth that eating lots of meat is the only way.

As Williams shows, there are great sources of protein from vegetable sources, so there’s no way you can become protein deficient if you eat no meat or less meat.

The reality is that most people, particularly Americans, eat far too much protein.

If you recall, that’s the point I made when I wrote the article about the China Study and what their findings were. They precisely said that a diet high in animal protein is very detrimental to the health.

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