Thursday, May 28, 2015

Don't Believe the Hype - How a Prank Fooled Millions into Believing Bogus Science

A journalist recently put together a prank as a way to test the reception of wild claims about diet based on faulty science.  The story behind the prank can be found here.  He registered a website, crafted a completely flawed study and boasted wild claims...and the media bought into it big time.  This prank highlights some of the fundamental problems with nutrition science and reporting on it.  Far too many people believe that the science wavers back and forth: eggs are bad, eggs are good, butter is back, saturated fat is bad, high cholesterol isn't as dangerous as we thought, etc.  But this is not the case.  Nutrition science is a lot like climate science.  If it snows in April, that does not mean global warming is no longer happening.  Media outfits, websites and social media LOVE to publish stories that give us what we want to hear, especially if it's good news about bad habits.
Real reporting on science is usually boring and nuanced, big shifts in thinking about nutrition science happen gradually and slowly.  Everything has to be taken in context of the big picture.  We used to rely on respectable newspapers and magazine to filter the news.  These days, it's far too easy to get duped by bogus claims because the media (and social media) has become a mirror for repeating, retweeting, and spinning junk science.  It's up to us to be more discerning about what we read, hear and watch.  We can be yogic about our news, the same way we become inquisitive when we practice on our mats.  We can use the yamas and niyamas to help us.
What is the intention behind this news story?
Does the information help bring us into balance?
Is this excessive?
Is this committed to the truth?
Does this information promote attachment to things we know are unhealthful?
Is this a misappropriation of science?
Does the news elevate our consciousness?

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Imagine A World Where All Beings Are Equal

After my morning meditation, I looked out at the scene in my backyard.  There were birds singing, trees swaying and flowers blossoming.  I opened the door to my porch and felt a cool morning breeze wash over, feeling immense gratitude for the life unfolding before me.  Recently I've been reflecting
on Melanie Joy's book on Carnism -- a profound and initially troubling account of the psychological disconnect necessary to consume animals.  With a heightened sense of awareness, I realized quickly it would be too easy to be overwhelmed with sadness at the amount of unnecessary suffering in our world.  I made a conscious decision not to let it affect me with sadness, but to explore what life could be like, and is beginning to become, when we make the decision to do less harm.

Imagine what this world could be if all beings were truly treated equally.  Would we still have wars?  Could we keep animals and people in prisons?  How could we justify treating any person or any being without equal respect and love?  Imagine...

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

A Taste of Kosha

In yoga philosophy there are 5 koshas, or sheaths.  The Mind Body Green has a good description of these:
The koshas are energetic layers or sheaths that move from the outermost layer of skin to the deep spiritual core. The koshas provide a framework for conceptualizing ourselves. Much like the chakra system, the kosha layers come packaged with their own individual physiological function and psychology. In some respects, the kosha layers mirror the psychology of the chakras
The five koshas are:
1. Annamaya kosha - physical body
2. Pranamaya kosha - subtle body or energetic body
3. Manomaya kosha - emotions, deeper in the mind
4. Vijanamaya kosha - wisdom, awareness, or deeper desires and motivations
5. Anandamaya kosha - transcendence, bliss, connection to all things

These layers provide a framework for us to think about how we interact with the word.  When we practice asana, we become keenly aware of our physical and energetic koshas and sometimes our emotions.  When we spend time with loved ones, go for a peaceful walk on a nice day or experience gratitude we often feel the interaction in deeper layers beyond emotions -- that sensation we get when we feel connected to others or to nature.  I'm particularly interested in how these layers affect health and our understanding of the science of food and nutrition.
If we look at the interaction we have with food, we can start with the five sense: seeing, smelling, tasting, touching, and hearing.  Culinary instructors have taught me that we definitely "taste" with our eyes first and then with our nose even before food enters our mouth.  Then we get the sensation of taste on the tongue which, of course, correspond to the five tastes.  How we hear food may not be so obvious, but after reading Michael Moss' book, it's clear that the sound of produced by our teach plays an important role.  Think of the irresistible crunch of crispy food, for example, and how satisfying they can be.  We definitely hear food too.
Similarly, we can make direct connections between consuming food and the first kosha, which is sometimes called the food body.  Food also gives us energy, carbohydrates and sugars provide fuel for both the mind and the body.  There is a ton of research on the emotional connection we have with food.  The unconscious connection to food choice is illustrated brilliantly in in the work of Doug Lisle's Pleasure Trap -- interesting, that there are also 5 phases here :-)

Monday, May 4, 2015

References, Links and Resources from my talk on Mindfullnesss and Food

On Friday we had a tremendous turnout for my workshop on Mindfulness and Food: The Benefits of a Whole Food Plant Based Diet.  I was so happy to see so many people engaged, asking questions and enjoying the food.  It is truly inspiring to me to see people begin to discover the whole food plant based lifestyle, even if that means starting with small changes.  I recognize how long it took me to really embrace this change...we all know how hard it can be to break old habits.  What really helped me make significant changes was having a support system of family, friends, and support groups all over the Internet that are making it easier than ever to go WFPB.

In my talk I mentioned a few films.  I think these are a great starting point... It was the FOK movie that helped me finally commit to the WFPB lifestyle:

Forks Over Knives - Tons of resources, blogs and recipes about WFPB
Cowspiracy - Eye-opening statistics about food choice and the environment
PlanEAT - free to watch online
10 Life Changing Documentaries about Food and Diet

Other good starting points, these are powerful videos:

Rip Esselstyn on Plantstrong

The Blue Zone Diet in 90 Seconds, What the World's Healthiest Populations Eat

Gene Baur on the Daily Show Discussing Mindful Eating and his Book

Plant Based Nutrition: Julieanna Hever (Author of Plant-Based Diets for Dummies) at TEDx

Mark Bittman, What's Wrong with What We Eat

Michael Pollan on how Cooking Can Change Your Life

A Vegan Bodybuilding Experiment

Dr. Melonie Joy on Authentic Food Choices (and Mindfulness)

Frank Medrano (Plant-Based / Vegan Athlete) Bodyweight Domination Workout

Frank Morris (78 year old vegan builder, healthier and stronger than most men 1/4 his age)

Tim "Livewire" Shieff on how to get started on a plant-based (vegan) diet

CT Fletcher on Frank Medrano's Diet :-)


The China Study
The Plant Power Way by Rich Roll (named one of the fittest men alive)
Rip Esselstyn's My Beef with Meat and Engine 2 Books
Thrive Fitness - An Ultramarathon Runner's Guide to WFPB
The Vegetarian Flavor Bible
Whole: Rethinking the Science of Nutrition
Diet for a New America by John Robbins
Dr. Esselstyn's Books
The Farm Sanctuary Life by Gene Baur
Crazy Sexy Diet by Kris Carr

more book recommendations:

Reliable Nutrition Science Websites

Scientific Report of the 2015 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee
Nutrition Facts - Dr. Micahel Gregor's extensive review of scientific literature features new videos every day and covers a wide variety of topics
Cornell University’s Nutrition Program started by Colin T. Campbell

Lifestyle Change and Ways to Get Started
PCRM's 21-Day Kickstart - Free 21-day meal plan w/recipes, nutrition webcasts, daily messages (you can opt out too) and more
The Ultimate Guide to WFPBD
Engine 2, 28 Day Challenge - Short videos with great information and tips on eating healthy

One Greeen Planet - Great Site for News Stories, Articles, Recipes
Myths and Concerns about WFPBD

Rich Roll, one of the fittest men alive wrote the best post I've ever seen about the myths and misinformation surrounding protein
More on protein requirements (hint: it's less than we think)
Robert Cheeke's (World Class Vegan Bodybuilder) take on protein for active people:
Helpful Charts on Protein in Whole Plant Foods
Why is Oil not a Healthful Food - If you do use oil, use it mindfully
Dr. Esselstyn Says No Oil is Healthy

Great collection of FAQs on WFPBD for Disease Prevention:

Debunking the Soy Myth
Here are some good articles on the misinformation surrounding soy with links to the science that backs it up*:
*what's particularly notable about the science is the meta-analysis that looked at 50 years of researching soy foods and their effects

and there are great informative videos on (one of the best sources for almost any nutrition topic)

Why is Dairy Cheese So Addictive
Here's an article about the casomorphins found in cheese

Debunking the Paleo Diet - A TED Talk by an Archaeologist

Cooking Classes

How to Steam Saute (Without Oil)

Batch Cooking Like a Boss by the Happy Herbivore

Rouxbe Online Cooking School has an incredible plant-based professional certification program:

WFPB Recipe Sites

Engine 2 Recipes - Some of my favorite whole food plant-based recipes
Happy Healthy Long Life - One of the best written blogs by a medical librarian's adventures in evidence-based living
My New Roots* - Gorgeous plant-based recipes, such a beautiful website!
Happy Herbivore - Also has a free 7-day challenge
She has written FOUR of my favorite cookbooks and offers many of her recipes free on her website (click recipes)

My Favorite Kitchen Appliances
The Instant Pot Pressure Cooker - It's so much more than a pressure cooker.  It is a must-have if you want to save money and cook your own dried beans. You can set-it-and-forget-it -- completely foolproof and safe.
Vitamix - The best high powered multi-purpose blender for the money.  Not cheap but it's an investment in health.  I use mine DAILY.

Plant Based Athletes and Workout Sites

Vegan Bodybuilding and Fitness
Great Vegan Athletes shattering the myth that you can’t be competitive on a plant-strong diet
Frank Madrano
Rich Roll

Rich also puts out a free weekly podcast on itunes and the FoK website blog is great too!
Thrive Fitness - Ultramarathon Runner Brendan Brazier's Site