How two guys lost 150 lbs on an easy to follow vegan diet!

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Heart Disease: Avoid becoming a statistic

imageYes, it’s been awhile. But have you ever gone thru a period of time where you just felt like you didn’t have anything to say? Or perhaps you felt like no one was listening. Today that ends, at least for a moment.

Recently, in our community, a hand full of individuals have passed away suddenly. The culprit of course was heart disease, which is not a surprise. Many thousands die every year, so why should anyone, and I do mean anyone, think they are immune to the possibility. A cardiologist once told me he had a patient who’s only symptom was a toothache. She first had a root canal, but ended up in the ICU, with stents, at the ripe old age of 28.

My point here is that if you are an adult,  you should entertain the possibility that you at least have the beginnings of heart disease. If you don’t believe, please refer to any respectable Medical Journal on the subject, where you will find that most westerners, due to diet, lack of exercise, and other factors, have the beginnings of heart disease early in adulthood.

Now the question becomes, what to do about it ? Caldwell Esselstyn MD calls heart disease a ” food borne illness”. His hypothesis that a plant based diet, no meat or dairy whatsoever, can cure heart disease, is gaining traction. However, being realistic, many people will never get there. Those that do however, find themselves with great health improvements, and living better lives.In that way, I have been truly fortunate.

But what about the rest of the world. Meaning the very large group of people that find change so very difficult? Perhaps they have food addictions, or an unsupportive spouse or family member. What’s the plan for them?

I speak here from experience.Incremental change can have a huge impact. Try cutting out one and only one thing that you know is bad. Than start with just a walk around the block every day. Do the easy things first. Once you are feeling better, it will motivate you to do more.It will also get the people you care about behind you, and motivate them as well.

I am going to go out on a limb here and talk about the practice of Medicine for a moment. First of all Physicians have saved my life at least twice, so I owe a debt of gratitude to the medical profession. However, no Physician is perfect, and certainly no patient is perfect.

Physicians sometimes make mistakes, and patients often minimize symptoms in the hope that something will just go away. In heart disease, both can be deadly. If you or anyone you care about has symptoms that are remotely related to heart disease, go in and get it checked out. No matter the time of day or night, if you have symptoms, you must go in.

And here is another thing. Chest pain can easily seem like indigestion.Thats what happened to me, and others. So be mindful of that.

And finally, testing. What happens if you go in and it turns out it wasn’t a heart attack. Meaning the initial tests for cardiac enzymes show no evidence of a heart attack? I strongly urge you to follow up and have further testing with a cardiologist. A treadmill or a cardiac CT can show evidence of the types of heart disease that will not necessarily show up in a quick ER visit.

Don’t let anyone, a Physician or otherwise, tell you that you have nothing to worry about. If you have symptoms, you need to get to the bottom of it and the only way to do that is thru treadmills, cardiac CT, or perhaps a cardiac catheter.

The thing is, your physician might know that it is unlikely that you have heart disease from a study that says only a very small percentage of people that go to the hospital with chest pain and are found to be healthy go on to have heart attack at a later date. But you are not interested in percentages. You only need to worry about one case. You. So ask questions, push if you have to, and get to the bottom of it.

The good news is that heart disease is very treatable, and even preventable, with diet, exercise, and good medical care. So take care, and don’t allow yourself to become a statistic.

Good Luck!



Its official- Dump Diet Soda and lose inches


I remember when we first moved from Los Angeles to Cleveland, hearing people refer to soda as “pop” thinking it was funny. I happen to love Coca Cola, but its got tons of sugar . But wait, what about diet soda, the perfect solution right?

Apparently drinking diet is about the last thing you want to do, unless you enjoy having lots of belly fat. In a recent study,at the University of Texas ,people that drank diet soda gained about three times as much belly fat as people that never drink diet soda. Even people that drink only on occasion gained  almost two inches on their waste over a period of years. People that drink diet every day? A whopping 3.6 inches bigger in the waist.

Nobody really understands why this happens, although some speculate that diet soda creates a disconnect between the brain and body. The body tastes sweetness, but receives no calories, and ends up craving even more calories. It would be this cycle that leads to a desire for sweets, and the daily diet drinker is caught in a vicious cycle. We get the picture.

The bottom line is there is has been lots of speculation about whether diet is good or bad, and I think that is settled now. Don’t drink diet soda- or pop… or whatever you call it.

So what should you drink? How about water? I like a handful of berries along with a glass of pellegrino….

Your tailor might thank you !

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The Israeli Paradox: What really causes heart disease


Perhaps you have heard of the French Paradox. Or, better put, why don’t the French get heart disease like the rest of us?But did you know that there is an equally interesting “Israeli Paradox” related to heart disease? And why do so many Israeli’s get heart disease anyhow? For the details, read on…

As it goes, the French, despite their wild ways of smoking and drinking, don’t  succumb to heart disease like the rest of us . There are many possible explanations for this of course. Up until a few years ago it was believed that red wine protected the French from heart disease. That idea has been dismissed at this point. One possible explanation is that health statistics are calculated in a way that reduces mortality from heart disease. Another is that somehow their diet is protective.

In the mean time, did you know that there is also an Israeli paradox ?  Israelis have low serum cholesterol but have high rates of heart disease, which is the opposite of France, and absolutely interesting. Perhaps, by examining both ends of the spectrum, the experts will figure out the true cause of heart disease. In the mean time, we can create our own little  hypothesis right here. And even before the experts, you and I will understand what causes heart disease. So?

One researcher Susan Allport, sums up the Israeli paradox as follows :

Israelis eat less animal fat and cholesterol and fewer calories than Americans, but they have comparable rates of heart disease, obesity, diabetes and many cancers. They have an ideal diet, as far as the American food pyramid is concerned, but far from ideal health.”[3] 

And the big question: What is different about the Israeli diet that we can point to that would make a difference, or cause an “ideal” diet to be unhealthy?

Guess what- Israelis consume more omega -6 than any population on the planet. In other words vegetable oil. It is now believed that the ratio of omega six(think vegetable oil)  to omega three (think fish, and flaxseed)  is a very important measure of inflammation in the body. Israelis have a very distorted ration of omega 6 /omega 3, and speculation is that causes inflammation, atherosclerosis and other illnesses.  In fact, that is exactly what the following research abstract concludes :

Diet and disease–the Israeli paradox: possible dangers of a high o… – PubMed – NCBI// // //

Israel has one of the highest dietary polyunsaturated/saturated fat ratios in the world; the consumption of omega-6 polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA) is about 8% higher than in the USA, and 10-12% higher than in most European countries. In fact, Israeli Jews may be regarded as a population-based dietary experiment of the effect of a high omega-6 PUFA diet, a diet that until recently was widely recommended. Despite such national habits, there is paradoxically a high prevalence of cardiovascular diseases, hypertension, non-insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus and obesity-all diseases that are associated with hyperinsulinemia (HI) and insulin resistance (IR), and grouped together as the insulin resistance syndrome or syndrome X. There is also an increased cancer incidence and mortality rate, especially in women, compared with western countries. Studies suggest that high omega-6 linoleic acid consumption might aggravate HI and IR, in addition to being a substrate for lipid peroxidation and free radical formation. Thus, rather than being beneficial, high omega-6 PUFA diets may have some long-term side effects, within the cluster of hyperinsulinemia, atherosclerosis and tumorigenesis.


Is vegetable oil a major contributor to heart disease ?

Do the French have a good omega 3/ omega 6 balance? If so, evidence from both societies could be the key to understand what truly causes heart disease. In the mean time,, dump the oil, eat more fish, and enjoy life!



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Milk, maybe it doesn’t do a body good?

cows milk


Milk, most drink it, use it, believe in it. Recent research however shows that just like many foods we all believe in, the health benefits of drinking milk is quite probably a myth.

Cows milk has really become a staple in the western diet. You would be hard pressed to find a western refrigerator that does not at least pay homage to dairy products, especially milk. Many physicians even recommend that women who are susceptible to fractures, and children with growing bones drink a good amount of milk daily.

However a recent Swedish study seems to show exactly the opposite, at least for women consuming three glasses or more of milk daily. Turns out if you do so, you are doubling your chance of dying, especially from heart disease. Also, you are increasing, not decreasing, your chance for broken bones. I will leave the whys to the experts, but I suspect the heart disease is related to fat, which milk contains plenty of, and broken bones has to do with calcium absorption, which is more complicated than just drinking milk that contains calcium.

Here in America, we have milk and dairy products pretty much shoved down our throats from the time we are little children. A lot of that has to do with the dairy lobby, which strangely, is one of the more powerful groups that lobby our lawmakers.Those farmers also spend a lot on advertising which has everyone brainwashed over the great benefit of anything dairy.

So what can you use instead of cows milk.?  Try almond milk  soy milk and just about any other thing you can now try in the dairy section. You can even make your own almond milk and its super easy. As far as taste goes, yes, it will taste different at first, but after a day or two, you will not notice it at all.

As with anything, moderation is good. I have seen great benefit from totally eliminating dairy from my diet, and I attribute at least some of my weight loss success to abolishing cows milk from my frig. At the very least everyone should be aware that something we all thought was really healthy may not be, and proceed with caution and moderation.

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The delight of super hard tofu



If you are like me, you have been fiddling around with tofu for years. After all, isn’t the off white soy bean curd one of the original healthy foods? And like me you discarded the stuff years ago. It just never lived up to the hype.But wait! There is something new to try, and it really works! It’s tofu, that is super firm, and this stuff is the real deal.

The point of tofu is that you need to add some protein to your vegan dishes and it is high in protein. The problem has always been the consistency of the stuff. Yes,I have read the directions and you can squeeze the water out, but no matter what, regular tofu just breaks down when cooked. Sometimes I think tofu mayo is about the only application where it really works.

But the other day I went to Trader Joes, which is a store around here that is a supermarket, sort of. Most of their offerings are store brands, but they are also known as purveyors of odd ball items. In this case extra hard tofu. Anyhow, when I say hard, I mean it. This brick was about the consistency of a very hard cheese at least, which we breaded and baked after soaking in a barbecue sauce.

All I can say is wow, it’s like the old joke ” tastes just like chicken” . As opposed to the old stuff, it really absorbed the flavor of the sauce, and is springy, like meat. So if you happen to have someplace you can buy super hard tofu, buy it and experiment, you will not be disappointed, especially in the chewing department. Don’t forget your dentures!

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Making Bagels!



Homemade bagels? Why not run to the bagel store -after all there is a secret to making bagels, isn’t there ? or some special process?  or as some believe”it’s the water” . The fact is these are all myths, you can make the best bagels in the world at home, healthier than the bagel store kind as well… The secret is simple……so read on……..

First off, bagels did used to be a lot healthier ,,, and smaller too. Back in the 1960’s New York suffered a “bagel strike” …..because all the bagels were produced by members of the bakers union…..when they went on strike, there was a bagel drought, at least in New York.But alas, New York was believed to be the only place you could get a “real” bagel, and the myth of a secret process, or ingredient grew.

Today’s big store bagels have helped to further that myth,, as they are bloated and full of ingredients that your grandfathers in the bakers union would never have used like soy oil.But you can make the best bagels in the world yourself, at home, in Djibouti, or Toronto for that matter, without any special ingredients, and I promise, they will be among the best you have ever had.

The key, or secret is as follows. After you create your dough which must contain some malt syrup, form the bagels, and allow to “proof” overnight in the fridge. Than, before you bake for 18 minutes, boil in water with a tsp of baking soda and salt for one minute. That’s it,  the whole secret to the worlds best bagels.

There are many recipes out there for bagel dough, ours is three cups flour, one cup water, a tablespoon of malt syrup. We add instant yeast and salt, and allow to sit for 90 minutes. Roll out, form the bagel shape, proof overnight, boil and bake…….healthy and delicious.


The myth of the bagel is broken!

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Everyone cheats on something, do you ?

Everyone cheats now and than on something in life. I know i do. Especially when it comes to food. We are all prone to go off and do things that we shouldn’t. Alas, how to maintain ourselves and cheat, that is the question . And here is, perhaps, an answer.

Speaking from my own personal experience with trying to change my eating habits over a period of two years, there is only one way to get to a point where you can maintain that new set of habits long term.Its my own personal rule. If i shouldn’t be eating it, please don’t purchase it to keep in the house. Therefore right now in our home, there are none of the following items. Cookies,crackers, potato chips , or chips of any kind. And no sodas or sugar drinks either.

The point is, you cannot test yourself by allowing junk food in your house. Do I ever eat the aforementioned items ever? Absolutely. But if I don’t have them in the house, chances are I am eating them so infrequently that it will not have any long term effect on my waistline. And I have found exactly that to be the case. If I go to some event and eat a cookie, it does not effect me, because it is rare enough to be a drop in the bucket. 

Summers are of course a big test to that theory. I have adult children that are home  who do not completely share my joyful embrace of a fruit and vegetable filled diet, So there is the occasional box of something in the house. For me, after two years its sort of like cigarettes. If they were ever in my house would i be tempted ?. Yes I smoked when i was 20, but now they never even cross my mind.

Its probably more important to keep your favorite goodies on your healthy diet in the house so that when you feel the need to splurge, you have something to splurge on. For me that’s things like blueberries and dried fruit, or in the summer, I love a good ripe peach.

The point is, you can cheat, just do it rarely enough that it doesn’t cause ouch. And keep some new healthier goodies in the house for when you gotta have something.

They say cheaters never prosper. But everyone cheats,, and some prosper. Do it right and you can become a food cheater who prospers!