Everybody's got Summit
It was a very busy spring with what I call Summit Season. Everywhere I look, someone is holding a summit ...on Veggies, Juice Fasting, Mastering Diabetes, Food Revolution . . . The Fasting Summit, The Veggie Shift, and the Plant Based Transformation Summit. Phew!
I'm always interested in learning more about Food as Medicine so I listen all season long to a few different summits. Each summit is chock full of talking heads including MDs, nutritionists, teachers, coaches, chefs — all experts on their topics in their fields. Now, after over 40 years of data collection, experts are concluding that, whether you choose to include animal products in your diet or not, the more locally-sourced, unprocessed plant-based foods you eat, and the more often you eat them, the healthier you'll be. These healthy fresh local foods are what 'get to the cell to get well.'
* I know there's a big chain of megamarts, Holy Foods, or something, owned by an even bigger marketing juggernaut. But in this case, we aren't going to let them co-opt that good word "whole," are we? By WFPB (Whole Food Plant Based) we put emphasis on preparing meals that contain intact plants, not products derived from them: olives and avocados instead of their derived (and processed) oils, potatoes rather than frozen (processed) French Fries, a handful of fresh almonds instead of almond flour cookies.
I am delighted to see more experts tumbling to the corrosive effects of the Standard American Diet (SAD!) and urging us toward nutrition with abundant plant-based options. There is now wide agreement about the efficacy of a majority whole food plant based* way of fueling professional athletes, luminaries, health professionals ...and you and (especially!) me. I am always thrilled to see new approaches, and having my hunches confirmed by the experts is deeply satisfying.
Here are a couple of highlights from this season:
One of my favorite speakers, Dr Neal Barnhard, founder of Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM) recently released the first App available to Doctors and Clinicians to use in recommending special WFPB diet choices to their patients battling disease. In addition, he's leading a new group, the True Health Initiative (THI). In particular, I want to draw your attention to his holistic "Solution" on this website, incorporating a healthier approach to food and so much more.
Get 'em while they're young! University of North Texas (Denton, Texas) is the first college in the country to offer an all vegan dining hall, and David Davidson, Managing Director of Harvard University Dining Services (serving 27,000 meals a day) is working to make meals more "plant forward." He writes, "We're slowly going to change people's minds about what they should be eating."
Chef AJ is a favorite plant based chef and she loves acronyms almost as much as I do. I enjoyed her talk and discussion of the SOFAS diet. It's not what you think, but the message is clear. We all could be more mindful of S sugar, O oil, F flour, A alcohol, S salt in our daily food choices.
Brenda Davis, a Registered Dietician and well known author of several veggie friendly books, discussed her Whole Grain hierarchy (whole grains, cut, rolled, shredded, ground, flaked, puffed). I hadn't connected the dots until she helped me think it through: the more surface area the grain has (more processed), the faster it's absorbed, leading to a harsher effect on blood sugar levels, higher glycemic impact and oxidation, and more nutrients compromised. My take-away: Go for intact whole grains as often as I can.
A NY Times article sheds some light on the food industry's dark side: in an article "The extraordinary Science of Junk Food". Major food company players go to absurd lengths for 'food optimization' in the hopes they'll provide public food that hits our 'bliss point' and generates 'craveability.' (Sounds a lot like drug pushing to me!) The article gives us a comprehensive historical narrative of the evolution of packaged foods. We already suspected there were scary things going on in those massive processing factories, and here's the proof. A long article, but worth the time because it validates the efforts we WFPB foodies have been making, and supports eating as fresh, locally grown, and pesticide-free as we can while ditching the cans, bottles, boxes, and packages. Fresh veggies Rule!
Michael Pollan, one of our favorite voices of sanity offers this memorable advice: "Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants."
Get your Juice on
The subject of juicing has never been more popular than now. There are SO many types of juices available at your local grocery store ... but beware and read labels. Store-bought juices are typically chock full of added sugars, salt, and preservatives. I always look for the nutritional information to see what's the truth behind the label. The marketing on the front — "all natural, gluten free!" — often stretches the truth about what's really inside. Only a few offer healthy ingredients to fuel your day.