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Mid-Hudson Vegetarian Society, Inc.
38 East Market Street, Rhinebeck, New York 12572 USA -  845-876-2626
Vegetarian - Vegan - Animal Rights - Health - Nutrition - Environment

The mission of the Mid-Hudson Vegetarian Society, Inc. is to promote the vegetarian ethic in the Mid-Hudson (New York) region, educate the community and aid anyone in the pursuit of a totally vegetarian (vegan) cruelty-free and healthful lifestyle.

Newsletters - Fall 2007 Issue

Summerfest ‘07 Recap

Reprinted courtesy of Carol and Ted Barnett and the Rochester Area Vegetarian Society

On July 25-29, the Barnett family had the distinct pleasure of attending our 14th Vegetarian Summerfest in a row. After all these years, we find much to learn and everything to enjoy. Each year brings new speakers, and new topics and findings from “old” speakers. What follows is an attempt to summarize some of the more valuable insights. (Persons who have spoken at Rochester Area Vegetarian Society meetings are referred to on a first-name basis!)

Paulette Chandler, MD, lectured on bone health. Vitamin D seems to be the latest star in preserving bone health. Even if we achieve the recommended calcium levels (1300 mg./day for ages 9-18, 1,000 mg./day for ages 19-50, 1,200 mg./day for ages over 50), vitamin D is necessary to pull calcium into the body. Persons taking in 1200 mg./day of calcium and 800 IU of vitamin D have reduced fracture risk, but this benefit is not shown at the same calcium levels with only 400 IU vitamin D. As we age, the body’s ability to synthesize Vitamin D declines; 40 percent to 100 percent of the elderly have a vitamin D deficiency. Furthermore, vitamin D2 (ergocalciferol, the type of vitamin D which is vegan in origin), has only a 50 percent effective conversion rate. I asked Dr. Chandler if this means we should take twice the recommended rate, and she said yes. With many doctors recommending 1,000 IU daily, with an upper limit of 2,000 IU, it seems we should all be taking at least 1,000 IU of D twice daily.

Chandler says the body absorbs only 500 mg. of calcium at a time, so if you take supplements, they should be spaced throughout the day accordingly.

Brenda Davis, MD, (who, by the way, was inducted into the Vegetarian Hall of Fame at this conference), gave a talk on the optimal diet, focusing on “foods that harm.” While she focused on many of the usual suspects which are rare or absent in the typical vegan diet (such as cholesterol and animal protein), she discussed two culprits that many vegans consume, one of them a surprise. Most of us know that we should avoid trans fatty acids, found in processed foods as “hydrogenated” or “partially hydrogenated oil,” and in deep-fried fast foods for which we can’t read the label. For me, the surprise was the frequent occurrence of acrylamide, a probable carcinogen, in popular vegan foods. This substance forms when starchy foods are cooked at a high temperature for a long time. No one knows safe amounts, and the food industry is stonewalling attempts to list or eliminate this substance. High levels are found in grain beverages and potato chips, and lesser amounts in roasted nut butters, crackers, and bread. The best policy seems to be to eat more raw or cooked fruits and vegetables (boiling or steaming will not produce acrylamide because the temperature is too low), and to eat only a moderate amount of baked or fried potato and grain products.

George Eisman, RD, discussed the strong association between dairy consumption and the hormone-related cancers: breast cancer in women and prostate cancer in men. Taking the fat out of dairy products, as in skim milk, does not solve the problem; as shown by the work of T. Colin Campbell, Ph.D., the dairy protein itself (casein or caseinate, seen in so many processed foods) is a potent carcinogen.

Caldwell Esselstyn, MD, describes the typical heart attack as arising, not from a total blockage of a blood vessel, but from a minor blockage that becomes inflamed, releases dangerous chemicals, and becomes the site of a deadly clot. The episode can be triggered by a single high-fat meal, which causes “immediate injury to the vascular system.” For those with heart disease, Esselstyn advocates no added oil and no high-fat foods such as nuts and avocados. When asked whether healthy persons can have nuts and avocados, Esselstyn replied that: one public health authority has stated that all men over 65 and women over 70 can be presumed to have heart disease, and autopsies of much younger people show arterial plaques and; apparently healthy younger people should avoid these foods if they need to lose weight.

Michael Greger, MD, gave an overview of the “Latest Science in Human Nutrition,” having reviewed over 7,000 nutrition articles in the past year. Some keynotes: Meat doubles the risk of bladder cancer – the British Women’s Cohort Study shows that the more meat one consumes, the greater the risk of breast cancer; Dairy products promote prostate cancer, testicular cancer, and Parkinson’s disease; Dark green leafy greens cut the risk of melanoma (deadly skin cancer) – in lab tests, if you “drip broccoli” on cells in petri dishes, it protects them; Pinto beans reduce biomarkers for heart disease; Berries are among the healthiest fruits, protective against cancer and heart disease; Green tea is antibacterial, antifungal, antitoxin, anti-cancer, and anti-death! (associated with lower mortality); Soy protein prevents an increase in abdominal fat, while casein (dairy protein) promotes it; Cocoa powder lowers blood pressure, raises HDL (good cholesterol), and may boost the immune system (Michael recommends the following pudding recipe [silken tofu, cocoa powder, and date sugar or maple syrup, in the food processor] and smoothie recipe [soy milk, cocoa powder, date sugar or maple syrup in the blender; add frozen cherries or other fruit if desired]); Bad news – vegetarians and vegans still not getting enough vitamin B12 (take one 2000 mcg tablet [chewed or dissolved under the tongue] once a week, or 10 to 100 mcg once a day); and not getting enough iodine (use iodized salt or sea vegetables, but NOT hijiki, which in some instances has high levels of arsenic); Michael’s favorite study of the year, earning the gold medal: people who don’t eat meat have a less intense, more attractive, and more pleasant “perceived body odor hedonicity”– i.e., they smell better!

Milton Mills, MD, in a talk on “Exercise Fitness,” gave an excellent (and motivating) explanation of the mechanism by which we increase aerobic fitness. When one begins to exercise, one uses the energy stored as glycogen in the muscles. When the glycogen is exhausted, we feel exhausted (known as “hitting the wall”) and we move on to the process of oxidizing the fat in our tissues to obtain energy.

Three things increase the efficiency of this process: stronger heart pumping or cardiac output; greater capillary density and; greater mitochondrial density, mitochondria being the cell bodies which receive and use oxygen. All three of these things increase with prompting, i.e., the more we ask our body to do them, the more they will develop. Another factor of the equation, if one wants to increase performance on a given occasion (e.g., a race), is to increase the store of glycogen in the muscles so you “hit the wall” later. This is known as “carbohydrate loading.” Milton says it is done most efficiently by exercising to exhaustion about 4 days before the event (depleting the glycogen), and then eating lots of carbs in the day or two before the event (like batteries that should be totally drained before recharging). Be sure to take in plenty of water as well, as it’s needed to store glycogen.

Pamela Rice gave talks on the environmental impact of meat and fishing, and the cost (in dollars, environmental devastation, and adverse health effects) of federal subsidies to the meat and dairy industries. In the U.S., 70 percent of our grain goes to feed animals. One pound of animal protein takes 100 times as much water as one pound of plant protein, and eight times as much energy. A recent study by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN shows that, worldwide, livestock generates more greenhouse gases (which contribute to global warming) than all forms of transportation combined (18percent vs. 13percent).

Go on to Vegetarian Journey
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