Wednesday, June 28, 2017

WELLNESS WEDNESDAYS: Embracing Plant-Based Eating

“A healthy diet can help prevent cancer, since up to 60% of cancer cases are diet-related.”  
        --Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (

Image result for vegetables

With a nation filled with people battling obesity, cancers, heart disease, and diabetes, it is clear that what we eat matters.  Factory farming of cows, pigs, chicken and other animals for human consumption is driven by America’s greed for cheap food.  Hidden within huge factory farms, however, are unhealthy practices such as the use of drugs like artificial growth hormones that increase growth.  Did you know that since 1994 recombinant bovine growth hormone (rbGH) has been used to increase milk production of dairy cows?  Monsanto developed and produced rbGH, then sold it to Eli Lilly (source: American Public Health Association).  In 1993, the Food and Drug Administration approved use of rbGH, while it has been banned in the European Union and Canada have banned its use since 1999.  Australia, New Zealand, and Japan now also ban its use.  These unhealthy practices of raising animals in the United States result in a rise of unhealthy outcomes in humans.  

A friend who works in a gym recently told me about the gym's physical trainers who insist they need to eat meat to maintain their training regimens and muscle strength.  Oh, contraire! 

There is not only misinformation about vegetarianism and veganism but there is also a lot of fear.  Most Americans are dependent on meat as their primary source of protein. Unfortunately, the way beef and chicken are raised as mass-produced industrial products for buyers such as McDonald’s, there are more risks than benefits. Foods from animals contain saturated fats, one of the two “unhealthy” fats (the other bad fat is trans fat).  Saturated fats should be limited because they increase the risk of cardiovascular disease, obesity, cancer, and diabetes.

Image result for legumes

The evidence is mounting that plant-based eating is one of the healthiest choices we can make.  Within the plant world, there are many sources of protein, such as lentils, quinoa, and beans.  Plant protein does NOT contain saturated fat!  Plant-based eating has always been the basis for what we do in the Growing Healthy Kids movement, with an emphasis on fruits, vegetables, legumes, and whole grains.  It is the easiest way to achieve your daily intake of dietary fiber (28 or more grams) and anti-inflammatory foods (such as yellow, red, blue, and green vegetables and fruits).  

Please pass the quinoa! 

With love and gratitude,
Nancy L. Heinrich, MPH

Founder, Growing Healthy Kids, Inc.