Wednesday, July 26, 2017

WELLNESS WEDNESDAYS: Finding Our Food Farmacy

“A study in the journal Cell Metabolism found that a person with high animal protein consumption (over 20% of calories coming from meat) is four times more likely to die from cancer, which is a similar rate as cigarette smoking.  The same study found that high protein consumption led to an increased risk of diabetes and overall mortality, and that proteins derived from plant foods were associated with lower mortality levels than animal-derived proteins.”  
            --Deepak Chopra, MD and Kimberly Snyder, CN, from Radical Beauty, 2016

The benefits of plant-based eating continue to mount.  As people look for ways to improve their health, eating mainly vegetables, fruits, whole grains and legumes is not only good for you and your kids.  It is also good for the planet. 

With diabetes, hypertension, some cancers (such as breast, esophageal, and pancreatic) and other obesity-related diseases taking their toll on morbidity (illness) and mortality (death), it is logical that we should embrace making small changes towards a healthier way of eating.  As an epidemiologist, I study trends in diseases and look for the root causes so we can learn to prevent those same diseases.  The way we grow food and the food we eat, including the factory farming of animals for human consumption, deserves to be rethought. 

All kids deserve access to healthy foods.  Here are 7 of my favorite food rules for Growing Healthy Kids (and parents):
  1. Buy and eat organic foods as often as possible.
  2. Plan meals based on the vegetables and fruits that are in season and locally grown (I use a 100 mile radius for making decisions about what foods to buy).
  3. Take your kids to your local farmers markets and let them choose new foods to try.
  4. Make water and nut-based milks your primary drinks.  
  5. Teach your kids how to make 10 basic recipes (or send them to our Nutrition Scientist Training Program and we’ll teach them for you).
  6. Start a simple kitchen garden and let the kids water it and tend to it.  This could be as simple as growing one tomato plant or throwing a packet of basil seeds in a pot of dirt. 
  7. Buy age-appropriate kitchen tools for your kids to use with veggies and fruits.  

There is a connection between diseases such as cancer and high consumption of animal protein.  We can improve health outcomes by moving to a plant-based way of eating.    

With love and gratitude,
Nancy L. Heinrich, MPH

Founder, Growing Healthy Kids, Inc.