Activists + >
Not only can you save lives, but you can lose weight and stay healthier too.
What more incentive does anyone need to go vegan :-)
Author sees veganism diet as key to weight control
By VALERIE HERNANDEZ
of the Journal Sentinel staff
July 15, 2001
Many people lament that their weight is determined by genetics,
so there's nothing they can do about it.
The first part of that statement may be true. But according to
Neal Barnard, you can do something about your genes.
Barnard is a physician who founded a group called the Physicians
Committee for Responsible Medicine, which advocates a dietary
approach to health. He was in Milwaukee last week to promote his
latest book, "Turn Off the Fat Genes." Barnard asserts that, to
some extent, we can use nutrition and exercise to control genes
relevant to weight gain.
"You can't excise these genes, but you can override them with
food," said Barnard in an interview before a scheduled appearance
at the Milwaukee Public Library.
According to Barnard and his organization, veganism (a diet based
on beans, grains, fruits and vegetables, but no dairy or meat) is
the key. The absence of animal fat and the high fiber content
characterized by this diet help control genes crucial to appetite
control, fat storage, insulin resistance and fat burning.
Barnard added that eating this way also will help you dodge cancer
and Type II diabetes, as these diseases often occur together.
Data from several studies support the contention that diet can
influence whether your genetics come into play. For example, the impact of dietary changes can be observed in several immigrant populations. For example, Barnard stated that the traditional Japanese diet is low in fat, easy on the meat and devoid of dairy. However, once Japanese people immigrate to the United States, they often adopt the Western diet - and unwittingly, the 'diseases of affluence,' such as obesity.
"They had the same genes throughout their life. These genes were dormant until they added that food to their systems," Barnard said. "Meat is not health food and cheese does cause problems."
A plant-based diet may be nutritionally sound, perhaps even life-saving. But is it realistic in a state where many still worship the holy trinity of brats, cheese and beer?
Barnard thinks it is. For one thing, Americans often ate "things like beans and bread" before industrialization facilitated consumption of refined foods and made formerly expensive foods such as meat more affordable. Additionally, he has observed that
many subjects in his studies transition fairly smoothly into a
vegan diet and actually find it difficult to resume eating fatty foods.
Barnard mentioned a recent study he conducted at Georgetown
University that investigated weight loss in women consuming a
vegan diet vs. women consuming the American Heart Association's
Step 2 Diet (i.e., less than 30% of calories from fat and
predominantly white meat such as fish and chicken).
"We find that women didn't drop out from the vegan group,"
Barnard stated. "It's counterintuitive, because it's a Spartan
diet. But they love it! It tastes good, it's new. They're tired
of eating chicken."
Furthermore, Barnard believes concerns about other public health
issues such as the "mad cow" and foot-and-mouth diseases will
make veganism more prevalent.
The signs are evident. Veggie options abound in mainstream
supermarkets. Barnard also noted that some Denny's restaurants
are offering soy-based Boca Burgers. Boca Burgers were stocked in
the White House kitchen during the administration of President
Clinton, fan of Le Big Mac.
"It's the wave of the future," he declared.
Appeared in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel on July 16, 2001.