Saturday, August 12, 2017

The #WFPB Nutritional Paradigm

#WFPB, the Whole Foods, Plant-Based diet as developed on the basis of The China Study, and the clinical work of cardiologist Caldwell Esselstyn, Jr is a completely new paradigm of nutrition and health. The best known introduction these days is the documentary Forks over Knives.

Veganism is usually defined in the negative, as in: no animal protein, and some vegans do not even eat honey, because it is animal based. Motivations for veganism are sometimes environmental, or based on concerns over animal welfare, and sometimes vaguely based on health concerns. Yet, if you look around in restaurants and on food labels, "vegan" is a meaningless term, because it lacks any positive assertive nutritional concept behind it.
Perhaps the most famous proponent of veganism is Israeli activist Gary Yourovsky:
Gary Yourofsky at City College of NY

The #WFPB Paradigm

#WFPB (the Whole Foods Plant-Based diet) on the other hand is a completely new paradigm for nutrition and health. The fundamental tenets could be defined as follows:
  • Focus on the quality, not the quantity of protein intake.
  • Healthy protein sources are plant-based, unhealthy protein sources are animal based, be it meat, fish, fowl or dairy.
  • By substituting plant-based proteins for animal proteins, you also lower your overall calories from protein to a healthy 5-15% and increase your fiber intake, which is often unhealthy under an omnivore diet.
  • Use whole foods, and do not use added oils or sugar.
  • "Dieting" does not exist in #WFPB, because whole foods, plant-based nutrition speeds up the metabolism and people automatically achieve a homeostatic, healthy weight.
  • Nutritional supplements are meaningless for #WFPB is Nutritionally complete: the only possible exceptions are some moderate supplementation of B12 and maybe vitamin D.
The fundamental research for the #WFPB lifestyle is The China Study, which was just published in a new, updated 2017 edition, by T. Colin Campbell, Ph.D. and his son Tom Campbell, MD. The clinical work that matches up to the China Study came primarily from Caldwell Esselstyn, Jr., M.D., a cardiologist from the Cleveland Clinic in Ohio, which was first published in his book, Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease. many other doctors work in the same vein. Here in the Bronx, we have Robert Ostfeld, M.D. a cardiologist at Montefiore Hospital, who runs the Montefiore Cardiac Wellness program.

T. Colin Campbell, Ph.D. on #WFPB

Nutritionally complete: the Omega-3, B12,D-vitamin

The key concept is that for all practical purposes #WFPB is nutritionally complete, if you eat a reasonably balanced range of plant-based foods.


A lot is often made of the difficulty to get a favorable Omega-3 to Omega-6 balance in vegan nutriton, this is a fallacy. Here are some of the sources of Omega-3 for vegans:
flaxseed, chia seed, hemp seed, mustard seed, seaweed, beans, winter squash to broccoli, cauliflower, and brussels sprouts, leafy greens, cabbage, berries, wild rice, various herbs and spices, mangoes, honeydew melon.

B12 vitamin

The only vitamin vegans generally need to supplement is B12. and that's all.

D vitamin

Supplementation of D vitamin is another issue, but that is more generic to the whole population, not just vegans. Here is a great article on vegan sources of vitamin D (note that vitamin D3 is the easiest to absorb form), and if you do not get enough sun, you may need a little vitamin D supplementation.

Beware of vegan marketing hype

Nutritional advice for vegans is usually useless if you follow #WFPB, for if your intake is reasonably varied. There are great vegan sources of iron, from raisins, to prunes, olives, avocado and dried apricots, to asparagus, endives, peas, acorn squash, dandelion greens, Kale, turnip greens, to lentils, chick peas, quinoa, wheat germ, brown rice, and sprouted beans or seeds, and lastly morel mushrooms, brewer's yeast, spirulina, and blackstrap molasses.

But by and large the whole notion that supplements are useful are part of the SAD legacy. In the context of the SAD paradigm, supplements may seem helpful, but this type of research is really silly and misleading, because it focuses on how single nutrients (or medications) improve health outcomes, without questioning the overall train wreck that is the Standard American Diet. Under #WFPB the notion of dietary supplements is silly. The body can generally not absorb them very well, so other than expensive urine, the benefits are limited. It is absurd to ask for small improvements amidst a perfectly preventable disaster. 

The health care angle

As a nation, we are spending 75% of our healthcare dollars on treating degenerative illnesses that can generally be reversed with better nutrition, specifically #WFPB. We spend more on healthcare than any other nation, but without results, for our health statistics remain bad. Here is a brilliant presentation by T. Colin Campbell that sums it all up.

These days the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM) practically has become the standard bearer for the role of nutrition in medicine. And things are picking up speed at a remarkable rate. Here is some of the latest:
This list is evidence of the impressive progress PCRM is making, and they are only just getting started. They truly stand on the shoulders of giants, for it is the work of T. Colin Campbell and his associates in The China Study which is the foundation of all the further research in this area. There is also an excellent documentary on the health issue, What the Health.

Eat your heart out, dieters

The upshot is that the #WFPB lifestyle is actually easier and cheaper than the alternative - meat is surprisingly expensive. Going to a #WFPB will cost you some money in the change over. You may want some different kitchen appliances, and your pantry needs restocking, but you can do that gradually over time, though some folks need to do it all at once, lest they fool themselves and hang on to old, bad habits, such as added oils or sugar.
But since plant-based nutrition speeds up your metabolism, there is no dieting under this concept. Eat to your heart's content, as long as it is reasonably varied, and your body will automatically return to a homeostatic, optimal weight, without even having to think about it.
In short, indulge, you are eating your way to health, as long as you stay within the #WFPB paradigm.

Saturday, July 29, 2017

GABA Brown Rice update

The healthiest rice you can eat is GABA brown rice, aka sprouted brown rice, or also GBR (GABA Brown Rice, or Germinated Brown Rice).

KOSHIHIKARI Sprouted Brown Rice
GABA Brown Rice was traditionally developed in Japan for its easier digestion, but modern research has shown it to have superior nutritional value. One of the specific parameters that improves with germination is the presence of an amino acid, gamma-aminobutyric acid, or GABA, which increases tenfold during germination. It is regular brown rice which is soaked long enough to start the germination process.  Other nutrients that are high in GABA brown rice are ferulic acid, Lysine, magnesium, potassium, zinc, Vitamin E, and many B (especially niacin, and thiamin) vitamins. The sprouting process also provides increased dietary fiber. (Sources:, and

Until now, GBR has not been available in our neighborhood, and I recently bought some of this Koshihikari GBR to familiarize myself with store bought GABA brown rice. I previously reported on making GABA brown rice at home, with a sophisticated rice cooker. Obviously, that is a good method, for it is completely automated, but there are some advantages to store-bought GABA Brown Rice.

Packaged GABA brown rice has increased shelf life compared to regular brown rice. Regular brown rice has about a three month shelf life, and longer if you keep it in the freezer. I cannot find good information on exactly what the shelf life of sprouted rice might be, as compared to basic brown rice, other than  "longer," but no doubt that information will show up one of these days.

Friday, July 28, 2017

New Medical Math - Risk Assessment for Low Risk Patients

For one thing, the #WFPB diet is a low risk life style in respect of various cancers, and in particular the risk of colorectal cancer is much reduced because o f the high fiber content of the diet, not to mention copious antioxidants, so much so that the calculation of risks for your next colonoscopy changes.

Note what Dr. John McDougall has to say on the topic:

I do recommend conservative screening for colorectal cancer, because almost all of my patients have been following the Western diet for their entire life (until we met). I have recommended checking the stool for blood, beginning around age 60 years (testing every other year, at most, until age 75) and/or one sigmoid examination at around age 60 years. I have strongly recommended against colonoscopy for screening. Note that the recommendations I have been making for decades are almost the exact ones announced this year (2016) by The Canadian Task Force on Preventive Health Care.

John McDougall, MD, July 2016 Newsletter
 There is really nothing to add to that, clearly, if you are following a #WFPB diet and are past age 60 or so, the standard recommendation of a colonoscopy every five years, is an $3,000 waste of money and an unnecessary incremental medical risk. Note that WebMD calls it a fairly safe exam, noting that On average just 2 serious complications occur for every 1,000 procedures. In short, you have a 1 in 500 chance of serious complications now, but if you are on a #WFPB diet, your risk of colon cancer is much reduced, so that is why McDougall recommends the low risk light screenings. An analysis for blood in the stool is about an $40 issue, and a sigmoidoscopy about an $200 procedure.

Dr. McDougall's video, Cancer Screening is a Scam, is a classic.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Another Vegan supper at Packsun

On 7/25 we had yet another vegan supper at Packsun, small and pleasant.

Owner Khokon is an inspiring kitchen artist. I love how quickly he assimilated the no-oil vegan cooking style. It is becoming an integral part of his repertoire. He nicely asked us how hot we wanted it on a scale from 1-10 and we chose 7.

This time we had a salad with cucumber, blackeyed peas, garlic, spices including some kardamom, salt, pepper and chili, and lemon juice. Simple, brilliant and refreshing.

Our main dish was some fresh okra, cooked with onions, garlic, chili.

Next to the okra there was a vegetable stew based on onions, garlic, chili, with potatoes, cauliflower, water squash, with cumin, turmeric, and kardamom.

All of that, combined with basmati rice managed to be simultaneously light tasting, but filling.

The conversation was lovely. One of the people who stopped in was a diabetic following the typical ADA diet, but who was getting interested in the idea of a #WFPB diet. Undoubtedly, a growing number of diabetics are able to get off meds, and at least substantially reduce insulin needs with a #WFPB diet. Food for thought. Here is some inspiration on the topic from Dr. John McDougall:

It is only to be hoped that the Bronx #not62 campaign will start to promote the whole foods plant-based lifestyle more, for it could make a huge difference in health outcomes in our borough.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Vegan at Little Caesar's? Forget it!

There is a website, called Eat This! No That! that rates restaurants for its vegan options. They claim to rate vegan options. It reports that Crazy Bread and Crazy Sauce at Little Caesar's would be a vegan meal, but I beg to differ. It would not even be technically vegan, for there is parmegian cheese on the bread.

There are of course two ways of looking at "vegan." One is in the negative, which is, in Dr. Esselstyn's words: Don't eat anything that had a father and a mother, or has a face, or, more prosaically, don't eat meat, poultry, fish, or dairy. However, that does not cover it. The real issue is what you do eat, more than what you don't eat. What drives the vegan revolution is the no-oil WFPB diet: Whole Foods Plant-Based nutrition, i.e. nutritionally complete and balanced nutrition. Generally speaking it means whole grains, legumes, fruit, mushrooms etc., and no heavily processed foods, as well as no added oil or sugar.

Little Caesar's Crazy Combo (Crazy Bread plus Crazyu Sauce) scores a zero on a #WFPB scale from 1 - 10. Don't even bother. I got my sample from the Little Caesar's at Parkchesterstation. The $4.43 would have been better spent at the fruit vendors who are around in Hugh Grant circle.

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Cardiac Wellness Program at Montefiore

Patients come in and cry over the progress they are making with a Whole Foods Plant-Based Diet; nobody ever cries tears of joy over a Lipitor prescription.
                                                   Robert J. Ostfeld, MD. MSc.
I just spent my Saturday morning with Dr. Robert Ostfeld, Director of the Cardiac Wellness Program at Montefiore and Lauren Graf, nutritionist to the program. This was a half-day workshop intended for cardiology patients and their significant others, which they teach numerous times during the year. The purpose evidently is to help people adopt their new no-oil Whole Foods Plant-Based (WFPB) lifestyle, and helping the process by involving their household. The general tenet of the program is that, the whole foods plant- based diet of Dr. Esselstyn and T. Coin Campbell, Ph.D. is the way to go and except for in severe cases, a small amount of oil in the form of oil-rich fruit, e.g. nuts, avocado, etc., is healthy, but that it is mostly the added oils that cause harm, so you want to avoid added oils in all forms.

There were perhaps 30-40 people in attendance, and the workshop was both practical, and deeply informative, showing the scientific foundations of the dietary approach/ life style that is being taught in this program, as much as hands-on dietary recommendations. There was a nice lunch catered by Tastee Vegan. Check out their site. They have catered among others for Mike Tyson, who is vegan now too! The meal was an absolutely delicious sampling of vegan dishes, with lots of inspiration for stuff you could try at home.

Good for what ails you

Being that Dr. Ostfeld is a cardiologist, that is his primary focus, but the WFPB lifestyle is about more than that - it is about the whole new nutritional paradigm of eating Whole Foods, and stopping the fallacy that you can make it up with supplements: Whole foods are in, expensive urine is out. Even supplements of vitamin B12 and vitamin D are needed only sporadically and in small amonts, not necessarily every day.
Good for what ails you is the motto here, and besides the massive improvements in heart health that Dr. Ostfeld routinely sees with the WFPB diet, he produced a chart with a list of other health outcomes that are positively impacted by the adoption of a WFPB diet, which - with a little tongue in cheek - he calls the kale scan.
The Kale Scan
Just in case you have trouble reading the slide, here is the list:
  • ALS
  • Dementia
  • Stroke
  • Depression
  • Skin Appearance (acne is a nutritional deficiency)
  • Ear infections
  • Periodontal Disease
  • Acid Reflux
  • Laryngeal Cancer
  • Lung Disease
  • Breast Cancer
  • Heart Disease
  • Obesity
  • Hypertension
  • Diabetes
  • Inflammation
  • Colon Cancer and Constipation
  • Lower Back Pain
  • Sexual Function (ED is the canary in the coal mine for CVD - Cardio Vascular Disease)
  • Osteoporosis
  • Athletic Performance
  • Arthritis
 The bottom line is that all or most degenerative diseases that make up 75% of our healthcare spending are preventable and often reversible with a Whole Foods Plant-Based diet.
  • This is obviously an area where half-measures are not much help, although Dr. Ostfeld is willing to work with people in steps.
  • Added oils of any kind will collapse your veins for upto six hours after the intake, which in practice means you should avoid them at all cost, and all oils and fats are equally bad for heart health.
  • At the supermarket, read the label, not the claims on the front of the box. 
  • Avoid most sweeteners, including sugar, with the possible exception of Stevia, or some blackstrap molasses.
  • Juice is not generally a good idea - getting the sugar without the pulp is a bad idea, while on the other hand eating whole fruits is not a risk factor with Type 2 Diabetes, but instead can be a help.
 Last, not least, there were many useful discussions about foods to buy and not to buy, and mention of a cookware line that is very suitable for the WFPB lifestyle, called 360 Cookware.

What's next: 

 On Friday October 27th, 2017, there will be an all-day conference, the Montefiore Preventative Cardiology Conference (you can register at the link), that is open to the public. Speakers will include:

  • Robert J. Ostfeld, MD, MSc, Host
  • Paul M. Ridker MD, MPH - Beyond LDL Cholesterol: Does Inflammation Matter?
  • Neal D. Barnard, MD - Nutrition in the prevention and Treatment of Diabetes
  • Kim A. Williams, MD - Personal evolution towards lifestyle changes for prevention and treatment of CVD (CardioVascular Disease)
  • Caldwell B. Esselstyn, Jr. MD - Nutritional Reversal of Coronary Artery Disease: Fact or Fiction?
  • Robert j. Ostfeld, MD: The Impact of Lifestyle Change in Cardiovascular Risk Factors and the Bronx
This is a training for Cardiologists and other doctors, but it is open to members of the public. If you're not a patient of Dr. Robert Ostfeld, send your doctor! It is high time they find out.
The Bronx's #not62 program to improve health outcomes in the Bronx has not (as yet) been very successful, yet this program at Montefiore deserves to be a center piece in the strategy.

Friday, June 30, 2017

Online Resouces for a Whole Foods Plant-Based Lifestyle

There is a plethora of viable online information available today to make it easy for anyone to successfully ease into a Whole Foods Plant-Based lifestyle. I call it a lifestyle and not a diet, for as long as you shift to the new paradigm of eating only whole foods and everything plant-based, you can pretty much eat what you like and any sense of "dieting" is gone. One reason I never tried any diet seriously was because I don't like dieting, but my cooking/eating style has evolved over the years and with the arrival of the plant-based diet, cooking has become more enjoyable than ever. For whatever it is worth, all my life cooking was essentially my favorite hobby, so for me to say that has to mean something.
I went from vegetarian as a kid to omnivore in my twenties, including a macrobiotic period, an Italian period, a Japanese period, various garbage periods, and eventually drifting back towards mostly vegetarian, and vegan since May of 2015, and realistically that was primarily based on the Esselstyn information, so I like to call it "no-oil WFPB," or "oil-free WFPB."

The salient facts

  • 75% of our healthcare spending is on treating degenerative diseases, such as CardioVascularDisease (CVD) - including Erectile Dysfunction (ED),  Type 2 Diabetes, High Cholesterol, High Blood Pressure, Prostate cancer, Colon cancer, macular degeneration, cataracts, arthritis, osteoporosis. See a.o. this blog on
  • A diet based on animal proteins is 10-20 times more resource intensive than a diet based on plant-based proteins. See this infographic on the True Environmental Cost of Eating Meat. On the whole, the environmental impact of animal husbandry is greater (18% of greenhouse gas emissions) than that of the entire transportation industry (13% of greenhouse gas emissions).
  • In short, by switching to a WFPB diet, you are becoming healthier yourself, you are making a huge contribution to the environment, and you are helping to feed the world: four billion people could be fed from what is now "feed grain," for cattle.

Online support for the WFPB diet

Here are some of the online resources that can help you.

We want to be very conscious of the fact that WFPB is gaining traction in the medical community and presently both the AMA and the American College of Cardiology are urging hospitals to offer vegan meal options at all times. The AMA is urging to take cured meats off the menu as they are carcinogenic, and additionally, it is also urging the government to focus SNAP benefits on healthy food choices.

Vegan Videos

There are videos, there are many powerful documentaries that have helped lots of people, some are found on Youtube, some have their own sites:
  1.  The Mad Cowboy. Howard Lyman, former cattle rancher turned vegan, is at the center of this absolutely classic documentary which followed on from Lyman's appearance on Oprah, and the lawsuit by the Texas Cattlemen that tried to stop Lyman's message that beef was not as healthy as they say it is. Howard's book and the documentary "Mad Cowboy"followed.
  2. Forks over Knives. The most important documentary on the work of T. Colin Campbell, Ph.D. and Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn about the new nutritional paradigm of the Whole Foods Plant-Based diet, based on the results of the China Study, and Esselstyn's clinical work. The message is: 75% of our healthcare dollars go to the treatment of degenerative diseases that can usually be prevented and often reversed by switching to a Whole Foods Plant-Based diet.
  3. Cowspriracy puts it all together from an environmental angle as well. Very powerful.
  4. What the Health. The follow-on project from the makers of Cowspiracy, which explores the connection to how medicine and bad diet go hand in hand.
  5. Talk by Howard Lyman, has the whole story of the lawsuit, and lots of useful information.
  6. Meat the Truth, another useful documentary that puts together the environmental angle.
  7. Dairy is Dangerous, by Dr. Neal Barnard. Powerful story by Dr. Neal Barnard, president of Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, (PCRM). His latest book, The Cheese Trap is also highly recommended.
  8. The Perils of Dairy, Another excellent production on the perils of dairy by Dr. John McDougall.
  9. Best Speech You Will Ever Hear by Gary Yourovsky. An incredibly powerful presentation on the benefits of the Whole Foods Plant-Based diet from Israeli activist Gary Yourovsky. He is now retired from 'activism,' but his contributions stand the test of time.
  10. Animal Protein Causes Cancer. This is a very powerful recap of the main findings of T. Colin Campbell on how animal protein causes cancer, and plantprotein turns it off. No more needs to be said.