No Acne, No Body Odor

A while back, I told a new friend of mine that I was writing about how people could make themselves heart-attack-proof, just by eating plants instead of animals and cutting way back on their fat intake. I mentioned, in an offhand sort of way, that this same diet also cures obesity. I didn’t know it at the time, but she was in the “down” phase of a pattern of yo-yo dieting. She was very interested and wrote down the Web sites I recommended.

About a month later, when we were talking on the telephone, she said, “I switched to a plant-based diet, and I’ve lost some weight without feeling hungry. I’ve also noticed that my acne cleared up. Is that because of the diet?” I said that it probably was. The fat in animal-based foods and the huge dose of estrogen that occurs naturally in dairy products, even “organic” dairy products, both contribute to acne. She said, “Well, why didn’t you tell me that? It’s a major selling point!”

Another month or two went by, and we were talking on the telephone again. My friend said, “Laurie, I’ve just noticed that I don’t have body odor anymore. I used to have to use heavy-duty deodorant. Now I don’t stink, even if I sweat heavily. Is it because of the diet?” I told her that it probably was. Not only do animal-based foods contain far more protein than you need, but the proteins in animal-based foods are particularly high in sulfur. Burning those proteins for energy releases stinky sulfur compounds. She said, “Well, why don’t you tell people about that! Young people care far more about that than about their risk of heart attack!”

So there you have it. Switching to a plant-based diet can make you look better and smell better.

Photo by Saluda UdeA

Polycystic ovary syndrome: the diabetes of bearded women

Polycystic ovary syndrome is a major cause of infertility among young women in the United States. It’s also nature’s way of telling women that they’re eating the wrong kinds of food. Cutting her fat intake to 10% or less of her total calories can restore the woman’s fertility and is important for protecting her health, especially if she becomes pregnant.

A woman with polycystic ovary syndrome has irregular periods or may have stopped having menstrual periods altogether. Because she seldom ovulates, it might take a long time for her to become pregnant. Besides having irregular periods, the woman may also be overweight and have acne and facial hair. The infertility, acne, and facial hair result from an excess of male hormones, which in turn result from abnormally high levels of the hormone insulin. In other words, polycystic ovary syndrome should be viewed as a mild form of type 2 diabetes. As far back as 1921, some French researchers referred to this problem as “the diabetes of bearded women” (la diabète des femmes a barbe).

Diabetes mellitus, or sugar diabetes, means that the person tends to pass large amounts of a sugar called glucose in the urine. This happens when the amount of glucose in the bloodstream has reached toxic levels. There are several types of sugar diabetes. Since the terms that Americans use for the different kinds of diabetes are confusing, I’ll use the French terms, whose meaning is obvious.

Back in the 1870s, French researchers divided cases of sugar diabetes into two general categories: thin diabetes (diabète maigre) and fat diabetes (diabète gras). Thin diabetes was a catastrophic, incurable problem that often occurred in children and young adults. These patients wasted away and died within a few weeks, regardless of treatment. At autopsy, you could usually see that something had gone wrong with their pancreas. Eventually, some Canadian researchers figured out that the pancreas of people with thin diabetes had lost the ability to make a hormone called insulin. The Canadian researchers developed a way to isolate the insulin from animal pancreases to use as a drug for human diabetics.

The development of insulin therapy was a life-saving miracle for people with thin diabetes, often enabling them to live a near-normal lifespan. However, insulin has much less of an effect on blood sugar in people with fat diabetes. Fat diabetes is a comparatively mild condition that tends to occur in overweight, usually middle-aged to elderly people. It could be cured by weight loss and exercise. People with fat diabetes can make their own insulin. In fact, they typically have abnormally high levels of insulin in the blood. Their bodies just don’t respond normally to insulin. They have insulin resistance.

Insulin acts as a key that unlocks an important door on the surface of cells. Unless that door opens, a cell cannot take in glucose. People with thin diabetes cannot make their own insulin. Unless they take insulin by injection, their cells will starve even as those cells’ favorite fuel builds up to toxic levels all around them. Although people with fat diabetes may make excessive amounts of insulin, their cells don’t respond normally to it. It takes a huge amount of insulin to pry open the doors to let glucose into their cells.

In women, the abnormally high insulin levels cause the body to produce abnormally large amounts of male hormones. Besides causing acne and facial hair, these male hormones disrupt the development of eggs in the ovary. Normally, each egg cell develops in a tiny fluid-filled follicle, which bursts to release the egg. The release of the egg is called ovulation. If the woman doesn’t ovulate, she can’t become pregnant. If the egg follicles stop developing before ovulation, these little fluid-filled cysts build up in the ovary. You can actually see them if you look at the ovary with an ultrasound machine. That’s why the condition is called polycystic ovary syndrome.

Since women with polycystic ovary syndrome seldom ovulate, it can take a long time for them to become pregnant. Doctors typically tell women with polycystic ovary syndrome to lose weight. Doctors may also prescribe a drug called metformin, which reduces the body’s resistance to insulin. Unfortunately, the metformin doesn’t solve the problem. In the long run, it may make the problem worse, because it tends to promote weight gain!

Fat diabetes results from fat: fat in the body and fat in the diet. Scientists have known since the 1930s that eating a high-fat diet causes insulin resistance. Eating a low-fat, high-carbohydrate diet restores the body’s sensitivity to insulin. If the woman switches to a low-fat (<10% of calories), high-carbohydrate (>75% of calories), high-fiber diet, she will correct her insulin resistance and will probably lose weight while eating as much as she wants. In contrast, metformin tends to promote further weight gain, which could make the insulin resistance worse in the long run.

If a woman is infertile because of polycystic ovary syndrome, metformin could help her become pregnant. However, it will not remove the cause of the insulin resistance. If the woman becomes pregnant, her insulin resistance may get worse. She may even develop a full-blown case of gestational diabetes! In contrast, a change to a healthy diet will not only help her become pregnant, it will improve her health throughout the pregnancy and increase her chances of having a healthy baby.

Photo by WarmSleepy

What People Can Achieve by Eating a Low-Fat, Plant-Based Diet

If you have any chronic health problem, I don’t care what it is, consider making a change in your diet. Often, a simple exclusion diet protocol can help you cure devastating diseases like type 2 diabetes or rheumatoid arthritis. It can also make you heart-attack-proof and reduce your risk of cancer. A change to a low-fat, plant-based diet is simple and cheap and has no side effects. If you have any serious health problem, talk to a registered dietitian (look for the “RD” after their name) as well as your doctor before making a change in diet.

Lose Weight

The secret to effortless weight loss is to go ape and eat plants. Switch to a high-fiber, low-fat diet based on unrefined starches and lots of vegetables. Eat as much of these foods as you can hold, and you’ll be less tempted to snack on high-calorie junk food.

Stop Multiple Sclerosis

Dr. Roy Swank showed that you can stop the progression of multiple sclerosis just by taking the animal products and fat out of the diet. Dr. John McDougall is carrying on this research.

Become Heart-Attack-Proof

Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn took a bunch of patients with advanced coronary artery disease and made them “heart-attack-proof” just by teaching them to eat the right kinds of food.

Cure Type 2 Diabetes

Dr. Neal Barnard proved that a low-fat, plant-based diet is better than the American Diabetes Association’s standard dietary recommendations for controlling type 2 diabetes. Dr. Joel Fuhrman’s patients with type 2 diabetes become “undiabetic” within a matter of weeks if they eat that way.

Dramatically Reduce Your Risk of Cancer

T. Colin Campbell, PhD, a world-famous nutritional biochemist and nutritional epidemiologist, has shown that the more animal-based foods people eat, the higher their risk of cancer. In animal models, scientists could turn the development of tumors on and off just by increasing or decreasing the amount of animal protein in the diet.

Fight Arthritis

Arthritis is not an inevitable consequence of age. It is comparatively rare in societies where people eat a low-fat, plant-based diet. About 70% of people with the most common form of inflammatory arthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, can expect dramatic benefits, and often a cure, in less than 4 weeks of diet change. The diet must be followed strictly—medications are reduced and stopped as improvements occur.

Prevent Osteoporosis

Osteoporosis is reversible, if you eat a plant-based diet, get reasonable exposure to sunshine, and get some exercise. Believe it or not, dairy products actually make osteoporosis worse.

Relieve Inflammatory Bowel Diseases

Inflammatory bowel diseases occur almost exclusively in parts of the world where the diet is high in meat and dairy foods, and are rare in countries where people still consume starch-based, almost entirely vegetarian meals.

Avoid Surgery for Gallstones

Gallstones are usually made of cholesterol, and they result when people overload their system with fatty, high-cholesterol foods.

Prevent Varicose Veins, Hemorrhoids, Hiatal Hernia, Uterine Prolapse

All of those disorders result from constipation. When people strain to move their bowels, the abnormally high pressure in the belly can damage the valves in the veins and push various organs out of their normal positions.

Appendicitis and Diverticulosis

The high-protein, low-fiber Western diet is the cause of appendicitis and diverticulosis.

The List Goes On and On

Many other diseases have been shown to be the result of the rich, fatty, low-fiber standard American diet. I should also have listed acne, bad breath, body odor, and erectile dysfunction, along with kidney and liver disease. The sad thing is that many people unwittingly subject themselves to these diseases in their attempt to avoid “protein deficiency,” even though protein deficiency isn’t a real problem in human beings. After all, where do gorillas get their protein?