Category Archives: Health and Nutrition

A Diwali gift from PCRM: Vegan Kickstart for India!

OK, PCRM didn’t really time this for Diwali, our holiday celebrating the Nirvana of Mahavir Swami Tirthankar this Wednesday. But how nice that we have a 21 day program complete with Indian menus and a Kickstart program set for early November! Spread the word and check it out here.

Dr. Barnard gave a very nice, positive talk at JAINA last July which we have been meaning to post up.  One point that he made very well is how tastes can change;  many of the uncles and antis could identify with the way they are now able to enjoy fat free or low fat milk, when they used to like only full fat milk; similarly, tastes can change to enjoy even healthier soy, almond, rice and other types of non-dairy milks.

For those who follow a traditional Jain diet, the recipes on the Kickstart menu can be easily modified to eliminate root vegetables.  Just remember the 5 sensed beings that are harmed in our traditional dairy based diet and consider all the compassion you are showing by sparing the cows that suffering!

Happy Diwali, may the light of knowledge guide us towards enlightened action.

Nutritionfacts.org- Great resource from Dr. Greger!

Just after I posted the links to my talk at JCNC yesterday, I listened again to the lecture. I noticed a few areas that were less than crystal clear. And then today someone posted information about a new website with searchable posts on nutritional topics by Dr. Michael Greger. He is knowledgable and entertaining in person, and the website is a great resource for all kinds of topics, especially related to vegan nutrition, based on scientific evidence. Search on vegan vs. omnivore nutritional deficiencies and you’ll see how omnivores have 7 deficiencies, while vegans tend to have 3. Which 3– B12, iodine and calcium. And then you can look up each of these topics.  You’ll see info on good, bad and killer fats, which sweeteners have nutritional value, and many other topics. Continue reading

Ahimsak Diet

Dr Jina gave a talk at the 11th anniversary of the Jain Center of Northern California on the Ahimsak Diet. The slides are available here:Ahimsak Diet and Nutrition and you can see the talk at the following YouTube links:

part 1: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sHcnDkswFpQ
part 2: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tMFK-ZcGDfo
part 3: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VTzTK6ua0b8

For those who are interested in preventing diabetes by choosing healthy Indian foods, Asha Jain has provided some recommendations :

carbohydrate & Caloric Content of common Indian foods-JAIN 2011

Role_of_Food_in_Diabetes_Management (1)

U.S. Heart Disease Costs Expected to Soar

I just read an articlein Businessweek today, titled “U.S. Heart Disease Costs Expected to Soar. Will triple by 2030, report says; experts urge prevention efforts”

The cost of treating heart disease and stroke in the United States is expected to triple in the next 20 years, to $818 billion, a new report says.

According to the American Heart Association, which issued the policy statement, this $545 billion increase in costs for treating heart disease and stroke is largely due to the aging of the population.

“The burden of heart disease and stroke on the U.S. health care system will be substantial and will limit our ability to care for the U.S. population unless we can take steps now to prevent cardiovascular disease,” said Dr. Paul Heidenreich, an associate professor of medicine at Stanford Medical School and chair of the American Heart Association panel issuing the policy statement.

One easy and proven way for prevention of course is a whole foods plant based diet…..

Processed Soy

A couple of months ago Dr Jina wrote a short post on soy and health issues. Recently we went to the pre-screening of a great movie about plant based diets called “Forks over knives”. Afterwards there was a Q&A with Oncologist Carl Meyers and author Colleen Patrick-Goudreau. One audience member asked the question about the issues of processed soy and health. Both Carl Meyers and Colleen responded to the question. It was great to hear about the fears of cancer related to soy from a cancer doctor. Both panel members agreed that soy is not unhealthy, but that processed soy foods with Soy Isolate Protein are probably best avoided.

You can hear the five minute recording here.
Posted by Christian

Vegan for Das Laxan

For the Digambar Jain festival of Das Laxan, my parents have been going to the temple and listening to lectures on the qualities of forgiveness, humility, straighforwardness, contentment, truth, self-restraint, penance, renunciation, non-attachment and brahmacharya.  How wonderful, that in keeping with the spirit of Das Laxan, my dad has gone vegan! How wonderful to allow the cows some peace of mind and freedom from artifical insemination and how wonderful that he practiced self-restraint, straightforwardness, non-attachment,  and renunciation in keeping away from some of the foods he habitually eats. He had already been avoiding many fatty dairy containing foods such as butter, ghee and buttermilk, and the traditional Gujarati food that my parents enjoy at home is largely vegan. Continue reading

Fasting and veganism

How can people fast for weeks and months without food, and only water?  Jains have a tradition of fasting, from the one day fast that I observed yesterday, to the 8 day fasts that many are doing during paryushan, to the 32 day fast that one high-powered business person is doing in Boston, to the many months that some extraordinary sadhus and sadvhis and exceptional laypersons fast. Since modern medicine doesn’t have an answer to how people can fast for long periods of time,  we are left to conclude that the body must have some adaptive processes of which we are not aware.  Still, at some point, we all need to eat. If we can learn, from fasts or otherwise, to control our cravings and get away from a deficiency mentality, it may be easier to transform our usual diet, avoid dairy productsand eggs, and go vegan to more fully realize our ideal of ahimsa.

Weight Gain and Weight Loss in Vegan Diets

Oh no, I’m losing weight! Not a common worry, and a problem that many people in the affluent sections of the world wish they had. With record levels of obesity and related diseases (diabetes and heart disease, to name a couple), the US population and middle/upper class India  could benefit from losing weight. In the Indian community, we have a heightened risk of heart disease and tend to put our weight on in our mid-sections, the worst place in terms of disease risk.  Changing to a vegan diet may result in weight loss…. so what if you are one of the folks for whom this is a problem? Continue reading

Soy and Vegan diets

A lot of people have been concerned with negative publicity about the health effects of soy products,. First, I want to emphasize that veganism does not mean you eat a soy-based diet, but rather a plant based diet. Get plenty of variety. As Jains with an Indian cultural background, we have many lentils, dals and other sources of protein, for which others may rely on soy. There may be some theoretical concerns with certain types of breast cancer and thyroid disorders, however, most of the health risks have been overblown.

This article provides an overview of many important health issues that have raised in relation to soy intake. One of the takeaway messages is: for  thyroid disorders, get enough iodine.   Of course each person has to consider what other options they have. Dairy and meat are certainly much worse in terms of cancer risk, heart disease and other health problems.

Another piece of the nutrition puzzle  is that processed soy is less healthy than cooked soybeans, tofu or soymilk.