Thursday, July 18, 2013

Day 130 My coach speaks

I asked my coach, Elisabeth Dunham, to write about the Plan. Enjoy!

Elisabeth writes:

Jill has experienced some astounding results on the plant-based food plan we’ve devised for her. She’s diligent and thoughtful about the program, making it a priority each day. That means she takes time out at the beginning of the week to plan what she’s going to eat, shop for the foods she needs, and then spends time preparing meals that she can eat over the course of a few days. In other words she is committed, though she prefers the term “devoted,” which to me sounds much more inspiring.

I’m happy to say that she’s not alone in getting some dramatic "before and after" results in her blood work since beginning to eat the plant-based way. To date I’ve had seven other clients see similar drops in cholesterol over the course of a few months. And some, like Jill, were in the pre-diabetic range and got themselves out of that category, according to the labs. There were also dramatic drops in blood pressure. And every one of them lost significant amounts of weight, between 20 and 30 pounds. We also saw more energy and better sleep. (You can see the other clients’ results in the sidebar and in the testimonials page on my website at www.elisabethdunham.com).As this positive data keeps coming in we also have major studies coming out of esteemed institutions such as Stanford University showing what these clients already know: A plant-based diet really works to reverse heart disease.

We’ve also got popular movies like Forks Over Knives documenting similar results at the renowned Cleveland Clinic, former President Bill Clinton’s highly publicized journey of reversing his own heart disease using the plant-based approach, and Dr. Oz giving much publicity to the diet’s positive impact on various heart patients. But it's hard to go it alone. The average American diet has gotten so off course in terms of promoting health in the body that it takes a lot of support from someone trained in the plant-based approach to turn the ship around. That's why Dr. Oz recently said that health coaches are at the forefront of solving the American health crises. I feel so grateful to be part of this revolution and wake up excited each day to do my job and work with people like Jill.

So what is a plant-based diet? Put simply, it’s a health-promoting vegan or non-vegan diet that emphasizes the consumption of nutrient-dense plant foods while minimizing processed foods, oils, and animal products (including dairy and eggs). The idea is to eat a lot of vegetables – cooked or raw – along with fruit, beans and some grains such as brown rice and corn. Seeds and nuts are consumed in smaller amounts due to their cholesterol content because the diet is generally low fat.
As a certified nutrition consultant, I recommend that my non-vegan clients hoping to reverse and prevent heart disease avoid dairy products and keep their consumption of other animal products to less than five percent of their diet. If someone is already a vegan but still has high cholesterol, we steer them away from their over-reliance on nuts and focus them more on beans and healthy grains for their protein. 
Though there’s no doubt in my mind that a well-executed vegan diet is among the healthiest on earth for a lot of people, some of my clients simply don’t want to eat that way and others can’t due to grain and bean intolerances. So we split the difference with a plant-based approach that includes small amounts of meat and we still get great results.
So why does the plant-based approach work so well? Here are just a few of the factors:
It’s low in cholesterol. Because the plant-based diet de-emphasizes or removes animal products and oil as a food source it also vastly reduces or removes most common sources of cholesterol, including butter, cream and other dairy products, eggs, chicken, beef and fish. Small amounts of cholesterol in the diet means lower cholesterol readings at the doctor’s office – and better health!
Plant-based sterols. Small amounts of these substances in the walls of plant cells are found naturally in grains, fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts, and seeds. As they travel through the intestinal tract, they compete with artery-clogging LDL particles and prevent them from being absorbed into the bloodstream.
Viscous fiber.  Viscous fiber found in oats, barley, bran and brown rice is the sticky variety of soluble fiber, which dissolves readily in liquids. In the body, it acts as a sponge, absorbing cholesterol and carrying it out of the body.
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