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The Physicians Committee

Could the Water in Your Shower Cause Crohn’s Disease?

July 24, 2014   Dr. Neal Barnard   other

 
 

The bacteria implicated in Crohn’s disease may be in your shower, and you can thank the meat industry for it. Mycobacterium avium paratuberculosis is common in cattle, and when transmitted to humans, it is believed to cause Crohn’s disease. In the journal Pathogens, researchers at Lancaster University in the U.K. report that agricultural runoff sends the bacteria into rivers and streams and ultimately into public water supplies, often taking up residence in pipes and showerheads and vaporizing as showers are turned on. It was detected in 10 percent of samples tested.

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Running a shower for a few minutes before getting in will wash away some of the accumulated bacteria. Avoiding the raising of animals for food products would dramatically reduce the risk of infectious diseases in human populations.

Meat-Eating Falls to Lowest Levels in 3 Decades

July 3, 2014   Dr. Neal Barnard   animal products

 
 

The USDA’s latest figures show that Americans are continuing to turn away from meat. Meat consumption reached a high of 201.5 pounds per capita in 2004 but has dropped steadily since then, reaching 181.5 pounds in 2012, the latest year for which figures are available. The last time meat intake was at this level was 1983. These figures show that the average American is consuming 20 pounds less meat each year, compared to a decade ago. In the post-World-War-II era, meat intake rose steadily. It began to decline a decade ago in the face of concerns about health, animal welfare, and the environment, as well as the ready availability of healthier foods. Skipping meat has many advantages. People who avoid meat are thinner than meat-eaters. In a 2009 study published by the American Diabetes Association, meat-eaters had an average body mass index (BMI) of 28.8, well above 25.0, the upper limit for a healthful weight. But people who avoided animal products had an average BMI of 23.6. Avoiding meat also cuts the risk of diabetes, cancer, and heart disease and improves blood pressure. per-capita-meat-intake Click here for Drop the Dog, Pick A Plant Recipe Cards.  

Clowning Around Won’t Save the Laughable Menu at McDonald’s

June 18, 2014   Dr. Neal Barnard   fast food

 
 

Ronald McDonald just got a makeover. He’s still a clown hawking junk food, but now he’s dressed up in a blazer and bow tie instead of a jumpsuit. As McDonald’s sales and share values keep going down, it’s pulling out every trick in the book to pump up sales. Rather than improve its product, McDonald’s has kept its menu as stale and deadly as ever. McDonald’s cheeseburger Happy Meal comes with 20 grams of fat, 50 milligrams of cholesterol, and a whopping 880 milligrams of sodium. Worst of all, it is marketed to children. Instead of an updated Happy Meal mascot, McDonald’s should get with the times and offer a veggie burger kids meal.

McDonald's new mascot. (Screenshot from Twitter.)

 

More and more fast food outlets are offering vegetarian and vegan options because that is what customers are asking for. Chipotle launched the vegan Sofritas nationwide earlier this year, and profits during its first quarter skyrocketed 24 percent. Subway released a falafel sandwich in select locations and is now rolling out a hummus spread for its sandwiches. TCBY has added coconut- and almond-based vegan fro-yo flavors to its menu. Plant-based fast food outlets are also expanding nationwide. Native Foods Café, a fast-casual plant-based chain, has received a $15 million investment toward its goal of reaching 200 restaurants coast-to-coast in the next five years. Hopefully McDonald’s gives consumers a little credit. A healthful menu overhaul is the way to bring back business. But a clown in a bow tie taking selfies? That’s just silly.

Nutrition is Actually the Sweetest Thing

May 30, 2014   Dr. Neal Barnard   dairy

 
 

A recent report from the Environmental Working Group highlights the top sugar-laden cereals. Honey Smacks dominated the list with 15 grams of sugar per serving. While it’s fashionable these days to attack sugary cereals, sugar is hardly the most dangerous thing in your breakfast bowl. That dubious distinction goes to the milk.

For starters, milk itself is high in sugar. While the top five cereals on EWG’s list all had between 14 and 15 grams of sugar per serving, milk was nearly as high with 12 grams of sugar in a cup of skim milk. One cup of chocolate milk has almost 24 grams of sugar.

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What is considerably more worrisome is the fact that milk is linked with cancer—particularly prostate cancer. In international comparisons and in several prospective studies, men consuming the most milk had a substantially higher risk of prostate cancer, apparently due to milk’s effects on male hormones.

You don’t need milk. Studies show that milk does not actually help build strong bones, and the protein in milk can easily be obtained from other sources. One cup of oatmeal has 5.5 grams of protein—as well as 4 grams of fiber. Quinoa also makes an excellent breakfast, and one cup of quinoa contains has 8 grams of protein and 5 grams of fiber. Making a few servings of quinoa or a pot of oatmeal, and then sticking them in the refrigerator, makes them as easy as cold cereal on a frenzied morning.

And you can sweeten them both with fruit and a little bit of agave if you’re so inclined. Ditch the milk, and we’ll all be better off in the long run.

KFC’s Double Down is a Nutritional Russian Roulette

May 19, 2014   Dr. Neal Barnard   fast food

 
 

While KFC in India is launching a “So Veg So Good” marketing campaign, KFC locations in the United States have resurrected one of its least healthful menu items to date—the Double Down.

kfc-double-down-1

This sandwich features bacon, cheese, and sauce crammed between two breaded chicken filets. The Physicians Committee has upped the ante by issuing KFC a SICK Award for gambling with customers’ health. The Original Recipe Double Down contains 540 calories, 32 grams of fat, and 1,380 milligrams of sodium. As evidenced in a new report, the extreme amounts of cholesterol, saturated fat, and sodium in the Double Down can lead to heart disease and hypertension. During the sandwich’s initial 2010 launch, Physicians Committee dietitians wrote to David C. Novak, chairman of Yum! Brands, Inc., the company that owns KFC, requesting that the item receive a warning label regarding the high fat content.

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When it comes to taking risks with your well-being, there is a 0.0007 percent chance of dying while skydiving. However, one in every four deaths is caused by heart disease, and more than 30 percent of Americans obese. Those are some poor odds. Health-conscious customers can tweet their concerns @KFC on Twitter.

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