Thoughts on Fasting and Dr. Pradip Jamnadas’s Lectures

When a charismatic cardiologist posts lectures on the benefits of fasting, it catches my attention. Dr. Pradip Jamnadas has done some studying between his demanding cardiology practice and understands the biology of what happens to the body when we fast. He easily explains the chemical processes that our bodies shift into when fasting to activate numerous genes that start repairing us from a biological perspective, from activating a gene to reduce inflammation to another that directly repairs damaged DNA, to another that recycles damaged cells, to setting the stage for producing stem cells and growing new brain cells. It really is fascinating and corroborated by the science. 

These mechanisms developed in our species over the course of 100000 generations from early paleolithic times. A daunting number of generations when compared to both the agricultural developments in the last few hundred years and the industrial developments in the last few generations.

However much knowledge Dr. Jamnadas demonstrates on the science of fasting, there are abundant holes in his knowledge around the practice of fasting and the optimal diet for humans to express a healthy biology that are now accepted at the core of nutritional science and diet and advocated by the voices of many doctors and researchers who have devoted their lives to studying clinical nutrition and healthy populations of the past (as there are few left now as the west encroaches on them). For one, Dr. Jamnadas places the blame on carbohydrates for modern obesity and insulin problems. His solution is to stop eating all carbohydrates, the restriction of which in study after study has been associated with an increase in all causes of mortality. This is not a solution. 

All carbohydrates are not created equally – some are grown in factories and some are grown. While processed carbohydrates and refined carbohydrates, like refined sugar and wheat, are unhealthful, and contribute to chronic lifestyle induced diseases (obesity, cancer, heart disease), whole complex carbohydrates and starches, like legumes, potatoes, oats, are the opposite: healthy and the core component in the diets of the longest lived populations on the planet. It is the western diet, high in meats, animal fats (dairy/meat), and these processed foods that are at the root cause of the insulin problem.

The framework for understanding how animal fat cripples our body’s insulin sensitivity is explained at length by many who have studied it, Dr. Neal Barnard and Dr. Michael Greger. Dietary fat blocks the uptake of glucose into the cell by blocking the insulin receptors. More insulin is needed and the system of getting energy into the muscle cells becomes dysfunctional. More insulin is produced, more fat is gained. The solution is to eat a low fat plant-based diet. Not a “low-fat” diet (around 30% total calories) as touted by the American Diabetes Association which is inadequate and not truly low-fat. But, a low-fat diet (<10% of total calories) mimicking those of the longest lived populations that do not suffer from obesity or chronic lifestyle induced diseases (heart disease, high blood pressure, cancer, type 2 diabetes, etc.). And one that actually has clinical studies supporting its role in the reversal of these diseases. A simple diet centered around fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, and starches easily achieves this with unrestricted eating.

Dr. Jamnadas also explains that the paleo period as the time we hunted and ate meat giving us an edge evolutionarily but there are now several new scientific discoveries that have essentially negated the effect of meat on our evolution. Brain growth is now attributed to our consumption of fibrous carbohydrates. We ate starch from roots and plants. This is what provided our brains with the enormous amounts of glucose they now rely on. Meat was hunted but the gathering was where it was all at. And while fasting is miraculous, whole food plant based diets are also miraculous. It is the only diet that, much like fasting, reverses most lifestyle induced diseases. It is the only diet where you actively heal. Every other diet falls short, Mediterranean, Dash, Paleo, etc…

It is also counter intuitive to recommend eating meat when Dr. Jamnadas both understands how little protein we actually need and that all food contains protein. A diet of fruits, vegetables, and starches (whole grains, legumes, potatoes, etc.) meets our protein needs without the need to have a chunk of flesh, a scoop of processed powder, or the mammary excretion of another mammal. Low protein diets are associated with longevity.

The last item to point out is the sketchy recommendation to break a fast with bone broth. Bone broth may be the latest craze but it does not make it a healthy food choice. Bones store minerals but they also store heavy metals and toxins. Chicken bone broth exceeds acceptable levels of compounds such as arsenic and lead. Yes, even that organic and supposedly uncaged bird is full of heavy metal.  If you want to hear about the benefits of fasting, Dr. Jamnadas’s lectures are fascinating because he is so passionate about the discovery of how fasting can heal. But if you want to truly reap the benefits of a true fast (with no coffee/tea/broth/salt/etc.) and to use it as a stepping stone to a whole food plant based diet, read the books or watch the lectures of those doctors who have extensive clinical practice in the realm of fasting for health like Dr. Alan Goldhammer, Dr. Joel Fuhrman, and Dr. Michael Klapper.

12 Fun Facts about Red Meat

by Leonardo Garcia © 2021

As evidence rolls in for the health benefits of adopting a whole food plant-based diet (fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, nuts and seeds), the case for dropping animal products (meat, poultry, fish, dairy, and eggs) from our diets becomes compelling. Science continues to tease out the numerous mechanisms as to why the consumption of animal products is unhealthful and disease-promoting. Whether it is from saturated fat, cholesterol, TMAO, heme iron, nitrosamines, hormonal contamination, bacterial contamination, or the way each of these factors interact as a whole with our biology, the public gets mixed information due to roadblocks set up by aggressive marketing, lobbying campaigns, industry funded “science”, and, in some cases, the FDA, much in the way the tobacco industries attempted to cloud the relationship between smoking and lung cancer decades ago. Now, smoking has taken second place to poor diet in the leading cause of disease. Here are some facts about meat consumption to consider before your next meal.

  1. The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) lists the consumption of red and processed meats as carcinogenic.
  2. Red meat contains many harmful compounds in addition to saturated fat that include arachidonic acid (highly inflammatory omega 6 fatty acid), methionine (promotes cancer growth), trans-fatty acids (aka “trans-fats”), endogenous hormones like IGF-1 (promotes tumor growth), exogenous hormonal growth promoters, antibiotics, man-made contaminants (fertilizers, pcbs, pesticides), and formaldehyde, among others.
  3. Red meat contains bovine pathogens such as E. Coli and bovine spongiform encephalopathy which can lead to serious and life-threatening bacterial and viral infections.
  4. Steroid hormones in meat and dairy products are complicit in the risk factors for various cancers in humans.
  5. The digestion of meat raises Trimethylamine N-Oxide (TMAO) levels in blood dramatically. High TMAO blood levels are associated with cardiovascular disease, obesity, Alzheimer’s, and cancer. It is also associated with a dysfunctional microbiota.
  6. Controlled trials by Dr. Dean Ornish at the Preventative Medicine Research Institute led to an inverse relationship between health outcomes and the consumption of animal products (red meat, poultry, fish, eggs, and dairy).
  7. Reversal of coronary heart disease was achieved by eliminating meat, dairy, fish, and oil from patients’ diets during a clinical trial at the Cleveland Clinic by Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn.
  8. In metabolic ward studies, interventional studies, and randomized clinical trials, an increase in saturated fat from dietary sources (meat, dairy, eggs) led to an increase in LDL cholesterol. High LDL levels are a primary indicator of coronary heart disease.
  9. There is a strong correlation between diets high in dietary cholesterol (meat, eggs, dairy) and elevated risks of stomach, colon, rectum, pancreas, lung, breast, testicular, kidney, and bladder cancers.
  10. The water footprint of producing red meat is devastating our environment. It takes approximately 1800 gallons of water to produce 1 pound of beef (roughly 30 gallons/1 g of protein) whereas it takes approximately 500 gallons of water to produce 1 pound of chickpeas (roughly 5 gallons/1g of protein). A pound of potatoes only takes 34 gallons.
  11. The carbon footprint of beef is 25x more than that of beans and peas combined.
  12. Methane, a greenhouse gas and powerful driver of climate change, emissions from cattle has far more impact on global warming than previously thought.

14 Tips to Lose Weight on a Plant Based Diet

Switching to a plant-based diet from a western or fatty animal-heavy diet to lose weight, unlike other diets, is a healthy choice. A healthy plant-based diet aligns perfectly with optimal health, reversing many chronic lifestyle induced diseases and maladies, and as a side benefit, weight will come off. All plant-based diets are not created equal though.

The healthiest for chronic health issues is an sos (salt oil sugar free) whole food plant based diet (wfpb). A wfpb diet consists of fruit, vegetables, whole grains, starches, legumes, nuts and seeds, herbs and spices. There is a spectrum though. Sos wfpb is the healthiest diet. Even if you include a sprinkle of salt and sugar with it, it is still healthier than anything else. Add a little oil and it’s slightly less healthy, add vegan junk food (french fries are vegan) and fake processed meats and it becomes a lot less healthy, and real dairy and eggs and it becomes dramatically unhealthy, etc…

If you are having trouble losing weight on your current plant-based diet, try this for a month:

  1. Make sure you are eating sos wfpb meals and food.
  2. Drop out all sources of concentrated fats and calories (no nuts and seeds or avocados or breads)
  3. Drink a large glass of water upon waking and more throughout the day but don’t over hydrate.
  4. Eat more and a lot of raw fruits and vegetables.
  5. Eat very high water content foods (cucumbers, carrots, kale, arugula, romaine, melons, eggplant, apples, berries, celery). They will fill you up, you can gnaw all day, and you will be sated.
  6. Have a large satiating breakfast (oatmeal, berries, bananas).
  7. Eat a lot of whole grains and potatoes.
  8. Sleep more.
  9. Stop eating a few hours before bedtime. A good cutoff is 8:00.
  10. Walk more.
  11. Do a bit of bodyweight resistance exercises (body squats, lunges, pushups, planks, etc).
  12. Drink tea (skip the milks).
  13. Have a weekly dose of B12 or if you are older than 60 consult for the correct recommendations.
  14. Do not count calories or waste your time with macros.

Your tastebuds will acclimate. I find that the tastier the food, the more my appetite grows. Keep it simple. You’ll appreciate the taste fo fruits and the subtleties of vegetables more. You’ll feel great.