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Q&A with Mike Furci

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Q: I've been reading some of your thoughts on the vegan diet. I'm just looking for info. I'm wondering what you think of the following:

"Vegan diet reverses diabetes symptoms, study finds." By Maggie Fox. Health and Science Correspondent. Thu Jul 27, 2:34 PM ET.

People who ate a low-fat vegan diet, cutting out all meat and dairy, lowered their blood sugar more and lost more weight than people on a standard American Diabetes Association diet, researchers said on Thursday.

They lowered their cholesterol more and ended up with better kidney function, according to the report published in Diabetes Care, a journal published by the American Diabetes Association.

Participants said the vegan diet was easier to follow than most because they did not measure portions or count calories. Three of the vegan dieters dropped out of the study, compared to eight on the standard diet.

"I hope this study will rekindle interest in using diet changes first, rather than prescription drugs," Dr. Neal Barnard, president of the Physician's Committee for Responsible Medicine, which helped conduct the study, told a news conference.

An estimated 18 million Americans have type-2 diabetes, which results from a combination of genetics and poor eating and exercise habits. They run a high risk of heart disease, stroke, kidney failure, blindness and limb loss.

Barnard's team and colleagues at George Washington University, the University of Toronto and the University of North Carolina tested 99 people with type-2 diabetes, assigning them randomly to either a low-fat, low-sugar vegan diet or the standard American Diabetes Association diet.

After 22 weeks on the diet, 43 percent of those on the vegan diet and 26 percent of those on the standard diet were either able to stop taking some of their drugs such as insulin or glucose-control medications, or lowered the doses.

The vegan dieters lost 14 pounds (6.5 kg) on average while the diabetes association dieters lost 6.8 pounds (3.1 kg).

An important level of glucose control called a1c fell by 1.23 points in the vegan group and by 0.38 in the group on the standard diet. A1c gives a measure of how well-controlled blood sugar has been over the preceding three months.

In the dieters who did not change whatever cholesterol drugs they were on during the study, LDL or "bad" cholesterol fell by 21 percent in the vegan group and 10 percent in the standard diet group.

The vegan diet removed all animal products, including meat, fish and dairy. It was also low in added fat and in sugar.

The American Diabetes Association diet is more tailored, taking into account the patient's weight and cholesterol. Most patients on this diet cut calories significantly, and were told to eat sugary and starchy foods in moderation.

All 99 participants met weekly with advisers, who advised them on recipes, gave them tips for sticking to their respective diets, and offered encouragement.

"We have got a combination here that works successfully," said Dr. David Jenkins of the University of Toronto, who worked on the study. "The message that we so often get with diet is that it is no good because nobody follows it for very long."

Dr. Joshua Cohen, George Washington University associate professor of medicine, said everyone diagnosed with diabetes is told to start eating more carefully. "That may be among the hardest things that any of us can do," Cohen told the news conference.

The vegan diet "is at least as good, if not better than traditional approaches," Cohen said.

Vance Warren, a 36-year-old retired police officer living in Washington, said he lowered his a1c from 10.4, considered uncontrolled diabetes, to 5.1, considered a healthy level, over 18 months. "My life is much better being 74 pounds (34 kg) lighter," Warren told the news conference.

A: This is very interesting Rebecca. I love reading stuff like this even when it has little or no meaning. The vegan diet vs. the American Diabetes Association Diet...interesting but worthless. I have thought, along with many others, for years that the American Diabetes Assoc. diet was crap. It’s amazing what foods they recommend diabetics eat. We're talking about an organization that espouses to the "Food Guide Pyramid" for God's sake. Enough said.

As far as a vegan diet goes, we are made to eat meat, period. We have one stomach that secretes hydrochloric acid. Herbivores have multiple stomachs, chew their cud, and do not secrete hydrochloric acid, which is needed to break down protein. Our jaw movement is vertical like a dog’s. A herbivore's jaw moves in a rotary fashion. We have incisors on the top and bottom with small canines. Unlike a herbivore, we have no bacteria present in our stomach, have well developed gall bladders and a small colon. These are just a few of the differences between humans and herbivores.

Here are a few myths, FYI, to help with your information gathering.

Myth: You can obtain vitamin B12 from plant sources.

Fact: One can only obtain B12 analogues (similar structure) from plant sources. The problem with these analogues is they are not bioavailable, which means our bodies cannot use them.

Myth: Soy is an adequate substitute for meat and dairy products.

Fact: Soy milk, protein and other products are highly processed and consequently denatured, rendering them hard to digest, which is the least of your worries when eating this garbage. Soy also contains low levels of cysteine, methionine and tryptoyphan, essential amino acids. And last, but certainly not least, soy has been linked to a whole host of negative health effects.

Myth: Saturated fat and cholesterol cause heart disease.

Fact: Read my article "Fats, Cholesterol and the Lipid Hypothesis."

Myth: Vegetarians/Vegans live longer.

Fact: There is no scientific proof of this whatsoever. The few studies that have reported a longer life span among vegetarians have been shown to be "misinterpreted" to support a politically correct view.

Myth: Farming and butchering animals for our consumption is inhumane.

Fact: Although this, in my opinion, is a myth, I do believe this is the only acceptable reason for being a vegan. I do, however, question any man who thinks this way. He’s obviously too emotional from all the phytoestrogens in the soy he’s consuming.

Hope this enlightens you Rebecca.

Q: Mike,

I do regular high-intensity workouts, and I always carry on the reps to failure - usually around the tenth rep. I find that I cannot physically lift the weight one more time by the time I've finished all the sets (usually about five or six sets of barbell curls per workout), but by the next day my muscles don't ache like I've heard they should. Is this a problem?


A: Rob,

Not having delayed onset muscle soreness a day or two after an intense workout is not a problem. Although being sore is a good measure of a good workout, the lack of soreness doesn't mean you had a bad workout. Keep doing what you're doing as long as you're still making progress. However, if you’re not making progress, you need to adjust your training program.

One of the biggest mistakes people make is not making changes - trying something new - if they’re not making progress. People tend to stick to what they’re comfortable with. Many people are even afraid to try new training methods for fear they will lose what they have worked so hard to achieve. Don’t fall into this trap. As long as you train hard, you won’t lose what you’ve gained. And who knows, you just may make the best gains of your life.

Q: Hi Mike,

When working out (i.e. running), is it best to keep cool or put on extra clothes like you see boxers do?


A: Lori,

It's best to be warm to the point of breaking a little sweat, but wearing excessive clothes can be detrimental. Being hot reduces your ability to train hard and recover during your workout. My advice, especially in the winter, would be to layer your clothing. Then, as your body's temperature begins to rise during the course of the workout, take layers of clothes off until you're comfortable. This way, no matter what the temperature is in the gym or outside, you can adjust accordingly.


Q: Hey. So I'm 16, and ever since the age of 5 or 6, I've been extremely coordinated and active, athletic etc. I do all sports and I’m on a mountain biking team, wake board competitions, varsity football, and track. To the point, how is this possible with my diet? I eat more than anyone I know, literally. I'll go through hundreds of dollars of food , drink 1 gallon of water a day and 1/4 to 1/2 a gallon of milk every 1-2 days. I eat anything given to me and a lot of it. There's no balance in my diet and I seem to eat a LOT of carbs. Part of it is probably that I hate sweets, i.e. cake , candy , and ice cream give me stomach aches. But, about a year ago I started playing a video game. I'd play and play, 7-12 hours a day sitting around, doing absolutely nothing. This went on for 6 MONTHS! I didn't gain or lose more than 10 pounds. I lost a little bit of my abs, but when summer hit, I did some wake boarding and biking and bam, it's back again. Am I taking too much advantage of this, as in possible devastating effects later in my life? Or am I just a very, very lucky person? I bang my body up a lot, and I've been [paying more attention to] what I do, and sort of what I eat. Should I cut back some on the food, continue with everything I'm doing, or what? Thanks! Oh, I’m 5 ft. 11 inches , 172 pounds.


A: Shawn,

Excellent email. Your question, "Am I taking too much advantage of this, as in possible devastating effects later in life?" is on the money. Yes, you are taking advantage. You obviously were born with excellent genetics, regardless of how active you are.

Look around at other kids your age. Or better yet, just look around. Lean, in-shape individuals are now the minority. Our country is among the fattest and unhealthiest in the world, despite spending more on health care and education than any nation. We are a product of what we eat, period.

The junk food you and millions of others are consuming is loaded with highly processed manmade substances that are having a devastating effect on the health of this country. The substances I am referring to are hydrogenated oils, soy, polyunsaturated fats and fructose. These ingredients are so pervasive, they are very hard to avoid. And make no mistake: they will, over time, have a negative effect on your body.

If you remain active throughout your life, you may not become very overweight. However, by consuming these foods you will be setting yourself up for disaster. The above ingredients are linked to many health problems, including cardiovascular disease, diabetes and obesity. I am not saying to stay away from junk, but I am going to tell you to stay away from any food that contain the above ingredients.

I would like you to read the following articles: "Fats, Cholesterol and the Lipid hypothesis” and "Any food in moderation, right?". These articles will point you in the right direction. Diseases like cardiovascular disease and diabetes are results of years of abuse on ones body. Start eating correctly when you’re young and you'll be happy you did so later in life.

Also, don't become one of these gameboy freaks. I'm not against playing video games, but it is a waste of time to play hours per day. There are so many other productive things you could be doing for your mind and body.


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