Carbohydrates at night help you lose weight!


By vegan naturopath Robyn Chuter.

For years, I’ve been hearing from clients that their personal trainer/nutritionist/astrologer (OK, I made that last one up) told them not to eat ‘carbs’ after 4 pm, or 6 pm, or whatever particular witching hour their self-appointed weight-loss guru nominates, if they want to lose weight.

The popular theory goes that eating a lot of carbohydrate-rich food stimulates excessive insulin release, and that since we’re less active at night than during the day, all that insulin will cause the glucose we absorb from starches to convert to fat. This theory is quoted as gospel truth on gazillions of weight-loss websites… but it turns out it’s completely false.

A recent study compared the outcomes of 78 obese police officers who were put on a low calorie diet containing 20% protein, 30-35% fat and 45-50% carbohydrate. The control group was told to distribute their carbohydrate intake throughout the day, while the experimental group was instructed to eat most of their carbohydrates at night.

The researchers found that, after 6 months of following the dietary plan, the carbohydrate-at-night group had lost substantially more weight, abdominal girth and body fat mass than the control group, despite the two diets containing the same calories and the same proportions of macronutrients.

Furthermore, the carbohydrate-at-night group experienced less hunger and had greater improvements in fasting glucose, average daily insulin concentrations, insulin resistance, cholesterol and the inflammation markers C-reactive protein, tumor necrosis factor-a, and interleukin-6, which are elevated in overweight people, and are linked to an increased risk of heart disease, cancer and depression.

Although you wouldn’t know it from reading popular weight loss books and websites, the idea that carbohydrate-rich foods caused increased insulin secretion was debunked last century, in a study that examined the insulin demand generated by various foods.

Researchers fed 1000 kj portions of a variety of foods to healthy people, and measured the amount of insulin their bodies secreted in response. They found that both protein-rich foods and bakery products (which are high in fat as well as carbohydrate) elicited disproportionately high insulin secretion.

Beef and cheese, for example, raise insulin levels more than pasta!

Even earlier research found that glucose raised insulin secretion only slightly more than an equivalent amount of protein.

The bottom line here is that popular theories of weight loss should never be used as the basis of your weight loss plan. There is no substitute for properly-conducted testing of these theories, no matter how ‘scientific’ their proponents make them out to be.

The scientific literature is, in fact, very clear about what works for sustainable weight loss – a diet based on unrefined plant foods. See my articles Eating meat: the fast track to diabesity, and The Big Fat Protein Swindle for more information and scientific references.


Can you change your genes?


By vegan naturopath Robyn Chuter.

What if you could change your genes, almost as quickly as you change your jeans? What if you could ‘switch off’ genes that cause disease processes, and ‘turn on’ genes that initiate healing processes?

Mention the word ‘genes’ to most people, and what they think of is fixed, immutable carriers of information. The term ‘blueprint’ is often used when discussing genes, as if they provide a very precise set of instructions that only has the possibility of producing one outcome. But the Human Genome Project (1) demonstrated beyond any doubt that this way of thinking about genes is outmoded and inaccurate.

Humans have approximately 20 000-25 000 genes – about the same number as mice and roundworms; not that many more than fruit flies (which have about 14 000 genes); and less than a water flea called Daphnia pulex which, at around 31 000, holds the record for the greatest number of genes in any organism whose genome has been sequenced (2).

We also share 97% of our genes with chimpanzees (3), but are clearly very different to them physically, behaviourally and psychologically. There is simply no way that we can explain the incredible complexity, diversity and adaptability of human beings using the old ‘genes = blueprint’ model.

While there is a small percentage of genes that act all by themselves to produce a particular outcome (for example, the genes that code for eye colour or blood type), this is the exception and not the rule. The majority of genes operate in remarkably complex networks, controlled by genes called transcription factors which themselves operate in complex networks.

And what controls these networks? Influences which scientists call ‘epigenetic factors’: changes in the environment of cells brought about by the level of various nutrients, hormones, neurotransmitters, toxins and so forth.

So if you want to change your genes in a health-promoting way, what should you do? Do what your mother always told you, and eat your fruit and veg. Not just one or two ‘superfoods’, by the way – the greater the diversity of plant foods in your diet, the more genes are influenced in a positive way.

Scientists used to think that fruit and vegies are good for your health because they contain antioxidants such as vitamin C and beta carotene. Antioxidants neutralise free radicals which could otherwise build up and damage DNA – the material our genes are made of – predisposing us to cancer and other diseases. However, human trials of supplementation of individual antioxidants have shown that they don’t protect against cancer, and some can increase the risk of cancer (4). What’s going on?

Well, it’s now known that phytochemicals (compounds that plants make to regulate their own metabolism, only some of which have antioxidant activity) actually increase our cellular defenses by activating those transcription factors I mentioned before. And what that means is that cells can recover their normal function even if their DNA is damaged by free radicals, rather than either dying, becoming dysfunctional, or turning cancerous.

The activation of transcription factors leads to a much longer-lasting protective effect than antioxidants, most of which have a very short half-life in the body.

In regards to dietary variety, a 2010 study (4) showed that adding 3 antioxidant-rich kiwifruit per day to the diet of male smokers with no known health problems, caused changes in the behaviour of 9 genes, 5 of them involved in cellular defence processes. But a dietary portfolio consisting of green tea, dog rose juice, cranberry juice, aronia juice, unsweetened bilberry juice, bilberry jam, bilberries, blackberries, strawberries, raspberries, pomegranate, dark blue grapes, Brussels sprouts, broccoli, red cabbage, kale, blue potatoes, tomatoes, dark chocolate, pecan nuts, sunflower seeds, walnuts, extra virgin olive oil, rosemary, thyme and oregano changed the behaviour of 44 genes, 25 of them involved in cellular defence.

The moral of the story? If you want to activate your ‘good genes’,

  1. Choose a diet centred on a wide variety of fruits and vegetables;
  2. Avoid taking antioxidant supplements that contain isolated nutrients such as beta carotene and vitamin E, and
  3. Don’t waste your money on high-priced ‘superfoods’ such as acai and maqui berry, which are sold on the basis of their high ORAC (antioxidant) score – which is far less protective against disease than activating your own cellular defence mechanisms.

The Plant Gallery Bondi – Sydney Vegan Club Review


by Kym Staton, 20th Jan. 2016

The number of 100% vegan restaurants in Sydney has grown in the last twelve months, with at least three new vegan eateries opening their doors, as well as two restaurants making the historic and un-presedented move of replacing their animal-laden menu with a vegan one!

The newest welcome addition to the Sydney vegan dining scene is of the ultra healthy raw vegan variety, with the much anticipated launch of the intriguingly titled ‘The Plant Gallery’ at Sydney’s beachside health-haven Bondi.


Three years ago The Plant Gallery co-owner David Ortega bought a one-way ticket to Bolivia on the search for new horizons and experiencing a different culture. Little did he know that this would bring about a dramatic new lifestyle direction, as it was here that he met raw-foodist and renowned chef Juan Carlos Miranda Ormena who introduce him to the enormous health benefits of a raw-food vegan diet as well as many of the amazing flavours of Peru. The pair formed a terrific friendship and came up with the goal of opening up a raw-food restaurant back in Australia.

David and Juan Carlos were toying with the idea of calling their restaurant ‘The Plant Gallery’ – as homage to the plant-powered menu – when by chance a venue previously used as an art gallery became vacant. It seemed like a match made in heaven to make use of the existing lighting and picture hanging systems and feature artworks on the walls of their restaurant.

Having the pleasure of a first visit to The Plant Gallery I was impressed that in addition to the food/art synergy, the restaurant includes a number of other innovations.

Walking in you instantly notice the back wall is adorned with indoor plants which create a lovely organic natural backdrop. A tour of the large garden (out back) revealed the already active compost bins – big points for reduced food waste! Great to also hear plans for installing a garden and growing some of their own produce!

The furniture is all made of up-cyled timber which lends warmth and ambience. The centre of the restaurant has a huge communal table which encourages interaction from guests.

Admiring all of these innovations, I almost forgot about the food, but was gobsmacked to see the delights on offer with their sophisticated, artistic dishes described on the menu. Then i noticed another innovation with their convenient ‘TPG experience’, in the bottom right hand corner, where newcomers or those who like a surprise can have the ‘chef’s choice of one entree, one main and one salad’ for two people – such a great idea!

Much of the menu is peruvian inspired – where David and Juan Carlos have taken traditional dishes of Peru and ‘veganised’ as well as raw-ified them to great success!

I started my first The Plant Gallery experience with the mushroom ceviche – which was a fresh and zesty salad of marinated mushrooms, onion and corn in a refreshing lime dressing. The flavours and textures were very enjoyable.


For main course I had the spaghetti humancaina – a rich and very flavoursome journey of zucchini spaghetti in a rich cashew and yellow chilli sauce. The huge cashew parmesan chunks were very tasty.


I finished with a very decadent and gorgeously presented dessert of deconstructed inca berry cheesecake with cashew cheese and orange nut crumble which looked like three sailboats floating on the pacific, and had dreamy flavours to match!

The Plant Gallery’s aim is to put to bed the myth ‘that healthy food can’t taste good’. I can see that the team at this exciting new restaurant have both the passion and skill to do just that with their brilliant new venue and the terrific collaboration of dynamic duo David and Juan Carlos!

Sydney Vegan Club wish you the best of luck with your new endeavour and look forward to having a big tasting-party event at you venue very soon so that we can enjoy the flavours and ambience and culinary joys of you creations as a group.

SVC Vegan packman foodie rating:


Plant-Based Nutrition and Coronary Artery Disease


Dr Caldwell Esselstyn is a force of nature. At 82, he still directs the cardiovascular prevention and reversal program at The Cleveland Clinic Wellness Institute, and travels around the US regularly (hopefully he’ll come to Australia one day!), spreading his message that coronary artery disease is a reversible condition, even when it’s so advanced that mainstream cardiologists have given up on you and sent you home to die.

I’ve covered the key elements of Dr Esselstyn’s heart disease reversal program in my 2014 International PBNHC Round-up video and discussed some of the myths about heart disease that Essy busts in a previous post.

In brief, he teaches his patients to eat a wholefood, plant-based (i.e. vegan) diet with no added oil; no nuts or seeds except a tablespoon of ground flax/linseed each day; no avocado; and no added salt; and with the addition of green leafy vegetables at every meal and snack. You can find all the details in his book Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease, and his wife Ann and daughter Jane have authored several recipe books that teach you how to make this way of eating enjoyable.

But what I really want to discuss in this post is why more people don’t know about his work, and the implications of that ignorance.


Let’s start with a little background. Caldwell Esselstyn has worked at the Cleveland Clinic, one of the most well-known academic hospitals in the US, since 1968. His surgical training was conducted there; he chaired the Clinic’s Breast Cancer Task Force and headed its Section of Thyroid and Parathyroid Surgery; he has served as President of the Staff and as a member of the Board of Governors. He received the Distinguished Alumnus Award from the Cleveland Clinic Alumni Association in 2009.

He has also served as President of the American Association of Endocrine Surgeons, was cited in The Best Doctors in America 1994-1995 for his surgical expertise in the categories of endocrine and breast disease, and is a Fellow of the American College of Cardiology. On top of all that, he is the author or co-author of over 150 publications in peer-reviewed scientific and medical journals.

I’m telling you all of this to make it clear that Dr Esselstyn is not some underqualified nut-job pushing a half-baked theory of his own creation that has never been tested. (There are plenty of contrasts to him in the ‘alternative medicine’ sphere, such as Dr Natasha Campbell-McBride, who makes outrageous claims for her GAPS diet based on either no science at all, or badly outdated science that has since been disproven, and who has never published a single paper in the medical literature to document her approach).

No, Essy is the real deal – a highly-qualified and well-respected doctor with an impeccable academic pedigree. So why is that the vast majority of people who undertake his program find out about him through friends, relatives or internet searches, rather than being referred to him by their doctors, including cardiologists who work at the Cleveland Clinic and have known of him, and his work, for decades?

Well, as I discovered recently, it turns out that the Cleveland Clinic actually has a policy that no doctors employed by it are permitted to refer patients to Esselstyn’s cardiovascular prevention and reversal program, even though it operates inside the Cleveland Clinic! Ummmm, whaaaat?

It’s simple, really. The average cost for heart bypass surgery in US hospitals is US$117 000, and being a top teaching hospital, the Cleveland Clinic probably charges more than that. The failure rate for this procedure is high (see my article What Bill Clinton’s cardiologist didn’t know (and why you need to know it), so a significant proportion of people will end up back under the surgeon’s knife, or undergoing other invasive procedures. Even if they don’t, they’ll have to come back for regular check-ups and to get their prescriptions updated, ensuring that they become cash cows for the hospital.

In contrast, Essy charges next to nothing to participate in his program, has detailed the entire program in a book that you can buy online for around A$20, and explains how the program works in numerous videos that you can watch for free on Youtube. People who stick strictly to the program are virtually heart-attack-proof, as he has documented in the long-term follow-up studies that he has published, so they have no need to come back to the Cleveland Clinic, or to Essy personally, for any more treatment.

Follow the money, folks. Treating people with surgery, stenting and medication keeps them sick patients for the rest of their lives, which is highly lucrative; while teaching them how to take charge of their health gets them off the medical merry-go-round, saving loads of taxpayers dollars as well as their out-of-pocket costs.

What would you choose – to live the remainder of your life as a cardiac patient, or to get rid of your coronary artery disease and live the remainder of your life in robust health – like Essy himself, who in his 80s maintains a schedule that many 40 year olds couldn’t keep up with?


Plant-based diets for the treatment of Polycystic Ovary Syndrome


By vegan naturopath Robyn Chuter

PCOS is believed to affect up to 1 in 10 women of reproductive age in both Australia and the US. It is the most common cause of female infertility, since women with PCOS either only ovulate occasionally, or not at all.

I have seen many clients with PCOS over my 20 years in practice, which is one of the reasons why I was looking forward to Brie Turner-McGrievy’s presentation on it at the 2015 International Plant-Based Nutrition Healthcare Conference. (The other was that she has published some amazing studies comparing the effectiveness of various diets for weight loss, but more on that a little later…)

Symptoms of PCOS include:

  • Infertility
  • Infrequent, absent, and/or irregular menstrual periods
  • Multiple cysts on the ovaries which can be seen on ultrasound
  • Acne (particularly cystic acne), oily skin, or dandruff
  • Weight gain or obesity, particularly around the waist
  • Pelvic pain
  • Male-pattern baldness or thinning hair
  • Increased facial hair
  • Dark patches of skin
  • Skin tags
  • Anxiety or depression
  • Sleep apnea

Woman with PCOS make too many androgens (‘male hormones’) in their ovaries, so they have elevated levels of these hormone in their blood. In addition they have low concentrations of sex hormone binding globulin (SHBG), a protein which keeps testosterone and estrogen in an inactive ‘storage’ state. Low SHBG translates to higher levels of active testosterone, which contributes to all the symptoms of PCOS, including infertility.

In addition, women with PCOS are insulin-resistant – that is, their cells don’t respond to the signals sent by the hormone insulin, resulting in high levels of glucose and triglycerides in their bloodstreams, and increased fat storage.

As a result of these metabolic abnormalities, women with PCOS have a higher risk of developing several chronic diseases, including:

  • Diabetes
  • Hypertension
  • Some forms of cancer
  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Metabolic Syndrome

The first-line treatment for PCOS is pretty simple, if not necessarily easy: lose weight. The problem, as Turner-McGrievy pointed out, is that up until recently, there had been no studies done to establish the most effective weight loss diet for PCOS sufferers. So she did what any self-respecting nutrition researcher with a history of co-authoring studies with the amazing Dr Neal Barnard, founder of the Physician’s Committee for Responsible Medicine, would do – she decided to run such a study herself.

By way of background, Dr Barnard had found in an earlier study that women suffering from severe period pain had a significantly higher serum SHBG concentration when they were placed on a vegan diet than when they were eating their standard omnivorous diet (remember, women with PCOS have lower than average SHBG).

Then, in later Barnard-led studies that Brie Turner-McGrievy contributed to, an ad libitum (all you can eat) low-fat vegan diet was found to cause significantly more weight loss in overweight, postmenopausal women than the US government-developed National Cholesterol Education Program Step II diet, despite the lack of restrictions on portion size and energy intake in the vegan diet group. Not only were the  participants randomised to the vegan diet considerably lighter after the 14-week study wrapped up; they were far more successful than the ‘standard’ dieters at keeping the weight off, at both 1-year and 2-year follow-up.

The same diet was found to cause significantly more weight loss in type 2 diabetics, along with greater decreases in HbA1c (a measure of long-term blood sugar control), fasting glucose, cholesterol and LDL, than the ‘official’ American Diabetes Association diet – highly relevant to PCOS sufferers due to their increased risk of diabetes.

So Turner-McGrievy conceived the Healthy Eating for Reproductive Health (HER Health) study, to compare a low-fat, low-glycaemic index vegan diet with no caloric restriction to a standard, low-calorie diet for weight loss in women with PCOS. With very minimal instruction and 1:1 contact, the women assigned to the vegan diet group still managed to lose significantly more weight than the low-cal dieters at the 3 month mark, as well as having greater improvements in dietary intake at the 6 month mark.

Turner-McGrievy then went on to conduct the New Dietary Interventions to Enhance the Treatments for weight loss (New DIETs) study – a 2-month weight loss intervention with a 4-month follow-up period, which randomised overweight participants to either a vegan, vegetarian, pesco-vegetarian, semi-vegetarian, or omnivorous diet. All the test diets were carefully designed so that they were low in fat and glycaemic index. And the winner was… the vegan diet, which resulted in the loss of 7.5% of initial body weight after 6 months. Interestingly, although participants in all test diet groups lost weight by 2 months, the pesco-vegetarian, semi-vegetarian and omnivorous dieters began regaining weight after that, while those in the vegetarian and vegan diet groups kept losing weight.


The take-home message for women with PCOS is that a low-fat, low-glycaemic index vegan diet is the best way to lose weight, balance hormones and restore insulin sensitivity. This backs up my experience with clients, many of whom have resumed normal menstruation and been able to get pregnant naturally by adopting a wholefood, plant-based diet without added oils and refined carbohydrates. – See more at:

The Universe Within


By vegan naturopath Robyn Chuter

As I see more and more clients with complex, chronic health conditions, I am frequently reminded of Hippocrates’ statement from over 2000 years ago:

All disease begins in the gut.

Now, like a lot of pithy sayings, there will always be some exceptions to the rule, but as researchers delve into the inner workings of the digestive tract, more and more health conditions are turning out to have a significant gut component.

And as Dr Corey Howard explained in his presentation at the 2015 International Plant-Based Nutrition Healthcare Conference, that gut component of disease doesn’t just involve our own, human cells. Here are some startling facts to ponder:

  • Our bodies are comprised of around 37 trillion cells (in numerals, that’s 37 000 000 000 000).
  • The human genome contains approximately 21 000 genes.
  • 1.5% of those genes, or around 300 of them, code for proteins (that is, they contain the instructions for making particular proteins).
  • The remaining 20 700 genes regulate the expression of the 300 that code for proteins.
  • 100 trillion bacteria (that’s 100 000 000 000 000) reside in and on the human body – on our skin, in our nose, ears, lungs, eyeballs, the vagina in females, and of course in our gut.
  • There are more than 9 million unique genes in the human gut bacterial community, or over 400 times the number of human genes.

If you’re feeling a little creeped out by the discovery that you are more ‘bug’ than human, you’re not alone. We have been conditioned to think of bacteria as our mortal enemies, to be eradicated by any means necessary. Think of those advertisements you’ve seen for mouthwashes, kitchen sprays and toilet cleaners that proudly trumpet the claim that they ‘kill 99% of bacteria’. The market for antibacterial hand sanitisers has exploded in recent years, and many parents will beg their GP for an antibiotic if they even suspect that their child has a middle ear infection.

But as researchers delve deeper into the human microbiome and how it affects our physical and mental health, it’s becoming more and more clear that attempting to eradicate bacteria from our bodies and living environments is a Very Bad Idea.

Dr Howard focused his presentation on the gut microbiome, although the composition and function of bacteria that live on and in other parts of our bodies is a fascinating subject in itself.

The probiotic or ‘good bacteria’ that inhabit our intestines carry out several vital functions for us. They:

  • Produce some vitamins, including vitamin K and biotin, which we can absorb and utilise;
  • Synthesise amino acids – the building blocks of protein, which we can also absorb and utilise to build our own body proteins;
  • Carry out biotransformation of bile acids – metabolic waste products that contribute to bowel cancer and gallstones – so that they can be safely removed from the body;
  • Produce short chain fatty acids including butyrate, which decreases intestinal inflammation, heals ‘leaky gut’, modulates the sensitivity of visceral organs and improves intestinal motility (helping to overcome IBS), protects against colorectal cancer, lowers cholesterol and reduces insulin resistance… among many other benefits;
  • Secrete antimicrobial substances which inhibit the growth of ‘bad’ bacteria that can cause intestinal infections, leaky gut and inflammatory conditions including cardiovascular and autoimmune disease.
  • Interact with toll-like receptors, helping the immune system to identify and destroy harmful bacteria while tolerating beneficial bacteria, human cells and normal components of food.
  • Interact with dendritic cells, a type of immune cell, helping to calm them and reduce their production of inflammatory chemicals.

That’s the good news. The bad news is that the delicate balance of the gut microbiome can be thrown out by a host of factors, setting the stage for all manner of ill-health.

  • Babies born by caesarean section are not colonised by the healthy bacteria that a vaginally-delivered baby will encounter on its way through the birth canal. Instead of its mother’s flora, the c-section baby’s gut ends up being populated by bacteria from the air in the operating theatre, and the garments of the doctors and nurses.
  • Breast-fed babies receive probiotic bacteria in their mother’s milk, as well as prebiotic oligosaccharides (carbohydrates that can’t be digested by humans, but feed the gut bacteria instead); while formula-fed babies miss out on both.
  • Antibiotics, whether prescribed for infectious illnesses (most of which are not life-threatening and would resolve spontaneously if left untreated), or consumed in dairy products, eggs and meat from factory-farmed land and marine animals that are routinely fed antibiotics, dramatically reduce the diversity of the gut microbiome and can set the stage for colonisation by pathogens such as Clostridium difficule.
  • A wide range of other drugs, including proton pump inhibitors (acid suppressors such as Losec and Nexium); non-steroidal anti-inflammatories and oral contraceptives, decrease the number of beneficial bacteria inhabiting the gut.

As Dr Howard explained, if you have acquired imbalances in your gut microbiome that are contributing to digestive discomfort and poor health, just taking probiotics won’t get you well again. You’ll need a total dietary overhaul to remove the substances that derange your microbial colonies (artificial sweeteners, animal products laced with antibiotics, refined carbohydrates) and add in the substances that restore balance (fibre, resistant starch, fermented foods); you need to get off drugs that wreak havoc on your gut flora; quit smoking and excessive drinking; and get regular exercise.

Does all of this sound familiar? The same lifestyle measures which promote the health of your human cells also promote the health of your microbiome… and perhaps that is no coincidence.


The Angiogenesis of Health and Disease


By vegan naturopath Robyn Chuter

One of the presentations I was most looking forward to at the 2014 International Plant-Based Healthcare Nutrition Conference (PBNHC) was the one that Dr William Li, the Medical Director and Co-founder of the Angiogenesis Foundation, was slated to give. Having watched Dr Li’s TED talk, Can we eat to starve cancer?, I was keen to learn more about the effect of angiogenesis. (If you’re thinking right now, ‘What the heck is angiogenesis and why should I even care about it?’, don’t worry, I’ll get to that in a minute.)

Unfortunately, due to a family emergency Dr Li was unable to attend the 2014 conference. So I was excited to see he was back on the conference agenda for this year’s PBNHC, and I’m happy to say that his presentation was every bit as good as I’d hoped for!

First, a brief explanation of angiogenesis: ‘angio’ means blood vessel, and ‘genesis’ means the beginning of something. So angiogenesis is the formation of new blood vessels from existing ones.

You’ve actually experienced angiogenesis multiple times throughout your life, although you probably didn’t realise it. For starters, you wouldn’t exist without the angiogenesis that allowed your mother’s body to develop the placenta which nourished you until you were born. Then, every time you ever grazed your knee or cut yourself, angiogenesis kicked in, allowing granulation tissue to form and wounds to heal. If you’re a woman, you’ve been experiencing angiogenesis once a month since your menstrual periods began.

Those are all normal forms of angiogenesis, necessary for life, health and reproduction. But when angiogenesis goes bad, it can go very, very bad. As Dr Li explained, many common disease processes involve abnormal angiogenesis, including:

  • Cancer – tumours cannot grow to a clinically significant size until they have become angiogenic; but once they do, they can grow 16 000 times their pre-angiogenic size in a matter of just a few weeks.
  • Atherosclerosis – angiogenesis occurs within the cholesterol-laden plaques that grow inside blood vessels, making the plaque more unstable and prone to rupturing and forming a clot that can lead to a heart attack.
  • Obesity – in order for fat deposits to grow, they must develop a network of blood vessels to nourish them. Fat cells send angiogenic signals to neighbouring blood vessels when they become overstuffed with fat, and the new blood vessels secrete growth factors that stimulate immature fat cells to develop and multiply. This creates a vicious circle of fat mass expansion.
  • Psoriasis – uncontrolled angiogenesis contrubites to the formation of psoriatic plaques.
  • Arthritis – the formation of a pannus (an abnormal layer of fibrovascular tissue or granulation tissue) over joint surfaces, causing loss of bone and cartilage, is driven by angiogenesis.
  • Endometriosis – the abnormal growth of uterine lining tissue on other pelvic structures is an expression of aberrant angiogenesis.
  • Kaposi’s sarcoma – this hallmark symptom of AIDS is associated with a herpesvirus that triggers angiogenesis.
  • Alzheimer’s disease – abnormal blood vessels that grow in the brain due to inappropriate angiogenesis release a neurotoxin that kills neurons (brain cells).
  • Macular degeneration – angiogenesis is the driving force in this age-related cause of blindness.
  • Multiple sclerosis – angiogenesis is found in the demyelinating lesions characteristic of MS.
  • Rosacea – both the initial development of this distressing skin condition and its persistent presence involve angiogenesis.

So that’s the bad news about angiogenesis.

The good news is that a host of compounds found in whole plant foods inhibit abnormal angiogenesis (without blocking the normal angiogenesis that we need for wound healing and pregnancy).

Some of the all-star angiogenesis inhibitors that Dr Li highlighted are:

  • Resveratrol, a pigment found in red grapes, peanut skins, pistachios, blueberries, cranberries, cacao and cocoa. In laboratory experiments, resveratrol inhibited angiogenesis in tumours by up to 75%
  • Ellagic acid, found in blackberries, cranberries, pecans, pomegranates, raspberries, strawberries, walnuts, goji berries and grapes.
  • Genistein, found primarily in soy beans and products made from them such as tofu and tempeh.
  • EGCG, found in green tea, which not only inhibits pathological angiogenesis but also mobilises the endothelial progenitor stem cells needed for tissue repair.

Many food compounds and foods inhibit angiogenesis more strongly than anti-angiogenic drugs, according to Dr Li, but without the nasty side effects which include black, tarry stools; bleeding gums; body aches and pains; burning, tingling, numbness, or pain in the hands, arms, feet, or legs; chest pain or discomfort; chills; cloudy urine; and convulsions.

Our food selection and preparation practices can profoundly affect the amount of anti-angiogenic activity that we reap from what we eat and drink.

  • Broccoli stems, which most people discard, have 2.5 times the anti-angiogenic power of broccoli florets. You can put them in soup, or take my client Dennis’ tip and use them, thinly sliced, as ‘dippers’ for hommous!
  • ‘Dunking’ your teabag instead of letting it just sit in your cup, increases the amount of antiangiogenic compounds in your tea.
  • Simmering tomatoes increases their trans-lycopene (a powerful angiogenesis inhibitor) activity by 50% after 2 minutes, and by 250% after 30 minutes.
  • The Rubygem strawberry cultivated in Queensland has the highest anti-angiogenic activity of all strawberries.
  • Whole wheat has almost double the anti-angiogenic activity of white.
  • Carrot greens have 2.5 times the anti-angiogenesis power of the actual carrot, so buy Dutch carrots and eat them greens and all!

Now can you see why I was so excited about Dr Li’s presentation? Understanding the effects of abnormal angiogenesis, and how to control it through simple dietary choices, gives us enormous power to take charge of our health destiny rather than buy into the popular notion that we are doomed to succumb to ‘age-related’ diseases such as cancer, heart disease, arthritis, dementia and macular degeneration.


Why Plant-Based Nutrition?


By vegan naturopath Robyn Chuter.

Dr Scott Stoll is one of the driving forces of the International Plant-Based Nutrition Healthcare Conference. He and his 2 co-founders, Tom Dunnam and Susan Benigas, hold a grand vision; one that, in fact, was first put into words at the beginning of the 20th century by the brilliant inventor Thomas Edison:

“The doctor of the future will give no medicine but will interest his patients in the care of the human frame, in diet and in the cause and prevention of disease.”

Judging by the passion and energy with which Dr Stoll and his colleagues are approaching this gargantuan task, “the future” may come sooner than many of us have feared. Let’s hope so!

Dr Stoll’s presentation at the PBNHC followed directly on Professor T. Colin Campbell’s, which I reported on in last week’s blog, and it elegantly illustrated one of the 6 key principles of nutrition that Campbell outlined:

The nutritional effects of a whole food, plant-based diet (WFPBD) are broad and rapid.

The topic Dr Stoll chose to focus on was vasculopathy – disorders of blood vessels, in all their many forms. You simply can’t understand blood vessel disorders without comprehending the structure and functions of endothelial cells. Endothelial cells, or ECs, are the cells that line our blood vessels. If you laid them end-to-end, they would circle the Earth twice, and laid side-by-side they cover the surface area of 6 tennis courts.

Their major function is to produce the gas nitric oxide, which acts like Teflon on a non-stick pan – it keeps all the components of the blood flowing freely, instead of adhering to the blood vessel wall. When ECs are not functioning correctly, the blood vessel wall becomes more like Velcro, causing blood components to stick to it, and initiating an atherosclerotic plaque.

As Dr Stoll pointed out, the consequences of EC dysfunction are many and varied, and the different names given to all these conditions obscure the common origin that they spring from. For example, EC dysfunction causes:

  • Chronic low back pain. 77% of patients with severe long-term nonspecific low back pain were found to have lumbar and/or middle sacral arteries that were occluded by atherosclerotic plaque (the end result of EC dysfunction).
  • Rotator cuff injury. Almost all sufferers of this painful and frustrating shoulder condition were found to have atherosclerosis in the arteries supplying the bones, tendons and muscles of the shoulder girdle.
  • Erectile dysfunction. Two-thirds of men with clinically significant coronary artery disease also have ED, but the signs and symptoms of ED typically appear 2-3 years before any symptoms of coronary artery disease show up. That’s why urologists are now referring to ED as ‘the canary in the coal mine’.
  • Peripheral vasculopathy. Many sufferers of this condition have a genetic polymorphism called Glu298Asp, which affects the activity of the enzyme that ECs use to synthesises nitric oxide.
  • Diabetic neuropathy. This painful condition, which costs up to US$20 000 per year to manage, is caused by damage to nerves that’s driven largely by EC dysfunction.
  • Alzheimer’s disease. While amyloid plaques have long been the focus of Alzheimer’s research, Dr Stoll described how the ‘2 hit hypothesis’ has largely taken over: Alzheimer’s begins with artery damage, caused by EC dysfunction, and then amyloid beta deposits occur at the site of injury.

So what can we do to prevent or reverse the conditions caused by EC dysfunction? Stop injuring our arteries with:

  • Animal products (which contain EC-damaging saturated and trans fats, advanced glycation end-products [AGEs], and a host of chemical toxins that bioaccumulate up the food chain);
  • Refined carbohydrates and vegetable oils (which induce oxidative stress);
  • Salt (which causes EC damage and arterial stiffness even if it doesn’t raise blood pressure), and of course
  • Cigarette smoking and exposure to secondhand smoke, one of the most potent agents of EC damage yet discovered.

In place of all that toxic food, we should fill our plates with EC-nurturing green leafy vegetables (more on that when I summarise Dr Caldwell Esselstyn’s presentation in a couple of weeks) and other colourful vegetables, fruits, whole grains, legumes, and small amounts of nuts and seeds – especially omega 3-rich seeds such as flax, chia and hemp.

How long does it take to work? In the case of diabetic neuropathy, pain relief can occur in as little as a couple of days – even in diabetics who have been heavily medicated and in terrible pain for years! Switching to a plant-based diet restores endothelial function in the penile artery so rapidly that erectile function can be restored in just weeks. The rewards of going plant-based appear much more rapidly and reliably than any benefits gained from medications… and the only ‘side-effects’ are positive ones such as weight loss, increased energy, more attractive skin, lower cholesterol and blood pressure.


Vegan Lollies You Can Buy In Australia

You can help us keep it up to date!
If you have any additions or corrections please contact us

Jila Chewing gum Mint and Spearmint
Jila Sugar free mints (tin) Peppermint & Spearmint
Chupa Chups Cola
Chup Chups orange
Coles Choc mint crunch
Coles brand Lemon Sherbets
Extra Chewing gum
Mentos Mini
Mentos Fruit
Mentos Spearmint
Mentos Pineapple
Pez Candy
Skittles Fruit
Tic Tacs original flavour
Wizz Fizz original

Sour Patch Kids
Woolworths Homebrand Black jelly beans
Homebrand Fruit flavoured sweets
Homebrand Barley sugar
Homebrand Aniseed humbugs
Life Savers 5 flavours
Life savers Strawberry sundae
Life Savers Peppermint
Life Savers Musk

Flirt Blitz Mints (tin) Peppermint, Spearmint
Dominion Naturals Sour stilts @Aldi
Flirt Chewing gum
Black & Gold Spearmints,
Black & Gold Milk bottles
The Jolly Lollie Company Liquorice Allsorts
Bols Lemon sherbets
Bols Fruity Sherbet bombs
Bols Hard Jubes
Bols Raspberries
Walker’s After dinner mints
Walker’s Sugared almonds
Ekologist Godis Frukt
Fino Berry Flavoured Jells
Fishermen’s Friends Mint
Go Natural Licorice
Green Grove Organics Licorice
Macro Organic Liquorice
Mike & Jack X-treme sour straps
Morish Peanut Brittle
Darrell Lea Rasberry Licorice Stix
~You can help us keep it up to date! If you have any additions or corrections please contact us

Taking the ‘die’ out of your diet


By vegan naturopath Robyn Chuter.

Dr Kim Allan Williams is kind of into ‘firsts’. He’s the first African American to be elected president of the American College of Cardiology, which is highly significant because African Americans suffer the ravages of cardiovascular disease more than any ethnic subgroup in the US:

  • African Americans have the highest age-adjusted death rates due to heart disease and stroke of any ethnic group;
  • CVD is responsible for more deaths in the Black community than all other diseases combined;
  • Nearly 44% of Black men and 48% of Black women have some form of cardiovascular disease;
  • African American adults are much more likely to suffer from high blood pressure than white adults, and more likely to die of a heart attack or stroke;
  • Up to 30% of deaths in hypertensive Black men and 20% in hypertensive Black women may be attributable to high blood pressure, which African-Americans may be more prone to due to genetically-determined salt sensitivity (1).

He’s also the first ‘openly vegan’ (is that the new ‘openly gay’ ?) president of the ACC, and he’s doesn’t hold back when asked why.

As he explained in his opening address to the 3rd International Plant-Based Nutrition Healthcare Conference, which was held in Anaheim, California from 30 September-3rd October 2015, back in 2003, a routine blood test revealed that his LDL cholesterol level was a frighteningly high 170 mg/dl (4.4 mmol/l). It was a rude awakening for Williams, who had prided himself on eating a ‘prudent’ diet in line with American Heart Association guidelines – he avoided red meat and fried foods, minimised dairy products, and stuck to chicken breast and fish.

Coincidentally, after receiving his worrying result, Williams – who is a nuclear cardiologist, specialising in diagnosis of cardiovascular disease – reviewed a patient in whom he had identified severe coronary heart disease 6 months earlier. The woman had blockages in 3 major blood vessels supplying her heart, that put her at extremely high risk of suffering a heart attack. Unbeknownst to Williams, in the interim the patient had put herself on Dr Dean Ornish’s program for reversing heart disease, which incorporates a low-fat plant-based diet, exercise, meditation and social support.

Noting that her follow-up scan was essentially normal – that is, her severe triple vessel disease had healed in the space of 6 months – Williams quizzed her about what she’d been doing. She reported that her chest pain had resolved about 6 weeks after commencing Ornish’s program.

Spurred on by concerns about his own health, Williams began investigating Ornish’s research, and was so impressed by what he found that that very day, he dropped all animal products from his diet and put himself on an Ornish-style low-fat plant-based diet. Just 6 weeks later, his LDL cholesterol level was down to a  much more respectable 90 mg/dl (2.3 mmol/l).

Now 12 years down the track from his personal epiphany, Dr Williams recommends a plant-based diet to his own patients who have who have high cholesterol, diabetes, high blood pressure or coronary artery disease, and even tells them where to shop for the plant-based foods that he enjoys!

In an interview (2), Dr Williams commented


“Wouldn’t it be a laudable goal of the American College of Cardiology to put ourselves out of business within a generation or two? We have come a long way in prevention of cardiovascular disease, but we still have a long way to go. Improving our lifestyles with improved diet and exercise will help us get there.”

A long way to go, all right. Cardiovascular disease and stroke, combined, is still the leading cause of death in both the US and Australia. The practice of cardiology is a fraudulent farce, with close to 90% of interventional cardiology – stenting and coronary artery bypass grafting – being performed on patients who receive no benefit from these procedures (see my article What Bill Clinton’s cardiologist didn’t know (and why you need to know it) for more) but must still bear their economic cost, and the heightened risk of stroke, heart attack and cognitive impairment (‘pump head’) that come with them.

The bottom line is that sick people take medicines, undergo procedures, and put up with being ‘patients’. People who want to stop being patients, get healthy, and extract themselves from the medical mill, take responsibility for their own health and well-being. My client Dennis is an inspiring example of the latter; you can read his story of dramatic reversal of high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes and rheumatoid arthritis and watch an interview with him here.