Turns out that all those years of milk and cookies haven’t been doing Santa any favors. This year, he’s finally breaking his silence and letting the world know that he is lactose intolerant.
Up to 65 percent of people in the world are unable to digest lactose, with that number rising to 90 percent within certain ethnic groups. Data show that approximately 79 percent of Native Americans are lactose intolerant. So are 75 percent of African Americans and more than 50 percent of Hispanics. Asians have a 90 percent statistic of lactose intolerance. Some say that, prior to moving to the North Pole, Santa Claus used to be Saint Nicholas, a Greek bishop. Since there is a lactose intolerance rate of 75 percent among people of Greek descent, it’s no surprise that Santa wants to ditch the dairy.
Consuming dairy products can actually have worse consequences than ending up on Santa’s naughty list. Just two and a half servings of milk, yogurt, or cheese per day can increase the risk of prostate cancer by 34 percent. Mrs. Claus would also benefit from switching to plant milk, since dairy milk consumption has been linked to breast and ovarian cancer, with dairy products contributing up to 70 percent of the estrogen intake in the Western diet. A 2012 study debunked the idea of milk building strong bones. Researchers found that active girls who consumed the most dairy double their risk of bone fracture than girls who consumed less dairy. The study linked good bone health with vitamin D consumption—a nutrient not naturally found in dairy products.
The saturated fat and cholesterol in dairy also contribute to heart disease, the number one cause of death in the United States. Trying to lower fat intake by switching to skim adds a new complication—sugar. One cup of skim milk has just about as much sugar as five Hershey’s Kisses.
Instead of leaving Santa a glass of dairy milk, why not try an energizing green smoothie? Not only is the color more seasonally appropriate, a green smoothie is packed with fiber and antioxidants to keep Santa feeling full between rooftops.
A plant-based diet can do more than keep you healthy and improve your mood—it boosts brainpower too, if the experience of 23-year-old Swedish student Jonas Von Essen is any example. On Dec. 14, for the second year in a row, Von Essen won the World Memory Championship, a competition that attracts entrants from dozens of countries who complete a wide range of mental challenges. One of his most impressive feats included memorizing 26 packs of cards in one hour. Von Essen has followed a plant-based diet for several years, helping him through both his victory this year in China and in the 2013 competition in the U.K.
How does a vegan diet help the brain? Meat and other animal products contain saturated fat, which rapidly increases blood viscosity (“thickness”). The result, apparently, is diminished blood flow and poorer oxygenation. Plant foods provide beneficial antioxidants that can improve your health and lower your cholesterol, increasing the blood flow to your brain.
Endurance athletes have used vegan diets for many years, and those aiming for maximal cognitive function may want to choose them as well.
For more information on how a plant-based diet can boost brainpower and improve memory, visit PowerFoodsfortheBrain.org.
Remember the old “Beef. It’s What’s for Dinner” advertisements? Those were sponsored by the beef checkoff program.
Red meat production and sales have declined as the public has become increasingly aware of the link between meat consumption and chronic disease. For consumer health, this is progress. However, the USDA is now proposing a new “checkoff” program to allocate additional funds—potentially totaling $160 million—towards the promotion and marketing of beef in 2015. And since the USDA also issues national dietary recommendations, this creates a clear conflict of interest.
Beef is bad for your health. Physicians, researchers, and medical organizations clearly state the consequences of eating red meat. Harvard University has published numerous studies associating meat consumption with chronic disease. The World Health Organization notes the correlation between meat and colorectal and prostate cancers in its dietary recommendations. The American Heart Association published findings saying that women who had two servings per day of red meat had a 30 percent higher risk of developing coronary heart disease. Physicians Committee researchers found that eating meat is a risk factor for diabetes. The American Institute for Cancer Research recommends reducing and removing red and processed meat, as does the American Cancer Society. Even government officials in the United Kingdom have been clear in their recommendations to British citizens to cut red meat consumption.
However, the USDA has remained ambiguous when discussing red meat. In the 2010 Dietary Guidelines, the USDA recommended reducing saturated fat and cholesterol intake—neglecting to mention that a sirloin steak overloads your arteries with 155 percent of your daily maximum intake of saturated fat and 152 percent of your daily maximum cholesterol.
The USDA is accepting public comments on the proposed checkoff program until Dec. 10. Click here to take action by submitting your comments to the USDA.
Want to know more about the research? Check out this sample of studies from just the past two years linking red meat and chronic disease:
Red and Processed Meats Increase Risk of Bladder Cancer
Red Meat in Childhood Increases Risk for Breast Cancer
Breast Cancer Linked to Eating Red Meat
Iron in Meat Linked to Heart Disease
Even Modest Amounts of Meat Increase Risk for Diabetes
Meat-Eating is a Risk Factor for Developing Diabetes
Red and Processed Meat Endangers Health
Many Ways Meat Causes Colon Cancer
Red and Processed Meat Products Linked to Mortality
Cutting Out Meat Boosts Heart Attack Victims’ Chance of Survival
Red and Processed Meat Linked to Death for Colorectal Cancer Patients
Researchers Discover New Way Meat Causes Heart Disease
More Evidence That Red and Processed Meats Are Deadly