Book Review: Dr. M’s Seven-X Plan for Digestive Health, Anil Minocha (2014)

Wednesday, March 19th, 2014

An IBS Sufferer’s Perspective

four out of five stars

(Full disclosure: I received a free electronic copy of this book for review through Library Thing’s Member Giveaway program.)

As a longtime sufferer of IBS (or at least I think so; diagnosis is mostly by process of elimination), I eagerly snatched up a copy of Anil Minocha’s Dr. M’s Seven-X Plan for Digestive Health when it was offered for review through Library Thing. Initially, I expected to jump straight to the chapter on IBS and skim through a few of the other sections at best. Instead, I found myself reading it nearly cover to cover (minus the chapters on problems and diseases not specific to me, of course).

The book – which weighs in at an impressive 506 pages (estimated) and 56 chapters – begins with a lengthy discussion of the digestive system, as well as various factors that affect its performance: diet, stress, bacterial imbalance, inflammation, porousness (i.e., “leaky” gut), etc., before even getting to various problems and disorders: belching, bloating and indigestion, morning sickness and nausea, intestinal gas, hemorrhoids and anal fissures, gastroparesis, ulcers, IBS, constipation, ulcerative colitis, and Chrohn’s disease. The result is a rather comprehensive introduction to the gut, and the many troubles that can plague it.

(More below the fold…)

Flax seeds: Go on, hug your colon!

Sunday, November 21st, 2010

tablespoon of flax seeds - _MG_8879

tablespoon of flax seeds” – CC-licensed image via Flickr user sean dreilinger.
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I’ve been using flax seed oil in dog food recipes – peanut butter balls, mostly – for several years now. The stink of the stuff has never appealed to; it’s always made me gag, in fact.

Which is why, when I read that flax seeds are helpful for those who suffer from IBS, I cringed a little. As some of you may know, I’ve been struggling with (what I suspect is) IBS for about five years. Mostly it’s under control, but when I eat the wrong foods or stray from my routine, I’m basically thumbing my nose at the digestive gods.

So it was with more than a little trepidation that I decided to add a few tablespoons of flax seeds to my nightly routine. Or try, anyhow; based on my aversion to the oil, I remained doubtful that I’d be able to choke the actual seeds down. I started with the ground stuff, purchased relatively inexpensively at a certain evil box store, and…they were okay. No, not just okay; good. Kind of yummy, actually! Cue: pleasant surprise.

They made a noticeable difference with my IBS symptoms, too: no more bloating! (Well, assuming I stay away from problem foods; I’m not brave/foolhardy enough to test flax seeds’ efficacy under such risky conditions.) And girl, does that shit keep you regular! Way more effective in that arena than anything I’ve tried, fiber supplements included.

When visiting my parents, I switched to whole, roasted flax seeds because – luck of luck – they just happened to have a bag on hand. (Two, actually; I brought the other home with me in my second suitcase – i.e., the one I use to collect and carry “my haul.”) Super, super yummy.

And great in recipes, too!:

  • Blueberry Flax Seed Muffins @ (Vegan) What’s for Dinner?
  • Blueberry, carrot, and flaxseed muffins @ veggieburgh
  • High Fiber, Lower Carb Maple Morning Muffins @ Goodbaker.com
  • Hermit Cookies with Flax Seed @ Fatfree Vegan Recipes
  • Vegan Oatmeal-Flax-Spelt Cookies and Vegan Blueberry-Flax Granola @ No Meat Athelete
  • Ruth’s Flax Seed Balls @ Food.com
  • Raw Flax Seed Crackers @ About.com
  • Olive Oil Flax Seed Vegan Challah Bread @ Cookies and Candids

    Of course, either kind is helpful to have on hand, as ground flax seeds mixed with soy milk is commonly used as an egg substitute in baking!

    (More below the fold…)

  • I Want (Ginger) Candy

    Tuesday, November 9th, 2010

    Candied Ginger

    Candied Ginger, shared under a CC license by Flickr user dani920.
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    Back when I was a decidedly non-vegan little toehead, I possessed a stomach of steel. (I guess I had to, seeing as I downed a package of lunch meat a day. Yuck.) No shoddily constructed carnival amusement ride could best me. Back and forth through the turnstile, I’d ride the Sea Dragon and Jack Rabbit for hours on end, with little impact on my appetite.

    I don’t know how or when it happened, but somewhere in young adulthood, my inner fortitude left me; my stomach bottomed out. Now, a car ride’s enough to make me sick. Scratch that; I’m a-ok in a car, just as long as I’m 1) driving or 2) sleeping. Which a) doesn’t leave me with many options and b) kind of blows, since I’m a multi-tasker and would rather be reading or doing paperwork while riding shotgun on trips of any length.

    Anyhow, my younger sister – who also suffers the same, sad problem – tipped me off to ginger pills. These generally work well for preventing car sickness, but in those all-too common instances when I forget to take ’em, they’re rather slow to help ease nausea, if not altogether ineffective.

    Enter: ginger candy! (Or candied or crystallized ginger, if you prefer.) During my recent trip to New York, I was having a particularly rough day – I think my body was still acclimating to the change in routine and diet; yes, I am an oversensitive little baby, what of it? – my father dug out a bag of ginger candy for me to try. He works for a local grocery chain – maybe you’ve heard of it? – as the buyer for its natural foods section, so he has tons of natural/organic/vegan/vegetarian products laying around. Which means that I always return home bearing quite the haul, but I digress. The ginger, while a little spicy for my tastes, did the trick: after a few fistfuls and an hour-long nap, my stomach was settled down enough that I was able to eat and (oh joy!) even help the family put up some siding on the barn.

    Since his pantry overfloweth, dad sent me home with a few bags of candied ginger as well as some soft chews, and I’ve been experimenting with its medicinal uses since. In my experience, whole ginger is fairly effective at both preventing and relieving nausea related to motion sickness (more so than ginger pills). Working at home as I do, occasionally I’ll be busy enough that I’ll “forget” to eat a meal (or even two). When this happens, I might get faint or lightheaded, and nauseous as well. Ginger candy to the rescue! While the ginger combats the sick feeling in my stomach, the sugar provides a little burst of energy, just enough to hold me over until I can make a more substantial meal.

    (More below the fold…)

    VeganMoFo, Day 22: The New Four Food Groups (A Tutorial)

    Thursday, October 22nd, 2009

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    So the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine – PCRM for short – has introduced their own version of the USDA’s Food Guide Pyramid, called The New Four Food Groups. (Actually, they created the guide way back in 1991 – when vegetarianism was just a niggling feeling worming its way up through the depths of my conflicted brain – but that’s neither here nor there. I just happened to discover the guide today, and that’s what counts. Particularly since I’m running low both on time and VeganMoFo post ideas!)

    Naturally, PCRM’s reconstruction of the USDA’s food pyramid eliminates all animal-based products, instead focusing on fruits, vegetables, whole grains and legumes:

    Many of us grew up with the USDA’s old Basic Four food groups, first introduced in 1956. The passage of time has seen an increase in our knowledge about the importance of fiber, the health risks of cholesterol and fats, and the disease-preventive power of many nutrients found exclusively in plant-based foods. We also have discovered that the plant kingdom provides excellent sources of the nutrients once only associated with meat and dairy products—namely, protein and calcium.

    The USDA revised its recommendations with the Food Guide Pyramid, a plan that reduced the prominence of animal products and vegetable fats. But because regular consumption of such foods—even in lower quantities—poses serious health risks, PCRM developed the New Four Food Groups in 1991. This no-cholesterol, low-fat plan supplies all of an average adult’s daily nutritional requirements, including substantial amounts of fiber.

    Specifically, PCRM recommends that you eat the following, along with “a good source of vitamin B12, such as fortified cereals or vitamin supplements”:

    Fruit: 3 or more servings a day

    Fruits are rich in fiber, vitamin C, and beta-carotene. Be sure to include at least one serving each day of fruits that are high in vitamin C—citrus fruits, melons, and strawberries are all good choices. Choose whole fruit over fruit juices, which do not contain very much fiber.

    Serving size: 1 medium piece of fruit • 1/2 cup cooked fruit • 4 ounces juice

    Vegetables: 4 or more servings a day

    Vegetables are packed with nutrients; they provide vitamin C, beta-carotene, riboflavin, iron, calcium, fiber, and other nutrients. Dark green leafy vegetables such as broccoli, collards, kale, mustard and turnip greens, chicory, or cabbage are especially good sources of these important nutrients. Dark yellow and orange vegetables such as carrots, winter squash, sweet potatoes, and pumpkin provide extra beta-carotene. Include generous portions of a variety of vegetables in your diet.

    Serving size: 1 cup raw vegetables • 1/2 cup cooked vegetables

    Legumes: 2 or more servings a day

    Legumes, which is another name for beans, peas, and lentils, are all good sources of fiber, protein, iron, calcium, zinc, and B vitamins. This group also includes chickpeas, baked and refried beans, soymilk, tempeh, and texturized vegetable protein.

    Serving size: cup cooked beans • 4 ounces tofu or tempeh • 8 ounces soymilk

    Whole Grains: 5 or more servings a day

    This group includes bread, rice, tortillas, pasta, hot or cold cereal, corn, millet, barley, and bulgur wheat. Build each of your meals around a hearty grain dish—grains are rich in fiber and other complex carbohydrates, as well as protein, B vitamins, and zinc.

    Serving size: 1/2 cup rice or other grain • 1 ounce dry cereal • 1 slice bread

    Apropos last week’s discussion of how one can obtain adequate amounts of protein on a low-budget, cruelty-free diet, note that the only “faux” “meat” or dairy item PCRM mentions by name is soy milk: no Fakin’ Bacon, no Daiya cheese, no Purely Decadent ice cream. Instead, many of the foods touted by PCRM are relatively inexpensive: pasta, cereal, millet, chickpeas, beans, broccoli and melon. You can even grow items from two of the four groups in your own backyard and eat them raw! While not exactly free, it’s hard to get any less expensive than homegrown.

    PCRM also produces a weekly webcast devoted to the dietary and health aspects of veganism. The most recent three episodes examine “The New Four Food Groups” in greater detail; so far, fruit, vegetables and grains have received their due, with an episode devoted to legumes forthcoming. I’ve embedded each after the jump.

    Now go forth and veganize, my frugal grasshoppers!

    (More below the fold…)

    VeganMoFo, Day 14: Frugal vegans think outside the box (plate?).

    Wednesday, October 14th, 2009

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    When people criticize the “prohibitive cost” of a vegan (or even vegetarian) diet, what they’re really saying is that specialty vegan foods are expensive. And you know what? They’re right. Meat analogs, soy yogurt made from non-GMO soybeans, gluten-free gourmet vegan ice cream and “melts like cheese!” non-dairy cheeses, when purchased on a regular basis, can really drive up your grocery bill. (There’s a reason vegans not-so/jokingly refer to Whole Foods as “Whole Paycheck”!) The good news is that one can adopt a nutritious, healthy and cruelty-free diet without consuming any of these things (although they’re all perfectly yummy and affordable when eaten in moderation!).

    The “typical” American diet is heavy on protein (mostly in the form of animal flesh), sugar, saturated fat and processed grains and contains woefully little fruits and vegetables, legumes, whole grains and nuts. The average adult requires between 40 and 70 grams of protein per day, with needs varying according to age, gender and lifestyle. Women 14 years and older generally need about 46 grams, while men of the same age require slightly more – 52-56 grams. During pregnancy, a woman’s nutritional requirements change (obviously!); a woman eating for two should consume about 71 grams of protein per day. Estimates vary, but there’s a general consensus that Americans eat far too much protein (between 50 and 200% more than is necessary or healthy), while protein deficiency is a rarity.

    When transitioning from an omnivorous to a vegan diet, it can be tempting to simply replace animal-based products with vegan substitutes: in place of bacon, Smart Bacon; instead of Yoplait, Whole Soy; in lieu of Kraft Singles, Tofutti slices – and so on and so forth. But, while you may be treating non-human animals compassionately by recreating a vegan version of an unhealthy diet, you are not being kind to your own body. Or – more pertinent to this discussion – your pocketbook.

    Instead of reenacting the “traditional”* American meal of two overly-processed side dishes flanking an oversized centerpiece of “meat,” why not rethink how and what you eat? One of the unexpected benefits of veganism is the new-found culinary creativity, borne of necessity. When one is forced – or rather, compelled – to give up so many “staples” once taken for granted, you’ve got to learn new ways of doing things. And the dysfunctional composition of the American “fast food” diet should be the first (well, second) thing to go.

    Many newbie vegans are concerned about protein intake. In fact, this is due in no small part to cultural indoctrination; “where do you get your protein?” is perhaps the most common question asked of vegans. While many faux meats and dairy substitutes do contain a large amount of protein, so too do raw, unprocessed and relatively inexpensive foods (what I call “naturally vegan”).

    (More below the fold…)

    DawnWatch: Responses to "Death by Veganism" — 5/21-5/23/07

    Thursday, May 24th, 2007

    If you’re interested in reading more veg*n responses to the insipid “Death by Veganism” missive, do check out…

    May 23, 2007 Vegan Outreach e-Newsletter:: An Irresponsible Attack

    The Veg Blog» Blog Archive » Standing on a Shaky Planck

    isachandra: Meat Eating Parents Starve Baby!

    FYI, you can always keep up to date with my reading list via delicious: http://del.icio.us/easyvegan. You know, just in case I don’t already pass along enough reading material.

    ———- Forwarded message ———-
    From: DawnWatch – news [at] dawnwatch.com
    Date: May 24, 2007 3:39 PM
    Subject: DawnWatch: Responses to “Death by Veganism” — 5/21-5/23/07

    Most of us have heard about the sad case of Crown Shakur, a baby born three months premature, whose parents starved him to death on a diet of only soy milk and apple juice. Unfortunately, we have also heard that his parents are vegan, as that has been announced in every headline about the case. If the boy had starved on cows’ milk and apple juice (as a premature baby might, if not given human breast milk or formula) I doubt the headlines would have announced “Omnivores convicted of Manslaughter.”

    The worst headline, garnering the most attention and thereby heading up the most emailed story of the day, was the “Death by Veganism.” That phrase headlined food author Nina Planck’s rant on the Monday, May 21, New York Times editorial page. The page editors, not the author, are responsible for op-ed headlines, and Planck’s article, while including some misleading statements against the vegan diet, did not quite match the headline. The article wasn’t 100% bad (only 95%) — it did include some important points about B12 and Omega 3s. But contrary to Planck’s claims, some of the world’s most renowned doctors (including the late Dr Benjamin Spock in the last edition of his book before his death) recommend vegan diets for children as far superior to standard diets.

    I did not rush to send Planck’s article out on DawnWatch as I knew it was being responded to widely and competently from within the vegetarian community. Today, along with the article, I can share six letters that appeared yesterday in response to it, four of them commenting positively on vegan diets. Below them I will share a particularly strong column from a non-vegan food writer who was appalled by Planck’s piece.

    First, a brief overview and link to Monday’s “Death by Veganism” New York Times op-ed:

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    DawnWatch: New York Times Magazine cover story on nutrition 1/28/07

    Sunday, January 28th, 2007

    ———- Forwarded message ———-
    From: DawnWatch – news [at] dawnwatch.com
    Date: Jan 28, 2007 5:21 PM
    Subject: DawnWatch: New York Times Magazine cover story on nutrition 1/28/07

    The cover story of this week’s (January 28) Sunday New York Times Magazine is “The Age of Nutritionism: How Scientists Have Ruined the Way We Eat.” It is by Michael Pollan, the well-known author of “The Omnivore’s Dilemma” and of various other New York Magazine stories on food. Inside, page 39, the article is headed, “Unhappy Meals: Thirty years of nutritional science has made Americans sicker, fatter and less well nourished. A plea for a return to plain old food.”

    Pollan opens with:

    “Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.

    “That, more or less, is the short answer to the supposedly incredibly complicated and confusing question of what we humans should eat in order to be maximally healthy.”

    Pollan discusses the science of “nutritionism,” writing, “it really wasn’t until late in the 20th century that nutrients managed to push food aside in the popular imagination of what it means to eat.”

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    PCRM Event: Food for Life Diabetes Online Classes

    Saturday, December 2nd, 2006

    ———- Forwarded message ———-
    From: PCRM Nutrition and Research Assistant Tara Nicotra – info [at] pcrm.org
    Date: Dec 1, 2006 2:20 PM
    Subject: PCRM Event: Food for Life Diabetes Online Classes

    You are invited to participate in the Food for Life Diabetes online series. This exciting new series offers education on diet and diabetes, along with group support. The classes feature lectures by PCRM president Dr. Neal Barnard and cooking demonstrations by PCRM nutritionist Dulcie Ward, R.D.

    The next class is Dec. 6 at 3 p.m. EST. Two more classes follow on Dec. 13 and Dec. 20. Each session will last about 1 hour. You will need a high-speed Internet connection to participate. Additional computer requirements can be found here.

    Click here to register for the remaining classes in the Food for Life Diabetes online series. Registration for the Dec. 6 class ends on Tuesday, Dec. 5.

    Please forward this e-mail to friends, family members, listservs, or associations who might be interested. If you forward this e-mail to 10 or more people or groups, you will be eligible for a free copy of Dr. Barnard’s new book on diet and diabetes.

    We look forward to having you join us!

    Best Regards,

    Tara Nicotra
    PCRM Nutrition and Research Assistant

    Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine
    5100 Wisconsin Ave., N.W., Ste. 400
    Washington, DC 20016 Phone: 202-686-2210
    E-mail: info [at] pcrm.org

    ——————

    Tagged:

    DawnWatch LA: Vegan diet control of diabetes in LA Times — 7/31/06

    Tuesday, August 1st, 2006

    ———- Forwarded message ———-
    From: DawnWatch – news [at] dawnwatch.com
    Date: Jul 31, 2006 4:38 PM
    Subject: DawnWatch LA: Vegan diet control of diabetes in LA Times 7/31/06

    Angelenos:

    Sally Squire’s article on vegan diets controlling diabetes (from last week’s Washington Post) is in the Monday, July 31, Los Angeles Times (see below). It offers a great opportunity for those who enjoy a plant-based diet to sing its praises. The Los Angeles Times takes letters at letters [at] latimes.com

    (More below the fold…)

    DawnWatch: Washington Post on vegan diets and diabetes — 7/25/06

    Tuesday, July 25th, 2006

    (Crossposted on Hell Food.)

    ———- Forwarded message ———-
    From: DawnWatch – news [at] dawnwatch.com
    Date: Jul 25, 2006 4:33 PM
    Subject: DawnWatch: Washington Post on vegan diets and diabetes 7/25/06

    The Tuesday, July 25, Washington Post, has an interesting article on the cover of the Health section (Pg F01) by Sally Squires, headed, “‘Good’ Carbs To the Rescue.”

    It opens:

    “People with Type 2 diabetes are advised to limit carbohydrates because of worries that too many carbs could overtax the body’s dwindling insulin production and lessen its ability to process glucose.

    “Now some scientists are asking if a very-low-fat diet rich in healthy carbohydrates — whole grains, beans, fruit and vegetables — might be another option.

    “The idea borrows a lesson from the heart disease field, which has shown that very strict vegetarian diets quite low in fat and very high in carbohydrates can help reverse arterial blockages.”

    (More below the fold…)