Kidney Toxins Created by Meat Consumption – By Dr. Greger

As I discuss in my video How to Treat Heart Failure and Kidney Failure with Diet, one way a diet rich in animal-sourced foods like meat, eggs, and cheese may contributeto heart disease, stroke, and death is through the production of an atherosclerosis-inducing substance called TMAO. With the help of certain gut bacteria, the choline and carnitine found concentrated in animal products can get converted into TMAO. But, wait a second. I thought atherosclerosis, or hardening of the arteries, was about the buildup of cholesterol. Is that not the case?

“Cholesterol is still king,” but TMAO appears to accelerate the process. It seems that TMAO appears to increase the ability of inflammatory cells within the atherosclerotic plaque in the artery walls to bind to bad LDL cholesterol, “which makes the cells more prone to gobble up cholesterol.” So TMAO is just “another piece to the puzzle of how cholesterol causes heart disease.”

What’s more, TMAO doesn’t just appear to worsen atherosclerosis, contributing to strokes and heart attacks. It also contributes to heart and kidney failure. If you look at diabetics after a heart attack, a really high-risk group, nearly all who started out with the most TMAO in their bloodstream went on to develop heart failure within 2,000 days, or about five years. In comparison, only about 20 percent of those starting out with medium TMAO levels in the blood went into heart failure and none at all in the low TMAO group, as you can see at 1:21 in my video.

So, those with heart failure have higher levels of TMAO than controls, and those with worse heart failure have higher levels than those with lesser stage heart disease. If you follow people with heart failure over time, within six years, half of those who started out with the highest TMAO levels were dead. This finding has since been replicated in two other independent populations of heart failure patients.

The question is, why? It’s probably unlikely to just be additional atherosclerosis, since that takes years. For most who die of heart failure, their heart muscle just conks out or there’s a fatal heart rhythm. Maybe TMAO has toxic effects beyond just the accelerated buildup of cholesterol.

What about kidney failure? People with chronic kidney disease are at a particularly “increased risk for the development of cardiovascular disease,” thought to be because of a diverse array of uremic toxins. These are toxins that would normally be filtered out by the kidneys into the urine but may build up in the bloodstream as kidney function declines. When we think of uremic toxins, we usually think of the toxic byproducts of protein putrefying in our gut, which is why specially formulated plant-based diets have been used for decades to treat chronic kidney failure. Indeed, those who eat vegetarian diets form less than half of these uremic toxins.

Those aren’t the only uremic toxins, though. TMAO, which, as we’ve discussed, comes from the breakdown of choline and carnitine found mostly in meat and eggs, may be increasing heart disease risk in kidney patients as well. How? “The cardiovascular implication of TMAO seems to be due to the downregulation of reverse cholesterol transport,” meaning it subverts our own body’s attempts at pulling cholesterol out of our arteries.

And, indeed, the worse our kidney function gets, the higher our TMAO levels rise, and those elevated levels correlate with the amount of plaque clogging up their arteries in their heart. But once the kidney is working again with a transplant, your TMAO levels can drop right back down. So, TMAO was thought to be a kind of biomarker for declining kidney function—until a paper was published from the Framingham Heart Study, which found that “elevated choline and TMAO levels among individuals with normal renal [kidney] function predicted increased risk for incident development of CKD,” chronic kidney disease. This suggests that TMAO is both a biomarker and itself a kidney toxin.

Indeed, when you follow kidney patients over time and assess their freedom from death, those with higher TMAO, even controlling for kidney function, livedsignificantly shorter lives, as you can see at 4:44 in my video. This indicates this is a diet-induced mechanism for progressive kidney scarring and dysfunction, “strongly implying the need to focus preventive efforts on dietary modulation,” but what might that look like? Well, maybe we should reduce “dietary sources of TMAO generation, such as some species of deep-sea fish, eggs, and meat.”

It also depends on what kind of gut bacteria you have. You can feed a vegan a steak, and they still don’t really make any TMAO because they haven’t been fostering the carnitine-eating bacteria. Researchers are hoping, though, that one day, they’ll find a way to replicate “the effects of the vegetarian diet…by selective prebiotic, probiotic, or pharmacologic therapies.”


For more on this revolutionary TMAO story, see:

For more on kidney failure, see Preventing Kidney Failure Through Diet and Treating Kidney Failure Through Diet.

In health,

Michael Greger, M.D.

Children Produce Weaker Coronavirus Antibodies, Study Finds

Children seem to clear the infection must faster than adults and may be infectious for a shorter period of time.Credit…Kendrick Brinson for The New York Times

The research suggests that children clear the infection much faster than adults and may help explain why many don’t become seriously ill.

Children infected with the coronavirus produce weaker antibodies and fewer types of them than adults do, suggesting they clear their infection much faster, according to a new study published Thursday.

Other studies have suggested that an overly strong immune response may be to blame in people who get severely ill or die from Covid-19. A weaker immune response in children may paradoxically indicate that they vanquish the virus before it has had a chance to wreak havoc in the body, and may help explain why children are mostly spared severe symptoms of Covid, the disease caused by the coronavirus. It may also show why they are less likely to spread the virus to others.

“They may be infectious for a shorter time,” said Donna Farber, an immunologist at Columbia University in New York who led the study reported in the journal Nature Immunology.

Having weaker and fewer antibodies does not mean that children would be more at risk of re-infections, other experts said.

“You don’t really need a huge, overly robust immune response to maintain protections over some period of time,” said Deepta Bhattacharya, an immunologist at the University of Arizona in Tucson. “I don’t know that I would be especially worried that kids have a little bit lower antibody response.”

The study looked at children’s antibody levels at a single point in time, and was too small to provide insights into how the levels may vary with age. But it could pose questions for certain antibody tests that may be missing children who have been infected.

Dr. Farber and her colleagues analyzed antibodies to the coronavirus in four groups of patients: 19 adult convalescent plasma donors who had recovered from Covid without being hospitalized; 13 adults hospitalized with acute respiratory distress syndrome resulting from severe Covid; 16 children hospitalized with multi-system inflammatory syndrome, the rare condition affecting some infected children; and 31 infected children who did not have the syndrome. About half of this last group of children had no symptoms at all.

Individuals in each group had antibodies, consistent with other studies showing that the vast majority of people infected with the coronavirus mount a robust immune response.

“This further emphasizes that this viral infection in itself, and the immune response to this virus, is not that different from what we would expect” from any virus, said Petter Brodin, an immunologist at Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm.

But the range of antibodies differed between children and adults. The children made primarily one type of antibody, called IgG, that recognizes the spike protein on the surface of the virus. Adults, by contrast, made several types of antibodies to the spike and other viral proteins, and these antibodies were more powerful at neutralizing the virus.

Children had “less of a protective response, but they also had less of a breadth of an antibody response,” Dr. Farber said. “It’s because those kids are just not getting infected as severely.”

The study has implications for many antibody tests, which are designed to detect antibodies that are largely absent in children.Credit…David J. Phillip/Associated Press

Neither group of children had antibodies to a viral protein called the nucleocapsid, or N, that is entangled with the genetic material of the virus. Because this protein is found within the virus and not on its surface, the immune system would only see it and make antibodies to it if the virus were widely disseminated in the body, she said.

“You don’t really see any of that in the children, and that suggests that there’s really a reduced infection course if these kids are getting infected,” she explained.

The finding could undermine the results from tests designed to pick up antibodies to the N protein of the virus. Many antibody tests, including those made by Abbott and Roche and offered by Quest Diagnostics and LabCorp, are specific to the N antibodies and so may miss children who have successfully cleared the virus. “That’s absolutely an interesting implication of that finding,” Dr. Brodin said.

Lower levels of virus in the body would also explain why children seem generally to transmit the virus less efficiently than adults do. But experts urged some caution in interpreting the results because they represent samples taken from people at a single point in time. Samples from the more severely affected children and adults were collected within 24 to 36 hours of being admitted or intubated for respiratory failure; those from children with mild or no symptoms were banked after medical procedures.

The type of antibodies produced by the body varies over the time course of an infection. This was a limitation of this study because the researchers may have been comparing people at different points in their infection, Dr. Brodin said. “You risk comparing apples and oranges.”

Other experts cautioned that the study was too small to draw conclusions about how the immune response may vary in children of different ages. The children in the study ranged in age from 3 to 18 years, with a median age of 11. But some studies have suggested that teenagers may be just as much at risk from the coronavirus as adults.

“It’s very important to understand what happens in children,” to understand the nature of their illness, but also how they contribute to spread of the virus in the community, said Dr. Maria L. Gennaro, an immunologist at Rutgers University. But “to try and stratify by age, it’s a little bit of a stretch in the analysis,” she said.

The researchers were also not able to explain why children have a more limited antibody response. Having fewer types of antibodies may seem like a bad thing, but “having a ton of antibody isn’t necessarily a marker of a good thing,” said Dr. Bhattacharya. “It usually means that something went wrong early in the response.”

At least one other study has suggested that children have a powerful inborn immune system, intended to combat the many new pathogens they encounter, and that this first line of defense may clear the infection early without needing to rely on later antibodies.

Another possibility is that the children have some protection — in the form of immune cells called memory T cells — from previous encounters with common cold coronaviruses.

“Is it all innate? Or could there actually be some pre-existing memory?” Dr. Bhattacharya said. “I think those are both possible.”

Resources:

Aproova Manadvilli

New York Times

The Many Lives of Lentils

From left, a brightly spiced lentil loaf, a smoky lentil stew and a pasta with lentils and fennel. Credit…Andrew Scrivani for The New York Times

At my house, dinner is not a three-course meal every night. More likely, it’s a main course and a green salad. Sometimes, it is a one-pot main course, though not always. (I find that even when cooking a simple meal, at least two pots and pans are often involved.) And, quite frequently, dinner is meatless.

While I consider myself a carnivore, my first love will always be vegetables. I’m quite happy to have a vegetarian meal several times a week.

In addition to fresh vegetables, whole grains and dried legumes are usually part of the picture. I’m a big fan of every type of bean, whether cannellini or garbanzo, with a cupboard full of them to choose from. Lately, it is lentils that most strike my fancy. Aside from being delicious, they have the advantage of being quick-cooking. It usually takes no more than 30 minutes to simmer a pot, so they are perfect for a relatively fast meal.

For most uses, any kind will work, but even among lentils, there are lots of types to choose from. If the meal is leaning in a Spanish direction, I might go with Pardina lentils, a small brown variety good for stews, soups or salads. For an Italianate dish, I like Castelluccio lentils from Umbria. When I want to veer toward Turkish flavors, I choose split red lentils. What follows are three lentil dinners I highly recommend. They are all vegetarian, and all have the advantage of tasting good, perhaps better, when prepared in advance. Lastly, each of these dishes can benefit from a drizzle of fruity extra-virgin olive oil as a final flourish, to make them that much more luscious.

Credit…Andrew Scrivani for The New York Times

Smoky Lentil Stew With Leeks and Potatoes

This rustic stew improves after a day in the fridge. At the very least, try to cook it an hour or two ahead of the meal, so the elements have time to meld. (You can also make it to eat over several days, or to freeze for later.) Any size green or brown lentil will work here, if you can’t get the small Spanish Pardina lentils (or French lentilles du Puy). But the smoky pimentón is vital: Along with extra-virgin olive oil, it provides real depth of flavor.

Credit…Andrew Scrivani for The New York Times

Spaghetti With Lentils, Tomato and Fennel

There are many versions of pasta with lentils, a multitude of which are thick and stewlike, more lentil than pasta. This one emphasizes the pasta. The saucy lentil topping is similar to a traditional Bolognese ragù. The addition of fennel — seeds, bulb and chopped green fronds — gives it a surprising brightness and zest. For even more flavor, put your saved-up Parmesan rinds to use in the sauce. (Meat eaters: Add a little chopped anchovy or Italian fennel sausage.)

Credit…Andrew Scrivani for The New York Times

Red Lentil Loaf

You may have encountered the kind of vegetarian lentil loaf that masquerades as something else. With its brownish-grey color and a red ketchup glaze, it tries to emulate the homespun comfort of meatloaf. Most recipes call for Worcestershire and barbecue sauce to make it taste beefy. This delicate red lentil loaf is worlds away from that. It’s all about the undisguised flavor of the lentil: sweet and vegetal. The seasoning is a little bit Turkish, with lemon, cumin, cilantro, dill and yogurt. It is delicious served at room temperature or warm. The loaf is easier to cut if cooled, with slices heated through in the oven. Even better is to griddle the slices with a little oil in a nonstick or cast-iron pan until crisp and golden on both sides.

Resource: By David Tanis

Coffee Enema: 8 Things You Need to Know

Perhaps the most infamous component of the Gerson Therapy is the coffee enema, which has gained popularity in recent years as a means of cleansing and detoxifying. On the Gerson Therapy, coffee enemas are a vital and necessary component, but those who are generally healthy or are dealing with a non-life-threatening condition are now jumping on the detox bandwagon.

In the age of instant and infinite information, it can be easy for vital details about this procedure to get lost in the mix.

This information is for those without cancer or serious illnesses. Additional contraindications may exist for those with a serious health condition.

Always check with your primary care physician or licensed medical professional before attempting a coffee enema. If you have a chronic disease or cancer and are considering the Gerson Therapy, please work with our Gerson Practitioner Network to receive a personalized protocol and ongoing case management. Visit our Get Started page to apply.

8 Things You Need to Know Before Trying a Coffee Enema

1. The purpose of coffee enemas is to stimulate the liver to increase its detoxification of the blood and decrease the toxic load on the liver. This includes removing a variety of toxins and free radicals from the bloodstream. They assist the liver so as not to overburden an already sluggish and toxic liver with the flood of toxins dislodged from the clean, nutrient-dense food and juice of the Gerson Therapy. They are a required component of the Gerson Therapy’s treatment system.

2. They are not for everyone. Coffee enemas are not recommended unless under strict supervision of an experienced Gerson Practitioner if any of the following exist:

a. Currently undergoing chemotherapy
b. Renal, cardiac or respiratory failure
c. Bleeding and/or ulceration in the colon tract
d. Ulcerative Colitis
e. Crohn’s disease
f. Ileostomy (no colon)
g. Hypertension and/or tachycardia
h. Pregnant (consult with your primary physician or Gerson Practitioner)
i. Acute or ongoing chronic diarrhea until investigated by a physician
j. First 6-8 weeks post-surgery (always check with your primary physician or Gerson Practitioner)

3. The coffee solution is not held in the liver. In fact, it’s held in the colon. The vessels in the lower part of the descending colon and rectum carry the solution to the liver. The potent compounds in coffee are absorbed by the hemorrhoidal and mesenteric veins that route to the liver.

4. The coffee enema itself does not produce bile. The coffee does cause some stimulation of the liver to produce bile, but it’s the potent compounds including caffeine, theobromine and theophylline that dilate blood vessels, bile ducts and relax smooth muscles, increasing the flow of bile.

5. Electrolytes are lost during evacuation, and therefore coffee enemas should always be balanced by juice. The typical ratio is 3:1 (three, 8 oz. juices for each coffee enema). Those not on a Gerson Therapy protocol should drink plenty of water.

6. The body does not become dependent on coffee enemas to have a bowel movement. Upon completion of the Gerson Therapy, patients have no issues generating bowel movements without coffee enemas.

7. A variety of coffee is appropriate for use, ranging from gold, green and white, to light and medium roasts. Dark roasts are not appropriate because the potent compounds have been roasted out. Gold, green or white beans are very potent, with light to medium roasts typically well-tolerated by most. If you are new to coffee enemas, green, gold or white beans may not be best to start with. Instead, start with a medium or light roast. Coffee must be organic and we recommend fair-trade, sustainable coffee.

8. Dr. Gerson did not invent coffee enemas. Coffee enemas have appeared in medical writings dating back to ancient Egypt and have been cited in case reports and articles from the late 1800s¹.

REMINDER: Always check with your primary care physician or licensed medial professional before attempting a coffee enema. If you have a chronic disease or cancer and are considering the Gerson Therapy, please work with our Gerson Practitioner Network to receive a personalized protocol and ongoing case management. Visit our Get Started page to apply.


¹Coffee enemas have long been in use. In a case report in the Pacific Medical and Surgical Journal in December  1866, M.A. Cachot, MD, described successful use of a coffee enema to treat a child dying from an accidental poisoning. (Cachot, 1866) Articles from the late 1800s reported that coffee enemas were helpful in post-operative care. (Allison, 1896; “The Medicinal Employment of Coffee,” 1897) At a medical meeting in 1896, Dr. W.J. Mayo, one of the founders of the Mayo Clinic, mentioned coffee enemas as a routine part of care for patients after abdominal surgery. (“Mississippi Valley Medical Association Society Proceedings,” 1896) In an extensive 1941 article in the Uruguayan Medical, Surgical and Specialization Archives, Dr. Carlos Stajano described immediate improvement in near-terminal patients after coffee enemas, including a patient with cocaine intoxication and a patient with post-operative shock. (Stajano, 1941) His extensive experience with coffee enemas in post-operative management made him plead for their continued use (https://www.drlindai.com/detox.html).

Originally Posted by  on Wednesday, January 29, 2020

Cervical Health Awareness

The most common advice on reducing the risk of cervical cancer is centered around a healthy lifestyle, with three major components:

1. Screening

Regular screenings can catch pre-cancerous changes early on, which can be “treated before they have a chance to turn into cancer”. The American Cancer Society reports that cervical cancer is  “most frequently diagnosed in women between the ages of 35 and 44”, recommending that women in that age range have both PAP and HPV tests every five years. Women ages 21 to 29 should have a PAP test every three years and tested for HPV only after an abnormal PAP test result. Both tests can be done in a doctor’s office or clinic. 

  • The Pap test (or Pap smear) looks for precancers, cell changes on the cervix that might become cervical cancer if they are not treated appropriately.
  • The HPV test looks for the virus (human papillomavirus) that can cause these cell changes.
2. Healthy Diet

Eating a diet rich in fruits and vegetables helps to reduce the risk of cervical and other cancers. Opt for fruits and vegetables abundant in the following vitamins and nutrients:

Beta-carotene is an “anti-oxidant that becomes vitamin A in the body” and is what gives orange and yellow veggies their vibrant color. Go for winter squash, carrots and sweet potatoes.

Lycopene belongs to the same carotenoid family as beta-carotene, so again fruits and veggies with lively pink, orange and yellow hues like watermelon, pink grapefruit and fresh tomatoes.

Folate is a B vitamin that promotes reproductive health and is plentiful in lentils, oranges and romaine lettuce.

Flavonoids “have been shown to exhibit anti-inflammatory, antithrombogenic, antidiabetic, anticancer and neuroprotective activities. Foods such as apples, asparagus, Brussel sprouts, cabbage, onions and garlic are abundant in flavonoids.

3. Exercise

Physical activity promotes a better quality of life by keeping the body moving, thus strengthening muscles, joints and bones; increasing oxygen and blood flow; and improving mental health. In terms of cancer prevention, the recommended general physical activity guidelines are at least 150 minutes of moderate exercise or 75 minutes of vigorous exercise a week.

References
  1. American Cancer Society: https://www.cancer.org/cancer/cervical-cancer/about/key-statistics.
  2. Everyday Health: https://www.everydayhealth.com/cervical-cancer/prevention.aspx
  3. Oregon State University, Linus Pauling Institute: Here’s Why Exercise Is Crucial in Preventing, Treating Cancer
  4. The Gerson Institute https://gerson.org/gerpress/

Biggest Milk Producer In The US Files For Bankruptcy – Vegan News, Plant Based Living, Food, Health & more

Dean Foods has seen its profits tumble in recent years as consumers have started drinking less milk

The largest milk producer in the US is filing for bankruptcy. Dean Foods has seen its profits nosedive in recent years – with its CEO saying Americans are drinking less milk. The Dallas-based producer, which is 94-years-old, saw sales fall by seven percent in the first half of 2019, with profits plummeting by 14 percent. Its stock has lost 80 percent in that time.

Competition

Reports have cited the skyrocketing popularity of milk alternatives as part of the reason behind Dean Foods’ decline. According to Euromonitor, the global market for milk alternatives is predicted to hit $18 billion this year, up 3.5 percent from 2018 – creating a challenge for dairy producers. “The large and complex U.S. dairy market faces several forces that are influencing future growth and challenging the status quo,” said Euromonitor. “One trend impacting the industry across cheese, milk and yogurt, among other categories, is the competition from plant-based alternatives.

— Read on www.plantbasednews.org/

J&J Recalls Baby Powder After Trace Asbestos Found in Bottle

Johnson & Johnson on Friday recalled a single batch of its baby powder as a precaution after government testing found trace amounts of asbestos in one bottle bought online.

The regulator found trace levels of chrysotile asbestos in samples taken from a bottle of baby powder purchased from an online retailer, Johnson & Johnson said. The company has, for years, denied that the carcinogen is, or ever was, present in its talc-based products.

This is the first time Johnson & Johnson has ever pulled baby powder from the market over asbestos concerns, a spokesman for the company said, and comes as Johnson & Johnson is battling thousands of lawsuits brought by people who say that baby powder and other talc-based products caused them to develop cancer. Some have mesothelioma, an aggressive cancer that is considered the signature disease of asbestos exposure, while others have ovarian cancer, which has also been linked to asbestos.

The recall will undermine defense claims against those suits, and could lead to the company having to pay more or to settle cases, said Erik Gordon, a University of Michigan business professor who studies corporate governance. Shares of the company fell 5 percent in early afternoon trading on Friday.

But in announcing the recall, the company also repeated part of its long-running defense against cancer claims, saying that “thousands of tests over the past 40 years repeatedly confirm that our consumer talc products do not contain asbestos.” The company said it was recalling the shipment out of an “abundance of caution.”

Though Johnson & Johnson said it has started “a rigorous, thorough investigation into the matter” it also appeared to question the testing process, saying in a statement that it is working with the F.D.A. to “determine the integrity of the tested sample and the validity of the test results.”

The recalled baby powder was produced and shipped last year. The recalled lot, #22318RB, involves 33,000 bottles sold by a retailer, which sold products online but may have shipped powder to stores, the spokesman, Ernie Knewitz, said. The F.D.A. has not responded to questions about the identity of the retailer.

A New York Times investigation last year found that Johnson & Johnson executives were aware for decades of the risks of asbestos contamination in talc but did not warn consumers. Internal memos and reports made public during litigation against the company document executives’ concerns about potential contamination that date back 50 years.

Earlier this year, Johnson & Johnson disclosed that it is being investigated by the Justice Department and Securities and Exchange Commission over concerns about possible asbestos contamination of its talc-based products.

The company is now entangled in litigation on multiple fronts. On Thursday, it agreed to pay $117 million to settle claims that it deceptively marketed transvaginal pelvic mesh implants. Earlier this month, a jury in Philadelphia ordered Johnson & Johnson to pay $8 billion to a Maryland man who accused the company of downplaying the risks associated with the anti-psychotic drug Risperdal. The company has also agreed to settle claims involving its role in the nationwide opioid crisis.

Lee Hambright, an analyst with Bernstein, wrote in a note to clients last week that Johnson & Johnson could face $5 billion in legal liability over the talc litigation. Of the 15,500 talc lawsuits the company has disclosed, Mr. Hambright estimated that 1,000 involved mesothelioma cases.

[Read our investigation into claims about asbestos in baby powder.]

Talc is a natural mineral that is mined from underground deposits, but asbestos can form under the same geological conditions that form talc, and geologists say veins of asbestos can intermingle with talc in underground mines.Johnson & Johnson officials emphasized that the level of asbestos detected was very low, the amount being “two ten-thousands of a percent” of the sample. U.S. health agencies, however, say there is no known safe level of exposure when it comes to asbestos.

While health risks increase with heavier and longer exposure times to asbestos, the overall evidence suggests no level of asbestos exposure is safe, and disease has been found in people with only brief exposures, according to the National Cancer Institute.

[Thousands of people who trusted Johnson & Johnson’s baby powder for decades are suing the company after developing cancer. “The Weekly,” our new TV show, investigates their allegations.]

This is a developing story that will be updated.

Correction: Oct. 18, 2019

An earlier version of this article misspelled the surname of a spokesman for Johnson & Johnson. His name is Ernie Knewitz, not Knewizt.

By Tiffany Hsu and 

You’re Cleaning Mushrooms Wrong

This is a public service announcement, and it won’t take long. If you’ve been reading Heated this month, you may have noticed that we’ve been talking a lot about meat alternatives — such as high-tech burgers that “bleed” like beef but are made mostly of plants (that sort of thing), and this mushroom-nut burger. Well, before any of this stuff existed, people who wanted something “meaty” without eating meat ate mushrooms. For better or worse, the default “oh, so you don’t eat any meat?” dish served to vegetarians at restaurants and parties was a portobello “burger” or some analogous concoction where the mushrooms masquerade as meat.

Whether you cook mushrooms constantly, infrequently, or somewhere in between, there’s a decent chance you’re cleaning them wrong.

There’s this myth that you should never ever wash mushrooms because they’ll absorb too much water. Instead, what we’ve been taught to do is daintily wipe the dirt off with a damp cloth or paper towel.

This is maddeningly slow and a huge waste of time. To clean mushrooms, you should rinse them under running water. Yes, mushrooms are porous, and if you leave them sitting in a bowl of water they will soak it up like a sponge. But a quick blast of running water to wipe the dirt off will not make them any worse for wear, and will save you a lot of time and frustration in the kitchen.

If cleaning mushrooms is less frustrating, maybe we’ll cook more mushrooms. If we cook more mushrooms, maybe we’ll eat less meat. If we eat less meat, maybe (definitely) we’ll be healthier and so will the earth. PSA over.

By: Mark Bittman

Are Plant-Based Milks the Future of Dairy?

Photo by a_namenko for Getty Images

Long before 2016, when fifth-generation dairyman Henry Schwartz decided to shut down Elmhurst Dairy in Jamaica, Queens, he saw the writing on the wall. Dairy consumption was declining and profit margins were increasingly squeezed, making it nearly impossible to turn a profit. Schwartz had kept the company, which his family had run since 1925, chugging along well past its life as a viable business. But the time had come, and in August 2016, he closed the doors of the last functioning dairy plant in New York City limits.

Then, a proverbial door opened. Through business connections, Schwartz was introduced to Cheryl Mitchell — a food scientist who has spent decades of her professional life focused on nondairy milks — those made from nuts, seeds, and grains. Her patents were instrumental in founding the modern-day alternative milk industry, and now she had a new method that she thought could revolutionize the field. Schwartz owned another business, Steuben Foods, that produces aseptic paperboard packaging — the kind used to package things like soups, juices, and the wide array of alternative milks found in the grocery store aisle. All of a sudden, a new path forward appeared.

Schwartz, now 86, no longer gives media interviews. But Elmhurst’s vice president of marketing, Peter Truby, recalled a conference call where Schwartz said, “milk runs through my veins.” The thought of pivoting his family’s long-standing dairy legacy toward a plant-based product was almost unimaginable. But as he got to know the alternative milk industry (and taste Mitchell’s products), he made up his mind. “I remember he came to the plant in November of 2016 and saw the milk coming out for the first time,” Mitchell recalled. “And he said to me, ‘I want to sell it.’”

Today, Elmhurst Dairy is simply Elmhurst — a new company producing milk and creamers made from almonds, cashews, hazelnuts, walnuts, oats, and hemp. Its products, which are remarkably milk-like in creaminess and flavor, are in 6,000 stores across America and shipped all over the country via its website.

“Elmhurst was around as a dairy plant for close to 95 years,” Truby told me. “Now, it has a chance to be around for another 100.”

Schwartz’s path of personal and professional evolution is remarkable. And it is just one of many stories in the modern alternative milk industry, which, according to Truby, currently makes up 13 percent of total sales in the dairy market (and growing). These milks have long been consumed by vegans and lactose-intolerant consumers. And they are increasingly favored by people not looking to fully give up dairy products, but seeking out ways to cut back for ethical, environmental, or health reasons.

Every six months or so, there seems to be a new darling of the industry. For decades, the story was mostly about soy (think Edensoy, Pacific, and Silk) and rice milks. Then came the almond milk craze at the turn of the 21st century, followed closely by coconut milk. More recently, Oatly captured the hearts of the nation’s nondairy lovers, and suddenly grocery stores couldn’t keep the Swedish oat milk company’s products in stock. (Sales of oat milk rose a staggering 425 percent between 2017 and 2018.) There are even milks made from flaxseeds, macadamias, and, advisably or not, bananas and yellow peas. Some scientists have turned their attention instead to lab-produced milks which aim to mimic the microbial structure (and therefore taste and texture) of dairy — but without the cow.

Plant-based milk companies — like Elmhurst in New York, Califia Farms in California, and Good Karma Foods in Colorado — understand that coffee shops are important gateways for introducing new customers to their products. So in addition to analogues for regular cow milk, many companies are also developing special “barista blends” designed to make froth thick and billowy enough to produce latte art and yet, the modern alternative milk industry has more to do with packaging than plants. People have been making beverages from grains, legumes, and seeds for thousands of years. According to the “History of Soymilk” by nondairy disciples William Shurtleff and Akiko Aoyagi, soy milk (doujiang) — always homemade and often served warm for breakfast — was in wide use in China by the mid-17th century, though likely originated earlier. And the creamy fermented rice beverage amazake (the barely alcoholic cousin to sake) has been brewed in Japan since at least the 6th century.

Photo by Elmhurst Dairy

A handful of manufacturers in China, Japan, and the United States began bottling and selling plant-based (primarily soy) milks in the early 20th century. But it wasn’t until the late 1960s that aseptic paperboard packaging was created, allowing companies to offer shelf-stable products that could last without refrigeration for six months or longer. This development was a boon for the fledgling alternative milk industry because it took the pressure off of immediately selling these products — which most American consumers were either unfamiliar with or skeptical about — before they spoiled.

Mitchell has been there since nearly the beginning. In the 1970s, a health food advocate and restaurateur named Robert Nissenbaum approached Mitchell for advice. He had been serving housemade amazake to customers at his Sunshine Inn restaurant in St. Louis, Missouri, and was receiving enthusiastic feedback. As Mitchell recalls, “He came to us and said, ‘I’d like to get it in a package. Can we manufacture it so it can be on the regular shelf instead of the refrigerator case?’” The short answer turned out to be yes, and with Mitchell’s expertise, Nissenbaum went on to found industry giants Rice Dream and Imagine Foods.

The success of these early companies helped to bring alternative milks to the mainstream, or at least closer to it. But Mitchell was not satisfied. The dominant process for “milking” the rice, which typically began with grinding the grain to make a flour or paste, removed a lot of its inherent nutritive aspects — things like fiber, protein, and antioxidant oils. The result was a milk that was thin (“It did not have the richness or milk-like opacity that customers expected,” Mitchell said) and not particularly nutrient-dense.

To compensate, they added many of these qualities back in, using safflower oil, carrageenan, and calcium carbonate. “I still feel guilty about it,” Mitchell said. The technique worked so well for Rice Dream that other companies began to mimic their methods. Consumers went crazy for these “healthy” alternatives to dairy, but there was ultimately no nutritional value. As Mitchell put it, “You are basically paying for water, gums, and a couple of nuts or grains.”

Over the last two decades, Mitchell paid a form of professional penance by devoting her work to maximizing the nutrient value of nondairy milks.

“I spent a lot of my own money on research because no one else was doing it,” she said. Her efforts paid off in a new patent called HydroRelease, which uses very high water pressure to slough off layers of whatever ingredient is being milked. Some plant based milks, particularly almond milk, have gotten a bad reputation for their environmentally unfriendly water usage. Mitchell’s technology, however, mitigates this impact by recycling the water used during HydroRelease. “Once we start spraying, it is the same water over and over again, so the milk gets more and more concentrated.”

The process also “releases each of the macro- and micro-ingredients — the natural lecithins, the oils, the binders,” Mitchell said. These components can then be recombined and emulsified into a creamy, nutritious, functional, and frothable milk. There is no need to add gums or anything extra (many of Elmhurst’s products contain only two ingredients, one of which is water) — it is all there in the plants.

Of course, with so much competition crowding the field, the bottom line for Elmhurst — or any nondairy milk — is, how do they taste? Flavor has been a concern of the industry for years. In the 1960s, write Shurtleff and Aoyagi, Cornell University scientists isolated the enzyme lipoxygenase as “responsible for the ‘beany’ flavor in soy milk,” and developed processes to help remove it.

Still, during the two years I spent as a vegan in college during the early 2000s, I tried and failed to convince myself that I — a born-and-bred, dairy-guzzling Midwesterner — really enjoyed Silk and Edensoy with cereal, or leaving curdled flecks on the surface of my coffee. I never worked my way up to drinking straight glasses of the stuff. It definitely wasn’t milk and, more importantly, it wasn’t very good.

But while nothing quite compares in flavor or texture to cow dairy, the field of options has improved tremendously. Today, my family’s fridge, like many other fridges, is multi-milked. Despite my lifelong love affair with dairy, my kids’ digestive systems seem to tolerate it less well. So there’s dairy half-and-half for coffee, and a rotation of cashew and oat milks (often from Elmhurst) for cereal, smoothies, and cooking. And I have come to enjoy the nutty, chai-like quality of So Delicious’ cashew milk ice cream nearly as much as regular dairy vanilla.

Mitchell has never been fully vegan herself. (One of her daughters is, however, and her other daughter eats meat but cannot handle dairy.) But despite being a flexitarian, she, like Schwartz, believes the future lies in plant-based milks — particularly ones that hold on to their natural nutritive qualities. And she is excited by their growing epicurean potential.

As it turns out, when the milks retain their proteins and fiber, they just work better in culinary applications. “You can make an amazingly convincing nondairy bechamel because the building blocks are there,” Mitchell said. “There is so much more we can develop using these ingredients. I’m happy to provide the tools to take us to the next generation.”

Written by: Leah Koenig.

Originally posted on: Heated

Fresh Cucumber Juice

Move over celery juice there’s a new stallion in town, and he’s also packing vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. Ladies and gentlemen, make room in your shopping carts and refrigerators for Mr. Cucumber. These bad boys are literally underrated. What’s so big about celery juice, and who started this trend? According to the New York Times, author Anthony William wrote “Medical Medium Celery Juice: The Most Powerful Medicine of Our Time Healing Millions Worldwide.” In it, he advises readers to drink 16 ounces of organic celery juice each morning on an empty stomach. He claims the celery juice can lead to clearer skin and weight loss, and help eliminate migraines and gout. Of course, these claims are not backed up by science. Plus, celebrities like Pharrell and Beyoncé are swearing by it. If you do your research, cucumbers and celery offer up very similar claims.

Top Cucumber Claims

  • Skin – reduce swelling/inflammation
  • Regulates blood pressure
  • Regulates sugar for diabetes
  • Lowers cholesterol
  • Aids in cancer reduction
  • Detoxes the body
  • Relieves constipation
  • Hydrates body

Top Celery Claims

  • Fights inflammation
  • Suppress arthritis pain
  • Aids in cancer reduction
  • Lowers cholesterol
  • Great for skin
  • Hydrating
  • Detoxes body
  • Aids in digestion

It all really boils down to preference. Both are healthy and have similar health claims. I choose to juice cucumbers because I prefer the taste. To tell you the truth, I’m not a huge fan of celery juice. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy eating celery but only in soups and salads. I’m currently growing cucumbers so I have a great supply to play with. They’re great for juicing because of their high water content and let’s not leave out the antioxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits. Cucumbers are also an excellent source of vitamin K and molybdenum. I also enjoy eating them, but juicing will instantly allow my body to absorb all the great nutrients quicker.

Here’s my all time favorite cucumber juice. It’s quick and refreshing. Always choose organic produce.

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 Large cucumber
  • 1 Granny Smith Apple
  • 1/2 Lime (squeezed)

Here’s another one of my favorite cucumber juice:

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 Large cucumber
  • 8 Kale leaves
  • 1 Medium finger length ginger (peeled)
  • 1 Granny Smith Apple

However, if you’re making for two or more people, then double up, triple up, or quadruple up on the ingredients.

Enjoy!

  • Resource:
  • Benefit of Cucumbers
  • 10 Cucumber Health Benefits You Shouldn’t Ignore
  • How to get the health benefits of cucumber
  • Does celery juice have health benefits