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Good for you, good for the planet - National Post Article

April 20, 2011

Good for you, good for the planet - National Post Article

Jeannie Armstrong, National Post Apr. 20, 2011 | Last Updated: Apr. 20, 2011 4:05 AM ET

By consuming more plant based proteins and less animal-based proteins, you can eat your way to a healthier and more eco-friendly lifestyle.
Diets high in animal proteins increase the risk of developing certain cancers, heart disease, kidney stones, gout and bone problems, according to the China Oxford Cornell Diet and Health Study, a landmark investigation conducted by top researchers across 65 countries of rural China.

In contrast, plant-based proteins are health boosters, according to Dr. Peter Jones, director of the University of Manitoba's Richardson Centre for Functional Foods and Nutraceuticals, and a member of the Canadian Health Food Association's Expert Scientific Advisory Panel. "Plant proteins can contain less saturated fats and cholesterol, which can reduce the risk of heart disease. They also contain a higher level of nutrients, such as fibre, vitamins, essential fatty acids and anti-oxidants, which many animal based proteins can lack," says Jones.
Animal-based proteins also create acidity in the body, says Kimberly Hunter-Gafur, a registered nutritional consultant, holistic nutritionist and a registered orthomolecular practitioner with over 20 years experience. She operates the Alcona Beach Health Shoppe in Alcona, Ontario.

"Fast foods, refined foods and animal proteins are highly acidic. As a result of our modern Western diet, most people's bodies are now too acidic. An acidic body is at higher risk of inflammation, diseases and digestive disorders," says Hunter-Gafur. In contrast, a healthy body is slightly alkaline. Hunter-Gafur recommends eating plenty of alkaline-rich foods to reduce acidity in your body.

"Following the alkaline diet means consuming as little animal-based proteins and refined foods as possible," says Hunter-Gafur. "The more you reduce acid-forming foods and the more you increase alkaline foods, the more you'll benefit your body."

She recommends increased consumption of fresh vegetables, fruits and whole grains including millet, quinoa, buckwheat and brown rice.
"My rule of thumb is, if it's ripened by the sun, those are your alkalized foods," says Hunter-Gafur.
Incorporating soy products, such as soy milk and tofu, is another way to add complete plant-based proteins to your diet. According to the Soy foods Council, soy foods contain heart healthy essential amino and fatty acids, fibre and isoflavone.

Twenty-five years ago, to address her own chronic health issues, Hunter-Gafur adopted a vegan lifestyle. "I was able to transform my health. By consuming alkaline-rich foods, I am healthier, more energetic and disease-free."
She also advocates the alkaline diet as an environmentally responsible choice. "Factory farming has created a huge imbalance in our environment. Factory farms consume so much energy and resources and create vast amounts of waste," says Hunter-Gafur.

"A shift towards an alkaline diet, with its focus on plant-based proteins, would promote a cleaner, better environment and be a more efficient way to feed the world."

In The National Post - April 20, 2011

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