Long life, great health

NUTRISPEAK
by Vesanto Melina

When you consider the diseases and deaths of older people in your family, does it seem like your life might follow a similar pattern? Well, it turns out that changing your lifestyle can actually change your genes. Through lifestyle choices, we can turn on the genes that keep us healthy and turn off the genes that contribute to chronic inflammation, oxidative stress and the oncogenes that promote prostate, breast and colon cancer.

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Earth-friendly diets

NUTRISPEAK
by Vesanto Melina

Some people are saying, “Take extinction off your plate.” What? I already take shorter showers. Every week, I deposit my recycling into the right bins. I walk whenever I can. I ride my bike a lot, when it’s not so icy I’ll kill myself. I car-share. Isn’t that enough?It seems not. Agriculture is one of the largest contributors to greenhouse gas emissions – greater than all transport put together – and our current dietary choices are propelling us toward extinction.

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Speaking of the environment

photo of Vesanto Melina

NUTRISPEAK
by Vesanto Melina

» A decade ago, climate change and global warming seemed somewhat theoretical to some of us, but evidence is now showing up in our everyday lives. In many parts of the world, these changes are being linked with the rising frequency and severity of extreme weather events: floods, storms and droughts. Warmer temperatures tend to produce more violent weather patterns. Events of concern in BC include heavy rainfall and snowfalls, heat waves and drought. These have led to floods, landslides, water shortages, forest fires, reduced air quality, damaged property, and illness and mortality. Since 1983, payouts by Canadian insurance companies for damages resulting from natural disasters have doubled every five years.

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ART & MUSIC


Do you love to sing in the shower only to clam up if you think other people are listening? Discover your own voice and full potential of your talent with Lynn McGown. We all have our own unique voice. Through breathing and body awareness techniques, vocal warm-ups and lots of singing, you are guided to discover a powerful and authentic sound to build your confidence, energy level, well- being and health. All lessons are individually tailored: from shy beginners to professional performance coaching. Register for vocal workshops (last Sunday of each month) and/or one-on-one vocal singing coaching.

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The carnitine controversy

photo of Vesanto Melina

NUTRISPEAK
by Vesanto Melina

• Carnitine is an amino acid, important for our body’s transportation of fatty acids to the area in the cells where the fatty acids can be burned for energy production. For this reason, carnitine has been marketed as a fat-burning support. A very small number of people – about one in 40,000 – have a genetic condition in which they cannot move carnitine to the areas where it is needed. One resulting symptom is muscle weakness, which may have led to the idea that carnitine can improve athletic performance, as carnitine has been marketed as a sports supplement. So far, research has not established its effectiveness.

Core beliefs about a plant-based diet

NUTRISPEAK by Vesanto Melina

•  I recently took out – from our wonderful public library system – a set of CDs entitled This I Believe. They are based on a popular NPR (National Public Radio) series that invited people to write a 500-word essay on a core belief that guided their daily life and to then read their essay on the air. (See website at the end of the article). After listening to a selection and wondering, “What is a core belief for me?” I recognized that mine centres on a shift towards a plant-based diet.

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Common Ground writers join the conversation

Common Ground magazine and I have been friends for 34 years! I was present at its 1982 birth and launch party in a Vancouver back yard. I like long-term friendships and this has been a good one. The articles throughout the magazine are lively and thought provoking. Common Ground has long been a leader regarding environmental concerns and health and human rights issues. I have appreciated the opportunity to write on a vast range of topics related to plant-based nutrition and have welcomed the tremendous interest in this topic on the part of readers.

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Plentiful plant protein

NUTRISPEAK by Vesanto Melina, Grace Yeh and Sharon Voong

•  Why does protein matter? As a component of muscle, bone and all body tissues, proteins are essential for structure and movement. They protect, coordinate body functions, help replace and maintain cells, and as enzymes facilitate biological reactions. People following plant-based diets need to be careful they get enough protein from the right sources to satisfy their body’s needs.
Whether you are an omnivore, vegan, vegetarian or are considering a more plant-based diet, you might ask, “Where can I get adequate protein, if not from meat?” Many North American diets rely on animal products such as eggs, meat, seafood and cheese for protein. Yet all plants – vegetables, legumes, seeds, nuts and grains – contain good amounts of protein. Fruit is an exception, with less protein. Plant based diets can offer quality proteins while also providing a plethora of other beneficial nutrients.
Protein requirements: The recommended dietary allowances vary with age: 0.8g protein per kg body weight per day is generally recommended for a healthy adult. Nutrition experts sometimes advise those on plant-based diets to consume slightly more – 0.9g/kg/d – because fibre in plant products decreases the digestibility of proteins. Overall, fibre has beneficial effects on blood sugar and cholesterol levels and intestinal health. Therefore, high-fibre foods should not be avoided due to their small impact on protein digestibility. It is not difficult to meet and exceed protein intakes on plant-based diets. Typically, a mixed diet that includes legumes, seeds, grains and vegetables within a 24-hour period easily provides adequate amounts of all essential amino acids.

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