Friday, August 26, 2011

'Heart attack waiting to happen' isn't always obvious

I read this article, 'Heart attack waiting to happen' isn't always obvious posted on CNN's website and was honestly floored. At the age of 54 Tom Bare (picture above) had a heart attack even though he exercised everyday, ate oatmeal for breakfast, fruit for lunch, and chicken or Mexican food for dinner.  Tom's family had a history of heart disease and he had had two prior scans that showed he had build up of plaque in his arteries.

What floored me about the article was that CNN had reported, this week, about former President Clinton's switch to a low fat plant-based diet (after heart surgery and stents) and has covered the work of  numerous studies on the topic such as The China Study, Dean Ornish's multiple studies on coronary heart disease, and Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn's research on preventing and reversing heart disease yet did not point out that it was diet that contributed heavily to Mr. Bare's condition. What is worse is that the story ended with Bare stating he "had no plans to give up the food he loves". What?

I know a lot of people might think that Bare's diet sounds "healthy" I mean it is oatmeal, fruit, and chicken right? But research has demonstrated for years (Esselstyn, McDougall, Campbell, Ornish) that chicken has as much cholesterol as beef or pork. Yes, you read that correctly. While chicken has slightly lower fat content than beef or pork, is has the same amount of cholesterol. You are doing your arteries no favors by eating meat regularly. While I think the oatmeal and fruit were a good start to Bare's day, the chicken and Mexican food (all that saturated fat in the cheese, meat, refried beans, and chips) certainly weren't helping. What is more, as the article points out, being thin does not mean a person's arteries are healthy.

The other part of the article that really struck me was that Bare had taken statins to reduce his blood cholesterol from "just under 300 to 125" yet still had a heart attack. It has been pointed out by Campbell, Ornish, and Esselstyn that statins artificially reduce cholesterol numbers but this is in no way the same as  actually reducing the amount of cholesterol in the blood through diet.

I hang around folks who bike a lot, are health conscious, and even at times exhibit an air of superiority towards the unfit masses zooming to work and fast food joints in their cars all the while wondering why they are fat and in debt. Many of my cycling buddies are thin or at least lean and fit looking. However, they seem clueless to the fact that while they may burn off any fatty calories they eat, that does not mean their arteries are any healthier than the folks bustling around in their cars. Diet appears, more and more, to be the deciding factor in artery and heart health.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Cycling industry boosts UK economy

The BBC News online reported today that the cycling industry has created quite a boon in the economy there with 13M people cycling in the UK. This is the kind of reporting we need in the local and mainstream news media in the US. One argument I have made personally to those against cycling for transportation in COMO (as opposed to cycling as sport to be limited to the Katy Trail) is that when one forgoes a car they have a lot more money (approximately $8000 more per year) to spend in local shops and restaurants rather than the bottomless pit that is the oil business. Not to mention the shrinking of waistlines, bottoms, type II diabetes rates, blood get the picture.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

New Streetfilms: Stephanie's Story

Saw this new film on the Streetfilms website and wanted to share. Having just visited San Francisco this summer, I was amazed at the alternative transportation infrastructure. I was surprised to hear Stephanie in the video above remark that the streets still don't quite seem safe enough--but she has small children and I am beginning to see the value in separate bike lanes, etc. Food for thought.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Doing the math

I found this image on the PedNet website and love the way it conveys an 
important truth in a simple yet profound way. I was biking across town 
the other day and was amazed at how many cars only had one driver in
them. What will it take, gas prices at $10/gal to get us to choose smarter 
alternatives? More importantly, what about those citizens of Columbia
who simply cannot afford a car? All those people working at Walmart,
Target, the grocery store, gas station, etc who make our worlds go around
and yet cannot get inexpensive, efficient transportation to that $7/hr job?
Just a thought.