Monday, July 27, 2009


A healthy basket of vegetables

- Compiled and coordinated by Edward Arambewala

The vegetarian athlete
Dr. D. P. Atukorale

“Users of low-protein and non-flesh dietaries have far greater endurance than those who are accustomed to the ordinary American diet,” Prof. Irving Fisher, Yale University 1906.

For centuries people believed that meat was important for athletes and the 19th century German Chemist Liebig proposed that the energy for all muscular movement came from protein.

But by 1850, scientists knew that the important fuels for physical activity were actually carbohydrate and fat not protein at all. Despite these findings, the protein and meat continued to be favoured by athletes well into the twentieth century.

As recently as 1970, the meals of choice for Sri Lankan athletes included meat and eggs.

Even in the schools I was educated in 1950s our teachers used to advise the athletes to consume eggs and meat.

Long before meat based diets fell out of favour for athletes, there were successful vegetarian athletes.

Prof. Irving Fisher of Yale University was intrigued with physical endurance of “meat-abstainer” athletes. Prof. Fisher studied three groups (a) meat eating athletes. (b) vegetarian athletes and (c) a group of sedentary vegetarian nurses and physicians in Michigan. His results showed a remarkable superiority of vegetarians in all the tests of endurance. The vegetarian athletes and sedentary vegetarian nurses and physicians were superior in all endurance tests to meat eating athletes (Yale Med. J. 13, 205-21, 1907).

Early vegetarian
Early vegetarian athletes were excelling outside the laboratory as well. (a) The London Vegetarian Society athletic and cycling club led by James Parsley won the competitions over meat eaters in the 1890.

Parsly himself won the most prestigious hill climbing race in England (J.C. Whorton, “Crusaders For Fitness”, (Princeton, N. J. Princeton University Press, 1982).

Around the same time, West Ham Vegetarian Society formed a tug-of-war team that set records in that sport. Vegetarian American cyclist Will Brown thrashed all records for 321 km race in the 1890.

In the 1893 walking race from Berlin to Vienna, the first two competitors to finish were vegetarians. A turn-of-the-century 100 km race in Germany attracted international attention because 11 of 14 competitors who finished the race were vegetarians.

In 1912, a vegetarian was the first man to complete a marathon in less than two hours and thirty minutes.

Today some of the best athletes continue to defeat the idea that meat is essential for strength.

Six time Triathion winner Dave Scott who reportedly trains eight hours a day eats a diet that contains mainly brown rice, tofu, low fat dairy foods and a large amount of fruits and vegetables providing more than 6,000 calories a day. (N. Pritikir, Veg. Times, Feb. 1974, 60-63).

Vegetarian Super-athletes
Other vegetarian super-athletes are (1) Suriya Bonaly, French Olympic skater (2) Andres Cahling, champion body builder (3) Chris Campbell Olympic medallist in wrestling (4) Desmond Howard, Heisman Trophy winner and professional football player (5) Billie Jean King, tennis champion, (6) Bill Manetti, power lifting champion, (7) Martina Navoratilova, tennis champion, (8) Parvo Nurmi, long distance runner with 20 world records and (9) Bill Pearl, four time Mr. Universe.

As you see the number of super-athletes who eat a meatless diet is proof that vegetarians can support athletic performance.

A number of research studies (N. Hanne et al, J. Sports Med: 26, 180-185, 1986, J. E. Cotes et al, J. Physiol, 209, 30-33, 1970) showed essentially no difference in strength, aerobic capacity, blood iron levels, lung capacity and exercise performance and muscle development between vegetarian athletes and non-vegetarian athletes.

These studies showed that there is certainly no disadvantage from a vegetarian diet for athletes. There may be clear advantages to going meatless for competitions as will be shown later.

Vegetarian Diet better than Western Diet
The specific nutrient needs of the athletes depend on how rigorously he or she trains. Generally speaking vegetarian diet carries closer to the recommendations for an athletes than a standard Western diet.

Both American and the Canadian Dietetics. Associations recommend that the ideal diet for adult athletes includes no more than 30 percent of calories from fat and between 60-70 percent of calories from carbohydrates (M.S. Pionden and D. Bernadot, J. Am. Diet. Assoc. 93, 691 96, 1993). Therefore vegetarian athletes have to make liberal use of plant foods.

Muscle is mostly water, but it does contain about 25 per cent protein. The amount of protein consumed varies widely among athletes. Two surveys found that football players and tri-athletes consume more protein than the typical non athletes - about two and half times the RDA for proteins (J.R. Brotherhood, Sports Med. J. 350-81, 1984).

In endurance sports, amino-acids are catabolized (used up) at a faster rate. Based on nitrogen balance studies, it seems that 1.5gm of protein per kilogram of body weight would be adequate for most athletes.

To get these proteins athletes don’t need any protein drinks or supplements and it is perfectly reasonable to meat these needs on a vegetarian diet. Discussion of protein needs and how to obtain these in different types of athletes is beyond the scope of this article. Athletes who boost their protein intake by eating more soy products have certain advantages over those who take animal proteins.

Excess protein intake may be a factor in kidney disease. However, plant proteins such as soy don’t have the same adverse effects as animal protein on kidneys (P. Kontessis et al, Kd. Int. 38, 136-44, 1990)

Courtesy: The Vegetarian Way by Virginia and Mark Messina

....To be continued


Health benefits of walking
Dr. Viraj Peramuna

The queen of exercises ‘brisk walking’ helps a person to gain a package of health benefits including:

* Keeping diabetes under control

* Reducing blood pressure

* Keeping heart much stronger

* More fulfilling in sex life and

* Enhanced life expectancy by many years.

These were highlighted in a recent issue of exercises for good health, magazine sent for doctors use in their health advices for patients.

* It is the “Queen” of exercises. You can’t go wrong with it.

It is an easy, inexpensive and enjoyable way to reduce fat.

* Ideal aerobic exercise for all ages. It is practically an injury free exercise. Can be done anywhere and at any time? Doesn’t require any special equipment and teaching.

* There must be something about walking that gets the brain stirred up. Great thinkers and diplomats, who loved to walk, include Hippocrates, Aristotle, Harry Truman and Charles Dickens.

* Walking should be brisk and non-stop. We should be slightly huffed up, but not out of breath.

Hard but not too hard.

* Ideally, should be done on an empty stomach or three hours after a major meal 5 to 6 days a week is good enough.

* If You are ready for a bigger challenge, turn your walking into hiking by heading for the nearest hills, you will lose fat-real fast!

* If you cannot walk fast, walking longer has the same effect. Our body is used to walking for millions of years. Go ahead and enjoy it!

* ”You will have better endurance, better sleep at night and you will probably perform better in bed and have better, overall personal health,” said Newman, a true believer in walking.

Lose 10kg of fat

Let us assume your weight is 80 kg. You brisk walk for an hour a day for 300 days a year. At the end of the year, 10kg of fat! is gone forever! A reduce waistline by 3-4 inches is another bonus.



When should you take vitamins?
People often ask when they should take vitamins. There are no rules about the best time of day to take supplements, except to take them when they most agree with you. Because vitamins and mineral supplements can occasionally cause stomach upset, heartburn and other gastric disturbances, especially when taken on an empty stomach, it is generally recommended that they be taken with food.

Many people prefer to take their vitamins with breakfast, as part of a morning routine, but feel free to experiment with taking your supplements with lunch or dinner. For best absorption and the least irritation to the stomach, take your supplements with a meal containing some fat. This is particularly important for the fat-soluble micronutrients (mixed carotenoids, vitamin D and vitamin E). And be sure to read the labels - they will give you specific instructions on interactions and absorption.


Spiritual side of mind
Man has contributed a lot to create material wonders. The human mind is highly intelligent, yet its very intelligence is tainted by weakness. Spiritual side of mind is ever degrading. Time has come for man to seriously and very seriously focus on the very survival of earth.

What we watch on T.V. and read in news papers show the results of this madness. The unprecedented violence that humans are inflicting on other life forms, destroying oxygen, reducing forests, ill treatment of animals, poisoning the rivers and oceans without understanding their connectedness to the whole, cannot be forgiven. If continued unchecked, this would only result in their own destruction .The islands are submerging and many more are under threat. Many spiritual leaders have predicted the destructive changes in climatic upheavals yet to come.

Fear, greed and desire for power not only behind warfare and violence between nations have become the cause of conflicts in personal relationships too. You

Promoting vegetarianism

misinterpret every situation leading to wrong action to satisfy your need for more.

You can not be good by trying to be good but finding the goodness that is within you and allowing that goodness to flower within you .But that can only happen, if something fundamental, changes in your state of consciousness.

This is where the greatest philosophy on earth, the Dhamma can help us by taking us in our own inward journey cleansing what ails our mind with a technique that is universally acceptable and 100 percent scientific.

Greatest achievement
The greatest achievement of humanity is not what man can materially achieve but recognizing his own weakness. Concentrating on breathing in and out (Anapanasati meditation) can bring about calmness to the mind and help man to recognize his own insanity which is of course the arising of sanity.

According to various predictions a fare amount of earth’s population will soon realize that we are now faced with the stark truth of Evolve or Die. Here Evolve means is to respect Mother Nature and its beings and a mind that sheds all evil thoughts for a better world.

The current climatic upheavals going on in many parts of the planet, some of which are already happening is due to the folly of man misusing the planet earth. Human minds have conflicting wants, restlessness and dissatisfaction.

They are the results of unfulfilled wanting. Nature, animals and people are no more than digits in a balance sheet in many large trading organizations in the world.

Try to understand ego for what it is the insanity of human mind. It helps you to remain non-reactive to it. You do not take it personally and complain or blame. You understand that it is the ego of someone. Compassion arises when you understand that all are suffering from the same sickness of the mind. Reactivity is fuel to thrive on ego. You need to learn not to fuel this situation any more.

As Shakespeare said, a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury signifying nothing is the explanation of each and every situation in this egoist game.

People experience discontentment for no specific reason. Many people spend a large part of their lives in this state. They are immersed in it that they cannot stand back and see it.

The following example show how you let resentment to be alive in your mind and life. There is something that needs to happen in my life before I can be at peace (happy). The ego does not know that your only opportunity for being at peace is now, and that has to be making peace with the present moment. The secret of happiness is to be one with life. Being one with life is being one with NOW - the present moment.

Reality of things
The Buddha advocated us to be aware of each and every moment (be in sathi) to realize the reality of things.

But ego creates negativity. It thrives on unhappiness that it loves. In this way you make yourself unhappy and others suffer and do not even know that you are doing it. You are making hell on earth to create suffering without recognizing it. This is the essence of unconscious living. You will defend with clever arguments, self justifications, to distort the facts.

To end this misery that has afflicted this human condition that has lasted for thousands of years, you have to start with yourself and take responsibility for your inner state, at any given moment. Ask yourself, is there negativity in me at this moment. Then become alert be attentive to your thoughts and emotions. Watch out the state of being fed up, your discontentment or nervousness.

All you need is to be aware of thoughts and emotions as they happen. This is not really a doing but be alert and see things as they are. What Lord Buddha described as Yatha butha nature is do not let insanity dominate your mind

Identify negativity as it arises and be with the present moment bringing sanity under the light of compassion to yourself and the whole world as The Buddha preached in the Dhammapada: Mano Pubbaga ma dhamma mano setta mano maya.

In Zen they say “Do not seek the truth Just cease to cherish opinions”. May this analysis of mind enlighten you to realize the true state of things based on The Buddha’s and other modern philosophers.

Sunanda Paranagama Weerasinghe, Promoter of vegetarianism and
President elect for Sri Lanka Food Processors Association

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