Mark Rifkin, Balanced Nutrition Solutions


mark-rifkinMark Rifkin, Balanced Nutrition Solutions
Mark Rifkin, M.S., R.D., L.D.N, has been a vegetarian since 1984, and has a Master of Science in Health Education. He has been conducting presentations on nutrition and food-related topics since 1997. Mr. Rifkin is interested in applying the benefits of vegetarian diets to preventing and treating chronic conditions such as heart disease, diabetes, obesity, cancer, arthritis, adverse menopausal symptoms, and depression. He also specializes in helping vegetarians further improve their eating habits.



Caryn Hartglass: Hi, this is Caryn Hartglass, and this is All About Food. Thanks for joining me today. So, I’m calling in today from not not-so-sunny San Francisco. Today, it’s rather cold. I’ll be here for a while so I won’t be doing the show from the studio. I have a great guest that I’m really looking forward today: Mark Rifkin. He is a former animal activist. He’s been vegetarian since 1984- that means twenty-five years. He has a Master’s in Health Education. He gives presentations on nutrition and food related topics. He’s been doing that for over 10 years. He is a registered dietitian. He focuses on vegetarian and plant-based diets to prevent and treat chronic conditions such as: heart disease, diabetes, obesity, cancer, high-blood pressure, arthritis, and depression. And, what he does is that he helps vegetarians to establish optimal eating habits. So, we’re going to be speaking to him shortly.

So, I’m here in San Francisco and one of the things I love about traveling is to be able to experience the different restaurants and foods that are available. California is a great place for vegetarian food. I still think New York City is the best because we have just so many restaurants and so many choices. But, the Bay Area in San Francisco is phenomenal. A place that I’ve frequenting is called Herbivore. It’s a nice restaurant. It’s not too fancy. They have a wide variety of food for all kinds of palettes. They have soups, salads, entrees, and desserts. But, what I love is that they have the fresh juices, including… they make a wonderful green juice. And, I can’t say enough about green juice. OK, so, I believe Mark is with us now. Are you?

Mark Rifkin: We are.

Caryn Hartglass: Oh, we are Mark! That’s great!

Mark Rifkin: All of me is here.

Caryn Hartglass: All of you. Oh, I wouldn’t want you to leave any of you behind.

Mark Rifkin: (laughs)

Caryn Hartglass: So thanks for joining us today.

Mark Rifkin: Thank you. We’re on the right coast and not the left coast.

Caryn Hartglass: I see. That’s right. And, I’m left today.

Mark Rifkin: Yes, you’re left.

Caryn Hartglass: Left out… (laugh). Ok, so we are going to talk about my favorite topic today: food.

Mark Rifkin: That’s also my favorite topic!

Caryn Hartglass: It is! Look at that! What is it about a lot of vegetarians? We’re just nuts about food.

Mark Rifkin: Yes. We’re nuts about nuts too.

Caryn Hartglass: Raw nuts. Raw, fresh, non-rancid nuts.

Mark Rifkin: Yes, preferably not non-rancid.

Caryn Hartglass: Yes, I know that’s a particular sticking pointer with you. And, it’s a good one. I buy a lot of raw nuts and seeds, and occasionally, I get them and they’re rancid.

Mark Rifkin: Do you notice any particular type of nut/seed is more likely to go rancid?

Caryn Hartglass: That’s a good question. I guess, walnuts.

Mark Rifkin: Yes.

Caryn Hartglass: I haven’t had a problem with pecans. I haven’t had a problem with almonds. I’ve had a problem with almond butter. The sunflower seeds seem to be okay- the one’s that I get. The pumpkin seeds. Yeah, just the walnuts sometimes have that stale, flavor. And, I liken it to linseed oil. You used to thin oil paints with.

Mark Rifkin: It’s the Omega-3’s.

Caryn Hartglass: Is that what it is? When they get rancid they smell like that.

Mark Rifkin: Yep. Well any rancid oil. Any Omega-3, well any plant-based Omega-3 whether it’s from flax or from hemp seeds or from walnuts, will go or is likely to go rancid- given the right conditions. So, that’s why it’s best that we buy either walnuts in the shell or whole-halves, and, not pieces and walnut meal.

Caryn Hartglass: I tempt to get to like the pieces. They’re a little less expensive but…

Mark Rifkin: Yes. More surface area.

Caryn Hartglass: Right

Mark Rifkin: To be exposed to oxygen, which increases risk of rancid.

Caryn Hartglass: That’s a good point that I’ve never though of, and I’m going to add that to my mental memory. (laughs)

Mark Rifkin: Same thing with flaxseed. You don’t want to grind it before you need it.

Caryn Hartglass: Right. That I don’t do. There so easy to get whole and you can store them anywhere. I put them in the refrigerator or the freezer but then… so many people have coffee bean grinders and I’ve taken ours- since we don’t really drink coffee- and use it for flaxseeds.

Mark Rifkin: That’s what I do. I recommend storing your nuts in the freezer.

Caryn Hartglass: That’s all nuts in the freezer not the refrigerator?

Mark Rifkin: Well, firstly the walnuts. I mean, if you use your walnuts within a month. You know there probably wouldn’t be a problem, but…

Caryn Hartglass: Right. Okay.

Mark Rifkin: You know, if for some reason you, you suddenly forget to eat your walnuts or you buy an especially large bag or something like that. Freezing them doesn’t hurt and can only help.

Caryn Hartglass: Oh, ok. That’s a good point. You know, it’s interesting a lot of people have a lot of old food in their refrigerators.

Mark Rifkin: Yes.

Caryn Hartglass: I’m really into moving in and moving it out. I have a few rules in our refrigerator. When we do a new shopping, I make sure that all the old produce gets prepared before we start with the new. It’s got to go in and go out.

Mark Rifkin: Absolutely. Yep. So, don’t let that stuff get pushed to the back of the fridge and grow green fuzzy things.

Caryn Hartglass: And, then, I don’t know if you’ve heard this, but when we’re recommending to eat more vegetables, especially, green vegetables, and they say “I buy them but then they go bad.” (laughs)

Mark Rifkin: Yep.

Caryn Hartglass: And, then we have to remind them, you’re supposed to eat them!

Mark Rifkin: So, you have to eat them? Oh, I thought we just had to buy them!

Caryn Hartglass: (laughs). Have you ever heard that?

Mark Rifkin: Yes. Well, a think a large part of it is the lack of planning of course. People don’t know what they’re going to make for dinner, day to day. So, they buy broccoli or they buy kale and they say I’m going to eat it sometime this week. When push comes to shove, the kale gets pushed to the back of the fridge, and before you know it… it’s already…

Caryn Hartglass: A lot of people do that. They make a really valiant try. They are going to improve their diet. They’re going to eat more healthy. They buy this stuff but they don’t know what to do with it. So what do you do with them?

Mark Rifkin: Ahh! What do you do with them? OK. Well, the first thing that I … Well, I tend not 7:21my vegetables. I tend to eat them as vegetables. What I usually do with greens, especially kale or collard, is cooked them in sauteed onions.

Caryn Hartglass: Oh, that’s fabulous!

Mark Rifkin: Fabulous!

Caryn Hartglass: They are so great with onions!

Mark Rifkin: Yes. From there you can add a little garlic and dry mustard, if you like or some ginger powder. Or fresh ginger slices. You want to be aggressive. I always prefer Maryann myself.

Caryn Hartglass & Mark Rifkin: (laugh)

Caryn Hartglass: You mean rosemary?

Mark Rifkin: (laugh). At the end, any of those flavors… Of course, you can also use your greens in a stir fry.

Caryn Hartglass: Yeah. It’s really not difficult. Once people open the door, open the window and realize what to do. It’s really quite simple. It’s just doing once or twice and then they’re on the path, I think.

Mark Rifkin: Right. You can also use them as a layer in lasagna.

Caryn Hartglass: Right! Very good!

Mark Rifkin: I actually use the collard greens and onions as a layer in lasagna for a group of non-vegetarians. Shock of shocks- they all liked it.

Caryn Hartglass: Right! Oh no, it’s really lovely mixed in with so many other things. For some people it might be too intense when they’re just getting used to it. But, it adds nice dimension to other vegetables.

Mark Rifkin: Well, one way to reduce the intensity starts at the grocery or the farmer’s market. Or the farm stand. Which do not select leaves that are bigger than a piece of paper.

Caryn Hartglass: What does that do?

Mark Rifkin: Smaller leaves tend to be more tendered, and contain less bitter compounds.

Caryn Hartglass: Ah, there we go! That’s a really good tip.

Mark Rifkin: The monster leaves are as old as Methuselah.

Caryn Hartglass: Right, and they’re very bitter.

Mark Rifkin: And, they can be very bitter and take longer to cook. That’s why some cook, particularly Southern cooks tend to cook their greens for three hours. I don’t see the point; my collard greens are done in 25 minutes. It’s not 20 minutes.

Caryn Hartglass: Right, that’s pretty quick!

Mark Rifkin: Yeah, and it’s done! But, you buy these leaves that are three feet across…

Caryn Hartglass: They’re really bitter, and hard to cook.

Mark Rifkin: Yeah.

Caryn Hartglass: I noticed, I told people to: It’s that old leave it in the refrigerator and then finally get to it. And, if they’re not fresh, they’re going to get more bitter over time.
Mark Rifkin: Right. That may be another point. Of course, they may also be more likely to get moldy.

Caryn Hartglass: Yeah, we don’t want mold.

Mark Rifkin: Nah, we don’t want mold.

Caryn Hartglass: (laughs)
Mark Rifkin: Unless you’re talking tempeh, but….

Caryn Hartglass: Right.

Mark Rifkin: …I think it’s a big problem with people buying greens that are too large and then they taste bitter and then people don’t like greens.

Caryn Hartglass: Now, what I’m going to do after this show is have a blended salad. I know it’s not good all the time. But, I’m in mood for it today, and for some people that’s a great way to get their greens is to hide them, and, by taking a blender and putting in nondairy milk or fruit juice or water and then mixing it with some fruits. I like frozen fruits, like organic strawberries or blueberries and some green leaves, blending them up. If I wanted a little more adventurous, I might add a little avocado and make it a little creamier. There are all kinds of mixtures- with blended salads. Some people get into that. And, it’s good for kids, too. That really don’t want to eat greens, and you make something that tastes relatively sweet from the berries.
Mark Rifkin: Right, I see a lot of people who are into juicing.

Caryn Hartglass: That’s not juicing. That’s blended salads.

Mark Rifkin: That’s blended? What’s the difference?

Caryn Hartglass: You put it in a blender…

Mark Rifkin: Oh, okay not a juicer.

Caryn Hartglass: and, you mix everything up. So you have the fiber.

Mark Rifkin: Okay.

Caryn Hartglass: And, it’s the whole food.

Mark Rifkin: Some juicers retain the fiber.

Caryn Hartglass: Yeah, there’s a range of juicers and some of them extract more than others. And, keep some of the fiber. Well there’s the Vitamixer too but that’s not a juicer. It’s still blending it, and maintaining the fiber.

Mark Rifkin: Okay.

Caryn Hartglass: So, it’s different. The juicer is when you’re really not getting, any or very little fiber. And, then you have all this left over fiber and you can throw it away or compost it. Or get creative. Sometimes we try to make crackers, and burgers with the left over fiber because I don’t like wasting anything.

Mark Rifkin: That’s one of my concerns about juicing.

Caryn Hartglass: It’s the waste?

Mark Rifkin: No, well it’s potentially waste, but it’s certainly a potential waste of fiber.

That’s one of the advantages of fruit and vegetables is the fiber content.

Caryn Hartglass: Well, I wasn’t a big proponent of juicing but now I am. I tell you why. It’s very important to have fiber in your food, and I eat raw salads, steamed greens, and I juice. It’s my three green tiered plan. Raw vegetables, steamed greens, and juice. And, the reason why I juice is… I mean, I think it’s especially critical for people that have had some sort of compromised health.
Mark Rifkin: Absolutely. That one I would agree with.

Caryn Hartglass: And, it’s a way to really cram nutrients in your body and you have to get the fiber in the salads and the steam greens but to get more of the nutrients- I choose. Also, I’m not big into supplements. I take a few but I really believe the best way to get our nutrition is from whole foods, and you know our soil is more and more depleted now. The way we get those concentrated nutrients is from juicing. I’m a real proponent for juicing for anybody that wants to boost their immune system- have more energy. I’m a juice queen!
Mark Rifkin: (laughs)

Caryn Hartglass: But, you have to have the fiber. Absolutely! I eat GIANT salads. Giant. And the steamed greens. Can we talk about protein?
Mark Rifkin: We can!

Caryn Hartglass: (laugh). I first want to talk about the building elements of protein. Which are the amino acids.

Mark Rifkin: Yes. Absolutely! There are roughly 20 amino acids. About half of them are what we call essential. Contrary to popular opinion. That does not mean that some are not essential. You need to have them all available for proper health. Essential means that you have to eat them.

Caryn Hartglass: Right. That we don’t manufacture them in our bodies.

Mark Rifkin: We don’t manufacture them. The other ten or eleven amino acids, you can manufacture. Given the essential amino acids. The concern about essential amino acids in vegetarians, of course is that most vegetarian protein foods like black beans for example have one of the essential amino acids is not in optimal concentration or may not be in optimal concentrations. And, thus the term of mixing your amino acids, or protein complementarity, but I think it’s mostly a non-issue. If you’re just having black beans for lunch, you’re missing out on a whole world of nutrients.

Caryn Hartglass: (laughs)
Mark Rifkin: Complementing your amino acids is only one. You’re missing out on Vitamin C. You’re missing out on Vitamin A. You’re missing out on plant proteins… I’m sorry… plant nutrients- phytochemicals. Some of which are black beans but not all of them. So, any balance eating pattern that contains a wide variety of foods, and colors. Insufficient calories, is almost guaranteed to provide adequate protein. You don’t even…

Caryn Hartglass: I just want to say something, so that the people don’t get confused. All plant foods contain complete protein. You now they get this idea that they don’t. But, the problem is that different plant foods have different amounts of these essential amino acids. Some have a large amount of one and/or four or five, and are kind of low on the others. But they do have all of them. I mean you mentioned but I just want to stress it. They do have all of them and my understanding is when you’re reading a wide range of food, a wide range of colors. A lot of diversity, the body is smart. And, if you don’t get it all in one meal in the next couple of days, it’s going to be able to put together pieces that it needs.

Mark Rifkin: Probably in the next 24 hours, because you do have a limited capacity to store amino acids in what they call the amino acid pool hole. So, if you don’t eat your lysine today, chances are you’ll eat it tomorrow.

Caryn Hartglass: I had corn yesterday.

Mark Rifkin: There’s your lysine.

Caryn Hartglass: (laughs)

Mark Rifkin: It’s interesting that most of the planet, most of the populations of the world that evolved eating plant-based diets, evolved eating a naturally enhanced mix of plant protein like beans and rice or beans and corn. That naturally promotes adequate body health and good health and adequate muscle mass.

Caryn Hartglass: Right.

Mark Rifkin: It’s only the Americans that somehow came to the conclusion that you had to eat meat in order to grow big and strong. Like Superman.

Caryn Hartglass: Big is not necessarily better.

Mark Rifkin: Yes, big is not necessarily better. If we actually… my latest take on the issue is that the cows are vegan.

Caryn Hartglass: That’s right. Naturally vegan. So the one’s that are unfortunately in factory farms are eating some very strange diets.

Mark Rifkin: Right. That’s true but less… at least give the cow the benefit of good animal welfare conditions. And, hope that at least some cows are still vegan.

Caryn Hartglass: Right. Oh, certainly some are.

Mark Rifkin: And, growing up big and strong nonetheless. And, full of essential amino acids.

Caryn Hartglass: Okay, so there are a lot of athletes or people that are into bodybuilding and they go to lecture or talk to other people and they are told that they absolutely have to eat meat to get the essential amino acids necessary for building muscles.

Mark Rifkin: Yes, well.

Caryn Hartglass: I figured out which ones those are like creatine and taurine- are those some of them? I don’t know.

Mark Rifkin: Well, creatine is not technically an amino acid. It is another nutrient that has been associated with increased muscle mass in some people. That source is a allegedly animal protein but part of the equation is: has anybody even looked at vegetarian proteins for creating or increasing production? A lot of what we know is limited by what we haven’t even bothered to look for.

Caryn Hartglass: Right.

Mark Rifkin: So, the conclusion is, well you need animal protein not only to get the creatine but there’s some that claim that we need much more protein intakes- than what even the government recommends. Of course, a lot of people think that the government’s recommendations are over exaggerated. So, the thought would be that if you need huge amount of protein say for a 160 lbs. male. Some people would think that the man needs 120 grams of protein.

Caryn Hartglass: That’s a lot.

Mark Rifkin: That’s a lot.

Caryn Hartglass: Anything over a hundred is a lot. Isn’t it?

Mark Rifkin: Well, I suppose if your name is Arnold 100 grams of protein might not be that much but protein intake or protein requirements are of course dependent on your body size.

Caryn Hartglass: Do you have a recommended ratio of protein, carbohydrates, and sat- like calories?

Mark Rifkin: Yes. There’s a range. Some people will got to the high end and some people will go to the low end, but generally speaking carbohydrates somewhere a least 55%-65%. Some people may even go up to 70%. The remaining 30% can be more/less evenly divide between fat and protein. That will provide plenty of amino acids for building muscle mass. It’s really not all that complex, but the claim is that vegetable proteins… Well, number one, vegetable proteins have less protein in unit per volume then in an equivalent quantity of animal protein. Vegetable proteins also usually come with fiber. So, ultimately that means you’re going to fill up on less protein. And it would be very hard to get a 120 or 150 grams of protein a day eating black beans. I don’t care how good the burrito is.

Caryn Hartglass: But it’s not hard to get 40, 50, or even 60 grams of protein.

Mark Rifkin: Right. Or even 70 or 80. I think that’s also a part of the equation or part of the misinformation of some section of the bodybuilding community that have for years. That you can’t get big on plant protein.

Caryn Hartglass: Is it true if we want to get big, the ratio of protein, carbohydrates, and fats should always stay the same.

Mark Rifkin: More or less…

Caryn Hartglass: And, just eat more calories, if we are burning more..

Mark Rifkin: Yes, exactly. Because, our muscles are literally our furnace which drives metabolism. Bigger muscle mass means bigger furnace, which means bigger appetite, which means more calorie intake. So, generally speaking, bigger appetites generally require increased protein requirements.

Caryn Hartglass: Right.

Mark Rifkin: So, you’ll be eating more protein that say a typical male perhaps or a typical female. But, you’re appetite will naturally accommodate what you need.

Caryn Hartglass: What do you think about protein powders?

Mark Rifkin: In most case for most people they are a complete waste of money. Do they contain protein? Yeah. As usuable protein, yeah. But, why go pay $40 a can when you go to your grocery store and get, oh what is this thing called? OH. Food! Oh! That’s what it’s called! Food!

Caryn Hartglass: (laughs)

Mark Rifkin: Instead of getting some chemically synthesized or perhaps broken down whey protein or pea protein even, go buy food!

Caryn Hartglass: It also ends up given you the wrong balance or wrong mix of protein, carbohydrates, and fats.

Mark Rifkin: It could, depending on how you use it. But, if again we go back to person whose state of health is somehow compromised. Particularly, if their gut health is compromised, packing in more protein with the protein powder might not be a bad idea.

Caryn Hartglass: Right. Some people on chemotherapy might want to…

Mark Rifkin: Obviously, cancer chemotherapy, same thing, but if they have God forbid they have colon cancer, or they are on a steady stream of antibiotics, which would impair digestion. God forbid, they might have lost some portion of their intestines, which perish the thought that that’s actually considered proper therapy now a days. But…

Caryn Hartglass: Right.

Mark Rifkin: But.. yeah. So, with those types of people living in those limited circumstances, and it’s an unfortunate situation but protein needs to go up. They might also go up in cases of food allergies like Celiac’s Disease. Because absorbtion can be impaired due to the allergy. Particularly, if symptoms are continuing because perhaps all the triggers have yet not been identified.

Caryn Hartglass: Celiac’s Disease is when you have an allergy to wheat.

Mark Rifkin: Yes. Thanks for clarifying that. Yes. Celiac’s Disease is an allergy to wheat, and…

Caryn Hartglass: More and more people are experiencing it.

Mark Rifkin: Yes. One researcher, I know, who is well respected in the Celiac community suggest that it is under diagnosed by a factor of 40. That is four-zero.

Caryn Hartglass: Right. There’s more of it than we know.

Mark Rifkin: There’s a lot more of it than we know. People aren’t just recognizing the symptoms, as being associated with what they are eating. They just think having constant diarrhea, unexplained weight loss, heartburns, irregular monthly cycles. They think that that’s just part of life. And, it could be but, it could be also…

Caryn Hartglass: It doesn’t have to be.

Mark Rifkin: Yes. Fortunately, wheat is one of the top eight allergens and has to be identified on food labels. Along with corn, soy, peanuts, tree nuts, fish, and dairy. Now, of course, my question is I don’t think we had Celiac’s disease, even diagnosed at the rate that we are seeing today- say 30 years ago.

Caryn Hartglass: There are a lot of reasons for that though.

Mark Rifkin: Right.

Caryn Hartglass: Wheat is everything today. It’s also… most of it isn’t whole wheat, it’s a very processed version of wheat, it’s also very hybridized.

Mark Rifkin: Right.

Caryn Hartglass: So, maybe the more ancient versions of wheat like spelt…
Mark Rifkin: …and kamut…

Caryn Hartglass: And, kamut. I haven’t had that in a while!

Mark Rifkin: Yes. There’s also a new wheat that is just recently selling. In Trader Joe’s…

Caryn Hartglass: We’re always given Trader Joe’s free plugs here. (laughs)

Mark Rifkin: Yeah, well. I’m not sure I’m going to pronounce this correctly but it looks like: free-cah. It’s spelled f-r-e-e-k-e-h. Looks like freeky or freekah.

Caryn Hartglass: Right. What is it?

Mark Rifkin: It’s a variety of wheat that I’m presuming is an heirloom variety. I haven’t done a lot of research into yet. But what I suspect is happening is that not only is the wheat that we are eating processed, but we are eating wheat three times a day.

Caryn Hartglass: Right.

Mark Rifkin: For breakfast, lunch and dinner; frequently for snacks. And, then we are going to do it all again tomorrow. And, the day after that, and the day after that, and…

Caryn Hartglass: What’s the standard American diet? It’s a lot of bread, meat, and dairy- cheese.

Mark Rifkin: Right.

Caryn Hartglass: And, chips and cookies, and pretzels, and pasta.

Mark Rifkin: Right.

Caryn Hartglass: So, it’s all white flour food, meat, and dairy.

Mark Rifkin: Right, and I also think that a lot of people have- due to various reasons- compromised digestion, which ultimately puts the digestion system at risk of absorbing unintended protein. What some people call leaky guts. So, what’s the most common protein that we expose ourselves to? Wheat.

Caryn Hartglass: Right

Mark Rifkin: We’re constantly spinning the roulette wheel every time we eat it. What’s going to compromise our guts? Stress, antibiotics, poor diet. We’re all experiencing some version of at least stress. A lot of people are on poor diets and are constantly on antibiotics for god knows what. They may have an undiagnosed food allergy, which increases their risk of exposure to another allergy.

Caryn Hartglass: Oh, I didn’t know that.

Mark Rifkin: Because their gut’s already compromised. If they’re still eating the trigger that they haven’t yet identified. Ultimately, that opens a door that never should be opened, in the gut to proteins that enter the bloodstream and never should enter that blood stream. The blood stream attacks it because it’s a foreign body. It should have been broken down and it wasn’t.

Caryn Hartglass: That leads to a lot of autoimmune diseases.

Mark Rifkin: Yeah. A lot of autoimmune diseases, food allergies. Major complications with many aspects of health. It’s sort of like a domino effect. That’s why I think we’re suddenly having an explosion of food allergies. Particularly Celiac. Particularly soy and peanuts.

Caryn Hartglass: And Genetically Modified soy. Especially.

Mark Rifkin: Right, and the whole genetically modified into the mix. So, is it any wonder we’re having food allergies, like we used to have the common cold. No, I don’t that’s much of a mystery. Well, we got a major problem and the answer is inside of us.

Caryn Hartglass: All answers are inside of us.

Mark Rifkin: Yes.

Caryn Hartglass: OK. So, somebody comes to you because they want help with their diet. Where do you start and where do you go?

Mark Rifkin: I usually go to their house.

Caryn Hartglass: (laughs) Okay. You make house calls!

Mark Rifkin: I make house calls.

Caryn Hartglass: Fabulous!

Mark Rifkin: First, I need to understand for what reasons do they need help with their diet. Is it a food allergy? Do they have high cholesterol? Are they trying to lose weight? Do they have diabetes? Do they have joint pains? Are they losing some density? Do they just want to eat better to avoid all these problems? Ultimately, it’s a matter of finding out where the particular challenge is.

Caryn Hartglass: So, you’re approach is different depending on what element they may have.

Mark Rifkin: Exactly. The approach has to be different for every element. Now, ultimately, in some sense, the dietary prescription is very much the same. In other words, the diet that treats high cholesterol also lowers blood pressure.

Caryn Hartglass: Right. So, maybe the end goal is the same but the way you get there might be different. In terms of diet.

Mark Rifkin: Well, it is similar. Yes. Although, each person is going to have their unique requests and preferences. And, perhaps food allergies that are going to impact what they can eat. Then, of course, we have to put their unique flavors on it. So, my latest approach is that prevention is not your only your best protection but it also tastes good too.

Caryn Hartglass: That’s right! We love our food.

Mark Rifkin: Steamed broccoli might not float many people’s boats, but put a little orange sauce on it, and a little hot pepper…

Caryn Hartglass: Orange sauce?

Mark Rifkin: Orange sauce!

Caryn Hartglass: What is that? Just… How do you make that?

Mark Rifkin: Orange juice, a little bit of hot pepper flakes or cayenne pepper. A little bit of sweetener, it doesn’t have to be a lot and a few other ingredients. Put it all on a very low light- so it thickens. Add a little bit of cornstarch or arrowroot, and you have some orange sauce. Put that on you’re broccoli, asparagus, put it on your kale or put it on your spinach. The advantage is that… Well, if it tastes good it’s not good for you, but they have to get rid of that.

Caryn Hartglass: Right. It should taste good.

Mark Rifkin: Absolutely. So, part of the challenge, I think that people have been changing their diets is that they don’t know where to start. They also don’t know what to believe anymore.

Caryn Hartglass: That’s true. They hear so much. So, many sound bites of nonsense.

Mark Rifkin: I love the Internet. I couldn’t do my job without it. But, in some sense the Internet is providing misinformation overload.

Caryn Hartglass: That’s true. Well, one place people can get good information is this show, It’s All About Food. We only give you the good stuff.

Mark Rifkin: Absolutely.

Caryn Hartglass: That’s what we’re doing right now. And, I wish I could give people samples over the Internet or over the phone. To show them how good things taste. So, let’s say I have diabetes and I come to you. Where would we start?

Mark Rifkin: Well, presuming diabetes Type 2. Correct?

Caryn Hartglass: Yes.

Mark Rifkin: Okay. Well, first I would look at your history. What are you eating on daily basis? What medications and supplements are you taking? What’s your family history? Also, what are you doing to adjust stress? Are you sleeping well?

Caryn Hartglass: That’s so important!

Mark Rifkin: So important. I think we’re always scratching the surface of how important sleep is.

Caryn Hartglass: I know. So many people tell me… they say, you know, “I’m really tired. Is there something I should be eating?” What should I say? “Are you sleeping?” And, usually the answer is “Um, probably not enough.

Mark Rifkin: Right, or they’re interrupted.

Caryn Hartglass: Yes, that’s a good sleep.

Mark Rifkin: I think a lot of people are either: they’re not sleeping long enough or they’re sleep schedule is staggered. Or they get interrupted by their own biology or their spouse- when they’re moving around at 3 in the morning or something. For some reason they are interrupted. Especially, when as we get older, you know, the nighttime needs to urinate, somehow. It frequently increases, but even that is now being associated with diet. Particularly in men.

Caryn Hartglass: Oh, what do you mean?

Mark Rifkin: Prostate enlargement.

Caryn Hartglass: Okay, then you have the urge to urinate more often.

Mark Rifkin: Yep. You have the urge to urinate more often and there’s some data coming out that prostate enlargement can be mitigated with a good diet.

Caryn Hartglass: Yes. Dr. Dean Ornish has done a bit of work there.

Mark Rifkin: I thought he didn’t work with prostate cancer.

Caryn Hartglass: Oh, prostate cancer. Well aren’t they related?

Mark Rifkin: No.

Caryn Hartglass: No. Okay.

Mark Rifkin: But, I don’t blame you. I mean, you don’t have a prostate. So, you’re not experienced in that department.

Caryn Hartglass: But, prostate health is definitely shown to improve with a healthy, near vegan diet.

Mark Rifkin: Yes, and Dr. Dean Ornish is doing wonderful things with prostate cancer.

All data are in the positive direction. That a good diet not only prevents prostate cancer but also can prevent recurrent.

Caryn Hartglass: So, let me get back to the diabetic. Other foods or menus that you recommend that they can start with. Or it really depends on the individual?

Mark Rifkin: It depends on the individual but what I try to do is help them take their existing menu and tweak just a little bit. So, they’re eating more or less the same kinds of foods and the same…. prepared in similar ways. Hopefully, it’s not fried chicken we are talking about. And, to resist as easily and seamlessly as possible to their lifestyle- without turning it upside down.

Caryn Hartglass: Okay. That’s good. And then you might work towards improving it over time as they get more comfortable with eliminating bad foods and adding the good foods. Okay.

Mark Rifkin: Exactly. Well, I try not to use the word ‘bad’, but…

Caryn Hartglass: …bad foods (laughs)

Mark Rifkin: We have health and less healthy. For example, instead of going to your favorite Chinese restaurant and getting a big dish of god knows what deep fried with white rice, coated in sugar and salt. And, god knows… probably two or three tablespoons of grease, if not more. We can improve it. How do we improve it? We buy a container of sauce. Buy a container of the Chinese restaurant sauce. Take it home. We cook our own protein. We’re using our own vegetables. Which puts the cook in control of the oil and puts the cook in control of the sauce

Caryn Hartglass: Right. A lot less sauce goes a long way.

Mark Rifkin: Exactly. A lot less sauce and a lot less sugar, a lot less salt, a lot less fat. And, a lot less calories.

Caryn Hartglass: Right.

Mark Rifkin: Instead of the local Chinese carry-out dictating how much in what you eat. You dictate what and how much you eat.

Caryn Hartglass: Now, can diabetics eat fruit?

Mark Rifkin: Absolutely. I encourage diabetics to eat fruit.

Caryn Hartglass: Cause a lot them think that they can’t.

Mark Rifkin: There’s still a lot of misunderstanding out there. As a whole, the medical community has done, shall we say, a less than optimal job in diabetes education. Hopefully we are improving. Actually, I just did a series of diabetes grocery tours here in my local community in Baltimore. The grocery store was presently surprised at the demand. Which, I guess, you can say in a way that’s a bad thing that that many people have a need for a diabetes grocery tour.

Caryn Hartglass: You know a grocery tour is really great. Not just for people with diabetes, but for most people. I don’t know how it happened but it happened very fast. In our culture. where people have just forgotten what to do with whole fresh foods, and they’re lost in the produce department. If it doesn’t come in a white box they don’t know what to with it.

Mark Rifkin: Well, I think part of that was the change in our economy, as we, a lot of families moved to two income arrangements, a lot of cooking went right out the window. And then that’s been passed down to the next generation.

Caryn Hartglass: Right. They’re really clueless.

Mark Rifkin: Yeah. The cooking is buying something frozen. Popping in the microwave.

Caryn Hartglass: But, you can know you can still do some good things with some frozen foods. Like frozen vegetables.

Mark Rifkin: Absolutely. Absolutely.

Caryn Hartglass: And, make something really quick and good for you.

Mark Rifkin: Frozen may be nutritionally superior to fresh, in some cases.

Caryn Hartglass: Right, I’ve heard that because they harvest the food and freeze it quickly- with all the nutrients.

Mark Rifkin: Usually, that day or the next day. So, it’s a suspended animation. Broccoli, say coming from Mexico, which is where a lot of broccoli seems to come from, losing nutrients every mile. Every day it’s stored it’s losing nutrients. So, by the time it gets to most people’s grocery stores…

Caryn Hartglass: Which could be a month.

Mark Rifkin: Exactly.

Caryn Hartglass: Well, it can be because sometimes they play with it to get better prices. They’ll keep them in cold storage before they even get to the grocery store.

I’ve heard some horror stories about fresh foods

Mark Rifkin: Right. Unless, you’re going to the farmer’s market, you know the broccoli was picked yesterday. It’ll probably last you, in your fridge, for a week or more. If you’re picking up your fresh broccoli at the grocery store and it’s not identified as local chances are it’s already a week or two old, if not longer. It’ll go bad in your fridge in three days, and another reason why people don’t eat their vegetables.

Caryn Hartglass: Okay. There are some people that say they have Irritable Bowel or Crohn’s disease, and they can’t eat raw foods or foods with a lot of fiber. What do you do with them?

Mark Rifkin: Well, frequently, the game is to find out which of those foods are their triggers. Particularly, IBS, which is irritable bowel syndrome. Which is basically marked by alternating diarrhea, constipation, and sometimes, more frequent, defecation. But, it’s frequently related to stress.

Caryn Hartglass: Ahh.

Mark Rifkin: Thus, an irritable bowel. It’s also aggravated by caffeine. It can be aggravated by high fat meals. It can be aggravated some artificial sweeteners, like sorbitol and sucralose.

Caryn Hartglass: Okay.

Mark Rifkin: and sucralose. Which if eaten in large quantities, it induces diarrhea.

Caryn Hartglass: So, once you identify what the difficulties are. Can people eat….

Mark Rifkin: Oh yeah!

Caryn Hartglass: More high fiber and raw foods.

Mark Rifkin: Yes, the key is to start slow.

Caryn Hartglass: Okay.

Mark Rifkin: Not to jump into the broccoli bin but just dip the big to toe so to speak. Slowly start. Once we’ve identified and removed most of the triggers. Or all the triggers. Then we can start. Also, in consort with applying some nutrients and some probiotics.

Caryn Hartglass: That was my next question. Do probiotics fit into this picture?

Mark Rifkin: Absolutely. There is good data, particularly a species of probiotics that have show to have minimized the symptoms of IBS.

Caryn Hartglass: Which are those?

Mark Rifkin: Well there’s a product on the market called VSL. That is in Victor Samuel Larry. VSL #3. Has clinical data and support of its use to reduce IBS symptoms.

Caryn Hartglass: Well, I’ll look into that.

Mark Rifkin: Ultimately, I think IBS is multifactorial. Which means there’s lots of cause and lots of factors and they’re not always the same. It’s also frequently what is called diagnosis of exclusion.

Caryn Hartglass: Is Crohn’s Disease a similar approach?

Mark Rifkin: Well, Crohn’s Disease is a unique case. Actually, I have a niece with Crohn’s. I have a cousin with Crohn’s and I have another cousin with Colitis. All in the same side of the family, which seems to much greater risk in the Jewish population which roots in Eastern Europe. Now, why that is? Well, there are lots of theories. Michael Greger from the Humane Society of the United States theorizes a link to dairy products….

Caryn Hartglass: Right.

Mark Rifkin: …because there’s a bacterium in most dairy herds that causes remarkably very similar symptoms as Crohn’s patients. I think there was a few studies that showed nearly all Crohn’s patients had this bacterium.

Caryn Hartglass: Interesting.

Mark Rifkin: Yes. I don’t believe that most non-Crohn’s patients have this bacterium. So, this is another huge problem that basically steals nutrients.

Caryn Hartglass: So, you’re relatives are you helping them? Are they interested in what you can do for them.

Mark Rifkin: Well, unfortunately not dietary therapy for Crohn’s disease is still not as popular as hemorrhoids.

Caryn Hartglass: I know one guy that said he cured himself with Crohn’s disease.

Mark Rifkin: Oh, I think it’s very possible. But, unfortunately the first response tends to be run to the gastroenterologist who is usually not schooled in nutrition therapy or the potential nutrition therapy. I don’t expect every physician to know the details of nutrition therapy, but they least ought to know that it’s possible.

Caryn Hartglass: That’s right.

Mark Rifkin: And, be able to refer out to a dietitian who is skilled in nutrition therapy.

Caryn Hartglass: And, that has to remove a part of a person’s intestines.

Mark Rifkin: Yes. That happened to my cousin, who is about 52, I think, or 51 years old. He had his colon out, or half of his colon, like twenty years ago, they took it out due to colitis. And, Colitis and Crohn’s are more or less the same. It’s the same condition but colitis is inflammation of the colon and Crohn’s can be anywhere in the GI, anywhere in the cut. from mouth to anus.

Caryn Hartglass: Okay. I know I want to talk just briefly about arthritis and gout.

Mark Rifkin: Arthritis and gout. Well, you sure are definitely running the gamut here!

Caryn Hartglass: If you don’t want to talk about it. I just thinking of people I know and family members, and friends who have these problems. I’m thinking, boy, they could really use to have Mark Rifkin around in their life with some information. So, I guess I’ll just hit you with the questions.

Mark Rifkin: Let me wrap up Crohn’s really quickly.

Caryn Hartglass: Okay.

Mark Rifkin: There are also some benefits with probiotics and colitis. The data is not so good with Crohn’s disease. For some reason, I don’t know why. Also, whole fresh foods, once the symptoms have been relieved, is part of the therapy. More fruits and vegetables, less animal fat, less total fat, less dairy foods. That would definitely be consistent with Michael Greger’s theory. Of course, addressing stress and depression issues which also play roles. There are lots of way to look at Crohn’s and IBS. As far as gout. Actually, we have a friend here who has gout.

Caryn Hartglass: Oh, that I know.

Mark Rifkin: He’s had some major challenges with it. Gout is basically for those people that are unfamiliar with it. It’s more or less a collection of uric acid crystals (gee, doesn’t that sound exciting) in the joints. These crystals are more or less like needles. So, when you move you have pain. lots of pain. The old stereotype of gout from say two or three hundred years ago was a typical portly rich affluent man who was drinking to all hours of the night and eating particularly high protein animal foods, especially, organ meat.

Caryn Hartglass: And, some fish too.

Mark Rifkin: I think I have mixed information about fish. But, they’re drinking especially beer and hard liquor. Which seems to be… Oh, also… Actually, I do have some data here about… Well, fish may be related. Yes, you’re right. So, the typical male from two hundred years ago was eating a recipe for gout- basically. Now, I also think there’s a genetic component, particularly our friend from the local area. His diet from what I’ve seen is pretty good. But, he’s still having some symptoms. Either there’s another dietary or other environmental factor role or there’s a genetic factor playing a role. But, how much time do we have left, about five minutes?

Caryn Hartglass: Well, yeah, about four minutes.

Mark Rifkin: Four minutes. Okay. I guess it’s San Francisco time.

Caryn Hartglass: (laughs)

Mark Rifkin: But, certain foods, particularly some that are high in a compound called purine, which is a kind of protein that tends to concentrate mostly in animal protein and some beans. Unfortunately. But, not all beans. And, they don’t know. It’s just that some beans have it and some beans don’t have that much. What they did find, most notably, was that drinking more water helps. Which always, at least it helps with many conditions. And, also cherries and berries.

Caryn Hartglass: Are they a problem or they help?

Mark Rifkin: No, they help.

Caryn Hartglass: They help with all kinds of inflammation.

Mark Rifkin: Yes, we actually have a study. I think it’s a couple of hundred women eating cherries and if they ate enough cherries, which is about a half a pound a day. Which is a lot of cherries but there was significant decrease in symptoms.

Caryn Hartglass: Wow. Now, that’s a fun way to take care of a problem. Cause cherries are fabulous.

Mark Rifkin: Yes, fabulous!

Caryn Hartglass: And, what about cherry concentrate? Does that work as well?

Mark Rifkin: Yes. You could do a cherry concentrate or we can also buy cherry concentrated in capsule. But, of course, as close to the source is best. So, if you can’t do whole cherries at least do the concentrate. You wonder how much of the original ingredient is left by the time they put it in a capsule.

Caryn Hartglass: Right.

Mark Rifkin: But, there’s also suspicions that other berries including blackberries, strawberries, and raspberries, have essentially the same compound and probably would produce the same benefits.

Caryn Hartglass: How do people get ahold of you if they’re in Baltimore area, and they want to have consultation.

Mark Rifkin: Ah, the best way to get me is my phone number, which is: (410) 764- and the just look for the letters on your phone- VEGE.

Caryn Hartglass: VEGE. Very good.

Mark Rifkin: Yeah, I wonder what that spells.

Caryn Hartglass: (laughs). Great. Well, I think what we’ve learned today, maybe we knew it before or not is that most of element that most people are plagued with today can be resolved or greatly improved by nutritional excellence. And, there are people out there like Mark that can help you get to a better place.

Mark Rifkin: Yep.

Caryn Hartglass: Did you want to add something to that?

Mark Rifkin: Yeah, and again it’s much the same diet. The same cherries that will help with gout. Well, they’re are also helpful for cardiovascular issues, they’re are also probably helpful for arthritis. They’re also probably helpful for diabetes.

Caryn Hartglass: And, the bottom line is you and I, as well as many other people, are testament to the fact that not only are these foods healthy, but they taste great. And, there’s ways to make them taste great and the variety is incredible. I like to say, you can have your cake and eat it too. But, maybe not cake. You can have- I don’t know- you’re great tasting tofu or something like that.

Mark Rifkin: Well, people can still have cake, as long as…

Caryn Hartglass: And, they can have cake too! I know.

Mark Rifkin: As long, as their portion is not the whole cake.

Caryn Hartglass: Right.

Mark Rifkin: We need to get back to what, you know…. As much as we criticize the government, their information about portion sizes is that they’ve updated the guidelines recently to include much more fruits and vegetables. They’re not that bad, actually.

Caryn Hartglass: Right. Mark it’s been great. You’ve been great. You know so much, and I hope you get to share your knowledge with as many people as possible.

Mark Rifkin: Thank you for having me on. It’s been wonderful.

Caryn Hartglass: I’ll have to talk to you again, soon.

Mark Rifkin: It’s been wonderful. I wish you continuous success and continued good health with your challenges.

Caryn Hartglass: Thank you. Okay. This has been It’s All About Food. Thank you.

Transcribed by Jennifer Tzoc, 6/24/2014

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