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Good food can be good medicine, too

Bill FoxBy Bill Fox/Columnist

I mentioned in my last column that there are studies that indicate that the present generation of youth may be the first to die at a younger age than their parents!

As I mentioned, I have been watching the film Forks Over Knives and purchased the similarly entitled book. I have been amazed at the results that they have outlined in the text. They have a new concept that food is medicine!

Extensive studies, as outlined in the film, indicate that a diet based on fruits, vegetables, tubers, whole grains and legumes makes all the difference in achieving good health. This means giving up any animal products, including dairy!

Dr. Alona Pulde and Dr. Matthew Lederman are two doctors who found traditional medicine lacking, given its emphasis on pills and drugs. I know from personal experience – when I was first introduced to a respected health specialist in Durham Region, I was taken aback at the medicines he had placed front and centre on his desk. Those medicines certainly treated the symptoms of my health problem, but did not address the cause of the disease. Perhaps you can relate with the frustrations of these young doctors as they tried to diagnosis and treat their patients in a 10-minute appointment.

Dr. Pulde had a life changing event when her 55 year old dad, who was in terrific health, suddenly died of a heart attack. He did have high cholesterol, but was on cholesterol-lowering medications and had been following, for the most part, the Mediterranean diet of fruits, vegetables and olive oil. He exercised regularly and ate chicken, turkey and fish instead of beef and lamb and only consumed cheeses and ice cream occasionally. Dr. Pulde wanted to find out what his medicine and diet was worth if her father was unable to live to a ripe old age.

As a result of her father’s untimely death, she researched several doctors who reawakened her world of medicine. Their patients were not only losing weight, but were also getting rid of medications as they reversed their heart disease, cured their diabetes and reduced their blood pressure and cholesterol. What was the secret? These renowned doctors had their patients change their diets and lifestyles. Their patients were told to adopt a low-fat, whole-food, plant-based diet and had to eliminate animal products, oils, refined and processed foods, and get rid of bad habits like smoking.

Dr. Matthew Lederman was so disillusioned with his medical practice that he was ready to leave the medical field. His frustration came because he felt his practice was driven by the pharmaceutical and the insurance industries. Despite giving his patients the best care possible, they were not getting better. He himself was getting ill, being diagnosed with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). Despite taking pill after pill to reduce the symptoms, there was no improvement in his condition. His diet, according to modern medicine, was healthy. He removed lactose for the most part, but sometimes gave in to his cravings for double bacon cheeseburgers accompanied by fries and ice cream – he just figured this was his occasional treat.

He had undergone medical procedures and blood tests looking for potential causes of his escalating symptoms. His father, a cardiologist, suggested that Matthew eliminate alcohol and junk foods and get on the South Beach Diet, but it did not help relieve his symptoms. He went to the bookstores to research nutrition and health and saw that many medical nutritional experts reversed chronic diseases, had their patients lose weight without dieting, and lowered their cholesterol without medications. His initial response was that these people were quacks until he contacted one of them and was invited to come and observe his practice.

He almost instantly became excited and enthusiastic after seeing the results first hand.

He followed the diet recommended, but this meant he had to learn how to cook! Without even trying, he began to lose weight and his symptoms started to disappear until one day he gave into his craving for that double bacon cheese burger, resulting in his symptoms temporarily re-appearing.

Remember, Matthew is a doctor and couldn’t treat himself until he followed these changes in his diet proving that food can be medicine.

One more column on this topic to try to convince you!