Whole-Plant Food 101
by Gwyn Whittaker"Three years on pain medication, and two weeks on this food, and all my pain is gone." So begins only one person's transformation to a whole-plant food lifestyle—one that millions are now embracing as they discover that growing older doesn't have to mean pain, medication, obesity and chronic illness. As Dr. John McDougall likes to proclaim, "It's the food!" that is causing the massive obesity epidemic, and millions of deaths each year from preventable diseases such as heart disease, breast, prostate and colon cancer and diabetes.
The health benefits of whole-plant foods are becoming the new awakening of the population seeking good nutrition; that is, fruits, vegetables, whole grains and beans/nuts and legumes, while avoiding highly processed foods, animal products (meat, dairy, eggs and fish) and the highly addictive salt, sugar and fat, including oils. As the tobacco industry executives reeled from awareness of the long proven, but long delayed recognition by the government of the carcinogenic nature of smoking, they quickly moved into the food industry and began utilizing the addictive aspects of salt, sugar and fat to maximize calories purchased.
The most widely viewed documentary on Netflix, Forks Over Knives, documents two doctor's journeys as they search for the optimal human diet. Dr. T. Colin Campbell, one of the world’s most respected cancer researchers, is chronicled as he conducts his epic The China Study, one of the largest human data collections ever done on diet. His team, funded by the Chinese Premier who had been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, searched for correlations between what people ate and what diseases they had.
With huge volumes of data collected by hundreds of workers across major cities, town and rural villages, cancer maps were generated that vividly portrayed the strong impact of diet on the pervasiveness of breast, prostate and colon cancer. The locations with whole-plant lifestyles were almost devoid of these cancers. Genetics was eliminated as a factor as the population was almost exclusively Chinese.
His work impacted Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn, a heart surgeon at the Cleveland Clinic, who had been startled by the rapidly rising number of heart disease patients that he was seeing. Esselstyn had begun working with his patients on changing their diets to low-fat, whole-plant diets and the results were a miracle for those who adopted this lifestyle.
Not only did they stop having events and drop their cholesterol, but angiograms actually showed the regeneration of partially collapsed arteries after several years. Many believe that heart disease is inherited; the uplifting message is that while genetics may be a loaded gun, lifestyle can be the trigger, and it is entirely possible to take control of one’s health through the adoption of a whole-plant food diet.
More than 75 percent of Americans today are overweight or obese, and almost 90 percent of the population is pre-diabetic. The great news for those who have always struggled with their weight and this disease is that a normal weight can be achieved, not through calorie counting or portion control, but by taking things out of the diet that are causing harm. Like a cigarette smoker who quits (not just cuts back), the black lungs will turn pink and it will be like he never smoked.
Eliminating meat, dairy, eggs, fish, along with all oils, enables the same benefit in returning to a healthy weight and the reversal of Type 2 diabetes, which can be entirely reversed within 30 to 45 days on a whole food plant diet, as shown in Dr. Neal Barnard's book, Preventing and Reversing Diabetes.
Gwyn Whittaker is CEO of GreenFare Organic Café, 408 Elden St., Herndon. To learn more about their 21-day KickStart program, developed by the Physician’s Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM), visit GreenFare.com.