Vegan diet is the best medicine for your body
By Anuradha Sawhney Jun 23 2016
Tags: Foods and Drinks
Last week, I read an article on John McDougall, an American physician and best-selling author, who claims that degenerative disease can be prevented and treated with a low-fat, whole foods, plant-based/vegan diet — especially the one based on starches such as potatoes, rice and corn — which excludes animal foods and added vegetable oils.
The McDougall Program uses a pure vegetarian diet, based on starchy vegetables, plus fresh/frozen fruits and other vegetables. McDougall says that our bodies are meant to be healthy; we shouldn’t need drugs or surgery except in times of emergency. Why, then, have we become so dependent on these interventions? The answer is this: all too often it’s the food we eat that is making us sick.
According to drmcdougall.com, when looked at from the perspective of human evolution, the current diet we are eating is a bizarre anomaly, unlike anything we ate over the last four million years. Our blood, arteries, and cells are not designed to function under so much fat and cholesterol. Our intestines are not designed to function in the absence of fibre.
Our immune system is not designed to function without an abundant supply of plant-based nutrients and phytochemicals.
He goes on to say, with our cells drowning in fat, cholesterol, animal proteins and artificial chemicals, and our immune system deprived of what it needs to maintain itself, it’s no wonder so many of us get cancer, heart disease, high blood pressure, adult-onset diabetes, arthritis, osteoporosis and other age-related illnesses.
Even poly and monounsaturated fats – found in large amounts in vegetable oils and fish – have been shown to depress the immune system, increase bleeding and promote cancers, especially those of the colon, prostate and breast. Because all fats are easily stored by the body, too much dietary fat makes people overweight and lays the foundation for a host of other problems like heart disease, cancer and adult-onset diabetes. The body produces all the cholesterol it needs. As for fat, plants already contain adequate amounts, and only plants make the essential fatty acids your body needs to function. What’s more, plant foods never contain cholesterol.
But here’s the best part. Dr McDougall says that given the right diet and lifestyle, the body will recover. When we remove the poisons from our lives and replace them with health-promoting food, the body can heal itself, even from illnesses deemed “incurable.”
This same hypothesis of homeostasis (that our body is always trying to heal itself) is followed by top nutritionist Shveta Sanghani, founder of Wellness and Homeostasis, Mumbai. Sanghani told me that she agrees with the concept of a high-starch diet, accompanied with plant protein acquired from beans, lentils and nuts. Starch like peas, potato (with skin, a better choice), corn, sweet potato and yam are rich in phytochemicals, vitamins and minerals as well as a good source of energy for augmenting performance and efficiency. Starch sources, when accompanied by plant protein, make a complete protein and can be safely consumed when symptoms of high sugar, triglycerides, hormonal imbalance and metabolic syndrome. She said it is a myth that one needs to stop starch to cure metabolic syndromes.
So what Sanghani and McDougall are saying is that if we follow the right diet, we can relax in the innate mechanism of self-regulation, which can be the most potent medicine for our bodies. So, instead of stressing about our illnesses, ensure you eat right and let your body fix itself. “Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food,” said Hippocrates, father of medicine. Eat Food. Not Too much. Mostly Plants.
Please note: if you’re seriously ill or on medication, please consult your physician who knows about nutrition and its effects on health. Never change medications without professional advice. I am not a doctor.
(The writer is a vegan chef and author of The Vegan Kitchen: Bollywood Style!)