Large population studies confirm a direct correlation between the rates of chronic illness and the percent of animal products consumed in the diet of that population. As the percentage of animal and processed foods rise, so does illness - cancer, heart disease, autoimmune, and diabetes, just to name a few. For this reason, diets based on animal products contributes to the slow progression of the top 15 causes of death and disability. In fact, according to the World Health Organization, 80% of all deaths are attributed to inadequate fruit and vegetable intake and poor lifestyle habits. Keeping this in mind, research shows that fruits and vegetables contain 64 more times the antioxidants than animal foods. For example, the average antioxidant content in meat is 100, compared to an average of 290,000 in plant foods. A diet deficient in antioxidants and rich in saturated animal fats deprives our cells of oxygen, promotes fat storage, inflammation, oxidative stress, free radical production, unfavorable intestinal flora, and impairs our immune system. Additionally, consuming animal products and refined vegetable oils keeps our blood in a constant state of being thick and fatty. Nutrients and oxygen levels are then reduced, and our cells starve. Consequently, "every disease known to man may be generated." Indeed, we have become an overfed, yet undernourished nation, digging our own graves with our forks and knives. Day after day, year after year, the typical American diet overburdens our body with toxic, nutrient-deficient foods, promoting illness with every meal.
Consuming a diet rich in whole plant foods however results in a healthy cardiovascular and immune system; therefore supporting optimal health. Why haven't we heard this from our family physician? You'll be surprised to find out that most medical schools fail to provide the bare minimum in nutritional training. Less than 25% of medical schools offer a single course in nutrition and some graduating physicians haven't had a single course at all. Out of thousands of clinical instruction hours, some may receive as little as three hours. Due to their lack of training, doctors very rarely counsel patients about lifestyle modification for chronic disease prevention. Unless they have studied nutrition on their own, especially plant-based nutrition, doctors are unaware that a whole-food, plant-based diet can prevent and reverse chronic disease.
A study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition showed that people off the street often know more about basic nutrition than physicians do. These findings are very alarming, since many patients ask their physician questions concerning nutrition. Since our health care system places very little importance on nutrition, our doctor's nutritional advice may be attributing to the progression of our illness. This is distressing, considering nutrition plays a vital role in the development of most chronic disease.
Unfortunately, we live in a culture that wants a quick fix. Modern medicine promises fantastic benefits, it gives us what we want and not what we need. Instead of devoting our time and effort into making meaningful dietary changes (which would ameliorate the majority of most illness) our current health care system has become very profitable/successful in selling sickness by adopting a pill or surgical procedure mentality to solve every possible ailment known to man. Likewise, teaching or practicing preventative medicine is not profitable since there are no financial incentives for prescribing healthy lifestyle habits. Quite frankly, a doctor's prescription pad relinquishes a patient from taking any responsibility on their own to make any significant dietary/lifestyle changes. It's a "permission slip" to continue to indulge in bad habits and addictions without having to put forth any effort. This offers quick fixes for symptomatic relief instead of treating the underlying cause of disease, which is a nutrient-deficient, highly acidic/inflammatory, toxic, low-fiber diet. It's important to realize that aggressive medical treatment and error is the third leading cause of death. In fact, Dr. John McDougall says, the pharmaceutical business helps us "die sooner with good looking numbers!"
This is why it is so very important for us to educate ourselves concerning plant-based nutrition, so that we can team up with our physicians and decide on the course of our medical care together. It's exciting to see more doctors learning how dietary excellence plays a major role in the prevention and reversal of disease. In particular, Dr. Kim A. Williams, a cardiologist at Rush University in Chicago (and a past president of the American College of Cardiology), has embraced a whole-food, plant-based diet and now recommends it to his patients.
By giving our bodies superior nutrition, we can avoid food addictions, encourage longevity, and support an immune system that resists disease. It's never too late to start your journey towards excellent and vibrant health. Disease prevention and reversal begins with the first bite! If you are interested in locating a physician that has taken the time and effort to educate himself/herself on the powerful benefits that plant-based nutrition has to offer, click on the three resources below to locate a medical professional near you:
- Doctors That Use Plant-Based Nutrition - Pinterest Board
- Happy Herbivore Plant-Based Doctor List
For more information, visit the webpages below:
Photo Credit: VegDocs