Published on February 11th, 2016 | by Andrea Bertoli1
Can a Vegan Diet Cure Illness?
I recently wrote a post on Care2 about how a vegan diet can help alleviate symptoms of depression, and it made me wonder if it was possible that a vegan diet cure illness of all sorts.
In the post, I examine the link between a healthy diet and depression, which is a multi-faceted and complex issue, and there is no one single cure for everyone. However, some really compelling evidence has shown the a plant based diet can help many patients heal from depression and anxiety.
Read the full post here about vegan diets and depression.
While doing research for that post I came across some more really interesting research and stories that showed that a vegan diet can help reduce symptoms of many health concerns.
How Can a Vegan Diet Cure Illness?
Becky Striepe of Eat Drink Better recently attended a Food as Medicine conference, and wrote that while each doctor at the conference presented a unique view, “a common thread woven through all of them: a healthy, plant-based diet can mitigate and often even cure lifestyle diseases.”
She also reports that Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn, Jr. thinks that a plant-based diet is “a revolutionary treatment and preventive for disease.”
Dr. Greger, a nutrition and health expert has explained that lifestyle diseases like heart disease and diabetes are entirely preventable, treatable, and curable with a healthier diet. These diseases are the leading causes of death in the US; these are also the diseases that are linked directly with high animal food consumption.
And Forks Over Knives, the plant-based media group that has produced incredible documentaries and maintains an active website devoted to sharing the benefits of plant foods, features many stories about individuals that have healed depression, addiction, prediabetes, and helped people lose excess weight, among dozens of other health success stories.
Amie Valpone, of The Healthy Apple, recently shared her story of healing on our sister site, Eat Drink Better. Valpone explained that eating a clean, detoxifying diet is what helped heal her after 10 years of debilitating disease, including Lyme disease and Colitis. Valpone says that eating clean is about choosing simple plant foods that nourish the body naturally.
“Detox is also about cleaning up what you’ve got going on inside of your body (ex: your gut health– since almost 80% of your immune system is in your gut) and replenishing it with organic foods so that you’re not ingesting toxins that can wreak havoc on your gut as well as adding in prebiotic and probiotic-rich foods.”
Another thing that’s pretty clear is that a plant-based diet can help reduce inflammation, which is a key factor in many other health issues, including heart health and rheumatoid arthritis . Chronic inflammation is not only a concern for athletes, but for everyone, and the most common inflammation-inducing foods are meat, dairy and sugar. Diet is also a key factor in preventing, treating and, yes, curing diabetes.
What is the Secret of Plants?
Nutrition is a complicated and amazing science, and one that researchers are still trying to figure out.
It is abundantly clear that plants have important nutrients that are not found in processed foods and animal foods. Some of the most powerful include antioxidants, which help fight free radical damage and keep our cells in top shape. Dr. Greger of Nutrition Facts has presented the relative antioxidant value of plant foods vs. animal foods in this helpful video.
Plants are also the only source of phytonutrients, a fancy word that plant compounds or plant chemicals. Phytonutrients offer an array of protective and healing benefits for our body. Some of the more commonly known phytonutrients include anthocyanidins, found in the purple foods like berries and red cabbage, and glucosinolates, found in leafy green veggies. These compounds have very strong anti-cancer effects on the body, and have beneficial effects on the liver. There are estimated to be about 40,000 phytonutrients, and you can be sure that if you’re not eating an abundance and a variety of plants, you’re missing out.
Even if you think you’re getting your vitamins when taking a multi-vitamin, drinking a smoothie powder, or eating enriched foods, most likely your diet is lacking. Eating nutrients in isolation or in a pill simply does not meet our myriad nutritional needs.
Eating a diet that is mostly plant-based, and full of all the vibrant colors of the plant kingdom is the surest way to improve your health. Whether you are fighting a disease or a condition, or just trying to maintain a healthy body, plants are the key to true wellness.