Eat Your Way to Health

Food is the most powerful medicine. Discover 12 healthful foods that can help prevent cancer, cardiovascular disease and much more.

| July/August 2015

Every winter, Denise—a 45-year-old schoolteacher from western New York—could predict the regular onslaught of cold-induced asthma attacks and an annual sinus infection. But this past winter, she remained healthy all season long, a first for her.

What made the difference? Denise believes it’s that she had changed her diet over the past year to be less processed and more plant-based.

“My motivation initially was weight loss,” says Denise, who was inspired to change her and her family’s diet after watching the movie Fat, Sick & Nearly Dead. “Yes, I lost some weight; about 14 pounds. But I was surprised—shocked actually—to find that, as a result of this diet, my asthma and sinus problems seem to be completely gone.”

Denise’s results come as no surprise to doctors such as Ronald Weiss, an internist from West New York who purchased a 348-acre farm four years ago to create the first farm-based medical practice. “Food is medicine,” Weiss says, quoting the ancient Greek physician Hippocrates who coined the phrase “Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.”

But processed food, packaged food and genetically modified foods don’t count, says Boulder, Colorado-based Robyn O’Brien, author of The Unhealthy Truth: One Mother’s Shocking Investigation Into the Dangers of America’s Food Supply—and What Every Family Can Do to Protect Itself. “We’ve gotten so far away from real food. What we think to be food in the grocery store is now a processed product full of artificial ingredients,” O’Brien says. “Getting healthy is about getting back to real food and less fake food and less processed stuff.”

By putting the right fuel into our bodies, our immune systems can do their jobs of boosting our overall wellness and resistance to illness and disease. “Our immune system is in our gut,” says Kathie Madonna Swift, a registered dietary nurse, author of The Swift Diet, and education director for Food As Medicine, a professional nutrition training program for physicians and other health-care providers. In fact, 70 to 80 percent of our immune tissue is located in our digestive systems. What we eat, therefore, affects how our bodies fight illnesses and disease, Swift says.

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