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Why Am I Doing This?

Obesity is at record highs in the world - not just in adults, but in children also. Cancer, chronic illness and diseases are following these same trends. We are living at a time when medical technology is so advanced, but people are sicker and dealing with chronic pain. The three contributors to chronic illnesses are lack of physical activity, environmental factors and nutrition. In medical school we don’t receive a lot of training on the subject of nutrition. Early in my career I attended a nutrition conference given by Mayo Clinic. While at the conference the most striking message I received from one of the doctors presenting was “You cannot out exercise a bad diet.” A light bulb came on in my head. What? You cannot out exercise a bad diet? I had been trying to do this for years. I was also emphasizing to my patients to just exercise more, either harder or longer. So why was I emphasizing exercise so much? After listening to the nutrition doctor, I wondered what is a good diet? After research and personal experience, I have concluded that a plant-based diet is key to a healthier lifestyle and can stop the progression of and even reverse chronic disease. My family’s medical history includes people who are morbidly obese, who have cancer, heart disease, high blood pressure and diabetes. Growing up I assumed our afflictions were caused by genetics. In retrospect, the foods we ate at family gatherings included bar-b-que pork, hamburgers, hot dogs, macaroni & cheese, potato/egg salad, potato chips, soda pop and so much more. I now realize that lifestyle may have contributed more to our illnesses than the DNA we share. A joke between my sisters and I was “It doesn’t run in the family, but it’s that no one runs (exercises) in the family.” After all the information I have learned, I’ve changed my approach with patients. I educate my patients that food is medicine. I bluntly tell my patients that if they don’t eat nutrient rich foods they may end up needing medicine. The human body is a miraculous machine. If we give it the right tools, we can heal ourselves.

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