The Power of Foods for Health

extraordinary vegan book cover

Articel by Neal Barnard, MD. In our research center in Washington, DC, we are continually surprised at the power of foods for health. A woman named Nancy joined one of our studies to see if she could lose weight and improve her diabetes. We guided her through some diet changes, and yes, she did lose a great deal of weight and her diabetes improved dramatically. But that was not all. One day, she realized that the arthritis pain that had bothered her for years had vanished too. Suddenly, she could open vacuum-packed jars with ease, she no longer winced when shaking hands, and she was able to throw her pain medicines away. A single change in eating habits had accomplished all these things in short order.

In another study, a man enrolled hoping to see if a menu change could help his chronic pain. And it did. But not only did healthy foods deliver on that promise, they also cured his erectile dysfunction!

A young woman came to our research center with terrible menstrual pains. She began a healthy diet, which not only eased her pain but also cured a hormone imbalance, leading to a sudden and surprising end to her long-standing infertility, much to her and her husband’s surprise and delight.

This isn’t magic. It’s simple biology. When people shift to a menu drawn from healthful plant foods, animal fat and cholesterol are not in the diet anymore. And that allows the arteries to reopen, carrying blood and oxygen to all parts of the body. The body’s basic biochemistry changes too, so that the insulin resistance that is the central problem in type 2 diabetes begins to retreat and the inflammation of rheumatoid arthritis melts away. Hormones that have long been askew come back into a more normal balance. People start to feel like themselves again.

When I was in medical school, we didn’t envision any of this. I was taught that diabetes, arthritis, and artery blockages were a one-way street. But surprisingly enough, all of these problems can get dramatically better. Foods give you more power than you might have imagined. Taking advantage of that power isn’t necessarily automatic, however. We need help in changing the way we eat. No matter how healthy foods may be, they have to work in our day-to-day lives. Recipes have to be reasonably quick and easy, and they have to be tasty. They need to be able to seduce us away from what we’re eating now.

That’s where Extraordinary Vegan comes in. Alan Roettinger knows how powerful foods can be. He takes no shortcuts in delivering recipes that are extraordinarily healthful, creative, and delicious. Each one is packed with the power of good nutrition. Extraordinary Vegan is also an immensely practical book. It gives you the tricks you need and helps you to use them smartly. You will see when to add a special ingredient to crown a new dish and when to keep things simple and familiar. Once you’ve made a few of these recipes, you’ll discover that you have acquired the art of knowing how to excite the senses and make eating a joy.

Let me encourage you then to dig into the other treasures in this book. Each one will teach you something new. See how far you can go. You’ll be harnessing the power of healthful eating, and you’ll feel the transformation physically and mentally. In the process, you’ll be delighted at how great a healthy meal can taste, how great you feel, and how radiant you look.

Neal D. Barnard, MD, President, Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, Washington, DC


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