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Last Friday I went to watch the documentary “Forks Over Knives”. It is a documentary on the tale of two careers headed in the same direction. Drs. Colin Campbell and Caldwell Esselstyn, the former a nutritional biochemist and researcher, the latter an open heart surgeon, focus their careers on helping people improve their lives and health by advocating a whole-foods, vegetable-based diet. The film was well done, entertaining, and I highly recommend all of you seeing it when it comes out in May of this year.
I would also recommend you pick up “Food Inc.” from the video store, a similar movie about eating locally produced, organic, whole-foods. Focusing less on the health of you, “Food Inc” discusses the health of your food and allows you to draw correlation to how it impacts your own health.
“Forks Over Knives” repeatedly discusses how chronic diseases like cancer, stroke, diabetes, and heart disease can be avoided or even reversed with a change in your diet. They advocate cutting out meats and processed foods and eating an entirely vegetable-based diet. The linking of meats and processed foods made it difficult for me to engulf their whole message as the two are not entirely inter-dependent.
On whole foods:
Foods, plants and animals as they exist in nature, have millions of little chemicals, hormones, minerals, vitamins that help it all function correctly. The human mind, and the scientific method, have worked centuries on understanding all of what is in there. However, we still do not know everything there is in food. As such, by breaking it down, processing it, removing those chemicals and then re-inserting them into the food we only know how to re-insert the ones we know exist. Everything else is forgotten.
Health-food nutrition labels have gotten longer and longer to account for further research into the field. Does it not make sense that we still don”t know EVERYTHING there is? Therefore, we are unable to put EVERYTHING back into the food after we package it for long-term storage?
The idea of a whole-food diet is such that you don”t NEED to know everything that is in there, your body knows its there and takes out what it needs to work properly. We don”t always need to know the nutritional content of our food, just eat the whole thing and it”ll work.
On avoiding animal-based products:
The film-makers of “Forks Over Knives” repeatedly flash pictures of McDonalds, Wendy”s, or sausage on the grill when the words “animal products” are heard. Unfortunately, this instills the idea that ALL animal products are unhealthy.
As “Food Inc” shows clearly, the industrialized meat sector is NOT real food. It is not a pig grown out in a sunny field. It is not a chicken clucking around the yard until its time to lay an egg. These animals are fed horrible foods, stuffed in cages, pumped full of hormones and chemicals to keep them “alive” until its time to process them in a mass killing. This is NOT a whole-foods diet. This is NOT avoiding processed foods.
Locally grown, organic farms that raise their animals humanely and responsibly, in my opinion, is supporting the notion of avoiding processed foods.
I believe that eating a diet of local, organic, whole foods is one piece of obtaining a healthy lifestyle.
“Forks Over Knives” discusses the cessation and reversal of chronic disease. However, I found this to be a little pointed. There are MANY factors that go into a healthy lifestyle and ALL must be addressed. Future posts will discuss what chronic disease is and how our lifestyle, including what we eat, think, and do, will impact this.