Earl Mindell's Food As Medicine: What You Can Eat to Help Prevent Everything from Colds to Heart Disease to Cancer

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9780671797553: Earl Mindell's Food As Medicine: What You Can Eat to Help Prevent Everything from Colds to Heart Disease to Cancer

A guide to preventing illness and disease through nutrition provides information on the ""Hot 100 Healers,"" which foods to eat for which ailments, deciphering product labels, fats, vitamin and mineral supplements, and other topics. 100,000 first printing. Tour.

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About the Author:

Earl Mindell, R.Ph., Ph.D., is the bestselling author of Earl Mindell's New Herb Bible, Earl Mindell's Vitamin Bible for the 21st Century, Earl Mindell's Peak Performance Bible, Earl Mindell's Supplement Bible, Earl Mindell's Secret Remedies, Earl Mindell's Anti-Aging Bible, and Earl Mindell's Soy Miracle. He is a registered pharmacist, a master herbalist, and a professor of nutrition at Pacific Western University in Los Angeles; he also conducts nutrition seminars around the world. He lives in Beverly Hills, California.

Excerpt. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

Chapter One: Food...It's Strong Medicine

In 400 B.C., Hippocrates, the "father of modern medicine," said, "Let food be your medicine and medicine be your food." After more than 2000 years, the medical establishment has finally acknowledged that he was right: food can be strong medicine.

Respectable, mainstream groups -- including the National Cancer Institute and the New York Academy of Sciences -- agree that nutrition can play a vital role in the prevention, treatment, and cure of a wide variety of ailments. Recent articles in distinguished professional publications, such as the New England Journal of Medicine and the Journal of the American Medical Association, report that vitamins, minerals, and other substances found in food appear to have a protective effect against certain diseases, including cancer, diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, and osteoporosis. They report that certain chemicals in food can retard the aging process. Indeed, many experts believe that changes in the typical American diet could extend the average life expectancy by more than ten years! Moreover, recent studies indicate that problems such as miscarriage and birth defects, once considered random events, often result from nutritional deficiencies.

As recently as a decade ago, however, few "respectable" physicians would have uttered the words "food" and "medicine" in the same breath. It would have been unthinkable to tell patients that they might be able to lower blood pressure, treat heart disease, or prevent cancer by eating certain foods. In fact, after World War II, the availability of antibiotics and other "wonder drugs" profoundly changed the way medicine was practiced in the United States. Until the middle of the twentieth century, natural remedies (herbs and food) were listed side-by-side with chemical drugs in the U.S. Pharmacopeia, the official listing of accepted medicines. Physicians were primarily "family physicians," who treated the "whole body" -- not the specialists we have today, whose primary focus is one particular body part or system. Back then, many physicians recognized that factors such as nutrition and even stress could profoundly affect a patient's health. By the time I started pharmacy school in 1958, however, the notion that diet or life-style might somehow be related to health was considered downright unscientific. The real medicines were the pills and potions that physicians prescribed and we pharmacists dispensed. We all believed that there was nothing in nature that could possibly compete with what man could concoct in the laboratory or perform in the operating room.

In the 1950s, food quickly lost its status as a healing agent and was regarded solely as fuel for the body. Fast-food empires designed to offer a quick "fill-up" sprang up around the country selling their heavily processed, high-fat, highsodium food. Burgers, fries, and cola became the mainstay of the American diet. Vitamins were considered necessary only to prevent the most severe deficiency diseases, such as scurvy or beriberi. When patients asked physicians about nutrition or vitamins, their questions were often dismissed with, "As long as you're eating a well-balanced diet, you have nothing to worry about." Few bothered explaining what a "well-balanced diet" was.

Those who disagreed with this approach were labeled charlatans. When the late Adelle Davis wrote that diet was a direct cause of many diseases, she was labeled a fraud. Who would have guessed that the Surgeon General of the United states would reach the same conclusion two decades later! In 1969, when Drs. Wilfred and Evan Shute, two Canadian physicians, first said that vitamin E could help prevent heart disease, they were dismissed as quacks. Today, vitamin E is routinely given to coronary bypass patients because it appears to accelerate healing and prevent new blockages from occurring. When Nobel laureate Linus Pauling began advocating the use of vitamin C as a treatment for the common cold and even speculated that it might protect against cancer, he was vilified by the medical establishment. Recent studies show that he was on the right track.

The medical community resisted the "diet-disease" link and poured its energy and money into bigger and better technology. Although hundreds of millions of dollars a year were being poured into the health care system (today, it's hundreds of billions of dollars), Americans were not getting much healthier.

In the 1970s, a handful of astute U.S. researchers began to question why, despite our wealth and "superior" medical knowledge, U.S. cancer and heart disease rates were high, particularly when compared with many other less-"advanced" countries around the world. They began looking for clues in "unscientific" factors such as nutrition and life-style. A pattern began to emerge: Studies showed that people who lived in less-affluent countries where the diet was rich in fruits, vegetables, and grains appeared to have protection against cancer and heart disease. Those who lived in wealthy countries where "meat and potatoes" were standard fare and other vegetables were used as garnishes (if at all) appeared to be vulnerable to these diseases. Many members of the medical establishment were quick to dismiss these findings as "coincidental" or evidence that some groups must be "genetically" prone to develop certain diseases, while others were immune. Fortunately, more thoughtful scientists took a closer look at the findings. They noticed one obvious difference: many of the "protector" foods were high in fiber and low in fat, just the opposite of the typical American diet. They concluded, quite correctly, that a high-fat, low-fiber diet must somehow increase the odds of developing heart disease and certain forms of cancer.

These pioneers also reasoned that if eating a diet rich in plant foods resulted in a lower rate of cancer or heart disease, some ingredient within these foods -- vitamins, minerals, or other chemicals -- might offer special protection. In laboratories throughout the world, scientists began to isolate particular chemicals in fruits and vegetables. They found that many of these "protector" foods were rich in vitamins such as beta-carotene (the plant form of vitamin A), vitamins C and E, and minerals such as selenium and potassium. They also noticed that people who consumed low levels of these key vitamins and minerals appeared to be at much higher risk of developing certain diseases.

Researchers probed further and found a wide array of other compounds in plant food, which they named phytochemicals. They tested many of these phytochemicals on animals or isolated cells to determine what, if any, role they might play in helping to prevent disease. Some of their startling discoveries were:

  • Coumarins, found in plant food including parsley, licorice, and citrus fruits, are natural "blood thinners" which may prevent blood clots.
  • Indoles, found in cruciferous vegetables (cabbage, broccoli, Brussels sprouts), may help to prevent breast cancer by blocking the action of potent estrogens that trigger the growth of tumors.
  • Ellagic acid, found in cherries, grapes and strawberries, may deactivate carcinogens which, if left to their devices, would cause cancerous growths.
  • Phytates, found in cereal grains, may deactivate steroidal compounds that promote tumors.
  • Pectins, a form of soluble fiber found in apples and grapefruits, can help reduce cholesterol and may protect against diabetes.
  • Genistein, a compound found in the urine of people who eat soy-based foods, appears to block the growth of new capillaries that supply blood to tumors.

    The work of these researchers has led even the most skeptical members of the medical community to acknowledge that many of the diseases that plague modem men and women

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