Women’s Wellness Depends on Whole Foods
Laura Varich, M.D., is the founder of The Fresh Physician, a website that grew out of her desire to turn the tide of chronic diseases such as weight gain, heart disease, cancer, diabetes, high blood pressure, depression and others rampant in society. Varich’s in-depth research of the medical literature reveals that there is hope for improved health for us all. Her goal is to share the information about how whole food, plant-based eating is the way to turn around chronic disease and how simple and delicious this way of eating can be.
My weight keeps creeping up (and the COVID pandemic hasn’t helped). How can I get my weight under control?
Great question! Many of us are currently facing the same challenge. My research of the medical literature concludes that the best outcome of any long-term weight loss program is achieved by eating the whole-food, plant-based (WFPB) way. When provided with information on WFPB eating and instruction on cooking delicious plant food dishes, people experienced sustainable, long-term weight loss. And isn’t living at a healthy weight what we all want? Truth is, fad diets don’t work long-term and are extremely unhealthy. To lose and then maintain a healthy weight, eat as many whole plant foods as you can, and decrease your consumption of processed foods and animal products. And remember, just as weight-gain is a slow, steady process, sustained weight loss takes time. Changing your dietary habits towards WFPB eating will provide you the long-term weight loss you desire.
I was recently diagnosed with breast cancer, and am determined to do everything in my power to defeat this disease. How can I change my diet and lifestyle to fight this cancer?
I am glad to hear of your determination! For breast cancer patients, there are two important foods to regularly include in your diet: soy foods and flax seeds. Medical research has repeatedly shown that the plant estrogen found in soy foods prevents your body’s own estrogen from stimulating breast cancer cells. In women with breast cancer, the 90 percent who ate the most soy were alive five years after diagnosis, versus only 50 percent of women who ate little or no soy! Eat 20 to 35 milligrams of soy isoflavones (the active ingredient) every day by adding three-quarters of a cup of edamame (fresh green soybeans), three ounces of tofu, or on-and-a-half ounces of tempeh (or a combination). Flax seeds also increase survival in breast cancer patients. Sprinkle ground flax seeds into almost anything (smoothies, oatmeal, soup, etc.), aiming for two teaspoons of ground flax each day. Eating soy foods and flax seeds decreases both the incidence of breast cancer development and cancer recurrence. And don’t forget: eating a large variety of plant foods every day provides fiber and nutrients critical to your body’s ability to fight disease.
Is there really such a thing as a “superfood”?
Not in the way that you see advertised. There is no one food (and no supplement) that does it all. That said, in my research, two food groups always rise to the top of the list for improving everything from weight control to heart disease, diabetes, brain disease, and depression: legumes (beans, peas, and lentils) and whole grains. The fiber in legumes and whole grains is critical to feed your healthy gut bacteria (microbiome). Those bacteria in turn provide you with nutrients that improve your physical and mental health. Legumes and whole grains are as close to “super-foods” as there are, so include them in your diet as often as you can.