Ukrainian Radio Show Segment Transcript – Food as Medicine

Ukrainian Radio Show Segment Transcript – Food as Medicine

Andrew Chuma No Comment
General Wellness

Radio Show #3 – Food as Medicine

Hello everyone, this is Dr. Andrij Chuma, here for another medical segment.

Just a quick Covid update. 

Numbers continue to drop in the US and the weekly deaths are now under 1000/week for the first time in almost 6 months. That’s still 50,000 people a year dying from a preventable infectious disease. Significant research continues into managing long covid symptoms.

Moving on to lifestyle topic #2, FOOD.

More than 2000 years ago, the father of medicine Hippocrates said 

“Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food” . 

The single most important lifestyle modification which can immediately and dramatically improve health is the food you choose to nourish yourself with. Within weeks of cleaning up your diet, you can reduce your blood pressure, blood sugars and cholesterol numbers, and even improve your mood. I have personally had patients be able to reduce or eliminate various medications for such conditions as diabetes, reflux, hypertension, acne and allergies. 

There is a saying that if a doctor gives you nutritional advice, don’t take it. That’s simply because there is virtually no nutritional education in medical school or residency training. In addition, some nutrition myths won’t go away. One example is that soy causes breast cancer, which is absolutely wrong. Not only does it not cause cancer, it protects you from it! More on soy in the future.

So why listen to me? Because I care and I learn. In 2015, I was diagnosed with an autoimmune form of diabetes. I dove deeply into the literature about the disease and nutrition and lifestyle improvements to control this condition. The very first article I came across from the fantastic website reported on how consuming just 1 egg a day increases type 2 diabetes risk by 30%. This was shocking to me, and a bit disappointing since I used to eat a lot of eggs, thinking they were nutritious. 

The more I studied, the more I was convinced that a whole foods, plant based diet was the healthiest and I eliminated all animal products, and I also stopped snacking. My blood sugars normalized and they have remained that way for 8 years, off all meds and I am happy to say that I don’t need to inject myself with insulin yet. My diabetes doctor is baffled.

Asking most people to switch to a vegan diet is unrealistic, and nutritionally speaking, not even necessary. The most important nutritional message I promote to patients is to eat as many plants as possible. If you look at the places in the world where people live the longest and are the healthiest, the ones which do the best are 100% vegan. Most are not vegan however they consume less than 5% of their calories from animal products. Their diets stress whole plant foods, focusing on beans, whole grains, fruits, greens, other vegetables as well as nuts and seeds. They consume almost no processed foods and limited amounts of oil.There are of course other healthful behaviors they incorporate into their lives, but the diet is the most important.

The fundamentals of a healthy diet are:

  1. FIBER. Fiber is the key to a healthy gut and as Hippocrates also stated, “ALL disease begins in the gut”. Eat as much fiber as you can. And fiber ONLY comes from plants, not animal products. The average American barely gets 15 grams of fiber a day and we need at least 40-50 to have a healthy gut. Each plant has its own unique type of fiber and the more variety we get the better. And fiber supplements don’t cut it. They give you big poops but lack the nutrition to feed the gut microbes which provide us with healthy compounds. The gut is where 70% of our immune system resides and where 80-90% of the neurochemicals like serotonin and dopamine are produced. Studies show that for the healthiest gut, shoot for 30 different types of plants a week, since variety is also important. Sounds like a lot, but it’s not.

  2. SATURATED FAT. Minimize it. You can read all the misinformation out there saying how saturated fat is not bad for you but it simply is. And the vast majority of it comes from animal products. The biggest source of this harmful fat comes from cheese, which is also the highest source of salt. The average American consumes 40 lbs, a whopping 70,000 calories worth of cheese a year. Some plant sources are also high in saturated fat, especially tropical oils like coconut and palm. Avocado also has a decent amount, but it also contains healthier mono and polyunsaturated fats, as well as fiber and other nutrients. Nuts and seeds are also in this category. They are clearly healthy, just don’t overdo it.

  3. SALT. Minimize it. It is the single biggest contributor to elevated blood pressure, the worlds #1 killer, which affects more than half of Americans, including many kids these days. Only 15% of the salt Americans consume comes from what you sprinkle on your food but even reducing that small amount can add years to your life. Most comes from processed food like bread, canned goods and soups. Just read the labels.

  4. SUGAR. Minimize it. It causes inflammation in the body and excess amounts are converted into fat. The average American consumes over 150 lbs of it a year, 3x more than the next industrialized country and 50x more than what we consumed 100 years ago. Cancer cells feed on sugar, using 50x more than normal cells.

  5. FRUIT. Eat a lot of it. Although fruit does contain sugar, it comes in a whole food matrix with lots of water, fiber and various other nutrients. According to the world health organization, not enough fruit is the single biggest contributor to death worldwide. And fruit does not cause or worsen diabetes, assuming it’s not fried or smothered in chocolate.

  6. PROCESSED FOOD. Minimize it. If it has a label listing ingredients, avoid it. Technically, anything changed from its natural form is considered “processed” so even oils are processed foods. But focus on minimal ingredients and no chemicals. Sadly, the US allows over 10,000 chemicals in our foods and they wreak havoc on our gut health and immune systems.

  7. WATER. We evolved getting our fluids from plants and streams, and clean water should be the main source of our hydration. Juice is just as unhealthy as soda when and should be minimized. Coffee and tea are healthy but just be careful of the caffeine amounts. I’ll discuss alcohol in another segment but let’s just say that the most recent studies indicate that there is no safe amount of alcohol. It’s a myth.

We crave salt, sugar and fat because evolutionarily, foods containing these substances indicated nutrition and survival. Our perception of sweetness and saltiness changes once you decrease how much of it you consume. Tastes buds regrow every 7-10 days and the brain’s perception of degrees of taste change in about 2 weeks.

So given the above guidelines, it is not surprising that I really promote as much of a whole foods, plant based diet as possible. Nutritionally, having some occasional animal products will not do much damage as long as the majority of your plate is a variety of whole, unprocessed plants. 

For more information, please check out my website and sign up for updates.

Stay tuned for other nutritional and lifestyle topics.


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