By Susie Kearley
I used to not believe in the power of God-given nutrition. It took some desperate times and an abysmal failure of the medical profession before I was ready to embark on a healing diet—a diet that transformed my view of the way we eat and revealed the powerful effect of good nutrition on health.
It was this healing journey which led me to qualify in nutrition in 2008 and start helping others who were encountering mysterious and medically “incurable” health problems. I ended up tackling everything from Irritable Bowel Syndrome and food intolerances to migraines and fungal infections. Even when people came to see me as a nutritionist, some of them found the transformation from junk-food diet to whole-food diet too difficult, and some preferred to live with their ailments instead.
It was in this context that I became a health journalist. Having seen the power of good food for myself, I had swung from unbeliever to skeptic to convert in the space of a few months. The more I learned, the more I realized how out of touch society is with the benefits of unadulterated plant foods, and how far our western diet has strayed from the wholesome diet that God intended for his people.
The bulk of our nutritional education is delivered by the manufacturers of processed food and the tabloid press, so it is no wonder that a state of confusion exists about what is healthy and what is not. The costs of healthcare are rising—but it’s not working. The population is still overweight and reliant on drugs.
To someone like me, who once delighted in the diversity of processed food, I have to admit the revelation that whole foods really can heal came as a shock. More so when I discovered that a very healthy diet can have great healing power.
It made me think back to the account of creation, with a realization that God has provided everything we need to stay fit and healthy: “And the Lord God made all kinds of trees grow out of the ground—trees that were pleasing to the eye and good for food” (Genesis 2:9).
God intended us to look after our bodies with nutritious foods and physical work for survival. He did not intend us to put our food into a deep fat fryer, add refined sugar, and then take toxic drugs with potentially nasty side-effects to artificially lower our high cholesterol!
As I began to research nutrition, I came across numerous studies showing the health benefits of God’s natural produce: cholesterol-lowering plants, with a degree of protection against cancer. He has provided an abundance of fresh fruit and vegetables containing disease-fighting antioxidants, cancer-protective phytonutrients, bowel-friendly fiber, and immune-boosting compounds.
Blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, broccoli, butternut squash, and tomatoes are all examples of foods that are loaded with antioxidants. They promote clean arteries, lower cholesterol, and improve blood flow, as well as reduce cell damage and lower your risk of cognitive decline in old age.
My journey revealed that many symptoms of disease improve with the right dietary intervention—the general rule is to eat more fruit and vegetables and cut out processed foods. Few experts would disagree that the average U.S. diet is lacking in fruit and vegetable nutrients—those with the greatest impact on healing.
Stubborn Health Challenges
As a practicing nutritionist in the United Kingdom, I saw a lady with a fungal infection that didn’t respond to her doctor’s treatment. These infections are notoriously difficult to treat because the organisms develop resistance to pharmaceutical drugs very quickly. However a mild fungal infection that fails to respond to drugs can be remarkably responsive to a sugar-free, vegetable-based dietary regime. It works very simply by starving the pathogenic fungus of its favorite food: sugar. My client persevered with a diet consisting mainly of green vegetables, nuts, and legumes. It weakened the fungus and strengthened her immune system, which was then able to destroy the fungus so that she felt much better.
As we get older, many of us experience increased propensity to constipation. I usually recommend increasing your intake of fruit and vegetables, which helps to improve peristalsis and aids elimination. However this approach doesn’t work for everyone and this is where ground flaxseed becomes invaluable. Flaxseed works as a gentle laxative and has anti-cancer properties to boot. Many people consider it far preferable to over-the-counter medicines, which you shouldn’t use too frequently anyway. Flaxseed is a rich source of omega 3 oils and a miracle cure for constipation. I would suggest people grind it to a powder and sprinkle it on their breakfast. Problem solved.
High fat diets, free radical damage, and high cholesterol have been linked to Alzheimer’s disease, but antioxidant-rich foods such as green vegetables and colorful berries mop up the free radicals and lower cholesterol, thereby reducing a person’s risk of developing this disease. A study published in the Journal of Neuroscience indicated that fresh produce high in flavonoid antioxidants, such as spinach, blueberries, and strawberries, could be particularly beneficial in preventing and even reversing the onset of age-related cognitive and behavioral problems.
Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the U.S. It’s such a huge problem that new guidelines recommend almost half of 40- to 75-year-old Americans should consider taking cholesterol-reducing drugs. If you’re over 60 and male, you almost certainly qualify for them.
However, Cambridge University Medical School showed that the antioxidant vitamin E, which is present in lots of green vegetables, is four times as effective as aspirin in reducing heart attack risk. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition also said that lycopene, a potent antioxidant found in tomatoes, helps protect against heart disease.
There is a simple solution—eat God’s wholesome produce instead of chips and processed food. For a really dramatic effect, the BBC demonstrated that eating cloves of raw garlic lowered cholesterol dramatically in just a week!
Other studies have shown that the chlorophyll in green vegetables may provide some protection against cancer by blocking the absorption of aflatoxin, which is a carcinogenic mold found on some foods. It is also widely accepted that phytoestrogens found in the brassica family of vegetables can help to protect against breast and prostate cancer.
God provides the raw foods to keep our hearts healthy and our blood pressure in check, but modern diets of processed food have stripped out many of the nutrients and added health-depleting ingredients. In the modern world, where health solutions are presented in a pill, it’s easy to overlook the healing power of fruit and vegetables.
So next time you go to the supermarket, spend more time in the fresh produce aisle. Work with your doctor to see if improving your diet can improve your health. Fresh, whole foods can have a powerful effect on the healing process, and you might just see the benefit reflected in how you feel.
Susie Kearley is a British freelance writer and journalist, working for magazines, newspapers, and book publishers around the world.