The following is a true story.
At age 25, Natala Constantine was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. For the next five years, she tried to fight the disease through endless regimens of drugs and a doctor-recommended diet. But Natala's diabetes grew out of control, leading to severe nerve damage and the prospect of a partial leg amputation. That's when Natala's friend suggested she try switching to a 100 percent plant-based diet to combat her disease. Natala initially scoffed at the suggestion. She'd been, after all, to the best doctors, and was already on a low-carb/high-protein diet they'd recommended. But at this point, Natala was willing to try anything.
Three weeks after embarking on her purely plant-based diet, Natala no longer needed insulin. Her diabetes had begun reversing.
This, however, is not the stunning part of the story.
The stunning part is that when Natala told her doctors the news, they were not even surprised. In fact, they already knew that plant-based diets often reverse diabetes. After battling severe pain, morbid obesity, taking nine different drugs, and injecting herself with countless doses of insulin for years, Natala understandably wanted to know why her doctors had never suggested she try a plant-based diet to combat her disease. The answer? They didn't find the approach "practical."
Natala's story is recounted in Kathy Freston's remarkable new book, "Veganist", an eminently readable and easy guide to the benefits of switching to a plant-based diet -- benefits which include fighting and often reversing disease.
And we're not talking about minor diseases and a handful of isolated incidents, either. In her book, Freston interviews some of America's top doctors on health and nutrition, including T. Colin Campbell and Caldwell Esselstyn, whose decades-long studies prove that plant foods can help you fight our nation's top killer diseases: cancer, heart disease, and diabetes.
Now, I know what you're thinking: if this is true, how come my doctor hasn't told me any of this?
First, it may be that your doctor honestly doesn't know. American doctors actually get very little training in nutrition -- on average just over 20 hours during their entire time in medical school. Want proof that whatever they're learning isn't sticking? Just look at what passes for food at our nation's hospitals.
Lack of knowledge is only half the problem, however. Tragically, doctors often don't tell their patients about the benefits of adopting a plant-based diet because they believe the patient -- you -- won't be interested. As Dr. Dean Ornish has pointed out, we live in a culture where eating only plant-based foods is seen as "radical" or "extreme," but having your chest cut open for a triple bypass or taking lifelong regimens of liver-damaging medicines to combat the cholesterol present only in animal foods is seen as "easy."
Now, I'm not suggesting that we toss modern medicine out the window. Obviously not. But if you or someone you know is battling disease, switching to a plant-based diet can make a huge difference. Life or death, in fact.