Viewpoint – Food for thought: Eat vegan, plant-based diet

By Shannon O’Brien/reporter

Typically, people do not refer to food as medicine. Maybe if they did, they would have a much greater awareness for what they were putting into their bodies.

Since Day One, we have been taught genetics are the greatest factor for figuring out whether we are at risk for disease. It’s hard to believe. That would mean we are completely helpless in finding ways to improve our health.

The truth is things we do and foods we eat can trigger the specific genes that carry illness. Think about it: What do the cells in our body consist of that make it function properly? Protein, lipids (fats) and carbohydrates, which are everything we eat.

Food is information carrying detailed instructions to every gene and cell in the body, helping them repair, renew and heal or to be harmed and weakened depending on what people eat.

Which foods cause these damaged, dysfunctional cells that lead to disease? Dairy, fried foods, refined grains and meats. They produce inflammation inside the body, which throws the immune system into a state of constant activation that is destructive.

Changing a diet to include more raw fruits and vegetables decreases inflammation and helps produce cells that can repair themselves and fight off bacteria. Foods high in omega-3 fatty acids are good because they are anti-inflammatory.

My decision to go vegan came about six months ago when I was diagnosed with alopecia areata, an autoimmune disorder where T-cells attack hair follicles. I read so much research proving that plant-based diets reverse autoimmune disorders so I wasn’t afraid to try anything.

This transition was a lot easier than I had anticipated. When I started incorporating more raw fruits and vegetables, rice, beans and nuts into my diet, my hair started growing back about two inches a month.

Getting a sufficient amount of water is also essential to how much better I started feeling overall.

Eating inflammatory foods has been conditioned in us since we were born, so it’s natural to be suspicious of vegan diets. Only time will tell if making the transition has cured me of my autoimmune disorder, but I am certain this lifestyle will continue for me as I have already reaped the benefits of it.