cooking healthy vegetable dishes
leek and lettuce on a chopping board

Genes and Us

Among their many roles, genes carry encoded messages for health and disease. Epigenetic research shows that the genes that win are the ones we feed. As some have said, our family tree loads the gun, but we pull the trigger.

The corona virus or COVID-19 pandemic is catching us in the midst of our own public health epidemic—one of rising rates of obesity, diabetes, high cholesterol, and high blood pressure, making heart attacks the leading cause of death in this country.

These debilitating conditions compromise the immune system making the host more vulnerable to deal with threats, like the one we face today.

Chronic diseases have blossomed amidst a plethora of food that was never central to our existence. Meats, cheese, eggs, and extracted ingredients (flour, sugar, oil)—are not natural human food. Much like disease models in research laboratories where animals are on purpose made sick with food that is not of their species, humans have become sick on meat and dairy.

Challenges never cease—the key is in how we respond. The current pandemic is a crisis of epic proportions, but also perhaps a crisis of opportunities. We could reevaluate the medical paradigm of treating symptoms. Instead we might transition to a model where we promote the public’s health with excellent nutrition, regular exercise, restorative sleep, reduced stress, and a concern for each other, including the stranger we never met.

These are the pillars of health tested over hundreds of years and adopted by the American College of Lifestyle Medicine. The Blue Zones of the world are examples of how a mostly whole foods plant diet low in fat yields longer lives without disabilities.

Let us focus on achieving the highest levels possible of health and immune competence, for each individual—it is within our power to do so. For over fifteen years my patients have enjoyed cooking with me an anti-inflammatory diet of whole plants low in fat, affordable, nutritious, delicious, and above all healing—fruits, legumes, vegetables, and whole grains.

We are eating the food of our species and enjoying its benefits.