GP promoting whole-food nutrition

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Using food as medicine instead of being ‘‘stuck with a lifetime of pills’’ is the aim of ‘‘plant-based physician’’ Dr Martyn Williamson, of Alexandra.
Dr Williamson has been a rural GP for many years and is a senior lecturer at the Dunedin School of Medicine.
A talk by Dr Williamson on August 30 in Hawea aims to show ‘‘powerful and building evidence’’ that eating whole foods and little or no processed foods can make a big difference to a wide range of chronic diseases.
‘‘It’s got the opportunity of curing you in a way that medical treatment might not,’’ Dr Williamson said.
Drug-based treatments could be essential for some people but it was like ‘‘mopping the floor as fast as you can when there is a tap leaking’’.
‘‘If we can sort out our nutrition it is like turning off the tap.’’
Whole food, plant-based eating involved eating fruits, vegetables, legumes, seeds, nuts, whole-grain breads, pasta and oats, with minimal processed foods.
Frozen fruit and vegetables were fine to use ‘‘because it is still the whole vegetables and it doesn’t damage them’’, he said.
‘‘The ‘wonderful thing’ about this way of eating was it worked for many conditions including heart disease, diabetes, autoimmune diseases and obesity, he said.
‘‘It just works across the board — it’s not having to have a special diet for this and a special diet for that.’’
‘‘I’ve looked up the evidence and I’m confident that it’s sound.’’
Switching from ‘‘the junk we have got used to thinking of as food’’ to something more real nearly always made people ‘‘feel a whole heap better’’, he said.
The types of food and the way many people ate today were examples of poor nutrition, and the reasons for that was marketing and what food companies put into their products.
Modern food was ‘‘designed so it tweaks our appetite centres’’.
He encouraged not eating animal products, added fats or oils, or fruit juice.
Dr Williamson was not in favour of pill supplements with the exception of B12 which people used to get naturally from bacteria in the soil, but because of washing vegetables and the use of pesticides this was diminished.
However, only a ‘‘tiny amount’’ of B12 was needed, he said.
The power of nutrition was not widely known or understood in the medical field at this point.
‘‘The body’s amazing powers of healing start to show through, so arteries open up, and my medical training told me that was irreversible.
‘‘It seemed irreversible because it was our whole environment that made it irreversible.’’