Beth Bryant

Beth Bryant

Chronic diseases are not only preventable, they are reversible by eating a whole foods, plant-based diet, according to data researched by speaker Beth Bryant.

About 100 people attended "How Not to Diet: the Relationship Between Food and Chronic Disease" earlier this year. It was the first of the four-part program series, "How Not to Die," at the Moline Public Library, 3210 41st St.

Bryant, an orthopedic physical therapist, reviewed some common myths about eating habits that may seem healthy.

"I will tell you, other than Donald Trump and Jesus Christ, I don't think there is one more polarizing topic than nutrition," Bryant says. "For the love of God, man, I have people scream at me. I'm like wait a minute, I just want people to love vegetables and Jesus, and not necessarily in that order."

Bryant presented information from a study conducted by the World Health Organization estimated that 80 to 85 percent of our chronic diseases — specifically high blood pressure, Type II diabetes, and high cholesterol — are not only preventable, they are reversible with lifestyle medicine.

"This is sad, the number one killer globally is chronic disease," Bryant says. "Approximately 70 percent of the deaths in the Western world are due to chronic diseases that are brought on by lifestyle norms of our culture."

Lifestyle norms have been another culprit in the rise of chronic disease as well, Bryant said.

"It's normal to run through McDonald's, to run through Burger King, to run through Chick-fil-A," Bryant says. "That's normal for our culture, we eat on the run, we don't sit down as families much around a table and eat."

Bryant said the myth that "if I don't eat enough meat, I won't get enough protein" is false because the body only needs .8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight, which can be easily be derived from plants.

Another myth is that "chicken is good for me." Chicken is the number one source of salmonella poisoning, but is also a source high in arachidonic acid. The acid breaks down into prostaglandins, which causes increased inflammation and pain, according to Bryant's research.

"That's why we take Advil, Aleve, ibuprofen, because of prostaglandins," Bryant says.

Bryant said that E. coli from chicken also is the potential cause of urinary tract infections.

"When they take chickens to slaughter, they slit their throats, and sometimes they accidentally slit their intestinal tract. And when that happens, feces spills out all over, and even though they take the chicken and give it a water bath and sanitize it so it looks nice at a grocery store," Bryant says, "they found E. coli, and as you start dealing with the chicken, it gets on our fingers, and as we go about our day and do hygiene things, it gets into our systems."

Bryant also says it is important to not only conduct your own research, but to check out who funded the studies that have been released.

"If you see a study come out and it says something really exciting like 'butter is back' or 'eating six pounds of chocolate a day is really good for your health,' then you kinda wanna check to see who funded the story," Bryant says. "If it tells you that 'eggs are really, really super good for you' and the study was funded by the American Dairy Council or the egg council, then you may want to take a little pause and just factor that in."

According to Bryant, one problem is that medical doctors' training is not focused on nutrition. "Sadly, the power of nutrition is the best kept secret in medicine," Bryant says.

Part two, also held earlier this year, featured presenter Anne Haring, owner of Recipe for Life and a whole food, plant-based cooking coach, who demonstrated how to cook the food. Part three, Popeye or Wimpy: Fitness and Functionality on a Whole Foods, Plant-Based Lifestyle and Eating Healthy on the Road, was presented by Del and Teri Preston, and part four was Lifestyle Medicine: Putting Evidence into Action to Rebalance the Health/Disease Equation. Dr. Cheryl True, a graduate of Augustana College and the University of Iowa College of Medicine, was one of the first 204 physicians recognized as diplomats with board certification in the new, growing specialty of Lifestyle Medicine.

Gerold Shelton is a staff writer for the Dispatch-Argus-QCOnline.com.

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