Posted July 25, 2011
It’s a feel-good movie of sorts.
If you eat the way “Forks Over Knives” suggests, you should feel better.
It’s a documentary that claims most degenerative diseases could be controlled, or even reversed, by rejecting the American diet rich in animal-based and processed foods. For showtimes in your area, check out http://www.forksoverknives.com.
Charlotte exercise physiologist Toni Branner and dietitian Tina Marie Mendietta hope the film will educate more people about the health benefits of plant-based diets.
“Exercising daily and eating mostly fruits, vegetables, nuts, whole grains and beans is not always easy, but it is simple,” said Branner, who owns Care & Feeding Partners, a wellness consulting firm. “It could truly change the way you spend your older years – enjoying life instead of paying medical bills.”
She and Mendietta, a private nutrition consultant and speaker, teach children and their parents about nutrition. Their families have also benefited from their advice.
For example, Branner’s husband, Charlotte ophthalmologist William Branner, said his weight was increasing, his energy waning and his blood test results were worsening before he changed to a plant-based diet 10 years ago. A strong family history of heart disease and cancer motivated him to take better care of himself. Today, his energy and health measures are “more like they were when I was in college.”
Mendietta says she and her family, including three kids, ages 8, 13 and 15, “eat from Mother Nature’s pharmacy – fruit, vegetables, nuts, seeds, grains and beans… (And) we never have to go to the doctor.”
Her family drinks rice milk (instead of cow’s milk) and daily smoothies made with orange juice and 10 fruits and vegetables, including frozen berries, mango, pineapple and bananas, turnip greens, collards, kale or spinach, and carrots.
“The kids go crazy. They love it,” Mendietta said. “At my house, soda is for special occasions. (In America), what used to be special-occasion food is now everyday fare. Fast food is an everyday occurrence. We’ve gotten away from what we should be eating.”
Ten years ago, Mendietta said her own allergies were so bad that a doctor suggested she get weekly allergy shots. She wanted to avoid that, so she started increased her consumption of vegetables, nuts, seeds and grains. And now: “I don’t have sinus issues anymore.”
Branner and Mendietta also teach people to eat less processed food and refined sugar.
“Americans have an insatiable sweet tooth,” Mendietta said. Studies show that sugar and fat are addictive, she said. “You have to wean yourself off of them.”
Also, eating sugar depresses the immune system and makes people more susceptible to illness, Mendietta said.
“I always tell people, I don’t believe we have a cold and flu season, I believe we have a sugar fest that begins at Halloween and ends after the (Thanksgiving and Christmas) holidays.”