Doctor’s Tip: One doctor’s path to learning about the power of food |

Doctor’s Tip: One doctor’s path to learning about the power of food

There is a wealth of scientific literature about the power of unhealthy food to cause disease and of healthy food to prevent, treat and reverse disease. Unfortunately, doctors aren’t given this information in medical school, postgraduate training or in typical medical conferences (the majority of which are sponsored by the pharmaceutical industry).

I recently met a bright young urologist at Valley View Hospital, Aashish Kabra, M.D., who was raised in a vegetarian household but who became totally plant-based a few years ago after happening upon the aforementioned literature. Kabra told me he works plant-based nutrition into the conversations he has with most patients, because food plays a key role in many urologic disorders. He also told me about his “new favorite book,” called “Fiber Fueled, The Plant-Based Gut Health Program for Losing Weight, Restoring Your Health, and Optimizing Your Microbiome,” by gastroenterologist Will Bulsiewicz, M.D., MSCI (Master of Science in Clinical Investigation — in other words, he’s an expert in analyzing and interpreting clinical studies).

The next few columns will be based on “Fiber Fueled,” but first it’s important to know Dr. Bulsiewicz’s story. He attended Vanderbilt for undergraduate school, then graduated from Georgetown University School of Medicine, was chief medical resident at Northwestern Memorial Hospital in Chicago, and chief gastroenterology fellow at The University of North Carolina Hospitals. He earned the MSCI degree from Northwestern, and did an epidemiology fellowship (where you look at large populations of people, see what they eat, what diseases they get, and what they die from) at University of North Carolina School of Global Public Health. He has written over 20 articles in top American gastroenterology journals.

Dr. Bulsiewicz notes that the average American eats 3 pounds of food a day, 1,000 pounds per year, and about 80,000 pounds of food during an 80-year lifespan. So it’s no wonder that what we eat affects our health. As he puts it: “You could nourish your body with life-giving food and reap the rewards of better health. Or you can punish your body with poisons disguised as food that actually take health away with every bite.”

Dr. Bulsiewicz admits to being a junk food addict growing up. Like most physicians, he received minimal training about nutrition in medical school. During the subsequent 10 years of training to become a board-certified gastroenterologist, nutrition was never mentioned again. Toward the end of his training, although he was able to drag himself to the gym a few times a week, he was 50 pounds overweight and felt tired, overworked and just plain lousy.

Then he met his future wife, who happened to be on a plant-based diet, and he began to realize there was a better, healthier way to eat. He lost weight, no longer had “post-meal hangovers,” and felt more energized and stronger. His mind had “more stamina for work,” his mood became more positive, and he looked better.

He began to wonder why he hadn’t heard about plant-based nutrition during his years of medical training and figured there probably weren’t good studies to support it. Having an advanced degree in clinical investigation, he spent some time in the medical library, and found “a mountain of evidence to support the way I was feeling.” He found “study after study providing a uniform, consistent result. Plants are good for our health.” Plants have the most nutrients per calorie of any type of food. They have “vitamins, minerals, antioxidant compounds called polyphenols, and unique medicinal chemicals found in only plant food, called phytonutrients.” Furthermore, Dr. Bulsiewicz found out why fiber is so important. He learned that only plants have fiber, which he came to believe is “the single most important missing piece in the American diet.” This led to his book, “Fiber Fueled.”

Dr. Feinsinger is a retired family physician with special interest in disease prevention and reversal through nutrition. Free services through Center For Prevention and The People’s Clinic include: one-hour consultations, shop-with-a-doc at Carbondale City Market and cooking classes. Call 970-379-5718 for appointment or email

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