The best Rx: fruits and vegetables

9/20/2020

“Eat the Rainbow,” is the favorite phrase these days of Dr. Theresa Cavins and Mary Crecelius, WHNP at the Bloomsdale Medical Centre, and this is not a reference to the popular Skittles candy.

“When you think of food, think of blueberries, spinach, strawberries, sweet potatoes—all the colors of the rainbow,” said Dr. Cavins. “There’s more and more data coming out that a plant-based diet or lifestyle, not only prevents chronic disease like cancer, high blood pressure, heart disease, and diabetes, but reverses it.”

To help increase awareness of the “rainbow,” Métis Breast Care and Women’s Wellness offices at the Bloomsdale Medical Centre (BMC) have been giving patients vegetables grown in the community garden just off the parking lot of the facility. Peppers and tomatoes were in abundance this year.

Dr. Cavins, explained that it’s really pretty simple. Nutrients in fruits and vegetables help strengthen and protect the body.

“If a person eats a good, healthy and balanced diet, they are likely going to have a stronger immune system which can then fight off diseases,” she said. “Our hope is that our garden will inspire people to have their own gardens and/or to visit their local farmer’s market to eat the rainbow.”

For many, adopting a plant-based lifestyle will take some getting used to.

“I say if you’re not ready to embrace a plant-based diet 100 percent, which does take baby steps, at least try to eat farm raised meat or wild game that we know is not raised with a lot of preservatives, additives and hormones,” she said. “Our bodies don't require meat products, we can get all the protein and other nutrients we need from disease fighting plant based foods.”

Cavins said plant-based options are becoming much more available. Fast food establishments are dabbling in plant-based foods—which she doesn’t recommend eating a lot of, but it may be just the push to get you started on the plant-based food path.

The garden is maintained by the BMC staff and their families, and this year contained an abundance of flowers, which Mary Crecelius says is food for the soul.

“Not only do we think you should eat the rainbow, you should surround yourself with the rainbow,” she said. “Flowers lift our spirits and bring joy. There are actually studies that show having fresh flowers around you are really nice for your mental health.”

As the garden-growing season begins to wind down, Dr. Cavins and Mary said their healthy food bag gesture has been well received.

“I always say—and it’s not my quote--you can spend money on a healthy lifestyle now or you can spend it later on healthcare.”

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