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In the Western world, the concept of using food as medicine seems strange to many people because we don’t often stop to think about how the food we’re ingesting impacts health and well-being. When we eat a lot of junk food, we know we don’t feel our best, but most of us don’t actually stop to question why things like chips, cookies, and soda make us feel sluggish and what they are doing to our bodies.

Further, when we get sick (sometimes because of the way we eat), we tend to turn too short-term solutions to our symptoms like drugs or antibiotics without really looking at the root of the problem. This is an issue that Dr. Ron Weiss is very familiar with.

Dr. Weiss began his career as an emergency room physician and was taught to treat patients in the traditional symptom-based manner. However, when his 69-year-old father became ill with pancreatic cancer, Weiss’ entire philosophy on medicine changed. “We were told that with pancreatic cancer, chemotherapy does not significantly improve the condition 85 percent of the time, and so we decided against chemo and its significant side effects,” Weiss explains in Rutgers Today.

Instead, Weiss buried himself in the library and learned all he could about alternative cures, specifically, he turned to plants. In his undergrad study, Weiss majored in botany and was drawn to the idea that a plant-based diet could improve human health. Using this knowledge, he developed a diet plan for his father that consisted primarily of broccoli, kale, brown rice, seaweed and collard greens. “After several months on a plant-based diet, the tumor did shrink significantly and my father was able to resume his law career and lived another 18 months, most of the time feeling energetic,” says Weiss.

Building off this experience, Weiss began to incorporate his findings while working as an assistant professor of clinical medicine at New Jersey Medical School. Now, he’s launched a revolutionary practice called Ethos Health that is the only farm-based primary care practice in the country. Unlike other doctor’s offices that are located in industrial complexes, Weiss’ practice is located on 342 acres of rolling farmland in Long Valley, New Jersey.

Ethos helps patients learn how they should select vegetables when they shop to help treat their individual conditions. As an added bonus, patients who come into the office can simply step out back afterwards and purchase farm-fresh crops growing right there!

“I think we are still just scratching the surface in learning how plants can help us avoid some of the chronic illnesses that we see,” Weiss says in Rutgers Today. “There is a great deal we can do to educate our patients about how they can help themselves with diet and exercise.” So far, Weiss’ patients have experienced amazing results.

Many other organizations, including the American Cancer Society assert that a diet rich with fresh fruit and vegetables can reduce the risk of cancer and T. Colin Campbell has spent the past 50 years studying the connection between eating plant-based and a reduced risk of cancer. There are many additional lauded benefits of choosing more plant-based foods, including better cardiac health, lower risk of diabetes.

A diet heavy in plant-based foods is one of the easiest ways to prevent long-term illnesses and improve longevity. To learn more about how you can incorporate plant-based foods into your diet for your health, click here. If you live in the New Jersey area and want to give Dr. Weiss’ farm-based practice a try, check out the Ethos Health website to learn more.

Image source: Jeff Tovlin/Rutgers Today