NEW ORLEANS - A food expert says what you eat today can change the course of your life, and even save you a lot of money in an expensive health care system in the future.
But she recommends easing into her plan because it's very different from the Louisiana lifestyle. There's no meat, fish, dairy or eggs.
Could you give up your roast beef po'boy or crawfish étouffée? Well veganist and authoress Kathy Freston says there's strong scientific proof that her way of eating lowers your risk of obesity, strokes, high blood pressure, type-2 diabetes, Alzheimer's, erectile dysfunction and many forms of cancer, such as cancer of the breast, prostate, colon, rectum, uterus and ovaries.
"The science has been so strong to support a vegan diet in that it prevents cancer,” said Freston. “It prevents heart disease. It prevents type-2 diabetes. It prevents obesity. And not even just preventing these things, but it reverses diseases that are already in progress.
This is what is so exciting and empowering is that we actually can change the course of our health. Our genes do not determine how we're going to age. What determines how we're going to age is how we eat," said Freston who is a New York Times best-selling author.
She says she never feels deprived and still enjoys her favorites like burritos, meatballs and spaghetti, sausage and burgers, but the meatless kind.
"I grew up in the south. I'm a southern girl myself and I love chicken fried steak and burgers and barbecue ribs and milkshakes and all that stuff. But I still have all my favorite foods. I just have vegan versions of them," she said.
Many of the dishes are soy-based. She says she gets the taste without the saturated fats.
"The evidence coming out on soy is very strong that soy not only is good for you, but it prevents breast cancer and prostate cancer," said Freston.
These foods naturally keep her thin for several reasons. They have fewer calories but are nutrient rich. The high fiber content signals the brain that you're full, faster. And something else called the thermic effect.
"When you eat vegan food your metabolism burns 16 percent faster for about three hours after your meal. So you're getting an amped up metabolism by doing nothing," she explained.
Freston believes she is getting enough protein from soy and beans and doesn't miss dairy products.
"I think there are so many great alternatives like rice milk or almond milk or soy milk or hemp milk. There's even oat milk that's so delicious and even good for you, and it doesn't have all the problems that go along with the dairy and the meat," she said.
And with all the studies that show the importance of fish oil for heart and brain health, she says she gets her omega-3 essential fatty acids from the same source as the fish - algae.
Freston also says more and more well known pro-athletes are turning to a vegan diet to heal their bodies faster.
Her latest book is "Lose Weight, Get Healthy, Change the World."
To read her free blog go to: http://www.kathyfreston.com/kathy_freston_veganist_blog.html