Used as a reference by students of acupuncture, Healing with Whole Foods is an invaluable guide to the theory and practice of Chinese medicine. With facts about green foods such as spirulina and blue-green algae and information about the “regeneration diets” used by cancer patients and arthritics, it is also an accessible primer on nutrition—and a inspiring cookbook with more than 300 mostly vegetarian, nutrient-packed recipes.
The information on Chinese medicine is useful for helping to diagnose health imbalances, especially nascent illnesses. It’s smartly paired with the whole-foods program: because the Chinese have attributed various health-balancing properties to foods, you can tailor your diet to help alleviate symptoms of illness. For example, Chinese medicine dictates that someone with low energy and a pale complexion (a yin deficiency) would benefit from avoiding bitter foods and increasing “sweet” foods such as soy, black sesame seeds, parsnips, rice, and oats. (Note that the Chinese definition of sweet foods is much different from the American one!)
Pitchford says in his dedication that he hopes the reader finds “healing, awareness, and peace” by following his program. The diet is certainly ascetic by American standards (no alcohol, caffeine, white flour, fried foods, or sugar, and a minimum of eggs and dairy) but the reasons he gives for avoiding these “negative energy” foods are compelling. From the adrenal damage imparted by coffee to the immune dysfunction brought on by excess refined sugar, Pitchford spurs you to rethink every dietary choice and its ultimate influence on your health. Without being alarmist, he offers dietary tips for protecting yourself against the dangers of modern life, including neutralizing damage from water fluoridation. There’s further reading on food combining, female health, heart disease, pregnancy, fasting, and weight loss. Overall, this is a wonderful book for anyone who’s serious about strengthening his or her body from the inside out.