When I first began looking at the relationship of Nutrition to Health, I was a new doctor way back in 1975. At that time I could find very few medical doctors who would agree with my ideas and interests. Now, 30 years later, you would have to be in blind denial not to know the importance of this basic relationship. Our body, and how we look and feel, is a result of our lives. And what we feed ourselves is the basic building block. Mind you, it may take 20 to 30 years to see the adverse effects of poor dietary choices.

When I did my first Juice Cleanse in 1976, it was a dramatic positive effect on my health and vitality (I wrote about this experience in my first book, Staying Healthy with the Seasons, 1981, 2003). I realized then it mattered what I ate; my food choices became part of me. And since I found this new love for myself and wanted to keep feeling great (and trimmer and non-allergic, or really less congested), I totally changed my food from the basic American diet to the healthy natural foods eating program I still do today. And I believe I continually experience the results from these wiser lifestyle choices.

That’s why I wanted to share the basis and excitement about the field of nutritional medicine and applying diets and nutrients in the healing arts. Therefore, throughout the late 1980s and early 90s, I wrote and published a 1,200 page book, Staying Healthy with Nutrition. It was used by many people, lay public and professionals, as well as a source textbook for nutritional students. I was very pleased that people considered it so useful.

However, over the past 10–15 years, nutritional science and research has advanced incredibly, and I wanted to keep up with the information and update this essential nutrition text. I remembered that Dr. Buck Levin had suggested a decade before as a nutrition educator at Bastyr university in Seattle that he would help me update and reference the text when I was ready. I called him and he put out the incredible effort to work with me the past five years to bring the reader the latest, most updated, and completely new 21st Century Edition of Staying Healthy with Nutrition. And I believe the whole team of people, along with my long-time associate and book developer, Bethany Argisle, and my longtime publisher Celestial Arts/Tenspeed Press, has done a superb job.

It is my intention in this edition of Staying Healthy with Nutrition to investigate and substantiate the significance of food and nutrients as an integral and accepted part of the world of medicine and individual medical practice. I examine the emerging politics of food cultivation and what it takes to maintain healthy elements of clean air and water, rich and nutritious soil, and a sun that keeps shining. Supportive nutrition and our alignment with Nature are basic components of health, and certainly factors in disease when they are not present. A reasonable knowledge of nutritional biochemistry helps in the application of therapies that relieve many symptoms relating to or resulting from improper dietary habits and the resulting inefficient body functions. With the proper construction of a diet and lifestyle plan, we can help rebuild a patient’s health (or our own) before and after illness or surgery.

Medical schools and doctors have typically been oriented to treating disease with drugs and surgery, and many health care practitioners do not yet view foods as “powerful medicine.” Although nutrition plays a more important part in preventive medicine than it does in the treatment of disease, an understanding of the body’s functioning at the nutritional level can indeed help in the treatment of a variety of problems. Clearly, we now realize that diet plays a crucial part in how the body looks and feels and whether it stays healthy. Generally, these effects—both good and bad—come over time, years, and decades. We can change our body and health as well as our energy and vitality with different diets. I explore these concepts in this new edition.

Nutritional medicine is an emerging and fast-growing field; it is also as ancient as medicine and healing itself, however. It is a specialty much like other medical specialties and should be considered as such. Every practitioner should understand and follow the basics of nutritional application in health care. There is still a great deal to learn about nutrition and how it relates to illness and health, and how it relates to each individual’s needs, but this is true of all specialties.

Elson M. Haas, MD

Elson M. Haas, MD is a medical practitioner with nearly 40 years experience in patient care, always with in an interest in natural medicine. For the past 30 years, he has been instrumental in the development and practice of Integrated Medicine at the Preventive Medical Center of Marin (PMCM), which he founded in 1984 and where he is the Medical Director. Dr Haas has been perfecting a model of healthcare that integrates sophisticated Western diagnostics and Family Medicine with time-honored natural therapies from around the world.

This educating, writing doctor is also the author of many books including Staying Healthy with Nutrition: The Complete Guide to Diet and Nutritional Medicine, 21st Century Edition, The NEW Detox Diet: The Complete Guide for Lifelong Vitality with Recipes, Menus, & Detox Plans and more. His latest book is Staying Healthy with NEW Medicine which integrates Natural, Eastern, and Western Approaches for Optimal Health. Visit his website for more information on his work, books and to sign up for his newsletter.