Friday, May 21, 2010

Musings on quality of life-dietary aspect

Within the last year, I've come to the conclusion that the dietary lifestyle changes that I have been making recently, will stay with me for the rest of my life. A whole food, plant based diet is what us humans thrive on best and the recent science and proof to back it up, is just too powerful to ignore.

This change did not happen overnight, but rather over a period of about 10 years. In spite of my erratic dietary habits over the last 30 years, I've always been interested in nutrition. Sometime around the turn of the millennium, I picked up a few books by John Robbins, Diet for a New America and The Food Revolution, which persuaded me to go vegetarian. For a period of about three years I was an ovo-lacto-pesco vegetarian (ain't that a mouthful!) Upon moving to Libya, I slowing drifted back into my old habits, culminating with my ice cream/cake/cookie gluttony, a year into our stay in Bogota. At that time I began to have a re-occurrence of getting food stuck in my throat (that I had back in 97), along with acid reflux and other minor health issues. I knew I had to make a change.

I started doing some reading on the Internet, and found a lot of excellent information (as well as a lot of rubbish) which I narrowed down to a couple of excellent sources: Doctors and, both specializing in science backed, nutritional therapy. I ordered books through Amazon, followed links on the Internet, browsed websites, downloaded pod casts and viewed presentations on YouTube. (These last two sources have enabled me to get a sense of the person's integrity, which is hard to do through reading alone) I estimate that in the last six months alone, I have taken the equivalent of two university courses in health and nutrition related issues.

So what has made me such a believer in a whole food/plant based/nutrient dense "diet"? Changes in my own physical well-being have been, without a doubt, the most powerful motivating factors.

To wit:
-No more food stuck in esophagus, therefore no more Schatzki ring dilation procedures.
-Hiatus hernia gone - no more feeling of having a lump in my throat
-No more heartburn
-Because all of the above have gone more Prevaid capsules every day
-Drop 4 kg to desired weight of 78kg
-No more periodic chest pains (possible angina? never had it checked out)
-Lower BP 100 over 58
-Lower Cholesterol...187. LDL 96 (this is still too high and I expect it to continue dropping to about 150, as the blood work was from 3 months ago.
-No more hemorrhoids
-Lower back and ankle pain gone...From better circulation I suspect
-Prostate symptoms going away.
-More even energy throughout the day (important when I have to deal with 18 kids at work and 2 at home!)
-and other less serious bits....

I used to believe that because I am so physically active, that the exercise would "cancel out" any dietary over indulgences or deficiencies. However, research shows that this in not the case. While exercise definitely plays an important role in a healthy lifestyle, a nutrient dense, plant based diet, plays a much more important role. Disease avoidance roughly breaks down to: 80% diet, 10-15% exercise, 5-10% genetic.

In short, research now overwhelmingly shows there is a much better way, and I'd much rather give up the rich Western diet, in return for a better quality of health in my later years and less risk of heart disease, cancer etc.

Let me know if I can help out with what I've learned, or you'd just like to share info or experiences, with dietary changes.

Maria says I'm starting to sound like a preacher trying to convert people to a new religion. I suppose she doesn't totally (although mostly) believe what I've learned (a few Spanish versions of the material would be useful...I'm looking) and is worried I'll make an ass of myself, pushing this on other people. On the positive side, I feel like I've learned a few truths that would help friends and family, and the caring part of my self-centered ego wants to share this info. So at the risk of alienating friends and family...I've posted my thoughts here and thus endeth the sermon. (From here on I won't push the issue...unless :) you ask or have a major health event and I think I can help)

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