Everybody knows that lung cancer patients with cirrhosis of the liver rank lower on the disease hierarchy scale than little kids with genetic illnesses like cystic fibrosis. There’s an unspoken rule that the more self-inflicted your sickness is, the less sympathy you get from society at large. You’ve got the flu? Poor you. The clap? Well then.
We used to think that if you were lucky enough to survive your upbringing and your reckless youth, you’d have a few decades of smooth sailing and then gradually start falling apart as your parts inevitably wore out from long use. You’d replace a few bits and ultimately seize up completely. All the stuff at the end was just an inevitable part of aging.
We’re learning now that a lot of chronic illnesses associated with the older years are not inevitable at all, but are directly related to lifestyle. We’re also seeing those conditions in younger and younger people. Teenagers are being diagnosed with type 2 diabetes and high cholesterol.
Even many of the diseases that often strike younger people like autoimmune disorders, multiple sclerosis, Crohn’s disease, many cancers, type 1 diabetes, and kidney disease are now being shown to have some correlation with diet or lifestyle factors.
I’m just guessing, but the fact you’re reading this tells me you probably check all the lifestyle boxes already. You don’t smoke, you drink moderately or not at all, you get some exercise and eat fruits and veggies. That’s it, right? That’s what they mean by diet and lifestyle, isn’t it?
But here’s the thing. It turns out that a whole foods, plant-based diet can prevent and reverse many of the most common chronic illnesses, and many of the top killers. Dr. Esselstyn says,
“When people learn to eat plant based to eliminate heart disease it could inaugurate a seismic revolution in health. Other diseases that resolve include obesity, hypertension, stroke, heart attacks, gall stones, diverticulitis, asthma, osteoporosis, allergies, rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis, lupus, and a marked decrease in the common western cancers of breast, prostate, colon, endometrial, ovarian, and pancreatic.”
In some ways, that kind of sucks. It means your illness is your responsibility. I’m not blaming you, because you didn’t know like I didn’t know, but so many of the diseases that plague us are caused by what we choose to eat. And to top it off, you can’t even console yourself with your bad genes or bad luck because it isn’t true for most of the health issues suffered by western middle agers. But wouldn’t it be better to just get off that stupid disease hierarchy anyway?
Luckily, it may suck to have to take responsibility for your health, but it isn’t hard. First, educate yourself by watching Forks Over Knives. Then watch the extended interviews from Forks Over Knives on YouTube. Read How Not To Die by Dr. Michael Greger. Spend some time at Dr. Greger’s website, NutritionFacts.org, NutritionStudies.org, the online home of Dr. T. Colin Campbell of The China Study fame, and then google Dr. Neal Barnard, Dr. McDougall, and Dr. Doug Lisle. If you have heart disease find a copy of Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease: The Revolutionary, Scientifically Proven, Nutrition-Based Cure by Caldwell B. Esselstyn Jr. M.D..
Pick up a couple of whole food plant-based recipe books. I recommend the PlantPure Nation cookbook by Kim Campbell as a really good all round book to start with. Maybe go to a real bookstore and flip through a bunch of books so you can find some that resonate with you.
Once you’ve fortified yourself with knowledge, spend a bit of time preparing your kitchen by clearing out the crap. Find a few recipes you can handle and make sure you’ve gone shopping and picked up any of the ingredients you need.
Now just do it. I don’t believe in slowly transitioning to a whole foods, plant-based diet, especially if you have a medical reason for adopting a wfpb lifestyle. You know why you’re doing it and how, so do yourself a huge favour and just start eating health promoting foods and stop eating disease promoting foods.
I’m sorry to put this all on you, but the good news is you can do this. You are not doomed to suffer from all the diseases of modern life that we are constantly told is our fate. You don’t even need a prescription.
This is a good place to remind you that if you are taking medications for blood pressure or blood sugar, you should tell your doctor what you are doing and monitor those things very carefully, as significant changes in your numbers can happen within a matter of days of beginning a whole foods, plant-based diet.
Eat plants and prosper!