When starting to write this week’s blog, I realised that there is so much to say about this that I’ll probably revisit some of these topics in more detail later, but for now I’ll try and keep to a manageable read and capture what I can. The big question I am really curious about at present is this:
Can eating certain foods CURE chronic diseases?
Not so long ago my science advocating logical common-sense brain would have, without hesitation, blurted out “don’t bdaft!” But today, my newly informed brain has a different answer. I sincerely believe the answer is YES – albeit a conditional yes because it’s complicated, as I’m discovering!
Think about this the opposite way, can eating certain foods cause diseases? Of course they can! It is clear that eating high fat, salt and sugar foods causes heart and circulatory diseases, diabetes and various other (mainly chronic) organ diseases. What I’m discovering is that there’s a plethora of evidence too that making good food choices can arrest and even reverse some of these diseases! The problem is this – the very foods that give us these chronic diseases are delicious and addictive. Furthermore, I genuinely believe now that there is a GREED driven (note the irony of that word) perfect storm of strategies by the food giants, pharma, regulatory, charity/NFP and governments that collude to trap us in this unhealthy situation. I know, it’s a grand and radical statement! This is intentional because I’m trying to get your attention and to pique your interest so that you read on…
What’s my motivation for this current journey of discovery? As I mentioned in my first introductory blog, in the last 6 months I have experienced 3 painful inflammatory conditions: medial epicondylitis (Golfers elbow); tendonitis in the knee; and gout! These along with several other factors led me to a tipping point of frustration with my body!
This fortunately coincided with some information I had been absorbing gradually over the last 18 months about the multitude of health benefits to be gained from making good choices about the food and drink I consume.
In the past I have tried many different diets and health regimes. Most of these were a “diet” i.e. adapt what I eat to help me lose weight. These have varied from the fairly extreme Commando Diet (Lots of eggs!!!) through to just cutting down on some of the more obvious “fat” foods!
All diets work if you simply want to loose weight and have the will power to stick to them for long enough! However, not all diets are healthy! One of the reasons I liked the Commando Diet is that it was super intense but was for only 2 weeks. However, the chances are that after another 2 months you’re back to where you started!
More recently I have been telling myself that I need to “change my lifestyle” rather than start another diet! Who was I fooling? Again, this usually worked for a while and then the exceptions start – holiday or Christmas etc – following which I’d gradually drift back to normal indulgence again! Pathetic really, but true!
Will it be different this time? I honestly hope and believe so but only time will tell. It certainly feels different and this is what I’d like to try and explain. I’ve certainly never been so convicted as to write a blog about it, and this also serves as a helpful public vulnerability and accountability keeping me on track!
Does anyone else hate the word “diet”? For goodness sake, it’s DIE with a T! It’s doomed to failure, which is part of the reason that companies have made millions in the diet industry. It’s just like the annual January surge in gym memberships, these industries actually rely on us failing so that we keep coming back!
What is different for me this time is the convergence of frustrations, not just the number being too big on the bathroom scales! I am frustrated with that, but I am also frustrated with several other things that have contributed to this new phase of life. My list…
>> My health indicators being too high - blood pressure, cholesterol, blood sugar, liver enzymes and triglycerides etc.
>> My impressive moob cup size and other pouches of fat in non-flattering places!
>> My inability to do things I want to!
> Like the time in 2015 I was invited to go water skiing with my cousin Chris (who I taught to water ski some 40+ years ago) and I failed miserably to haul my lardy butt out of the water! Thankfully in 2018, after 2 months on one of my fitness drives I aced it, and then just 12 months later was worse again!
> My legs being more willing and able to climb a hill than my lungs are able to support the required breathing!
> January 2020, my right knee ballooning after a hard day’s skiing.
> Getting out of breath and struggling to bend over and pull on ski boots. (Definitely and bit of a “ski’ theme going on!!!)
>> The hideous effect on the environment of factory farming.
>> The hideous cruelty to animals happening in factory farming.
>> The collaboration/conspiracy of the food giants, big business farming, big pharma, governments and even charity/NFP to actively support, subsidise and promote food and drink products that are literally killing us and the planet.
I’m sure by now you get that there are many factors that have frustrated and even incensed me recently. The great news is that this has caused me to make some decisions about what I eat and drink that has the fabulous biproduct of weight loss!
I am not on a diet! I am not particularly trying to loose weight. I am eating well and enjoying generous portions (as I have always done) and do not feel like I am making any real effort other than making good choices about what I eat driven by my frustrations.
Having recognised these frustrations, these are the subsequent questions I asked.
1. What foods have anti-inflammatory properties?
2. What foods are good for a healthy heart and circulation?
3. What foods help to boost my immune system?
4. Are there foods that can help prevent cancer?
(Note, none of these questions refer to weight loss!)
Would you be surprised to learn that the answers to these questions are much the same? In essence if you choose to eat mainly whole food plant based you will become healthier!
It is not complicated or difficult with the incredible product choices available now, because I am coming to this well after the pioneers have blazed the trail. All I have done is made a decision to eat mainly “whole food plant based”. I am not vegan, but I have massively reduced the amount of meat and dairy I eat. On average I have just one meal a week that includes meat and the only dairy I eat is the occasional meal that includes cheese as an ingredient. (This in part because during lockdown my lovely wife and daughter have been doing the cooking and I do not want to add hassle to that for them.)
As mentioned at the start, I have so much I’d like to say about what I have learnt here that it’s too much for one blog and so I will write a follow up to this next week where I will talk about all the things I have watched, listened to and read that brought me to the decisions I have made. For now, I will just highlight the key changes I have made to what I eat and drink.
· Overarching theme: mainly meat and dairy free and being whole food plant based.
· I have cut down significantly on my alcohol consumption – gout pain is a great motivator for this!
· For the gout I drink 330ml of grapefruit juice daily.
· Cranberry juice and sugar free ginger beer are good beer and wine alternatives with healthy benefits.
· Oat milk is what I now prefer with coffee and cereal.
· I don’t peel vegetables – high amounts of the goodness of root veg is in the peel!
· I take 3 supplement capsules daily – vitamin C, Montmorency cherry and combined Turmeric, Back Pepper & Ginger.
· I have increased the amount of exercise I do.
Thanks to those of you who have read to the end – I am keen to engage with your own experiences and opinions as I have plenty still to learn! Please message me with your thoughts and questions.
Until next week…