The Healing Power Of A Plant-Based Diet, Part 1 – Diabetes and Heart Disease

The Gift of Life from Flickr via Wylio
© 2007 Melissa Johnson, Flickr | CC-BY | via Wylio

“…The idea that whole foods, plant-based diets can protect against and even treat a wide variety of chronic diseases can no longer be denied…now there are hundreds of detailed, comprehensive, well-done research studies that point in the same direction….” T. Colin Campbell, The China Study

 

So, exactly what diseases can a vegan diet heal, reverse, or improve?

We need to be really specific about how we define ‘vegan and ‘plant-based’ here. As we discussed in last week’s post, a junk-food vegan diet is not an optimal healing diet, so, for the rest of this post, when I say ‘vegan’ or ‘plant-based,’ please know that I mean a whole-foods vegan diet – the diet I mostly coach on my programs. As well as no animal products this also means no refined carbohydrates and no processed crap; just good old veggies, fruits, nuts, legumes, beans, whole grains, seeds, and minimal oil.

There are not many diseases that a plant-based diet won’t have a beneficial effect on. In my experience and studies, it is ALWAYS a good idea. As there are so many other elements at play (such as how active a person is, their emotional state, how toxic their environment is/has been, and even their spiritual state (apol’s for the ‘woo’) there are no guarantees that a plant-based diet will cure terminal cancer. However, fuelling your body with clean, whole, nutritious food while you are ill can only have a positive impact, even if it just extends the timescale of a terminal prognosis, or eases digestion and regulates metabolism and weight, thereby making life more comfortable.

If you are not already plant-based then always get the ok from your medical practitioner before changing your diet to treat, or help treat (along with conventional medicine) your illness. This diet can have positive effects very quickly.  If you have a chronic disease and are on specific medications, you may need to reduce them, as regular doses may start to be too much. This is why it is important to do this with the knowledge (and supervision with regard to any medication) of a doctor.

Also:  Prevention prevention prevention! Don’t wait till you’re good and crook to change your ways. The animals and the planet need you to go vegan asap, so jump right in! You can think of your ‘reward’ as getting the best protection there is from most illness. What better upside could there be?

Anyhow, let’s kick this off with a couple of biggies:

 

Diabetes Type 2

Firstly, this disease is easily PREVENTED with a plant-based diet.

Secondly, there is a small possiblity that you have genes that make you more susceptible to diabetes than others, BUT, on a whole-foods plant-based diet, these genes need never play out.

If you already have diabetes type 2? The good news is it can be reversed with a plant-based diet. You can become symptom and medication free. Seeing as how I’m not a doctor, I’m gonna let someone that is, talk and explain the specifics:

If you want Dr Barnard’s book on reversing diabetes, you can find it here.

This disease is unnecessary, it is a lifestyle disease – no-one has to get it. There is no need to suffer.

Some doctors know about this way of reversing diabetes, some don’t (most doctors don’t know much at all about nutrition, it simply doesn’t play a big part in their training). Some doctors may have read about reversing diabetes with a whole food vegan diet, but don’t believe their patients will agree to trying it. However, doctors that have given their patients the option of following a plant-based diet to reverse their diabetes have proved this wrong; most people are only too glad to help themselves.

A little info on diabetes type 1 (I focussed on type 2 here as it is more prolific). Diabetes type 1 can likely be prevented with a plant-based diet if you are vegan from birth, as there is very strong evidence to suggest it is caused by too high a consumption of dairy in childhood. Though a diabetes type 1 patient will always have to take some level of insulin, the amount can often be greatly reduced, and all the usual diabetes type 1 complications can be minimised by adopting a plant-based diet.

 

Heart disease

It has been known for at least the last thirty years, that a whole food plant-based diet prevents and reverses heart disease. Another lifestyle disease just like diabetes, it has been described by Dr Caldwell B Esselstyn (the author of ‘Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease’) as a ‘toothless paper tiger’ i.e. a disease that need not happen.

So why is it our biggest killer? Because most people are brainwashed into thinking that our standard diet rich in animal products is healthy, when in fact it is the cause of most chronic disease. Most doctors will just come out with ambiguous suggestions like ‘eat everything in moderation’ or ‘eat lots of veg and fruit and low fat proteins.’ Advice like this is not helpful. Who can define moderation? According to Dr Esselstyn, ‘moderation kills.’ And the second piece of advice is useless as it ignores the fact that protein is in vegetables too – it makes it sound as if protein is ONLY in meat and dairy, and it does not even touch on whole grains versus refined grains.

As with diabetes, there are doctors who do have this information, but are loathe to suggest it to their patients:

‘Why don’t more cardiologists employ this simple and successfully proven method? The stock answer is “My patients won’t follow such a diet.” That is indeed hard to accept when entire cultures without heart disease have preferred this way of eating for centuries and thousands of heart patients have accepted this technique. A more honest answer would be there is much less financial reward for the caregiver. The hope is that insurance carriers will appreciate this less expensive and more reliable approach and reward lifestyle counselling which will accelerate momentum and acceptance. Dr. Esselstyn now treats invasive cardiologists who seek his counsel when they have the disease. Viewing a broader landscape for the health of America is imperative.’   – Dr Caldwell Esselstyn

As for the how and why a standard diet causes heart disease and how a plant-based diet reverses it – take it away Doc:

The fact that these diseases can be reversed is incredible, but I can’t stress enough – prevention is key.

If you suffer from either of these diseases, or are interested in avoiding them – go plant-based now. If you need any help – I can guide you through the transition, and make it easy and fun. You know where I am!

 

Why I Blew A Fuse (Or Three) Last Week…

GRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR, AAARRRRRRRRRRRRGGHHHH, RWOOOOOOAARR! BLEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEECCCHHHHHH!

I am angry. Can you tell?

Apologies in advance for the ranty post.

What’s the problem you ask?

HA!

First this Huffington Post UK article last week, and then this one in Salon.com.

Lets tackle the shameless ass-hattery (that would be hilarious if it weren’t so damaging) of the Huffpost UK article first.

It starts by mentioning that there are around 150,000 vegans in the UK (several UK articles on veganism recently have begun the same way).  I’d love to know WHO COUNTED THEM AND HOW? NO-ONE ASKED ME OR MY PARTNER IF WE WERE VEGANS, EVER. And it wasn’t a question on the census as far as I can recall. So, there’s that questionable fact that just keeps on being spewed out. (The fewer vegans there are reported to be, the more ‘niche’ it looks, and the happier the meat and dairy industries are, so it’s not like there’s no agenda for this BS).

The ””’writer””’ says she tried to be vegan for a week based on the fact that some high profile, famous people are vegan or have recently tried it. Now I have NO problem with people going vegan’ish’, or trying vegan temporarily to see how it feels (any reduction in animal product consumption is, of course, to be encouraged), but this has to be the most capricious, superficial reason ever  – it was clear at the outset she wasn’t exactly going to throw her heart and mind into it.

With ZILCH research into the lifestyle, she embarked on it by ordering in all her vegan meals for the week (does she do this even when not vegan? Or does she only enter the kitchen if animals are to be cooked?).

Buying your own food IS difficult if you’ve given it as little thought as she did, but to say that vegan chocolate is expensive at £5 a bar is wrong and offensive. I JUST ATE A STARBUCKS BAR OF DARK CHOCOLATE THAT COST ME £1. And for those of you in the UK, M&S do a dark chocolate bar for 65p. Asda and Sainsburys (in their ‘free from’ sections, do vegan chocolate buttons and chocolate bars for around 45p. I know I’ve bought chocolate in the US – even from expensive Whole Foods – for way less than £5. See what she could’ve found out if she’d researched a tad?

And aren’t we beyond the protein question by now? Don’t we all now know that protein is in practically all plant-based foods and that it’s extremely rare in developed countries to be protein deficient whatever your diet ? Yet this person whines that she feels like eating a chicken breast does a better job of giving her protein than any plant-based food could.

She finishes by misinforming us that it’s harder to eat out with friends if you’re vegan. NO. IT’S. NOT.

Any ideas as to why this person was allowed to ‘write’ this execreble piece?

ARRRGHHH.

As for the salon.com article, this person is very commendably reducing her animal protein intake. But is very desperate to point out she will never be fully vegan. With phrases like…

‘I’ll never give up meat completely…’

‘I think a roast chicken is proof of heaven.’

[The way she ate] ‘…wasn’t restrictive.’

[She’s doing] ‘Nothing dramatic, nothing that screams of absolutism.’

‘You don’t have to go all PETA if you don’t want to.’

…it’s obvious she is eager to distance herself from vegans and portray their lifestyle as extreme and limited (which she bases on nothing but her own prejudice; or is it perhaps that because she can’t go fully vegan, she feels the need to discredit people who are?). She badly wants us to know that she is still ‘a regular Joe’ (my words) and that she still likes chicken the same as everyone else.

(For the record, NOT ALL VEGANS ARE INTO PETA. I can’t stand them. I don’t see the point in them campaigning to stop people commodifying animals, when they commodify women in most of their campaigns. To me that’s counter-productive. Shouldn’t we be commodifying precisely NO SENTIENT BEING EVER?).

She then says that she doesn’t like the idea of eating the amount of processed meat and dairy alternatives that ‘seems to be involved in giving up animals entirely.’

*slow hand clap*

…aaaaand well done for perpetuating the stereotype of vegans eating cardboard sausages and soy burgers for every meal.

Apparently she hated a vegan brownie that she tried. It tasted ‘like wet garbage smells.’ Yes, there are bad vegan treats, But GUESS WHAT? There are bad non-vegan treats too! For the love of God, have a vegan red velvet cupcake from Babycakes NYC and tell me THAT tastes bad I dare you! Complaining about one bad vegan brownie (which has the potential to make people think a vegan diet is boring and tastes bad) is not objective journalism.

With interest in plant-based eating going through the roof, there is of course the inevitable backlash that comes with it.

There are also people that are interested enough to dip their toes in the water, but have such warped perceptions of vegans, they feel they have to disassociate themselves with what they perceive them to be.

YOU are interested in a vegan lifestyle. I know this because you are reading this post right now. I’m sure you are reading many posts and articles on the subject, not just mine. This is fantastic; we absolutely should always be informing and educating ourselves on this amazing way to heal our bodies, the planet and to save animals. BUT, read carefully and question continually, I beg you. There’s a LOT of misinformation, prejudice and agenda-based nonsense out there.

Next week I’ll be happier, I promise!

 

 

Vegan? Plant-based? Wtf?

I want to clarify what these terms are and how they came about. Firstly, let it be known that in terms of diet, these words are used interchangeably.

The term ‘vegan’ came about in 1944, and was coined by a guy called Donald Watson – founder of the Vegan Society in the UK, who wanted to distinguish between a vegetarian, who doesn’t eat animal flesh but eats other animal products, and people who didn’t eat any animal produce at all. He took the first three, and last two letters of the word ‘vegetarian,’ and voila! The term ‘vegan’ came about.

This was the word used for years to describe people who ate this way, until there came a time when there were so many negative associations with this word, that some people decided to use the term ‘plant-based’ instead.

Technically – there IS a difference in the meaning of these words. ‘Veganism’ can involve a whole lifestyle of ways in which to avoid cruelty to animals, i.e. not wearing fur, leather, wool etc, and not using any products containing animals or that have been tested on animals, whereas plant-based tends to refer to diet only.

I noticed recently, on some new health coach type websites, the term ‘plant-based’ being used. Upon further investigation, I realised that animal products were involved in their diet suggestions, so they really meant ‘mostly plant-based.’ I’m not suggesting these people are purposely usurping the dialogue, (or am I?) (Of course I’m not!) (Or am I?) but they are clearly not aware of the genesis of the term, and are (ok, most likely unwittingly) mis-using it so it fits their purpose. So I thought clarification was needed.

Which term do I use? I always used to say vegan. Then I learned the term ‘plant-based’ and totally latched on to that. Now? I really don’t care. I use them both. Thankfully, and not before time, vegan is not the dirty word it once was, and if someone really does have a problem with that word? Well, it’s exactly that – their problem.

People will project what they will whatEVER lifestyle you choose, so whatever term(s) you use to describe your diet – just own it, and know that any negative reactions are nothing to do with you.

Do you prefer one term over the other? Why? Please let me know in the comments.