Last week the husbands of two friends that I used to play netball with, tragically died. Both in their mid 40s. Cancer seems to be hitting younger and younger. A very good friend of mine died a few years ago of colon cancer. At just 38, she shouldn't have got this 'old person's disease’). Apart from these personal cases, I know so many other people who have been or who are currently affected by cancer, not to mention cardiovascular disease, diabetes etc.
Is My Diet Making Me Sick?
So what’s going on? While genetics, stress and lifestyle have an influence on your health, your diet asserts a huge influence. You are what you eat after all. Having recently been diagnosed by an autoimmune thyroid condition, I've been trying to seek out ways to improve my health and to (hopefully) put the condition in remission. Naturally this brought me to researching nutrition. Nutrition is more than ‘oranges provide Vit C’. Eating any food has massive implications on the health of each cell and is involved in thousands of different chemical processes. Depending on the food consumed, these processes can be beneficial and protective or detrimental. Initially I was surprised and a little sceptical in some ways when I learned about the detrimental effects that animal products can have on our health, however some facts include:
-The glycotoxins in animal products cause inflammation (the precursor to many conditions and diseases)
-By eating meat and animal products we absorb hormones and antibiotics that the animal has been injected with
-Meat is a catalyst for cancer (you can tell whether somebody is a meat eater or not just by looking at their tumour!)
-Animal products heighten cholesterol, which causes atherosclerosis (thickening of the blood vessels)
-Cow's milk and its derivatives increas IGF1 which is linked to cancer. It also causes the acidosis that is caused by dairy and the subsequent leeching of calcium from the body. It does not protect bones and increases fracture risk. In fact approx 75% of the population are lactose intolerant, causing further inflammation
-There is a 73 fold risk of dying from diabetes (if you are under 65) if you eat meat
-Diet is the no.1 killer of Americans, with its standard American diet, full of processed food and meat
This does not even mention the cruelty that is involved in animal farming which most of us know about and we choose to ignore or forget (I know I did!) and the environmental impact. If you have children you will be concerned with what will happen to our planet in the next 50 odd years. Environmentally, raising animals as food:
-Uses 16 pounds of vegetation to convert into one pound of flesh
-Producing just one hamburger uses enough fossil fuel to drive a small car 20 miles
-51% of global greenhouse gas emissions are caused by animal agriculture
I’m Not Sure I Can
If any of this is making you think, but the words, ‘it’ll just be too difficult to not eat meat’ come to mind, I suggest you do this:
-make three-quarters of each plate you eat: veggies and fruit (the percentage of fruit and type is dependent on whether you want to drop fat or not), then add whole grains- think quinoa, brown rice etc, pulses, nuts and seeds. Try this for a few meals.
-revolve each meal around vegetables with meat being the afterthought rather than the main event
-try using nut milks in place of cow’s milk and coconut milk ice cream instead of regular ice cream. You can also buy non-dairy cheese and make it yourself
Why Do It?
For many people, eating less or excluding meat is a huge mindset shift. Most of us have been eating meat since childhood and it’s as natural as brushing our teeth. But maybe, we’ve been brainwashed into thinking that we need meat for protein (you don’t by the way…where does the cow get its protein from?) and milk for calcium. Perhaps the agriculture industry is in cahoots with big Pharma…food makes us sick and the drug companies make us better…only they don’t…they just get richer…
Eating a whole food plant based diet, has been proven to reverse cardiovascular disease, while protecting against diabetes and cancer, as well as people who eat a WFPB diet live an average of 7.8 years longer than meat eaters (not to mention less illnesses while they are alive), plus being 30 lbs leaner, with less insulin resistance and lower blood pressure.
What It’s Done For me So Far
As for my personal story, in the last 6 weeks of mainly excluding all animal products, the following has happened:
-It’s a lot easier than I thought
-I lost 2kgs without even trying and I eat a lot!
-My blood pressure went from 118/ 70 (3 weeks in) to 96/66 (3 weeks later)
-I feel less inflammation and heaviness in my body, particularly my troublesome left leg
-I haven’t missed meat at all (this surprised me)
-My tastes have changed, for example, I used to always have coffee in the morning, now I choose tea
-My bathroom habits are a lot better and I have less bloating :-)
It’s a strange out-there idea, that just might work, and it’s certainly worth doing more research into the most important area of your life; what you eat. And maybe just giving it a go!
If you’d like to optimise your nutrition, but not sure where to start then drop me a line!