The short answer: eating a diet loaded with plant-powerful foods is our biological diet. Whether you are physician, naturopath, Raw Foodie, Paleo, Flexitarian, Vegan or a Bacontarian, one thing we can all agree on is that more whole, plant-based foods means more antioxidants, more nutrients, vitamins, minerals, less damaging fat and more fiber. And we all know that we need them all for optimal health, no question about it.
On a daily basis, we are assaulted with opinions that make us question, ignore and dismiss this very simple right-in-front-of-our-faces foundation for optimal health. Instead of listening to symptoms, and heeding them as a sign that we need to make changes, we medicate—we put “band-aids” over our body’s cries for help. We listen to the advertisements that tell us that “we aren’t skinny enough” and “we’re ill, so pop a pill.” We eat foodstuffs that advertisers tell us are “healthy” or “helping to feed the world” without questioning their business motivations. As a nation, we pay more for our health care than any other country, and we do not have better health to show for it.
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One third of adults over 20 are obese, one in 13 has diabetes and heart disease kills one out of three Americans. It’s time for us to become informed and empowered. It’s time for us all to be accountable. We have the power to heal ourselves, and the power to be healthier and happier than we ever imagined possible. A plant-based (or mostly plant-based diet) is your key—you will sleep better, your skin will clear up and glow, you will have more strength, afternoon fatigue will fade away, your mood will improve, you won’t catch colds or the flu, aches and pains will disappear, you will lose excess body fat, you will gain muscle, your joint pain will dissipate and you will feel better than ever.
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Consuming more whole, natural foods will aid in maintaining, and regaining your health. Animal-based foods are extremely acid-forming, while plant-based foods are alkalizing—keeping bones strong and healthy. Plant-based foods reduce the risk of cancer and “diseases of affluence,” like diabetes. Plant-based foods are also better, and the natural diet, for farm animals. Gorillas, giraffes, rhinos—they all build plenty of muscle on a plant-based, too. Plant-based is better for the planet, too.
Plant-based foods offer an incredible variety of meal opportunities. When people find out that I don’t eat meat or dairy, they often ask “what do you eat?” My response is “what don’t I eat?” Variety keeps things interesting and there are infinite delicious plant-based possibilities—a universe of them. And did I mention that plant-based foods can actually be a bargain? It’s true.
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I don’t think you’ll find a single medical professional, acupuncturist, nutritionist or holistic practitioner who disputes the fact that the more clean, organic vegetables we consume, the better off we all will be health- and happiness-wise.
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Sometimes the wrong choices bring us to the right places.
There are myriad reasons why people choose to eat an exclusively, or mostly, plant-based diet. Some folks end up on the herbivore track due to concern or disgust about the abominable treatment of animals in factory farms. Others choose to go veggie because they want to reverse illness. While some may want to eat foods that are more sustainable for our abused planet. No matter the reason, we all share space in a world riddled with endless nutritional confusion and out-of-whack priorities. A place where easier, faster and cheaper are king. A time where technology without responsibility is taking us all down a dangerous path of illness and irrevocable environmental destruction. But YU have an opportunity to change this.
A plant-based diet can heal, not only our bodies and spirits, but our environment. So, no matter how you ended up reading this, no matter whether you call yourself a “vegan,” a “flexitarian,” a “vegetarian” or an “omnivore,” pat yourself on the back—YU are taking important steps towards a better life and your reasons are valid. YU get to define what that life could/should be.
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I’m here to help YU, not judge you.
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If your choices are informed ones, you’re golden, but you must be accountable for your own learnin’. Simply Google “factory farming” and you’ll see that most aspects of industrialized farming are not what is depicted on product packaging—sunny farms with animals eating their natural diet of grass. Cheap, genetically modified foods (and food-like substances) have tremendous hidden costs. And major industries know what addicts you, and addiction makes you a customer for life.
It is very important that you empower yourself with information.
So do your research.
Numerous studies prove that a plant-based diet can reverse the diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease and certain cancers that scientifically generated foodstuffs, genetically modified foods and animal products promote. The treatment of farm animals in this country is unacceptable, and humans are very detached from how our food arrives on our table. We aren’t asking the simple and important questions.
For example, cow’s milk is a liquid, designed by nature, to take a baby calf (not a human) from birth to 1,000 lbs in its first year of life. We are the only animals on the planet to drink the secretion from another animal on a regular basis—into adulthood. When human mothers are nursing, doctors recommend staying away from certain foods and medications because they can be toxic. Whatever mother consumes goes straight to her baby through the milk. Why wouldn’t that be the case when consuming cow’s milk? Stay with me…
You can Google what the majority of cows are fed in this country, but know that it is not their natural diet (it usually contains genetically modified corn, other dead animals, even candy, etc.). In the very same way that the majority of Americans (who don’t eat their biological diet) end up sick, or with disease, cows get sick, too. To keep them alive, and producing unnatural amounts of milk and beef, to meet demand, they are given antibiotics and hormones. Which—surprise— don’t disappear before being consumed. Have you noticed how many young girls are entering puberty earlier these days? Think it’s a coincidence?
Look into the conditions cows are raised within—feces, stress, physical abuse in many cases. And do your research now, before a lot of this information is illegal. Oh yes, it’s not good for business if consumers learn the truth—a handful of states now have ag-gag bills on the books (“ag-gag” is a law that prohibits the making of undercover videos, photographs and sound recordings for those concerned with food safety, labor issues, free speech and freedom of the press).
Billions of dollars are spent on advertising by the meat and dairy industries to convince you (or scare you—fear is powerful) that you need milk for strong bones and lots of meat for a healthy body. When you hear “osteoporosis,” what words come to mind? If you said “calcium” and “milk,” then the American Dairy Association has done its job well. The fact is that science doesn’t support these claims. Animal products are actually incredibly acid-forming, which in turn promotes calcium loss from bones. This is why countries that consume the most cow’s milk, and its by-products, also have the highest bone fracture rates. In a study authored by researchers at Yale University School of Medicine in 1992, based on data collected in thirty-four separate surveys conducted in sixteen different countries, and then published in twenty-nine peer-reviewed research publications, it was found that 70% of bone fracture rate was attributable to the consumption of animal protein.
The China Study the largest comprehensive study of human nutrition ever conducted via a partnership between Cornell University, Oxford University and the Chinese Academy of Preventative Medicine—discovered that in rural China, where 90% of the protein consumed comes from vegetable sources, the bone fracture incidence is only one-fifth that of the U.S. In multiple, peer-reviewed animal studies, researchers from the study also discovered that they could actually turn the growth of cancer cells on and off by raising and lowering doses of casein (the main protein found in cow’s milk). The China Study included 367 variables, 65 counties in China, and 6,500 adults (who completed questionnaires, blood tests, etc.). When they were done, they had more than 8,000 statistically significant associations between lifestyle, diet and disease variables.
Caldwell B. Esselstyn, Jr., M.D., a physician and researcher at The Cleveland Clinic (the best cardiac center in the country), treated eighteen patients with established coronary disease with a whole foods, plant-based diet. Not only did the intervention stop the progression of the disease, but 70% of the patients saw an opening of their clogged arteries. Dr. Dean Ornish, a graduate of Harvard Medical School, completed a similar study with consistent results.
It’s not just cancer and heart disease that respond to a whole foods, plant-based diet. It may also help protect you from diabetes, obesity, autoimmune diseases, bone, kidney, eye and brain diseases. Today’s American population is the sickest and most obese in human history, despite all of the health claims made by the meat and dairy industries. And since the Western diet is going global, populations that once rarely experienced our diseases of affluence, are now on the same medicated track.
S0, where do you start?
I am a big believer that everyone’s body is different.
Some folks may need to eat some meat or fish. Some may need to be strictly plant-powerful. Some 100% raw foodies. Across the board however, I don’t think you’ll find a single medical professional, acupuncturist, nutritionist or holistic practitioner who disputes the fact that the more clean, organic vegetables we consume, the healthier and happier we will be.
If you can afford it (and if you can’t right now, save up), have a comprehensive nutritional blood analysis performed, so you have a personal blueprint for what your body needs. Eat more plants, period. If you continue to eat animal products, make sure they are grass-fed, humanely treated and actually meet your farmer. Eat clean, whole foods, and experience firsthand the difference in your energy level, quality of sleep, strength, mood, mental clarity and overall health. There is no more powerful motivation than that.
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I am not going to tell you that it’s going to be easy all the time—I’m going to tell you that it’s going to be worth it.
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The more research you do, and the more you experience the benefits of a plant-based diet firsthand, the more motivated you will become. Before YU know it, you’ll be sleeping better, laughing more, feeling stronger and folks will be asking: “What are YU doing? You look positively radiant.”
Visit The Big Crash Course for a list of important books, articles and documentaries that will inspire, educate and help you make this way of living an informed one.
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