That is the question….
Almost 3 Years and No Meds
I’m glad to report that I’m coming up on 3 years with Type 1 Diabetes (“T1D”) and have yet to take any medication. Of those 3 years, the past two have been following the mostly raw vegan plant-based diet (“PBD”). As I’ve mentioned in my previous blog posts, I truly believe a diet of this type is the only way a T1D has a prayer of staying off of medication for a prolonged period of time.
A Little Rusty on the PBD Facts
I have to admit, when it comes to my current diet, I’m a little rusty on many of the facts surrounding the great benefits that a plant-based diet can bring. When I first transitioned to the PBD, it was following at least 40+ hours of research which included me reading countless books and watching several documentaries. I remember feeling truly empowered when I first started the diet and witnessed my blood sugars dramatically drop (Fasting Blood Sugar Chart).
In One Ear and Out the Other
So, here we are 2 years later. I’ve since settled into a groove and haven’t done much research since I switched diets.
Since I began the diet in November 2014, I’ve discussed my diet with many people. Each and every person congratulates me and has nothing but positive things to say about my discipline to manage T1D the way that I do (you’d be a pretty big jerk to not support a poor guy with a chronic disease that could prove fatal if not controlled).
I thought telling my story would enlighten people and help them understand how a plant-based diet is beneficial for everyone. However, in a majority of cases, people nod, smile and praise my discipline, but then I see them crushing a juicy steak soon after and continue maintaining their habits of an animal-based diet with hardly a blip on the radar.
I’m used to this by now, but it’s one of the most astonishing things to see how little my closest family members and friends change their dietary lifestyle after understanding my story. I do admit that my diet has impacted several family members and friends, but for the most part, nothing.
Why Am I Ignored
I always wonder why this is the case. Maybe it’s because people either 1) don’t understand T1D enough to let it really sink in; 2) are so programmed with an animal based diet that it seems unrealistic to seek healthier alternatives; 3) are fully aware of the adverse health effects from animal products but are totally fine living life with higher risk of disease, or even with diseases, and the greater likelihood of an earlier death because it’s just easier and tastes good or perhaps; 4) it’s really the notion of unless yourself or your wife/children are affected by a tragic disease, then there just isn’t time in people’s busy lives to make lifestyle changes.
Is Not Eating Animal Products Really the Answer?
Who knows…but my focal point with this blog is to address the fact that even I have started to question over the past few months whether a plant-based diet is truly that much healthier than an animal based diet.
After what I’ve experienced, it will be tough to ever convince me that animal products are beneficial for my body. However, I hear people say things like humans were born with incisor teeth to eat animal flesh or humans were intended to be hunters and gatherers.
I will admit these are good points and I can understand why people think animal products are fine. I mean, many people have grandparents that lived into their 90s on an animal based diet (I had 3), so it’s not a cut and dry answer. Also, for every one plant-based nutritionist, there are probably 3 or 4 animal product based nutritionist, so I know I’m going against the grain.
Our Generation is Far Worse Off Than Previous Ones
I will say that I think people in my generation, and possibly one above, are in far worse shape than our grandparent’s generation. Just think of all the processed foods and fast food restaurants that have been created over the past 30 to 40 years. These were hardly around when our grandparents were growing up. Also, I’m hardly an animal rights activist, but I think it’s a plausible argument to make that slaughtering animals to over feed the human population is just as weird as eating a PBD diet.
Proof, for Me At Least…
The crowning fact that truly convinces me that animal products are bad news is the fact that they meaningfully raise my blood sugars. To explain, I have a disease that has the inability to process carbohydrates effectively. It’s really all about the carbs. So it’s obvious that if I eat white bread, my blood sugars will skyrocket.
However, shouldn’t eating chicken, steak or fish that have zero to minimal carbohydrates have a nominal effect on my blood sugars? A novice on T1D theory would think so. However, this is hardly the case. There is something in animal products that is bad news that is raising my blood sugars. And there is something that is good news in low glycemic vegetables, nuts and seeds that is lowering my blood sugars. This fact alone just shows there is something carcinogenic with animal products.
Forks Over Knives Refresher
Anyway, I digress…I thought a good way to refresh my memory on the benefits of the plant-based diet would be to watch the documentary Forks Over Knives again.
This documentary had a huge impact on my perspective about why my body is able to live medication free with a plant-based diet. I would suggest everyone watch this documentary as it has some great information that can make everyone live a healthier life. I thought it would be beneficial to put some quick facts that I learned after watching the documentary in this blog just to illustrate how profound the difference in health outcomes can be from choosing between a plant and animal based diet.
Every minute in the U.S. someone dies of heart disease. Yes, every minute! This disease could essentially be eliminated from the human population if everyone ate a plant-based diet.
Eating a Plant-Based Diet is Extreme
Some people think that eating a plant-based diet is unrealistic and consider it extreme. Maybe they are right, but let’s say you have open heart surgery or stents put in your arteries. Some say that would be extreme.
Sugar consumption in today’s society is absolutely out of control. This blog focuses on animal products, but sugar is destroying people’s health at arguably a greater rate. In 1912, the average person consumed 40 lbs of sugar per year and by 2012 this increase to nearly 130 lbs.
It’s estimated that only 2 to 3% of cancer diagnoses are the result of genetics. The other 97 to 98% are the result of lifestyle factors (i.e. eating animal products, processed foods, sugar and not exercising).
Where Do I Get Protein in a Plant-Based Diet
I too was guilty of thinking this before I got T1D. If you ask 10 people what is the main reason humans eat meat, 9 will say it’s to get enough protein. Actually, you can get the same amount of protein from vegetables/nuts/seeds and other items like beans, and they are healthier forms of protein.
Vegan MMA Fighters
The documentary showed a successful mixed martial arts fighter that lives with a plant based diet. If a professional fighter can be vegan, then probably anyone can. There are also countless other professional athletes who competed at the highest level while on a vegan diet (Famous 10). I hope you like Mike Tyson.
Health Stats Pre and Post Plant Based Diet
A central part of the documentary centered around a gentleman who switched from a animal based / processed food / sugar filled diet to an organic plant-based diet. Here are his health stats before and after:
Weight 231 to 211
Blood Pressure 142/80 to 112/70
Resting Pulse 92 to 60
Total Cholesterol 241 to 154
LDL 157 to 80
Finally the China Study
This essentially is to date the most detailed and thorough study between the consumption of animal products and chronic illnesses such as heart disease, diabetes, cancers, etc. The co-authors concluded that those who eat a whole-food, plant-based vegan diet-avoiding all animal products and reducing their intake of processed foods will escape, reduce or reverse the development of numerous diseases.
After my refresher with Forks Over Knives, I once again feel completely at ease about my decision to live a life that is centered around a plant-based diet.
I understand that most individuals in our society would rather eat an animal based diet and significantly increase their risk of disease and a shorter life span than switch to a plant-based diet. However, I hope my blog can continue to enlighten people about what the right dietary choices are and just how profoundly they can impact one’s health.