January 27, 2019
True story: couple weeks ago I was at the birthday party for our best friends’ son, sat down at the table to eat my lunch with another good friend, and had the following (REALLY SURPRISING) conversation.
“Jess when did you start eating chicken? I thought you were vegan!”
“Nope…I’ve actually never been a Vegan…I eat free-range chicken, wild-caught cold water fish, occasional grass fed bison or beef, and a cage-free egg here and there. But where did you get the idea I was Vegan, Michelle?” I responded.
“Well I guess I just assumed…your entire plate always appears to be completely covered in veggies!”
“OK that makes sense…I’ve actually been following a Paleo diet for going on 8 years, though” I said.
And here’s where the conversation turned not just surprising but even a little strange…“what’s that?” she asked. I mean, haven’t I been talking (very publicly) about how I eat for FOREVER???
For a minute there I thought about firing back with something snarky like “we’ve been friends for 15 years…do you even read my FB posts and blogs?” but then I realized she really was just asking for more info so I quickly regained my normally not-very-flappable attitude and began explaining the subtle distinctions between various healthy whole-food plant-based diets.
End of story.
So now flash forward to the point I want to make today (and how my surprising conversation ties into it): did you know that what we eat has EVERYTHING to do with prevention, treatment, and even reversal of heart disease (still this nation’s #1 killer) along with several other HORRIBLE diseases like type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure?
Yet although most doctors REALLY want to help us get well (they took an oath to do so, right?) they get little, if any, formal nutrition training in medical school (I personally know a Harvard-educated Internist who says he was only offered one OPTIONAL 2-week nutrition course during his entire medical school experience!)
Sadly, it’s also the case that folks in this country who really do want to make healthy dietary choices for themselves and their families are typically faced with a deluge of not just confusing but downright conflicting nutritional advice (i.e. consuming dairy products helps build strong healthy bones but that’s a whole other blog…DON’T GET ME STARTED!!!)
Thank goodness for Dr Michael Greger, one of the most highly respected medical professionals who first hit the scene in the 1990’s as one of the leading authorities on the causes and ramifications of Mad Cow Disease. Then in 2000 Dr Greger launched NUTRITIONFACTS.org, a strictly non-commercial 501c3 nonprofit charity designed specifically to deliver TONS of science-based FREE updates on the latest nutrition research directly to the public. Dr Greger’s website presents only the results of peer-reviewed nutrition and health research in super-easy-to-understand formats…I’ve been recommending Dr Greger on my website’s PEOPLE I LIKE page for years and if you haven’t already done so, you really should check out the hundreds of bite-sized videos Dr Greger has posted on more than a thousand topics (with new videos and articles uploaded every day!)
His amazing website isn’t the only public health service Dr Greger has to offer, however. In 2015 he wrote a book that instantly hit the New York Times best seller list (where it’s been hanging out ever since)…in How Not to Die, Dr. Greger examines the fifteen top causes of death in America (heart disease, various cancers, diabetes, Parkinson’s, high blood pressure, and more) and makes the assertion that THE VAST MAJORITY of premature deaths in this country can be prevented through simple diet and lifestyle changes. Dr Greger also goes into great detail about how nutritional and lifestyle interventions can trump prescription pills, various surgical approaches, and even genetics, freeing us to live longer healthier lives.
And although Dr Greger is sometimes described as a conspiracy theorist (especially on the subject of Big Pharma), his book definitely takes the high road when describing how we most likely arrived at this particular place in human history: generally speaking, western medical doctors are WELL trained to treat acute illnesses but have little or no training in chronic disease prevention. Think of it this way (and this is Jessica’s analogy, not Dr Greger’s): the human body is like a Maserati and food is like fuel…you simply can’t fill such a high-end vehicle with crappy leaded gas from the 1970’s and expect it to purr like a kitten, right? And remember my friend the Harvard-grad Internist? We can’t entirely fault the doctors when most have never even been exposed to information on nutrition…for a majority of all western medical professionals, the impact of nutrition on human health is simply a blind spot (in other words, stuff they don’t even know they don’t know.)
FYI here’s my favorite quote from the book: “if just half of the U.S. population were to increase fruit and vegetable consumption by a single serving per day, an estimated twenty thousand cancer cases might be avoided each year."
AMAZING STATISTIC, right?
Even more amazing, if I were to boil the entire book down into a simple thesis statement it would be this: adhering to a whole-food plant-based diet has repeatedly proven to not just prevent pretty much all major disease, but arrest and even reverse existing disease.
These days, however, I’m happy to see that Dr Greger is no longer spending most of his time imitating John the Baptist (in other words, I’m REALLY excited that FINALLY Dr Greger isn’t the only voice of medical reason crying in the wilderness)…many well-known Functional, Holistic, and Integrative Medicine professionals are citing boatloads of hard science pointing directly to veganism as the best way to not only reduce disease symptoms but even reduce risk for developing every major disease. IMHO, however, the only problem with that picture is that FOR MOST FOLKS IN THIS COUNTRY (where we have a unique constellation of health concerns plus physical and emotional stressors unparalleled in the entire history of human development) a vegan lifestyle is simply unsustainable.
But where Dr Greger’s slightly flexible stance on diet, my own opinions, and ALL the current research overlap perfectly, however, is the fact that long healthy lives are almost 100% dependent upon consumption of LOTS of vegetables each and every day.
“OK…just how many servings of veggies a day are we talking about here?” I’m sure many of you may be wondering.
Well I’m sure anyone who’s actually read any of my posts or blogs (sorry Michelle…I couldn’t resist!) or certainly anyone who’s taken one of my nutrition classes could easily answer that question (because the following is something I literally say ALL THE TIME): EVERY major world health organization (including THE World Health Organization) is now in agreement we should be eating somewhere between 9 and 13 servings of fresh whole produce EVERY DAY just to MAINTAIN our health. In fact there’s even a growing body of evidence to suggest that consuming MORE than the daily recommendation of vegetables and fruits improves health WITHOUT LIMIT…in other words, THE MORE VEGETABLES AND FRUITS YOU EAT, THE HEALTHIER YOU WILL BE!!!
So now I can practically hear many of you thinking “WOW that’s a lot of veggies! How the heck can anyone expect me to eat all those veggies every day WITHOUT going vegan?”
Well I have good news for you, my I-really-wanna-eat-more-veggies-but-not-sure-how-to-fit-‘em-all-in friends!
You REALLY should consider the Paleo Diet.
And if you’ve already heard of the Paleo Diet, you’re certainly not alone: in the last decade several MILLION people have not only tried the Paleo diet on for size but have completely transformed their health in ways they never thought imaginable.
And I bet you’ve also heard the term Whole 30 being bantered about? Boiled down, a Whole 30 is nothing more than whole meals composed of whole food (mostly plants) for a whole month. It's basically a simple yet powerful detox and the very best way to kickstart the Paleo diet. But most importantly, ANYONE looking to improve their health would benefit from this whole-food mostly plant-based 30-day plan. A true Paleo approach might be the most sustainable way to lower disease risk because it not only kicks the most highly inflammatory foods off your plate, it also:
But there's only one problem with both the Paleo Diet (in general) and the Whole 30 (specifically): they’ve both become EXTREMELY popular and in order for a really good idea to become really popular it has to morph into something slightly different…never forget that food manufacturing is a BIG BUSINESS and Big Food is VERY interested in a big piece of the less-processed-food Paleo pie.
In other words, just because a food label says "Paleo" doesn't mean it’s so (in fact, these days, often the reverse is true…have you ever really looked at the labels on some of those not-even-good-for-you “Paleo-friendly” pseudo-foods that have flooded the market lately…YUCK!!!) And just because your friends tell you they’ve done a Whole 30 doesn’t mean they can show you how to do it!
So if you’re serious about disease prevention, treatment, or even reversal then you seriously should enroll in my next Whole 30 DONE RIGHT! class today...just two 90-minute classes might be the best long-term health investment you’ll ever make.
Oh and BTW I’ll also show you how EASY it really can be to change your mood, your sleep, your entire relationship with food, AND YOUR WEIGHT (just as a side-effect) in no time flat (HOW COOL IS THAT?!) In fact, my fun and innovative workshop is completely unique: nowhere else (at least in this neighborhood) will you find a program exactly like this taught by someone who was trained by the folks who wrote the book…I even include a cooking demonstration (YUM!!!)
So what are you waiting for? SIGN UP TODAY!
(And if Paleo nutrition simply isn’t your veggie-eatin’ thing then stay tuned…my next Detox Smoothie class is right around the corner as well…click here for more details.)
(OK...in Michelle's defense you can see how this big salad topped with a few chunks of free-range chicken and some sliced cage-free hardboiled eggs might look like a plate of nothing but veggies & fruit ☺)