Americans love their bulleted lists. As if there really are “three steps to success,” or you actually can make $100,000 and never change out of your PJs in the morning.
Yet, there are steps that you can take that may deliver positive impacts on health, offering up benefits now, and as you get older. Eating right has its perks.
Six weeks ago, I decided to see if I could take a sabbatical from meat and dairy. I blogged about this nearly three weeks ago. Since then, I’ve been trying to set a few things straight relative to the depressing election of 2016. A lot of good that did.
So back to health and what we eat. Dr. Michael Greger, along with writer Gene Stone, published How Not to Die: Discover the Foods Scientifically Proven to Prevent and Reverse Disease. It could also have been subtitled, “The Medical and Scientific Reasons to Adopt a Whole Food, Plant-based Diet.” Both subtitles lend the book sound overly scientific and textbook-ish air. How Not to Die is far from either category. It’s a primer for anyone considering adopting a diet centered on whole foods and plants, with plenty of data, but also many humorous anecdotes from Greger’s own life. I’ve found it invaluable in getting started and immersed in a brand new way of living.
Here’s a funny anecdote from my own life—not funny as in “ha, ha,” but funny, as in “strange.”
Mark Baumer (29 days and counting) sent Greger’s book (along with a signed copy of Rich Roll’s book) for a Christmas gift last year to Mary and I. I’m not proud to admit this, but I was disappointed at the time and even somewhat put off, thinking that he was trying to “convert us” to his way of eating. I have been reminded (convicted?) of this every time lately that I’ve grabbed Greger’s book off the coffee table, and marveled at some new snippet of health-based information.
So here I am, six weeks into this thing that some people call veganism. If you want to label me a vegan, I’m fine with that. I think the label is a loaded one and one that immediately sets some people on edge and puts them on the defensive.
What I’ve enjoyed the most about Greger’s book, is that I can grab it, look something up, or sit down and read whole chapters, like the one entirely devoted to “Cruciferous Vegetables.” That would be arugala, broccoli, bok choy, brussels sprouts, cabbage, kale (and a few other amazing veggies) that have the potential to prevent DNA damage and the metastatic cancer spread, not to mention, protect against pathogens and pollutants. Even better, for someone who loves most of these—they are so damn great to eat, too! Ask Mrs. B. just how much Mr. B. loves his broccoli and brussels sprouts!
Health can’t be reduced to one, two, or even three things. However, Greger offers up his own 12-step plan that I’ve been trying to follow every day. Say what you want about veganism (or whole food, plant-based diets)—it ain’t boring that’s for sure.
Greger’s “daily dozen,” as he calls them offers up beans, berries, other varieties of fruit, cruciferous vegetables (yummy!), and other healthy offerings, with the goal of incorporating one to five servings of each (see beverages). And did I mention the spices (turmeric) and their beneifts?
Don’t think that it’s all about simply eating, either. He mixes in a call for exercise, too. His Rx is 40 minutes of vigorous activity (swimming, running, intensive cycling, basketball), or 90 minutes of moderately-intense activity (walking, leisurely cycling, yoga). Basically, it’s a call to abandon our sedentary ways of living. Get out and get active!
One more personal aside. I’ve been doing triathlons for five years. Running has been a challenge for much of that time. I’ve battled knee and hip issues any time my distance ticked above three miles. Coupled with other activities like umpiring, there were times when my knee pain affected my life.
Last weekend, I ran back-to-back days for the first time in two years. The day after, while a bit sore, I had little of the usual joint swelling and pain. Maybe turmeric really does offer anti-inflammatory support, while adding a little “kick” to various dishes.
What I’m finding is that eating this way agrees with me. Know that this is coming from someone who could eat a block of cheese in one setting, loved his barbecue (pulled pork and brisket), and had eggs for breakfast five days each week.
When I made the decision to get started, I thought I’d end up doing it for a few days, or even a week or two, with the goal of at least reducing the amount of meat and fish I was eating. Instead, I’m six weeks in and not missing all the foods that once were staples of my diet—including a host of overly-processed garbage, like potato chips and fast food.
I’m not planning to live to 100, and I’m not sure I want to, but I’d be happy to age gracefully and maintain certain qualities of life. I’d be happy being able to still remain active as a triathlete into my 70s. I think following Greger’s daily dozen offer’s hope that I’ll be able to do that. I think it will also point you in the right direction and maybe even counter some of the bad habits you’ve been living with for the past 20, 30, or 40 years. It’s up to you.