Saturday, January 19, 2013

Diet and Right Action, Connecting the Dots: Part II

So I mentioned in my earlier post that my reading The China Study in August, 2011 was the foundation for many diet and world-view changes in my life. The book resonated with me on so many levels, not just with the wake-up of information, but with the fact that we have more control and power in our lives over our health… it’s not just genetics and luck… we have real choices in our lives on how we eat and our overall health. Reading that animal-based foods can cause cancer? Incredible… and yet it made sense. Many members of my family have died of cancer and have been debilitated or killed by strokes and or their complications. Cancer has killed grandparents, aunts, uncles and friends. Stroke deeply affected my grandparents, and even my otherwise very-fit brother at the age of 51.  He was very lucky to have recovered.  Adult onset, Type 2 diabetes has affected friends and family as well. Could I not have more control than simply exercising, reducing stress and eating more greens? How is it that we have never heard this information before??? Dr. Campbell masterfully walked through the details in a very readable, and caring way.

So what happened next? Well, I sent an email to all my family and friends that The China Study was likely one of the most important books that they could read, and that I cared about their well-being and should read it. I had some good feedback, I had some replies like “all things in moderation”… I replied that moderation is what has been the source of my family’s health problems. Again, I’m not about living to be 100+ years old, I am totally about living the healthiest, most active life I can with the time I am given. So, in addition to this I have always been an advocate for universal health care, especially after seeing the excellent documentaries “Sick Around the World” and “Sick Around America”. So I was particularly interested when the Obama administration started taking up the cause of healthcare reform, for better or worse. We need to get people healthy and actually inform them how they can take control of their own health. Dr. Campbell’s information was the start… the dots were beginning to connect!

The next book I read was Eat to Live by
Dr. Joel Fuhrman.  It is another excellent, eye-opening book that confirms and validates a plant-based diet and provides a diet plan to implement a plant-based diet of what he calls Nutritional Excellence. I really appreciated the concept of nutrient density he brought out. I had always loved vegetables but soon learned to appreciate certain ones even more, such as kale, spinach and nutrient-rich leafy greens and cruciferous vegetables. Highly recommended book.  Dr. Fuhrman states:
“A Diet of Nutritional Excellence There is an important take-home message here—and that is to understand how critical a life-or-death issue nutrition is. We must get this right. Humans are primates, and all other primates eat a diet of predominantly natural vegetation. If primates eat some animal products, it is a very small percentage of their total caloric intake. Modern science shows that most common ailments in today’s world are the result of nutritional ignorance. However, we can eat a diet rich in phytochemicals from a variety of natural plant foods that will afford us the ability to live a long and healthy life.  
I always try to emphasize the benefits of nutritional excellence. With a truly healthy diet, you can not only expect a drop in blood pressure and cholesterol and a reversal of heart disease, but your headaches, constipation, indigestion, and bad breath should all resolve. Eating for nutritional excellence enables people to reverse diabetes and to gradually lose their dependence on drugs. You can expect to reach a normal weight without counting calories and dieting, as well as achieve robust health and live a long life free of the fear of heart attacks and strokes.”
Fuhrman, Joel (2011-01-05). Eat to Live: The Amazing Nutrient-Rich Program for Fast and Sustained Weight Loss (p. 163). Little, Brown and Company.

So I really like documentary films and Netflix has a lot of good ones. One I watched while reading Eat to Live was the film, “Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead.” It’s the great story of Joe Cross, who when faced with serious illness, learns to take control of his health through diet. I also realized how nutrition. I was happy to find Dr. Fuhrman was in the movie and was Joe’s advising doctor. Also around the same time, the movie “Forks Over Knives” came out on DVD and hit Netflix. I found out that Dr. Campbell and other authorities in the field were in the movie and knew I had to watch it. All I can say is that this is likely the most powerful documentary for waking one up to the benefits of a whole foods, plant-based diet. Please watch it if you haven’t done so, it’s really excellent. The dots were continuing to be connected.

Eat to Live and Forks Over Knives had a strong impact on my nutritional resolve, but I was about to really go “down the rabbit hole” as they say and become more aware and in tune with the global benefits of a plant-based diet while reading the next book The Food Revolution by John Robbins.  Mr. Robbins wrote the foreword to The China Study so I knew it was going to be important, I just didn’t know the ways it would further expand my understanding of how beneficial a plant-based diet could be, in a holistic world view and spiritual sense. Mr. Robbins introduced me to the U.N. study “Livestock’s Long Shadow” () and many others. I began to see the deep suffering of animals on farms and other areas of exploitation around the world, as well as the critical connection to global warming with our diets. It’s not enough to just switch out one’s light bulbs and drive a hybrid… eating vegan can have a bigger impact than all other individual eco-friendly activities combined. The book and documentary An Incovenient Truth had always resonated with me, so these points just made even more sense and were validating and affirming. A plant-based diet was not only important, but critical for the sustainability of ecosystems and life on our planet. As incredibly informative as the book is, what I liked best about it was its deeply spiritual tone. In the final chapter, John writes:

 “So much is at stake in our times. Whether we like it or not, and whether we accept it or not, the choices we make, individually and collectively, in the coming years will make an incredible amount of difference, perhaps more so than at any other time in the history of life on this planet. It is not just the quality of our personal lives and health that depends, now, on the choices we make. The destiny of life on Earth is up for grabs. And we are each part of how it will turn out.” 
John Robbins. Food Revolution, The: How Your Diet Can Help Save Your Life and Our World (p. 384). Kindle Edition.

Finally, coming around again to Right Action, I discovered a great book that was published by Thich Nhat Hahn (“Thay”) and Dr. Lilian W. Y. Cheung, a fantastic book about mindfulness and eating, entitled Savor: Mindful Eating, Mindful LifeIt once again brought out the importance and deeply spiritual nature of eating, and how being mindful and centered was another important element of health. 

So I’d like to share Thay’s presentation at Google on Health, which is truly excellent, and brings together the notion that true health as a combination of Mind and Body.  After the introductions and songs, Dr. Cheung speaks at 42:00, and Thay speaks at 57:00. I hope you enjoy and benefit from the wisdom which Thay presents, as I did.  

Namaste, my friends... 
Mindfulness as a Foundation for Health: Thich Nhat Hanh and Health@Google

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