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    • amacbean16

      I'll start.

      THE SWITCH

      My dad's dad died of a heart attack and my dad had high cholesterol despite being an ironman triathlete and eating a "heart healthy" diet. He couldn't tolerate statins, so he started looking into alternatives and found the potential for diet modification to prevent heart disease compelling.
      I read the research and thought it was surprisingly strong and consistent despite the confusion that seemed to surround what a "healthy" diet was among my college professors of nutrition. I also pondered the teachings of my church which have been recommending limiting meat (to times of winter or famine) and eating "every herb in the season thereof, and every fruit in the season thereof" since 1833.

      My husband and I took the plunge and committed to a plant-based diet for 6 weeks. This was back in 2006.

      THE LONG HAUL

      We've stuck with this way of eating (~90% plant-based) for over a decade now, through pregnancies, different jobs, marathons, cross-country moves, and more. Why? My top two reasons are probably:

      - I feel better. I have more energy throughout the day and experience drastically less post-meal sluggishness.

      - I feel empowered. So many people are confronting cancer, heart-disease, obesity, diabetes; I'm convinced that eating more plants and fewer animal products is something I can do to avoid some of these problems.

      An unexpected bonus is how much more I enjoy food now! Changing my diet forced me to pay attention to what I was eating and seek out the yummiest plant-based food I could find. My kids have come along for the ride, which I feel good about considering the toxic food culture they're surrounded by.

    • Chris

      12 years ago when I experimented with a plant-based diet free of refined foods like donuts, I was sad. It meant giving up my favorite foods like prime rib.

      But I had lost two friends to heart attacks when they were 38 and another to stroke at 43, leaving behind their young children and spouses. Heart disease runs deep in my family, at least to those who have immigrated to the U.S. where I live, and a whole-foods, plant-based diet is the only dietary protocol shown to reverse heart disease. So I tried the big sacrifice and hoped I had the self-discipline.

      The first big surprise was that it only took a few months for my taste buds to change. Now I don't even like the thought of prime rib, can't imagine why I ever did like it. That seems unbelievable because I swore I would always miss it.

      The second big surprise is it only takes 2 weeks for cholesterol to drop like it does on statins and for blood pressure to normalize without meds, and 30 days to reverse Type II diabetes. WHAT?! How did I not know this?

      Now that it's trendy in places like San Francisco, New York, and Europe—especially among millennials—it's much easier to find food I love more than anything that I thought I loved before. More celebs and star athletes are doing it and looking amazing, so the label of extremist is fading.

      Now more teams from the NFL to pro cycling have moved away from refined foods and have gone highly plant-based if not 100%.

    • bstrong
      Brian Strong

      Why did YOU switch to a plant-based diet

      Intense pain, hospital visits, IV drip of pain meds, and a mis-diagnosis.

      I've always struggled with stomach pains, but about 10 years ago they started to become more frequent and more intense. At first, I'd have maybe 1 or 2 bad episodes per year. It would be painful but tolerable and after a night of rest it would be gone the next morning. Then I started to get them 4 or 5 times a year, but it would super painful. It would feel like a knife was constantly stabbing me in the gut. It was so bad that I went to the urgent care at least twice; one visit ended with me getting a shot of Fentanyl to ease the pain and a referral to see a gastrointestinal specialist. It's not over. One time the pain was so intense that I asked my wife to drive me to the ER in the middle of the night. The doctor asked me what my pain level was from a scale of "1 to 10". I asked what a "10" meant and he responded with "the worst pain you've ever felt." My immediate response was "this is a 10." Minutes later I was hooked up to an IV getting some sort of synthetic morphine. I'm still in pain. An hour went by. I'm still in pain. At some point they do an ultra-sound on my stomach and intestines. Another hour of pain goes by and the doctor switches my IV to actual morphine. I'm still in pain and I hated the feeling it gave me. After some amount of time that I cannot remember, the doctor switches my IV to essentially Ibuprofen. The pain goes away within 30 minutes! The doctor is happy to see that I'm feeling better and says that according to the ultra-sound I probably need to get my gallbladder removed. 😳This was the catalyst for me. I couldn't do this anymore and I didn't want an organ removed from my body.

      Back to the referral to the gastrointestinal specialist: I did end up going after one of those urgent care visits. After a basic blood lab, the only advice he could give me without doing more extensive testing was to start a food journal and consider a vegetarian diet. Of course I didn't do either of those, and you now know where that led me. 🤒

      It was time to buckle up and just start eating plant-based. It's been 5 years and guess what?

      what keeps you eating this way

      No pain. No hospital visits. All my organs. More energy. No bloated stomach feelings. No struggle with weight fluctuations. No muscle loss (yup I get plenty of protein).

    • bstrong

      After some amount of time that I cannot remember, the doctor switches my IV to essentially Ibuprofen. The pain goes away within 30 minutes!

      Side note: My theory for this was that my eating habits would periodically put my microbiome into significant stress, which would cause a terrible episode of intestinal inflammation after eating. The super IV Ibuprofen worked simply due to its anti-inflammatory nature.

    • Dracula

      I am thoroughly intrigued now. And puzzled about how a novice would get started, most important where would there be any non commercially biased information & advice on that. And what do those who travel do to find such food all the time, assuming one does not simply take a break and eats McDonalds during trips.

    • Chris
      Chris MacAskill

      Side note: My theory for this was that my eating habits would periodically put my microbiome into significant stress, which would cause a terrible episode of intestinal inflammation after eating.

      I don't know what your inflammation was from, but Crohn's disease wouldn't surprise me. It's a hard diagnosis to make. I know two young, otherwise healthy 20-somethings who had Crohn's and the pain you describe, and both of them had to have much of their colons removed.

      But encouraging research results are rolling in like this short summary from the National Institute of Health:

      My translation to English:

      1. "Westernized diets tend to cause dysbiosis in gut microflora" ==> sounds like they share the same theory as you.

      2. In Japan these researchers control Crohn's with a vegetarian diet where they allow fish once a week and meat once every two weeks. The recurrence rate of their patients is 0% the first year and 8% the second. No explanation why some patients have flare-ups the second year but I wonder if they get more lax with their diets.

      3. I haven't heard of any other treatment protocol with this level of effectiveness.

    • Chris

      Exciting, Dracula! My favorite site for recipes and how to do it is Forks Over Knives:

      My personal physician at Sutter Health went plant-based perhaps 6 years ago. I'd like to take some credit for inspiring him but who knows. He looks transformed from the man I knew before.

      Anyway, he teaches plant-based nutrition at the clinic as part of their prevention series here in Mountain View, CA, and it seems to be very popular. We have a huge clinic and I see his smiling face in flyers for the class as he cooks up meals in his apron. Not used to that. 😁

    • Kat

      I've always known my diet sucked bad, even though I managed to eat a vegetable or two a day. I was always run down, retained water, and generally felt crappy. I watched FOK one day on a whim about 4 weeks ago and it's changed my life. What an eye-opener! I now eat whole food plant based almost exclusively - I have a piece of fish once a week. I feel so much better, and never get the 'ugh, I can't believe I ate all that' feeling anymore even though I always eat until I'm full. I sure don't miss feeling my heart pounding after a salt-heavy meal. The most challenging part is knowing what/how to cook. I have several new cook books, my favorite is from Thug Kitchen (mostly because I like to swear :) ), and I've learned a lot, but there's so much more out there. I just started reading The China Study, I think this will help solidify my decision to change.

    • Chris

      I can't tell you how happy this makes me, Kat. It's funny about The China Study book, some people LOVE it because of the charts, data & science but for some people their eyes glaze. It's amazing that it was above #200 on Amazon for more than a decade, still sells well, despite having an unknown publisher and an author that didn't go on book signing tours. And it's pretty scientific.

      But that's the thing, there are so many impressive studies across fields of nutrition, health, athletic performance, longevity, weight loss, and branches of medicine—cardiology, cancer, Crohn's disease, immune response, allergies—and they all come to the same conclusion about the very same diet. That just isn't true for keto, Atkins, paleo and all the others.

      It's hard to go wrong with the recipes from Forks Over Knives. I had never heard of Thug Kitchen but they're hilarious and my mouth is now watering reading their recipes.

    • bstrong

      Thug Kitchen has a permanent spot in my kitchen! Best cooking book ever.

      One of my favorite recipes is the broccoli and chickpea burritos. So good!

    You've been invited!