Where do we go from here?

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Forks Over Knives, or How To Save Your Own Life

So, life (thank the goddess) goes on, and I seem to have less and less time or inclination to sit at the computer. Well, no, the truth is that I quite often have the inclination, but since for the past almost seven months now I have been exercising more and more often than in the past forty or fifty years put together, and have become convinced of the real dangers of spending too much time sitting in a chair, I don't very often act on that inclination. I do miss spending time writing things longer than emails or Facebook status posts however, and since we're all going to be raptured (or the Chosen will be raptured, and I guess the rest of us will just fall into the Great Void) when Judgement Day happens on Saturday, I thought I'd spend a little time on the old blog today (with frequent intervals to get up and jog around the house, mind you).

It's really too bad about that judgement day business, especially if it really happens.  Gail and I have been spending so much time and effort on getting healthy and fit at this late day in our lives, and wondering why we waited so long -  be a damn shame to waste it on getting tossed into la nada by worldwide earthquakes and so forth.  I personally would really like to go down a few more sizes and maybe run a 5K race for a worthy cause of some sort before it's all over.  Maybe even a marathon eventually.  Well, I guess we'll see.

In the meantime my more immediate goal is to be able to see a movie whose progress I've been following for a while now.  It's called Forks Over Knives, and it's about the benefits of exactly what Gail and I have been doing since her Coronary Artery Disease diagnosis in September, eating a plant based, nutritionally dense, vegan diet.  We've also been doing yoga, working out on the treadmill and weight machines at our local Y's, and as soon as the outdoor pool is open (Memorial Day, and we can't wait), swimming, daily.  The movie apparently doesn't deal much with exercise, according to Roger Ebert's review "...Although regular exercise, especially walking, is invaluable, the film shows only a little exercise and focuses singlemindedly on nutrition."  Ebert is most enthusiastic about this film, and says what we have found to be true during our Medical System Journeying after Gail's diagnosis: " 'Forks Over Knives' is not subtle. It plays as if it had been made for doctors to see in medical school. Few doctors seem prepared to suggest proper nutrition as an alternative to pills, stents and bypasses." No doctor has recommended the path we've taken; quite the contrary - the recommendations are all for invasive procedures and/or medications. The reactions to our telling them our plan has universally been snorts of derision. So, we took the initiative to read the very doctors featured in this movie, T. Colin Campbell and Caldwell Esselstyne, and embark on our own vegan adventure.

I've been writing about this adventure in this blog since we started, and think it's time for a little update. Gail, who was not really overweight to start withbut did have some of the dreaded belly fat,  has lost fifteen pounds, her cholesterol has dropped many points, her blood pressure is now very low normal, and she never has any angina, even when racing away at high speeds and inclines on the treadmill.  I, who was quite overweight, have lost almost fifty pounds and my blood pressure is closer to a good normal reading than it has been in my entire adult life.  I won't have a physical and tests until November (first apptmt I could get), but I am expecting my cholesterol to be lower than it has been since I started having it tested in my forties.  It has always been high, and doctors have wanted to put me on medication for years now. So, Gail and I are living proof of this movie's premise, laid out here by T. Colin Campbell himself: 

For more than 2,800 years, the concept of eating plants in their whole-food form has struggled to be heard and adopted as a way of life. However, recent evidence shows that more than ever a plant-based diet is not something to be ignored. In fact, eating a plant-based diet has become an urgent matter from several perspectives. Not only will it improve your health -- and the evidence behind this claim is now overwhelming -- but it will also dramatically reduce health care costs, as well as reduce violence to our environment and to other sentient beings.

The fact is our nation's economic stability, already crumbling due to the repeated bursting of bubbles such as technology and housing, has been hard hit by spiraling health costs that seem to have no end in sight. Despite this, as a nation, we are sicker and fatter than we have ever been. The epidemic of obesity and diabetes, especially in the young, forecasts an economically unsustainable public health challenge with the gloomy prophecy that today's children may not outlive their parents.

Who will protect the public? Not our government: The U.S. Department of Agriculture's nutrition pyramid is laden with food that will guarantee millions will suffer ill health. Not the American Dietetic Association, which is controlled by food corporations. Not the insurance industry, which profits by selling plans to the sick. Not the pharmaceutical industry, which pockets billions from chronic illnesses. And not the medical profession, in which doctors and nurses receive virtually no training in nutrition or behavioral modification, and are handsomely rewarded for administrating drugs and employing technical expertise.

What can save America is a plant-based diet, which will help individuals recover their good health, and which in turn will set our health care system right (as well as our economy). However, for this plant-based diet to take hold, the public must be endowed with nutritional literacy, the kind of knowledge that is portrayed in the new documentary, "Forks Over Knives."

"Forks Over Knives" focuses not just on the research that both of us have been engaged in over the last four decades, whether in China and Cornell or at the Cleveland Clinic; it also traces the journey of several Americans as they move from a lifetime of eating mostly animal-based and processed foods to a whole food plant-based diet, and the extraordinary medical results that follow. It is educational, entertaining, and literally life-saving.

See this movie if it comes to a theatre, or even a town, near you. It would be so great if this movie actually provided the impetus this country needed toget itself off the track of degenerative illness and onto one of real health care. (Cross-posted to Women On.)

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