The Vegan Yogi – Health Magicby Laura Jones-Miller
“Waiting” by Leza Lowitz
You keep waiting for something to happen,
the thing that lifts you out of yourself,
catapults you into doing all the things you’ve put off
the great things you’re meant to do in your life,
but somehow never quite get to.
You keep waiting for the planets to shift
the new moon to bring news,
the universe to align, something to give.
Meanwhile, the piles of papers, the laundry, the dishes, the job—
it all stacks up while you keep hoping
for some miracle to blast down upon you,
scattering the piles to the winds.
Sometimes you lie in bed, terrified of your life.
Sometimes you laugh at the privilege of waking.
But all the while, life goes on it its messy way.
And then you turn forty. Or fifty. Or sixty…
and some part of you realizes you are not alone
and you find signs of this in the animal kingdom –
when a snake sheds its skin its eyes glaze over,
it slinks under a rock, not wanting to be touched,
and when caterpillar turns to butterfly
if the pupa is brushed, it will die—
and when the bird taps its beak hungrily against the egg
It’s because the thing is too small, too small,
and it needs to break out.
And midlife walks you into that wisdom
that this is what transformation looks like—
the mess of it, the tapping at the walls of your life,
the yearning and writhing and pushing,
until one day, one day
you emerge from the wreck
embracing both the immense dawn
and the dusk of the body,
just as you are.
from Yoga Heart: Lines on the Six Perfections © 2011 by Stone Bridge Press
I am a vegan yogi…a raw, low fat, 8o% complex carbohydrate, 10% protein, and 10% fat (more like 70/10/20 in reality…80/10/10 on a good day))… some people think that is way over the top…most people and everyone over 60 (especially my relatives) think it’s WAY over the top…I’m sure you can relate. My 100 year old Grandma has spent the last 30 years with bones like balsa wood and living on Texas Toast (TM)…She worries about MY diet…seriously (I do appreciate the love part…the logic not so much…she counts creamed corn as a vegetable)…well, they used to think that protein was the most important nutrient. I do appreciate that when people had to work hard, had little access to food that they didn’t catch or grow, that it was important that food gave you strength and energy….kept you alive on any given day really… I also understand that some of us now have access to almost any kind of food we desire. We can go out and purchase heaping bags of fresh fruit and vegetables…enough to fill us up and titillate our taste buds. I understand what a privilege that is and that being able to build this “over the top healthy person” is because I am privileged. I have lived in places where finding a small dish of beans and a tortilla in front of you was much appreciated…so don’t think me arrogant because I am eating “the premiere diet for health”…I fully understand that not everyone has that luxury…We can all try to work with what we have available to the benefit of our body though. Ali recently pointed out that rice consists of 8% protein, millet 11.4% protein and wheat berries 15% protein…add some cabbage, carrots, onions, cucumbers, kale, bananas, oranges, apples…low priced, easy access vegetables and fruits, and you’re off to a wonderful start. Potatoes, taro root, yucca root and yams are filling, inexpensive, and nutrient filled…we all have to work with what we have… Now that we are all getting on in years (yep, everyone is older today than yesterday), all of those people and relatives I just mentioned are starting to take notice …they are starting to ask me questions about my “over the top” health practices” as the differences in health are becoming blatantly obvious. They DO NOT want to be reminded that they scarf down cream pies , Cheetos and colas…They prefer to hear that there is a magic “snake oil” that works with no diet …no exercise….and there are..LOTS of them! Manufacturers put out multitudes of snake oil cures every year…everyone knows they don’t work but they buy them anyway??? We healthy vegans scarf down carrots and let watermelon drip down our chins. Most of my friends are ecstatic to find that one can now order stretch pants that look like jeans…well, kind of like jeans)…Think about that!!! and have few health issues…(nor do we own draw string stretch “jeans!”). Being a healthy vegan requires that we think about what we eat. We get to eat some magically beautiful foodstoo…foods that grow and ripen in the lovely sunlight. It is, as they say, a loving matter of choice. When you’re younger the choices are more often made for aesthetic reasons. When we begin to age those choices are more about life quality….No matter the reason, these choices will alter your life, and how you feel about yourself, forever.
I want to show you a few examples noted in the Permanente Medical Journal by Dr.Esselstyn…These findings are from a long term study done by Dr Esselstyn. In recent years evidence supports that respected food plans, such as the Food Pyramid, are not only ineffective…they are actually contributing to many serious health issues (think excess meat – B12 and fat equals high cancer risks). Many doctors themselves have moved into a plant-based, low fat diet as the evidence supporting efficacy of this diet mounts. I know we read a lot of hype … anyone can say anything and make it sound scientific. The information presented here is based on long term 10 year study done on people who have (had) very serious health problems with coronary heart disease and/or obesity. The study group was placed on a plant-based, low fat diet. The doctor who was in charge of the project went on the same eight year (and counting) plant-based, low fat diet plan with his patients. Good choice Dr.Esselstyn!
Spotlighting Plant Foods
The Esselstyn study was able to show that if disease is to be reversed by diet therapy, “fat should be less than l0% of calories rather than the present 30% advocated by the American Heart Association”. Regular exercise and stress management are extremely valuable health-promoting tools and are strongly encouraged for health and a heightened sense of well-being. Dr. Esselstyn’s results do seem to say that consuming a low-fat, all-plant-foods diet is a very powerful way to promote good health and to heal the body of heart disease.
Dr. Esselstyn understood how difficult dietary (comfort) changes can be for most people. He wanted to see if he could figure out why. To do this, he looked at his own reation to adopting a plant-based diet. He was encouraged to discover that after a few months his food prefwerences actually changed! Today, he is a total “vegan,” eating no dairy products. His aim was to let his patients know that if they could reduce their blood cholesterol levels, they might also reduce their heart problems. He kept careful records on his patients during those 10 years.
Let’s look at the main results. He enrolled 21 patients in his study between 1985 and 1988. These patients were asked to consume on a regular basis a very low-fat, plant-food diet. Dr. Esselstyn wanted to be sure to reduce their cholesterol levels below 150 mg/dL. Five patients dropped out of the study, 17 maintained the diet, and 11 of these had frequent cholesterol measurements and a follow-up angiogram. Average age of these 11 patients was 56 years.
All patients had severe, progressive triple-vessel coronary heart disease as documented by angiography. For most physicians, these would be considered very sick people. With most patients completing a decade of follow-up examinations,” disease progression was STOPPED” in ALL those who kept to the diet. Significantly, disease did not just stop but was actually reversed in approximately 70% of those having follow-up angiograms. Angina was improved or eliminated in every patient who had experienced this problem. And get this: no new cardiac disorders or other evidence of disease progression occurred during the study, compared with 37 incidents prior to the study! Of the five patients who left the diet program and returned to their regular diet, there were 10 new cardiac incidents, including one death. Really extraordinary findings! Blood cholesterol was measured every other week, resulting in a total of 126 times per patient . At the beginning of the study, average total cholesterol was 246 mg/dL; at follow-up, the mean level dropped to 132 mg/dL (every patient was under 150 mg/dL). This is a remarkable 46% drop. The “bad” or LDL cholesterol dropped by 58%. These are unprecedented cholesterol reductions.
So, how did Dr. Esselstyn do this? Most importantly, he set an example by going on the diet himself. He also showed real interest in his patients; he was a very positive role model. Dr. Esselstyn met with each patient bimonthly for a check-up, and the entire group met quarterly on a more social basis to exchange favorite recipes ( Good eats help! Thank you Ali and Gluko!).
Changing Your Taste Preferences
Remember that these patients consumed a very low-fat diet quite comfortably for a very long period of time. How did they do it? Primarily, by changing their taste preferences. This is a very important point seldom mentioned when speaking about these diets. At first, You may have a difficult time switching from a high-fat diet to a low-fat diet plant- based diet. With a little perseverance your taste preferences will change…I promise! You’ll will come to prefer your new low-fat diet over your old high-fat diet. When your health improves and you start feeling fabulous, you’re there!…on the road to a lifetime of healthy eating habits. The old diet will become the one you avoid (I always carry produce with me when I am out or traveling…If I am forced to eat days of iceburg gargen salads with lemon…I get very cranky…”Show me the melon!”) Here’s to eating like a herbivore!!! Munch, crunch, YUM! and, Salute!!!