It has been a busy summer and so you have heard little from this blogger. I hope you haven’t missed me too terribly! But I digress, here is what has been on my mind as of late.
It was back in January that I tested, for the second time, pre-diabetic on my A1C scores. I definitely thought the first time was a fluke so the second score got me scared. I wrote a blog about it shortly afterward and confessed to my gummy bear/vitamin addiction. I had switched off gummy bears to gummy vitamins believing that this would be a safe, justifiable substitute. I was wrong, of course. They contain way too much sugar.
My doctor suggested eating less sugar, dropping the gummy vitamins, and losing a few pounds. I was insulted primarily because I am a fitness professional and I did not have many pounds to lose. While that is true, a couple months after ditching the gummy vitamins and reducing sugar and carbs (no, I did not give them up entirely), I incidentally lost 3 pounds. I say “incidentally” because I did not try to lose them. I did not even know that I had done so until I got on a weight scale. These extra pounds have yet to return. The combination of all the above changes to my diet lead to a significant drop in my A1C levels and glucose serum levels. I should add I also now take three Omega-3 fish oil pills a day. Do I know if the fish oil helps A1C levels? I do not know and there are differing studies and reports on the subject. I only include this information in full disclosure of the changes I have made in my life. Still gathering info on the fish oil.
Either way, I am happy to report I am no longer pre-diabetic. I do have a genetic proclivity to Type 2 diabetes but, fortunately, I can battle it with dietary changes. I hope this will always be the case, but I will continue to check it annually.
This experience has changed how I look at food and life, at least to a degree. I recently attended the DCAC fitness convention, here in the Washington, D.C. area, where I attain my CEUs (continuing education credits) to stay certified. I attended a lecture by Mindy and Bruce Mylrea who swear by, employ, and teach a totally plant-based diet. No meat, sugar, or processed foods (including eggs). It was a little daunting, to say the least, and a lot of information to digest (no pun intended). Bruce has been diagnosed with prostate cancer and is currently battling it with meds and dietary changes. He believes his previous lifetime diet of processed foods and meats, produced with use of antibiotics and steroids, were the reason he contracted his cancer. He may be right. See their website here:
I asked myself, could I adopt this diet? Could I maintain a plant-based diet for the rest of my life? The answer I came to is that, though I probably could, I do not really want to do this. Everyone has to make their own choices, of course; however, this information and my recent brush with diabetes did make me think a lot about where we get our food and how it is prepared. I thought perhaps I could change a great part of my diet even if I don’t go into an all plant-based version. I started to think that there are changes I can make to improve my diet and future wellness (which, per above, I have already begun to do).
Bruce and Mindy have made food education into a business. I am not here to plug them, I am here as a source of information. I am doing my own research, I prefer to find things out for myself and I am double checking a lot of their data and charts. They say the leading cause of death in our country right now is diet. That is a pretty broad statement. But what they mean by that is that our diet causes all the illnesses that lead to increasingly earlier death rates. We are dying sooner than we did several years ago. Here is one Bloomberg report that discusses the reality that we are dying younger without discussing why this is happening:
Some argue and stats will show “deaths of despair” (drugs, alcohol and suicide) are a growing concern, especially in middle aged white Americans. Stats do appear to support this, but are there other causes? The following articles are good examples and help explain earlier death rates in America to include disease that are, yes, diet-driven:
I think we can find many articles and stats that will support the fact that we are experiencing a rise in earlier death rates in the US. And while we can agree there are multiple causes, we cannot ignore the fact that the way businesses are preparing our foods and the way we are raising our foods and livestock is unhealthy and leading us to earlier graves.
Educating ourselves is the first step. I am not sure how we can change the way they are mass producing our meats. Becoming a Vegan is great if that works for you but I really like meat; however, now I have to decide where to purchase my meats. Do I want them loaded with hormones and antibiotics? The simple answer is no. But where can I purchase meats and diary that are truly free of these substances?
I live in Virginia and I found this great website regarding locations to purchase mostly antibiotic free meats, dairy and eggs. And they have a state-by-state directory (being organic is desirable but not essential, according to the qualifications to be listed on the site):
I am sure there are many other resources like the one above, but I wanted to give you a place to start.
Speaking of organic, what the heck does that even mean? This is pretty tricky and you have to really read labels and know what you are buying. Check out USDA Organic Standards:
Here is an article from 2015 that will cast doubt on the term “organic” and likely add to confusion:
You personally have to decide what will work for you in the long term. What type of healthy diet can you maintain for the rest of your life? Sounds like a long time but that would be the good news if the “rest of your life” is a long time. The stats are there, better eating and an active lifestyle will keep you healthier and alive longer. Hey, don’t take my word for it! Do your own research and figure it out. It might just save your life and add life to your years (to coin a phrase).
The secret to living well and longer is: eat half, walk double, laugh triple and love without measure. – Tibetan Proverb