Growing up with an Irish family, I learned early the four essential food groups: sugar, fat, alcohol, and caffeine. A balanced meal was a cookie in each hand. My mother used to say, “If God meant for us to touch our toes, he would have put them closer to our hands.”
I was a pretty normal kid, though slightly overweight. There was no real food in our refrigerator, but I never complained because there was always meat on the table, ice cream in the freezer and some kind of pie when I got home from school. When I was about seven I saw my aunt injecting herself with insulin and thought how strange that was. Later, her foot and then her leg were amputated, and she died at a young age. My sister also died at 43.
In my 20s, I lived on cheeseburgers and went to work with a pocket full of Oreo cookies and a giant bottle of Coke. Like many Americans, the only vegetables I ate were French fries. In the military during the Vietnam War, I could never understand why doctors always wanted to repeat my fasting blood test. Obviously, my blood sugars were high, yet no one ever explained what this meant or suggested I change my diet. I knew that heart disease and diabetes existed but had no clue what they were until one day a doctor told me I had them.
An EKG showed I had survived a mild heart attack and I didn’t even know it. I thought this stuff was for seniors, not a thirty-year-old. I did research and found out how horrible diabetes can be. Heart and kidney failure, blindness and amputations scared me into reading all the health books I could find. A few of them suggested I could live without taking insulin by making some changes in lifestyle. That certainly sounded better than jabbing myself with needles every day and ending up like my aunt.
As my triglycerides, blood pressure, fat, and cholesterol came down to normal, I kept reading health books and eventually went back to college to earn a degree in Nutrition. I’m now 77 and have about 10% body fat, my last blood pressure read 110/70, and doctors no longer want to do blood tests because my blood sugar is always normal. I feel that everyone needs to know that heart disease and type-2 diabetes can be avoided and even reversed by simply living on plants. I find it criminal that so many are given distorted nutrition advice through the influence of large food companies. Hundreds of millions are suffering needlessly because they never hear of, or fail to believe Dr. McDougall. I was one of the few lucky ones.
Forks Over Knives! Congratulations.
A very honest, informative, humorous and moving article! Many people’s lives could improve or better yet be saved by this information! Encouraging to learn that eating more vegetables
can make a big difference in one’s health! Thank you, John, for sharing this with other swimmers and bringing more hope to all. A brief article with tons of lifesaving information!