In February 2010 I quit smoking. Despite being one of the best things I have done in my life, it came with a side effect; weight gain. Although I was already overweight before I quit, by the end of 2013 I was close to the 95Kg mark (15 Stone), with a height of 178cm (5,8 feet). In January 2014, I took some tests to assess my overall health. At 41 years of age, everything seem within range except my weight, my blood pressure (140 over 90) and my cholesterol 231mg/dL (6nmol/L). I had been feeling lousy for several years, so I became determined to find some answers.
Graduated in 1998 in Human Nutrition and Dietetics, I knew that diet played a part on our health, but what I hadn’t realised yet was, how big of a part that was. Although my knowledge in nutrition was a bit rusty, I started to research the field, in order to get to the bottom of all the confusing information about foods, and find out what’s the best diet for us, human beings. I had previously tried dieting by limiting caloric intake and staying away from junk foods, which worked temporarily but I couldn’t sustain, and always ended up regaining the weight. Although I wasn’t a couch potato, having always practised sports, I realised I could not outrun my bad diet, and that even if weight loss diets could help, do not work in the long run. As, they usually are too restrictive, too difficult to follow, and some may even have harmful side effects.
With this difficult task at hand, I began reading book after book about nutrition and the latest fad diets. I searched online for nutrition sites, articles, videos etc…. And at the same time I gradually made some adjustments to my daily diet too, like eating more fruits and vegetables, swapping refine grains for whole grains, limiting process food, stopping sugary drinks and added sugars, switching from milk to soy drink and eating less animal foods in general, but choosing wild fish, organic free range chicken and eggs, and fresh cheese when possible over other options. My exercise routine remain the same, running 2-3 times a week for 30 to 60 minutes, and on the 30th of November 2014 I completed my first half marathon. In January 2015, after a year and a drop in weight of over 10Kg (1,6 Stone), I took some tests again to see if there was any changes. My total cholesterol plummeted to 149mg/dL (3.5nmol/L), with an LDL of 69mg/dL (1.8nmol/L). I could feel the improvement, however, my blood pressure remained in similar range and my skin condition (Psoriasis) didn’t show much improvement either, if any at all. I had had some phototherapy sessions in the spring of 2014 at the hospital, which cleared almost all the psoriasis but by the end of the year, all of it came back and I was back again with moderate psoriasis and around 40% of my body covered in it. So, I kept on looking for answers…
Then, during the summer of 2015, I came across a book and a website that would change the way I understood nutrition. “The China Study” by T. Colin Campbell, PhD. and NutritionFacts.org by Michael Greger, MD, two of the most notorious scientific nutrition experts, as I would later find out. They both claim through their works that whole plant foods improve health and increase life span, whereas animal foods decrease health and shorten life span, and the scientific data they presented to support this statement seemed rock solid. What I had learnt up to that moment, from mainstream nutrition and health authority recommendations, was that a diet of around 2000-2500 Calories per day with a variety of foods that including, meat, fish, eggs and dairy in “moderation”, was about the best diet we could have. Well, “The China Study” results and the best available balance of evidence in the scientific nutritional literature presented at NutritionFacts.org, challenged this notion. I kept on bumping into works of other scientific nutrition experts that would also shared similar views. After all, this didn’t seem to be a new fad diet designed to sell books, nor some sort of biased work for the benefit of a particular industry. So, I decided to give Whole Foods Plant Based Diet a go.
After a few transitional months, around March/April 2016 I adopted a nearly 100% Whole Foods Plant Based Diet, only eating animal foods on special occasions like holidays. My weight has now been steady around 78Kg (12 Stone) for the last year and a half, my blood pressure has dropped to 121 over 74 and my psoriasis has improved a great deal, covering now around 15-20% of my body, but it’s not gone yet. I keep on running 2-3 times a week for 30 to 60 minutes, and taking part in half marathons every now and then.
It’s now December 2017 and the search continues….