“I’ve been diagnosed with leaky gut syndrome,” announced my friend (somewhat unceremoniously) over our post-workout coffee the other morning.
Her admission caught me off-guard. Our conversation topics at that time of the day don’t normally stretch beyond training stats and weekend wine plans.
“Um, well, at least now you know what the problem is, right?” I offered sympathetically. “Did your doctor at least suggest any treatment options?”
“The first step is an elimination diet,” she said unhappily.
We both eyed the milky cappuccino and pseudo healthy muffin in front of her.
My training buddy worked out like a demon every morning to offset her lusty love affair with carbs and dairy. But while aesthetically beneficial —she did have washboard abs, after all— this approach couldn’t help her with the digestive issues that had been plaguing her for months. That required a change in eating habits.
I felt for her. As a longtime vegan, dairy no longer holds the attraction it once did. But there was a time when I couldn’t fathom a day without cheese (preferably melted on pizza or housed between two slices of thickly buttered ciabatta).
There’s no question that good nutrition is vital to our overall health and wellbeing. Everything from type 2 diabetes and stroke to osteoporosis and brain fog can be attributed to the food we eat.
We can’t live on fast food, processed microwavable dinners and animal products pumped full of hormones and expect anything else. Of course we’re going to get sick. Most people will balk at the idea, but the fix is a fairly simple one.
We need to heed the advice of Hippocrates and let food be our medicine. The well-known food writer Michael Pollan is of a similar opinion. He suggests we eat food, not too much, mostly plants.
Folks who live in the Blue Zones know this. They routinely live to a hundred years old with little or no health concerns. Along with moving naturally (walking, cycling) and enjoying a daily glass (or two) of wine, eating a mostly plant-based diet is one of the nine healthy lifestyle habits they all share.
Regardless of who you choose to listen to, the message is clear. Stop eating processed junk, reduce the amount of animal products you consume and drastically increase your intake of fresh fruit and vegetables.
You only have to watch documentaries like What The Health and Forks Over Knives to understand just how beneficial eating a plant-based diet is. By rejecting animal-based and processed foods it is in fact possible to control or even reverse the degenerative diseases that afflict us.
However, as important as our own health and wellbeing is, there’s also the planet to consider when deciding what to eat. Animal agriculture is a major contributor to the many environmental problems facing us today
Livestock and their byproducts account for at least 32,000 million tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) per year. That’s a massive 51% of all worldwide greenhouse gas emissions. Even without fossil fuels, we will exceed our 565 gigatonnes CO2e limit by 2030, all from raising animals. [Source: Cowspiracy.com]
While there’s a lot to be said for the technological advancements we’ve enjoyed in recent decades, living in such a fast-paced, always-on world has its downsides. Now more than ever, we need to find balance. A good start is embracing the art of slow living and adopting a plant-based lifestyle.
Author Bio: Angela Horn is one of two urban hippies behind Mostly Mindful: a not-so-hardcore blog about buying less, doing more, and living sustainably in the city. Watch her TEDx Cape Town talk and join her on her mission to declutter the world.