By Rodney A. Harrill
Suppose that I told you that there is something simple that you can do that would help you to:
- Live longer and have more energy
- Lose weight
- Lower you blood pressure and cholesterol
- Prevent and reverse heart disease and stroke
- Lower your risk of most cancers
- Prevent and treat diabetes
- Decrease the need for drugs and supplements
- Keep your bones strong
- Avoid Alzheimer’s
- Avoid impotence
- And more…
Would you be interested? I was. I’ll tell you the “something simple” in a minute but first I want to talk about my grandkids.
A few months ago, Suzanne and I took three of our grandchildren camping. My 4-year-old grandson, Dylan was rooting around in the box of toys that I had brought along and found a package with a kite in it. He asked what it was and when I told him, he asked me to put it together, which I did. Then he said, “Papa let’s fly it”. I looked around and there wasn’t even a hint of wind, so I said, “Dylan there is no wind so we will have to wait till the wind blows to fly the kite.” That didn’t deter him a bit, so he kept at me, “Come on papa, it’ll work. Come on let’s fly the kite – it’ll work.” So I thought, “What the heck, I’ll show him what I mean.” I unspooled about 50’ of line, had Dylan hold up the kite and I sprinted at top speed across the field nearby playing out line as I went. Sure enough the kite goes up in the air 100’ or so which was a little more than I expected, and when I ran out of gas at the end of the field it slowly drifted back down to the ground. I looked around and Dylan was right behind me ecstatic as he blurted out, “I was right papa and you were wrong, the kite did fly.” Well, I don’t particularly like to be outsmarted by a 4-year-old and was about to take him on, but then I realized that he was right. The dang kite did fly.
I have been reflecting on this experience ever since. How many times have I failed to see the true possibility in a situation because of my “Beliefs.” We know that our beliefs are powerful and that they impact what we see, experience and manifest in this life. Most of our beliefs were developed early in life and they come from a variety of sources, our family, other outside sources, and from our experiences. They are useful because they simplify our decision-making – they serve as our best approximation to the truth. We love to hear people say things that agree with our beliefs and we often dismiss statements that don’t agree with our beliefs without much thought. The problem is that many of our beliefs are at best incomplete and can become outdated, static and limiting. Unless we expand our awareness beyond what we believe, we might not see a higher truth even if it smacks us right in the face. So why would we ever want to change a belief? Answer, because we are not getting the results that we want. If we are not getting what we want in this life there is something out of line with our beliefs, thoughts, emotions, or behavior and the ultimate truth of the situation. The more closely we align our beliefs with our behavior the better chance we have of creating what we want.
Meanwhile back at the ranch. In my introduction, I told you that there was something simple that will vastly improve your health in many ways. That something simple is to eat a Whole Foods Plant-Based Diet.
I am a very unlikely champion of a plant-based diet. I was born on a small farm in the mountains of Pennsylvania. Eggs, bacon, butter, milk and biscuits were the ultimate breakfast. Lunch and Dinner was much the same. Vegetables were considered a nuisance, although I do remember hearing that they were good for me. In my adult life I have always been physically active and so I considered myself to be a “protein type” which meant that I needed a lot of meat and other animal protein.
I began to seriously explore diet for the first time early this year. Why? Because I wasn’t getting the results that I wanted. I wasn’t feeling as energetic as I wanted, my cholesterol was high, my blood pressure was high, I had gained some weight and was heavier than I had ever been. I tried on my wetsuit this past spring in preparation for a triathlon. I had to shoehorn myself into it and when I got it on I couldn’t breathe let alone swim in it. So, in addition to going out and buying a larger wetsuit, I decided I needed to do something different about what I was eating. I ended up with a copy of, The China Study, by Colin and Thomas Campbell. Normally, I leaf through a book like that pick out a few interesting pieces of information and decide not to read further. This one captivated me primarily because of the outrageous claims it made for the benefits of a plant-based diet. It was “beyond my belief.” I ended up reading it in detail and found it to be convincing. I have since read a number of books on the subject and they come to similar conclusions. There is also a movie out in DVD format called, “Forks over Knives,” that is far less technical and covers the same ground. The results are based on extensive laboratory and field research by a number of highly skilled researchers. All of the research leads to the same conclusions: a diet based on whole unprocessed plant based foods is very good for you and a diet based on animal products and highly refined foods is very bad for you.
America is the most affluent nation in the world and unfortunately the diseases that we suffer from are supported by the highly refined animal based foods that we eat. These diseases of affluence include, heart disease, stroke, most cancers, diabetes, obesity, Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia, osteoporosis, impotence, arthritis and more. We consume more drugs and supplements and have more surgery than any other nation, yet, we have made virtually no progress in combating these diseases of affluence. Turns out that food just might be the simple cure we need.
Here are some of the findings that I have found so far. Notice what your beliefs are saying to you as you read them:
- Genes are not the primary determinant of who gets diseases of affluence – lifestyle including diet is.
- A whole foods plant based diet not only prevents disease, it can reverse it as well.
- Animal protein as well as animal fat consumption are highly correlated with diseases of affluence
- High rates of consumption of milk products increases the risk of prostate cancer, type 1 diabetes and osteoporosis.
- High fiber intake is associated with lower rates of cancer, lower cholesterol and cardiovascular disease. All fiber comes from plants.
- Everything in food works together to create health or disease. No single chemical or supplement characterizes a whole food. Most supplements are not necessary on a whole foods plant based diet. Exceptions are B12 and in some cases D.
- A whole food, plant-based diet coupled with a reasonable amount of exercise will help you to attain and maintain a healthy weight.
- You can be a highly active and eat plants.
- You don’t have to be 100% vegan to get the benefits.
- There’s more but I will stop here.
This is not new information. Some of you reading this article have been aware of this information for sometime. The China Study was published in 2006 and studies dating back to the 1940’s came to similar conclusions.
So why didn’t I know about this? Most likely because I was not unhappy with my “results” and I dismissed information about diet that was contrary to my “beliefs.” I am now open to new information about food, and based on this “new” information I am currently evolving my beliefs.
If I am going to evolve my beliefs what else needs to happen? I have to change my behavior and test it out. And if I change my behavior I should see different results.
So my wife Suzanne and I have changed the food we eat. Since about June 1 we:
- Eat totally vegan about four days a week (started at 2 days)
- Increased proportion of plant based foods/decreased proportion of animal based foods on remaining days
- Eliminated dairy
- Eat very little junk food and refined foods
- Greatly reduced supplements
We make exceptions for traveling and entertaining and try to balance it out over the long haul. We also made a vow not to beat ourselves up over this or be obnoxious vegans.
The results so far (3 months) have been encouraging. First of all, it has not that difficult – in fact it has been surprisingly easy. There are a lot of great tasting fruits, grains and vegetables. Thank goodness wine and coffee are plant-based foods. So far I have lost over 12 lbs and am close to my ideal weight, reduced my cholesterol by over 50 points, reduced my blood pressure to the normal range and I feel better and have more energy. I have continued to be active and have competed in two sprint triathlons since June 1 with excellent results. My primary concern when I started into this was how I was going to get enough protein to fuel my active lifestyle. Turns out that is not a problem at all.
Suzanne has had similar results except for the triathlons.
This is still early days, but results are promising. I am motivated to continue on this path and I feel like this is a permanent change in lifestyle for me. I am always cautious about short-term results so I will continue to monitor results in the coming months and years.
I am not a medical professional and nothing I have said should be interpreted as advice to you on what you should eat. This is my experience and you will need to do your own research and consult with your health advisers to determine what is best for you.
The Buddha said “to keep the body healthy is a duty…otherwise we won’t be able to keep our mind strong and clear.” The food we eat is an important element in maintaining a healthy body and a sound mind. These comments are primarily intended to demonstrate the relationship between beliefs, behavior and results and to talk through a process for “elevating our beliefs”. Hopefully, the information about food, diet and health will be of benefit to you in looking at the food you eat. Whatever food you choose to eat, bless it and be grateful – it makes it taste better.
If food and health is not your thing, I encourage you to look at other areas of your life where you are not getting the results that you want. Open yourself to new information, experiment, check your results and modify your beliefs accordingly.
And the next time a 4-year-old tells you that you can do something that you think you can’t, you just might want to listen because it could take you to a higher way.
Bio Rodney A. Harrill
Rodney grew up in Pennsylvania and Maryland. He has Bachelors and Masters Degree’s in Engineering and an MBA in Finance. Rodney worked for a major international energy company based in Texas for over 35 years. His later career was filled with a number of executive positions in Engineering, Marketing, Human Resources and Operations. Rodney retired at the end of 2003 and now does “whatever he wants.” He is currently a triathlete, skier, hiker, biker, builder, gardener, photographer and golfer. Most importantly he is a husband, father and grandpa. Rodney and his wife, Suzanne married while in college and are approaching 45 years together. They have 3 grown daughters and 4 grandchildren. They split time between living in Denver and Houston because that’s where the grandkids are. Rodney is a perpetual student of life and teaches classes with Suzanne on self-esteem, relationships and prosperity.