I am not sure I’ve documented the changes to my health since deciding to eliminate animal by-products from my diet (ie… went vegan). My journey did not start out as vegan but it is where it has brought me naturally – especially with all the research I’ve read regarding the detrimental health impact animal by-products have on human health. We just weren’t built to eat meat and our bodies are suffering for it.
So… I really want to just document the changes to my health should someone be curious on how changing what I ate changed how my body exists.
The picture above is a real picture… those were my pills. keyword: were.
Two of those bottles were over-the-counter pills: vitamin D and Aleve. The remainder were for a host of medical problems I no longer have. So let’s look at each problem …. in no particular order because quite frankly it feels like a lifetime ago that I required that much medication to function.
I want to go over the various illnesses that have “gone away” for me since changing my diet. None of this is official research – its just my experience. My life.
Why I’m vegan for my health.
The Big D: Diabetes
This was the diagnosis that pushed me to the edge … the diagnosis that changed my life for the better. Who knew being diagnosed with Type II Diabetes would be a blessing – but it was.
I got the call on December 27th, 2016. The nurse on the other end hit me with a ton of verbal bricks. She made it clear that I needed to come back in and get instruction on my new medications and she was sure that we could “get it under control.” I could barely muster the words “please give me a month to change.”
She was reluctant but after a few times of me asking for a little time to change, she said she’d give me 3 months but wanted to make the appointment for March because that’s when I would get my prescriptions.
I was just … wow, I don’t even know the word to use here. I was on Amazon immediately looking for recipe books for diabetics…. something to help me lose weight and control the diabetes in a way that would end the need for medication. I had to fix this and through diet was the way. In that search, I came up for air with a book written by Dr. Joel Furhman: The End of Diabetes. In 2 days I had the book in hand and 2 days after that I had consumed the book in its entirety.
I went whole food plant based immediately (albeit not following his exact diet recommendation because I was not yet on medication… I had a little wiggle room). The weight began to slide off and exercise became easier. I took the change very seriously and reaped the benefits of my commitment.
And it was that diagnosis alone that brought me here…. and took away all the medications you see in the image above. I still have about 50 more pounds to lose and its slowly coming off … but I am amazingly healthy ….
MMmMMMmm – High Blood Pressure
In today’s modern American society, I’m not sure many people don’t have high blood pressure … and I sure as hell wasn’t special. I had been on high blood pressure pills for at least half of my adult life… if not even a little longer.
Within 2 weeks of changing my lifestyle to whole food plant based I noticed I was having little dizzy spells. I put two and two together pretty quickly and realized it was my blood pressure. I pulled out my handy dandy cuff and it was under 100 .. like 95/70.
While I am not a medical professional, I am smart enough to know how to wean myself off medication. I cut my dose by 1/3rd and watched my blood pressure go up to normal. But again, within a couple weeks, I had to cut my dose again. After about 6 total weeks – I no longer needed my blood pressure medication.
And I haven’t since.
Just keep movin’ they said… because I had arthritis
I don’t know what year it was but I’m guessing it was about 8 or so years ago I went to the doctor because my hip was really aching. He came back with “you have arthritis” … and I was expected to take Aleve until it no longer worked and then he was going to prescribe something stronger.
Two Aleve… nightly.
Now, if you read the bottle you know it can’t be good for your liver…. but it was that or not have the ability to walk or go up and down stairs.
I can’t say for sure when I decided to drop my dose down to 1 Aleve a night, but what I found was I still felt great. I was running almost daily (somewhere between 2 and 3 miles a day even though I was considered morbidly obese) … and then I made the decision to stop Aleve all together.
And I was fine.
Now … no more arthritis in my left hip.
Oh yeah… chronic headaches
The Aleve I was asked to take for my hip didn’t help much in the head ache department. I can’t say they were chronic migraines because they weren’t as violent. But living day in and day out with a low grade headache can take its toll on a person.
I noticed that the headaches started to subside after 2 or 3 weeks but it wasn’t until after I went off the Aleve that I realized I wasn’t taking any at all…. and I had no reason to take it.
There wasn’t a medication for this one but I know how horrible my existence was because of IBS. Taking trips out were almost impossible. Some days at work were just miserable. And going out to eat AND a movie – not happening.
I noticed that this started to get better almost immediately. It was like having the whole food plant based diet did a cleanse without the hype.
Now, in case anyone is curious – everything is regular and healthy … and daily. Oh, and more importantly – its not an emergency.
I think it was around 2014 when I got my first kidney stones (yes, plural). They passed. Life went on .. until it became a rinse repeat situation. In 2016, not 9 months after I was scanned to prove “all clear” from my last set of stones, I woke up around 3 am in dire pain … worse than kidney stones.
As it turned out, it was kidney stones but they were big enough that they actually blocked off the ureter and my kidney was backing up. The one blocking the kidney was actually the smallest and it was 14 mm big. The largest stone was almost 1 inch in diameter. I was at the threat of my kidney’s dying and it definitely did not feel good.
I received bilateral stents (I had 2 in my right kidney and 1 in my left) and a lovely buffet of new pills to try and shrink the stones, keep me comfortable, keep the nausea from the pain down, and keep my kidneys healthy while they endured this bizarre twist of events.
I was in extreme pain from the stents for 3 months only to get the news that the meds were NOT working (including the pain meds …. nothing seemed to work in that department). I ended up having 2 surgeries at one time, one through my back, and a new set of bilateral stents. I wore those for a month and upon removal, I was also told the kidney stones were uric acid stones.
Uric Acid…. know where that comes from? Animal tissue.
So meat came off my plate pretty quickly – long before the diabetes diagnosis.
I have a true medical reason to avoid meat and I will gladly not eat it every day even if that was the ONLY reason I had … but its not.
In truth – it took me a lot longer to get the faith to stop those pills. I was genuinely scared that if I stopped the medication that I would end up with stones again.
Now, logical me knew that it wasn’t possible. Uric acid stones cannot exist if you are not putting uric acid into your body.
I did ask the doctor’s office to test me before stopping and after and they refused. “You really should stay on this medication – probably for the rest of your life.” And I didn’t want to. I hate the idea of pushing chemicals into my body if it was unnecessary.
And then I got brave enough …
And I have no kidney stones.
Yup. Me too.
It took me a lot longer to stop taking my depression medication. And in truth, I’m not entirely sure that it was just the diet change AND weight loss that helped me. I think that finding my purpose with Willowbrook Farms is really the push it took.
I can’t say much here because I would never encourage someone to go off an anti-depressant because each and every one of us is different.
But for me – that medication is gone.
Panic Disorder/Severe Anxiety Disorder
I had my first panic attack when i was 9 years old. I remember it like it was yesterday.
For this one, I still have my prescription but I am pleased to say that for 2018 …. I have had ZERO panic attacks.
It seems crazy to write that into words. I went my whole life having no less than 2 a week and sometimes, one or two a day.
my. whole. life.
I do have other mental issues and I cannot say they are better or worse, but because I feel so much better about myself, it becomes easier to manage my other problems.
A little something silly: an allergy to coconut
I have been allergic to coconut my whole life. Thankfully not a deadly, throat swelling shut kind of allergy – but one that would cause my face to get puffy and hives to pop up all over.
How do I know? I think it had something to do with a non-dairy ice cream and after I ate half of it decided to look at the ingredients. Coconut Milk.
But no hives.
I had read that allergies are an autoimmune issue and research on whole food plant based eating reveals that it can cure autoimmune illnesses … like an allergy.
Yup. No longer allergic to coconut. It’s not world changing, but it was curious nonetheless.
And as a side note: I still don’t like the taste of coconut due to a lifetime of conditioning to avoid hives.
One I just found out …
I have had lumps in both my breasts for a rather long time. I have biopsies done a few different times and each time I have been blessed that they were not cancerous. I have had aspirations done and I even had a piece of titanium placed in my left breast to mark a tumor that they had already checked … so going forward when I get scans done they know that one is ok.
Now… keep in mind I could only feel one of them so I really can’t speak for all the lumps – but as of yesterday I can no longer feel the lump (which is the one that had titanium in it … so not sure what’s going on with the flake of metal).
Do I attribute this to my change in diet? 100% yes.
The research supports that animal by-products, dairy specifically, can basically turn on and turn off cancer cell growth … and in some cases even reverse existing cancer growth. Why isn’t this mainstream? I don’t know – I have my guesses but I hate the idea of someone sacrificing the health of the masses for money.
I think that is pretty much it. There are a few little things here and there but I think I was basically the Standard American eating the Standard American Diet (SAD) … and my body was proof of that.
The good news is that if you have ailments that are listed here, by changing your diet you have a good chance of reversing your condition. Heck, there are plenty of ailments out there I didn’t have that a whole food plant based diet can change. Is any of it a guarantee? No – of course not. But if you look at all the research and case studies, this one included, you should find hope in reclaiming your health.
What I do know is that because of all the issues I’ve had and have gotten rid of, I find it easiest and most important to be vegan for my health.
If you have any questions, feel free to reach out to me on Facebook (message us and just call out the message is for Crystal).
Crystal, President and Co-Founder of Willowbrook Farms Animal Sanctuary, Inc.