I didn’t expect my health to improve when I turned 80, but it did. It started in 2018, when she became convinced that her daughter should follow a whole-food plant-based (WFPB) diet. We live together and eat together, so when it was my turn to cook, she reluctantly agreed to make such a meal for her. I didn’t commit to not eating what I wanted when I was away from the dinner table. I never liked vegetables. When I was a child, my girlfriend’s mother despaired that all I could eat was corn and peas. And as I grew older, my tastes didn’t change much.
On my 80th birthday, I had many medical problems. I have had type 2 diabetes for over 20 years and have had high blood pressure since age 35. Some doctors called this “resistant” hypertension because standard medications were unable to lower it. I had to take all five medications to get my blood pressure under control. I think it’s genetic. My father couldn’t control his blood pressure and died at the age of 31 from repeated small strokes, and both of his sisters were diagnosed with high blood pressure, one when she was a teenager. I considered myself lucky that there was medication to help me avoid suffering her father’s fate.
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In addition to high blood pressure and type 2 diabetes, I had high triglycerides and high cholesterol. And now, at age 80, I was faced with the latest bad news from my doctor. It turns out I have chronic kidney disease, stage 3C.
To my surprise, just a few months after I started eating WFPB dinners, and it was just dinner, my A1C had improved enough that my doctor started discontinuing my diabetes medication, and before long, with much fanfare, I I stopped all medications.
After watching the documentary “Forks Over Knives,” I felt less reluctant to eat vegetables. Later, as I was browsing my healthcare provider’s website to see what it said about my latest diagnosis, chronic kidney disease, I discovered that the advice for people with CKD was to avoid animal protein. I noticed. This is almost exactly what my medical team said in the documentary. That was it. I was on board. I said goodbye to my favorite bacon and egg breakfast. My daughter happily started making steel cut oats for both of us every morning.
The improvement in my health accelerated. My cholesterol came down enough that my doctor was able to take me off the statin. My hair, which had become limp and thin, became fuller, and one day while I was putting on my makeup, I noticed that my eyelashes had grown back. The mascara was actually coating something. Her broken nails have become hard. The stain has become lighter. My BMI had been in the “obese” range for decades, but I started losing weight easily and at a healthy rate. My kidney values have improved. I started looking forward to going to the doctor, thinking that I would lose weight and that my blood tests would get better, not worse.
Reverse family history of disease
It’s been 5 years since I changed jobs. My A1C has been lower than her daughter’s for years (and she has never been diabetic). My total cholesterol is consistently below 170. My kidney values continue to improve with each test.
What surprised me most was the improvement in blood pressure. I had no idea that something could have such an impact on blood pressure. Even my skeptical doctor commented, “Your plant-based diet is having a positive effect on your blood pressure.” One by one, she carefully took me off my medications. I went down from 5 blood pressures that I had been on for decades to 2 blood pressures and my blood pressure is very good so I wouldn’t be surprised if she took her last 2 blood pressures off me Probably. It’s almost unbelievable. If only my father knew.
My lunch is homemade soy yogurt with raisins and orange slices. Our favorite dinner is the bulgur wheat pilaf. orange tofu. Black bean tacos. Bean chili pepper. There are also many variations of brown rice and beans. I also like potato bars where you can make baked potatoes and add different toppings. Lentil shepherd’s pie is popular during the holidays. We use the Fawkes Meal Planner and the Plant-Based Physician Cookbook.
My friends are interested in my success, and at least two of them have started their own plant-based journeys. I’m now 85 years old, and I’m healthier than I was at 45. I know I’m not immortal. Eventually something will take me out. However, eating WFPB meals has given me the opportunity to enjoy good health until then. Thank you very much.
Ready to get started? Check out Forks Meal Planner, FOK’s easy weekly meal planning tool to help you maintain a healthy plant-based lifestyle. If you want to learn more about whole foods, plant-based eating, check out our Plant-Based Primer.