The Truth About Nutrition For Longevity
What if I told you that going on the incredibly delicious, cost-effective plant-based diet would:
- Reduce your risk of all cancers by 50%,1
- Decrease your chance of developing diabetes by 50% and eliminate Type 2 diabetes,2
- Drop your chance of developing heart disease by 24%,3 reduce your chance of dying from heart disease by 29%,4 or if you have heart disease, reduce future cardiac events by 73%,5
- Lower your risk of colon cancer by 40%,
- Have an 80% chance of reducing arthritis symptoms in less than four weeks, ¡ Assist you in losing a minimum of one pound of body weight per week until you reach your goal, and without exercising6 (although I recommend exercising too.),
- Significantly lower high blood pressure and unhealthy cholesterol levels,
- Double the number of natural “killer cells” in the body, thereby increasing the strength of your immune system,7
- Significantly lessen your likelihood of being obese,
- Help you have leaner, healthier children,
- Improve your sleep, your sex life, and your complexion,
- Give you more energy than you have ever had, and, most importantly, add quality years onto your life?
What if I also told you that in one year of eating this way, you would save the lives of approximately 400 animals (fish and shellfish included), plus, you would save 300,000 gallons of water,8 nearly 90,000 pounds of grain9 (which could go to feed humans), and more than 5,700 gallons of gasoline, all while generating 50% fewer carbon emissions10?
You would also end your contribution through dietary choices to depleting rainforests, eroding topsoil, world hunger, and global warming, while standing for cleaner air, cleaner water in aquifers, rivers, lakes, and oceans, cleaner drinking water, the humane treatment of animals and humans, and the health of any number of species and the planet too. Would you want to hear about it? Moreover, would you be interested in knowing that millions—and a growing number—of people in our country and around the world are choosing this diet and lifestyle right now, and for the very reasons I just pointed out?
A Brief Look at the Problem Americans are sick; in fact, we are extremely sick. We are also tired, stressed, toxic, and confused. We work harder than most people, take fewer vacations, are sleep deprived, and our relationships are infrequent disrepair. We spend more on our healthcare than any other country in the world—$3.5 trillion, which is higher than any other segment of spending in America.
Unfortunately, every year of increased spending translates into worsening health. We have more cancer, more heart disease, more mental illness, and more inflammatory conditions like arthritis. In addition, we have record-shattering numbers of people suffering from diabetes and obesity— in fact, America has more obese adults than any other developed nation; we also have the highest per capita rate of childhood diabetes in the world.
So, our children are also now suffering from heart disease and diabetes. Shockingly, for the first time in modern history, many American children will now die before their parents—a disturbing reality, especially for a society that considers itself the greatest and most advanced country in the world. We are not only overeating; we are gorging.
“Supersized” is passé; we now have gigantic meals and frequently eat when we are not hungry. Many are experiencing a cognitive disconnect where “all you can eat,” or Saving The Planet: One Bite At A Time Introduction xxv “eat as much as you can” is the new norm. We are not eating to enliven, or eating for health, vitality, or restorative and regenerative purposes. We are simultaneously approaching pandemic levels of brain conditions such as Alzheimer’s, dementia, memory loss, and Parkinson’s; and we are a nation that is depressed and anxious.
Consider for a moment that 25% of all women between the ages of 25 and 45 (11 million women) are taking some form of antidepressant medication, selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors such as Celexa, Lexapro, Prozac, Paxil or Pexeva, and Zoloft, while over ten million children are being medicated each day before they go to school with drugs such as Ritalin. Fatigue and pain are the two most common ailments for which people are seeking medical treatment. This is the picture of ill health that now shapes our nation.
We actually see women’s lifespans shortening more so than any industrialized nation. Yet, we have more doctors, hospitals, nurses, research facilities, and federal agencies looking into more ways of treating the symptoms of these conditions. We’ve become so concerned, that our vernacular has changed.
Our nation is at “war” with just about everything now: a war on cancer, war on heart disease, and a war on obesity. But, unfortunately, like the wars on drugs, poverty, and terrorism, we are losing the war on health, too; and, frankly, cannot win with our modern approach of disease management.
One question we are not asking that actually could help us win is “Why are we having all of these conditions?” In short, we’ve confused the suffering and complexity of symptoms of these conditions with the solution—which is prevention; in this case, living healthfully.
To prevent disease is much easier than reversing it once it is in motion. Therefore, the purpose of this work, in part, is to describe a diet that is proven to prevent suffering and illness. So, we will take you to step by step through these complex issues, while describing how the plant-based diet allows you to heal your body while easing pressures on our planet too.
Virtually all of the important statements herein have been scientifically verified, originating from a quality, independent science published in peer review literature. It is no longer a mystery that the Mediterranean diet, the Okinawan diet, or the healthy vegan vegetarian diet are scientifically valid ways of reducing and eliminating key major medical conditions.
Why? Because of plant-based diets—or those founded xxvi Saving The Planet: One Bite At A Time on plant-based foods—have as their basis the living nutrients that maintain the integrity and health of our body’s trillions of cells.
These diets are anti-inflammatory and slightly alkaline; they are high in fiber but not excessive in protein. Most can be prepared with minimal to no heat and, hence, are easier to digest and safer and more effective for our biological processes.
But, until now we’ve only focused on our bodies. What about the planet? When you stop and look around, you also see an environment that is imploding.
We have a massive amount of land that is no longer able to sustain life. We are seeing the desertification of America’s southwest, with dust storms similar to those of the 1930s and sand storms like those of the Arabian Peninsula. California is estimated to have one year’s worth of drinking water left from its current reserves. The state is in perpetual drought and is now imposing mandatory restrictions.
Last year, we had 12,000 unique weather events—the coldest day, the wettest day, the hottest day, the worst tornado, etc.—and this is the new norm. It gets worse. There are 18 million children in America going to bed hungry each day, living with food insecurity, the state of being without reliable access to a sufficient quantity of affordable, nutritious food.
One hundred million Americans are just at or above the poverty level, which is about one-third of our entire population, and nearly 29 million Americans, although not considered homeless, are living on couches in family and friends’ homes.
We now have students who are part of the teenage debt system. 50% of all college graduates today live at home with their parents because there’s not a job for them in the area of their academic background, and graduate students can look forward to 20 years of paying off student loans.
We also have the return of the debtors’ prisons in 27 states, and in a minimum of 60 communities, we have made it illegal to feed the homeless. Is there something wrong with this scenario? Clearly yes, but how do we change it? What is the good news? The good news is that there are millions of Americans who are becoming increasingly conscious of the importance and value of the choices they make in every area of life, including food.
You exercise that consciousness when you wake up in the morning and decide to have a nourishing smoothie or hot oatmeal with fresh berries and walnuts versus more standard American fare, such as bacon, sausage, and eggs, toast, greasy hash browns with coffee, chemical creamers, and white sugar.
And, as you will see, there’s a substantial positive consequence when making these kinds of healthy choices.
Instead of sitting down to an unhealthy meal of steak and a “fully loaded” baked potato (butter, sour cream, and/or cheese) or burger and fries with a cola—a week’s worth of protein, fat, and sugar in a single serving—members of this growing group are going to farmers markets, health food stores, their own backyards, and food coops and selecting functional health foods.
They are also putting an end to overtaxing their kidneys and liver, thickening their blood, and putting blood sugar levels at risk. The foods they are purchasing are fresh, organic, non-GMO grown whole foods, alive with nutrients—vegetables like kale, Swiss chard, kohlrabi, arugula, microgreens, sprouts, tomatoes, spinach, garlic, and onions.
And, as they’re preparing these as part of a delicious meal—with red quinoa, organic brown rice, beans, and legumes, or tubers—they’re conscious that what they’re putting in their bodies will make a difference to their health, not just in their sleep, digestion, and energy levels today, but in the long-term with disease prevention. These people are also conscious that their health entails much more than just food or even exercise.
The mental, emotional, and spiritual aspects of health are also critical and must be explored.
Moreover, no conversation about health would be complete without speaking about the quality of the environmental resources that sustain us. So, we will be examining our water, air, land, and food-growing systems, as well as a host of other pressing ecological issues that are challenging humanity’s very ability to heal and carry on with life as we are accustomed. By considering the value of the information, principles, and guidelines that I am sharing here, my hope is that you will select what is reasonable to adopt and, in this process, enhance your natural, vital, and fulfilling existence.
And, while there are numerous studies supporting the superior health benefits of a plant-based diet for warding off disease and reducing illness and for lessening environmental degradation, being a vegetarian does not guarantee health. Unfortunately, many well-intentioned individuals rightly choosing the vegetarian diet do not know how to be successful at it and end up reporting an overall lower level of health on average than those who are not vegetarian.
Why is this? How is it possible? What does it take to be a healthy vegetarian? Moreover, what does it mean to be a healthy human being, and can we accomplish this in our fast-deteriorating world?
As you will learn, these are not mutually exclusive questions. Becoming a healthy vegetarian does, in fact, lead to becoming a healthy human being, which I essentially define as someone with enduring health and vitality on all levels—physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual.
And this vitality supports a person’s full realization of their unique purpose in life and in service to others and the planet. But is a dietary change enough in this day and age to sustain health? As you will see, it is not.
- James Robinson