Eating More Fruits & Vegetables: Radical Indeed!

cut open red pepper

When I was a little boy, I used to love to skateboard with my friends.  We once built a huge ramp and tried all sorts of crazy tricks. When somebody successfully pulled off a great stunt, we called it “radical”. There was no higher praise.

Now, nearly 40 years later, I am sometimes described as “ radical”, in reference to the foods that I eat, which are quite different than the Standard American Diet (SAD – high in animal based foods, refined carbohydrates, saturated fats, trans fats, and sugar).  About 95% of my diet is fruits, vegetables, whole grains and beans and only 5% is fish and chicken (any change of your current diet in the direction of more plant based whole foods and less animal based and refined foods is generally good with many potential health benefits).  I did not stumble into my dietary pattern. The preponderance of clinical research strongly supports that this approach will optimize my health, minimizing chances for chronic disease and early death.  For example, it is the only healthful way to obtain a total cholesterol of less than 150, so that my heart attack risk is basically 0.

I actually do not consider my diet to be “radical” at all. For hundreds of years, human beings throughout the world have eaten mostly plant based foods and thrived.  It is a relatively recent development that the great majority of our protein (in Western Cultures) has been derived from animal based foods.  Contrary to popular belief among Americans, plants have plenty of protein and are a more healthful source of protein and many other nutrients than animal based foods as evidenced in The China Study.

Here are some things that I consider to be more radical than a plant based diet:

  1. Getting your chest cut open during heart surgery because your heart arteries have become clogged
  2. Being put on prescription medications (and their side effects) for the rest of your life
  3. Needing dialysis or surgical transplants for your kidneys due to diabetes
  4. Being subjected to toxic chemicals, radiation, and surgeries for cancers
  5. Requiring artificial joints due to severe arthritis from years of food addiction and obesity

I don’t skateboard anymore, but I’ll keep on eating “radical”, greatly increasing my chances of striding into my golden years, rather than stumbling into them or falling short.

Won’t you stride with me ?

By Dr. Ed James, BDO Healthy Lifestyle Expert

Dr. Ed James draws inspiration from his personal experiences with healthy lifestyle changes, having overcome prediabetes and obesity several years ago. In 2011, he founded Heal2BFree to focus on helping individuals and organizations to develop and implement action plans that help close the health disparities gap between blacks and whites.

Dr. James has given many presentations, including the 2011 National Medical Association Colloquium and regularly contributes preventive health-related articles to some of the nation’s top health publications. He is also the primary author and co-editor of Getting into Medical School – A Planning Guide for Minority Students.

He received his BS in Biology from Bucknell University and earned his MD and MBA from the University of Pennsylvania as a participant in the Penn Med Scholars combined degree program.

For more healthy lifestyle tips and news, visit Dr. Ed at Heal 2B Free. To visit Dr. Ed’s blog on BDO, click here.