From Raw Vegan to Omnivore

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From Raw Vegan to Omnivore in the space of a few years and there is a good reason for that. This is probably the most embarrassing story I tell and not because I have done what seems like a 180 degree turn around in my nutritional perspectives. But because it involves a situation that was well… embarrassing and unnecessary in sooo many ways! I seriously wish it involved me running around seeing everything as a juicy steak like Leo the lion in Madagascar, but no….

The story really begins back in 2004 when Debbie was diagnosed with ME/CFS one of the first things we looked at was nutrition. Debbie was already gluten free which many recovery stories supported, but we increased fruit and vegetables and began juicing because I had come across anecdotal accounts of people finding it beneficial.  At the time we also read a lot of books by Patrick Holford too, and I remember buying Essential Omega oils to make sure our omega 3/6 ratios were balanced. It did not result in complete recovery but it all seemed to help so we stuck with it.

‘Following what already had seemed to work’ over the years Debbie became interested being Raw Vegan, and ‘clean’ eating. She was  influenced by people such as Ani Phyo and the ‘Thrive Diet’ by Brendan Brazier. In 2009, in preparation for trying for a baby we spent a year ‘detoxing’ and eating raw vegan diet. I joined in because I had seen a TV program where the quality of men’s sperm improved dramatically with clean diet and I obviously wanted my sperm to be as healthy as possible! 😉  Much of the raw food I liked, but I rarely felt ‘good’ on it and I always held a doubt about a diet that required supplementation (B12) to avoid serious health problems. One of the things I have learned about the ‘World Wide Web’ is that you tend to find support for whatever your current belief is. So there is plenty of expert opinions on the benefits of eating in such a way and a lot of anecdotal reports of people overcoming illness and disease with the approach. So why the change?

Whizzing forward to Sept 2013, I took on a short term contract as a Health Trainer. During my first day there was a sequence of events that meant I did not really get the time to go to the toilet properly and felt embarrassed about asking. By the end of the first day I was in a bad place. Desperate to pee, having spasms but seemingly unable to pass much water. I had a hideous hour and half journey home, stopping every 10 minutes, trying to find somewhere to go, but just never really passing anything. At home, phone calls to NHS direct suggested I may have been dehydrated, so I continued to drink. During this time I managed a brief period of relief while Debbie tapped on my EFT meridians for me. That tells you  how powerful EFT can be for pain relief. But after a completely sleepless night of trying to pee every 10 minutes, I ended up at the Doctors with a diagnosis of bladder spasm and Acute Urine Retention, probably aggravated by a prostate twice the size it should be for a man of my age! That was a shock; my prostate was twice as big as it should be for man my age?  But I exercise, eat right, deal with stress, how comes??? The GP just said it was a fact of life, a man’s prostate keeps growing and that is that! Really?!?

I look after myself, or I thought I did, so this was a real shock and I decided to seek advice. At the time I was working from Arturus Clinic in Totnes on a Saturday, so booked in to see Dr Stephen Hopwood, the man behind Arturus the clinic. Dr Hopwood is an ex-GP who has turned to Chinese medicine because he has seen how much more effect it is. During the consultation I was surprised that he seemed unimpressed with my diet. Indeed his comment was actually “you need to eat some organic chicken livers!”

When I got home I began researching his seemingly bizarre comment but I felt rough and did not look too hard. Indeed over the next five weeks I would go through having the catheter removed, seemingly getting an extreme UTI. That would result in no sleep for two or three nights, antibiotics, antibiotic induced diarrhoea and then gradually slipping back into retention. There were some real low times for me, often I was simply too exhausted with lack of sleep to focus on anything that I knew would help. The only thing I could manage was listening a Loving Kindness Meditation that I had recorded months previously. That did get me through some very tough nights too. I finally ended up in hospital for a couple days which was not fun!

I struggled in hospital. Some of the Doctors barely treat you as human, only seem to answer questions begrudgingly, contradict each other and the food is less nutritious than I give River (our dog). When I finally got home, still with a catheter in place, Debbie had prepared a meal of chicken livers…… God it tasted sooo good!

Now I started researching things properly and what I found surprised me immensely. I’m not sure the exact route I took, but I remember watching a Doctor Terry Wahls explain how she had reversed her MS, by eating a ‘hunter gatherer’ diet and then went on to read ‘Your Personal Paleo Diet: Feel and look great by eating the foods that are ideal for your body by Chris Kresser and then more importantly The Paleo Approach: Reverse Autoimmune Disease, Heal Your Body by Sarah Ballantyne and there it was…

Phytic Acid!

Our healthy bean based meals were not as healthy as we thought.

Our healthy beans were not as healthy as we thought. Phytic acid is in seeds, grains, legumes, and nuts in varying quantities.

Phytic acid in your gut binds minerals (zinc, calcium etc) so you pass them in your stools rather than absorb them.

Zinc deficiency is also related to prostate enlargement!!

Men who come from Hunter Gather cultures don’t suffer enlarged prostates as they grow older!!! Could it be because they do not consume large quantities of the foods that contain this ‘anti nutrient’ that robs us of zinc?

My so-say healthy diet would have something containing phytic acid with nearly every meal and it all began to make sense, not just with zinc either. Debbie had been told she had osteopenia years ago and just before our daughter Honey was born my teeth had began just breaking, was this due to phytic acid binding the calcium?

I continued reading and researching; finally coming to Perfect Health Diet: regain health and lose weight by eating the way you were meant to eat by Paul Jaminet and his wife. This book made a huge amount of sense to me and they are not dogmatic, but rather their suggestions are based on study, research and personal experience.

As you can guess I changed the way I was eating. Occasionally, because sometimes it is convenient, we do eat some of these foods, but it is now rare rather than daily or even weekly.  Phytic Acid can also be removed/reduced by soaking so that is also an approach we use for things like nuts.  Although we are now all meat eaters, we are very choosy about the meet we do eat. Making sure the animals are grass fed and treated with respect.

Six months later the Consultant said my prostate seemed a normal size. He just put this down to the first Doctors being a bit rubbish, great that they have so much faith in each other! I’ve not taken medication to reduce the size of my prostate because it is linked with increasing the risk of prostate cancer. I did take Tamsulosin for a few months as it seemed sensible to help break the pattern I was in, but I came off that after a few months too. What I really believe has been effective is the combination of diet change, visualisation, Acupuncture and finally Cranial Osteopathy for a twisted pelvis. Indeed I had the confidence to come off the Tamsulosin after the Cranial Osteopathy.

The irony of the story is that to save myself the embarrassment of saying I needed to pop to the loo at the beginning of a meeting in my new job, I ended up with 6 weeks of far more embarrassing situations! Perhaps with hindsight it did me a favour though?

The Short Story

Phytic acid is in foods like seeds, grains, legumes, and nuts etc and binds minerals like calcium and zinc. Skip the foods or eat in moderation if you would like to avoid problems like osteoporosis and enlarged prostates!


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