My father, James H. Fisher, Esq., was a workaholic. My dad went to work in the early morning hours, worked 7 days a week and almost never took a vacation. My father was consumed by the love of the law and our family was the lucky beneficiary. But there was a price to pay.
My father died at the age of 70 after years of surgery for cancer and peripheral vascular disease and diabetes. The final 10 years of his life were very hard for my dad, but there is no one who loved life more. And I know my dad would love to be alive today more than anyone.
Just like my dad, you work your butt off to make a good life for your family. And your family is worth it, but not at the expense of your health. Let’s face it, if you’re overweight, don’t work out and are beginning to have health problems, you’re not serving your family well. And you too will pay the price down the road.
These are the lessons I’ve learned about health and nutrition that I hope provide some value for you. Here’s to a healthy 2020 for you and your family!
How My Best Friend Changed His Life
The awkward moment of silence with my best friend seemed to last forever.
Hanging out with my best friend and his wife in their living room, my best friend asks a simple question, “John, am I fat?” Without wasting a second, I turn and look at my friend in the face and respond matter-of-factly, “Yeah, you’re fat.” My best friend turns away from me and he and his wife look forward in total silence. We do not say another word.
Shocking News that I Never Expected
Six months later, I happen to have a chance encounter with my friend and he asks, “John, do you notice anything different about me?” I think for a few moments, scratch my head and respond, “No”. Then, I get the shocking news, “I’ve lost 70 pounds.” Didn’t see that one coming and then my friend shares the story of his transformation.
When I told my friend that he was fat 6 months earlier, it was the first time anyone was honest with him. Almost always, friends and family would tell my best friend that he is “big-boned” or “a big guy who carries his weight well”, but no one was willing to tell him the truth. Turns out, when I told my friend that he was fat, it was a wake-up call.
A Life-Changing Transformation
My best friend and his wife joined Weight Watchers and over the period of 6 months, he went from 313 to 240 pounds. My friend transformed his life. After losing the weight, my friend was no longer a diabetic and did not have to take any of the 11 medications he previously took. There’s little doubt my friend added 10-20 years to his life. It was a life-changing transformation for a great guy.
And my best friend deserves all of the credit. My friend took control of his life and the results were shocking. I had nothing to do with my friend’s life-changing transformation other than one little thing: I told him the brutal truth.
The Best Thing You Can Do for Your Friends
You are not helping your friends by soft peddling their problems. If you have a friend who has a health issue, e.g., obesity, or an alcohol or drug problem, be straight with them. Your friend might not like the truth at first, but they’ll know you’re trying to help them. And it just might get them to make a change.
This is not easy and your friend might not be receptive, but this is the best thing you can do. And it’s the kind of thing that just might help change your best friend’s life.
The Impact that Food Can Have on Your Life
Fad diets are full of miracle solutions for weight loss. The diets are not necessarily bad, but the promises are over-hyped and the solutions are never as easy as suggested. Let’s face it, losing weight is hard.
Your health and fitness deserve better than fad diets. You deserve decades of empirical evidence reinforced by peer reviewed medical journals to support your health and nutrition choices. Let’s take away the guesswork. And there’s no better place to begin than rural China.
What We Can All Learn from Rural China
Diseases in the United States and Europe (“diseases of the West”), such as cancer, diabetes and hypertension, are virtually non-existent in rural China. But there’s more to this, health problems such as obesity, coronary artery disease, auto-immune disease and dementia are so rare in rural China, that they are practically unheard of. So, what is the secret of the Chinese?
Perhaps you might think the Chinese have super-power in their DNA, but they don’t. When Chinese move to the United States or Europe, their rates of diabetes, hypertension, obesity and cancer are just as high as our rates. Turns out, genetics is not much a factor at all.
“Because these diseases of affluence are so tightly linked to eating habits, diseases of affluence might be better named ‘diseases of nutritional extravagance’. The vast majority of people in the United States and other Western countries die from diseases of affluence.”
T. Colin Campbell, Ph.D., “The China Study”
The secret of the rural Chinese? It’s simple, the Chinese do not eat animals. The diet of the rural Chinese consists almost entirely of plant-based whole foods, such as vegetables, fruit and whole grain. Dairy and animal-based products are simply not part of the diet of those in rural China.
The difference between rural Chinese diets and “Western” diets is enormous. The diet of affluent countries, such as the U.S., is based primarily on the consumption of animal foods and dairy. On average, Americans consume 35-40% of our total calories as fat. The list of our fatty foods include butter, cheeseburgers, French fries, milk, ham and hot dogs. What is common about these foods? They are animal-based foods.
Many diseases of the affluent were rare until the last 120 years. But with a change in diet to animal-based products and dairy, Americans have high rates of coronary artery disease, heart failure, stroke, cancer, diabetes, and…well, you get the picture.
Statistics that will Shock You
Still not a believer? Let’s take a look at the statistics.
- Chinese breast cancer rates are only one-fifth of those of Western women,
- American men die from heart disease at rate almost 11 times higher than in China,
- Africa, Asia and most of Central and South America have very low rates of colorectal cancer,
- The bone fracture rate in rural China is only about one-fifth that of the United States
- Rates of Alzheimer’s are low in less-developed countries
The evidence is overwhelming. The most powerful weapon we have against cancer, heart disease and diabetes is the food we eat. The bottom line, plant-based foods are good and animal-based foods are bad.
The Failure of the American Healthcare System
The number one killer in America is heart disease, which is responsible for 710,760 deaths every year in our country. Cancer, the second leading cause of death, kills 553,091 every year in the U.S. and the third leading cause of death is “medical care”, responsible for 225,400 deaths every year in the U.S.
The biggest risk factor/cause of coronary heart disease is high blood cholesterol. What is the biggest cause of high blood cholesterol? Animal-based fats. If you reduce your blood cholesterol level to less than 150, your chance of dying from heart disease is virtually eliminated. The solution? Stop eating animals.
“The evidence we have now is already striking. A plant-based diet prevents a broad range of diseases.”
T. Colin Campbell, Ph.D., “The China Study”
There is little doubt that American healthcare system has failed us. Our system of healthcare is focused entirely on the treatment of diseases, rather than their prevention. This is a horribly misguided approach. If our medical schools and physicians spent more time on preventative medicine, we would all be much better served.
Only Real Men have Heart Disease
Some may discourage you from eating a plant-based diet. It’s not manly to eat plants—real men eat bratwurst, filet mignon and hamburgers.
Your friends and family will tell you that those who eat a plant-based diet “deprive” themselves of the pleasures of meat, but they also “deprive” themselves of the ravages of diabetes, cancer, hypertension and coronary artery disease. Is that a trade-off worth taking? You can be the judge.
What I Learned From a Farmer
This was an eye-opener to say the least.
As I walk on a dirt path at his farm, I ask my friend, Arnold—a farmer in his late fifties—whether he enjoys raising roughly 60 angus cows, each weighing 1,400 pounds. The angus cows follow Arnold wherever he walks in the hope of getting something to eat. Arnold replies quickly that, of course, he loves what he does, but there are drawbacks.
Arnold explains that the angus cows have families and in these families, the mother is inseparable from her calves. Once the calves reach 9 months of age, the mother and her calves are physically separated and they cry inconsolably for the next 72 hours. Arnold knows, every time this happens, he won’t sleep for 3 days, and there’s nothing he can do about it.
And that’s not all. The cows know when they about to be slaughtered and they cry inconsolably about their imminent fate. Turns out, cows have many of the same emotions and feelings as humans.
Why I Stopped Eating Meat
I said nothing in response to Arnold, but I had no idea. I just thought cows were a meal. It never dawned on me that cows were much more than merely living beings—they have feelings, emotions and even families. How could I put these animals to death just so I could have a meal? It didn’t seem right then, and it still doesn’t.
On that day in October, 2013, I stopped eating meat (although I eat fish on occasion) and I haven’t missed a thing. I don’t long for meat, nor do I miss it. I don’t know if this has helped my physical health, but it just makes me feel better. And that’s more than enough.
Three years ago, Arnold died after living a life of humility and dedication to his family. I will always treasure my time with him and it’s about this time every year, that I think of Arnold and how much I enjoyed spending time with him. God bless you, Arnold Elliott, you will be forever missed.