Cleanse: Day 10 [Ending/Beginning]

[Correction about Forks Over Knives: I said in an earlier post that the film follows two nutritionists. This isn’t entirely correct. One doctor is a physician and the other is a professor of nutritional biochemistry. Another interesting thing I just learned: the title, Forks Over Knives, refers to the mentality that people can combat and prevent health problems through good eating habits, rather than resorting to invasive surgery (e.g. knives = scalpels).]

Yesterday was hard. I overslept, felt lame about oversleeping, didn’t exercise, felt lame about not exercising, and more or less moped around the apartment all day. Jordan was very gracious and either tried to cheer me up or left me alone, depending on my needs.

I had pretty bad cravings yesterday, too, which made everything worse. We’ve had leftover chicken pizza in our freezer from before the juice fast, and all I wanted to do was eat it. But it was the last day of the fast, and I didn’t want to quit at the end. Salad did not sound appetizing. We had rice and beans for lunch instead. We cooked the rice in vegetable broth instead of water for the first time, which added some great flavor. I want to be careful about our rice intake, though,   as studies have shown that regularly eating white rice puts you at a higher risk for diabetes.

For dinner, we went out for thai food with my brother and sister-in-law. We went to a favorite local thai place that features a spiciness range of mild, medium, New Mexico hot, and hot; we all got medium and we all struggled to finish our meals. It was very spicy (but tasty nonetheless). Jordan and I got the pad thai with vegetables, which we should have shared because we each had leftovers.

I’ve learned a lot from this juice fast. It’s brought my not-so-good eating habits to light and helped me better understand my relationship to food and where I need to improve, which is a big deal. As Forks Over Knives points out, humans are holistic beings. The film interviews Dr. Terry Mason, a practicing eurologist, who says that

“erectile dysfunction is actually the first clinical indicator of generalized cardiovascular disease…It’s the thing that lets you know that you have some significant endophillial and vascular disease much earlier than will a heart attack or something like that. We have to stop thinking of the body like it’s compartmentalized. It really isn’t. The blood goes everywhere in the body, and so if you have vascular disease anywhere, you have it everywhere.”

For a long time, I held the general mentality that disease is just part of life. Cancer is just something that hits a person out of the blue; there’s no way to detect it and no way to prevent it. Due to no fault but my own ignorance, to be sure, I thought similarly about things like heart disease, diabetes, and other illnesses. But it’s all connected: what we eat, how well we sleep, how long we live, and how susceptible we are to disease. We were listening to a local political talk show the other day and the host was complaining about Mayor Bloomberg’s recent ban on large sodas. One of his arguments was that by the time you’re in your sixties, seventies, eighties, etc., everybody has high blood pressure; everybody has bad joints; essentially, he was saying that poor health is a normal part of old age, and it can’t be prevented by banning sugary sodas.

But that’s not entirely true. I’m no doctor, and I understand that many diseases are influenced by a person’s genes, so there are some cases where illness is not entirely preventable. But a healthy diet and lifestyle significantly reduces the risk of disease, and can downplay any genetic predispositions. FoverK features a marathon-runner cancer patient who was diagnosed in her fifties, adopted a plant-based diet, and has continued running even as she ages (including an Iron Man triathlon). Her cancer is in remission. Which I think is a fantastic response to the talk show host’s argument that poor health is a necessary part of old age.

For me, this also has a spiritual significance. As Orthodox Christians, we fast regularly from animal products with our church. This has helped me understand the holistic nature of humans on a deeper level: my physical being is connected to my spiritual being, and vice versa. What I eat not only influences my physical health, but it can also influence my spiritual health. There was a great excerpt about fasting in our church newsletter this month. I think I’ll share it tomorrow, since today’s post is already getting long.

The juice fast has been a great experience. I highly recommend it to anyone looking to improve their lifestyle, fix their relationship with food, and generally live better (but talk to your doctor first). I hope that my accounts of the last ten days have been helpful and interesting.

Eat to live, don’t live to eat!

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