Having been involved in competitive sports, to varying degrees, for most of my life, and having done martial arts for 40 years and having run a mixed martial arts school for 30 years, I have developed a keen interest in performance, personal excellence and the effect of diet (including veganism) on achievement.
One of my early influences was the work of Dr. Robert Haas and the ‘Eat to Win’ concepts when I was in my early 20’s. Some of the concepts still apply but some things need to be adjusted. Also, with the change of climate and advances in nutritional science, among other things, the time has to come to make improvements in application and understanding, which really has been an ongoing process.
In 2016 Yoshinori Ohsumi won the nobel prize for describing the process of autophagy where Intermittent fasting can help with many functions including cellular repair and regeneration. Of course intermittent fasting has been practiced for spiritual purposes for many years. I have been practicing intermittent fasting now for about 2 years with various schedules and have come to a comfortable schedule of 20 hour fasts three times per week, approximately, and with some concepts of flexibility. I also practice prolonged fasting once a month, PF, for the last 6 months or so working up to consuming no calories for close to 3 days. This practice has been a gateway for me to make other changes, which I feel are beneficial.
Here is an article on Intermittent Fasting:
People turn to veganism or a change to more of a whole food plant based diet for typically some combination of three reasons, the health of the individual, the health of the environment and for ethical considerations. This has been a fascinating study and I am fortunate to have a fiancee who also enjoys learning and improving a healthy lifestyle. Cooking in this style together has been fun to learn, apply and get results. My experience of having 2 titanium joints replaced in 2005 and in 2006, has also lead me to consider that my diet likely contributed to excess inflammation and lack of healing. I was certainly consuming copious amounts of dairy and factory farmed meat products without any consideration for those years. My interest in Prolonged fasting has also been stimulated by many factors where one of them is the enhancement of natural stem cells that could help with the repair of my degenerated discs in my neck. There has been some improvement but it is still too early to make a distinct verdict. Regardless the practice does enhance thinking, consciousness, and more. On a simple level it has helped me be more aware of what I eat and what toxic hunger is and what real hunger is.
Another change I have made, which has contributed to becoming vegan in a gradual manner, is the practice of gardening and growing my own fruits and vegetables. As I approach my fourth year of gardening with increasing yields and success. I truly enjoy the zen of experiencing the interaction of soil, water, air and climate on the miracle of growth. I have been vegan for about 6 months now and I feel satisfied and I feel I have beaten the toxic food cravings which used to be challenging. I am not saying, if in the future, I ate a piece of fish or an organic egg, I would likely catch fire or bleed. It just so happens I have lost the desire for animal products. My energy is good and I feel veganism is extremely healthy and I have done plenty of research. I have studied the works of Dr. Colin Campbell, Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn, Dr. John McDougall, Dr. Neal Barnard, Dr. Michael Klapper, and Dr. Joel Fuhrman, and more. I enjoy the learning. Gamechangers and Vegan 2019 are also good movies to help people learn. Of course Gamechangers came forth with the concept that not only is Veganism good for the environment and considerations of animals, they have put forth a very compelling argument that it is the most healthy alternative even for competitive athletes. I think people should take a look at that.
A whole food plant based diet is something I truly enjoy and feel great about on many levels. It has been a fascinating study where I enjoy learning about the advances in nutritional science and I encourage others to become knowledgeable and improve their own health, consider the consequences of factory farming and develop compassion for sentient beings. These are my opinions. If I can encourage someone to change gradually or rapidly, I am confident it will be a significant benefit.
With some refined consideration of veganism and progress towards more whole food plant based eating, I have reduced my body fat from 12%- 9%. My weight is the same and my strength measures are the same, and that is an important consideration. In the past I never measured and just eyeballed, as that is a useful measure but at the gym they had an electric device. So why not try it. Although it is a small improvement, it is encouraging that I am on the right path and making some objective progress at 56. If I can improve, others can too and that is useful.
I have also adjusted cold water training. After reading Gerneral Choi Hong Hi’s book 30 years ago where he recommended cold showers to build spirit and awareness, I have practiced finishing my showers with cold shower prayer/meditation time. I have been consistent over the last 30 years but the time periods have been short ‘ish’. We do our annual polar bear swim but that can be expanded. After watching, for some time, some Wim Hof methods and achievements, I have decided to increase the times, measure and incorporate cold baths regularly. It is refreshing, stimulates the chemicals in the body and enhances mood. It is a work in progress.
There are some criticisms, of varying degrees of importance to veganism, which have been addressed by detractors as concerns and have been countered by many medical experts. They relate to vitamin B12, DHA, calcium and others. My update is basic and supported by medical experts. In regards to Vitamin B12 deficiency, due to soil degradation and lack of natural mineral run off in water provided to us, some claim we must get vitamin B12 from meat and that is not necessary. Many plant milks are fortified with half of a daily requirement in one serving, nutritional yeast has a good amount, my garden has rich and fertile soil, and to alleviate any worries, just to be sure, I would recommend a single multi vitamin and mineral supplement. Over the years I have taken many singular vitamin supplements, and they do have a purpose as a supplement but the synergism of vitamins, minerals and micro nutrients in natural whole foods is often better than singular action, as a general statement. The health is done for us.
Next, for this brief discussion, there are concerns that vegans do not get enough DHA, which is important for brain function, and that can also be countered. Dr. Klapper is an expert that recommends having a diet rich in ALA, which can be converted by the body into DHA, from nuts and seeds regularly. Some would say that you have to get DHA from fish but that is not necessarily required. If you make sure you also regularly get some Spirulina and seaweed, you can get that important nutrient from the original source. So, I just make sure my family and I get some regularly and it alleviates any worry. Some level of conscientiousness is important but that is what we need anyway.
Finally in regards to calcium, as this is a big issue, we have been fed the propaganda from the dairy industry and dairy industry funded studies that claim calcium from dairy is important. This is a big issue also for the environment. We can get plenty of calcium from vegetables, as the original source. My cauliflower leaves I grow are rich in this micro nutrient. These are just a couple typical concerns regarding veganism and should not be detractors as there is a wealth of medical support from experts in the field which corroborate the benefits of healthy veganism. Why not try a bit, if you haven’t.
In regards to food preparation, that has been an interesting study and pastime. I have learned more techniques and discovered a little bit of the art of cooking. In the past, with the habit of fast food, we may have lost a bit of this art but it can be regained and many have. I have learned a bit about healthy oil free cooking methods, vegetable broth saute, roasting, steaming and other techniques. They can be delicious and satisfying. If it take a couple minutes to prepare something, that can be an opportunity to develop some mindfulness and some awareness of what we put in our body. Our family does now enjoy the practice and we feel good about our habits, as they develop to greater degrees.
As far as the environmental impacts, going green is good. I would encourage that awareness on many levels. I have been reading a number of experts on the subject. Naomi Klein in her book ” On Fire: The Burning Case for a New Green Deal”, describes the importance of not just our individual habits going more green but the need to collectively support those in power who support green initiatives and do not delay. Some may not have the perspective that time is of the essence and we are in a critical period of not delaying. Of course change does not happen overnight but we need to consider some collective activism.
In closing this little update, I would like to thank my family, my beautiful fiancee Heidi, HV Ultimate Fitness and Nutrition, our children Adam and Truly, who are also on board and excited by our passion for health and our dojo family. Some of the dojo family are interested and making positive changes. Some are curious but not ready to make changes. I would like to encourage everyone to take a ride on the green train for their health, the environment’s health, and the animals health. Whether you are fully on board or just taking a ride, it all helps. It often takes time, as it did with me, and it is an evolution. Best of luck in this Covid time.