How My Chronic Disease Changed My Perspective On Food

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When I was in college, my leisurely strolls in between classes were spent scrolling through body building websites, calculating the optimal amount of calories to eat that would allow me to put on a few extra pounds of muscle. I baked tons of chicken breast, and went through endless trays of brown rice and broccoli. I would chug an extra glass of milk before I left the house, because, well, protein.

    And it worked - to an extent. I gained muscle. I felt ‘swole’. But how healthy was I? I mean, the doctors told me I was A-okay. A healthy young man with strong bones. But how closely were they looking? How could they know what direction I was heading with my health? And most importantly, how could they know any of this without knowing what I was eating? 

    Fast forward 10 years; I’m a recruiter, working with some of the fastest growing startups in NYC and SF. Between hunting down talent on tight deadlines, scheduling endless calls, running to meetings, and organizing events... I barely had time for myself. I did okay with finding a few times a week to work out, but my meal plan consisted of grabbing sub sandwiches and cruising crowded buffet lines. 

In June 2016, I began noticing something strange with my digestion. Reluctantly, I scheduled an appointment with a gastroenterologist. After some testing and 2 weeks of waiting, the results were in. I had a chronic inflammatory bowel disease, Colitis, as well as a less serious case of Gastritis. My heart sank as I thought about my future, and what might happen. “How could I have a chronic disease? I’m not even 30 yet…”. It was a tough period. But it was also a blessing.

I began swimming through literature and research, learning everything I could about my condition. After reading a bit, the seemingly obvious solution began to crystalize— nutrition.

Every day, tens of millions of Americans suffer from some form of digestive issue. Yet many of us turn to medications to solve our problems, rather than looking at the food we’re eating. But why are there so many digestive problems?

Currently, close to 1.6 million Americans also suffer from some type of inflammatory bowel disease and studies show that Americans are more likely to suffer from these diseases simply because of improper diet and exposure to pollution and industrial chemicals.

Our bodies are designed to utilize nutrients for power. The human body is an incredibly complex organism with the capacity to heal itself, given that it has the proper resources. But over the past 30-40 years, as factory farming has become one of the most profitable industries in the world, we have seen a steady and dramatic decrease in health as a nation. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to draw the conclusion that our increased consumption of chemical laden and processed foods has a direct relationship with our declining health as a nation.

By eating mostly whole, organically-grown foods, we can avoid ingesting chemicals that harm our bodies and cause sickness and disease. We can promote internal healing and prevent illness without medications or chemical compounds.

I have seen a dramatic change in my health after switching to a mostly organic food diet, and although I still eat meat, I have decreased the amount in my diet, and make sure to only eat humanely-raised, organic-fed meat and sustainably-caught fish.

Food is medicine, and at this time in our nations history and level of health, it is critical that we spread this message and help heal each other.