Plant-based diet for Health & Vitality: RN & Ultra Marathoner
About ten years ago, I read a great book called The China Study by T. Colin Campbell and it changed the way I thought about food and how it can influence our physiology, for better or worse. Since that reading, I have dedicated an enormous amount of personal time and energy into learning about the science of plant-based nutrition and how it can be used to prevent and even reverse some of our nation’s leading killers and causes of disability.
Growing up in the small, rural University town of Corvallis Oregon, I was never exposed to these kinds of ideas. No one ever told me that the human body was capable of preventing and repairing many common disorders if given the opportunity to do so. I mean, what is our immune system good for if not this very thing?
Many years later, when I went to nursing school at Oregon Health & Science University in Portland, which was and still is one of the best programs in the country, I was amazed at how little time we spent talking about nutrition, exercise, and stress reduction as evidence based methods for preventing and treating chronic illness. It turns out that my experience was par for the course in terms of medical education in this country, both for nurses and physicians.
Since becoming licensed and practicing as a cardiovascular nurse, I have made it a regular part of my workflow to educate patients and family members on the seemingly endless benefits of adopting a whole food, plant-based diet and lifestyle; for the sake of their personal health, for the animals we share this earth with, and for the delicate ecosystems we all depend on for survival. My efforts have been met with equal parts open acceptance and participation on the part of patients, family, and coworkers and with scorn, derision and even anger from others. If there is one nugget of truth I have come to understand over the years, it is that perfectly rational, emotionally stable people can be reduced to states bordering on psychosis when their food choices are called into question. What we eat is so much more than a source of calories; it is our culture, our traditions, our comfort. It is no less than our very identity.
My experience over the last decade eating a completely plant-based diet and living this lifestyle has been profoundly educational and has presented me with opportunities to do things I would not have been likely to entertain as a younger man. I have pushed myself up against and through mental and physical barriers that I was not aware even existed until becoming a competitive, mountain ultra-distance trail runner. I have improved my physical and mental health beyond reasonable expectations to include, most notably, no longer being captive to debilitating depression, anxiety, and panic attacks; a shadow I have lived in since early childhood. My life, since, has been more meaningful, more connected, more in line with my true values of compassion, equality, and justice.
I now pursue this mission by writing, speaking, coaching and motivating others to live a healthier lifestyle, free of disabling chronic illness and dependence on medication. My intention is to bring this message to a larger audience in the hopes of reaching as many people as I can. I will share the latest research on plant-based nutrition from the perspective of a health care provider fighting on the front lines of chronic disease. I will provide recipes, training tips for endurance athletes, and other fun, useful bits of information for this curious audience. Most importantly, I will help readers discover their own motivation for change, empowering them to achieve a quality of life rarely enjoyed and so very much deserved.
Thank you, Aaron! We are so excited to continue to learn from you and share your work with our community. Let us know what you would like to see Aaron address in future posts in the comments below and we’ll choose three of your comments to receive a VIP coupon for any of our products!