How long do I have to take this pill? | Stephanie Spencer

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Have you ever been sitting in the exam room with your doctor as he or she is reviewing your lab work?  They discuss your health risks due to your weight/cholesterol/blood pressure/ blood sugar numbers and recommend starting or adding another pill since your attempted dietary changes thus far haven’t worked.  And you ask…

How long will I have to take this pill?

When you ask your doctor this question, you may notice a suppressed chuckle or a flash of surprise across their face.  That’s because they usually assume your underlying problem (heart disease, Type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure) will never, ever go away.  We will have to “manage” it for the rest of your life until you progress to a point where you need invasive procedures or suffer a life-altering event or injury such as a heart attack or stroke that can greatly diminish the quality of your life and your ability to care for yourself.   I’m a cardiac RN and I spent about 20 years in the field of “chronic disease management” caring for individuals suffering from heart failure.  And that’s the problem-we are so busy “managing” these diseases that everyone seems to have that we don’t focus on the cause of the problem (it’s the food), or even know that we can reverse the underlying conditions that cause these diseases.  Many in the medical field don’t even know that diseases like Type 2 diabetes and heart disease have been demonstrated to be reversible with a Whole Food Plant-Based Diet through many randomized controlled clinical trials published in the Lancet, the Journal of the American Medical Association, and many more. Through the work of Plant-Based Pioneers such as Dr’s T. Colin Campbell,  Caldwell Esselstyn, and Neal Barnard, I learned that many of these chronic diseases such as high blood pressure, heart disease, and Type 2 diabetes were frequently reversible on a Whole Food Plant-Based Diet.  But at the time, I wasn’t quite ready to switch to that diet myself because I figured my husband and I were “pretty healthy” and besides, I had three teenage aged boys in the house. Until one day, my husband came home from the doctor with blood work showing that he was in fact,  pre-diabetic. This was a huge wake-up call for me. I had spent my entire working life trying to “manage” patients who were frequently ill with what started as diabetes and just kept getting sicker and sicker until they could no longer care for themselves. I vowed that this would never happen to my husband.  So without waiting for anyone’s (meaning my kids’) blessing, I just quit purchasing meat and dairy at the store. And believe it or not, it really wasn’t that hard! We learned to eat a lot of exciting new ethnic food, incorporated fiber-filled whole grains and legumes in our diet, watched as the pounds fell off of our bodies and enjoyed never being hungry in between meals for the first time in our lives.  And after 4 months, we rechecked Paul’s blood-work and his pre-diabetes had been reversed!  After Paul’s massive health transformation, and realizing how easy it is to eat the food that makes us the healthiest, I obtained a Certification in Plant-Based Nutrition through the T. Colin Campbell Center for Nutrition Studies through Cornell University.  And now I want to be able to share this life-changing information with everyone!

Stephanie