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I Am Extreme

The perfect attitude for ill health

“I know there are foods that I shouldn’t eat, but I eat them anyway because I like them.”

I try my best not to stare, dumbfounded, at the person who said this. Let’s call the person L. L is a well-educated woman who is married to a physician who has been trained in functional medicine. That is to say, he is one of the few medical doctors who understands the critical and unbreakable connection between nutrition and health.

In other words, L should know better.

Several years younger than my forty-seven, L has been suffering from perimenopausal symptoms that have yet to touch me (such as migraines and hot flashes), and other symptoms I have now just begun to deal with she has already been dealing with for years (such as super-short menstrual cycles). She has chronic inflammation that is causing her chronic lower back pain, more gray hairs than I, and is probably twenty pounds overweight.

I am healthier than she. Yet, she won’t hear any advice I have to give about healthy eating.

“Maybe it’s just her genes.”

Confession time: L is my youngest sister, four years younger. And we are very much alike (looks, natural abilities, etc.) in many respects. So, it’s not genes, folks.

No, wait: THIS is the perfect attitude for ill health

“Do you know when you are going to die?”

My gut clenches with frustration when E asks me this question. Eighty years old, E is blind in one eye due to macular degeneration (and doesn’t have great vision in the other eye), suffers from osteoporosis, is feeble, has ghastly liver spots on her face. Her question comes after a discussion we’ve had about diet, nutrition, and health, the implication being one that I’ve heard before: “You shouldn’t be so picky about what you eat, since you don’t know how long you’ll be here, anyway.”

You may be thinking, “Gee, Emily, give her a break! She’s eighty years old.”

So is Ruth Heidrich. Actually, she’s eighty-one or eighty-two by now. If you don’t know who she is, watch the following video:

This video is an eye-opener as to the human potential for aging with great health, as well:

Now, back to E. She has been consuming the standard American diet her entire life, including consuming about three glasses of beer every evening. Lots of grain and animal products, not a lot of fruits and vegetables. Plenty of processed sugar as well, especially in her younger years.

How do I know all this? Confession: E is my mother.

She does not suffer from macular degeneration, osteoporosis, or physical weakness because she is eighty years old. She does so because of consuming a not-very-healthy diet for her entire life.

Who’s the extreme one?

People consider me to be extreme. I no longer consume any grain or animal products (and for years, only consumed a small amount of each on a daily basis). For the past ten years or so, I have consumed around ten servings of fruits and vegetables per day (and ten years before that, I was consuming more than the “five a day” recommended by the USDA). I have rarely – and I mean rarely – eaten any processed foods (including homemade stuff like cookies) since the age of twenty-five.

I consume the original diet as prescribed by the Creator in Genesis – and what many non-Bible-believing anthropologists believed our oldest ancestors consumed.

Therefore, I am extreme.

I feel and look much better than my three siblings, who are all relatively close in age to me. Based on the  wrinkles on my face and the gray in my hair, I look much younger than most women in their late forties. As a matter of fact, on a whim a few months ago I asked someone who didn’t know me how old she would guess I am.

She guessed somewhere in my early thirties!

I am extreme.

At least, according to probably 75% of the Western population. They consume (fake) foods that have only been around for 150 years. They eat according to taste, then suffer pain, misery, and debilitation as they grow older (some not very old – I once knew a 38-year-old woman who had a stroke; and we all know of young people who have battled cancer). They die relatively young, well under the 100-120 years that are easily possible for humans to achieve – barring fatal accidents, of course.

But they are not the extreme ones. I am extreme because I hope and plan not to be a victim of a fatal accident. I am extreme because I eat and live in a way that dramatically reduces my risk of developing all manner of illness and disease.

No, Mom, I don’t know when I am going to die. But I am not going to plan on dying young! I have a choice on how well I am going to age. And I choose to age as slowly as humanly possible, with as few health problems as possible.

Yep. I am extreme. And I am happy and healthy because of it.

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