My husband wrote the following for BeamGreen during the summer of 2009.
Encouragement comes when you least expect it.
One morning, recently, I was waiting in line at my usual sidewalk coffee vendor when a homeless man came up to me and said, “You have really healthy skin! You need a little more vitamin D, but you look really healthy… Want to buy me a cup of coffee?”
Three months prior, I did not look as healthy. One day, I developed a major headache and my assistant said I looked pale. I attributed this to the stress of my current project but then my tongue stopped working, my right eye starting drooping, and my headache became unbearable. I would soon learn that I was experiencing a “spontaneous carotid artery dissection" with aneurisms. Essentially, the major artery bringing blood to my brain had ruptured where it enters my skull. Needless to say it was a serious event that was not only severely painful (for weeks) but life threatening.
This was about the third “spontaneous” health event that I had experienced in the past 3 years. Each one of these events was met with some panic and confusion from lots of doctors, and most surprisingly, no suggestion that these had anything to do with lifestyle or diet (I had a typical American “healthy diet”), and no changes were thought necessary, to my wife’s disappointment. Each was supposedly a random and unrelated event.
This was always welcome news to me –- each time I got lots of tests, sometimes a little surgery, spent some time in the hospital, then would go home with little change of diet or lifestyle suggested by doctors. However, after the last event (the carotid artery dissection), my wife decided to do her own research and came across some interesting discoveries. The results of her research on nutrition all of sudden made a lot of sense to me. I opened my eyes and mind to the idea that perhaps much of what we have been taught about health, nutrition, and toxins around us is incomplete and misguided. Doctors are very smart and have developed effective drugs and procedures for fixing bodies, but for the most part, have little training in nutrition, and it just makes sense that nutrition is vitally linked to health. With this open mind and my wife’s inspiration and guidance, I started an exploration into nutrition and health and quickly starting changing my diet. Although this is an ongoing exploration, based on initial research, the raw diet with lots of fresh juice made the most sense so I quickly starting changing my diet to minimize animal products and cooked food, and concentrate on whole foods and raw vegetables and fruits, seeds, and nuts.
It started with the juice. One morning about four months ago, inspired by a BeamGreen event, my wife ordered a few fresh juices from Liquiteria in the East Village. I liked them. With guidance from my wife, I learned about all the benefits of fresh “living” juice: it maximizes nutrients, enzymes, and other good stuff that builds strong bodies at a cellular level (straight vegetables and fruits are great too, but the juice has the most impact per calorie (best bang for the buck)). Lots of the good stuff is killed off when juice is commercially processed and bought in the store, so fresh juice is important (and cold pressed is ideal). Juice also flushes out toxins. I started drinking 4 to 5 juices per day and felt great. I ate food too but I started to prefer higher quality foods, mostly raw and less quantity. The nutrients and cleansing was having a dramatic effect, so I kept it up. I was buying so much juice from Liquiteria and the juice bar in Equinox, I felt like I was paying their rent. My wife then bought our first juicer, a Breville, and we started making our own juice daily (in addition to buying juice). Based on my wife’s research, this was a good, more affordable juicer (the Norwalk cold press juicer is the Rolls Royce, but seems it has limited appeal due to its price and more lengthy process). My favorite juice was the kitchen sink recipe (basically everything I could think of in one juice including apples, pears, carrots, beets, spinach, kale, cucumber, celery, ginger). I also experimented with dandelion (not so tasty), horseradish (even less tasty), sweet potatoes, and other things.
The Norwalk Juicer
From the start of my juicing interest, I heard that homemade juices from conventional juicers, although far better than store-bought juice, destroyed some of the living enzymes and nutrients due to the heat in the process. Cold press juicing was the best way to preserve the good stuff and was also much tastier. It also has a much higher yield (more juice from the same fruits and veggies). I heard that the yield is about 50% more than that from conventional juicers and that seems about right.
The drawback to the Norwalk is that it is expensive and more labor intensive, so almost no juice retailers or home users use them. Liquiteria is one of the few places we could find that use it. We have friends that live on the Upper West Side that got turned onto Liquiteria, and have explored every juicing store on the Upper West Side trying to find something similar and could not… so they go to Liquiteria weekly to stock up or even have it delivered via car service.
After about 3 months of juicing, I decided it was time to get serious, and we bought the Norwalk juicer and installed it in our weekend house in the Hamptons. It cost more than the first 4 cars I ever owned (all together) and is a real commitment of time. However, for the past 4 weeks, a Saturday morning ritual has been born: shopping at the farmers market and then going home and working the Norwalk juicer. It has become a Saturday morning social event. What better way to hang out with friends than chopping, washing, peeling, shredding, pressing and bottling fresh fruit and veggie juice. And then for the rest of the weekend experiment making different fresh juices.
4 Month Results:
My weight is down to about 187 lbs (down from 225lbs at my peak). My cholesterol is down to about 109 (down from a peak of 225). I feel much more relaxed and healthy; and I get compliments on my complexion from homeless people. I have been spreading the word wherever I can and I am happy to see that many people are open, reacting positively and many have started on their own nutritional journeys. I used to get a friendly teasing for bringing a green or orange juice to my weekly project meeting; now at any given meeting, there might be 3 or 4 green or orange juices on the table from others.
I went back for a CAT scan recently to check on my carotid artery and after reviewing my results, my neurosurgeon had the report I fully expected. He looked very pleased and said I was healing and faster than normal – keep doing whatever I was doing. As he heard about my change in diet, he said he should probably do it too.