Many months ago, I post A Healthful Food Formula, and Heal Your Gut Issues. I posted those articles after several years of suffering from acid reflux and finally, after a couple more years of trial and error and research, feeling some reprieve. I explained the diet I was consuming at that time, and I explained that I was not 100% healed, but was close.
I stuck with that diet for a few more months, and that brings us to about one month ago. I was eating keto (low carb, high fat), and my acid reflux still flared up anytime I ate something that wasn’t meat or vegetables. I felt better, but I didn’t feel as though I was healing. And I began experiencing extended periods of shortness of breath (essentially, asthma triggered by GERD). So I had to, once again, re-examine my situation.
Around that time, I began watching videos by Dr Michael Greger (NutritionFacts.org). He provides summaries of studies in the field of nutrition science. He is a very bright man, and I totally bought his theories on eating a whole food plant based diet. However, I was skeptical of his ideas on carbohydrates and fats. I had been lead to believe, like so many in our world, that olive oil is healthy and potatoes are unhealthy. I was a follower of books like The Perfect Health Diet, The Primal Blueprint, and Grain Brain. And I knew that I had experienced migraines and stomach aches from overeating sugar on numerous occasions in the past.
There were two videos by Dr Greger that really caught my attention. One is about a study indicating insulin spiking more after eating meat than after eating berries and other carbohydrate rich plant foods. The other is about beans.
Still skeptical of fruits (looking back now, I can’t believe I went months without fruit!) because of their sugar content, but convinced enough to give some of Dr Greger’s ideas a try, I began adding beans (often demonized in keto and paleo circles) to my diet. I felt amazing!
So, I became a believer in Dr Greger’s ability to sort good research from bad research, solid evidence from flimsy evidence.
Slowly, I added fruit, dipping my toes into the water like a recent shark attack victim. And I kept feeling better and better!
I converted completely to Dr Joel Fuhrman’s dietary suggestions (the Nutritarian diet) which are very similar, if not identical, to those of Dr Greger’s. Whole food, plant based, lots of greens, lots of beans, lots of berries and fruits.
But the bouts of feeling short of breath continued. I was so confused. I felt great except for the shortness of breath. I thought maybe I was just eating too much food, but I certainly wasn’t overeating on number of calories. “Maybe I’m eating too much bulk?” I thought.
There’s another doctor who comes up in the whole food plant based circles of the internet, Dr John McDougall. He seems a little kooky (in my opinion) compared to the others. He acts like potatoes are the healthiest food in the world! That goes against heaps and heaps of conventional wisdom.
Well, I was following this whole food plant based diet, but I was still avoiding starches and grains. So I was doing everything right according to the science. I figured there was no way starches could be the answer, so I started eating less and fasting to see if that would help with my shortness of breath. It didn’t, so the only possible answer was starch. I watched several videos of Dr McDougall’s talks and decided I should give starches a try. Almost immediately, I stopped suffering from shortness of breath.
Until just a few days ago I kept thinking, “this is too good to be true!” I get to eat all the bananas I want. I can load up on sweet potatoes! I get to eat delicious, sweet fruits! It’s everything I ever dream of (for the past two years). I can’t believe how far astray I let myself be lead by psuedo-science and fools. I am humbled and ashamed by how wrong I was about food and diet.
Now I have a full stomach, my acid reflux is more healed than it has been in years, I spend less than half of what I used to on groceries, and I enjoy food more than I have in a long time.
The truth is, we don’t really know the perfect diet (at least I don’t), and there will always be misinformation and incorrect judgements about research. But I have tried every way of eating (keto, paleo, low carb high fat, whole food plant based, starch-based, and nutrient dense). I’m not sure which way would be certain to make me live longest, but I can say with certainty that the starch-based, whole food, plant-based diet makes me feel best in terms of my acid reflux, happiness, sense of well-being, and overall energy.