The Power of Plants and How it Changed my Life
“He who has health has hope. He who has hope, has everything” — Arabian Proverb.
Hope. That’s exactly what I didn’t have two years ago. When I think about where I am today on my health journey versus where I was then, the difference is unbelievable. I remember vividly, sitting in my Gynaecologists office on a cold December day in 2018. She told me that I needed to have my cancer markers checked due to a suspicious cyst they’d seen on ultrasound. Being a medic myself, the minute I saw the ultrasound in front of me, my heart dropped. I remember the feeling of overwhelming disappointment for not having taken better care of myself and the feeling of impending doom. I cried that day, harder than I ever have in my life.
One year prior to this, I was admitted to hospital with crippling abdominal pain. I was in hospital for over a week and was discharged with the confusing diagnosis of “This sometimes just happens and we don’t know why”. Endometriosis is often overlooked as a diagnosis, leading to many women living with unbearable pain and no answers as to why.
I was given the diagnosis of endometriosis and I felt I finally had an answer to the excruciating pain and the extremely heavy periods.
Several tests later, I was relieved to be given the all clear for cancer. At the same time, I was given the diagnosis of endometriosis and I felt I finally had an answer to the excruciating pain and the extremely heavy periods. But what next? I had never got on with hormonal methods of regulating my periods, having tried a variety over the last six years. I’d struggled with a cocktail of side effects and had made the decision to stop using them, just before my diagnosis. Was there something else that could help me? Something that didn’t require me to go through that experience again? I was willing to try anything that meant I could potentially avoid taking drugs. My sister had sent me Dr. Greger’s “How Not to Die” book as a pdf a few years back, and something told me to dig it out and give it a read. I read the book back to back and it changed my life.
Over six years of medical school, I cannot confidently say that we have been given training in nutrition. There is a widespread and shocking lack of focus on diet and nutrition within medical education.
Over six years of medical school, I cannot confidently say that we have been given training in nutrition. There is a widespread and shocking lack of focus on diet and nutrition within medical education. There is a really powerful quote by Socrates “Knowledge begins when one admits their own ignorance” and that’s exactly what I was — totally ignorant to how my diet was influencing my body. Dr. Greger’s book lifted that blindfold and I chose to embark on a plant-based diet in a bid to help my endometriosis. What followed in the following months was truly a revelation. Having grown up vegetarian, dairy was the main food group that I focused on eliminating in the transition to a plant-based diet. Within four months of going fully plant-based, my periods for the first time in years, were within the normal range for cycle length. In addition to this, they were significantly lighter, I stopped taking prescription painkillers for the cramps and I lost a significant amount of weight. I was truly amazed. All this by just changing my diet? Why are we not given this incredible, life changing knowledge at medical school? There has been mounting evidence to show that plant-based diets can prevent, manage and even reverse chronic disease, so why was this the first time I was hearing about it?
Within four months of going fully plant-based, my periods for the first time in years, were within the normal range for cycle length. In addition to this, they were significantly lighter, I stopped taking prescription painkillers for the cramps and I lost a significant amount of weight. I was truly amazed.
My follow up appointment with my consultant (a leading figure in the world of endometriosis in the UK) later that year was incredibly empowering. I was initially a little afraid to speak up about how a plant-based diet had completely changed my life, however, when he asked me how I was feeling — there was no denying the complete change, both physically and mentally. I went on to explain all of the dietary changes I had made and the improvements I had seen. His attitude towards what I had to say, was incredibly refreshing. We had a long discussion, as colleagues, about how although as medical professionals we must prescribe the highest level of evidence-based medicine (due to litigation), which in this case is hormones, it does by no means, rule out things that are slightly lower down in the pyramid. He went on to tell me about how he truly believes diet plays a huge role in endometriosis. Just logically, removing things that cause inflammation in the body, such as dairy and including things that are anti-inflammatory such as curcumin, would have a positive effect. I left that appointment feeling like I’d really been heard and that I had a choice in my healthcare.
I feel strong, empowered and in control of the decisions that directly impact my health. Investing in the best version of myself has taught me to make kinder choices for my body and the planet we live on.
So where am I at now? Almost two years on, I am in the best place, both physically and mentally, that I have ever been in my life. I feel strong, empowered and in control of the decisions that directly impact my health. Investing in the best version of myself has taught me to make kinder choices for my body and the planet we live on. My consultant is so happy with my progress that we’ve gone from six monthly appointments to now yearly and the talk of surgery has come off the table. My love for plant-based nutrition and lifestyle medicine has grown exponentially. I aspire to be a billboard for plant-based health, showing my future patients, medical professionals, friends and family that we can not only live but THRIVE on a plant-based diet. The evidence supporting this way of life is growing every single day. There’s no denying the power of plants.
You can follow more on this story on instagram @_veganmedic_
If you have found this article useful, please follow my organisation ‘plant-based health professionals UK’ on Instagram @plantbasedhealthprofessionals and facebook. You can support our work by joining as a member or making a donation via the website.