Dr. Greger’s Daily Dozen

I had gestational diabetes when I was pregnant with Daniel. I never had to take insulin and it went away after his birth. Oddly, I didn’t have it during my pregnancy with Elizabeth and I say oddly because usually it gets worse as you get older. Most women who have the disease during one pregnancy will have it for subsequent ones. I attribute this anomaly to dietary changes I made when I was pregnant with Daniel. For instance, I haven’t had a glass of orange juice for more than ten years. I only drink tea, water, and the occasional beer.

Since then I have myself tested every one to two years for diabetes because I’m at higher risk of developing type 2 as I get older. I had my test done last week and the results are great: I am not a diabetic, not even a pre-diabetic. They’re better than last time and the last time was better than the time before. I’m like a good red wine that’s improving with age which is pretty unusual for diabetes.

The GP told me my risk is lower on a vegan diet which was great to hear. I’ve also changed my diet slightly over the past six months. Earlier this year I became interested in vegan diets as a cure for heart disease. I’m vegan for environmental and ethical reasons so I never concerned myself too much with the health benefits. However a family history of heart disease got me interested and I started reading a lot of Michael Greger’s stuff on NutritionFacts.org.

I realised I wasn’t a particularly healthy vegan. Over the past 6 months I’ve substantially increased my intake of vegetables and, in particular, green vegetables. Michael Greger has a terrific Daily Dozen checklist of foods we should eat everyday. It has made me realise that the health benefits of a vegan diet are probably not really due to the absence of meat, although it likely helps, and more to do with what replaces the meat: vegetables. One golden rule, according to Michael Greger, is that vegetables should take up half our plate. I don’t think this is the case for many people in our society. Most people in Western societies have a large portion of meat dominating their plate and maybe some bread or pasta on the side. This is certainly how it was for me growing up. I now make an effort to pile green vegetables of all kinds on my plate each day and my fridge always has a supply of cruciferous vegetables. There’s a compound in cruciferous vegetables that cannot be found anywhere else called sulforaphane which appears to target breast cancer cells.  It’s also apparently good as a treatment for autism. If you’re interested in diet and health then I recommend Dr. Greger’s Daily Dozen: