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“This diet protected me from permanent disability, if not death”

Grant RowleyBy: Grant Rowley

I was born in 1944, the youngest of nine children. I lost my mother to a heart attack when I was 15. She had suffered a heart attack earlier when I was five. She lost weight on the advice of her doctor, but died when she was only 56. Since that time five siblings have also passed away, three of them in their 50’s due to heart problems, and two with cancer and diabetes in their early to mid-60’s. My wife, Linda, and our children gave a sigh of relief when I was still kicking on my 57th birthday! There are three siblings still living. My brother Ralph is 81. Hugh is 76. I am 71. We three have been more conscious of our health and exercised more than the others.

I have been exercising regularly since by days in the Marines. When I wasn’t exercising, I put on weight quite easily. I have been seeing a cardiologist since I was 50 years old. One day, I got light headed while playing racquetball with a co-worker, and Linda and I decided I needed to see a doctor. They took an MRI and found that I had an enlarged heart wall and muscle. So I stopped playing any sports that required me to start and stop, such as basketball, racquetball, and softball.

A few years ago, a couple of men who worked in the same BYU office as my wife Linda started eating a more plant-based. They suggested some reading, so Linda read some books and got some recipes. We went on a plant-based diet for 10 days. It was very difficult to prepare the food and get used to it, but my cholesterol went down 100 points in that short time. We then tried to incorporate the diet in a modified form into our lifestyle.

In the middle of June 2013, I woke up and felt sort of weird. I checked and discovered my pulse was near 80. I drank some water and went back to bed. I still could not sleep, so we decided to go to the hospital. I had a racing heart, and they kept me in the ER for a few hours and stabilized me. After more tests, they recommended installing a pacemaker. I wasn’t too excited about that, but after talking with the doctors I decided to go through with the procedure. All went well, and the pacemaker has been a blessing as it lets me know when I need to not push myself too hard.

Then in the spring of 2014, Linda and I found out about Jane Birch and her book Discovering the Word Of Wisdom. I was excited to read this book. It confirmed some of the feelings I had about eating fruits and vegetables in season and meat sparingly. With a stronger desire to eat healthier, we tried to implement whole food, plant-based eating into our diet and into our lives more fully. As we’ve done that, I have found new energy and wellbeing in my every day activities. We have had breaks from it, but we are eating much healthier, and we can feel the difference.

As it turns out, this difference saved my life! Let me tell you what happened.

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“It’s not God’s plan that so many of us be sick”

Sue Reuser

By: Sue Reuser

I’ve been interested in physiology since I was in college, but when I was young I was not necessarily concerned about my own good health. In fact, I was a smoker for almost 20 years. After getting married in 1980, it was only in consideration of my new family of four children that I finally quit.

I first became involved with Dr. John McDougall’s plant-based diet in 1985 when I heard him interviewed on a radio talk show. McDougall sounded very extreme to me at the time, but everything he said was so logical that I couldn’t deny its correctness. It was completely different from everything that I had been taught about food and what I had always eaten, but deep down I just knew that he was right.

In 1985 I talked my husband into both of us enrolling in Dr. McDougall’s 12-day program. It was for him, not me. I didn’t need it. I was healthy, active, and trim, but at 30 he could not get insurance because of his high blood pressure. We attended the program together. Even though we had enrolled for my husband, the science soon convinced me to switch to a low fat starch-based diet.

Changing my diet was not easy. A huge part of my diet was sweets, and I sure didn’t want to give those up! Meat was not a problem for me. In fact, I liked the idea of not killing animals to eat them, but I still couldn’t imagine how I would feed a family without using lots of hamburger and cheese. Even though I had lots of questions, I was able to work things out. I didn’t know it at the time, but I think that even back then (before I joined the Church) I was feeling the influence of the Holy Ghost.

It was only later that I realized that the McDougall program most likely saved my life. My mother died of breast cancer when I was 10 and she was 49. My sister died of breast cancer when she was 51. If I hadn’t changed my lifestyle I probably would have been dying of breast cancer in 1994 instead of getting baptized into The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints and getting a new and happy life.

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“The Word of Wisdom is bringing me back to health”

Phyllis BessenaireBy: Phyllis Bessenaire

My health adventures began in February 1986 just before I turned 32. A couple of weeks before my birthday, my aunt was visiting and talking about wanting to “lose weight.” I told her that I was losing a lot of weight. She asked me what diet I was following. I told her, “None! I eat what I want, and I still lose weight. It’s wonderful!” She looked at me and said, “You need to be checked for diabetes right away.” All I knew about diabetes was that my grandma was diabetic at the end of her life. When she came to visit, Mom always bought “dietetic ice cream” packaged in individual cubes about 2 inches square. Although I disliked ice cream, I loved sharing this with her, so I looked forward to it. For me, it meant fun times—how ignorant I was.

Going to the endocrinologist right away confirmed that I was, indeed, diabetic. He told me we would have to wait and see if I was Type I or Type II. I was a little old for Type I and very young for Type II. I remember going to church that Sunday. My son was transitioning from nursery and my daughter was new there. The nursery leader and I were very close friends so I told her the news. That was when the bottom dropped out of my world. She told me about someone in our ward whose son had just died as a result of diabetic complications. I was a mother of a 3-year-old and a 1-year-old. To think I might DIE of diabetes sent me into total depression.

I called my home teacher (my husband was not a member of the Church), and he came with another brother and gave me a blessing. I will always remember his words to me that day. He said that if I lived the Word of Wisdom, it would be as if I never had diabetes. I had tremendous faith that this would be my lot. I lived the Word of Wisdom very religiously, or so I thought I did.

I was diagnosed with Type II diabetes mellitus, which used to be called “adult onset diabetes.” It usually begins when a person is in their 50s to 70s, not when they are 32 years of age (although because of our diet, it is becoming more prevalent among younger people now, including teens).

I started insulin, and after a while, I began a diabetic “honeymoon.” It is called this by endocrinologists because of the way the pancreas responds to added insulin at first. It gives the pancreas a boost, and your blood sugars drop to normal range without insulin. Well, somehow I thought that meant I wasn’t diabetic at all. Like so many others, I made a big error in judgment and after a few years of decent control, I thought I was cured and began eating more sugar, etc. Boy was that stupid!!!

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