Elizabeth ‘Liz’ has just chalked up the ripe young age of 60 and lives in Walton on Thames, Surrey, England.
Liz’s story is a very powerful one, and one that a lot of people will be able to relate to. It’s about ‘healthy eating’, perception, loss and a change in outlook through education.
After having a successful career in property, and devoting a portion of her life to raising her two children, Liz moved to the South of France when her husband retired in 2003. With a beautiful villa, swimming pool and a yacht, life was as near perfect as life can be. People would come over from the UK to visit and soak up the sun, whilst enjoying the local produce, be it the cheese, wine, or those delicious olives…
As a very good cook, Liz adapted to the Mediterranean diet extremely well and created the meals that many people would be extremely jealous of. Dinners would be made of vegetables, perhaps a little pasta, a salmon fillet and salad, with local extra virgin olive oil. It all sounds incredibly healthy and an extremely good diet from the outside but as anyone who has visited France in recent times will know, the ‘French Paradox’ of eating rich meals and being slim and trim is no more. The good life continued for many years, with the ‘normal’ health implications that entering the ‘good years’ so often present.
Her joints began giving her pain and on x-ray it was deemed that medication (steroids) and possibly surgery at a later date may be required on her knees. Her husband, a retired senior Royal Naval officer hit 60 and although one to play tennis frequently and be extremely active, was put on a statin medication by the French healthcare system, as would be the case in virtually every western country for a male aged over 50 with a total cholesterol of over 5 mmol/l (193 mg/dl).
His total cholesterol was 6.8 mmol/l (262 mg/dl) and interestingly didn’t decrease significantly whilst on the medication.
Most of general population do not understand that drugs have something called ‘NNT’, which is ‘number needed to treat’. That is to say that for some statin drugs the NNT is around 30, for some around 200. This means that only 1 in 30, or 1 in 200 people will actually benefit from the medication.
Liz’s life changed dramatically, suddenly and brutally when her husband died suddenly at home of what is now known to be a heart attack (vulnerable plaque rupture). He died at age 62, with no prior symptoms of the disease. For anyone who has been close to a sudden bereavement, they will understand the emotions, implications and pragmatic steps that have to be taken to keep affairs in order and move forwards.
For Liz, this process took approximately 6 months for repatriation to the UK and returning alone was never a prospect she had ever considered. At this stage, Liz wanted to know how could a man, who had been given a clean health report by the medical profession, someone who was active, eating the Mediterranean diet, suddenly die so prematurely.
Seeking answers, Liz came across Intelligent Eating, as it has cited some of the incredible work that American physicians had had with former President Bill Clinton after his diagnosis with coronary artery disease. What intrigued her was how Clinton was treated with diet rather than any medical intervention after the initial event.
Liz found some resolve in the fact that perhaps there was hope, at least for other families, but more interestingly began to realise that actually her diet had been far from good.
“I approached, and subsequently became involved with Intelligent Eating because the evidence is so very real on every level, as someone with a ‘lifetime’ of culinary experience, I did not see the connection between diet and disease, and that, for me was very, very profound. Firstly, I now knew what had killed my husband, and secondly I now knew I could treat myself to avoid any issues with my arthritis. My family history perfectly showed me all the evidence I needed to realise this link that I’d missed, and so many do – and will continue to dismiss until, in many cases it is too late.”
Liz describes exactly the process that many people will see, and form vital links of evidence between diet and disease. Virtually all of the chronic conditions from which people suffer in the western world are food borne diseases, they take many years to build and often go unnoticed, or are perceived as normal by the general population.
“Like many people, I made the assumption that the medical profession were right and that my arthritis was simply part of the aging process, until I got involved with Intelligent Eating, I had no idea that oesto-arthritis was something I could potentially prevent and reverse, just through changing what I eat, nor that it was more than likely that my cooking had been the largest contributory factor to not only my arthritis, but also my husbands untimely death.”
Statements such as these are extremely profound and will be deemed as utterly radically by those who read them for the first time, but the truth really is that almost all of the diseases which we commonly see in the western world, NCD’s or non communicable diseases are indeed a result of our diet.
Fortunately for Liz, she picked up the information very easily and made changes to her diet and lifestyle. These had dramatic, powerful, and positive consequences. This led to several wonderful outcomes, as Liz describes:
“When I look back at that ‘heart healthy’ diet I’d been eating in the South of France, I almost can’t believe how naïve I’d been, the information is out there, but finding a unbiased source is tough and that’s what I have loved about Intelligent Eating, I wasn’t looking for a diet at all, I just wanted more conclusive evidence about what killed my husband. The result has been I’ve found the answer, and now made changes myself. If I am ever to eat salmon, it might be a portion one fifth the size that I would have in France, if I have a salad, I’ll probably use a balsamic jus that I can make myself in 5 minutes, not smother anything in olive oil. If I fry foods, I might use the juice of a lime rather than any oils, and I don’t miss any foods I used to, quite the opposite – I have discovered a whole new way of eating and looking at food, and it’s really very exciting. For me, nothing can replace the loss I suffered and I’ve had to get on with life, be it mowing the lawn myself or walking the dogs every day, but the most curious and astounding results have occurred with my health. I’ve gone from a UK size 14 to a UK size 10, and all of the symptoms of my arthritis have completely gone.”