I adore watching 'famous vegans' lecture. I see a side of their talk like nobody else in the room--I have my medical expertise to 'filter it'. Here is what I have to say about a recent lecture I attended from Paul Nison, who is 'famous' on the internet. On YouTube he is--thedurianking. On Facebook he is--healthwatchman. On Twitter, he is @paulnison. On Tumbler he is -- rawpaul. On LinkedIn he is --paul nison.
Before me there was a man in linen, looking like a cross between Jesus and ZZ Top. I honed in on his aura. It was hard to see in the light. I scanned his chakras: grounded, very grounded, more so than most people I have met. I next put my attention on his personality: fast talking New Yorker, funny, and like all New Yorkers, 'not holding anything back'. If he thinks it, he says it. He is a straight shooter. He cracks jokes about being mistaken for the homeless because of his look.
At these lectures I call myself 'the voice of reason'. Today, the question I wanted answered was the claim one of my patients made that 'his coach for his new vegan diet of one week says that it will cure his Hepatitis C'. In fact, statements like this are indefensible in court; It is 'practicing medicine without a license'. I wanted to KNOW what kind of stuff goes one with 'these folks' before I align myself professionally with any 'group', both as 'Reiki Doc' as you know me, and as my anesthesiologist 'self' too.
What unites most of these 'organizations' is a 'how I healed myself story' in the context of 'how I hate doctors that are so dumb they can't cure me and make me worse'.
Right on scheduler, the opener was, 'I had Ulcerative Colitis. It was miserable. I went against everything the doctors said by going raw. And I haven't had a symptom in years.'
'Is anyone here a doctor?' Paul asked.
Spirit nudged, not to raise your hand!
'Good! Because I HATE DOCTORS! They don't know anything!' he exclaimed to a room full of cheers and whoops and applause.
I wanted to hide! But SOMEONE has to take first steps to begin a dialogue with the medical community and raw vegans! Just minutes before, at the hospital, on my way to the parking lot I ran into a nurse I know. She asked about my plans. Sweet RN Loan was excited about my plans to attend the lecture, and asked me to talk to her about diet later. Loan is Vietnamese and works in pre-op. She shows more respect to me as a physician than anyone else has in my entire career. She knows how hard I worked to earn the title 'M.D.' and I can hear it in her voice when we talk. It used to be like that in the past, but now almost everyone treats me like it's nothing. Except her. : )
During the coarse of the talk, Paul Nison won me over to his side, all doctor-slamming excepted. Here are some of his main points:
- He no longer eats a 'raw' diet. Some things marketed as 'raw' are 'candy' such as energy bars. He has re-phrased his life style to a 'Fresh Foods Diet'.
- A person doesn't have to go 100% 'Raw'. Some people are 80% 'Raw' or 50% 'Raw'. That is okay. The optimum plate has 75% 'raw' on it, preferably as sprouts, and 25% fruit or carbohydrate. You are to eat the green sprouts first.
- Every body is different. There are sick people in both the raw vegan camps and the meat-eater camps! Optimum Health is MORE than nutrition. It is healthy sleep and healthy movement too. We need to be actively moving about 30 minutes a day and sleeping 8 hours.
- He is against the 'what food do I eat to cure breast cancer?' magic bullet approach. (See number 3 above)
- He recommends blood testing to assess nutritional levels and 'how is that working for you?' to make changes to the diet with supplements, etc. to achieve optimum health.
- He supplements with Vitamin B-12, probiotics, and Natto (a fermented soy product).
- Sea vegetables such as nori and kelp are highly good for you.
- Stevia is the sweetener of choice for him.
- Raw Chocolate is considered by him to be 'Crack-cao' instead of 'cacao'.
- Dry brush your skin daily to eliminate toxins (exfoliation speeds up growth of new skin cells)
- Chew Foods well until the food is liquid
- "Health begins by what we eliminate"--inferring that processed foods, etc. are on some level, 'toxins' and that although the human body can 'adapt', it is not 'optimum fuel' for it.
My delight was when a man in the audience raised his hand and asked the question, 'Is there a non-medical cure for sleep apnea?'
As a board-certified anesthesiologist who does much anesthesia for bariatric surgery, and as one with a history of over ten years in academic medicine before THAT, my toes curled with delight as I waited for the response from Paul...Sleep Apnea is the perfect question for my expertise, more than anyone else in the room, or even, at the hospital!
I looked at this man. Anterior chin and about eighty pounds overweight. Tongue is too large for mouth. Entire airway (tongue, throat, trachea) collapse upon deep relaxation of sleep, obstructing the movement of air. There are three ways to deal with this--lose weight, surgically 'open' the throat to accommodate the tongue, or CPAP (a mask that is strapped on to the face at night to keep the airways from closing). The man's question is important because if left untreated, sleep apnea wreaks havoc on the body (hypertension, then pulmonary hypertension, then right heart failure with swelling of the legs) as well as the sleep (the patient is unable to achieve 'restful' stage IV REM sleep because hypoxemia 'wakes him up' every two minutes as a reminder to breathe. He is not aware of it, but his sleep is RADICALLY ALTERED and of much poorer quality because of it.)
I also 'scanned' the man asking the question's aura. He 'likes to eat and does not want to wear the mask'. It is going to be a tough sell getting through to him that 'something needs to be changed because your body does not like how you are driving it'.
What did Paul say? YES! YES IT CAN CURE SLEEP APNEA!
I was fighting every impulse I had to get in to that conversation.
And then Paul BACKPEDALED! He said, 'It has worked for some people in the past, yes, but everyone is different and no one can tell for sure what is right for you until you try it and see how it works'.
With that one answer, Paul Nison saved his reputation with me. No practicing medicine without a license! No 'magic bullet cures' for diseases, although he openly admits his Ulcerative Colitis improved with the entire lifestyle change of 'fresh diet' for him. Actually SUGGESTING blood work (unfortunately by a nutritionist and not a doc) as a QUANTITATIVE WAY to measure how your diet is 'working for you'.
So, I support him. How couldn't I after finding out he once ate EIGHT durians in one sitting? You gotta love him. And love durian too. Today he, and his work, are the subject of this blog. And I give him the pat on the back we give each other as doctors--'Strong work Paul!'