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Detoxify your home of the worst toxins

Okay, you don't smoke, but do you...

Studies have consistently shown that smokers have a 40% higher risk of mortality (death) compared to non-smokers.

Now, let's say you're a non-smoker, and you're confident that you would never start smoking. But imagine for a moment that you were a smoker who decided to quit. The first and most crucial step in your journey would be to get rid of all cigarettes in your home and make a vow never to allow them back into home. You would do this because you know that having easy access to cigarettes would greatly increase the likelihood of succumbing to the urge to smoke.

The other addiction to toxins that brings death...

I propose that there exist a group of toxins that we keep within our household and are addicted to, just like how smokers keep cigarettes in close proximity so that they can immediately indulge in the desire to smoke. These toxins pose a similar level of risk to our health as smoking does, and we continue to indulge in them by keeping them readily available.

The toxins I am referring to are refined oils, carbohydrates, sugars, and salt - foods that lack fiber and micronutrients, leaving us malnourished even as we often consume an excess of calories.

The evidence

The Pritikin program, a well-researched eating program, has shown that consuming refined oils, carbohydrates, sugars, and salt poses risks similar to those of smoking. The program mainly provides these components in unrefined sources. In 2015, the Journal of the American College of Cardiology published a study that found participants who followed the Pritikin Program for an average of 3.7 years had a 35% reduction in all-cause mortality, as well as a significant decrease in the risk of cardiovascular disease, cancer, and diabetes, compared to a control group who did not follow the program. The Pritikin diet can be described as a whole-foods vegan diet that excludes processed foods.

The toxins in your home (a short checklist): which of these are lurking in your home right now?

  1. Sugars: this includes sucrose, fructose, glucose, and honey, as they are found in many processed foods, but not as naturally occurring in fruit.

  2. Oils: this includes all cooking oils and those found in processed foods, but not oils naturally found in nuts and avocados.

  3. Processed carbohydrates: this includes almost all breads and anything made with various flours, hulled grains, and pasta.

  4. Animal products: this includes milk, cheese, yogurt, eggs, chicken, beef, and pork.

  5. Salt: this includes table salt, sea salt, and salt included in most processed foods and many seasonings.

"You gotta be kidding!"  (I hear you thinking)

Doing 100% on all these is not necessary in order to get all the benefits. If you did 98% that would be just as good. For myself, I suspect I am about 97%, measured in percent of source of calories.

For the last item salt, we do need some salt in our diet. The 500-700 mg of salt we would already naturally ingest on a whole-foods vegan diet would probably be sufficient. On top of that, we could add no more than an additional 1500 mg of salt per day to remain in the healthy range. The average American currently ingests 3,400 mg additional salt per day, significantly above the healthy limit.

Yes, we need sugars or at least complex carbohydrates that can be turned into sugar or fat. But when we throw away the fiber and micronutrients by refinement and processing, that's when the trouble starts.

Similarly, we need oils. We can get plenty of those as we ingest healthy nuts (just about a hand full each day) and avocados.

And as for protein, there is plenty of that in unprocessed vegetables, beans, whole grains, nuts, and even fruits. Gorillas, one of our four closest animal relatives and with whom we share 98.3% of our DNA, get less than 1% of their protein from animals. As an herbivore, the length of the gorilla's gut, proportional to body size, is twice as long as that of carnivores. Humans share the same double ratio, a strong indicator that our bodies are not suited to be carnivores, or even omnivores.

"I don't think I care if I live longer or even healthier if I have to give up my ____!" (I hear you thinking)

I can relate.

As a teenager, I used to indulge in some pretty unhealthy foods myself. Creamed corn with melted margarine was one of my favorites, and don't even get me started on Double Whoppers, pizza, ice cream shakes, and french fries drenched in ketchup. I definitely sympathize with anyone struggling with food addiction.

However, I believe that any addiction is acceptable as long as it doesn't come with significant avoidable costs. Unfortunately, SAD (Standard American Diet) comes with immense costs, just like smoking does. That's why I've worked with several smokers as a life coach to help them quit.

It can be tough to quit smoking because there are so many benefits that come with it. But with some creative thinking, we were able to find ways for them to get the same benefits without the negative side effects of smoking. This made it easier for them to give up smoking for good, even during those moments when the urge to smoke was particularly strong.

The transition to eating whole-foods vegan can actually be easier than giving up smoking because it can be done step by step as you learn to easily and even quickly prepare delicious vegan dishes and your taste buds adjust to the healthier tastes.

Fantastic news: 1) a whole-foods vegan diet can be incredibly delicious, and 2) your taste buds will adjust over time to appreciate the natural flavors and textures of wholesome plant-based foods

As for the adjustment period with whole-foods vegan cooking, it's important to take it step by step. It can be a big change from a diet filled with processed foods and animal products. But as you adjust, you'll find that your taste buds adapt and even start to prefer the taste of whole, unprocessed foods.

In fact, when I lived in Bogota, Colombia, I hosted a bunch of dinner parties where I served my whole-foods vegan cooking to families and friends. And you know what? They were surprised at how delicious it was! One of their favorites was my "rice pudding" made from whole-grain black rice cooked to perfection in my trusty Instant Pot, with unsweetened almond milk, plump raisins, and just a hint of liquid stevia for sweetness.

Adult proof your home

We're all familiar with the concept of child-proofing to keep our little ones safe at home. Now, it's time to consider adult-proofing to ensure a safe and healthy environment for you and your loved ones. Take it step by step, if needed, and start by eliminating animal products and refined foods that lack the natural fibers and micronutrients they originally contained.

Just like you wouldn't leave a sharp and shiny knife within reach of a child, remove all those toxic food choices from easy access for yourself and the other adults and children in the home. By doing so, you'll be creating a safe and healthy environment that promotes your overall well-being.

Other issues

While these challenges are solvable, I won't be covering them in this article. These include:

1) depending on someone else in the household for food choices and cooking,

2) undermining the benefits by ordering takeout,

3) encountering resistance from other household members when trying to implement this lifestyle change, and

4) the habit (and perceived necessity) of consuming a significant amount of unhealthy meals outside of the home.

Other benefits

Whole-foods vegan cooking not only offers remarkable advantages to your health and vitality, which you can feel almost instantly, and will likely extend your health span by a decade or more. It is also quicker and easier to prepare than SAD cooking. Furthermore, it is more affordable than the latter.


(Ensure that you check out the cooking videos that show how you can cook quick, delicious, and healthy meals.)

(Although there are other sources for valid information about nutrition, this is my first go-to website.)

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