Our Blog

    From Di

    I have been looking for a way to keep in touch with every one on a more regular basis for some time and now that we have moved to Mackay I have finally made the move to set up my version of a blog. Like everyone my life revolves around what I do on a daily basis so it is a combination of my passions which if you know me is Art, Food, Teaching, Graeme, Lenny and how these passions make my life unique. Over the last 10 years I have shared these passions with all the fellow artist in my studio every week. I miss that and would like to set up this forum to take it's place. I would like the converstation to be two way so put your comments on the website or on my face book where this blog will also end up.

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    Obesity to Longevity - Vegetarian to Vegan.

    From Graeme:

    It was not becoming a Vegetarian that bothered all my Darwin friends in 1990, it was the fact that I gave up alcohol that concerned them the most. Everyone was stunned with disbelief how could you even contemplate giving up alcohol in Darwin the Drinking Capital of Australia, The most hilarious comment came from my friend Olly, who said. "I can't believe you would do that, you are going to be so boring you won't be able to come to our Parties or the Yacht Club (our favourite watering hole at the time). What are you going to do with your life? "However, he soon got to like the idea when it became his turn to buy a round and I was only drinking mineral water. After the first couple of drinks nobody even noticed that Di and I weren't drinking.

    Talking about the Darwin Yacht Club, it was there that I first noticed any significant change. Di and I were sitting at the club one Sunday afternoon about six weeks into our new lifestyle,  waiting for a few friends, when I noticed how beautiful Di's skin on her face looked I could not get over the change, she has great shin anyway, but it was glowing. Giving up smoking will do that. I can still look at a group of women and tell which ones smoke.

    I decided I needed to start doing some serious exercise to lose all the weight I was carrying around. Darwin being such a hot place there is really only one option. Swimming.

    I had a Finance Broking business at the time so swimming at the Parap Pool every lunch time was no problem.  We would go every week day at about 12.30 and swim for about 30-40 minutes or 1500 metres. This worked out fine and I started dropping weight after two years I was down to about 80 kilo's. We loved Darwin we had many great friends and Di was selling art and had started teaching Art and Calligraphy. My business was struggling along. At that time Banks would not accept business from Finance Brokers. It was about that time I was told about a job in the NT Government in Business Development. I applied and although I got the job there was some concern that I would not fit into the Public Service, having always worked for myself. Three months went by and no date had been set for me to actually start so I rang the CEO and made an appointment.

    He was an ex Bank Manager and a little more understanding of my situation. He suggested I take a lesser position which I declined, so I suggested they give me a one year contract instead of five and if they did not like what I was doing they could put me off. He thought he could get that through the system. So I started two weeks later. It was a great job and I loved it. I stayed six years but the real reason I included this in the story is that it interfered with my swimming which I had grown to love.

    I needed a swimming venue closer to work. As luck would have the 'Beaufort Hotel' a five star resort hotel about 100 metres from my office were offering memberships to their Gym which included their 25m swimming pool so I purchased a three month membership and Di and I swam there every week day for five years.

    There was never any temptation to go back to meat, coffee and alcohol, we were feeling fantastic and I have dropped down to about 78 kilos. Di had developed many great recipes so life was good. The only negative was that we had developed a habit of eating sweet food, not so much at home but when we went out we could not come home until we went to our favourite café and had tea and whatever sweet sensation was on the menu on the night.

    Our Darwin stint ended in 1997 when my contract came up for renewal and I said to Di I think maybe we should move on. At the time Di had a very successful Art Gallery and Studio in a National Trust House which due to their rules could not be air-conditioned, a real bummer in the Darwin Climate. Although Di's art and art based products were very popular and she had won the 'Telstra Business Owner of the Year' the year before there was no hesitation to leave the heat and move on.

    Both of my Girls who had followed us to Darwin in the early years there had left and gone to the Gold Coast so we thought we would make that our first stop.  We brought a caravan and thought we would do a bit or touring. The vehicle we had at the time was a Ford Raider which turned out was not powerful enough to tow the caravan long distances. So we parked the Van on Melissa's front lawn in Mermaid Beach and stayed for about three months surfing and having a great time until the council decided we were a blight to the neighbourhood so we took the van back to where we bought it and sold it back to them.

    Melissa's place was a hangout for all her friends so we got to know most of them during that three months so when out time was up we decided we would get a small flat close to the water near Mermaid. As it turned out there was a street of small two story town houses near the Oasis Shopping Centre which suited perfectly except for the no dogs rule.

    We lived there for three months before the nosy neighbour two doors down saw us walking Matte late one night and dobbed us in. The agent gave us a week to get rid of the dog. When they inspected there was no sign of the dog, he and all his dog stuff were in the car out the back. Di got a carry bag for him and he was never seen in that complex again although he did bark a couple of times.

    It was in this six month stint when after many requests for Di's vegetarian recipes Di decided that a vegetarian recipe book would solve the problem of writing out recipes on pieces of paper and napkins everywhere we went.  So although we don't count it as such 'The Twenty Minute Vegetarian' was our first book. We self-published it, photocopied and spiral bound it sold for $20 a book. We still have it on disk and may publish it again someday as an e-book

    We moved to Benowa when our lease was up in late 98, Di started up Art Classes and we were cruising. Another year would go bye before I noticed a sign in Mrs Flannery's Health shop promoting live blood testing and what it could reveal about your health. I thought this would be a great way to find out if we were missing any important nutrients as a consequence of out diet and if so what to do about it.

    Little did we know the decision to have a live blood test would change the whole course of our lives.

    Talking about life changing experiences, I'd have to say having a live blood test definitely ticked that box for Di and I we were totally in awe seeing our live blood floating around on the screen.

    The amount of information we gained about out health at that consult was awesome. But to my surprise the news was not all that good although there was some good news.

    I will give you a complete rundown on the outcome of our tests and what you can expect from a live blood test in the next instalment. However, from that day on our diet became vegan, totally plant based, No Wheat, No Dairy, No Sugar, No Packaged Food and only one type of fruit low in sugar.

    Next:  Writing the book a three year journey.


    From Obesity to Longevity

    From Graeme

    I have had to wait a long time to be able to write this story and even now I am only on the brink of longevity. Being one of the first baby boomers I am now in my 70th year. Three score years and ten was the expectation for a long life when I went to school. It is now four score years (80) for men in Australia and an additional four years for woman.

    You would think that with all the lifestyle information we have at our fingertips now that this trend will continue to increase. For a small percentage of us it will but will but for nearly 70% of us who are now overweight or obese there is some bad news.

    The New England Journal of Medicine have estimated that obesity could reduce life expectancy by 3.76 life-years or 5.16 quality-adjusted years. "That's not much" you might say but it is the ten or even twenty years of obesity related ailments (high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes, stress and cancer) that destroy the quality of your life that Di and I have devoted the last 26 years to addressing. It has not been an easy road with many obstacles to overcome and with not a lot of light at the end of the tunnel. But attitudes are changing and I am hoping our story and all the information we have gathered along the way will help you and the choices you make.


    It has been 26years since I gave up cigarettes alcohol and coffee. (at the time I did it all to give up the fags) I didn't really plan to completely give up alcohol and coffee and expected they would creep back into my diet at some stage. Oh! I didn't say I also became a vegetarian at the same time.

    Pretty drastic you might say. Especially for someone who didn't mind a drink and a cigarette or two. I also thought a meal was not a meal if there was not a slab of meat on the plate.

    The story of why this happened is documented in our first book Turn Over a New Leaf so I won't repeat it here.  I knew, from my point of view something had to be done. I was 92 kilos (officially obese for my height) I was 44 years old and fast approaching the age when every male member of my family had died from heart disease. Most of them before the age of 50 and Dad, when he was 57.

    As you would know if you have read Turn Over a New Leaf, Di my partner instigated giving up smoking. When she decided to give up I said I will give you three months if you are still smoke free I will give it up too.  Sounds pretty harsh, but I had been through it before and Di was back on the Cigarettes before the end of the next day so I thought I was pretty safe.

    As part of this process Di also decided to become a vegetarian. I did not think that would last either so I said let's go for it. Di is a fantastic cook so I wasn't thinking I would be eating lettuce leaves and caraway seeds. Plus I thought I would probably lose some weight.

    Di did succeed in giving up the Fags So being a man of my word I gave up too and found not drinking alcohol or coffee made it so much easier, they go together so well.

    I can honestly say this became the turning point in every aspect of my life. Not all at once mind you but now with the benefit of hindsight I am so lucky I didn't resist. It's a fantastic story and I want to share it with you.

    In the following pages of this blog I will tell you my story along with everything I have learned along the way.

    To show you I am not alone in choosing this lifestyle and way of thinking I will bring together on this site stories from experts and fellow travellers from all walks of life from all over the world explaining their reasons for choosing this way of life. I know the mainstream of society completely downplay a plant based lifestyle.

    You may choose to follow the crowd or you could be like me, go with it and see where it takes you. I am pretty certain I would not be here to tell this story if I hadn't.

    My plan is to add to  our story  in this blog each month and include video's and articles from experts around the world that reinforce what we have experienced on this fantastic journey to longevity.

    The next instalment will talk about the journey from vegetarian to vegan and the sorts of weird and wonderful things that you might experience if you decide to take this route. We will post each instalment on our Turnover and New Leaf Site on Face Book and would love to hear your comments and stories.

    When we first started our journey in 1990 although the internet had come to Australia in 1989 no one new how to harness it's potential. It was at least 2000 before google had any momentum in Australia so we felt like we were on our own. The first real scientific and moral boost for us was discovering the book the "China Study" written by Dr T. Colin. Campbell  which, although we discovered it in late 2006 was published a year after we published "Turn Over a New Leaf"  in 2004. This was real proof that we were on the right track. This book provided the science that supports everything we advocate in Turn Over a New Leaf.

    So! to close of my first blog I would like to introduce you to a very interesting documentary based on the work of the pioneers in this field Dr Colin Campbell, Dr Caldwell Esselstyn and Dr John McDougall. The first is called "Forks over Knives" and covers the ground breaking work they have done. Di and I purchased a copy when it first came out a couple of years ago and loved it. It resonates with us because we have experienced all the setbacks and road blocks they have. It provides a great insight into how the self interest of big buisness and big government completely override the interests and welbeing of the citizens they are supposed to serve.Click Here






    Transcript: Which Type of Protein is Better for Our Kidneys?

    Between 1990 and 2010, some of our leading causes of death and disability haven't changed. Heart disease was the leading cause of loss of life and health then and remains the leading cause today. Some things got better, like HIV/AIDS, but others got worse, like chronic kidney disease, a doubling in the tens of thousands of deaths and the hundreds of thousands whose kidneys fail completely, requiring kidney transplants or lifelong dialysis. About one in eight of us now have chronic kidney disease whether we know it or not. And, most of those with kidney disease don't know it-about three-quarters of the millions affected are unaware their kidneys are starting to fail, which is particularly worrisome given that early identification provides an opportunity to slow the progression and alter the course of disease. So, what can we do about it?

    The Western-style diet is a major risk factor for impaired kidney function and chronic kidney disease, also known as the meat-sweet diet, or standard American diet, causing an impairment of kidney blood flow, inflammation, and subsequent leakage of protein in the urine, and a rapid decrease in kidney function. Table sugar and high-fructose corn syrup are associated with increased blood pressure and uric acid levels that can both damage the kidney. The saturated fat, trans fat, and cholesterol found in animal fat and junk food negatively impact kidney function. The consumption of animal fat can actually alter kidney structure. And, animal protein can deliver an acid load to the kidneys, increase ammonia production, and damage the sensitive kidney cells. That's why restricting protein intake is recommended for preventing kidney function decline, though it may be animal protein, in particular, not just protein in general; so, the source of the protein, plant versus animal, may be more important than the amount regarding adverse health consequences.

    Animal protein intake has a profound effect on normal human kidney function, inducing what's called hyperfiltration, increasing the workload of the kidney.

    This may help explain why our kidneys fail so often. Unlimited intake of protein-rich foods, now generally regarded as "normal," may be responsible for dramatic differences in kidney function between modern human beings and their remote predecessors who hunted and scavenged for meat here and there. Sustained, rather than intermittent, excesses of protein require us to call on our kidney reserves continuously, causing a kind of unrelenting stress on our kidneys that can predispose even healthy people to progressive kidney scarring and deterioration of kidney function. On the other hand, administration of an equal quantity of vegetable protein does not appear to have the same effects.

    Eating meat, for example, increases the workload on the kidneys within hours of consumption, but apparently, taking care of plant protein appears to be a cinch. This was done with beef, but any animal protein will do. Eat a meal of tuna fish, and you can see the pressure on the kidneys go up again within just hours, for both non-diabetics with normal kidneys, and diabetics with normal kidneys. If instead of having a tuna salad sandwich, we had a tofu salad sandwich with the same amount of protein, no effect.

    And, same thing happens with eggs and dairy protein, both in people with normal and diseased kidneys.

    Short-term studies have indicated that substituting plant protein, like soy, for animal protein is associated with less hyperfiltration and protein leakage, therefore, slowing deterioration of kidney function. However, the long-term effect had not been adequately studied, until this study was published in 2014. A 6-month double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled trial, soy versus dairy protein, and the consumption of whole soy tended to preserve renal function compared with milk in individuals with lowered renal function. Similar results were reported in diabetics. Even just giving isolated soy protein appeared to make things better, compared to dairy protein which made things worse.

    Once one's kidneys have deteriorated to the point that they're actively losing protein in the urine, a plant-based diet may help turn it off and on, like a light switch. Here's protein leakage on a standard low sodium diet, switched to a supplemented vegan diet, then low sodium, then vegan, then low sodium, then vegan.

    What is going on? Why does animal protein cause that overload reaction, but not plant protein? It appears to be an inflammatory response triggered by the animal protein. We know this because administration of a powerful anti-inflammatory drug abolished the hyperfiltration, protein leakage response to meat ingestion. Here's the typical kidney stress response to a meat meal, but here's with the anti-inflammatory drug, confirming the role of inflammation in the impact of animal protein on our kidneys.

    To see any graphs, charts, graphics, images, and quotes to which Dr. Greger may be referring, watch the above video. This is just an approximation of the audio contributed by Katie Schloer.


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