Sherra Aguirre

Author of Roots: Living a Healthy, Joyful, Vegan Life

Eat Your Way to a Healthy Heart!

Dec 06, 2018 by Sherra Aguirre, in Food and Health
Like most of us I used to take what I ate pretty much for granted.  I felt I was doing okay as long as I had one “decent” meal a day – starting with meat, a green vegetable, a starch or carbohydrate, and high on my priority list, a dessert. I thought that the rest of the time I could pretty much eat what I liked.  I was in my 30’s and 40’s, and thought I was pretty healthy overall.  Yes, most days I would try to eat a couple of things from each of the basic food groups – remember from 6th grade – fruit, vegetable, meat and a starch.  However I never thought much about the quality of that food, its nutritional content, safety, or in the case of meat, where it came from or how the farm animals were raised and treated. 

As I reached my mid to late 40’s, that all began to change, even with limiting meat, eliminating fried foods and moving to a more vegetarian diet.  My blood pressure crept up year by year until I had to go on medication to control it.  That was a wake up call and a gut punch as well because I thought I was doing the right things, including an active lifestyle.  I knew medication wasn’t the answer for me.  I had seen too many friends and family, some younger, experience hypertension, heart attack, stroke or cope with the many side effects of blood thinners, hypertension meds and more.  I had to find a better way to stay healthy. 

I tried varead everything I could and various supplements, herbs, teas, oils etc., which helped but I still could not get my blood pressure to consistently healthy levels.  Then I had the good luck to get referred to a cardiologist who also happened to be a vegan.  I remember sitting in the exam room after tests had been run and hearing him say that I could either go back on meds or I could further change what and how I ate.  I remember saying “no way” to myself when he said that if I wanted to REVERSE my hypertension and other symptoms I would have to give up fish, dairy and ALL animal products.  He added that I would need to detox first, and then recommended a raw vegan diet until I was symptom free.  This was necessary he said to give my body a clean start along with the support and nutrition it needed to heal itself.  The one ray of encouragement was that once I was symptom free I could slowly add back some cooked foods, nuts, but not animal products.  I began to find a whole new world of great whole plant based recipes that helped me realize I didn’t have to give up delicious food.

I now know that eating animal foods promotes inflammation, which through something called metabolic syndrome (link), is an underlying cause not only of heart disease, but also diabetes and cancer along with conditions like common arthritis.  I followed his offer of a chance to cure my condition, rather than control symptoms without eliminating the cause.  Over time I became symptom free with test results showing normal heart function and blood pressure.  Rather than negative side effects, the food change improved my energy, digestion and even eliminated aches and pains from osteoarthritis!  

I have a feeling of overwhelming gratitude for having a naturally healthy heart again.  A wonderful though unexpected bonus from my whole plant vegan diet has been rediscovering the enjoyment of simple, life giving real food and real flavor. Along with that came a new appreciation of the Earth’s love for us as shown by how abundantly it provides everything we need to be healthy and thrive.  I want to share this journey, and how you too can achieve and maintain a healthy heart, healthy family and a healthy, vibrant life!