"The best thing to happened to me in my life is that I became diabetic, because if I wasn't diabetic, I was going to die from one of the 15 American diseases," said BP Eric Adams.
Brooklyn Borough President Eric L. Adams is on a mission to improve the health of Brooklyn. That includes the borough's economic health, social health, mental health, but most importantly, the physical health of its residents. And Adams is leading by example, starting with himself!
In April 2016, during a routine health checkup, Adams learned he had Type 2 diabetes — a lab test showed that his average level of blood glucose was three times that of a normal patient, and the doctor was surprised he had not already lapsed into a coma.
He thought about his mother, who also suffered from high blood pressure and the onset of diabetes, and so he figured his condition was hereditary. Immediately, he began to research every diet plan available to figure out how he could lose the weight quickly.
[perfectpullquote align="full" cite="" link="" color="" class="" size=""]"Disease is not in your DNA; it's in your dinner!"[/perfectpullquote]
He went online, watched videos, read articles, manuals, medical studies. One of the most valuable books he came across during his search was "How Not to Die," by Dr. Michael Greger, M.D.-- a book the borough president says pretty much saved his life.
In that book he learned that the cause of diabetes and most other illnesses was not genetic, nor was the solution rapid weight loss or pharmaceutical drugs. He was learned the solution could be found in... food. Doctors, nutritionists, neuroscientists all agreed that the source of most diseases and also the cure could be found in what we consume.
[perfectpullquote align="left" cite="" link="" color="" class="" size=""]"The best thing to happened to me in my life is that I became diabetic ... because it forced me to wake up!"[/perfectpullquote]
He discovered an entirely new world of plant-based foods that could reverse his diagnosis and an abundance of spices that also had medicinal effects.
"I found out that disease is not in your DNA; it's in your dinner!" he said, laughing. "The body is an amazing machine. The body is crying out give me the food I need you and I'll heal you. Everything our body needs is in plants"
"We are digging our graves with our knives and forks and spoons, and we can turn it all around! If we want to awaken our ability to reconnect to our life purpose, we have to change our diet."
Adams quickly switched to a vegetarian, plant-based diet. He no longer eats anything "with a face or that can poop or pee." By identifying which foods supplied which nutrients to which parts of the body, not only was he able to lose 30 lbs in eight months, he was able to reverse his high glucose numbers to normal levels.
"People ask me, 'Well how are you getting your protein?' And I answer, you can get all the protein you ever need from plants! I mean, look at cows," Adams added. "They're nothing but protein, and what do they eat? Plants!"
"My goal is to show the connection between what we see happening to our children and what we're doing to our bodies daily through the foods we choose."
He's fired up. Now, in his 700-square-foot office are cabinets that hold spices, organic grains and a refrigerator bursting with fresh fruits and vegetables.
He retrofitted a small enclave in the corner with a rack for hanging pots and pans and workout equipment, while next to his desk is a mini stair climber he uses while he works on his computer.
Sugary beverages have been removed from the vending machine and the snack machine offers only bags of baked and/or naturally-sweetened goods, including nuts and dried fruit. Adams also has partnered with the Coalition for Healthy School Food to help introduce and promote plant-based nutrition in the Brooklyn's school cafeterias.
And on top of all of that, he's working on putting together a diet plan for the community: "I'm going to create an entire program where someone like my mother-- whose palate is used to a southern diet of fried chicken and macaroni and cheese-- can follow it. It doesn't have to feel difficult. It shouldn't feel difficult, once it makes complete sense," said Adams.
"The best thing that happened to me in my life is that I became diabetic, because if I wasn't diabetic, I was going to die from one of the 15 American diseases," he said. "So diabetes forced me to wake up. Too many people hit the snooze button when they get a wake up call, instead of getting their butts up!"
On Friday, September 8, at 6:00pm, BP Adams, in partnership with the Brownsville Multi-Service Family Health and Wellness Centers, NYC Health + Hospitals/Kings County and Perelandra Natural Foods, will host a public discussion featuring Dr. Michael Greger, the author of "How Not to Die" and founder of NutritionFacts.org. The talk will be held in the courtroom of Brooklyn Borough Hall.
"This is an incredible opportunity for the residents of our region to hear from one of the leading voices in clinical nutrition, a voice that frankly helped save my life," said Adams. The public discussion will center around how people can take complete control of their health and reverse disease through a plant-based diet."
"It's so empowering to know that I'm not turning my health over to my doctor," said Adams. "This food I'm eating is also the medicine I need to heal myself. Now, I'm going after diabetes and 'kicking diabetes ass.'
And that is an amazing feeling that you cannot imagine."