Henry Hageman

IN HIS OWN WORDS

I grew up near a large dairy farm, and I drank more milk than water. My mom was a heavy smoker. Looking back, it’s not surprising that my health issues started almost from birth. I had raging eczema until I was two, which was replaced with horrific asthma.

My asthma worsened, and eventually I developed allergies and chronic staph infections. In spite of taking lots of drugs for these conditions, I routinely missed school for as long as two weeks at a time.

Every year in March as Spring approached, my allergies would get worse. I had to carry at least one box of Kleenex with me everywhere I went. Shortly after the first frost, the asthma would return, and I’d start to get colds regularly, all of which would almost immediately go into my chest.

As if all of that was not enough, as an adult I suffered from low blood sugar, which would cause my energy levels to drop rapidly. My solution for that was to go to the nearest fast food restaurant and eat lots of food – sometimes three sandwiches or three orders of French fries at a time. I ate my way into a real weight problem. I was able to keep going mainly because of coffee – my habit peaked at 17 cups per day.

It’s almost amazing to me but the person who inspired me to change my diet was an oncologist. My dad had heart disease, my mother was recovering from a stroke and my father-in-law was diagnosed with bone cancer. His oncologist told my wife and me that it was too late for my father-in-law, but that we could both escape our family history by changing our diets and eating more fruits and vegetables. He pointed out research that showed that populations that ate the most produce had the lowest rates of chronic disease.

We immediately changed our ways, bought a juicer, and things started getting better. We were inspired to do more, and eventually converted to a plant-based diet, giving up dairy foods and meat. It was like a lightning bolt when I started eating real whole foods! The allergies were so much better, I wasn’t tired. I stopped taking my blood pressure medication, and lost 70 pounds. Eventually I did not need an inhaler anymore.

I always loved running, but there were some days when I was so congested that I just could not do it. On better days, I’d try to run and took my inhaler with me, but I often could not finish my run. Today I can run whenever I like, and I’ve completed two marathons.

I feel great, look great, and love life on this plant-based diet. I know my wife and I have reduced the risk of the diseases that plagued our parents, and can look forward to a longer and better life.