Updated: Jul 8
I was always into competitive sports. I played baseball, soccer and pretty much any sport I had access to while growing up. In high school, I focused mainly on badminton and basketball. In university, all my time went into books, and sports took a backseat to my medical training. Although I didn’t play competitively, I still played in a recreational basketball league and went to the gym 4-5 times a week.
In 2008, my first medical emergency happened. During a basketball match, my eyes began to swell. Hives covered my body. It felt like an acute asthma attack. I went home, took antihistamines, puffers and any meds I had that could help. That night was scary. Being a newly graduated physician, I played it cool in front of my then girlfriend Melissa. The episode lasted 3 days. I shrugged it off. Could it have been something I ate, I touched…
Fastforward 2 years, again during a basketball match, it happens again. But this time is violent. Chest pains, shortness of breath, full body hives and eyes so swollen my glasses won‘t fit on my face. I’m hospitalized for this one. 3 doctors later, I’m diagnosed with CHOLINERGIC URTICARIA AND ANGIOEDEMA. Sounds complicated right. But basically, I’m allergic to my own sweat. Rapid increase in body temperature, like what happens during strenuous activities, causes mast cells to release histamine, in much the same way as someone who is allergic to peanuts.
This was devastating for an athlete. At this point, I have hives daily. I still workout daily, but I’m taking a plethora of medication to cope with the symptoms. I was still a heavy meat eater at the time, consuming dairy daily, and never thinking that my health issues could be related to my nutrition. And so I never changed anything in my nutrition, not until….
In 2012, my first daughter, Zara, was born. She was beautiful. My wife wanted to breastfeed, and so with fissures and bloody nipples, she persevered and stuck with it. Within a few weeks, Zara started showing signs of discomfort. She would cry while feeding and shortly after, she started having severe diaper rashes and blood in her diapers. We quickly came to the conclusion that she was allergic to cow's milk. After confirming the diagnosis, my wife Melissa stopped consuming all dairy products in hopes of pursuing breastfeeding.
As I was already plagued with atopic dermatitis (eczema), asthma and being allergic to my own sweat (remember that cholinergic urticaria thing?), I started to think their was an underlying genetic component to my poor daughter‘s ailments. Then Zara has her first asthma attack. It scared the crap out of us. We rushed her to the hospital where her attack was managed. At this point, I’m thinking about how guilty I feel giving them these genes of mine. Asthma, eczema, milk allergies, rashes, urticaria…there must be something I can do instead of bombarding my daughter with meds.
Then Kassi is born in 2014. She also has the same issues as her sister. I’m still taking meds daily. Both my daughters have skin rashes and we’re constantly worried the average runny nose will deteriorate into an asthma attack. Then during a workout, my last hive happened. I got so frustrated that I rapidly focused my energy on scouring the medical literature for any information that could help my family. The next few months were life changing. All my research seemed to point toward lifestyle changes, the whole food plant based diet to be specific. I then discovered the link between our microbiome (the healthy bugs that live inside our gut) and allergic diseases. I read about the impact of animal products, specifically dairy, and how foods could heal. I spent the next 18 months carefully and slowly transitioning towards a more plantbased diet. It wasn’t a seamless process, there were hurdles, set backs and relapses, but the science was too clear for me to ignore. During the writing of this blog post, Zara is 8, Kassi is 6, and I’m turning 40 in 2 weeks. I’ve been fully 100% plantbased for over 5 years, eating minimally processed and organic food whenever possible. I haven’t had a hive since, not a single spot. Eczema creams? Gone. Puffers? Gone. All my health issues? Completely gone. My mental health is probably where I saw the most benefits. Clearer thoughts, better concentration, better sleep. My recovery after workouts went up tenfold. I felt so much stronger, I took up rock climbing, a sport that intimidated me for years. That led to calisthenics, and that led to obstacle course training, also known as Ninja Warrior, just like the hit show on NBC, American Ninja Warrior.
I’ve been thriving on a plantbased diet. I’ve been at a body fat percentage of sub 10% since almost 2016, and have put on close to 10 pounds of muscle mass. My medical conditions have all disappeared. My daughters’ medical issues too. And although our stories are all anecdotal, our experiences are all backed by scientific literature. That’s why I’ve become so passionate about spreading the word about the benefits of a plantbased diet and lifestyle.
My mission is to educate, motivate and guide you through the transitioning process. It can seem difficult at times, but remember that the goal is to make small swaps and small steps in the right direction. Focus more on what you’re adding to your diet and less on what you’re removing. And most importantly, remember that the scientific literature backs up all the benefits you’ll see.
Living a plantbased lifestyle isn’t a trend, it’s an evidence based way of adding years to your life and life to your years. The WHO has also put forth a statement saying a well planned plantbased diet is appropriate for all stages of life, including babies, the elderly, pregnant and lactating women, and everyone in between!
Check out my website plantbaseddrjules.com and look for the “How To” section in the menu. There, you’ll find tips and tricks that helped me on my journey towards a plant-predominant diet. Everything there is completely free, no catches!
Look for me on the socials, @plantbased_dr_jules on Instagram and go like my Facebook Page, Plant-based Dr. Jules. If you’re looking for some fitness motivation and are curious to see what a plant-based athlete can accomplish, follow me, @maritimeninja, on my fitness account on Instagram or check out my fitness group on Facebook, called Maritime Ninja Warrior. I'm a two-time world championship qualified athlete and you can follow my fitness journey there! You can even access the resources section by becoming a member. It's free and there, you can download free resources like my plant-based recipe eBook!
You also check out my YouTube channel here for more tips and tricks on how to embark on a plant-based journey!
Peace, love and plants!