Surrey, England

After a life of being relatively healthy, or at least feeling so, it was a bit of a shock to have a heart attack just before Christmas. I’m 68 and despite some high cholesterol, an underactive thyroid and the odd flu, I’ve never been prone to sickness or had any issues physically. I’ve always believed everything in moderation but when my wife wasn’t serving me salad or vegetables, I gravitated towards pies, pizzas and pasta. I’ve always had a sweet tooth when it comes to cakes, biscuits and ice creams. But I justified it because I don’t drink alcohol or smoke. I also walk a lot with golf and am on my feet constantly as a teacher.

The heart attack was the wakeup call that I needed to make some changes and focus more on health and less on treats. The day of the heart attack, I woke up not feeling right… not pain as such, but discomfort in my chest. In the shower, I realised something more significant was happening. I’m not exactly one for going to the GP or taking a sick day, but I knew I had to go to the hospital. They transferred me to a specialist hospital in London when they realised I was having a heart attack. They operated on me and put in a stent to clear and widen my blocked artery. 3 days later I was home.

I received exceptional care from the hospital – the nurses were all amazing. There wasn’t much initial information about future prevention provided though. But my research made it clear that I could recover well and reduce future risk if I focused my diet on helping my heart and arteries to thrive. So, my daughter immediately got me an appointment with Annie, the Clinical Director of The Gut Health Clinic. She also ordered me Dr Megan Rossi’s books. She knew I was going to take healthy eating very seriously as I’m an all or nothing guy. But she was worried I would make the wrong assumptions about what was healthy to eat and be too restrictive. This would potentially make myself vulnerable to other deficiencies or issues in the process.

My eating is completely different now. I have particularly picked up on the 30 varieties of plants per week. Every smoothie I make contains a different set of fruits alongside seeds. I have lots of fish and vegetables. I’ve discovered that I really like legumes, all varieties. Because I cook a lot more now, I am much more aware of herbs and spices. I am much more adventurous in my cuisine.

Since I’ve had an appointment with an NHS nutritionist, Michelle, who is aware of The Gut Health Clinic and is an advocate of the practice. She managed 24 plant points last week so I told her about the mixed beans she can buy with 5 varieties in one can. My last check-up showed my heart was working at 50%, which meant it was a significant heart attack and it will take a while to fully recover. Despite this, my energy levels have still improved. Weight loss isn’t the priority, but I have also lost 5kg in less than 6 weeks despite not being hungry. I feel much lighter on my feet, and I feel this is good for my heart. Processed food is no longer on my mind and the cravings have stopped. I am developing a new respect for what can be created using healthy ingredients. My confidence about what I am putting into body is continuing to increase.

I genuinely feel that I can reverse the process of deterioration within my body if I accept that this is a long-term strategy and continue with the process that I have started. I look forward to recommencing my old life with renewed vigour and motivation. Life is good and worth preserving.

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