From Gout to Vegan

I should start with a short introduction about me and my life. First of all I was encouraged to write this piece by my cousin!

Ever since I was very young I was a very sickly child. I was constantly on antibiotics, which ultimately led to a very weak immune system. Every time there was snow I was immediately sick for a week or two.

At some point in my early twenties I decided to not take antibiotics any more and cut down medication as a whole. I tried to threat my illnesses with natural remedies. Have you noticed how quick doctors are to prescribe you antibiotics even for a flue?

What happened was that I noticed in a year or so that I would get sick less. Of course, when I would get sick it would typically last longer and take more to recover when compared to taking medicine, but I noticed that my immune system was better and I wasn’t getting sick that easy.

This is where the story gets interesting. Around 22, my last year in university, I made my first steps in investing in financial markets. Financial markets have been a passion of mine since I have been in my late teens. My first investments were huge success, I caught big moves earning me several hundred of percentage returns on my investments in shares like Apple and Google. However, I felt like the return took way too long. I held the shares for over a year to get that return. Thus, I started investing into small caps. With the luck of the beginner I bought shares in a company called Sareum that was into cancer research, I made some ridiculous 1000% return in a week. The success got way over my head honestly, I turned 1500 quid into 15000 quid. I ended up loosing around 7000 quid of that money over the next two weeks. With the remaining 8000 quid I decided to use 2000 to spend on myself and my girlfriend at that time.

The remaining 6000 quid I used to get started into something I was passionate about trading foreign exchange! This is where the real story begins.

The more I was getting into the FX market the more addicted I was to it. I had great failures the first year, but at some point in my second year I stopped loosing money and started making some. When I was 24 I started a company with a friend of mine that was focused on FX trading.

It turned out to be a pretty difficult endeavour. At first we were barely making ends meet. However, in the late 2013 we had a breakthrough. We started managing some money and things turned around. In the middle of 2014 we were earning monthly what most people don’t make in a year in Bulgaria. During this period we had great successes and even greater failures. However, even if the nature of our business didn’t have any consistency in terms of profitability, there was one thing that was consistent. Stress. A lot of stress. 

During that period my health was deteriorating. I was drinking a lot, smoking a lot. I was losing and gaining a lot of weight in short periods of time. At some point I was even straight out obese. My heart rate was 155/100 in the morning on a good day. I was suffering from severe sleep deprivation working from 10 AM to 3-4 AM, sleeping 5-6 hours maximum a day during work days. I was completely devoid of energy and was probably straight out depressed at some point, waking up without much enthusiasm for the day.

In the start of 2015 we suffered great defeat by financial markets. The Swiss National Bank decided to remove its peg against the EUR and we literally saw how our business got demolished in a brief period of 15 minutes.  Worst of all, we let our clients down. Big time. This was a huge blow for both of us, both mentally and financially.

From that point forward my health got even worse. My mental shape could be summarized as “no will to live”. With the help of family and friends I was able to stand up on my feet and move forward despite the difficulty, however, health-wise things weren’t going well for me. I was getting constant nose bleeds, constantly my heart rate was around 160-180 to 100.

Then came the big shocker. In the end of September after the bachelors party I had made for my cousin as his best man I felt excruciating pain in my right foot in the toe area. For two days I could barely walk. I mean barely. It took immense effort for me to get to the doctors. After thorough check I was diagnosed with gout at the age of 27.

This struck me really big time. All of sudden I realized at 27 my body was failing me big time. I had heart rate of a 60 year old heavy smoker that happens to be an alcoholic as well and I had gout. The affliction of kings. Turns out gout is hardly an affliction reserved only for kings nowadays. It has become the primary cause for invalidization in many countries.

However, this struck me as somewhat awkward. Despite the fact I never really had a good diet nor did I exercise enough I always thought that I ate really good food. I didn’t really eat junk. I ate at the good places, got the good food from the supermarkets. Sure, I drank a lot but I mean come on I am 27.

This is when I decided to take my health seriously. First thing was first, I went to check my heart. I mean noone has died from gout.

The doctor checked me thoroughly. At that point I had lost some weight and I certainly wasn’t obese but I was definitely overweight. The doctor said, son, your problem isn’t your weight or your smoking, your problem is drinking, salt and meat. He prescribed me medicine to drink every day for several months and see if my heart rate stabilizes at and under 130 upper boundary. Now going back to my initial start of the story, you know I have reservations against medicine unless 100% necessary. So I asked him, doctor, can I go without medication if I make lifestyle changes. His answer was a resounding “Yes you can, but if I tell you what you have to do you won’t do it, so just take your damn meds”. Keep in mind this doctor is one of the best heart specialist around. I found his answer somewhat weird. It made me think that doctors must have really given up on patients making important lifestyle changes to the better way and are just fixated on treating the symptom and not the cause of the problem.

I let it pass and started checking different doctors for my gout. This might come to as a surprise, but none of the doctors at all advertised changing my lifestyle seriously. They all bounced around taking my medications for my gout and cutting down eating meat to once a day. I wasn’t going to take it. We have family friends of ours with gout and we were well advised that the gout drugs have bad side-effects. So on my next consultation with the doctor (the one I decided seemed to be most decent) I straight out told him look I am not going to take any medications tell me what to do.

His answer was, well that is good to hear but it is very difficult almost impossible to do. For starters your really should go vegetarian for at least a month or two so you can stabilize your uric acid and you really shouldn’t drink ANY ALCOHOL at all. 

Now that was scary. No beer…I mean beer is like water for me, or rather used to be. However, I was determined to NOT take medicine. I went full vegetarian. I had a mild melt down on my 3rd/4th day without meat but with the support of my family I got through it. After my 7th day as a vegetarian I really didn’t care at all if I eat or don’t eat meat.

Two months later being a full vegetarian  I started noticing some drastic changes in my body. First of all without any heart medication my heart rate became 130-140 upper boundary on its own. I lost a lot of weight and it was predominantly  excess fat, I haven’t noticed any change in my muscles. I was waking up easier, with enthusiasm, I was honestly generally happier and felt a lot healthier I MEAN A LOT. I was bursting with energy. So I started researching a bit wondering if I am going crazy and if I am not how come I have never heard of the benefits of vegetarianism. I mean proteins right?

A close family member of mine, a cousin as well (happens to be the younger sister of the before mentioned cousin) is a vegan for several years, so I started talking with her. She gave me a couple of movies to watch : Forks over Knives, Cowspiracy and some more. I watched the movies and I was mind blown. I mean…I knew about the cruelty going on in farms, but I had no idea on the pollution it causes or that the industry is the major consumer of our water. Nor did I know that we can get all of our nutritions on a plant-based diet (Vitamin B12 excluded). I also had no idea that diary is bad for us. I have been led to believe all my life that we need to drink milk for the calcium not that it is primary cause for osteoporosis…and honestly many more.

By the way, I should mention as I journeyed into vegetarianism I slowly started craving LESS and LESS animal products. I felt like eating less eggs, less cheese. I don’t know why, but the foods just seemed way to heavy for my newly acquired mostly plant-based diet taste.

After watching the movies I made a decision to go vegan. I originally didn’t want to go vegan because I read beans are to be avoided if you have goat, which is why I used eggs and cheese to substitute my protein intake. Turns out it is just another miss conception. Vegetables with high purines have NO EFFECT on gout as it turns out based on a new study conducted in the US in 2014.

Suddenly it hit me…It was all starting to line up…all these animal products full of shit, pardon the language, was one of the main, if not the main, reason not only for my gout but for my heart issues. I slowly started to realise that maybe after all we humans really aren’t intended to eat meat on a regular basis. It is more of a last resort food to get all of our nutritions when we need to survive. Keep in mind that eating meat in third world countries is a must and I firmly stand by that.

Then it got me thinking about my experiences with my doctors. They both knew that the way I would deal with my issues was to make a huge lifestyle difference and move to a plant based diet but they didn’t advertise it. They advertised taking the medicine and continuing the way I did. I honestly don’t blame them. It seems to me like they have given up and just want to make sure people don’t die. It makes sense. However, not telling people the truth because it is inconvenient to hear is worse than lying.  I believe more and more awareness needs to be shed on this subject.

I am fairly new to veganism, and to be fair I don’t really qualify as a vegan as I still smoke (planning to quit soon!) and I still wear some animal products. However, this is also the reason why I believe this whole thing isn’t so popular.

Vegetarians and vegans appear like madman to  normal people. Just the same way doctors didn’t want to tell me what I should do to go without medication as they would expect me to tell them to “go fuck themselves”. People are picky about their addictions and meat is one of our addictions. Honestly, animal products are.

If veganism and vegetarianism is to strive people in that community need to become somewhat more open minded. Don’t expect everyone to go into extremes like you, it is unhealthy for the movement and for the animals as it makes you look like a cult. If people cut their meat consumption by 50-60% and their animal products by 50-60% that is a huge improvement. And here is what I bet will happen, as people start to feel the benefits on their health by doing so they will more often than not go vegan on their own! However, being a PREACHY CUNT isn’t the appropriate way around this.

I have been pretty much on a 100% vegan diet now for several weeks (if I exclude a small block of feta cheese I had on Christmas with my salad), soon a month. I feel better than ever and honestly my decision to go on a vegan diet seemed very natural to me. I have so much energy in me that on top of my 2-3 times a week of tennis I have started doing gym twice a week too. I can now wake up without coffee. I have energy through the whole day and best of all I can drink beer without getting a gout attack, at least so far :-).

These were my five cents and I will keep you posted on the subject.

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