Healing your Body & Soul

This is my own personal advice from my experiences over the past 7 years. I’m not medically qualified but professionals have told me to continue with what I’m doing to help with my overall health. Always seek professional advice when making any changes to your diet or lifestyle.

Getting Sober

The single most important thing when dealing with alcoholism is to seek professional help. If you’re alcohol dependent and suddenly stop drinking you can suffer from fatal fits. I was surprised when my doctor told me to reduce my drinking and not to stop all at once. There were a few days I suffered terrible shakes and couldn’t function until I’d had a drink. To someone who’s not been in that position it will sound odd but a drink would make me feel normal. Without it I literally couldn’t face the day ahead, physically or mentally.

Every day for years after drinking excessively the night before I would swear to myself (and believe it) that I’d not drink again. I went to an AA meeting when I was around 24 as I knew my drinking had got out of hand (a bottle of wine 5 nights a week). I also had hypnotherapy twice, read books about alcohol, did meditations and  several acupuncture sessions. Although I believe all of these things had an positive impact it wasn’t until I finally admitted I had a problem and could NEVER drink again that I could start getting better. The biggest lies we tell are the ones we tell ourselves. For over ten years I told myself I didn’t have a problem and I’d be okay in the end.

I’m often asked how I stopped drinking, thinking I have some magical adviseunfortunately I don’t.  I didn’t stop drinking until it was impossible due to vomiting blood. If I hadn’t vomited blood I would have carried on. But, when I had time to reflect in hospital I knew taking control of my life was the starting point.

I hope my advice can help stop you getting anywhere near to the point I got too.

The biggest lies we tell are the ones we tell ourselves

When I was admitted to hospital (12th Aug 2012) after drinking every day for over 2 years I was vegetarian (no meat) and had been since I was 11. My diet had nothing to do with my health. I was told my body was shutting down. I had hepatitis, cirrhosis, two blood transfusions, 7 burst veins in my throat, kidney damage, pneumonia, dehydration, malnutrition, gout, damaged spleen and gallbladder. I’d gone yellow with jaundice and I looked pregnant as my stomach and liver were so swollen. I’d lost use of my legs due to blood flow being restricted due to my organs not functioning properly.  I’d given up all hope. But, with medical help my health began to improve after a few days. At this point my body was so damaged any nutrition I could get was life saving. Although advised not too I started taking milk thistle supplements. I made sure I drank lots of water, no fizzy drinks, squash or diet drinks. I did have tea and coffee and juice occasionally. I had to have meal replacement shakes to get nutrients into my body. I couldn’t eat yet due to my throat healing.
 
Admittedly my health improved slowly over 3+ years on a bad vegetarian diet but it wasn’t until I went vegan things really improved. After watching Fat, Sick & Nearly Dead and Forks Over Knives in 2016 I was so impressed at seeing how eating a plant based diet could dramatically improve your health. Although very skeptical at adopting this diet I couldn’t ignore the facts. Sick of feeling tired, low self esteem, overweight and taking several medications I decided in February 2016 to try it just for a couple of weeks to see if all the hype was true.
 
I cut out dairy and eggs and ate nothing but a plant based diet for two weeks. At first due to lack of knowledge I ate a very basic diet of things like rice, pasta, tomato sauces, quinoa, tofu, fruits and vegetables. After a couple of weeks I found I felt better inside and also a vegan diet was easier than I thought. There was no turning back. A couple of months into the diet I was making cheesecakes, burgers, pizzas, omelettes and all the things I enjoyed but healthy plant based versions. Not only was I enjoying the diet but discovered that making my own meals with more natural ingredients had a huge impact on my health and well being. Gone were processed ready meals, white bread, pasta and white rice. I limited refined sugars and swapped them for more natural sweeteners like coconut sugar, agave nectar, date nectar and maple syrup. Instead of white foods I swapped to wholegrain breads, pastas, brown rice and used wholemeal flour in my recipes. Good fats like avocado, extra virgin olive, coconut, macadamia oils are the oils I use now (in moderation). Snacks like high percentage cocoa/cacao dark chocolate, unroasted/unsalted nuts and dried fruits. No fizzy drinks, squash or concentrated fruit juices. Instead lots of filtered water, black tea, green tea, herbal teas, unsweetened soya, oat or almond milk with my cereals and filtered coffee. Coffee has not only been shown to prevent cirrhosis and protect the liver but also has anti cancer properties.  For breakfast I’ll have oats and wholegrain (sugar free) cereals. 
Feb 2013
Jan 2020
28th December 2015 - 30th September 2016
Top Ten Things For Liver Health
 
1. Water – preferably filtered, not fizzy or flavored.
 
2. Coffee – filter coffee is best 1-4 cups a day. I have mine with unsweetened soya or Oatly barista milk.
 
3. Milk thistle – this supplement is said not only to promote healthy new liver cells but also helps remove toxins from the body.
 
4. Turmeric – I use turmeric root in my smoothies, powder in my curry’s and make turmeric lattes. Turmeric is anti-inflammatory and has been show to protect the body from cancer cells.
 
5. Ginger – Again, I use the fresh root in smoothies and Asian meals. I add the powder to my homemade pancakes and waffles.
 
6. Black pepper – It’s great for gut health and I use it in almost every savory meal.
 
7. Fresh & Dried Fruit – Every day I have a mix of berries including blueberries, blackberries, strawberries and raspberries. Cherries are great for the liver and I have an apple a day. More recently I’ve been having dried fruits like goji berries, dates, prunes, sultanas and figs. Try to pick one’s that are organic or don’t contain preservatives or added sugars.
 
8. Vegetables – There’s thousands to choose from and I try to mix it up so I get a variety into my diet. However If I had to pick some that I have all the time it would be carrots, sweet potato, kale, peas, broccoli, cauliflower, tomatoes (I know this is technically a fruit), leafy greens, avocado, garlic, onions and beetroot. To be honest I don’t think there’s a fruit or vegetable I wouldn’t recommend.
 
9. Spirulina – This is a superfood supplement that’s packed with protein and has amazing benefits for your liver and general health.
 
10. Good bacteria – When you adopt a plant based diet your gut health will naturally improve. Eating and drinking things like no added sugar yogurts, kombucha and supplements can help you in the right direction.
Top Ten Things I Avoid
(As a vegan I naturally avoid all meat, eggs and dairy products)
 
1. Alcohol
 
2. Fizzy sugary drinks – Including diet drinks. These are not healthy and contain chemicals. I do however occasionally have carbonated fruit drinks (no added sugar) and kombucha.
 
3. Refined flours, fats and sugars. I avoid as much as I can white pasta, bread and foods made with white flour. Added sugar is in so many things but I buy low or no added sugar cereals, drinks and products.
 
4. Artificial sweeteners – I think some are better than others but I don’t have them in my diet. Don’t be fooled into thinking a no added sugar product is healthy when its full of artificial sweeteners.
 
5. Salt/Sodium – Another ingredient added to almost everything. Salt puts stress on the liver so best to avoid it (as much as you can). I do use pink/sea salt in my meals as these are unprocessed and contain some nutritional benefits.
 
6. Processed Snacks – By snacks I mean crisps, biscuits, bars and roasted nuts. Go for baked low sugar/fat crisps, raw unsalted nuts, natural cereal and pressed fruit bars.
 
7. Smoking/vaping – Although I’ve never smoked I feel I have to mention this terrible habit. I’ve seen family suffer with lung cancer and it’s a horrible addiction. Many people who stop drinking swap for smoking and although it’s better than drinking it’s still terrible for your health. If your liver is damaged and you smoke it has to work extra hard to process the toxins smoking puts into your body. 
 
8. Drugs – This is legal and illegal drugs. Obviously illegal drugs are not good for many reasons. You are more likely to relapse if you take drugs. Be careful of things like medications. I avoid all medicines (as much as I can) as pain killers, sleeping pills can put extra stress on your liver. Check with your doctor before you take any medications.
 
9. Chemicals – Since my liver got damaged I find the smell of things like paint, cleaning products, perfumes, etc give me headaches. Breathing in chemicals have to be processed by your liver. Sometimes unavoidable but I wear a small amount of aftershave, use water based paints and cleaning products that contain more natural ingredients or use unscented.
 
10. Stress – physical and mental stress effects many parts of our bodies. Not only does extra stress release chemicals into the body it can lead to depression and anxiety. These can lead to a relapse. Life is stressful at times but try to avoid stressful situations. 

Life can be overwhelming, don’t worry about tomorrow or things that might not happen. Live your life each day at a time and focus on now.

  • AaronCalder

Fibroscan Results

2014 75 kPa – vegetarian

2015 75 kPa – vegetarian

2018 39 kPa – vegan

2019 30 kPa – vegan

Moving Forward & Don't Look Back

I’m very lucky as I don’t attend meetings or support groups. I did however attend a rehab centre for two weeks after I came out of hospital and had counselling for over a year once a week. There is alcohol in the house (for guests) and there’s no temptation or risk of me touching it. To begin with my family removed all the alcohol from my home. But, everyone is different. A support group might work for you and if you are tempted by alcohol do not have it in your home and avoid situations where you think you might drink. It took me a few months until I reprogrammed my brain to hate something I once found pleasure in.

 

I now spend my time focusing on things I enjoy like cooking, photography, blogging, spending time with family and caring for my pets. Learn to love yourself and use your time to do things that you find rewarding.

 

Although I still have chronic cirrhosis and have to have check ups a few times a year by keeping my body and mind healthy impoves the quality of my life and the chances of long term survival.

 

7 years ago I was at rock bottom, certain I couldn’t get better and my life was over. Fast forward to today I’ve not only proved medical professionals wrong but also myself. Never give up hope!

 

I wish you the very best of luck with your journey – Aaron Calder

29th January 2020

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