A Well-Aged Vegan: Eating for Heart, Brain, and Gut Health

Rumor has it that I am getting older. The fact that my oldest “child” is going to be 30 in less than six months suggests that this might be true, but I am not sure I believe it. However, the medical establishment assures me that it is true.

That being the case, I am having to make some dietary adjustments to attempt to deal with medical issues that apparently come with age. I’m not going to bore you, or me, with a list of the medical nonsense that I have been dealing with.

But, I will share some info about some of the quality choices you might make, and that I am making, for vegan gut health and heart/brain health.

For Gut Health and Beyond

Really, this applies to everyone, not just vegans. But, if you are vegan and aren’t really doing much for your biotic wellbeing, now is a good time to start. And, as you get older, this gets even more important, as hormonal changes can create biome issues beyond the gut, #ifyouknowwhatImean.

So, what to do? Decrease your sugar intake and your processed food intake, take a probiotic, and then incorporate some or all of the following regularly into your diet:

  • Organic, unfiltered apple cider vinegar
  • Sauerkraut (look for good sauerkraut, not the kind that comes in a can)
  • Kimchi
  • Kefir (obviously, look for vegan kefir; it does exist)
  • Kombucha
  • Pickles (again, the less processed the better)
  • Yogurt (unsweetened; you can even make your own)
  • Tempeh

The doc who I worked with on this advised me to work these foods into my diet like it’s my job!

For Heart and Brain Health

It’s much easier to get omega 6 in your diet than omega 3, and research suggests that you want to keep the right ratio (ideally not more than 2x as much omega 6 than omega 3) and that supplements don’t work well for the omegas.

Reducing your processed foods (see above) will also help decrease your extra omega 6. So will cooking with oils lower in omega 6 (like avocado oil, olive oil, or even coconut oil). After that, the key is to add more omega 3. You can do that by adding the following to your diet:

  • Chia seeds
  • Ground linseed
  • Hemp seeds or oil
  • Ground flax seeds or oil
  • Walnuts
  • Sea vegetables
  • Purslane
  • Cauliflower and brussel sprouts

You don’t have to get all crazy with it, as limited amounts make a difference.

So, I’m trying to work some of the foods from the first list into every meal, and get a good amount serving or two from the second list a day. My recent strategy has been to have: for brunch, overnight oats with walnuts, chia seeds, and soy yogurt; and then for dinner, another food from the good bacteria list.

What are your strategies for these pieces of healthy vegan eating?

Farewell, Tom Petty – And the Loss of a Self

Some readers of this site know well that I am a big fan of Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers. By big fan, I mean that I have traveled halfway across the country for a concert; I have seen them from the front row several times; I have seen them up to 6 times on the same tour; and I have been to over 30 shows.

You might wonder why. The music speaks to me, and always has. It’s the music of regular people, getting through a regular life, with regular troubles, sung by a man who seemed like a regular guy. And TPATH, in concert, has this amazingly obvious love for the music, the fans, and each other. It’s joyful, even when the song is sad.

On top of that, they are such incredible musicians. If you have never really listened to them, you should. Tom Petty vocals; a Mike Campbell guitar solo; Benmont Tench ripping it up on the piano; Steve Ferrone pounding out a fierce beat; Ron Blair cool as a cucumber while holding it down; and Scott Thurston doing all the things.

So, the loss of Tom Petty this week feels like a punch in the gut. It feels unreal and awful. It feels unfair. I try to take a Buddhist perspective on death, but there is no denying the pain of people left behind. I feel so very sad for his family, his friends, his bandmates and their families.

On Tuesday, I realized that I also felt a sense of loss of a part of myself. I’ve been the “lady in red” and then the “bald lady in red” at Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers shows for almost two decades now. I’ve had discussions with the crew, gotten drumsticks and picks from the band, and had playlists handed to me. Various members of the Heartbreakers have acknowledged my presence at shows in ways that were kind and funny. And there are other fans who would come up to me and say “hey, aren’t you Yersobad?” (another name in the cyber world). And now, that is gone.

I don’t think I am alone in having my love for a band be part of who I am. When the work of musicians really speaks to us, and gives us access to something inside that feels powerful, and particularly when a musician or group is able to do that consistently, our understanding of self as a fan or a lover of that band becomes a piece of who we are.

I know that I will never follow another band in the way that I followed TPATH (literally and theoretically). I won’t invest time and money and my identity in another band in the same way. A door has been closed and a chapter of my life has ended. I knew it would eventually, but I wasn’t quite ready yet.

But, I am grateful for the music. I’m grateful for the shows. I know that I’m lucky to have seen them so many times and from so close. I’m glad to have been the bald lady in the red dress. But, I’ll miss that me, I’ll miss them, and I’ll miss Tom