Making strides in Brooklyn not only through his forward-thinking and inclusive plans for the borough, Borough President Eric Adams has been using his voice for a broader and more personal purpose: making sure the people of Brooklyn know their options when it comes to alternative medicine and overall nutrition.
Diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes and learning that his A1C level – average blood glucose – was at a dangerous level of 17 (three times the normal level), Adams set out to find treatment that was right for him and, in doing so, managed to overhaul his lifestyle completely into a healthy and balanced one.
Taking some time to prepare a lunch of mushrooms, roasted eggplant and butternut squash for himself before sitting down for our interview, it’s safe to say Adams is truly practicing what he preaches:
Q: So, what initially tipped you off that something was wrong with your health?
A: Actually, I was having stomach problems. That led me to a gastroenterologist and when I did a blood reading, the doctor saw that my A1C was at a very dangerous level. They said that I was diabetic. So I went to see [several] different doctors. One of them wanted to put me on insulin immediately and the other two wanted to put me on prescription medicine right away. They said that I could potentially go into a coma.
Q: What was your initial reaction to what the doctors were saying?
A: Well, at the time, I was doing some reading and kept hearing stories of the body healing itself, and so, being privy to that information, instead of just taking what the doctors said, I started doing research.
I started going online and inputting ‘diabetes’ and trying to figure out ‘how do I deal with diabetes in this new mindset that many people have about self-healing?’ And, unlike my doctors that said I would have to take medicine for the rest of my life and I now have to live with diabetes, there was a body of research out there that said that you don’t have to live with diabetes, that you can actually reverse it.
Q: So what was your next move?
A: I went on a mission of trying not to live with diabetes but to reverse the diabetes and that took me to a documentary called “Forks over Knives.” I called up Dr. Esselstyn, based in Cleveland, Ohio, and I said, ‘I saw that you were featured in the documentary. I am diabetic and I would like to come and see you.’ He said to come on down and he put me on the pathway of how to reverse my diabetes. He said ‘just follow what I tell you to do and change your diet and in three months, you will reverse your diabetes.’
Q: And were you able to reverse your diabetes?
A: Now, to fully understand the magnitude of what I did, you have to understand that a dangerous A1C is a level 9 or 10. Mine was 17. And so, in those three months, my A1C went from that level down to a non-diabetic level of 5.7, simply by removing all processed foods and sugar from my diet and eating primarily plant-based food with the occasional fish or protein. After that, I went to see each one of my doctors in New York. The first doctor said, ‘Look, the medicine I gave you was successful. ‘I put the full bottle on their desk and I said, ‘I never took the medicine.’
Q: Would you recommend this nutrition-based approach for everyone battling diabetes?
A: Each person must cater their diet to their needs and take it upon themselves to find out what’s best for their body. What I’ve learned is that there are different types of patients. The first type of patient, when he or she is told they have heart problems or diabetes or lung problems, they walk into the doctor’s office smoking a cigarette, eating a jelly doughnut and say ‘just give me the pill.’ Then you have the second patient, who really wants to do better but is inundated with so much information that they can’t make heads or tails of what needs to be done. Then, there’s a patient like me: give me the instruction and I will carry it out. Our healthcare system only takes patients one and two into account. It doesn’t empower those who are like me and want to do better. But there is a way. We just need to make it more user-friendly and show that you can create a better environment really to combat a disease or sickness. There’s so much more we can do if we start to cater the treatment plan based on the type of patient we have in front of us.
Q: What other advice would you give to people?
A: My advice to people is to, number one, honestly define what type of patient you are. If you’re the type of patient that just wants the pill, then you go to that healthcare professional that gives you the pill. But, if you’re a patient that wants to reverse your illness, then the first thing you need to do is find a doctor that embraces you, a doctor that will help you reverse your illness and not only help you live with your illness.