Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams and Ashley James
- How to reverse type 2 diabetes
- Importance of knowing the body well
- Recommended resources when starting a whole food plant-based diet
Some people have illnesses that they don’t know about until it has progressed to the late stages. In this episode, Eric Adams shares his story of how he got diagnosed with advanced stage type 2 diabetes and how his diabetes went in remission by changing his diet and lifestyle. His inspiring story shows that we can still turn our life around by making healthy choices.
Hello, true health seeker and welcome to another exciting episode of the Learn True Health podcast. You’re going to love today’s interview. Please share it with all of your friends and family members who have diabetes—type 2 diabetes, prediabetes, or they’re worried about getting diabetes or their blood sugar. This is going to definitely help them.
If you’re looking to learn how to cook and eat the way that this man did to reverse his diabetes and heal all of his health issues, please go to learntruehealth.com/homekitchen. That’s learntruehealth.com/homekitchen. My dear friend Naomi and I have created a wonderful course. We teach you how to cook whole food plant-based so the whole family will enjoy these dishes, and that you can use your kitchen, use your fridge, use your stove, and use the food that you eat every day to heal your body. Go to learntruehealth.com/homekitchen.
Please also join our Facebook group. We have a wonderful Facebook community. You can go to learntruehealth.com/group or just search Learn True Health on Facebook. Come join our very supportive and wonderful Facebook community.
If you’re looking for supplements, especially our wonderful mineral supplements, please go to takeyoursupplements.com. Fill out the form and a health coach, who has been trained by Naturopathic physicians, will reach out to you and help you get on the right supplements for you, especially the mineral supplements, which are so amazing for helping to restore the body especially when we’ve had problems with blood sugar issues. These supplements helped me along with a diet of very healthy foods, helped me to reverse my type-2 diabetes several years ago, and led me down the path of wanting to become a health coach and helping others do the same.
For learning about the foods that you can use to heal your body and how to cook that way so that the food is delicious and healing, go to learntruehealth.com/homekitchen. For the Facebook group, search Learn True Health on Facebook. And for the supplements that I recommend that I’ve been working with since 2011 with all my clients the supplements, the supplements that are designed by Naturopathic physicians to support optimal health, go to takeyoursupplements.com.
Excellent. Thank you so much for being a listener. Thank you so much for sharing this podcast with those you love. Enjoy today’s interview. It’s such an inspiring one. I’m so happy that you’re here to listen to it.
[00:02:36] Ashley James: Welcome to the Learn True Health podcast. I’m your host, Ashley James. This is episode 437. I am so excited to have on the show today a man who has such a wonderful history in helping the American population and helping the people of Brooklyn and also healing his own diabetes. I love your story, really excited to have you on the show today, Eric Adams. It’s such a pleasure to have you here. Now you’re president of Brooklyn. I’m originally from Canada so I don’t exactly understand all of the politics of the states. Although I live here now and I love living in America. Maybe you can just tell me what does it mean to be the president of Brooklyn.
[00:03:28] Eric Adams: That’s a great question. I don’t know if our founding fathers of the borough understood the complexity that they were going to create in history over this, but it would be equivalent to what many municipalities will call the county executive.
[00:03:48] Ashley James: Okay, got it.
[00:03:49] Eric Adams: Brooklyn is one of the counties in New York City. We have five counties and Brooklyn is the largest of the five counties. I am the president or county executive of Brooklyn, New York.
[00:04:06] Ashley James: It’s kind of like being the mayor of Brooklyn?
[00:04:09] Eric Adams: Exactly, exactly. You have to make sure all of our agencies are providing the necessary services for the residents as well as we put a large amount of money into various capital projects. It’s a very easy way for the people of the borough to be able to reach out to their borough-wide elected [inaudible 00:04:34] because New York is a very complicated place to govern, and this is a good way to do it.
[00:04:41] Ashley James: Absolutely. I love your history. I’m going to have the link to your bio in the show notes of today’s podcast at learntruehealth.com because the work that you’ve done through the years has been wonderful. You were a policeman in New York City. You helped co-found 100 Blacks in Law Enforcement Who Care—work that you’ve done in the past is really helping to pave the way for so many people. You also worked in the New York State Senate.
Tell us a bit about your struggle with diabetes, though. When you look at your bio, you’re so busy. I’m sure many people who develop diabetes they’re so busy. I also had type 2 diabetes, so I know. I just didn’t take care of myself. I was so busy doing other things and all of a sudden I broke—my body broke. Tell us about your struggle with type 2 diabetes.
[00:05:37] Eric Adams: That’s a great point that you raised. I remember when I was told that I was type 2 diabetic, I remember my son saying to me, “Dad, you used to drive from service station to service station to get the best gas and oil to put in your car. You didn’t put the best food in your body?” That is our narrative. We pay more attention to the things in life—our jobs, our careers, our house, what color of paint in our rooms, and the type of clothing we wear. That which we have the most control over we really ignore for some reason and we turn it over to someone else to make a determination.
That’s what happened to me four years ago when after years of just abusing my body, I was receiving pain in my stomach, discomfort. I knew it wasn’t gas. It was just really sitting still. I was out of the country and when I came back to New York, I went to my internist and told him about it. He sent me to have my stomach and my colon checked. At the time, when I came out of sedation, I was also experiencing a severe vision loss in my left eye, my right was also going as well, and tingling in my hands and feet. I learned later that I was at the late stages of diabetes, advanced stages of diabetes. It caused the vision loss and it caused the nerve damage in my hands and feet. I couldn’t even feel my right thigh.
[00:07:27] Ashley James: Oh my gosh.
[00:07:28] Eric Adams: It was only after that diagnosis that it just started me on a journey to figure this whole thing out.
[00:07:38] Ashley James: Did they have you on Metformin, insulin, or both?
[00:07:42] Eric Adams: It’s amazing that we all know the names.
[00:07:46] Ashley James: It’s kind of scary, isn’t it?
[00:07:49] Eric Adams: The doctor immediately told me he had to put me on insulin right away. He told me that I had to take two other medicines as well. I was given three medicines for my diabetes when I left the doctor’s office. I was given medicine for my vision loss, medicine for my ulcer—that was the original discomfort that I felt, medicine for my high blood pressure and cholesterol. I was just given so much medicine. I went in there with no medicine, I left out with a stack of medicines that I was going to have to take the rest of my life.
He gave me a booklet, which was so significant that said living with diabetes. It gave me instructions on what to do, how to live with diabetes. I did something, I joke about this scientific. I went to Google and google reversing diabetes. That started me on a journey that I never looked at.
[00:08:54] Ashley James: Why didn’t you believe the doctor when the doctor said you had to have diabetes for the rest of your life and you had to be on this medication for the rest of your life? What kind of hubris did you have to go against the doctor to think that you could reverse diabetes?
[00:09:10] Eric Adams: That’s a great question. I think that there is something inside us that speaks to us but we ignore it too often because of the distractions in our lives. If we take a moment to sit down and allow our soul and spirit to speak to us, I think we’ll find more answers than we think because I could have easily typed living with diabetes, but that one word of living I reversed to reversing and it took me down a different road.
[00:09:45] Ashley James: Yes. I love it. I love it. When you think back, how long do you think you actually had type 2 diabetes undiagnosed? Can you look back and see the signs that you had diabetes for a long time and there’s a lot of signs that you ignored?
[00:10:05] Eric Adams: That’s a great question because the numbers are clear that there’s a substantial number of New Yorkers and Americans who go undiagnosed. It is quite possible because I was really at the last, the extreme advanced stages. When you reach the point of vision loss, nerve damage in all those other areas, I was at the advanced stages. I was probably diabetic for a good while. I would say three years probably. My body was just addressing it and fighting it. When you start getting those symptoms that means your body can no longer manage the high level of insulin resistance and it starts breaking down on you.
[00:10:58] Ashley James: You’re a very intelligent man. Looking at your bio, you’ve always been someone who takes action. You went home that day with a bag full of pills. With the news that your doctor says you’ll always have this condition, you have to manage the condition, and you have to live with the condition. That voice inside you said reverse instead of live with. What happened next? You’re googling, you’re starting to read, what happened next?
[00:11:32] Eric Adams: I’m just blown away when I started reading Dr. Esselstyn, Dr. Greger, Dr. Bonner, and other research. I’m like is this for real? Did I stumble on the National Enquirer or something and somebody’s going to tell me they found mineral on Mars. It’s just so bizarre. People don’t realize how bizarre it is to have your foundational understanding of a particular item shattered. That’s what I was going through. I was all of a sudden being faced with the foundation of understanding of life. The concept of disease reversal does not exist in our thought process in America.
It is basically you get to a certain age, you’re going to get this. Because there was a moment in the doctor’s office that when he said it I said, “Well, you knew it was coming. Your mother’s diabetic, your uncles, and others.” We in the black community we use the term that she has a little sugar. We sweeten what diabetes is. In reality, there was a brief moment that I said, “Well, you knew it was coming.” It wasn’t until he said, “You know what, you’re going to lose your vision.” I was like wait a minute, I didn’t sign up for this.
That became a motivator to find the truth. I just didn’t want to be in prison for the rest of my life with knowing I have to make sure I carried my insulin, make sure I carried my pills, and live through and benchmark my life through did you take your insulin shots before your meals. That’s not the life I wanted to live. I said, “I’m going to do whatever I could possibly do to turn that around.” I wasn’t a doctor, but I was a former cop so I knew how to do investigations, and darn it, I knew how to read. I was going to use those two assets to help me find some type of answers to the question. I was not going to be blamed for not trying.
[00:13:55] Ashley James: You start reading these doctors that layout how to reverse type 2 diabetes. Those have type 1, it’s a totally different disease. The body doesn’t produce enough insulin for type 1 so they are insulin-dependent, but according to these doctors, even type 1 diabetic can significantly improve their insulin sensitivity using this diet, this healing diet, so that their body requires less injected insulin. Type 1 diabetics who follow this protocol have seen great results and type 2 diabetics have reversed their diabetes under this way of eating that these doctors have laid out.
You start to see that these doctors are saying that you can reverse type 2 diabetes. Do you start the next day? Walk us through how long does it take for you to start eating the way they tell you to eat?
[00:14:49] Eric Adams: I called Dr. Esselstyn and told him who I was and asked if could I see him. He said, “Yes, I’m in Ohio. If you can make it down to see me I would love to.” I flew to Ohio about a week later and met with him. I was extremely excited. I remember him telling me that if I eat certain foods and do certain things that I can actually reverse my diabetes. I remember laughing and saying this guy is some type of nut. I’m going blind he’s telling me to stop eating steak. What kind of madness is this?
When I returned to the city, I started looking through my cupboard, my cabinets, and my pantry and I realized that all the food was processed. It was high in salt, high in sugar, and high in fat and oils. I was like wow. I said I have nothing to lose. After coming back to New York, I immediately turned to a whole food plant-based diet. Within three weeks my vision returned. Within three months my nerve damage went away, my diabetes went in remission, my cholesterol normalized, and my blood pressure normalized. The reason I went to the doctor in the first place, that ulcer, that ulcer went away.
[00:16:26] Ashley James: Was the last thing to go the ulcer? When did they also go away? How quickly did it go away?
[00:16:34] Eric Adams: That’s a great question because I don’t know when it went away because all of a sudden, one day, I said whatever happened to that ulcer? I don’t know if it was in three weeks, I don’t know if it was in a week, but I just remembered that just one day I just said hey, whatever happened to that ulcer?
[00:16:57] Ashley James: Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn, and I’ve had him on the show before. I love my interview with him. He’s a cardiologist who published the world’s longest study on reversing heart disease using diet. His book is How to Reverse and Prevent Heart Disease. It’s a fantastic book. I definitely encourage listeners to listen to my interview with him. There’s a direct correlation between heart disease and diabetes. Those who have diabetes, and I don’t remember the exact statistic but it’s a statistic that will scare you, are most likely to die of heart disease. That diabetes causes heart disease.
Maybe the diet that causes diabetes is also the same diet that causes heart disease, but they see that those who have diabetes are much more likely to die of heart disease. You said that you had cholesterol problems and blood pressure problems, that’s leading towards heart disease. Seeing Dr. Esselstyn, what were some things that you learned from him that you applied immediately? You mentioned that you ate a whole food plant-based diet, but what specifically did he have you do?
[00:18:08] Eric Adams: The oil content, particularly saturated fat. He really had me zero in on oil. Didn’t offer meat all together particularly red meat, understanding the power of that, understanding the power of green leafy vegetables—cruciferous vegetables, understanding the power of that. For the first time, it’s just what’s unimaginable as I think back on this. Here I am, 55 years old, and for the first time, I was learning how my body operates. I could tell you everything about my BMW. I could tell you the fuel injections, the exhaust system, the engine, and everything about it, but I knew nothing about my body, nothing about the importance of nutrients and how it plays a major role.
It was through that visit that I started to listen to the foods he talked about. The power of beans and lentils. The power of different vegetables and what they do. He really started the process for me of learning of what we put in our mouths and how what we put in will impact how your body operates. Our bodies are machines and if you do not put in the right items it needs to fuel itself, then it’s not going to function.
It’s almost like a car. You could put it in bad gas, watered-down gas. It will chunk along for years, but eventually, that engine, which is the heart, is going to break down. Eventually, the exhaust system, which is your colon, it’s going to break down. Eventually, your knees, which are the wheels, it’s going to break down. People who say well I’ve been eating this for years, yes, your car will run on bad gas for years, but when it breaks down it breaks down.
[00:20:22] Ashley James: Exactly. I love the car analogy because like you said, we will take better care of our car than our body. The fuel you put into your car, the work you put into your car to maintain, to prevent problems really does save your car and give your car life. We actually have in our garage a 1984 BMW 633CSi. We’ve had it for years. My husband takes care of it. He babies it. He replaced the engine in it. He’s about to replace the suspension. He babies it.
What’s cool is that was the car I grew up in. My dad had that car back when I was a kid. I get to sit in the same car I grew up in, not the exact same but the same model. It’s so neat to have that. Because we maintain it so well, it’s in the same running state that it was over 30 years ago. How cool is that, right? That’s the same with our body. You really take care—we have 37.2 trillion cells in our body that require thousands of nutrients and phytochemicals every day to fully function.
Sometimes people just eat crap food and their car is going to break down faster. But you’re saying we choose the right fuel for the body. How do we know that the whole food plant-based diet is the right fuel for everyone? You were able to go on a whole food plant-based diet and reverse all your health problems. I’ve seen so many people do the same. If I were to talk to the Eric Adams 10 years ago though and say you’ve got to give up steak, you got to give up oil, processed food, and sugar, that would seem impossible.
I think to a lot of people who are listening, it seems impossible, but you had a paradigm shift. You had a breakthrough in your life. A breakthrough is when what you imagine is impossible all of a sudden becomes possible. You had that breakthrough and you said I have nothing to lose, I’m going to do it. You started eating fruits, vegetables, nuts seeds, whole grains, beans, legumes, and lots and lots of vegetables, and more vegetables, and more vegetables every day. Then you started to see the results come pouring in. What kind of advice can you give for people who think that would be too hard or impossible to give up some of the foods they’ve been eating their whole life and transition to a whole food plant-based diet in order to heal their body?
[00:22:52] Eric Adams: That’s such a great question because you’re right, if you would have come to me as a 30, 40, and probably even 50 years old, I would not have heard you. I would not have heard this message. Some people are much smarter than I. They can hear something important and automatically make a shift. Others, like myself, we don’t make those major shifts and what we’re doing and thinking until we reach a very dark period. Losing your sight and having the thoughts of losing your limbs is a wake-up call. Some people don’t wake at wakeup at all. They just keep hitting the snooze button. Different people are at different places.
What we must do now is to demystify what a whole food plant-based diet is. Because if you were to rattle off to the list of things that I eat, one would automatically say wait a minute those are boring foods, those are not fun foods when it’s just the opposite. The variations of my meals, of my introductions of different spices in my life, and of the way I prepare my meals, I enjoy my food better than I ever did before.
You can get the sweet taste that you’re looking for. You can get a salty taste mixing in lemon and vinegar together. You could use dates to give you a wonderful sweet taste. Fruits have natural sugars that won’t harm your body. It is about rethinking our relationship with food and then finding the entry points for people. What I found throughout this journey is showing parents how important it is to eat, to enjoy a healthy life with your children, and so your children could have a healthy life. It is alarming to know that 70% of 12-year-olds have early signs of heart disease. That’s the number one killer in America.
We send up our children up for failure. I think those are the entry points that we need to find. Each of us, we all have different entry points. Some people eat healthily for their grandchildren, some people eat healthily because they’re going through a personal experience, and some people change what they doing because they just feel it’s the right thing to do for the environment. But we need to be there to show people how they can make the transition to one, food should look good, it should be good, but darn it, it should taste good. That’s how we stay connected to a good lifestyle change.
[00:25:45] Ashley James: It’s so true. I had that fear like oh vegetables don’t taste good, and then I decided to just try broccoli. I made broccoli. I love making steamed broccoli. I just steamed broccoli and I just ate a bowl full of broccoli. I sat there and I decided to just focus on how many flavors I could experience because I was so used to oily, salty, highly processed, and hyper-palatable foods. So just getting back to what is actually broccoli with nothing on it tastes like, and by the end of the meal, I could identify at least 10 different flavors. There’s a bit of salt in broccoli, there’s a bit of sweetness, and there are layers of flavor.
If you just eat one food like just a potato with nothing on it—a yellow potato is my favorite thing in the world. You bake a yellow potato; it’s got the most delicious flavor profile. Just getting back to what does a red pepper tastes like with nothing on it, eating a mono food, just one food and trying to experience all the flavors in that food really makes you realize you don’t need to add oil, salt, and sugar to mask the flavor of these beautiful foods.
I love that you added adding lemon, lime, or balsamic. Balsamic is something that Dr. Esselstyn says to add to your food often because it is really healing for the cardiovascular system because it increases the nitric oxide. I know that you have to go so I want to honor your time. What resources do you have? Do you want to plug any websites or books? Do you have any resources that you want to recommend?
[00:27:28] Eric Adams: The starting point is really Dr. Greger’s book How Not to Die. An amazing book that really is a starting point to allow people to become smarter around food. The second favorite of mine is Forks Over Knives Meal Plan because it’s a step-by-step, day-by-day, seven-week meal plan starting with one meal of a day of what you take out and make it into a whole food, healthy, and good tasting meal. The recipes are amazing inside the book. People who like pancakes, you can make healthy pancakes. People who like rice, you can use instead of white rice, brown rice. It’s just a great meal plan that could be extremely helpful.
The combination of those two books really sets the tone of what I believe is a good first step and a first start. You can start with just meatless Mondays. If you didn’t die because you didn’t have meat, you’ll see that it is possible eating a healthy life.
[00:28:41] Ashley James: I totally agree with you. Meatless Mondays is a great idea or there’s another one where you don’t eat meat until dinnertime or something like that where you try a few meals without meat. That was the first step for me because I had never had a meal without meat. It wouldn’t even be a meal to me if it didn’t have meat in it. To have meatless meals and then go whoa, I feel full, I feel good, this is great.
You said in your story you very quickly saw changes. I really want to challenge people to try it for seven days. To go eliminate oil, salt, and sugar and to eat nuts, seeds, whole grains, legumes, beans, and tons of a variety of fruits and vegetables. Just try that. Just eat those whole foods that are obviously plants that’s why it’s whole food plant-based. Eat those foods for seven days.
In your first seven days, what did you notice? Now I noticed that I woke up hours earlier. I was not groggy in the morning, I had way more energy, especially when I incorporated more potatoes. Because I was afraid of carbs, afraid of potatoes, but when I took out the fat and the meat and I added more carbohydrates—more potatoes, my blood sugar went down and stabilized. That freaked me out because I was eating more carbs than ever, but my blood sugar became better and I had more energy. I noticed throughout the day I had sustainable energy whereas when I ate meat, I was falling asleep all the time.
We are told to be afraid of potatoes and afraid of carbs but it was the opposite. In the first seven days of you eating whole food plant-based, what did you notice? When people set out to do a seven-day challenge, what are they excited to notice in their bodies?
[00:30:31] Eric Adams: Definitely the weight loss. I started to feel as though I was not as bloated, not as constipated, and not as gassy. The lethargic feeling that used to accompany me throughout the day—my day is extremely full and busy. I would have to continuously take the sugar boost, eating some type of pastry, cake, or something that would boost my energy. Waking up in the morning just really energetic, ready to take on a day. I have a full day and I start extremely early. Being able to wake up with the right level of energy is so important because you’re interacting with people in the public, and they feed off your energy. It was just a combination of just feeling different.
I don’t even recall, when I was 21, feeling the way I feel now. My body and my mind, the clarity of mind. But within the first seven days, you’re going to notice a difference in how you wake up, how you feel, and how your body feels. That your body no longer feels sluggish and weighted down.
[00:31:47] Ashley James: Amazing. I love it. It’s so true. Thank you so much, Eric Adams, for coming on the show today.
[00:31:51] Eric Adams: Thank you.
[00:31:52] Ashley James: It’s been such a pleasure. I’ll make sure all your links are in the show notes of today’s podcast at learntruehealth.com. Your message is inspiring and I love the work that you do. It’s been such a pleasure talking to you today.
[00:32:03] Eric Adams: Thank you. Have a good day.
[00:32:04] Ashley James: I hope you enjoyed today’s episode of the Learn True Health podcast. Check out episode 232. It’s my interview with Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn. Although the title is about heart disease, it’s the same diet that is used to reverse diabetes. In fact, it is used to help the body heal itself from many issues. Episode 232, my interview with Caldwell Esselstyn. I highly recommend you listen to it if you haven’t already.
You can go to learntruehealth.com and check out all of the wonderful resources there. We transcribe all of our interviews so you can scan through and read interviews. We have some really great free goodies on the site as well. If you have a friend, family member, or yourself suffer from anxiety, I have a wonderful course where you learn tools on how to eliminate anxiety. How to turn off the anxiety response in the body, how to decrease stress, and increase health mentally, emotionally, and physically. Go to learntruehealth.com, search through the menu. You’ll see there are many resources on the site available to you there.
Thank you so much for being a listener and thank you so much for sharing this podcast with those you care about. Let’s help turn this little ripple into a tidal wave and help as many people as possible to learn true health.
Get Connected With Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams!
Recommended Reading by Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams
How Not To Die by Dr. Michael Greger