I’ve known Joan Stephenson for many years, long before she and her husband began their journey with the Whole Food Plant-Based lifestyle. My battle with being overweight began when I was about 5 years old and the battle grew worse and worse as I became an adult. There were times I lost a considerable amount of weight on an unhealthy fad diet, just to gain it all back and then some.
For many years I didn’t really worry about the strain it was doing to my body or the risk factors involved. At age twenty-four, I was diagnosed with high blood pressure believing that heredity alone was the culprit. A few years later at age twenty-eight, I found out I had poly-cystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) which explained a lot of the problems I experienced since I was an adolescent. Slowly but surely, I was prescribed one medication, then another, and another, and another, and so on. In 2003 I became a missionary, but my current medical conditions did not keep me from going or doing what God had called me to do. When I was told I had Type 2 Diabetes in 2006, I thought, “OK, now it’s time to get serious about my health.” But the truth is I was only serious for short periods of time, so my health did not improve. My cholesterol was borderline or high, triglycerides were high or very high for over a decade, my blood sugar was up and down, but my blood pressure was controlled by medicine. Here I was, 47 years old, and on 5 different medications, sometimes 6. On December 28, 2017 I returned to the United States to visit churches for about a year and prepare to go back to Peru. Little did I know what was going to happen over the next year and a half… Only a couple months after being in the U.S., I began having angioedema (facial swelling). This had happened years before, but each time my doctor changed my blood pressure pill they subsided with about 7 or 8 years between occurrences. However, over the next year and a half, I had at least 8 angioedema which resulted in visits to Urgent Care and several emergency rooms in several cities and states. Amid the reoccurring angioedema I noticed my blood sugar was close to 400 and my fasting readings were well over 250 even after I had been off the prednisone from the angioedema. I became very discouraged and tried eating low carb, lean protein, etc., and failed at all I tried to do to get my blood sugar readings down, so my doctor said it was necessary to double my diabetic medication. On September 9, 2018 I was taken to the emergency room with a septic infection in my small intestine. It was during this time that I began to think that I would not be able to return to Peru with all the health problems I was experiencing. It was a very low point in my life. After a couple MRIs it was also discovered that I only had a partial pancreas (probably a birth defect) which made me worry even more about my health.
In March 2019 I saw Joan Stephenson at church. I was thrilled to see her since a lot of time had passed since I last saw her. I shared with her about my recent blood work results and that they were not very good. She told me she was a nutritionist and that I should come and talk to her. Since I had nothing to lose, I decided to go and see her and that is when she introduced me to the Whole Food Plant-Based eating lifestyle. I decided to give it a try because I was desperate to get my blood sugar down and find the other triggers to my angioedema. After eating Whole Food Plant-Based for 2 days, my blood sugar went from around 300 at its highest point during the day to a high of 170! Even though 170 was still too high, it was still a reason to celebrate! My lower blood sugar numbers became the motivation I needed to continue eating Whole Food Plant-Based.
Since March 2019 I’ve lost about 20 pounds and I’m no longer on a blood pressure pill. My last blood work results were much better, and my numbers continue to come down! I’ve also been able to go to an allergist specialist and have discovered some of those triggers that caused the angioedema, blood pressure pills being one of those triggers. If you’re reading this testimony and find yourself in your own battle, I want to encourage you that there is hope! A Whole Food Plant-Based eating lifestyle has changed my health; it’s changing my life! I feel so much better. I have more energy and I’m sleeping better at night. I’m grateful to God for crossing my path with Joan on that Wednesday night in March! I’m encouraged by all I have learned. I’m going back to Peru soon and look forward to continuing my journey on the other side of the ocean.
Missionary to Peru