Author Adam Hart promotes power of plant-based proteins to combat depression

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      Author and chef Adam Hart describes himself as a “digestitarian”. In a phone interview with the Georgia Straight, the Squamish-based nutritional researcher said he bases his diet around which foods are easiest on his gut. And he maintained that this has given him a tremendous boost in energy.

      “The first step is to think about what it means to become a digestitarian,” Hart advised. “You have to stabilize your blood sugar on a daily basis using natural, plant-based foods. The number one food that I’ve done that with is hemp seeds. I start off by adding in a tablespoon of hemp seeds at breakfast, lunch, and dinner.”

      Hart included several tips on how to incorporate hemp into different foods and beverages in his 2013 book, The Power of Food: 100 Essential Recipes for Abundant Health and Happiness. And he claimed that anyone who consumes hemp seeds three times a day over a seven-day period will likely notice a significant increase in energy level. That’s because hemp seeds are a complete source of protein, rich in essential amino and fatty acids. According to Hart, they’re also not nearly as heavy as meat, which is loaded with protein.

      “Excessive amounts of protein are hard to digest,” Hart said. “One, it creates acidity, but two, it also zaps your energy. All the energy in your digestive system is going to break that down.”

      The Power of Food shows how to include hemp seeds in snacks.

      He wasn’t always slim, and he didn’t always focus on his diet. Growing up in Toronto in the 1970s and ’80s, Hart ate foods filled with sugar. At the age of 13, he was diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and was put on medication. He said that several years later, while attending university, he worked in a pizza restaurant where he had “unlimited access” to what was made in the kitchen.

      “That was a time when my health started to take a turn,” he recalled. “I was diagnosed as prediabetic and had high cholesterol. I was about 50 pounds overweight and had severe food allergies.”

      By the time he was 25, he said, he was also suffering from depression and anxiety, for which he was given more medication. On his website, Hart reveals that he spent sleepless nights crying in bed. His life finally began to turn around when he discovered the joy of indoor rock-climbing in Toronto.

      “I began to get addicted to the feeling it was giving me,” he said. “I realized many years later that it was my form of meditation. The only time that I was not in a depressed state was when I was climbing.”

      Fearing that his corporate job in Toronto was leading to occupational burnout, Hart moved to Golden, B.C., which has a reputation as an outdoor-recreation mecca. He said he trained to become a mountain guide but soon realized how poorly he had been eating. That’s when Hart began making subtle additions to his diet.

      “I was learning how to stabilize my blood sugar for the first time ever,” he said.

      With some changes, he noticed that his energy level perked up. He didn’t eliminate cookies, pop, and chocolate cake—he just gradually lost the cravings for these sugar bombs as he consumed more plant-based proteins. And as he discovered how he could heal with better food choices, he developed a passion for teaching others how to do this.

      In 2003, Hart created his company, Power of Food, and he moved to Squamish in 2005 to be closer to Vancouver, where he could offer stress-management solutions to corporate clients. And he hasn’t entirely sworn off the foods he ate as a young man.

      “I follow the 80/20 model,” he said. “Eighty percent of my food comes from nice, clean plant-based sources. But I still go to the bar with my friends and I’ll have a beer. I’ll eat pizza.”

      Adam Hart is one of the speakers at Winspiration Day Vancouver on Saturday (May 7) at the Vancouver Orpheum Annex. Tickets are available here.