When 50-year old Ladell Hill walks into a gym, things can get contentious. Not from his personality, which is pleasant and mellow. But from the reactions of other athletes. They size up his massive guns and figure he could bench press a house. Then they pepper him with questions about how he attains his muscular physique. When he reveals his diet to be at least 80% plant based, they scoff and often shake their heads. Some assume he's on steroids.
But the Atlanta-based trainer is a living testament to what a plant-based diet can achieve. His clients include public figures Jamal Lewis, Justin Houston, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Steve Harvey and Dre from Outkast.
I recently heard Hill interviewed on the Rich Roll Podcast, along with his business partner Dr. Sujit Sharma.
Through years of research and experimentation, Hill developed a product called Chuice. Chuice is a chewable, drinkable food in a bottle with no preservatives. It brings together fresh fruits, vegetables, herbs, nuts and seeds.
During the podcast, Hill and Sharma described how the typical American diet compounds the inflammation and pain suffered by athletes and people in general. As the old expression goes, "We are digging our graves with our teeth."
It made me think of the scores of former UW football players I've interviewed and how many discuss their bouts with nagging injuries sustained on the gridiron. One of them described his neck injuries and migraines, and how a sudden migraine recently in his car caused him to puke into a towel.
After listening to the podcast, I ordered a bottle of Chuice and it arrived three days later via FedEx. That evening, I was burning the midnight oil to finish a story for a newspaper deadline. I was fatigued and reflexively reached for a caffeine product when I stopped and took a swig of Chuice instead. It tasted surprisingly good. Within minutes I felt a rush of energy, and returned to work with a sense of well-being and mental clarity.
I became a true believer. And one of its great selling points is its convenience.
Given that Chuice is only in stores in Atlanta and parts of Tennessee, Hill and Sharma are working toward making it available to store shelves nationwide. I reached out to them in an effort to help spread the word to the west coast.
As a side note, Hardcore Husky has no financial stake in Chuice and doesn't stand to profit from any sales. It's just a case of liking these guys and wanting to support their mission.
Ladell Hill's Story
Ladell Hill grew up in a small farming community in rural Tennessee. When he was a little boy, his Native American grandfather would take him into nature and educate him on different herbs, plants and seeds, and their particular benefits to the human body.
"He believed in eating raw plants, because it was passed down to him," Hill said. "He believed that consuming particular types of herbs took out chemical compounds, though he didn't know those words, as he couldn't read, write or drive. But he realized that certain herbs had a direct impact on your health or if you needed to get something out of your system."
Throughout Hill's teenage years and into his twenties, he lived an active lifestyle. Football, basketball, kayaking and eventually the world of bodybuilding. By the age of 27, he noticed that when his shoulder injuries and joints flared up they were taking longer to subside. He moved to the west coast for many years, into his mid 30s. "I got involved with protein powders and all the traditional weight gain vitamins and minerals that everyone on the west coast was consuming," he said. "I steered away from what my grandfather had taught me. I was dibbling and dabbling with my grandfather's teachings, but not closely involved like in my earlier years."
But things came to a head when he hit about 35 years of age.
"I started having skin discoloration," he said. "And puffiness in my face and I felt like I was tired and lethargic. I couldn't think efficiently. I had tons of water weight and joint problems flared up so badly that I could hardly sleep at night.
"I understood that I needed to fully incorporate what my grandfather taught me. I was already passionate about chemical compounds in plants. I was already eating raw sweet potatoes and vegetables. So I started putting [fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds] in gallon jugs and just drinking it because I wanted it around me at all times, because it made me feel the best."
Soon after, in 1999, Hill became close friends with CNN's Dr. Sanjay Gupta.
"I was intrigued by the information that he was talking to me about in regards to health," Hill said. "He came from a medical perspective, and I came from a grass roots, herbalist indigenous culture. I just wanted to know his world and try to understand how I could incorporate that with my world. And at the same time, captivate people's attention just like he captivates people when he teaches them about health.
"After I started researching chronic and debilitating illnesses and premature aging, and learning the cellular structure of the human body and organs and what they need to run efficiently, it kept steering me to my grandfather's teachings."
About seven years ago, Gupta introduced Hill to Dr. Sujit Sharma, who was and remains a pediatric emergency room doctor in Atlanta. Hill became Sharma's physical trainer, and while working out the two men had tons of debates and discussions over this concoction Hill had created.
Sharma was a skeptic at first, but slowly grew to be convinced. He had a pilot study done at Emory University and the results showed that Hill's product lowered blood pressure, slowed the aging process and fought debilitating illnesses.
The two men became business partners and Chuice was formed. Sales demand has run high in Atlanta and the men recently made an 8-day tour in California in their ongoing efforts to bring the product nationwide to store shelves. At issue is the fact that with no preservatives, the product has a limited shelf life of up to 2 weeks, unless frozen. Chuice is currently available throughout the Continental U.S. if ordered through the Chuice.com website and shipped via FedEx.
Said Sharma: "If we can bring products to market that can provoke conversations about the types of food we're eating and the way we eat, and make people rethink how they're purchasing at the grocery store and cooking for their families, then that's a success. It's not just about selling a lot of a product."
Many of the professional football and basketball players training with Hill now drink Chuice. Hill was asked what advice he'd offer to athletes reading this article who have struggled with nagging injuries.
"I have a couple people I work with who have had problems with headaches, like Jamal Lewis, who is a friend of mine," Hill said. "He drinks Chuice. Whenever you consume the chemical compounds in plants, they have anti-inflammatory properties in them, so you stand more of chance to feed the brain. The best thing you can do is consume raw plants and slow down inflammation. Also magnesium is one of the most important minerals that your brain requires. It activates over 1,600 different enzymes in the human body and the body thrives on it. One of the most important things you can give your brain is magnesium, in plant form.
"Other than that, you want to make sure you're not consuming a lot of acidic foods because they help whatever injury or headache you have perpetuate itself. There is a huge mineral deficiency and some vitamin deficiencies [in our culture]. We don't consume enough leafy green plants and fiber.
"There are natural products out there that are effective, just give them a chance. It's direct fuel for every cell of the human body."
For more information go to Chuice.com