Lots of helpful information here! I am a 54 year old female, 5'4" 140 pounds..heaviest I have ever been. I have been researching a plant based diet..saw the movie Forks Over Knives, which led me to The China Study and Eat To Live. I have done all sorts of "diet regimens", including paleo...confusing to say the least. What may work for one person doesn't work for another, so what I have decided to do is use my own body as an experiment to see if, with Dr Fuhrman's plan, I can lower my cholesterol, feel more energetic, etc. I had lab work done a couple of weeks ago..results were: cholesterol: 234 HDL: 89 LDL: 130 triglycerides: 74 and CRP: normal. My doctors always say my results are good because of my ratio of HDL/LDL, but, after all the reading I have done, those numbers are way too high! I am pretty active with walking, swimming, weight lifting, etc, but there is a history of heart disease on my father's side ( he had a quadruple bypass and ten years later passed away from a heart attack..though he didn't eat well or exercise, etc) Anyway, my question is, should I have my blood retested after the 6 weeks are over or wait longer? My doctor thinks I should wait for 3 months..but I wasn't going to be as restrictive after the 6 weeks, so what do any of you knowledge people think?! I appreciate any input!
Great to make your acquaintance. And thanks for the kind words about the folks on the website. They are a great group. We like to help people.
Congratulations on deciding to take control of your health destiny. Forks over Knives and Eat To Live are excellent. I myself followed Pritikin for 30 years. I improved my results when I switched to Fuhrman, 6 years ago.
I would think 6 weeks to 2 months, would be good, for your next cholesterol test, especially since you would rather sooner, than later. For some people, cholesterol levels will continue to drop, even for years, depending on the person.
May I offer some additional advice?
Re: "My doctors always say my results are good because of my ratio of HDL/LDL,..."
We are all individuals, with very unique health. Cholesterol numbers and other risk factors are important, but is there a good, safe way we can learn more about how we ourselves are doing, with regard to artery health?
I would recommend what the Pritikin Longevity Center and Dr. Fuhrman both recommend. Have a IMT (Intima Media Thickness) test. This is an ultrasound of the carotid arteries, on the side of your neck. (1) It is safe, just like a baby ultrasound. It takes 10 minutes, some KY jelly on your neck, and about $160.
The test tells you the average thickness of the artery wall. Thinner is better. It also gives you pictures of any significant blockages due to atherosclerosis, or hardening of the arteries. The health of the carotid arteries will probably be very similar to the health of heart arteries, arteries in the brain, and every part of the body.
You need a prescription to get the IMT test. Make sure to get the IMT test, which provides a thickness reading. Most testing centers provide the doppler test, which is more expensive, and does not provide a thickness number. Make sure to call the testing center ahead of time, and tell them you want the IMT thickness test, and specifically NOT the doppler test. voice of experience...
The benefit of the thickness number, is that if you wish you can measure it every 2 years or so, to track your progress.
Make sure you get the price of the procedure BEFORE doing the procedure. Some insurance plans cover it, and some do not. If your insurance does not cover it, offer to pay cash, for a price determined AHEAD OF TIME. The test costs $400 (in my case). But if you are insured, the testing center accepts $160 (in my case) as full payment, from the insurance company. The testing center offered the test for $160 if the customer pays cash or credit card.
Of course, make sure your vitamin D level is OK. This requires a blood test. Normal is about 35 to 55. Check it next time you have a cholesterol test, if you don't have the results. You have to request the vitamin D blood test, if your doctor has not checked it already. I only mention because about 1/3 of people are deficient in vitamin D, and that can have terrible consequences. I myself was seriously deficient in vitamin D, in spite of getting at least an hour of sunlight every day at noon.
Another valuable tip. You might feel benefit from eating a salad, or even some simple lettuce leaves, before each meal, even breakfast. The nutrition in greens, vegetables, and even fruit, help the body digest food more healthfully. A study Pritikin quoted decades ago, showed that eating a salad before a steak dinner, made fewer and smaller chylomicrons (fat globules) in the blood. If you are going to break the diet, be sure to eat a salad first, without the dressing, to lower the casualties.
Wishing you the best of success !!
Best regards, EngineerGuy
(1) Carotid-Artery Intima and Media Thickness as a Risk Factor for Myocardial Infarction and Stroke in Older Adults Daniel H. O'Leary, N Engl J Med 1999; 340:14-22 January 7, 1999
Thanks for the wealth of information, EG! Are you a biomedical engineer? You could charge for all of this good advice!
I have also been advised by another health care professional to have vit D testing. He suggested I do it in the fall...will have it tested with my cholesterol, etc in 6 weeks. I do take 2000 IU vit D3 supplement daily.
Last year I had some Lifeline Screening tests, including a carotid artery ultrasound, done (don't know how good they are?).. I don't remember if I received a value..just tested "normal"..it was a doppler us. I will talk to my doctor about the IMT test.
Thanks again. I will report my results when my "experiment" is finished.
I'm a semiconductor engineer. I've always worked as an engineer, but have a physics and chemistry degree.
The 2000 IU of vitamin D3 is excellent. For those reading, take a given supplement of vitamin D for 3 months, to give the body time to equilibrate, before measuring the blood level. Most people are fine with 2000 IU.
So, I Googled Life Line screening tests. Quite interesting. I think I actually had it myself, probably 15 years ago. Check in your results if they provided a thickness for the IMT. As I recall from quite a while ago, the results were not detailed enough to provide a number that could be used to track the atherosclerosis.
I wanted to offer a couple more tips, for your consideration. This may or may not apply to you. But it might.
In Eat To Live, Dr. Fuhrman has a short section on p.155 "You may feel poorly at first". We are all individuals. The digestive tract has to make a lot of adjustments, and the body sometimes rebels at suddenly living on fewer calories, even with increased nutrition. And, no easy calories that the digestive tract is used to, on the SAD (Standard American Diet), cutting out the sugar, fats, oils, meat and dairy. If you feel this way, it usually passes within the first 4 days, but could last even 2 weeks.
And exercise. Exercise is essential, especially if you want to feel like a kid again. But, at first, when you are trying to learn a new lifestyle and your body has a lot of adjusting to make, exercise can take a back seat until you feel like exercising. A lot of exercise can give you a ravenous appetite, and it's not the right time to do that, when starting a new diet and lifestyle. So, do some light exercise if you want to, but let the heavy exercise develop gradually, after you have the diet part doing well.
Re: What is the difference between the doppler test and the thickness test?"
Great question. I had to look it up. Here's a good explanation, in the link. Yes, they both use sound waves.
The Doppler test measures the max velocity of the blood in the artery. This helps indicate if there's blockage anyplace in the artery. The Pritikin center and Dr. Fuhrman both recommend the IMT. Perhaps a reduction in the max blood velocity means there is an important blockage someplace, as smaller blockages may not hinder blood flow as much as the length of the artery. Of course, I am only speculating.
I'm doing well. Thanks for asking. I am almost through with my second week of the Eat to Live program.I have slipped up a couple of times, but not too badly...and I haven't had any meat or dairy. I have lost a few pounds too, which is nice! Unfortunately, I haven't been able to do much exercising due to a flare up of my back problems ( bulging discs), but have started a yoga class, and the instructor says she can help me with some yoga moves to help with my back ( I also work at a physical therapy clinic..lots of helpful info there as well!) ..so on we go!
I'm curious about what a typical day's meals look like for people on this group who are following ETL or a similar program. Can you give me an idea of what your typical diet entails, EG?
OK, my typical day: I have a 1 cup green smoothie. I make a full blender, and freeze 1 cup portions. Saves lots of time. My green smoothie for 5 to 7 days: 5 tablespoons flaxseed, 2 box raisins, 1 half or full banana, probably sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, 1 1/2 or 2 cups water, and greens. The greens are usually spinach, romaine, green cabbage, kale. I usually include 5 tablespoons pomegranate arils. When pomagranates are in season, buy lots of them, take the seeds (arils) out, and freeze them. A little broccoli. Unsweetened cocoa powder. Blend it all up, and put in 1 cup containers to freeze.
Also I have a bowl of oatmeal. I never cook oatmeal. Just old fashioned oatmeal in a bowl with soy milk (or water), cinnamon, 1/2 banana, frozen blueberries, and whatever fruit you like.
Lunch starts with a 2 cup frozen portion of steamed greens. I make 2 weeks worth at a time. 2 large covered pots, with about an inch of water (just enough so it does not boil dry). I add minced garlic, Italian seasoning. I have a large cutting board, and chop up greens (mustard greens, collard greens, chard, dandelion greens, green cabbage or red cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli. A little blended broccoli. I like 4 6oz cans of tomato paste (unsalted). 2 onions. One onion is chopped, the other onion is blended, with some water. Also 2 or 3 packages mushrooms. I like to include a package of frozen peas, frozen baby lima beans, frozen soybeans, whatever.
Lunch continues with a cup of beans and lentils. Also a cup or 2 of quinoa mixed with brown rice or wild rice. All frozen portions.
Snacks? Oh, that's right. No snacks. OK, eat when you are hungry. When you are starting out, you might get hungry more often. That's great. For the first year on ETL, I ate 6 meals a day. Dr. Fuhrman says eat when you are hungry, and I thought I was hungry 6 times a day, since I had practiced the Pritikin diet for 30 years. Finally I realized that Fuhrman meant 2 or 3 meals a day, once you are settled in. I believe fewer meals is much better. A little side benefit. When I switched from 6 to 2 or 3 meals, my dentist did a double take. Almost no plaque!
Those are just suggestions, of course. It is really nice to have these frozen portions ready.
Dinner? Wifey makes it. Salad. Maybe beans, Mexican lasagna. Lettuce wraps. Once in a while she cooks a small amount of meat, fish or poultry, as spice in the meals. OK, I eat it. Depending, I might have a bowl of oatmeal and fruit, after dinner.
Occasionally, fabulous recipe for brownies. Use cocoa powder, avocados, dates, banana, black beans. It's a Fuhrman recipe. Great brownie and great icing.
Really nice deserts can be made with frozen banana and frozen fruit, soy milk, in a blender.
Thanks again for the helpful information, EngineerGuy. I will definitely take your advice about making meals ahead and freezing them. I take it you don't drink coffee or any caffeinated beverages? I'm working on stopping caffeine too...
Caffeine. I look forward to my cup or 2 of coffee in the morning. Coffee does contain antioxidants and phytochemicals, but especially CAFFEINE !!
My job can be stressful, and I have found that caffeine makes me happier and more aggressive towards the seemingly insurmountable pile of work. It is my drug of choice.
Health authorities, including Fuhrman, Ornish, and the rest, pretty much agree that lots of coffee is not good, but a cup or two is fine. The studies all support this position.
Microwaves. I also use them very often. In response to the issues about microwaves, I no longer bring foods to a boil, or very hot, in plastic containers. If I wish to bring a food to a boil or very hot, I will use a glass container. Defrosting is absolutely fine in plastic, but I will usually heat it some, flip over the package or stir the contents, and continue heating.
Some studies have said that microwaves can damage nutrients in vegetables, but this was due to uneven heating, where the microwave brought some portions of the food above boiling. If uneven heat is a concern while microwaving, and it often is, heat the food, stir, and continue heating.
Some people are concerned that the microwaves actually change the food chemically. No, microwaves heat the food, and any chemical affects are caused by the heat, which can be uneven. The uneven heat is not a weird mystical effect.
Some people on the internet are concerned about microwaves being electromagnetic waves, that they worry can chemically alter the food. Well, more powerful electromagnetic waves are visible light. If the food were in a solar oven (using mirrors to concentrate sunlight to heat food), we would not worry about chemically altering the food.
I hope that is helpful. Congratulations on taking control of your health. Lets get the food and exercise and sleep right. It will pay off wonderfully. Caffeine and microwaves are very helpful.
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