Lowering Bad Cholesterol on a Plant Based Diet

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At the end of last year I went in for a check up and had some blood work done as well. 

The results weren’t exactly encouraging. 

You see, I had relaxed my plant based diet just a bit too much through the summer and fall, and I wasn’t really exercising as much as I needed to either. 

I had put on about 10 or 15 pounds over the course of the year, and it really shouldn’t have come as too much of surprise that my cholesterol levels had spiked. 

My blood sugar level wasn’t looking so great either. 

Not too bad, but definitely not great.

So, I decided that I knew better than to let my health slip away from me again, as I had in the past, and while I tend to take a course in my plant based lifestyle that is more of a balanced approach, I knew whatever it was I was doing wasn’t working. 

My doctor recommended I come back in 3 months for my annual physical and a cholesterol re-check and we’d go from there. 

That  phrase, “going from there,” came with a little fear that if I didn’t get myself together, I might need to go back on meds, which I really didn’t want to do, since they come with so many side effects and cause more harm than good. 

Of course, the doctors and pharmaceutical companies aren’t going to tell you that, since they want to sell you their drugs and treatments and it keeps them in business, but it really is the truth.

I determined that as soon as the holidays were over I was going to adjust my regimen and prove to myself once and for all that eating a plant based diet can have the kind of health benefits that I’d seen others have, and had read about.

But had never experienced quite on that order of magnitude personally. 

Not that I hadn’t seen some health benefits during my first year as a plant based eater, and my cholesterol and blood sugar levels had been low enough to where the doctor had pretty much left me alone.

I really wanted to keep it that way.

A New Start

So on the first Monday of the new year, I started a new regimen of hitting the gym 5 days a week, 40 minutes a day. 

I did this early in the morning and kept it consistent for 3 months. 

I also adjusted my diet, watching the areas that I had slacked off on, and finding plant based foods to fill in for some animal protein-based foods like dairy and fish that I had been indulging in. 

And i still ate a small amount of fish, ocassionally (no beef, chicken, pork or anything else), but I did reduce this to once or twice a week, and small portions of wild salmon only. 

I also dropped the cheese habit, which I had fallen into a little bit again. 

I know, shame on me!  I also dropped all the fancy caffeinated drinks, and increased my water consumption to 32 to 48 ounces a day.

Anyway, it was a struggle once again to get motivated and establish or re-establish a good pattern, but after a few weeks I did notice some progress. 

The weight loss was agonizingly slow, however, but I kept at it, believing at some point that my body would get the message that I wasn’t going to let up until I saw it moving in the direction I wanted. 

Those bodies sure have a mind of their own and resist you every step of the way!  Geesh!

By the end of the second month, I had lost about 5 or 6 pounds, and I noticed that my energy level was much better.

The Results

The moment of truth came in late March when I went in for my cholesterol and blood sugar re-check.  Are you ready for this?

The results showed that I had dropped a staggering 60 points on my LDL

My jaw was flat on the floor!  I had never seen as big of a drop as that in any test I had ever taken, even with medication.

My LDL had dropped from 259 in December to 200 in only 3 months! 

And while my blood sugar was still slightly above normal at 113, my hemoglobin % was 4.8, which I really didn’t give much thought to at the time, but realized it was lower than my normal 5.1 to 5.2 that I had seen for about the past 6 years.

I went in for my physical a few days later and I thought to myself, “This should be interesting.”

The doctor was somewhat perplexed on my numbers and how I achieved them. 

When I told him I was eating a mostly plant based diet, he laughed and said sometimes home cures work the best. 

I guess I’d never thought of a plant based diet being a home cure before!  

Then he said my Hgb A1c % was lower than he’d ever seen before in any of his patients.

The 4.8 figure just blew my old results (and everyone else’s, apparently) out of the water. 

Even though my blood sugar was about 113, he said when you indexed the hemoglobin figure it came out to about 90. 

He was shaking his head. 

All he could say was keep on doing what you’re doing. 

He asked me, somewhat haltingly, “And you say you did this without any medication?”

I just smiled and nodded, but I could see that evil glint in his eye like he really wanted to prescribe some meds, but just couldn’t.

Oh well.

It was my best checkup in many years, and my doctor said I was in excellent physcial condition.

Needless to say, I was amused and jazzed at this outcome, and it has given me a great deal of encouragement to continue on my plant based path as well as my exercise plan. 

I’ve lost almost 10 pounds to date and I’m still going!

I hope my story will encourage you on your journey to a plant based lifestyle, too!

Happy plant based eating and living and may you confound your doctor as much as I did!

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