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Plant-based Health Study: Vanessa’s Rockin’ Results!

Posted by Jenn on April 13, 2011


The Plant-based health study concluded on March 15th.  Since then we have been testing our participants and gathering the final results and we are just about ready to present them all to you.  In the meantime, we will have some special posts on the individual participant’s results and their thoughts on participating in the study now that it is over.

 

Today I am very excited to present to you  Vanessa’s study results!

 

Vanessa's Plant-based Health Study Results

Vanessa entered our study as a 30 year old Dental student (who btw, is now a licensed Dentist! Congrats, Vanessa!) who consumed a Standard American Diet (SAD).  She was thin with a very good BMI.  Her pre-study lab work showed that she had hyperlipidemia with a total blood cholesterol of 255 (anything over 200 is considered “high”) and an LDL cholesterol of 130 (anything above 130 is considered “high”).  Her HDL values were phenomenal, among the best I’ve ever seen, and her triglycerides were also very good as was her A1C value.

After 30 days on a plant-based diet, Vanessa’s total cholesterol dropped from 255 to 206.  A 49 point drop! Her LDL cholesterol dropped from 130 to 86.  A 44 point drop!  These reductions almost brought her into acceptable blood cholesterol ranges.  Her LDL was now considered well within normal ranges and her Total Cholesterol was now only 6 points above what is considered to be the “normal” range.  All other values remained fairly constant including her weight and BMI.

After another 30 days (at the 60 day conclusion of our study), the results were even MORE impressive! Vanessa’s Total Cholesterol dropped another 28 points to 178! Further, her LDL cholesterol dropped an additional 28 points to 58! Talk about impressive!  In 60 days, Vanessa’s Total Cholesterol went from 255 to 178, a 77 point decrease! Her LDL Cholesterol went from 130 to 58, a 72 point decrease!  Thus, not only does Vanessa NO LONGER HAVE HYPERLIPIDEMIA, but she cut her LDL cholesterol (the bad cholesterol) more than in half!

As if that weren’t enough, her LDL values are now below what even Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn would consider safe and cardio-protective from the likes of heart disease and its co-morbidities!  Great job, Vanessa!

To read about Vanessa’s journey visit Vanessa’s Page under the Plant-based Health Study tab. Her final labs will also be posted on the main Plant-based Health Study page by weeks end in the interest of transparency.  Additionally, her final post and thoughts on her experience after getting her final results have been pasted below for you to read.

Please join me in thanking Vanessa for participating in our study as well as congratulating her on her amazing results!

Vanessa’s Final Post

(March 29, 2010)

The plant-based diet study has been over now for a few weeks.  I wish I could say that I have been keeping a strict plant-based diet since then, but that is not the case.  However, I am still keeping a diet which is predominantly plant-based.   I would say that over the course of two days, I might have one meal that includes some form of dairy.  Meat is a different story – I’ve never been a big meat-eater, so I don’t have as strong of a desire to include it back into my diet.

However, today may have been a game changer!

I just received the results from my final blood work and I am SHOCKED at the results.  I was pretty happy at the midpoint blood work when my LDL went down so significantly.  However, I had blood work done back in September that produced similar results.  I was happy that my cholesterol improved, but I honestly thought that things would probably plateau around these levels. Totally wrong! My LDL levels continued to plummet during the last 30 days.   My LDL levels went from 130 at the beginning of the study to 58! So now I feel like I need to rethink things…  I had originally decided that I didn’t want to completely eliminate all traces of dairy from my diet – a minimal amount would certainly make keeping this lifestyle a little easier without having a large impact on my physical health.  I think I still believe this, but I will definitely give pause before I opt to eat foods outside of a plant-based diet. Read the rest of this entry »

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Lessons Learned: From the participants in the plant-based health study

Posted by Jenn on March 12, 2011


The Plant-based Health Study ends this upcoming week on Tuesday, March 15th.  It has been a great experience for myself and the participants.  As we await the final (60 day) results from the study I asked the participants what were the top thing(s) they learned from participating in the study: switching from either a SAD or a vegetarian diet to a plant-based one.  Here’s what they had to say!

Jax

I cannot expect most doctors, manufactures, and producers of any edible products to be looking out for my best interests as far as what i put into my mouth. And you know what, I shouldn’t. It is my responsibility.  To  blame anyone other than myself would be like blaming  the man  who just hit me because it stepped into the middle of traffic because I thought they would stop for me as they were going 50mph. It is truly our own obligation to ourselves to read labels and educate ourselves. If our doctors are not properly trained and educated in nutrition as part of their training how can we possibly expect them to educate us?

And finally, eating plant-based all the time is not easy. It does take commitment. Commitment to our very lives. But even with that being said I am learning that moderation is KEY. However in America we don’t have any concept of what that really means and to me it means just this, treat animal based products like I would, say an Ice Cream Sundae.. yummy every once in a while but not an every meal occurrence or even an everyday occurrence.  See Jax’s Page.

John

This study has shown me that the SAD way of eating is a slow and sure way of cutting years off of all of our lives.  All of America has been brought up to think that the simplest way to get something to eat is to pull up to a drive thru window and grab a bag of pure poison to add to the hormone fed dinner that will be added to their bodies later in the evening.  I am not by far the healthiest person on the earth but this study has opened my eyes to a better way of eating through a mostly Plant Based Diet.  I do not know if I will stick strictly to a Plant based Diet but I do know that my hormone fed SAD eating is a thing of the past.  See John’s Page.

Amber

I have learned so much about ingredients and how everything has an effect. the smallest things can make the biggest differences. This has opened a huge window for me, not only am i staying vegan, i also would like to be gluten-free. after the major differences in how i feel and look i want to further my healthy life style. i am truly inspired. thank you Jenna!!!  See Amber’s Page.

Vanessa

Eating a plant-based diet doesn’t actually have to be that drastically different.   Sure, eating hemp seeds and tempeh and wheatgrass are great, but it’s probably best to keep things simple and stick with what you know in the beginning.  There were plenty of foods that I was already eating that fit in perfectly with a plant-based diet.  Also, don’t forget about beans, lentils, nuts, sweet potatoes, etc!  These guys filled me up and kept me full for longer.  Loads of veggies are great, but I felt a lot better when they were combined with some heartier foods. See Vanessa’s Page.

Nikki

One of the things I learned from the study was that there are so may other sources of protein that you can eat besides meat or fish or eggs. I have found that beans, legumes and tofu fill me up just as much. Also my husband who has mostly been vegan on this journey with me has seen a huge improvement in his brittle nails. His fingernails are now soft and supple and they don’t break as easily. He attributes this to the change in diet. Although I still struggle with my weight my cholesterol has come done significantly and I have learned I can control it with a plant-based diet.  See Nikki’s Page.

Megan

I can still make all of the dishes I love and make them vegan. Once they make a great vegan cheese, it will be perfect! But, it takes more time and can be expensive. One doesn’t find too many vegan options at the 99 cent store 🙂  I can still be satisfied and don’t feel ” cheated” by eating vegan. I had to get creative, and thank goodness for Mothers and Whole Foods! See Megan’s Page.

Stephanie

I learned that planning on a plant-based diet is absolutely essential.  I can pretty much “veganize” any recipe that I like.  That isn’t the hard part.  The more difficult part is when you are out to eat or tired and don’t feel like cooking, etc. It you plan ahead you can be prepared for those times and this makes eating this way a lot easier.  It takes time to get used to but you do get used to it and it isn’t as hard as you might think.  I do like the food.  I don’t miss meat at all, but I do still have cheese cravings.  Yes, Jenna, I know it’s the casomorphins! 🙂 I am planning on remaining plant-based for life as my health has improved substantially as a result. Now if that cheese craving would just go away… 🙂 See Stephanie’s Page.

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Top 5 things our plant-based health study taught this M.D.

Posted by Jenn on March 7, 2011


One truly amazing thing about life is that we have the opportunity to continuously learn new things. Learning new things rocks!  And, while we were pretty sure what the outcomes would be, this was no exception.

We are still 9 days away from the official end of the plant-based health study and approximately 12-14 days from having the final results available to us and published.  That being said, while contemplating the parameters for our next study and reviewing reader submitted ideas on things they would like to see us measure in the future, I got to thinking about all the amazing things that I’ve learned so far in this one.

Here are the top 5!


1. Psoriasis

There are a lot of  anecdotal stories out there on how a plant-based diet can be beneficial in the treatment of medical conditions and disease other than heart disease, diabetes, high cholesterol and certain cancers.  There is also some scientific research to back up those ascertations but much more needs to be done before it can be said with a great degree of certainty that this is indeed the case.

That being said, I have never seen it first hand.  Until now! Amber, one of the study participants, has struggled with psoriasis for quite some time – experiencing a number of patches on both her arms and legs.  She has tried a number of different things to keep this chronic autoimmune condition at bay, but while some treatments have helped, none have been close to a cure.

After 30 days on a diet completely free of meat and dairy products, Amber has experienced almost 100% resolution of her patches! I’ve seen it first hand and I couldn’t be more happy for her.  It’s one thing to read or hear about these types of things but it’s quite another to see it first-hand.

2. Probiotics

It’s important not to make blanket statements about medicines/treatments especially when there isn’t any substantial clinical evidence or experience to back it up.  When it comes to probiotics there is data out there but none directly pertaining to any benefits they may or may not have when someone is transitioning to  plant-based diet.

As in the situation above, I have heard anecdotal accounts of probiotics being helpful but not much otherwise.  During the course of our study several of the participants had some gastrointestinal (GI) discomfort as a result of moving to a plant-based diet.

Note:  This is common and it is apart of the natural detoxification process.

The participants who experienced the GI upset took probiotics to help with these symptoms.  Everyone who used them said they helped.  The degree to which they helped varied from substantial to adequate.  Thus, I would say I now know that probiotics can be a useful consideration in those experiencing GI issues as the result of a switch from a Standard American Diet (SAD) to a plant-based one.

3. Oil, oil, oil…

While everyone in the plant-based community agrees on the exclusion of meat and dairy products from our diet for prevention and reversal of disease, not everyone agrees on whether or not oils and highly saturated fat laden foods (i.e. nuts & avocados) should be omitted as well.

In fact, two of the foremost thought leaders seem to diverge on this as well: Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn and Dr. Dean Ornish. Esselstyn’s mantra  is “moderation kills” and he advocates a plant-based diet that excludes oils, nuts, etc even if they are technically “plant-based”.

Ornish, on the other hand, is much less strict on this issue and allows for their inclusion, although he still emphasizes a diet as low in saturated fat as possible (less than 10% of daily caloric intake).  That doesn’t exactly allow for much oil anyway being that olive oil for example has approximately 120 calories per tablespoon with 2 grams (or 14%) coming from saturated fat, 78% from monounsaturated fat and 8% for polyunsaturated fat. No matter how you looks at it, olive oil is 120 calories of pure fat per tablespoon.

Without delving into the argument of good fats vs. bad fats, etc. and the reason behind why Esselstyn has adopted this stringent mantra and Ornish has not, I wasn’t 100% sure of where I stood on the whole debate other than the obvious observation that less fat is better.

I now can say that this study (in addition to a few other poignant reasons I’ll discuss in an upcoming post) has resulted in me landing on Esselstyn’s side of the fence. The reason is due to the increased triglyceride levels in some of the participants despite the reductions in their total and LDL cholesterol.  I think it is likely that these triglyceride increases seen in some of the participants are the result of increased consumption of oils, nuts and other highly saturated fat laden foods.

Additionally, when first adjusting to the switch to a plant-based diet many opt for pre-packaged processed vegan foods such as vegan cheese, veganaise, and prepared vegan meals which are extremely high in saturated fat.  Further, when eating out at mainstream restaurants the vegetarian and vegan options (which tend to be few) are often cooked in lots of oil to enhance taste. This is done to ensure that these menu items are just as tasty as there SAD counterparts.

It is my expectation that once acclimated more fully to plant-based nutrition people will end up cooking more at home and becoming more astute regarding their choices and their triglyceride levels will eventually decrease as well.

How about this for a visual: Animal fat is a solid at room temperature whereas plant is liquid.  Imagine how well that solid stuff fares in your GI tract.

4. Sugar, sugar, sugar.  Pre-diabetes, and Hemoglobin A1Cs

I love sweet things!  Who doesn’t?  We all know we should do our best to limit our consumption of these items and some of us do better than others.  If you are vegan, most likely you already limit if not exclude the consumption of sugar because the majority of it is processed with animal bone char (charcoal made from animal bones). – –actually the explanation is much more convoluted than this, but this works for our purpose here.

The participants in our study were not restricted with regard to sugar consumption.  The aim of this study was to look at the benefits of a plant-based diet on a macro level and not get lost in the details.  Please note I am not discounting the importance of these details, we simply chose not to focus on these for the sake of study compliance.

The reason this is important is because of the increasing prevalence of  “pre-diabetes” here in the U.S. and the obvious role that large amounts of sugar found in the SAD contribute to this trend. Prior to our study beginning, 4 of the 7 participants had Hemoglobin A1C values that would classify them as pre-diabetic (>5.7).  After only 30 days all 4 of the participants lowered this value by .4!

Read the rest of this entry »

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More study results & updated results grid!

Posted by Jenn on February 22, 2011


Today Jax and Megan’s labs came in and they are keeping the streak going with some more incredible results!  

In the first 30 days of switching from a SAD to a plant-based diet Jax  has:

  • lost 9lbs
  • decreased her total cholesterol 16 points
  • increased her HDL 14 points
  • decreased her LDL from 152 to 128!  A whopping 24 points!

This 24 point decrease brings Jax’s LDL cholesterol within the normal range!

Megan, who was a pescatarian prior to our study, decreased her total cholesterol from 167 to 159, an 8 point decrease.  The rest of her values remained fairly constant.  These results were expected being that Megan was already a pescatarian.

*Remember, Megan was one of only two of our participants whose values were all within normal ranges from the study’s start.  The second, Amber,  was also mostly vegetarian (we will have Amber’s results back later this week) before the study’s start.

** Lab results will be posted on the Plant-based Study page under the participant.

Below is an updated results chart.  We still are awaiting results from 2 of our 7 participants and will fill that in as soon as we have them (Vanessa’s are expected tomorrow).  Yellow shading represents values that are considered high and outside of the ranges that are considered normal.

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More Results… better lipid profiles and weight loss galore!

Posted by Jenn on February 18, 2011


We have more great results in with more coming on Monday too! We received Nikki’s lab work back. Her total cholesterol dropped 16 points from 225 to 209 and her LDL (bad cholesterol) dropped 15 points from 148 to 133.  She is now within 3 pts of having her LDL in the “normal” cholesterol range!  Great job Nikki!

Jax came in the office today to get all of her labs done.  We won’t have the results until Monday but she has dropped  9 lbs since the study started!  Great job Jax!

Together John and Jax (husband and wife) have lost 26 lbs in 30 days!

I have posted John, Stephanie and NIkki’s labs under the Plant-based Health Study” page.  They are located under the names of each participant after their baseline labs (pre-study).   Be sure to check back Monday to see Jax and Megan’s results!

Click here for Nikki’s page; Click here for Jax & John’s page; Click here for Stephanie’s page

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Wow! Some results are in… and they are nothing short of amazing!

Posted by Jenn on February 16, 2011


We reached our study’s midpoint on Tuesday and today John and Stephanie’s 30 day lab results came in! I will have them posted by tomorrow afternoon for you to view on their pages as well as the main study page.  In the meantime, here is a preview!

John:

Total Cholesterol before study started: 264 ; Total Cholesterol after 30 days eating a plant-based diet: 205

LDL Cholesterol before study started: 175; LDL Cholesterol after 30 days eating a plant-based diet: 115

Hemoglobin A1Cs before the study started: 6.2; Hemoglobin A1Cs after 30 days eating a plant-based diet: 5.8

John dropped his total cholesterol 59 points in 30 days.  He dropped his LDL cholesterol 60 points in 30 days.  John, prior to this study, was considered hyperlipidemic.  Now, he is only 5 points shy of having his total cholesterol within in normal ranges and his LDL cholesterol is now within the normal range.  Further, prior to the study John was considered what we would call “pre-diabetic”. He is no longer and is in back within normal ranges.  It is important to point out that had John seen a “traditional” physician rather than choosing to participate in this study, it is almost certain he would have walked out of his doctor’s office with a prescription that he would have been expected to take for the rest of his life.

Also, John has lost 17lbs in the last 30 days and his BMI has gone from 30.7 to 28.7.  In speaking with John, he tells me that he has not once strayed from the plant-based diet and hasn’t exercised any either.  Thus, all the numbers above were independent of exercise.

Visit John & Jax’s page to read about their journey so far!

Stephanie:

Total Cholesterol before study started: 213 ; Total Cholesterol after 30 days eating a plant-based diet: 181

LDL Cholesterol before study started: 143; LDL Cholesterol after 30 days eating a plant-based diet: 109

Hemoglobin A1Cs before the study started: 6.0; Hemoglobin A1Cs after 30 days eating a plant-based diet: 5.6

Stephanie dropped her total cholesterol 32 points in 30 days.  She dropped her LDL cholesterol 34 points in 30 days.  She no longer has elevated cholesterol and is now within normal ranges.  Her LDL is also within normal ranges now and no longer elevated. Further, she was borderline for being considered pre-diabetic and is now within normal ranges.  Stephanie has also lost 3lbs. Read the rest of this entry »

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YumUniverse.com ‘s Interview of yours truly…

Posted by Jenn on January 25, 2011


http://www.yumuniverse.com/2011/01/21/the-plant-rx-plant-based-health-study-interview-with-dr-jenna-taylor/

Visit Heather Crosby’s YumUniverse to read the full interview (Link Above).


The Plant Rx Plant-Based Health Study: Interview with Dr. Jenna Taylor – By: Heather Crosby of YumUniverse.


If you do one thing for yourself and your health today, please take 10 minutes to read the following interview with Dr. Jenna Taylor, founder of The Plant Rx.

Jenna is an inspiring woman who is currently conducting a very important 60-day plant-based diet study, in which participants (StephanieNikkiVanessaMegan,John and Jax and Amber) will be changing their diets from either a Standard American Diet (S.A.D.) or a Vegetarian Diet, to a Plant-based (Vegan) diet for 60 days. Dr. Taylor and her team will be measuring the participants changes in health, both quantitatively and qualitatively—and in an effort to be as transparent as possible, all test results will be published at ThePlantRx.com.

Dr. Taylor’s perspectives not only as a physician, but as a vegan, are invaluable, and I am looking forward to sharing more of her progress and efforts to share the benefits of a plant-based diet with YU.

One of the most important things she said during our interview is that “[physicians] have been subjected to the same programming as you and I were and just like lots of other people out there, they still believe it. That being said, this is why it is imperative for people to be in charge of their own health. Ask questions, read, research, etc. No one is going to care more about you, than you do.”

Amen, sister.

– – –
YU: So, you have had some pretty significant personal results from adopting a plant-based diet. Tell us a little more about that.

Dr. T: I have and I didn’t expect any of them. Everything about transitioning toThe Plant Rx has been a positive, pleasant surprise. I was in very good health from a medical perspective, but I had no idea the harm that I was potentially causing my body.

You see, we practice what I call “reactionary” medicine in the United States. We don’t go to the doctor unless something is wrong. The problem with this approach is that many of us feel just fine until our mid-thirties, early forties or even longer. We don’t see what is happening on the inside of our bodies and our health system isn’t set up help us look at those things before that. In my case, the only “real” health issue I struggled with that I was aware of was Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS). I didn’t think that it had anything to do with my diet as I had kept food logs and couldn’t identify any “trigger” foods so to speak. I would have episodes about once a month and the pain would be so terribly excruciating that I would literally pass out because my body could not tolerate it. Since adopting The Plant Rx diet I have not had one episode. Further, my cholesterol numbers got significantly better, I felt better—more energy, better sleep and I lost some weight too.

YU: What health goals do you have set for the future? Any issues you are dealing with now that you feel confident will go away eventually?
Dr. T: I feel great right now. I am rarely sick and the only issue I need to find a solution to is my poor posture while typing on my laptop! I plan on taking care of myself the way that I think we should practice medicine, preventatively. We need more of a focus on overall wellness in addition to The Plant Rx. This includes things like regular exercise, meditation and strong interpersonal relationships.

YU: How do you personally stay on track? Share some favorite tips (ie: travel, busy schedules, budget, dining out).
Dr. T: Planning ahead. The one thing that I wish I would have known when I transitioned was to always plan ahead because you will inevitably find yourself in a situation with little to no options for eating. For me, this means always keeping snacks with me. I make sure I have stuff at work and even a few things in the car. L.A. traffic is not kind to a hungry vegan at times!

At home, I cook on the weekends. I’m single, so cooking every night doesn’t make sense and I’m usually too tired by the time I get home from work and just want something, anything, as long as it’s immediate. Thus, I cook on the weekends and make enough to have left overs for my lunch that week and I freeze some of it so I can easily have something for times when I’m away for the weekend and don’t have the time to cook. Also, while I would prefer to have fresh organic fruits and veggies in the house, that isn’t really feasible all the time so I do buy a lot of frozen fruits and vegetables. Dining out can be a challenge, but I live by the “be creative” rule. I look at it this way, the worst case scenario is that the restaurant folks think I am difficult and weird when ordering, maybe my friends even will too, but that’s ok because I’m not going to get heart disease. I can live with that trade-off!

YU: What are your favorite plant-based meals?
Dr. T: For my Plant Rx I make super yummy pasta fagliole, chili and lentil loaf. My all-time favorite Plant Rx is a wheatberry curry casserole. The recipe as written should have chicken in it but I leave out the chicken and add more veggies.

YU: Are you eating any new foods now that you didn’t before (ie: quinoa, superfoods)?
Dr. T: Yes! I had never eaten quinoa or pomegranates, which are two of my favorites now. I also found out about this stuff called liquid aminos from Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn’s book. I love it and use it in a bunch of different things.

Click here to read the rest of the article at: YumUniverse.com

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Plant-Based Health Study has officially Kicked-off!

Posted by Jenn on January 15, 2011


Last night the participants and I had our official kick-off meeting at the Terranea Resort in Palos Verdes, CA.  We had a great time and participants are enjoying their very first day on their newly adopted plant-based diet. Make sure you click on the “Plant-based Health Study” page/tab to meet our participants and see their initial (baseline) lab results! Then, visit their individual pages to follow them throughout their journeys and give them support.

Pictures from the event:

Stephanie, Jenna, Christian, Megan and Matt

Discussing the Study over some drinks

Megan & Matt

Christian & Jenn

Vanessa, Megan , Matt and John

Stephanie and Megan

John & Jax

Stephanie & Jenn

Nikki, Vanessa, Megan, Matt and John

Jenn & Christian

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Plant-based Study starts in 10 days! Preparations are underway…

Posted by Jenn on January 5, 2011


Baselines are being determined (lipid profiles, CBC, Blood Chemistry,carotid ultrasounds, BMI) this week and the beginning of next with our kick off meeting happening at the end of next.  The first official day of the study is Saturday, January 15th.  I am posting all of our participants Bios and baseline measurements on the “Plant-based Health Study” page.  Each participant will also have their own page in which they will blog about their transition to a plant-based diet, their adjustment to it and their progression from day 1 through Day 60 (the study’s endpoint).  A mid-point assessment will be made at day  30 and a final at day 60.   The same parameters will be measured each time. Have Questions? Want to know more? Just ask us!

Click here to go to the study home page!

Jenna, Vanessa, Ana and Eddie

Stephanie, Jenna & Vanessa

Vanessa"s blood draw

Blood Draw

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