The Plant Rx

Your resource for a plant-based diet

Posts Tagged ‘Cholesterol’

Marc lost 55lbs in only 3 months! See how you can too… His amazing story!

Posted by Jenn on February 24, 2013


I’m happy to share another success story!  Meet Marc.  He’s a busy husband and dad who has lost over 50lbs in only 3 months and he’s only just begun.

Marc’s Story:

The Cardiologist came into the waiting room exhausted with his head buried in a cup of coffee. I could tell his performance in the operating room was laborious. He explained to me and my family that my Dad had a couple of close calls during the 5-hour quadruple bypass surgery, but that he was in a cardiac intensive care room with all indicators pointing to a successful recovery. Then the surgeon did something peculiar: he pointed to me and said “I know just by looking at you that I will see you on the operating table before you are

Marc's success after only 3 months!

Marc’s success after only 3 months!

40”.

I was 31 when my Dad, a retired physician, had bypass surgery. He had just turned 60 years old. While heart disease runs in our family, the conditions that brought us to the hospital for my Dad’s mega-heart alteration seemed too severe and too early to be written off as mere genetics. And the Cardiologist’s caution to me was offensive, which was just what I needed. At that point I was the father of a 7 month-old son, an active member of my community, the founding director of a successful leadership development organization for diverse and disengaged young adults in Indianapolis and I was very sick. I had so much to lose, but my health was taking it all away. Being young, morbidly obese, pre-diabetic and pre-hypertensive were all working against me: I was finally scared.

Over the next few years I set out to learn more about myself and about health. I read books and journals, had conversations with experts in health and behavior modification, searched my soul and experimented with different approaches to living. Having been overweight most of my life, I was very familiar with diet fads and ‘dieting’. I knew I didn’t want another top secret for losing weight or the next “10 steps for slimming my waistline”. I was looking for a new way of living. With the work of Dr. Dean Ornish, the Esselstyns, the China Study and others dancing around in my head, I went to bed one evening in February 2011 with grave physical and emotional pain caused by my food and lifestyle and I promised myself that the next day I would try a vegan diet. I stuck with it. Within days I felt better. I had more energy and less pain. I started losing weight and it felt good.

After a month or two of eating a vegan diet, I found ways around its healthy attributes. Oreo cookies, French fries, mad amounts of bread all became staples of my vegan menu. My weight crept up to a new high for me, 305 pounds, and my blood pressure and triglycerides were through the roof…again! I learned the hard way about the giant difference between a vegan diet and a plant-based diet. In December 2012, I changed everything. I started eating a plant-based diet consisting of mostly vegetables, legumes, fruits, whole grains and very little refined and processed carbohydrates. I started routinely going to a gym, the Chase Legacy Center in Indianapolis, which is a nonprofit organization that is run by encouraging and supportive members of my community – everyone should have a fitness community like this. I started the transformation.

With only three months of sticking to a plant-based diet and regular exercise, I have lost over 50 pounds, regularly have a normal blood pressure and have gone from a size 50 waist to a size 38 waist. The best part: I am not dieting! Rather, I have introduced new foods, recipes and flavors to my diet. Diet is no longer a verb, it is a noun – a thing. By eating a plant-based diet, I am not restricting myself but I am focusing on the assets that foods bring to me. I build my culinary life around those assets. This, coupled with a supportive community at my gym, family and neighborhood, has launched a life-long chapter of wellness and whole living. While the Cardiologist did save my Dad’s life through invasive and extreme surgery, I know now that he was wrong: I will not be on his operating table by the time I am 40 or anytime soon, for that matter.

Note:  Marc will be updating us on his progress every 3 months moving forward, so sign up for our email alerts of his progress and more!

Read More Success Stories Here!

Posted in Success Stories, Weight Loss | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments »

Think eating a plant-based diet is crazy? How about this…

Posted by Jenn on January 24, 2013


Ian Before: 235lbs / 262 cholesterol / 145:110 blood pressure

Ian Before: 235 lbs / 262 cholesterol / 145:110 blood pressure

People have often described my diet as radical, drastic and extreme. Eating a plant-based diet to them, even if they agree it is the most healthy thing for you, is akin to asking them to undergo torture.  They have a myriad of responses to me, most of them echoing something to the effect of ” If I can’t enjoy my life then why bother”.   It’s unimaginable to me that they perceive my diet as so radical, drastic and extreme yet they don’t think that cracking open your chest while simultaneously slicing open your legs to take out vessels from your legs to graft to your heart isn’t? I’m beginning to think everyone should watch what is really involved in one of the surgeries, maybe then, they will understand the true meaning of the words radical, drastic and extreme. It is truly very hard for me to understand how anyone would choose bypass surgery over eating plants.  Then again, maybe they think it just won’t happen to them…

*

Those thoughts bring us to our first success story of the year, Ian Welch from Florida.  Ian can tell you first hand the difference between the two options I described above. Ian’s story is becoming the norm rather than the exception these days due to the overwhelming consumption of the Standard American Diet (SAD).  Fortunately, Ian is alive and well and is able to share his journey with us. When I asked why him why he wants to share it, he says it’s because he wish someone had shared this knowledge with him.

*

Ian tells his story:

Two years ago I could not have imagined my life today.  At the ripe old age of 40, I was diagnosed with heart disease, four major blockages that if left alone would end my life quickly.

On March 23, 2011 I had Quadruple Bypass Surgery.  I had my chest sawed open.  It was singularly the most influential event in my life and in hindsight I would not change a thing.

Ian after undergoing quadruple bypass surgery at 40 only years old.

Ian after undergoing quadruple bypass surgery at 40 only years old.

The first week out of the hospital my wife, Alicia, started us on a plant-based diet.  By December, I had lost 37 pounds and my cholesterol dropped 109 points.  Since then I have learned that eating a plant-based diet and avoiding oil can drastically improve your health.  My last carotid artery sonogram showed substantial reduction in plaque; essentially reversing 40 years of buildup in a very short period of time.  Not to mention the 20-25% weight loss.

The lightning bolt moments are as rare as a strike of electricity to the head.  They either kill you or offer you the opportunity to walk away; a second chance.  It is precisely these moments that need to be deconstructed because they happen in an instant.  These moments exist a lifetime as either regret or epiphanies.

The reality is; we have no way of knowing how we will exit this world.  For some of us, we will lead long full lives and gently succumb in our sleep at a ripe old age.  For others it will be a tragic exit, leaving loved ones to question how this could have happened.

However, the majority of us will face the challenge of fighting for our years and it comes down to a simple question.  Do you want to spend your last years in a gradual state of decline; mentally and physically?  Or do you want to challenge the odds and finish up on your feet? Your physical body has very simple needs.  It is a fact of biology.  Run your body on the core ingredients it needs, run it clean.  Don’t let your mind dictate what the body wants.  A foundation built on this simple approach will drastically move the odds of avoiding disease in your favor.

I had no plan and it ended in a hospital.  I do not want to go back to that hospital.  I share my experiences for the simple reason; I wish someone had told me sooner.  It took a life-threatening situation to become the person I am today and I like this new and improved Ian.

momdadoregon

Ian in Dec. 2011 after adopting a plant-based diet. 198 lbs / 153 Cholesterol / 105:75 blood pressure

*

Ian Welch: In 2011, at the age of 40, Ian underwent quadruple bypass surgery. Ian completely transformed his life, adopting a plant-based approach to wellness. Ian is currently writing his book; “Heart Disease Saved My Life: Harness the Power of a Chronic Disease Diagnosis.” His goal is to provide others with a plan of action when faced with difficult circumstances. Ian lives in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida with his wife. He is an avid long distance runner & Bikram Yoga practitioner.  He maintains a blog at www.WholeFed.org.

*

Posted in Cholesterol, Dairy, Heart Disease, Success Stories | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

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 »

Posted in Plant-based Health Study, Success Stories, Tips, Women's Health | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

William Castelli, MD: Heart Disease Risk, Cholesterol and Lipids in 2011: What Do We Really Know?

Posted by Jenn on March 31, 2011


Cholesterol

Image via Wikipedia

2011-02-18 William Castelli MD Heart Disease Risk, Cholesterol and Lipids in 2011: What Do We Really Know? | Interview Transcripts.


Posted in Cholesterol, Heart Disease, Stroke, Weight Loss | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

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.

Posted in Plant-based Health Study, Weight Loss, Women's Health | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

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

Posted in Plant-based Health Study | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

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 »

Posted in Plant-based Health Study | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 9 Comments »

Should a Low-Fat Diet Be Plant-Based?

Posted by Jenn on December 20, 2010


(Source: Published in Journal Watch Cardiology; Journalwatch.org)

Is a low-fat diet that emphasizes plant-based foods (fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes) better at lowering cholesterol than a typical low-fat diet is? Researchers randomly assigned 120 generally healthy adults (age 30–65; 50% men; LDL levels, 130–190 mg/dL; BMI, 19–31) to eat one of these types of diets for 4 weeks.

The two diets were designed to be identical in total fat, saturated fat, protein, carbohydrate, and cholesterol content; to be consistent with AHA Step I guidelines; and to allow for calorie-intake adjustments to keep body weight constant. Meals either were eaten at the study center or were distributed in coolers to be eaten off site. Fasting blood samples were taken on 4 separate days: 2 at baseline and 2 at study completion.

As expected, body-weight changes were negligible in both groups during the 4-week study. However, compared with the typical low-fat diet, the plant-based low-fat diet yielded significantly greater declines in mean levels of total cholesterol (–17.6 mg/dL vs. –9.2 mg/dL) and of LDL cholesterol (–13.8 mg/dL vs. –7.0 mg/dL). Changes in levels of HDL cholesterol and triglycerides did not differ significantly between the two groups. LDL changes varied widely among individuals.

Comment: In the short term, a low-fat diet that emphasized plant-based foods had a greater total- and LDL-cholesterol–lowering effect than a typical low-fat diet did, even though both diets were consistent with AHA guidelines. A diet low in saturated fat and cholesterol that also includes lots of plant-based foods might increase the lipid-lowering potential of the diet.

— Joel M. Gore, MD

Published in Journal Watch Cardiology June 3, 2005

CITATION(S):

1.  Gardner CD et al. The effect of a plant-based diet on plasma lipids in hypercholesterolemic adults: A randomized trial. Ann Intern Med 2005 May 3; 142:725-33.

2.   Jenkins DJA et al. Diet and cholesterol reduction. Ann Intern Med2005 May 3; 142:793-5.

Original URL: http://cardiology.jwatch.org/cgi/content/full/2005/603/1

Posted in Cholesterol | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

The Effect of a Plant-Based Diet on Plasma Lipids

Posted by Jenn on December 20, 2010


For several decades recommendations for lowering blood cholesterol from national guidelines and agencies such as the American Heart Association (AHA) have focused on avoiding saturated fat and dietary cholesterol. However, this strategy has shown to be only modestly successful, leading several researchers and physicians to the conclusion that dietary modification alone is not an effective therapy. More recent studies have suggested that including foods or factors known to lower blood cholesterol may be a more successful approach than merely avoiding saturated fat and cholesterol. Soy protein, soluble fiber, plant sterols, and nuts are examples of foods and dietary factors that have shown potential benefits in improving lipids. In 2000, the AHA substantially revised its previous dietary guidelines to emphasize overall dietary patterns including more vegetables and whole grains (in general, a plant-based diet), while maintaining the recommendation to follow a low-saturated fat, low-cholesterol diet.

We conducted a study designed to determine whether a plant-based diet consistent with the 2000 AHA dietary guidelines would be more effective in lowering blood cholesterol than the previously recommended low-fat, low-cholesterol diet. We randomly assigned 125 participants with moderately elevated cholesterol to eat either a plant-based diet, low in saturated fat and cholesterol but also rich in fiber, nutrients and phytochemicals, or a convenience foods-based diet with the same level of total and saturated fat and cholesterol.

After 4 weeks, the participants eating the plant-based diet, rich in nutrients and phytochemicals, reduced their total and LDL cholesterol significantly more than the participants consuming a standard low-fat diet. To learn more about the details of the study, read the Abstract published in the Journal Annals of Internal Medicine.

Posted in Research/Data | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »