The Plant Rx

Your resource for a plant-based diet

Posts Tagged ‘Hypercholesterolemia’

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 »

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 »

Posted in Cholesterol, Diabetes, Heart Disease, Plant-based Health Study | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 9 Comments »

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 »