By: Maggie Atherton Leiterman
The headlines are full of articles about anti-inflammatory, cholesterol, and cancer fighting foods, teas, concoctions, and super foods. There are daily warnings broadcast about cardiovascular health and arteriosclerosis that is linked to cholesterol clogged arteries. The media and grapevine pipeline is full of fad diets, toxic cleanses, and many other gimmicks to get people to buy their products. Another alarming trend is the rise of many mainstream healthcare workers prescribing a pill as their first line of treatment, which is contrary to what the AMA (American Medical Association,) the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Public Health Service, National Institutes of Health, and the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute advocate, which is that doctors should be counselling patients about how they can change their condition with nutrition, lifestyle changes, and exercise first before turning to drugs. I know many people would rather take a pill and keep on with their habits, but unfortunately there are numerous side effects from long term use of some medication and it seems every day brings new findings of a drug that was thought to be safe found to be causing catastrophic damage. I prefer to read, read, read all the papers based on scientific research studies and findings that University Hospitals and research laboratories are publishing. At the end of this article I have links to many of the research documents I am reading as well as some fun ones for recipes. Have you heard of quercetin? It is found in many foods, research has shown cancer fighting properties of quercetin. I have links at the end of this article to the research I’ve been reading on this subject.
What is your reason for wanting to eat better? Is it to regain health and stop taking medications, or to lose weight or maybe to maintain weight. Eating better to improve your joint health, to improve arthritis, or perhaps to ward off cancer? Maybe you want to learn how to get more natural probiotics from fermented foods to increase gut health, or you are trying to lower your blood pressure or your bad cholesterol and triglycerides, or raise your good cholesterol naturally? Perhaps you’re trying to control hypoglycemia or diabetes? Whatever the reason, you aren’t alone, there are millions of people worldwide who want to eat their way to good health for various reasons. I am on a mission to eat my way to good health, I want to lose weight, to lower blood pressure, and my cholesterol too! My quest includes documenting my research so that I can cite my sources, scientific based research, not junk science, and to share the information with others. At the end of this article are many links to the sources I am using to guide me on this journey. I want to build strength through exercise as I lose weight slowly so that hopefully I will be toned and not saggy. In June, I decided to record everything I put in my mouth, I use a website to record my daily intake, I’ve had success in the past losing pounds and tracking nutrition. A few years ago I dropped from 225 to 215 and have not gained it back but I got complacent and stopped recording. The Calorie Count program keeps track of food intake for me and displays a chart showing total nutrients of what I ate, such as calories, carbohydrates, fat, and other nutrients including many vitamins. If you want to check it out, it is free to use. One of my favorite features of Calorie Count is the recipe section. I record my recipes and it not only analyzes the recipe showing a nutrient label but it also saves the recipes for me. I have recipes from 2008 when I first joined Calorie Count even though some years I’ve only logged in a few times a year. There is a community of people sharing their journey on the timeline, in groups and forums. You can friend people on Calorie Count where they participate in groups and forums, they post on the timeline, and in groups and forums. If you join look me up, my page is Maggie’s Calorie Count page.Calorie Count sort of reminds me of facebook in the aspect of the timeline, and groups but everyone on Calorie Count is posting about their journey with how they are consuming food and drink. In June of this year I started recording in Calorie Count again, I was eating mostly a plant based diet of foods known to lower LDL. I was doing good and had lost some weight so of course, like most dieters, I wanted to celebrate with food that I love and had been depriving myself of so I went out to dinner on Friday July 1st and over-indulged eating pizza, after an emergency room visit in the early morning hours of July 2, 2016 and undergoing CT scan, IV fluids, and IV antibiotics, then I was told I had severe diverticulitis with internal bleeding. I finally got released that evening with prescriptions for two different antibiotics, and instructions from the emergency room doctor that I was required to have only clear liquids for a few days, no caffeine or alcoholic beverages. At home I drank apple juice, white grape juice, and I made my own vegetable broth by boiling a variety of vegetables, straining out the veggies. I saved the cooked vegetables to eat after the clear fluid liquid diet was up. After the liquid diet, the emergency room doctor’s instructions required me to eat low fiber foods such as mashed potatoes without the peels, all vegetables mashed without peels or seeds, corn flakes and other such foods for about a week, and then to slowly build up my fiber intake to 35 grams or more a day. I was told to keep eating a diet high in fiber content to avoid any new flare up of the IBD (Inflammatory Bowel Disease.) It took me about 2 weeks to reach that goal of 35 grams of fiber a day, and now it is my mission each day to reach or exceed that goal with vegetables, fruits, and grains. I have found that adding unprocessed bran to my meals accomplishes the goal easily. I make a smoothie in the blender, for breakfast, with a banana, a cup of soy milk (my own homemade soymilk,) and 1/8th cup unprocessed bran. It is filling and delicious. I’m enjoying making up new recipes and eating, eating, eating. I’m trying many new foods, with wide variety of vegetables and grains. It takes a lot of vegetables, fruits, nuts, and grains to make a balanced plant-based diet, and amazingly the pounds are just melting away! I feel great too! No processed foods, no fast foods, and I try to stay around 1200 calories a day which is minimum for healthy weight loss. I started drinking fresh grated ginger root tea instead of coffee or tea, sometimes I add a stick of cinnamon too. Another drink is frozen watermelon and juice of fresh lemon in the blender for a smoothie. I’ve noticed a marked drop in my blood pressure, and have stopped one of the blood pressure medicines I was on and cut the dose of the other one in half! I believe when I get more weight off and with continued exercise and good eating habits that I may be able to stop that one all together. As for reducing my cholesterol, I am trying to lower without drug therapy that the nurse practitioner I go to is trying to get me to take. I’ve discussed the matter with my heart doctor and my vascular surgeon and they both agree with me that it is much better to lower with diet and avoid taking drugs. I am having routine blood testing done soon that will reveal if my cholesterol LDL has come down. I already have good levels of triglycerides and HDL. I am hoping to see good results from the plant-based diet and a marked improvement to LDL level.
Since I am following a plant based diet I was happy to find this food pyramid based on a plant based diet.
I been posting pictures of all the good food I been creating, I been posting on Instagram, my Instagram page is https://www.instagram.com/maggiescornerdotorg/ – I post on other social media sites too.
Here are a few pictures of the food I’ve posted on Instagram. The recipes with nutrient label for each meal is on Calorie Count in my recipes.
And just think, all that good food is good for lowering LDL (bad cholesterol,) and to raise HDL (good cholesterol.) I broke the 200 pound mark this past week and as of the date of this publication (August 13, 2016) I weigh 199 pounds. My goal is 140 pounds by mid year 2017, so 59 pounds to go! I will post on my blog each month with my progress. I’d love to hear about your journey too! Leave me a comment about your journey.
Cholesterol, LDL, HDL, Triglycerides
“What’s the difference between triglycerides and cholesterol? Triglycerides and cholesterol are separate types of lipids (fat) that circulate in human blood. Triglycerides store unused calories and provide your body with energy, and cholesterol is used to build cells and certain hormones. Because triglycerides and cholesterol can’t dissolve in blood, they circulate throughout your body with the help of proteins that transport the lipids (lipoproteins).” quoted from Mayo Clinic Article.
Do you wonder what causes the blockage in arteries? There are many reasons people develop blocked arteries which lead to strokes, and heart attacks. Saturated fat raises LDL (bad cholesterol,) and hydrogenated fat raises triglycerides (another type of lipid). There are numerous risk factors such as smoking, actually any use of tobacco, also lack of exercise, obesity, high blood pressure, inflammation from diseases, such as arthritis, lupus or infections, or inflammation of unknown cause, and high cholesterol – meaning high LDL which should be less than 100mg/dL, and Triglycerides should be less than 150 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL) , but the HDL cholesterol is actually good cholesterol that helps the heart. A level of 60 mg/dL and higher HDL actually protects the heart and helps lower the LDL. Total cholesterol should be less than 200mg/dL.
In 2015 I was very fortunate that a doctor recognized a bruit, that is a sound in the throat which is an indication of blockage of carotid artery. After angiogram and other testing, I was seen by a heart specialist and a vascular surgeon. A heart arrhythmia was detected with a monitor, but I was cleared for surgery because the angiogram showed that my right carotid artery was over 80% blocked. I had the surgery late 2015 and it turned out that my right carotid artery had been over 90% blocked. Due to problems the anesthesiologist had inserting my arterial lines the vascular surgeon order tests on my arms and it turned out that my right subclavian artery was over 90% blocked. In early 2016 I had an angioplasty procedure to open that artery. All tests since have shown good flow restored to that artery, which is the main artery going into right arm. Tests show that I do have some minor narrowing of arteries throughout my body but I have high hopes to eat my way to good health. Medical research supports the premise that food can not only restore good health, cure illness, but also reverse plaque buildup in arteries. The American Journal of Cardiology double blind study showed the benefits of pomegranate on atherosclerosis.
I don’t know what caused the buildup of plaque in my arteries, it could have been from 30 plus years of smoking, long-term smoking cause the oxidation of blood which leads to plaque forming inside the arteries.
I am on a journey to eating my way to good health, to exercise daily, and to lose weight to reach my goals. My journey is more than dieting to lose weight, this journey is a new way of living that is changing my life for the rest of my life. This new way of eating will be my new normal and once I have achieved my goal I will again enjoy some of the other foods and drinks that used to be my old normal, but only occasionally and in strict moderation.
I want to share my journey with others who may benefit from the research I’ve done. I’ll write more posts on my blog to share my journey. I hope you will check out all the sources I’ve shared and let me know your own journey. Leave comments at the end of this post.
Below are many resources and references that I’ve used in my research and hope you enjoy it too.
The United States Department of Health has a couple brochures I have saved for my own reference that I want to share with you so that you can understand better about the facts relating to cholesterol and arteriosclerosis. Click on the pictures below to access the brochures which you can download if you want to.
References to bookmark
black pepper: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17987447
Food that contains quercetin: http://www.quercetin.com/overview/food-chart
Trans Fat raises LDL, Hydrogenation causes trans fat in food:
High Fructose Corn Syrup:
Mayo Clinic, Arteriosclerosis / Atherosclerosis: http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/arteriosclerosis-atherosclerosis/symptoms-causes/dxc-20167022