Good day all. I am happy to report the results of my recent blood work, which I have been ultra curious about since the last time I did blood work was almost 5 years ago . Although I gave up meat and poultry decades ago, about 2 and 1/2 years ago, I also gave up fish, seafood, eggs, and dairy, leaning into an almost entirely plant-based diet. I say almost entirely because most of you know, I will break for pizza every few weeks, and if Mitch grills salmon and I am in the mood for a bite or 2, I will have some because its such a great source of omega3 fatty acids. It’s pretty safe to say, I exist on a 99% plant-based diet. Many have questioned me about getting my nutritional needs met, especially since I exercise more than moderately. Teaching 9 classes a week, working out with my clients, running, swimming…how can I possibly be healthy without the protein that meat gives us? How can I be healthy without dairy products for my bones? These are common questions I get from my students and friends and they are very legitimate questions. Once I read Diet for a New America (thanks, Derek) and then the China Study, and saw Forks Over Knives, I stopped questioning but still I was curious about what blood work might reveal. The only supplement I take is B12. I also sprinkle nutritional yeast on lots of my food like popcorn, veggies and soup.
So yesterday my doctor’s office called with lots of good news and I am excited to share it, this morning…I am not afraid to say that I am turning 55 this year and this is the decade where our numbers tend to go a little crazy…
While normal cholesterol reading should (ideally) be under 220 for a man, and under 200 for a woman, mine was….182, with a very high percentage of it being the HDL (the good stuff). The woman who read me my results said this put me in the category of “very low risk for heart disease.” Normal triglyceride levels are suggest to be lower than 150 mg (per deciliter of blood) for normal risk of heart disease. The American Heart Association would prefer them to be under 100 mg/dl to have a lower risk of the disease. Mine were 74. My iron levels are high and my vitamin D was good. My glucose was just a drop elevated at 101, but the good news about that is it has always been the same 101…pre-pregnant, pregnant and through out my adult life, so there are no concerns there. The number I was most curious about, of course was my vitamin B12. Anything between 250 and 1100 is considered normal. Mine is 641 right smack in the middle of the norm. In closing our conversation, Robin said “whatever you are doing, I’d say keep doing it.”
Now, it’s important to remember that exercise impacts most of these numbers every bit as much as what we eat, so I am thankful I have been moving my muscles almost daily since 1981. There is no doubt that daily exercise is great for raising our HDL, lowering our glucose and positively impacting our bone density.
So for those of you who are already eating a plant-based diet, for those that are considering it and for those that question it’s health benefits, I think this is a pretty good example of what almost daily exercise and avoiding animal fats can do for a body. And please, please know that I am not gloating because health can change in the blink of an eye. Instead, I am suggesting that what I have learned about health and nutrition from John Robbins, Drs. Campbell, Campbell and Esselstyn, as well as what I have learned through the years about physical fitness, is all really, really good stuff. At least for this ol’ lady. If you are struggling with cholesterol issues, or at high risk for heart disease, or diabetes, you can change the course of your life. If you have never read the China Study, put it on your to do list and do it soon. It always feels right to me that what’s good for the earth and the animals happens to also be really good for us!
Make it an awesome Vegan Thursday. Thanks for allowing me to share my medical findings with you. I do it with the hope to inspire, because though this seems to be “all about me,” it’s really how much I care about YOUR health that makes me want to take the time to share.