Wednesday, May 22, 2013

My War With Genetics and Prescription Meds

by Deb Baker/Hannah Reed

Six months ago I'd had it. Talk about bad genes - high cholesterol, high blood pressure, pre-diabetes, osteopenia. I'd been on meds for the first two for several years. "You can't fight genes," I was told. "You'll have to take these for the rest of your life."

There were the side effects, all the med switches, blood tests to make sure my liver wasn't being damaged.

So six months ago, I stopped taking the cholesterol pills. My doctor was NOT happy with me. He made me sign a liability waiver.

I started getting more exercise (not as much as I should) and eating a more plant-based diet. Several vegetables at each  meal, some nights meat-free.

My doctor decided to prove his point with a blood test. I was ready for the challenge. And passed! I no longer have high cholesterol, close to the edge, but not in the red.

My next step is to take it to the next level. 5 days a week I'm going to dump the meat, poultry, dairy and go for losing the high blood pressure meds too.

Pre-diabetes and osteopenia, prepare to die!!

How about you? Are you a vegetarian? Has it made a difference in your health?

And if you aren't...I'm inviting you to join me.

17 comments:

  1. Good for you!!! My cholesterol is high (mostly due to family history), and I decided to try to do the same. I lost just over 20 pounds, stopped eating junk food, and started eating more veggies as snacks, and starting walking a LOT more. Except.......my cholesterol went up drastically - over 20 points! I'm still pre-diabetic, and I absolutely refuse to go down that road (my husband is on insulin). I'm trying to eat more veggies and cut down on the meat. I'm not ready to go vegetarian, but I would be happy to join you on healthier eating!!!!

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    1. Higher?? Well, that is weird, but keep up the good work and maybe next time it will cooperate:)

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    2. I'm surprised your cholesterol went up, but I do know it takes a long time to get it down with diet alone. My husband inherited super high cholesterol too and we decided he must stay on a statin drug to keep it down. Your exercise and diet will benefit you, no matter what though so I hope you can stay on that regimen.

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  2. I'll be seeing my doctor next week. One thing though, my cholesterol is historically 125 and my blood pressure is usually at 117 over 74. I do need to lost 40-50lbs just to get the weight off my bad knee.

    I will discuss alternative options with him.

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    1. Good for you, Nora. Not being able to walk would be the pits!!

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  3. Wow Deb, good for you! Perhaps you should talk to a dietitian about how to beat the other meds?

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  4. Way to go, Deb! I could never do strict vegetarian, but I'd certainly like to eat healthier. Less processed, more fresh. Can't quite give up my scone and latte on Wednesday though!

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    1. LOL. I've seen that scone and I wouldn't give it up either:)

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  5. Long explanation coming: I have high cholesterol but it is due to very high HDL or "good" cholesterol. No meds needed when your own body is clearing out the plaques left on your arteries. Actually no cholesterol is really BAD (we need it!) because it is what delivers food to our cells. But VLDL and LDL cholesterol (the deliverers) leave behind their "wrappers" after they dump food into your cells and that can create plaques. Your HDL cholesterol comes along after LDL cholesterol does it job and sweeps up those wrappers. So you need adequate good cholesterol to manage the LDL. No matter what your total number, you need to know your breakdown of good (HDL) versus bad (LDL) cholesterol. You can have a total cholesterol number below "normal" but if you don't have enough HDL cholesterol, you are STILL going to have problems of plaque left behind. That plaque gunks up your arteries, narrows them and leads to heart attacks because pretty soon, enough blood cannot get through, the blood slows down and when it sits there not moving, clots are created. Then clots and plaque break away and get to your heart muscle creating a big painful bruise and this can cause your heart to even stop. (Your heart does not like to be bruised). Doctors do not take the time to explain any of this. If you are relying on diet because of high cholesterol, specifically high LDL or "Bad" cholesterol, a diet like the Mediterranean diet is a good one because it raises GOOD cholesterol. (Olive oil, olive oil, and OLIVES!) Google Mediterranean diet and you'll see what I am talking about. BUT, my husband has genetic familial high cholesterol. He is thin. His sister is thin. HIs mother was thin. They all had or have it. No matter WHAT diet he went on (and he tried them all), he could not raise that good cholesterol enough. The ratio between good and bad cholesterol is very important. The ONLY prescription med that raises good cholesterol and lowers bad is Crestor. THE ONLY ONE. Bottom line, you need to know what all the cholesterol numbers are and their importance. If you have familial (genetic) high cholesterol (if people in your family have had heart attacks when they are young or died of heart disease at a relatively early age) even diet might not help. You do need medicine. My husband tried to stop and rely on diet (and he was religious about it and walked several miles a day). His total number went down, sure enough, but that "bad" cholesterol number was way out of whack. He is back on Crestor because I want him to live a long time. (And he still eats hardly any red meat, lots of veggies and walks.)

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    1. Leann, thanks for the wonderful explanation. I should have mentioned that those meds are really important for some of us.

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  6. Good for you Deb! I have always believed in natural and herbal remedies for my ailments. I will always try them first before trying any meds. If you could find a Homeopathic Doctor in your area. They are the best. They are real doctors that takes the natural path first. Regular Doctor's tend to believe natural and herbal is still quack medicine, some are so bought and paid for by the pharmaceutical companies that they refuse to see any other way. There are two Homepathic doctor's in our area and also a Natural Awakinings shop, their doctor can take your blood work from your own doctor and give you natural aides to help with your own medication if you really do have to have them, as well as the right diets with veggies and fruits.

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    1. That's a really good idea, Jeannie. I'm going to check around.

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  7. These are great remarks. I could not give up my milk and some meat but do eat my vegatables and fruit. I am unable to take any cholesterol medicine as I have a problem walking when I take them and I have tried so many.

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    1. eating right and getting exercise really does help!

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  8. I echo Leann's comments, Deb. Have a total blood screen and CBC done and check those numbers. All of the numbers. Check the ratios. I don't have those familial problems but as we age these number have a tendency to go up anyway. The BEST thing I've ever done for my health is cardio exercise. I started running in 1979. Ran 3 miles. Fastest way to drop weight ever. Several years later I switched to fast walking with arm swings which gets your heart rate up same as running. But it saves your knees from injury on pavements, etc. I've always practiced preventative maintenance health. :) I'm convinced those years of cardio which I still do (on ellipticals and trees now) is the reason I'm free of those "lifestyle" chronic conditions. Diet is also super important. I always have veggies and fruits as a main part of diet. A couple of years ago, I did experiment with going veggie, since I love them and eat lots anyway. I wanted to reduce the overall fat intake and meats have more fat. So---I substituted veggie meat-free alternatives and found that it was easy. :) I didn't miss meat at all. I was totally vegan for a month and had a constant variety to choose from. I continued to eat that way for several months. However. . .something else occurred in my GI system, which had always been cast iron. I could eat anything and it wouldn't bother me. I'll share the rest of the info on the phone. The message of this is ALWAYS listen to your body. If something changes, pay attention.

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    1. I have many friends who were runners and now have knee problems. You were smart to switch.

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