Another month flew by too quickly and it’s time for another monthly update on my experience following Dr. Fuhrman’s Eat To Live plan. As mentioned in my June Eat To Live Report, I eased up a bit on my eating plan during the summer due to a very active social calendar. My main goal was to not pack on any additional pounds and I’m happy to report that I’m still holding ground – no pounds gained, but also no pounds lost. I pretty much spent the weekends doing/eating what I please, and then spending the weekdays trying to counteract any damage my ventures may have caused.
So what can I report this month that may be of interest or helpful? Well, here is where I find myself continually stepping out of my comfort zone in this Down The Rabbit Hole blog section by providing…..Too Much Personal Information. So here goes.
I get many inquiries whether following Dr. Fuhrman’s plan (which is primarily vegan) can help or hurt your health. Although I know from the way I feel (high energy level, weight loss, generally feeling really good) that it is working for me, I was interested to see whether there was any “hard” evidence to back this up. The evidence came in the form of my annual medical check-up. (To be honest, I followed Dr. Fuhrman’s plan about 80% of the time during the past 7 months, so I haven’t been perfect.) I won’t bore you with ALL of the gory details, but am highlighting what I think is important.
And in case you are wondering, yes, my doctor knows that I have this blog, and yes, she does read it (at least occasionally!). So if I have mistakenly reported anything, I’ll probably hear from her. And if she has any corrections, I’ll let you know.
Disclaimer Alert: The following information is strictly my experience. You should always check with your own doctor before making any changes to your diet.
Blood Test Results
I decided to have a pretty detailed blood analysis done because there is a history on both sides of my family for heart disease, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, stroke, cancer, etc. Every year that passes makes me wonder whether I am pre-destined to encounter the same issues. I was relieved to find based on my blood test results, at least so far, that isn’t the case.
Inflammation Marker – C-Reactive Protein Test: Chronic inflammation was something I was most concerned about due to my family history of chronic diseases and my own experience with asthma (now well controlled and almost gone, but which used to be a huge problem as discussed in this post and that one). In the interest of brevity, I will not discuss the details of how chronic inflammation is now suspected as being one of the primary causes of such things as:
All you have to do is Google it and research it for yourself. Perhaps in the future, I’ll do a more detailed post on it, but for now, suffice it to say that I wanted to know whether asthma was resulting in harmful, chronic, internal inflammation, or whether it was a localized “acute” issue for me.
Based on my C-Reactive protein tests, I apparently do not have a chronic inflammation condition. On a normal scale of 0.0 – 4.9, my reading was 1.0 mg/l. I also had a sub-test of this marker done to check specifically for inflammation that could lead to a cardiac event (i.e., heart attack), and my result was .78 mg/l on a scale of 0.00 – 3.00, which means I have a “relative low risk for a future cardiovascular event”. Whew!
Blood Pressure: Although this isn’t part of the blood test, I thought I should include it as blood pressure, high cholesterol, heart disease, etc. tend to go hand-in-hand. To be honest, my BP reading of 102/66 (normal for me) was taken during my annual eye exam 2 days earlier than my physical. My BP during the physical was 127/80, but I attribute the higher reading to the fact that I was getting my blood drawn which REALLY stresses me out. I’m not good with the sight of blood – especially when it’s my own!
Cholesterol: My HDL (good cholesterol) reading was 74.8 mg/dl – which is above (i.e., better than) the normal range of 35.00 – 60.00. This is good. My LDL (bad cholesterol) was 87.18 mg/dl, which is in the normal range of less than 100.00. My triglycerides were 67.1 mg/dl which is at the lower end of the normal range of 30.00 – 150.00.
Vitamin B12: For anyone who is vegan/nearly vegan, B12 is something that should be monitored because B12 primarily comes from animal sources. Thus, vegans should look into taking a proper supplement to maintain adequate levels. My level was 264 pg/ml which is within the normal range of 180.00 – 914.00. Because I was toward the lower end of the range, my doctor recommended a B12 supplement which I am now taking.
Protein: Many people wonder whether vegans/vegetarians get enough protein without eating animal-based protein. What is not as well known is that vegetables, beans and grains contain protein, so if eaten in proper quantities, acquiring enough protein is not difficult. My total protein count was 8 g/dl. As the normal range is about 6.00 – 8.00, I’m apparently doing just fine in the protein department. I’m not totally vegan (yet!) as I still consume small amounts of eggs, yogurt and cheese. Once I go completely vegan, I will keep monitoring this to make sure all is well.
Vitamin D3: This is something all women should monitor as they generally have more difficulty maintaining proper levels than men. Living in northern climates away from the sun (the major source of vitamin D) makes it more difficult to acquire sufficient amounts of D3. My level was 25 ng/ml, which is just below the normal range of 30.00 – 100.00. Therefore, my doctor recommended I take a daily multiple-vitamin supplement, as well as a specific D3 supplement. Done!
Cost of Blood Test: Because of the deductible in my health plan, I paid for this out of pocket, which was a little over $400. You should check with your healthcare provider to see whether you can have similar tests done that are fully or partially covered. Even though it was not covered for me, I decided it was worth the money to check these things out for myself.
So those are the highlights of my blood test. There are many other items (glucose, sodium, calcium, thyroid, white and red blood cell counts, etc.) that were included in my test, but I didn’t mention them as they all came out in the “normal” range.
What I Learned: There are many tests other than a blood analysis which can help identify potential health issues. I will continue to have them done as recommended by my doctor, and whether or not they are covered by my health plan. In the meantime, all I can say is that as far as my experience following Dr. Fuhrman’s eating plan goes, nothing came up during my annual physical to indicate that it caused any harm. To the contrary, everything seems to be A – OK! According to my doctor, I got an “A+” on my check up and blood tests!
I kind of expect this post to generate a lot of feedback – both positive and negative. Again, I will emphasize that everything reported here is my own personal experience. I do not mean to imply that everyone can expect the same results. Please check with your doctor before starting any new diet and make sure that you have some means of tracking your progress to make sure your chosen plan is yielding positive results.
Please check back next month for my next Eat To Live report!