I can’t believe another year has flown by and it’s time for the year-end report on how my experience with Dr. Fuhrman’s Eat To Live program has gone.
In case you haven’t stopped by recently, in October I restarted the ETL program for a full six weeks, determined to lose the 10 pounds I had gained back earlier in the year. You can read all about it in this post. In short, yes, I did lose the 10 pounds – and that’s in addition to 10 pounds I lost following the program in 2014. So I’m happy with the result – just not the length of time it took to get there. (Blame that on me, not Dr. Fuhrman’s program!)
What I’m Planning For 2016
I’m going to try something a bit different. I’ve spent a lot of time reporting on Dr. Fuhrman’s program – which I happen to think has to be one of the, if not THE, healthiest nutrition programs on the planet. But there are some other programs that have been on my radar that I would like to try as well, such as Forks Over Knives, Dr. Neal Barnard, and Dr. Mark Hyman, to name a few.
I plan to follow each program for 3 months, and then do a report comparing those plans to Eat To Live. Since I’ve lost the weight I want to lose, I’ll be testing out their programs from a maintenance point of view, looking for things such as how easy/hard is it to follow the program, how do I feel while on the program, and how they are similar to or differ from Eat To Live.
I’m going to start with the Forks Over Knives plan, so check back in a few months to see what happens!
Annual Blood Test Results
Following the Eat To Live program really made me feel great – vibrant, energetic, healthy! But many friends/family are concerned that because I eat a nearly vegan diet that I may be missing out on some nutrients – primarily protein. To see if I’m doing as well on the inside as I feel on the outside, every year I have a blood work-up done to make sure I’m not eating in a way that’s throwing my body out of whack.
Last year’s July Eat To Live Report included details of my 2014 blood test results. The only result that was of concern was my Vitamin D level, which was only 25 on a “normal” scale of 30 – 100. My Vitamin B12 level was 264, and although that’s within the normal range of 180 to 914, it was on the low end of the scale. Per my doctor’s advice, I increased my D and B12 supplements, and the results were quite remarkable (see below).
So here’s how this year’s test went compared to last year:
Inflammation Marker – C-Reactive Protein: I think this is one of the most important tests you can have done, because it is widely suspected that internal inflammation is responsible for the development of most chronic diseases and cancers. On a “normal” scale of 0.00 – 2.99, my reading last year was 1.0, and this year it was 1.36. That’s a good thing – no sign of worrisome inflammation!
Blood Pressure: Although this isn’t part of a blood test, it’s something I monitor regularly. Last year, my BP was 102/66. The day my blood test was taken this year, it was 102/68. And today I happened to be at the eye doctor, and their reading was 99/66. Those readings are in the “normal to ideal” range.
Cholesterol: My HDL (good) cholesterol level last year was 74.8 and this year it was 60. Both of those levels are “considered protective against heart disease” according to the National Institutes of Health. My LDL (bad) cholesterol level last year was 87.18 and this year it is 90, both of which are in the “optimal” category. My family medical history on both sides has not been good in this department (or for blood pressure). So far, it looks as though my diet is winning out over the genes!
Vitamin B12: Anyone who eats a primarily vegan diet should monitor their B12 level, since the biggest source of this vitamin (it’s actually a bacteria) is animal products. Luckily, it’s easy to produce B12 supplements, so getting enough shouldn’t be a problem. Last year, my level was 264 on a “normal range” scale of 200 – 900, according to the NIH. This year, after taking Vitamin B12 supplements for a year, my reading was 918!
Protein: Last year, my blood protein level was 8 on a normal scale of 6 to 8.3 eating a diet that was about 80% vegan and 20% vegetarian. This year, my diet was about 95% vegan, and my blood protein level is 7.5. So I’m still doing just fine!
Vitamin D: There is some dispute about what a proper level of Vitamin D (using a 25-Hydroxy test) should be, ranging from 20 – 40 to 30 – 50. The lab I used last year said the normal range was 30 – 100 and my level was 25. After taking Vitamin D supplements for a year, my level is now 41.5 on a scale this new lab says should be between 30 – 80. Based on any of those scales, my current reading seems to now be in the normal range.
Cost of the Blood Test: Last year, the blood test cost $400. This year it was $485. Whether or not insurance covers these tests, I will continue to get them every year. If this is what peace of mind costs, I’m willing to pay the price.
All of my other test results (homocysteine, red/white blood cell, platelets, hemoglobin, glucose, sodium, potassium, etc.) all came out within normal ranges. Based on that, I feel confident that eating a primarily vegan diet not only hasn’t harmed my health, but appears to be keeping me in good shape both inside and out! (Please note these results reflect my personal experience – consult your physician before making changes to your diet.)
That’s it for this quarterly report. Check back at the end of March to see how my trial run with the Forks Over Knives plan goes!
Have a Happy, Healthy, and Safe New Year!!