Monday, June 18, 2007

Checking on That Cholesterol

I went to the doctor for a checkup recently and I just got the results of my blood work back. For the first time ever my cholesterol, lipids, etc. were relatively good. I am ecstatic.

When I had a checkup about 25 years ago the doctor told me for the first time that I had high triglycerides. This knowledge bothered me a lot at the time, but I didn’t know what to do about them. I tried to find out, but had no success. So as far as I know my triglycerides continued to be high. At about that time I quit smoking and started walking a lot, so those were two positive things I did for my health.

When I had a checkup in 2000 my cholesterol was still high as were my triglycerides. I still didn’t know what to do about any of that, so I am sure they continued to be high for quite awhile. In 2000 I started drinking a glass or two of wine in the evenings, and in 2001 I stopped eating meat as well as dairy and I adopted a low fat diet. For awhile I was a vegan. I lost a bunch of weight.

Fortunately my blood pressure is really good. I don’t know why. I think that is because of my exercising and my weight loss. Blood pressure is supposed to rise as you get older. Something like 120/85 is supposed to be normal. Whenever I go to the drug store I check it on their free machine, and usually it is about 110/70, which is low. When the nurse checked it the other day during my checkup it was 98/70.

Over the past several years I have done some more things to improve my health. In the past year I lost about 15 pounds. I now weigh 137 and have a better Body Mass Index (BMI). I started drinking two cups of green tea per day. I started consuming more soluble fiber, whether from foods like bananas and oatmeal, or from products like FiberSure. I started exercising more. I lost five pounds by just eating salads with nonfat dressing for lunch every day for a couple of weeks. Of course I continue to be a vegetarian. It was also important for me to limit my calories. I also ate a few walnuts every day, and watched my snacks in the evening, concentrating on fiber. My diet is complicated. I’ve touched on some things. I suppose I could be more specific. Maybe I will at some point. (Oh, don’t forget the fish oil.) Anyway, my diet has led to good results from my blood test about two weeks ago.

I am a sixty year old man. I am not on any medication whatsoever, thank God. Currently my total cholesterol is under 200 (181). My triglycerides are under 150 (128). My HDL is greater than 40 (52), and my LDL is 103. My VLDL is less than 40 (26). All in all I am very happy with the results of my blood test. OK, so my LDL is a little high (>100), but my LDL/HDL ratio is <2, so that is not bad. I am really glad that I had my blood checked. I have been wondering for a long time how I was doing with my diet, etc. Now I know. What I am doing actually works, at least for me. Following a low fat vegetarian diet, along with some other things like the green tea, fish oil, wine, exercise, etc., have helped me get my lipids to more healthy levels. Now that I know where I am I can take steps to try and improve my blood. I need to reduce my LDL and my total cholesterol. I also need to increase my HDL. I have some ideas about what to do now.

By the way, I don’t think it is ever too late to do positive things for your health. Seven years ago my lipids were still bad, and yet now they are good. What you do can have an impact on your health.

A lot of people are surprised when I tell them I am not on any medication. Sure, I am a sixty year old man, but not a typical sixty year old man. I avoid fast food restaurants like the plague. I exercise 30-60 minutes per day. I watch my diet carefully. I do research on how to eat healthy and live naturally. I cook. I consider that I am constantly evolving. The results of all that show up in my blood test. Hooray.

(BTW, I am lucky I was married to Arlene Malinowski for 18 years before she died. Many of the things I am doing now with my diet I learned from her.)

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