Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Vegan Health

Here I am a vegan fighting misconceptions about us, and now I have my own shattered. Listening to Vegan Freak Radio (66: The Vegan Health Show) yesterday blew my freaking mind. Bob Torres, a vegan and co-author with wife Jenna of "Vegan Freak," a book about being a vegan in an unvegan world, revealed that he recently found out he was a diabetic. This is a vegan who is the ideal body weight and eats fairly well, but he still was diabetic. He says the doctor actually told him to eat a low-carbohydrate diet. That's something no vegan wants to hear or can even cope with. The doctor said two tests of his fasting glucose was high, and his cholesterol was at 201, and his triglycerides were 197. The American Heart Association considers total cholesterol above 240 mg/dl to be high and between 200 and 239 mg/dl to be borderline high. According to the American Heart Association, normal triglycerides should be at 150 mg/dl. The American Diabetes Association says a normal fasting glucose is less than 100 mg/dl, but between 100-125 is pre-diabetes, and 126 mg/dl and higher is diabetes. Well, Torres gets educated about his disease and what he can do to be more healthy. He consults with a dietician, and he reads the book, "Dr. Neal Barnard's Program for Reversing Diabetes: The Scientifically Proven System for Reversing Diabetes Without Drugs," that reports on how a low-fat vegan diet can reverse diabetes. He and his wife stop drinking alcohol regularly, adding refined sugars to foods, and they cut way back on the amount of oils they were adding to their foods. They also start exercising everyday, no excuses. The way Torres puts it on his radio show is that his life depended on him exercising every day, so he had to make time to do it, even if it meant less time doing something else. In a month, Torres went back to the doctor and was retested. She tells him that he reversed his diabetes. What ever he was doing, he should keep doing it. In the five years I've been a vegan, I presumed that the mere fact I was vegan meant that I was healthy. Vegans should have low cholesterol because we don't consume cholesterol. Well, things like saturated fat and even white flour can raise cholesterol. So, maybe we were fooling ourselves some. Being a vegan doesn't prevent someone from being overweight, either. I'm 5'10" and weigh 225 pounds. I'm actually considered obese by our country's health standards, even though I don't really look like it. I had already been overweight before I became a vegetarian and then a vegan, but that doesn't make being overweight any more healthy. Interestingly enough, this is the sixth-straight week I've been exercising on my exercise bike at least five times per week for 30 minutes. About the same time we started exercising more, my wife and I decided to ax alcohol except on special occasions, such as a birthday or anniversary. We did the alcohol thing because of all of the empty calories you get on top of everything else you eat. So, we are making an effort to be more healthy. We certainly have a long way to go, but like I always say, you don't get overweight in one night, so you can lose it all in one night either. I think we need to slash the amount of sweets and fatty foods we are consuming and cut down on the oils we add when cooking. Of course, we already don't eat any white rice, white flour, white sugar or highly processed foods. So, that's a good start. Oh, Anita did get tested before we started exercising regularly. Her total cholesterol was 186, her HDL was 50, LDL 111, triglycerides 60, glucose 87 and thyroid-stimulating hormone 1.25. Basically what that means is she is not diabetic, and most of her numbers were in the ideal category, but her LDL levels were a little high. Torres pointed out on his radio show that a health expert said total cholesterol below 150 is where heart attacks and other heart diseases are unheard of. I would like to get my levels checked, as well, but since I just recently changed jobs, I can not use my health insurance until I've been employed for at least 90 days. Hopefully, I'll keep up with the exercising and the better diet at home, and I'll have some good numbers. We'll see. But with a gut check just now, I know it's still there, so I know I have plenty of room to get healthier.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for this entry, it is cool to see how you're working on similar changes in your life, and to know that things are working out for you and your wife. I'm sorry, also, to have shattered any misconceptions ;)