“It looks like I have to put you on Lipitor, Judy, your
total cholesterol is 244 and your LDLs are 143.” I was flabbergasted. Me
on Lipitor? “But Doctor, how can this be? I’ve cut out meat almost
entirely and also my dairy products are fat free.” Dr. Silberstein pointed
out, “There is cholesterol even in fat-free dairy products; just read the
I protested so vehemently that he gave in. “OK, I’ll
give you three months to see if you can get the numbers down on your own.
You know what to do, and also exercise 30 minutes a day.”
I quickly set about putting together a program. I had
been reading about nutrition for over 25 years so I was able to draw from
various nutritional gurus. I had also been an avid exerciser since
stopping smoking in 1980, so I was ahead on that score too.
For breakfast I began eating raw oats with ground
flaxseed, soymilk, chopped almonds and fruit, and loved it. I decided to
eliminate all the “white” carbs as per Atkins and use as my base brown
rice, whole wheat pasta and other whole grains and legumes. I started to
cook more creatively, using tofu, TVP, veggie burgers, and stocked up on
condiments that can add so much to dishes. My only fats were of plant
origin (olive and canola oils and soy margarine). I ate as many
calcium-rich green veggies daily as I could and lots of fruit. To sum up,
I eliminated all animal flesh and fats from my diet. Rather than feeling
deprived, I loved my meals.
After three months, I had lost 11 pounds, but I felt
nervous as the big day approached when I would hear the results of my
blood tests. Weight loss was not necessarily a guarantee that my blood
lipids had dropped. After all, look at Big Pharma’s latest ads for their
cholesterol-lowering drugs – the message being that some of us, due to
heredity, will have high levels of cholesterol as we age. This may be
true, but I kept remembering the inspiring lecture by Dr. Mills which made
me think that it really is all about what you put in your body.
Dr. Silberstein looked at me incredulously. “How did you
Your total cholesterol is now 187 and your LDLs are down
to 103. No Lipitor for you.” I left his office feeling as if I was
floating on a cloud.
Several months have passed, and I have not altered my
diet, despite an evil demon within warning that I might succumb to
I still love my food and feel fantastic. I do wonder
however, how to get enough absorbable dietary calcium (because I was
diagnosed with osteoporosis), but I am working on it.
Another concern is making sure I bring enough high
calorie food with me on hikes because I am a “fast burner” by nature.
Peanut butter appears to be replacing all the cheese I used to rely on for
fuel. The crux of the matter is summed up in this quote from the article
“Diet and stress in Vascular Disease,” in the June 1961 issue of the
Journal of the American Medical Association. “A vegetarian diet can
prevent 90 percent of our thrombo-embolic disease and 97 percent of our