Saturday, September 8, 2007

diet, exercise, and a legal disclaimer

The results of L's last checkup arrived and it turns out that he has high cholesterol. While, of course, I know in a general sort of way what to do and he'll talk to his doctor, does anyone have any suggestions, thoughts, ideas?

Any comments received will considered purely for informational purposes, and not as intended or recommended as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.

edited to add: Thanks so much, everyone! I've ordered the books suggested by Eva and Meg and plan to pass along all your thoughts to L


thirtysomething said...

Hmmm. Maybe steer clear of any medicines and attempt to bring it down with dietary measures, it always sounds like the meds to lower cholesterol (or fight any disease) bring along so many adverse side effects-many of which sound more harmful than the original diagnosis...?
Good luck!

My Reality said...

I don't know much about lowering cholesterol since I haven't had to deal with it.

When I was a kid, there was huge hype about oatbran lowering cholesterol. If I wanted my allowance each week, I had to bake muffins for my dad. It got to the point on Saturday mornings that my $20 bill was sitting on the kitchen counter with the ingredients to bake the muffins. I think the claim was later disputed, so I don't know if there was any point to telling you this. But the muffins were quite qood!

slouching mom said...

I'm on Lipitor. Yes, I am really 68 years old, didn't you know?

Kidding aside, there is hugely high cholesterol in my family. I was tested maybe four years ago, and my number was around 300 (and the LDL, the bad stuff, was 197). That's horrendous.

They gave me six months to try to change things around with diet, but with the caveat that with a cholesterol that high in a woman in relatively good health who was at the time only 35, they didn't think it would work.

Diet brought it down 30 points, but that wasn't near enough.

So depending on his numbers, he should try changing his diet first, I'd say, but he should also be prepared to take meds. if it doesn't work.

The good news is that the medicine has no side effects, none at all.

Eva said...

Aside from the usual recommendations, avoid partially hydrogenated oils. That shit is evil. Eat mostly whole foods. Consider veganism.

Maybe you can take a look at "Eat to Live" by Fuhrman. Actually I think he has a book just on cholesterol issues. Ask the library.

Focus on healthy fats like avocado and those from nuts and seeds, like ground flax seeds.

At any rate he's in good company. Best wishes.

LAS said...

Exercise - I wasn't even trying to lower my cholesterol - it wasn't even high, and exercising lowered it. It was 175 and it went down to 145 just by walking several miles a week. Now of course I tend to eat on the healthier side anyway - so a combo of diet and exercise. There are people though for whom this just doesn't work, but it's worth a try! Good luck!!

OneTiredEma said...

High cholesterol runs in my family. At age 26 my level was 215--and that was with a fairly good, largely vegetarian diet. I was TTC so the drugs were not an option.

I got a little more careful about what I was eating (fewer eggs, less ice cream & a little less cheese, but not obsessive).

What really worked, though, was exercise. I joined a swanky new gym, where I paid for a year upfront, so I was really motivated to get my money's worth. That meant a minimum of two weekdays and Sunday. Every week.

I lowered my cholesterol to 145 in a year. And got into very good shape. It was really beyond my expectations.

Hope something works for him!

Christine said...

exercise and lots of it.

Phantom Scribbler said...

Red wine, baby. And more time in France.

Lori said...

My husband is on Lipitor, with no negative side effects. However, he does abstain from alchohol, because the combination can be hard on your liver. He also exercises like a maniac, and eats like a monk. Even with all of that he still has to have the meds. Some people are just too genetically predisposed to high cholesterol to lower it with diet and exercise alone.

L should try non-med attempts first- diet, exercise etc... but get checked again soon. If that isn't enough, get on the meds. My husband had a heart "episode" at the age of 41, while appearing to be the picture of health. Cholesterol is nothing to monkey around with.

Waiting Amy said...

You've already heard it --
Exercise then ...
Meds if needed.

Yes those meds have some concerning side effects, but that is only in a small number of people. The biggest issue is possible liver side effects, but they monitor for those.

Good Luck! Keep us posted.

Sarah said...

ooh, i know, i know!!! ask me!! i brought my cholesterol down almost 100 points by changing my diet significantly for about 6 months, and it wasn't nearly as hard as you'd think because there are still loads of totally unhealthy things you can treat yourself to that don't contain cholesterol. even though i've been mostly back to my old eating habits for 8 years now my choesterol is still in good shape. here's what i did:

#1 - cut out the prepackaged snacks with bad fats in them (basically anything with "partially hydrogenated" on the label). for me this was all chips and nearly all crackers or cookies. but, i allowed myself all the homemade cookies or treats i wanted (made with normal fats like butter). popcorn is a good substitute for crackers, but i did miss cheez-its.

#2 - no fast food. this was an absolute rule for me.

#3 - i did not cut out meat but I paid attention to how much i ate and tried to stick to lean cuts. at restaurants i always first looked for an appealing non-meat option (fish, pasta, etc), but I didn't torture myself about it.

#4 - i have a fantastic mediterranean cookbook full of great cholesterol free recipes that even my husband found filling and satisfying without meat. email me if you're interested in finding it.

#5 - i cut down on dairy and substituted soy (check out tofutti ice cream products, they're really good!). a lot of soy cheese is disgusting, but some are tasty. you have to shop around a bit.

i think it all worked for me because i was pretty dedicated. at age 25 i was a heart attack waiting to happen even though i had always been small, and i was terrified enough to make a huge overhaul without the drugs. although i wasn't meticulous about cutting out all cholesterol, it WAS a total lifestyle change, because it took a lot of planning. if we were invited to a picnic and I knew they were getting KFC, i brought something else. if we were all going out to dinner somewhere i knew i wouldn't have many healthy choices, i ate before we left and had a salad when we got there.

anyway, so to be so long about it. good luck!

meg said...

I have heard that Dean Ornish's books are good (I think it's low fat vegetarian based) for people trying to bring down cholesterol. I have it in my family too, so will have to deal with it at some point probably.

Also, I read that the mediterranean diet is the best (e.g. the guys who drink the equivalent of 1/2 cup (I think it was that much) of olive oil a day, live the longest). I think the guys were from Crete.

akeeyu said...

My husband is a genuine Big Fat Guy, but has annoyingly low cholesterol and all that jazz. (I only wish it were worse so that he'd be motivated to diet or exercise.)

His diet consists largely of diet soda, huge amounts of Mexican food (beans, guac, and the like), and he never exercises. His family is quite unhealthy, so it's not good genes. Nobody has any idea why his health is as good as it is.

So, based on that, I'd say pinto beans are the new miracle food, and if you can put up with the side effects, go for it.

Magpie said...

They always say diet and exercise. That said, I have no time for exercise and my diet is actually pretty good on the cholesterol front (aside from an occasional cheese blowout). So I ended up on Zocor. Like Slouching Mom said, no side effects.