Vegan Freak Health Show


If you haven’t heard it yet, make sure you go check out the health episode of the VeganFreak radio show.  It’s a departure from their normal style and is quite an interesting and informative listen.  In the past, they’ve kind of breezed by a lot of health talk, often coming out and saying things like, “I don’t worry much about Omega-3s” and things along those lines.  But after Bob was diagnosed with diabetes and high cholesterol and Jenna with high cholesterol, they realized that just being vegan isn’t enough.  Thankfully, with some minor diet changes, they really turned things around.

I thought I’d share my own health-related anecdote.

By May 2005, I had been vegan for seven months.  The previous year, as a lacto-ovo, my HDLs (good cholesterol) were a tad low and I had a triglyceride reading of 210.  Considering under 150 is what one should shoot for, I was pretty far off.  That May I thought to myself, “I’ve been vegan for a while now, I’m sure things have improved.”  My HDLs were about the same and my triglycerides were actually up to 227.  Yikes.  The doctor wasn’t overly concerned, but I didn’t like my triglycerides up that high.

Over the next year-and-a-half, my eating habits changed a bit.  I relied less on processed fake meats and was generally eating more whole foods.  It wasn’t really a conscious effort, but happened naturally.

When I had my blood checked again in December of 2006, my total cholesterol had dropped from 165 to 135, my HDLs were up from 35 to 37 (still a little more work to do here), my LDLs dropped from 85 to 77, and, get this: my triglycerides dropped from 227 to 106.  In addition, my cholesterol ratio dropped from 4.7:1 to 3.6:1 (optimal for males is 3.5:1).  That was some seriously good change.

I still could stand to be a bit healthier.  I eat more sugar than I probably should (cookies) and haven’t been able to get back into a good, regular exercise groove.  But, I’m pleased with where simply moving towards more whole foods has gotten me so far, with surprisingly little effort.

7 Responses to “Vegan Freak Health Show”

  1. gladcow

    I find that just being open to ways to get more fruit and veggies and more whole foods is enough to get me to actually eat more of those things. For instance, I noticed that I wasn’t eating a lot of fruit. Maybe one serving a day. I was also having a hard time being consistant with Omega-3 supplementation (which is extra important in regulating my moods, I’m prone to depression). So I started doing fruit smoothies in the morning with a total of 1.5 cups of fruit/juices and add my Omegas in there. I’ve found it easy to keep up and while I don’t have any actual numbers I know that I needed to find a way to fit those things into my diet. And I actually eat breakfast, too!

    Off to listen to the health show, I’ve been meaning to for awhile.

  2. Mike

    I can sympathize with your health concerns, Ryan. I’ve been vegan for 11 years, and vegetarian for 7 years before that. I think that, for the longest time after becoming vegan, I thought in the back of my mind that I might be invulnerable to the big SAD-linked diseases. Then, whamo! At the age of 29, suddenly I had cancer. It was only skin cancer (“only”), but it was a serious kind, and it took some doing to get rid of. Even now, as I watch the scar heal, I wonder what those wacky little cells might be up to in there, and whether my diet is doing anything to protect me…

    The thought of a vegan with diabetes _and_ high cholesterol, both at a relatively young age…that’s scary. It just goes to show you that there are many diseases out there that veganism doesn’t necessarily help with. And, of course, there are many vegans whose diet isn’t too far from the SAD, from a nutritional standpoint. A tub of Tofutti a day will do you in as quickly as a tub of ice cream, I suppose, although maybe by a different mechanism.

    The last time I had my blood tested, I really only looked at the cholesterol numbers which were, luckily, just fine. Methinks I will get re-tested and have a closer look at the triglyceride numbers.

  3. bazu

    You touch on an important point here… a friend of the family has been a vegan for many years. I recently found out that he battles cholestrol that verges on 300 (!!). It’s so important to be aware of the health impact of what we do, regardless of veganism. But, veganism is a profound step to take for health for most people. Very interesting stuff.

  4. bazu

    Oh, just to clarify my comment above, the friend of the family has succeeded in lowering his cholestrol since switching to veganism, but it’s still higher than he would like. The 300 was definitely pre-veg.

  5. John Henson

    I’m just starting as a vegetarian and exploring things on the vegan level. I have high triglycerides too and its’s good to hear that it takes more than just getting off meat. Thanks for the heads up.

  6. Marcy

    My numbers have always been good, but it’s always a struggle with lots of work and no time to eat remotely right. I would say I’m much better about supplementation & vites than I used to be. Now I’m trying to integrate more produce and less highly processed stuff in. I’d be lying if I said I’m golden about it, but I’m trying. But I dealt with all of that all along – sort of goes with Type A, high stress ways. And of course, the issue of rest being key. That’s another big problem.

  7. Caitlin

    When I first became vegan, the first month I lost 10 pounds…and i felt alot better than i had before when i ate animal products. I probably lost weight and felt better because i also didn’t have access to alot of processed vegan food, and i ate mostly fruits, veggies, and whole foods.

    I also convinced my father to try veganism, because i promised him it would help him lose weight. He was able to stay vegan for a week…and lost 8 pounds that week, probably just from cutting out ice cream and steak.

    But i think youre right, fruits, vegetables, and whole foods are definetly the way to go for optimum health.

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