Keep Going …

These were the words my GP used when we discussed my blood work the other day.

I was a little surprised. The numbers mostly went in the right direction and quite markedly so. But I was still expecting a response like: “The results are fine, nothing to worry about.” All delivered with little emotion.

But his actual comments were: “Your blood results came back excellent! Whatever you are doing, keep doing it!”

And he knows exactly what I’m doing: Low Carb/Healthy Fat.

He even wrote it on the blood work request as LCHF 6/52 – meaning 6 weeks of last 52.

On my visit last week there as a fairly strong view that my bacon, eggs and grilled tomato were flying in the face of the advice of a registered professional dietician. Which, in fact, they were.

I’ve known my GP for a while now (30 years in total though not always seeing him as my GP due to life changes and distances) and he is a great guy. We’re the same age, give or take 10-15 days. My visits are always pretty quick but we always have a bit of a chuckle and a chat.

To be fair, I did try the dieticians advice for a couple of weeks and I saw my blood glucose fasting rise marginally in the morning. Not a lot and certainly not enough to stop the regime without an alternative. But I have an alternative.

In addition, I need to manage my blood sugars and my cholesterol – even though some studies suggest that cholesterol and saturated fat are not the cause of arterial plaque but I’m not that game to lose the statins just yet.

Without further ado there are my blood results. The main thing is to look at the recent history to see the changes, not just the one off results of the 28/08/18.

Screen Shot 2018-09-06 at 2.27.01 pm

The main score here is the LDL. It’s below the “magical*” 2.0, which is what I have been working on for a while. So the Doc was pretty happy with that and I assume the Cardiologist will be as well. And to come down a whole point from 09/16 can’t be bad.

If my HDL had remained at 0.9 my Coronary Risk Ratio wouldn’t have been listed as H (High). So close!

Screen Shot 2018-09-06 at 2.32.50 pm

Blood sugars also went in the right direction. the HbA1c (NGSP) dropped 0.8 and Estimated Avg Glucose dropped 1.2 points.

Of course these reductions are a one off. I’d like to close the case right here. But I think it prudent to get a couple more checks before I go solo! For any test to be valid it needs to be repeatable.

* There is lots of research that discounts the LDL level but I’m not about to trust that yet. The same goes with saturated fat and while I am consuming a healthy fat diet, the statins will remain until I see a further dramatic drop and/or there is consensus on the point. I’ve dodged a heart attack once. I don’t plan walking into one if I can help it.

Progress Report 1

Measuring-ProgressAfter yesterday’s post on constant movement I am very conscious of what I’m doing today. I gotta practice what I preach/observe.

So this is an update on all of that less than 24 hours later.

 

 

Todays’ stats:

  • Fasting blood sugars: 6.0
  • Weight: 82.3kg (target 78kg)

The BS of 6.0 is three days in a row so a big tick for consistency but I’d really like to see some 5.x in there.

Why 6.0?

My diet yesterday was a bit higher in sugar being Father’s Day. A roast pork was good but the rolled roast turkey, while delicious, had some stuffing that may have contributed to the reading. Along with 2 glasses of red wine and one of champagne. Oh, and the amazing brownie/mousse made by my son-in-law.

I did end the night with 2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar (ACV). The benefits of which can be seen here by Dr Eric Berg.

Overall, the 6.0 this morning is self inflicted and easy to address.

Weight?

Pretty steady. It hovers around that figure so that is working for now, as long as I keep up this constant movement idea. Obviously I’d like to see it go down.

I do see a lot of posts ands research about addressing diabetes. One of which is losing weight. That doesn’t really apply to me (thankfully) so it’s just a lazy 4kg to lose but that last few can be hard.

Today

I’m now trying to follow the Australian Dietary Guidelines (ADG). Whereas previously I was experimenting with Low Carb.

Breakfast

  • Steel cut oats (half a cup, cooked)
  • 1/3 cup no fat milk
  • 2 scrambled eggs
  • 2 x espresso coffees with pouring cream (the cream has to go!) 😦

2 hour blood glucose reading: 8.7 – not good!

Morning Snack

  • Granny smith apple – big tick
  • Long macchiato with full cream milk – maybe not a big tick

Movement day has been 4,380 steps of which around 3,000 was walking the dog.

While I can check my blood sugars throughout the day the key factor is the morning, fasting BG level so I’ll report on that mostly.

Lunch

  • 2 tbsp of ACV
  • 400ml sparkling water
  • 1 x slices of Helga’s low carb soy and toasted sesame bread
  • 80g roast chicken, no skin
  • 4 x brussel sprouts
  • 1 cup spinach and rocket
  • 1/2 carrot, raw

The chicken was leftover from Saturday and had to be eaten. I struggled to pit the skin in the bin and not eat it. It is so delicious. Anyway, trying to follow the guidelines.

Afternoon snack

  • 30g nuts – likely walnuts

These will satiate and provide the right nutrients until dinner.

Dinner

  • 2 tbsp ACV
  • Chicken dish of some sort – haven’t decided yet.
  • Lots of vegetables

 

Constant Movement (and other things …)

Villa Oliveti
Villa Oliveti, Pescara, Italy

I’m speaking purely from observational experience. I know observational studies are not that reliable but I’m not writing a paper so take this for what it is.

It’s also inconclusive but I still think there are benefits to be gained.

While reading the Pioppi Diet by Aseem Malhotra and Donal O’Neill, they observe that a diet is more than just food. It is lifestyle, the culture, the location and a range of other variables, many of which may simply be fortunate than by conscious design.

I see this in my wife’s family, particularly her and her parents.

The following are simply observations, don’t shoot me! I also realise many could cite counter examples. Again, just observations.

My Wife’s Parents

Amadeo and Giselda, Italians from a small village (Villa Oliveti) in the Abruzzi region. Local farmers who migrated to Australia in the mid-50s to settle in Guildford, WA.

Mum and Dad both worked jobs during the day and then came home to a half acre property of which most was tilled and turned into a vegetable garden.

There was constant work and things to be done. Tend to the garden, make dinner, housework, more gardening if light permitted and only then, sit back and relax, go to bed and do it all again the next day.

The gardening was constant and hard work at times. The rotary hoe used to break down constantly but the soil still needed to be worked. So it was.

Dad made his own sausages from the pig he’d keep out there back and fatten up over time so the meat you ate could not have been fresher and guaranteed of no added hormones or chemicals.

The annual tomato sauce making ritual started at 5am. You had to be there at 5am which, for me, meant getting out of bed at 4am! WTF!

Because it was a production line everyone played a role which developed the social aspect. But first, coffee. Espresso to be exact and my god, how good!

Then on to the sauce and how we made it. And how our sauce was the “best in WA” and no-one could make sauce like ours and it was only Mum who could make Lasagne properly so don’t even try, girls! (Yes, a little sexist back then). Yada, yada, yada. It was an all-day affair. Usually on a Sunday.

But it was family and, after a few years, being an Australian from a completely different background you get used to it, look forward to it and enter into the banter along with everyone else. Even, perhaps, more than my wife who grew up with this ritual. It was a great social event on the family calendar.

The fundamental family environment was never ending from a constant movement point of view.

Dad would often say to me: “Bill, slowly, slowly”. And he was right. There is no rush with gardening. Take your time and do it properly. It’s not a task to be finished. It’s an activity to be enjoyed. If it took all day, so be it. The point was you weren’t so knackered that you were useless the next day.

Mum and Dad lived like this until they passed away. Dad at 87 and Mum at 91.

Neither had diabetes or heart disease. Mum could still easily touch her toes 20 times the year she passed away.

The simple point to make here is, with our current sedentary lifestyle, if I may categorise it as follows:

“Work in order to finish your tasks as quickly as possible so you can sit down and relax … 

versus

… a lifestyle where there is always something to do, going about it slowly and methodically and only rest when you need to.”

I’m not suggesting people are lazy or hate work and don’t want to be constructive and productive. What I am suggesting is there may be benefits in the latter approach above that will help our overall health by constant movement and constructive socialising that we may inadvertently be missing out on by only looking at diet to address whatever malady besets us.

Yes, diet is important. We are what we consume. But consumption isn’t related only to food and drink.

 

Small Steps to Recovery

SmallSteps-811 There are three things I need to do in order to live a healthier life, and it’s not “rocket surgery!”
  1. Eat better – so my blood sugars are under control and ward off an acceleration into diabetes.
  2. Sleep better – to manage my family history of cardiovascular disease.
  3. Move better – to help with the above two points and get me back to some level of fitness and perhaps recommence ruing marathon distances.
To do this I can measure four things:
  1. Blood sugars – measure them every morning and keeping them below 6.0 where possible and below 5.5 if I can.
  2. Sleep quality – this is measure by a sleep apnea machine (ResMed Airsense 10 Elite) which shows me the number of AHIs each night (the lower the better)
  3. Movement – the number of steps take each day (target is 10,000) and the level of workout exercises I can increase on a regular basis.
  4. Weight – I am currently around 83kg but at 178cm in height I need to be 80kgs or below to a lower level of 78kg.
I have formal blood work to be completed next Monday so we’ll see what they tell us and how I am tracking with my diabetes in particular. Until then …

The Journey Begins

Good company in a journey makes the way seem shorter. — Izaak Walton

This is a bit of journey after some major surgery. So a little background may be in order.

For a while now I would call myself a runner, if not for the sole reason that if you ask me what I do outside of work, running will be the answer.

That doesn’t presume I am good at it. If you look at my race results I am always in the lower half of the rankings. I rarely challenge for a top 3 spot unless there are only 3 runners participating – true story!

The first weekend in June saw me complete the Elleker Half marathon in Albany, Western Australia. It was nothing remarkable and it was my slowest of the three half marathons I have completed.

After that I started training for the Münich Marathon. These were slow and short runs so relatively easy for someone who runs regularly. The only problem was I was getting chest pains. Then some jaw pain and finally some quite painful headaches.

To make a long story short a few examinations later including a stress test that showed nothing and an angiogram that showed 3 severe arterial blockages, it was determined I would need a triple bypass.

I have had a cholesterol issue for a few years, due to family history and thus I had done a lot of amateur research into the problems and solutions of high cholesterol. I took a while to accept that statins were a part of my life so that struggle has been completed.

There were a couple fo solutions, dependent on the placement and severity of the blockages. One being having stents put into alleviate the blockage.The other option being the triple bypass.

While the bypass is way more invasive, I am glad we chose this path as it is a more “complete” solution. When my cardiologist mentioned this it was like he was trying to convince me when I was already convinced.

In addition to the bypass, I finally gave up fighting the other diagnosis that I was diabetic. I was at the low end of the scores but I had flipped over to become a “known diabetic” as per my referral stated to my dietician (like I was a “known criminal”).

And just to add the cherry to the pie, I was also diagnosed as having severe sleep apnea! Bring on the very sexy face mask and hose and bedtime!

I don’t think I’ve ever bet on a trifecta before but here were three diagnoses that I needed to deal with and all having life threatening or life impacting consequences.

It’s now almost seven weeks since my surgery and, thankfully, I’m still breathing. It’s also Father’s Day here in Australia so quite happy that I made this one.

The journey from here is to manage the diabetes (aka the blood sugar levels) and the cholesterol (aka the blood lipids).

And, just to make things interesting, there is a lot of research going around that saturated fat and LDL cholesterol and other associated evil organisations do not contribute that much to atherosclerosis and diabetes. (I’ll add links to these as I collate them). It seems that every week there is a contradictory report.

I’m seeing a dietician who has me on the Australian Dietary Guidelines diet which I am attempting to follow with its grains and serving sizes and keeping away from the dark forces of saturated fat and its cohorts.

So you’ll see the subtitle to this blog is “what works for me”.

I’m almost convinced, from a consumer point of view, that everyone should look after their diet and regime. Find out what works and do that.

Vegetarian, Low Carb/Healthy Fat, Carnivore, Australian Dietary Guidelines and the list goes on.

I’ll continue to post on my own journey, list some interesting studies and videos. But, I’m not a doctor, I don’t pretend to be one, I’m doing what works for me. Which may be a bit of everything.

One thing I am also convinced of, for what its worth, is that diet includes lifestyle. It’s not just about the food.

If you read “The Pioppi Diet” by Aseem Malhotra & Donal O’Neill you’ll note that early on they clarify “diet” within context and they “include many things – the landscape, the sea, quality of life, culture, the work and many other things.”

So, to me, in addition to my food intake there are a few other things I need to address, all of which have complete libraries written on in themselves.