Thanksgiving Diet

How did you fare with the Thanksgiving feast? My solution was to go to Eureka Springs Arkansas. We took in the buffett at the Cresent Hotel. Many choices of vegetables. We also made oil-free humus to snack on with Mary’sGoneCrackers.

I skipped the barbecued pork at Alama, Ark. on the trip up. Marlene and her sister tried it. Dry, lots of fat. The Razorbacks don’t know barbecue.

Then I had my cholesterol checked. Total 138. Good HDL = 47 (needs to be over 40) This 47 ageed with a home test the same day.
Bad LDL = 74 (needs to be under 70)

Dean Ornish


In the Sunday NY Times (Sept 23) in the Opinions section, Dean Ornish (clinical professor of medicine at Univ. of Cal) wrote about his studies on diet.

In 35 years of medical research, conducted by the Preventative Medical Research Institute (founded by Ornish) patients who ate plant food diets “achieved reversal of even severe coronary artery disease.”

“A diet low in fat and high in unrefined carbohydrates caused the least amount of coronary artery blockages, whereas an Atkins-type diet caused the most.”

“What you eat is as important as what you exclude–your diet needs to be high in healthful carbs like fruits, vegetables, whole grain, legumes, soy products in natural, unrefined forms and some fish, like salmon.” (Including fish would be new in my diet.)

“About 75 percent of the $2.8 trillion in annual health care costs in the US is from chronic diseases that can often be reversed or prevented altogether by a healthy lifestyle.”

In watching an NFL football game yesterday, the announcer said “And he’s changed his diet to a vegan diet, after a great deal of study.” I missed which player it was–the quarterback?


Johnny’s Cholesterol


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Johnny reported that his blood test last week showed a total cholesterol of 112 ! ! ! And HDL of 70. The experts say your HDL should be over 40. Johnny has been on a low dose of statins, so he may decide to omit all statins to see how he does on the next test.

My home HDL test last week showed 85, but I had trouble with getting blood (as usual) so it might not be accurate.



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The Sunday New York Times had an article written by professor Pontzer at Hunter College that described a study to measure the calories burned by a tribe in east Africa in their hunter-gather existence.

Why are these people thin and healthy? The supposition is that they burn more calories in their hunting and gathering activities. NO. Professor Pontzer found that they burn the same as we in our sedentary lifestyle. How he determined this is not as important to me as the fact that these people were not obese and had no heart disease. The conclusion to me is that diet prevents heart disease and other health problems.

This tribe (Hadza of Tanzania) have no guns, vehicles, crops or livestock. They subsist on tubers, berries and other wild plant foods. Plus what game the men can shoot with handmade bows and arrows. And honey that they find. No processed foods.

Eating Out

It is always a problem to get a truly Vegan + no oil, no sugar meal at a restaurant.

Two experiences at Italian restaurants were pleasing. At both I asked for any whole wheat pasta plus any vegetables that they could cover the pasta. In both cases I forgot to say “Please don’t put any oil on it.” They will always pan heat the vegetable with some oil. I don’t ever complain when a waiter brings a special dish that I requested, but I need to make a point–for any dish–Please omit all butter and oils.

Another option that almost always works at a steak house is the baked potato. With no ‘fixins’: No butter, no cheese, no sour cream. Maybe chopped up tomatoes, onions, chives, etc.

Let me know if you find a good recipe at a restaurant. I am still disappointed at the Spiral Diner which is 100 % vegan but all dishes have oil. (Maybe not all.)

Facts: The China Study

This is for those of you who haven’t read The China Study.

Dr. Campbell lists in his introduction the MYTHS (see previous blog) and the FACTS in his introduction. Here are the FACTS:

  • Dietary change can enable diabetic patients to go off their medication.
  • Heart disease can be reversed by diet alone.
  • Breast cancer is related to levels of female hormones in the blood, which are determined by the food we eat.
  • Consuming dairy foods can increase the risk of prostate cancer.
  • Antioxidants, found in fruits and vegetables, are linked to better mental performance in old age.
  • Kidney stones can be prevented by a healthy diet.
  • Type 1 diabetes, one of the most devastating diseases that can befall a child, is convincingly linked to infant feeding practices.

Read the book to find the details. All supported by scientific studies. Not by anecdotal evidence.

Fad Diets

Marlene has just purchased a new diet book. Something in the title with “Paleo.” It reads like a personal experience answer to your eating problems. His own scientific study (based on one person’s diet change) will correct all your illnesses.

He does bring in a number of other histories of people (testimonials) who have changed to his diet with miraculous results. Other diet books I have read come up with the secret to proper diet the same way. No real scientific studies with results. All have a chemical explanations to justify results.

If you haven’t read “The China Study” I will repeat what is summarized in the introduction. You can read the whole book to find what supports these findings (the emphasis is mine):

. . .many of the common notions you have been told about food, health and disease are wrong:

  • Synthetic chemicals in the environment and in our food, as problematic as they may be, are not the main cause of cancer.
  • The genes that you inherit from your parents are not the most important factors in determining whether you fall prey to any of the ten leading causes of death.
  • The hope that genetic research will eventually lead to drug cures for diseases ignores more powerful solutions that can be employed today.
  • Obsessively controlling your intake of any one nutrient, such as carbohydrates, fat, cholesterol or omega-3 fats, will not result in long-term health.
  • Vitamins and nutrient supplements do not give you long-term protection against disease.
  • Drugs and surgery don’t cure the diseases that kill most Americans.
  • Your doctor probably does not know what you need to do to be the healthiest you can be.

The above is from page 2 of the introduction to “The China Study.” My next blog will sumarize the findings of this book.



Weight Loss

What amazes me is that almost all of my friends in ‘dietwarriors’ who follow the strict plant food diet have lost weight.

My neighbor, a little lady who would be blown away in a moderate wind before she started on the Esselstyn diet, has now lost ten pounds. I lost ten pounds. My friend Johnny has lost ten pounds. And others have had similar results. But most of these were relatively thin to begin with. I haven’t heard how it works with obese people.

It seems that no matter what size you are, you will lose ten pounds!

I wanted to bulk up a bit, so I’ve been eating six meals a day, but haven’t started putting any back on yet.

A few years back a fellow did a study where he starved one group of mice while feeding another group all they wanted. The starved mice lived twice as long! Or some similar result. I wonder if it was due to their being skinny or thin? I sure hope that was the reason. This plant food diet seems to keep us thin.

Cholesterol Too Low?

The following is a comment on “Cholesterol Too Low” from

(I don’t agree with it, but something to consider. My formula is to eat everything in the plant food  list–no oils, no processed foods–a great variety of these foods will protect you.)

Cholesterol is often associated with coronary disease, but you actually need a certain amount of cholesterol for normal bodily functions, such as making vitamin D. The problem is when your cholesterol levels are higher than necessary, at which point the excess collects in your blood vessels and increases your risk of heart disease and stroke. The American Heart Association recommends a total blood cholesterol below 200 mg/dl. There is no lower limit for total cholesterol, but there may be health risks associated with a total cholesterol below 160 mg/dl.

Very Low Total Cholesterol

The American Heart Association and the Mayo Clinic both report the possibility of the increased risk of health complications with a total cholesterol below 160 mg/dl. The complications include cancer, anxiety, depression and problems in pregnancy including preterm birth and low birth rate. Why these risks exist is unclear and there is some debate as to whether the low cholesterol level is the true culprit. The body does need some cholesterol and the American Heart Association advises that it is not necessary to go below 160 mg/dl.

LDL Cholesterol

Low-density lipoprotein (LDL) is also known as the “bad” cholesterol that clogs your arteries. The recommended maximum level of LDL cholesterol is 129 mg/dl where less than 100 mg/dl is considered optimal. There is no absolute minimum for LDL cholesterol but a level above 129 mg/dl is considered borderline and anything above 160 mg/dl is considered high. The higher your level of LDL cholesterol, the greater your risk for disease.

HDL Cholesterol

High-density lipoprotein (HDL), or “good” cholesterol, is a high-density lipid that helps keep your blood vessels clear. HDL cholesterol actually attracts the LDL cholesterol, binds with it and flushes it out of your body through the intestinal tract. Healthy adults need a minimum of 40 mg/dl for men and 50 mg/dl for women. Having less than the minimum puts you at significant risk for heart disease. If your total cholesterol is less than 160 mg/dl, you may have cardiovascular risks if your HDL is lower than the minimum for your gender and your LDL is higher than 129 mg/dl.


The health risks associated with extremely low total cholesterol are not entirely clear. However, several resources, including the Mayo Clinic and American Heart Association, do specify a recommended healthy range. Focus on keeping your individual HDL and LDL numbers within that healthy range and consult your physician.

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