I received a thank you email from a Health Central reader, Rob, who has seen great success improving his cholesterol levels and overall health. He has given me permission to share his story with you.
Rob lives in Colorado and is a civilian engineering professor at the U.S. Air Force Academy. He's been married 29 years to his "amazing wife" and has raised two sons and two daughters now between the ages of 19 to 26 years-old.
Back in December 2010 he had a physical exam and lab work completed. He learned he had high cholesterol from a voice mail message left by his doctor's office and received a prescription for Crestor. His doctor did not discuss his lab work with him.
Here are Rob's lab results from December 2010:
Total Cholesterol - 213 mg/dL
Triglycerides - 523 mg/dL
HDL - 35 mg/dL
LDL not calculated
Prior to his December check up he had no significant health concerns. Rob is 53 years old, 6' tall, and weighed 180 lbs.
He asked his doctor's office for dietary guidance, but says they essentially told him to look online. That led to a fair amount of web research on Health Central, Heart Scan Blog, Track Your Plaque, and some other sites.
As an FYI, Rob chose not to take the Crestor medication and is not currently on any medication. I'm not advocating you ignore prescriptions given to you by your doctor. Just ask questions to ensure you understand your treatment plan to make sure it is the best choice for you. Notify and work with your physician if you decide medication is not right for you.
From what he learned through his research he eliminated wheat and started consuming mostly whole grains, decreased sugar intake, processed foods, and alcohol considerably (down from a glass of wine nightly to one glass per week on average). He also eliminated trans-fats, kept an eye on his saturated fat intake, cut back on caffeine, and increased his intake of greens (salads, vegetables) and nuts (almonds, walnuts).
His new plan included a couple supplements - 900 mg of fish oil and 5000 IU of vitamin D.
He had always biked strenuously about 6 hours per week, so starting and maintaining an active lifestyle was not an obstacle.
Here are results he's experienced since implementing these changes:
"I first noticed a large reduction of morning congestion, significantly reduced snoring, much better reading eyesight (my readers are used about 30% as often as before), better digestion and much less gas, and more consistent energy levels. These symptoms I previously attributed to getting older. I have now lost 10 lbs without this even being a goal.
My blood tests were recently redone and the improvements (over 3 months) are terrific."
Total Cholesterol - 150 mg/dL
Triglycerides - 97 mg/dL
HDL - 46 mg/dL
LDL - 85 mg/dL
Why am I sharing this story?
I want you to see that it is possible to drastically improve your health and avoid cholesterol medication. Rob is a perfect example of how this can be done.
I like to believe that if your lab work indicates high cholesterol levels the first action step isn't a prescription, but a referral to a dietitian for education on diet and lifestyle changes you can make to improve your levels. In reality I realize this is not the case for many.
Ask your doctor questions and be informed. It's your health, your life.
Be sure to sign up for the free e-course How to Lower Cholesterol in 8 Simple Steps provided courtesy of Health Central dietitian Lisa Nelson at http://lowercholesterolwithlisa.com.