Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Is it the exercise or the diet?

The verdict is in and it is good. Had my annual physical check-up yesterday and cholesterol, triglycerides, blood sugar and other markers were all normal and in most instances close to ideal. Did exercise play a role? Most likely, but there are other important factors involved. Diet, for one.

Just more than 2 years ago, when I was still eating red meat, fish, chicken, cheese, milk and other animal products, my cholesterol and blood sugar levels were so out of whack that my (then) MD put me on a statin (to lower cholesterol) and also prescribed medication to help lower my blood sugar levels. At the time, I was exercising just as heavily as I am now, although I was about 12 to 15 pounds heavier. The point? That even a fit, healthy marathon runner is prone to high cholesterol and pre-diabetic blood sugar levels, as a result of a diet containing animal products.

A few months later - on April 1 2007 - I adopted a low fat plant-based diet. The combination of this much healthier diet - and the medication - quickly righted the ship. Under doctor's orders, I stayed on the medication for about a year. However when my MD decided to leave Texas for Colorado, I stopped using the statin and the 'diabetic' medication. Yesterday's normal test results showed just how powerful diet alone can be: it is possible to significantly lower cholesterol and prevent Type 2 diabetes without using any medication whatsoever.

Running has been great this week to date: today's run was at Memorial Park with the Striders; after 2 easy miles on the trail, I joined a small group of fellow Striders on a pretty fast 6.5 mile run - about 8:00 average pace. Yesterday was mile repeat day at Memorial High School track: total of 7 miles including 4 X 1-mile repeats. Three of those were at about 7:10 pace, the second one was at 6:55. And on Monday I did 8 easy miles with Daisy along Buffalo Bayou. So total for the week to date is just over 23 miles. I might be setting myself up for a tough 18 mile run on Saturday, probably need to take it easy on Thursday and r-e-s-t on Friday!


Amy said...

My experience with cholesterol levels after I switched to the vegan diet are very similar to yours - I think there are many people who could get off those statins if they would just be willing to adjust their diet.

johnking said...

that is so great man. I know a lot of diabetics and if only they had your drive. Keep up the running and congrats on being so healthy. People magazine should be busting through your door next year...Hugh Jackman aint got nothing on you!