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June 2, 2006 | South Carolina Headlines


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Lowering Cholesterol Through Better Choices
Jimmy Moore
May 31, 2006

The following is a reprint from the blog "Livin' La Vida Low-Carb":

This is the kind of meal I have vowed to start eating more of

It's confession time here at the "Livin' La Vida Low-Carb" blog. While I never keep any secrets from you about what I write in this forum and pretty much live my life as an open book, there is one thing I feel the need to be completely forthcoming about that I am ashamed to say I have fallen short of the high standards I have set for myself.

In light of my recent rise in cholesterol that has my doctor so alarmed he wants to put me on a statin drug again, I have taken a good hard look at my life 2 1/2 years after going on the Atkins diet to see if perhaps there is something I am doing or not doing that would cause them to happen.

What I found isn't a pretty picture.

I'm here to admit that I probably haven't been livin' la vida low-carb as well as I should have been for the sake of my health. While my weight has remained relatively steady within about 10-15 pounds of my lowest point, I am ashamed to say that I have been "coasting" in my low-carb lifestyle.

What do I mean by that?

Well, for starters, I have neglected to eat as many leafy green vegetables as I used to eat when I was losing weight. I don't know why I stopped eating these fiber-rich, nutrient-dense foods, but I did. I have now vowed to eat at least one large serving of green leafy vegetables every single day.

My supper tonight featured a bed of fresh turnip greens

The meal you see above which was what I made when I got home from work was very easy to prepare. I cooked the chicken breast with extra virgin olive oil in a skillet, sliced it into bite-sized chunks, sprinkled a little curry powder and ginger on it, and placed the chicken on top of a bed of fresh turnip greens with fresh rosemary, cheese, and Bacon Ranch dressing.

What a delicious and nutritious way to eat my greens and benefit from the healthy properties they provide me and my body! That's one step forward in the race to get my rising cholesterol under control.

Dessert can be sweet with the all-natural goodness of berries

Again, I have been lax in my consumption of the low-carb fruits such as strawberries and blueberries (which believe it or not have actually been found to lower cholesterol). These antioxidant-loaded fruits are an essential part of ridding the body of harmful free radicals that are likely one of the culprits in my rising cholesterol. Just like I promised to eat green leafy vegetables everyday, so too am I promising to have at least one serving of berries on a daily basis. It's something I MUST to do fight this rising cholesterol.

Other healthy additions to my diet that I am making a concerted effort to eat more of include flax seeds, nuts, and coconut oil. Of course, I still don't eat sugar, white flour, or starchy foods, but my food choices can be better than they have been.

In addition to my diet, I have taken a closer look at the supplements I am taking to make sure they are not causing harm to my health. As one of my readers pointed out to me, I have very likely been consuming rancid cod liver oil supplements since my burps have been fishy-tasting. The fish oil supplements I am taking now do not cause the fishy burps and will be discarded if I ever do taste that in my mouth. Also, I am keeping them refrigerated in an attempt to keep them fresher longer.

Another area of my supplementation that I am looking at are all these natural remedies for lowering my cholesterol my doctor recommended that I try since I refused to take a statin drug. He said to go on a plant stenol, take garlic tablets, load up on red yeast rice, and don't forget about that baby aspirin daily. In the one month that I was on these "remedies" for my cholesterol problem, my LDL shot up by 50 points! Argh! Stupid remedies!

That's why I have stopped taking all of those things and went back to the basic supplements I mentioned in my book that I took during my weight loss: a multivitamin, calcium supplements, fiber tablets, and the fish oil capsules. Additionally, I recently added Co-Q-10 to my supplementation as well on the advice of a trusted doctor friend. That's all I'm taking for my supplements now because my lipid profile was improved during my weight loss while taking these supplements.

With that said, I have struggled about what to do regarding the three prescription drugs my doctor wanted me to take: Zetia, Niaspan, and Wellchol. If you haven't already noticed, I'm not a big fan of taking medicines that can have various side effects that may be worse for you than the condition they are supposedly trying to treat. My wife Christine swears by the drugs her doctor prescribes her, but I'm not so convinced.

My decision about what to do about whether I should take these drugs or not came down to one question: Is there ANY other way? In light of the information about the fish oil being rancid and realizing that I probably wasn't eating as well as I could, I decided that I should at least attempt to do these natural things FIRST before jumping so quickly to the drugs. It saddens me that the first word out of my doctor's mouth was STATIN and when I balked he said that I would HAVE to take at least three drugs. I DON'T THINK SO!!!

What about taking a look at what is causing the rise in my LDL cholesterol, doc? Why assume it is hereditary (which is what he did) when you very well could have asked me about my fish oil and explained how it could be the culprit in my rising LDL? But noooooo, you wanted to drug me up with these pills that I'm not so sure about taking. NO THANK YOU! Maybe someday I'll feel the need to go on those drugs, but not now. Let's give these better choices I am making for myself a chance to work before making the leap of faith to line the pockets of the pharmaceutical companies.

There are a few other things I could be doing to help put myself in a better position to get my cholesterol under control: exercise a little more and resist the urge to "take the day off," spend more time relaxing to eliminate unnecessary and unknown stress that might be making my cholesterol go up, backing off on my use of artificial sweeteners and the diet sodas that I admit I have been drinking more than I should. I know, I know...that's why I'm willing to do what I have to do.

You see, despite the fact that I lost 180 pounds and have kept that weight off for well over a year, I still struggle to live a healthy lifestyle. It's not an automatic thing that just naturally kicks in just because your weight is under control. It is and will always be a conscious effort to keep it that way and make improvements here and there so I can live that long, healthy life that I have always dreamed about.

Doesn't this all make you feel so much better knowing a "low-carb success" has a hard time living in the day-by-day? :D Sure, my weight loss was a great accomplishment and I thank God every single day for this miracle He allowed me to be a part of. But I am guilty of just going through the motions of low-carb living rather than embracing this lifestyle for all it is woth and making it work for me as well as it was intended to.

Those days of low-carb laziness are long gone now and I am 100% recommitted and recharged to do what is right. As Emeril would say, "It's time to kick it up another notch!" That's exactly what I'm doing with my low-carb plan! Look out world, here comes "Livin' La Vida Low-Carb Man!" 

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Jimmy: Congratulations in facing openly your problems. I, like you, have waxed and waned in my steadiness in eating the right foods. As you have seen in some of my article/comments to you, recidivism is one of the biggest worries in regards to any life-style improvement program. . . .

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