Recently I saw a patient at our office for her annual exam. We were going over her labs and I was surprised to find that she brought her cholesterol down by 40 points. I asked, “How did you do that? I haven’t prescribed you any cholesterol medications?” She replied, “I started eating well. I only eat grass-fed beef, and I take my supplements and vitamins.”
Amazing. In this case, food was the medicine. I too had a similar experience where my HDL or “good cholesterol” shot up to 100 after going through a phase of eating peanuts. I never thought of peanuts as a healthy food. But nothing else had changed.
This triggered my curiosity which led me to two fascinating books written by a journalist, Michael Pollan. The first called, The Omnivores Dilemma, and In Defense of Food. The latter’s introduction was “Eat food. Not too much. Mostly pants.”
Simple enough.
These books taught me many great lessons. I learned about corn-fed versus grass-fed or pasture raised cows–like what my patient with the drastic improvement of her cholesterol had changed to eating. I learned that eating a healthy and happy animal in turn makes you healthy.
I also discovered the true meaning of “free range”, “organic”, and that organic can still be processed in a factory. Although some food is not organic, buying pesticide free is also worth our investment. Cheap food is not cheap if you factor in the price of poor health, the waste it creates on the environment, and the treatment of animals.
Another important fact that I gathered was the immense amount of processed corn we Americans eat without even realizing it. This is mostly in the form of high fructose corn syrup. HFCS as they say, is even found in the animals we eat, since that is what they are fed instead of grass. Lastly, I learned that there is wisdom in the traditional foods of particular cultures that we will never understand. We just know that it tastes good and is more fun.
A diet change led me to see real results on routine blood tests during an annual exam. Significant results! Lowered cholesterol, lowers the chance for this patient to have a heart attack. It also reduces the chances of her suffering other types of heart disease and stroke. This patient will live a less diseased life that she can enjoy. To top it off, she will save money by never having to buy medications or undergo expensive procedures and hospitalizations.
This is worth a few hours of our time to learn about.