Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Thriving Without Meat

As I discussed yesterday, my reaction to reading the book “The China Study” was to cut all animal-based protein from my diet. And, fortuitously, I had a physical 2 months earlier, and then talked my doctor into doing a full blood work up 2 months after going vegetarian (actually all the way to vegan - as in no animal products). Here are a few of the results:

I had been exercising for 30 years - which is why I had good cholesterol levels before going vegetarian. Two months after cutting animal-based products from my diet my ratio of LDL to HDL went from 1.4 down to 1.1 (less than 3 for this ratio is viewed as good). And, a year later it had improved still further to just under 1.

My doctor was ecstatic - amazed at the changes. As was I.

Another improvement in my blood chemistry which I had read about was the drop in my fasting blood sugar (glucose) levels. High fasting blood sugar levels are one of the indications that the body is not properly metabolizing sugar - an indication of possible diabetes. My fasting glucose levels had been creeping up by about 2 mg/Dl per year for 14 years. In two months I saw my fasting blood sugar drop to the level I had seen 5 years earlier. And, one year later I saw another 10 points drop in the levels - to levels I had last seen in 1999.

These improvements were unexpected - especially the scale of improvements. OK - I had hoped I would see improvements, but boy was I surprised at the scale of the improvements. Given that I worked out pretty much the same number of hours per week in the year before going vegetarian as I did for the year after switching, I attribute these changes to my change in diet.

Bottom line, for me, WOW.

So, what is it in The China Study that made me sit up and take notice (and change my diet)? If you have the book, turn to page 57. If you don’t, I have taken the data from a graph in the book and plotted it below:

Consuming up to around 10 percent of your diet as animal-based protein does not significantly increase your risk of cancer. But, go past 10 percent and the risk skyrockets.

Tomorrow I will talk a bit more about my thoughts on why 10 percent is a magic number.

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