A few years ago I had the pleasure of publishing my clients’ results on the plant-based diet in Natural Awakenings magazine in Portland. The article was excerpted from a newsletter that I’d written in the months’ previous. At the time, I’d only just graduated nutrition school and, being new to the field, was absolutely stunned with the results that were coming in from my relatively new clients. The changes in their health data were happening in weeks or months after we started working together and they started eating a new kind of diet.
Not only did they all lose weight but their cholesterol levels improved drastically, just as my hero, Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn, MD (of Forks Over Knives fame) had predicted in his books. Once someone knows the tricks to executing a plant-based diet the right way (and it’s trickier than you might think) and is able to remain compliant with the diet…that’s when the miracles start to happen. That’s where coaching had helped me implement a healing diet and apparently it was working for my clients as well. It was an exciting time.
These days I’m used to seeing these kinds of results in clients such as Ruth in Portland, who has lost more than 70 pounds on a plant-strong diet while enjoying plummeting cholesterol levels. My practice has changed: These days I work with people all over the U.S., Asia and Europe via telephone, Skype and email. But back then I was mostly focused on Portland.
But the trend in data remains the same. And this month I wanted to revisit that original newsletter/article and show you a snapshot of group of clients all working with me at roughly the same time. Not getting the results you need from your plant based diet? Usually it’s just a matter of some simple tweaking. These folks can give you some hints.
Devotion to Plants Pays Off
While most people might say they are “committed” to a particular health program, Portland writer Jill Kelly prefers to use the word “devoted” when it comes to describing the mindset that has kept her eating a plant-based diet for the last several months.
“The word ‘devoted’ has an emotional and spiritual component to it for me,” says Kelly, 66. “I do this plan out of the love for my health and my well-being.”
Her devotion is paying off, according to her recent medical lab work. After several months on a plant-based diet, Kelly’s total cholesterol is down 72 points – from 226 when she started the diet five months ago to 154 today. Her triglycerides are down from 166 to 84. Her HDL (or “good cholesterol”) came up 7 points, which is good news. And her LDL (the “bad cholesterol”) dropped from 137 to 94. Her glucose, the indicator of a pre-diabetic condition, dropped six points back into the normal range. Total weight loss so far: 27 pounds. (She went on to lose more than 60 pounds).
As a certified nutrition counselor who specializes in helping clients utilize the plant-based diet for reversing heart disease and other illnesses, I’m used to seeing these kinds of results. (See sidebar below and read previous blogs on this site).
But Jill has been particularly diligent about setting up a system of shopping, preparing and eating that works for her. That’s where the devotion comes in. She takes time out at the beginning of the week to plan what she’s going to eat, shop for food and prepare soups and stews that can last her several days.
“My doctor now supports me stopping statins and we will recheck my cholesterol in a month. I’m also looking forward to cutting my blood pressure medication,” says Kelly, whose labs were ordered by her MD, Dr. Lauren Roberts, at Portland Clinic East. She has been documenting her dietary journey on her nationally followed blog called “Sober Truths” at http://www.sobertruths.blogspot.com.
The plant-based diet has become a popular healing tool thanks to movies like the Forks Over Knives, former President Bill Clinton’s highly publicized journey of reversing his own heart disease using the plant-based approach and Dr. Oz giving much publicity to the diet’s positive impact on heart patients. Microsoft’s Bill Gates and many other VIPs now eat plant based due to its positive results on health.
But it’s hard to go it alone. The average American diet has gotten so off course in terms of promoting health in the body that it takes a lot of support from someone trained in the plant-based approach to turn the ship around. That’s why a growing number of practitioners are beginning to specialize in plant-based services, helping clients get educated and providing them with organizational and motivational tips as well as shopping lists, recipes and other resources.
So what is a plant-based diet?
Put simply, it’s a health-promoting vegan or non-vegan diet that emphasizes the consumption of nutrient-dense plant foods while minimizing processed foods, oils, and animal products (including dairy and eggs). The idea is to eat a lot of vegetables – cooked or raw – along with fruit, beans and some grains, nuts and seeds. The diet is generally low in fat.
Some famous practitioners like Dr. Dean Ornish, MD, allow small amounts of animal products such as egg whites while other, such as Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn, at the Cleveland Clinic Wellness Institute, recommends completely avoiding animal products.
As a certified nutrition consultant I recommend that my clients hoping to reverse and prevent heart disease avoid dairy products and keep their consumption of other animal products to less than five percent of their total calories, especially in the early weeks when detoxification symptoms can occur. After that many of them choose to exclude animal products altogether. And it’s important to remember that this is not a diet that fits all ailments. Some people with certain neurological and bacterial illnesses are better off avoiding grains and other starches – but a plant-based diet can be tailored to those needs.
So why does the plant-based approach work so well? Here are just a few of the factors:
Low cholesterol. Because the plant-based diet de-emphasizes or removes animal products and oil it also reduces or removes most common sources of cholesterol.
Plant-based sterols. Small amounts of these substances in the walls of plant cells are found naturally in fruits, vegetables, grains, legumes, nuts, and seeds. As they travel through the intestinal tract, they compete with artery-clogging LDL particles and prevent them from being absorbed into the bloodstream.
Viscous fiber. Viscous fiber found in oats, barley, bran and brown rice is the sticky variety of soluble fiber, which dissolves readily in liquids. In the body, it acts as a sponge, absorbing cholesterol and carrying it out of the body.
*Be sure to look at the sidebar below to see further amazing results from my clients testimonials regarding their experiences on the plant-base diet we created for them!
-Elisabeth Dunham, certified nutrition counselor and health coach in Portland, Ore.
Email me at Email Elisabeth!
Call or text today for your free health chat: (503) 926-4654
Cholesterol results and testimonials
Goodbye High Cholesterol and Pre-diabetes
This morning I went for blood work so we would have the results when we meet next week. I was amazed by the results that came in an email this afternoon. My cholesterol is down 72 points, from 226 last fall (when I started working with Elisabeth) to 154 today. My triglycerides were down an equally huge number, from 166 to 84. My HDL came up 7 points, which is good news, and my LDL dropped from 137 to 94. Everything else was in the normal range for the first time in probably 15 years. Even my glucose (indicator of pre-diabetic conditions) dropped 6 points back into the normal range. My doctor now supports me stopping statins and we will recheck my cholesterol in a month. I’m also cutting my blood pressure medication meds in half. I am ecstatic and looking forward to talking with the doctor about getting off of some of my prescriptions. The plan is working for me! Hurray!
(Total weight loss so far on the program: 26 lbs)
-Jill Kelly, author and editor, Portland
Bad Cholesterol Plummets
And the results are in…. I started working with Elisabeth in November and just received my lab results today from the doctor following a physical. Five years ago I went on blood pressure medication which was a little unnerving at the time, since I thought I was maintaining a fairly healthy diet and exercise regimen. It bothered me to think I was going to take a pill the rest of my life and there was nothing I could do to change that.
A year and a half ago the doctor said I would need to go on a cholesterol medication if my numbers continued trending the way they were.
Six months of smoothies, Elisabeth-coaching, gluten-free, Elisabeth-educating, dairy free, Elisabeth-motivating, nearly meat free, Elisabeth-supporting… I am happy to say I have reversed the trend. My blood pressure was the lowest it’s been in five years and I’m discussing with the doctor about going off my medication. And my cholesterol numbers:
Total Cholesterol (goal below 200) 242 to 164 HDL-good cholesterol (goal above 40) 63 to 61 LDL-bad cholesterol (goal below 130) 154 to 95
My doctor was ecstatic and I’m over the moon. Thank you Beth! I’ve done this while training for an huge endurance event and for those that wonder “where will I get my protein?” it’s a non-issue if you follow Beth’s advice.
-Bill Motter, Portland, OR
Vastly Lowered Cholesterol in Just 90 Days
This stuff works. In just three months on Elisabeth’s program I have lost 18 pounds and seen my cholesterol plummet. Here is my cholesterol update after three months:
Total cholesterol 264 down to 185 HDL 48 down to 46 LDL 174 down to 113
-David Didier, 50, Portland
Never Too Old! Twenty-two Pound Weight Loss and Big Drop in Cholesterol
I will be 80 next June and a colon cancer survivor five years out. While I felt fairly healthy for my age I still had frequent bouts of colitis, had low energy, and borderline cholesterol.
One of my sons and a friend of his had been working with Elisabeth and were singing her praises. I admit that I was a bit skeptical but when a second son started with her and all three kept urging me, I gave her a call six months ago.
It was the best decision I could have made.
In just two months my total cholesterol fell from 244 to 98, HDL from 71 to 55, and LDL from 135 to 120.
Elisabeth’s calls always ended with goal setting as well as an evaluation of previous goals. This and her cheery support gave me the encouragement I needed…in six months I have lost 22 pounds and weigh what I did in my 20’s.
She helped me set an exercise goal; my energy level improved and I am going to the gym 3 times a week, riding the stationary bicycle 30 minutes, and planning on attending the swim sessions. My colitis symptoms have lessened, an added plus to the gluten free, dairy free, and nearly meat free diet. I am delighted that I listened to my sons and joined them in following Elisabeth’s health and well-being plan. Bouquets of thanks to you, Elisabeth.
-Ruth Motter Bentley, 79 Portland, Oregon
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