Shocking Blood Test Results

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Every chance I get I try to mention all of the amazing health benefits we’ve experienced since our switch to real food almost a year ago. Even though we started gradually transitioning our diets at the beginning of 2010 we still continue to notice new and wonderful ways it has affected our health. I just recently shared a detailed list of the changes we’ve experienced thus far, and even since then I had sort of an epiphany about my increase in energy. I’ve realized that I’ve also been sleeping better too, and that could very well part of the reason for all of my extra energy. I suppose I always used to blame my kids on a bad night’s sleep, but even when they only came in our room for a minute I used to lay there awake for an hour (or two or three) trying to fall back asleep. Can anyone relate? When I had my epiphany the other day I realized that now if one of our girls comes into our room (which unfortunately happened the night before last), I fall back asleep the minute they are back in their bed. I honestly can’t remember the last time I had one of those frustrating nights where I lay awake unable to sleep…and I hate to admit that I used to struggle with that quite frequently.

Aside from all this wonderful energy and sleep business I have some even bigger news. I just had a long awaited meeting with my doctor to sit down and compare my blood test results from a physical that took place at the end of 2009 (before we made the switch to real food) to a physical I just had last month. I say it was long awaited because my insurance wouldn’t allow me to get another physical until it had been at least a year since the previous one. Once I finally got my hands on both sets of results I briefly attempted to make sense of the numbers, but realized I would need the expertise of my doctor.

Some numbers on my chart fluctuated only a little like my risk for diabetes, which of course went down, thanks to a slightly decreased glucose level (from 78 to 71, or a 9% decrease). My liver test also looked a little better than it did over a year ago, but it was already pretty normal to begin with. The shocker of all tests though was my cholesterol. And I am not talking about LDL (a.k.a. the “bad”) cholesterol because I have always been okay in that department. My LDL level barely even fluctuated 2 points. But the good cholesterol, which is also known as HDL, increased drastically over the last year. I think my doctor was even surprised. In late 2009 my HDL Cholesterol level was 52.9, and at the beginning of this year it jumped up to 79. That is almost a 50% increase!

And while a big jump in numbers sounds impressive, it actually means something pretty exciting as well. An increase in HDL cholesterol means you have a decreased chance for heart disease, but listen to exactly how my doctor broke it down for me. If your HDL level is above 60 (which mine was NOT in 2009) then it is considered to be a “positive risk factor” when it comes to your cardiac risks. A level above 60 would essentially cancel out a “negative risk factor” like smoking cigarettes, for example. So as you can see in my case, consuming processed foods was basically equivalent to smoking (and eating real food) when it comes to having an increased risk for heart disease. Shocking, huh?

There are also a few other things I want to mention about the timing of my original test. In late 2009 I was oblivious to the difference between real food and highly processed food, but I did THINK we were eating somewhat fairly healthy items (boy was I wrong). You see we’ve always cooked a lot at home, avoided pre-made frozen dinners, and did our best to incorporate fruits and vegetables into each meal. We used to eat fast food on occasion, but it was never a regular occurrence for us. I did used to bake cookies a lot (from scratch), but it was not like we were eating them for breakfast, lunch, and dinner…they were reserved for an evening dessert. I was also training for a sprint triathlon at the time of my original test so there is no question that I was in good physical shape. My absolute weakness at that time was definitely all of those refined ingredients like white (enriched) flour and white sugar. And it is not that I simply had sugar as a part of my diet it is the quantity in which it was consumed. When you are buying items that were made in some factory you usually don’t consider how much sugar they are adding (or salt or oil for that matter). And I promise that in some cases they are adding a lot more than you would if you were making it at home. And we are not just talking about Little Debbie Snacks, Fruit Loops, and soda pop (because I swear I NEVER bought those items!), we are simply talking about every day items like flavored yogurt, white sandwich bread, pre-made sauces, etc. So needless to say, I am even a little shocked that I would experience such a dramatic increase in my “good” cholesterol from our change in diet. Yet another good reason to believe in our new way of life and continue to march forward with it!

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33 comments to Shocking Blood Test Results

  • Kristie

    Congrats on such amazing results! I was able to drastically reduce my cholesterol by significantly changing our eating habits to more “real” food within a year. I am high risk for cholesterol due to genetics, but I beat the numbers and dropped my total down 100 points in 9 months. I doubled my HDL and cut my LDL and triglycerides in half. I still have a lot of changes to make to be entirely “real” food, but even the small changes I have made have already given me huge rewards!

    • 100 Days of Real Food

      Wow that is very impressive! And the wonderful thing is that the majority of health problems caused by eating highly processed foods can be reversed once the right changes are made!

  • [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Rachel White and Kerrie , Lisa Leake. Lisa Leake said: you won't believe how much my cholesterol has changed since we cut out processed food! [...]

  • Sarah

    I’m just starting my real food journey & did tests with a Natural Doctor (don’t have the results yet tho’). I think I’m pretty healthy, but I guess I’ll find out soon. I plan to also do a regular physical too to see how this 40-yr-old body is doing. (EEK!) I have had low HDL in the past…low LDL too, so I haven’t worried about it. I was encouraged most by your HDL results. My husband has some heart issues, and my son has an autoimmune condition (PANDAS: Pediatric Autoimmune Neuropsychiatric Disorder Associated with Strep…it’s a little known physical illness that causes mental illness symptoms…and yes, it’s triggered by strep). Most of the reason I’m going to real food/organic is for them…I am hoping to benefit as well. Thanks for sharing your path & letting us tag along.

  • Emily

    WOW! I am stunned by your results! Your analogy comparing eating processed foods to smoking really helped me see the big picture. I’ve never been a smoker but the movement in mass culture to provide awareness about the dangers of smoking helped click in my mind how terrible it is to eat processed foods. Thank you for sharing your results! This furthers my interest in eating “real food!”

    • 100 Days of Real Food

      Emily – You couldn’t be more right…the cigarette industry is commonly compared to our current food industry. And it I think it is encouraging to look at how people’s views were changed in regards to to smoking. I believe we can do the same when it comes to highly processed food!

  • MissionMobilizer

    When you say “processed” foods, do you also include low-fat and diet foods? I’ve been convinced for several years that such foods are actually worse for you, but I’d be interested to hear what your experience was with them.

    • 100 Days of Real Food

      You are exactly right…most low-fat and diet foods are no good. Pollan did a whole chapter on how the whole “low-fat” diet is just a hoax! Often times fat is taken out, but sweeteners and other additives are added back in to compensate. So they usually end up being much more processed than the full fat version.

  • Heidi

    That’s awesome! Isn’t that quote “Let food by thy medicine”? I love that because it makes so much sense, and your experience is proving it :)

    • 100 Days of Real Food

      I think you can fix so many things with diet! And it kills me how doctors will sometimes easily hand out a prescription before they will talk to you about what you are eating. We had the same experience with my daughter’s constipation, which was 100% cured when we changed her diet.

      • Yes! My brother in law has high blood pressure because he only has one working kidney and he told me just recently he started drinking a concoction of lemon juice and garlic among other things first thing in the morning and his blood pressure has been down since starting that! After a little research I find that garlic is an amazing natural medicine for high blood pressure. Imagine if doctors prescribed foods instead of prescription medicines. We’d all be so better off!

  • GourmetOnADiet

    This is good evidence to use to convince myself (and my husband) to try this. He’s always working on getting his cholesterol down, and I have a test coming up so I’d like to see where I’m at/compare it to future numbers as we attempt this journey. Just had my first of your “mochas” this morning and I can’t believe I just enjoyed a cup of coffee WITHOUT agave or raw sugar!!!

  • xj

    CONGRATS! That’s awesome numbers!!

  • That is great, I am 34 and dealing with high cholestrol, low energy levels and sleep problems. I had been thinking it is because I dont manage my time well which leads to trying to get things done at the last minute, leaving me drained, and stressed, which affects my sleep.
    Now I have to turn this whole mind-set around…Congrats on WFAE piece. It is how I found you!

  • You are so right about the benefits of eating clean (what I call it). I was diagnosed last year with an autoimmune and upon further research, this is linked back to toxin overloads in my body. I went on a clean diet several months ago and I feel so good right now. I have even eliminated a lot of the pain I was having. Spinach has become my new best friend, along with flax seed. Keep up your wonderful blog. I enjoy getting new ideas!

  • [...] My HDL (the “good” cholesterol) jumped from 52.9 to 79, which is almost a 50% increase! This is not to be confused with your LDL (the “bad” cholesterol), which should be a low [...]

  • Jo

    I wish I had’ve had a full blood count done before we started eating like this! I would’ve loved seeing if there was any changes. As it is, I have lost 10kgs in just over 10 weeks and have yet to start exercising! (that’s 22 pounds!!)

  • Congratulations!

    My girlfriend and I have been eating only real, whole, food for about 1 year now. We have seen all the same benefits that you have. It’s great, especially the changes in palate, metabolism, and cravings.

    And super-kudos to you for doing it in North Carolina, with kids, and sticking to it while out of the home and away. We are in NYC, have no kids (yet), and give ourselves some wiggle room as long as we can maintain 85 – 90%.

    We also took on the added challenge of eating foods that are local (and in season). This winter was a real learning experience, and thank goodness my girlfriend got into canning at the end of last summer. Tomatoes and peaches in February were a nice treat that we never could have had otherwise within our eating scheme.

    We’ve got recipes and discussions of our experience on our site. Love to share!


  • Rhonda

    I have to tell you that after eating a life-long diet of “real food”, when I had blood tests for the first time since having my son 7 years prior, the doctor was STUNNED at my HDL number which is 151. Yes, you read right – 151. He said that whatever I was doing, to never stop.

    That’s a lifelong relationship with REAL food. When I was growing up, the food companies couldn’t make processed food affordable. My mother was a single mother with 3 children and REAL foods were the cheapest so that’s what we ate. We has fast food ONCE per month because that’s all my Mom could afford. I grew up on a diet of LOTS of fresh fruit and vegetables (because the canned stuff cost the same as a dozen ears of corn on the cobb almost), chicken, fish and little red meat (because of the cost).

    I’ve always known that processed food is a “Death in a Box”. Now, just tell my 80 year old MIL who fed my 9 month old son “white sugar on a spoon” because she said it was a “treat”.

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  • Jenn

    Thank yo so much for sharing this. I just happened to stumble into your site from a link on pintrest. Eating clean has always been an idea I have liked, but not been really great at doing. My husband has just has some alarming blood results back and I have been trying to change our diet to bring his #’s down. This is an answer to prayer and this post is very motivating to get me doing what I have always known to be right and good. Your site has been added to my favoties and again, Thank you so much for helping to make a differnce!

  • Michelle

    I started reading the book called pH Miracle and it’s amazing what food can really do for our bodies…I’m a type 2 diabetic with high cholesterol and high blood pressure…since i cut out most processed food for the last 40 days i’m down 20lbs and looking forward to losing more…the detox stradegy book by Brenda Watson was very informative also.

    These web sites gave really good info on becoming a healthier person.

  • I love this website! I can’t get enough! I have a bit of a sad story. My husband was diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease about 4 years ago, he was 44. We learned to live with our circumstance quickly, and leaned on our faith. Then, another blow, last Sept. our 20 year old daughter was diagnosed with epilepsy. We had no idea. My youngest daughter, now 17 has struggled with ADHD, and stomach issues for many years. Even when she had her galbladder removed at 14, it didn’t occur to me that it could be our diet. I never felt we ate poorly. Our girls had some fast food, and we did eat highly processed snacks. I just never thought we would be where we are now. I realize that Parkinson’s and Epilepsy are not usually linked to diet, but I can’t help but wonder if “real food” would help. I am looking for more local food sources, my husband is gardening, and we plan to purchase local humane treated meat this fall. We have a long way to go, sodas to give up, and take out to “cut out” but I believe it will only improve our circumstances. I love the ideas on this blog as well as the recipes!! Thank you for sharing with so many of us. I only wish I’d made the connection sooner. Blessings. Joyce

  • Bernadette Willick

    Cholesterol is a very familiar medical term almost to anyone, particularly the middle age group. It is a common thing the word will never be a part of teen-age lingo. The main reason is, most of the dreaded ailments accompanying “high cholesterol” levels are associated with hypertension, heart failure, diabetes and other long term and acquired conditions, which does not could also happen to younger generation as juvenile complications. To make it clear, when the majority is talking about lowering cholesterol, it is all about alleviating the further progress of bad cholesterol.There are two kinds of cholesterol accumulating or present in the human body. ;

    My very own blog site

  • [...] bandwagon to solve any health issues, the events that took place soon afterward were surprising. My HDL (a.k.a. the “good” cholesterol number that should be high) went up by 50%! My younger [...]

  • [...] junk would cause my daughter’s asthma and constipation to disappear as well as result in a 50% increase in my HDL (a.k.a. “good”) cholesterol! And here I already thought we were a fairly “healthy” family, which has a lot to do with why I [...]

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