Archive for hypertension

“I became a convert for life”

By: Patricia Haney

For the first 42 years of my life, I ate your typical American diet: meat, dairy, and loads of sugar! I cooked everything in oil, and covered everything with cheese, cream cheese, and/or sugar. I ate candy or sweets when I drove, read, watched TV. . . I even had candy in my pockets at work so I could pop some in my mouth here and there. I was an addict! I was overweight (bordering obese) and starting to have medical problems.

I am one of those people who don’t trust doctors. I had some bad experiences in the past, so I have avoided them at all costs most my life. But eventually I could no longer ignore the things that were happening in my body, and I went to the doctor. It was 2012, and we were living in Georgia, when I went to the OBGYN who diagnosed severe endometriosis. Two surgeries later, I had no more female reproductive organs left. If only I knew then what I know now!

Fast forward through years of vertigo and strange happenings to 2015. I was sitting down with my family watching a movie when I got a strange sensation. I tried to stand up, but I couldn’t . . . I fell back down to the couch. I tried to speak, but it came out slurred. Everyone, including me, thought I was stroking like my mom who had had 5 strokes. I was rushed to the ER where they quickly came to the same conclusion. The results of the MRI came back . . . no stroke. Well that was good news right? “Then what happened to me?” I asked. There was zero explanation.

I am not a hypochondriac, and I know I did not imagine what happened. I knew something was wrong even though the doctor couldn’t explain it. As I was leaving with my “clean bill of health,” he said, “You might want to follow up with a neurologist. You had some lesions on your brain, but a few lesions are normal at your age.” I left the hospital and thought, “Whatever.” And my trust in doctors plummeted even more.

In 2016 when we were living in Alabama, I finally went to another doctor where I was told I had high blood pressure and should go on medication. I ignored him and finally went to a neurologist. After tests, tests, and more tests, my doctor showed me my MRI, put her hand on my knee and said, “It looks like we are dealing with multiple sclerosis. Even though there is no cure, don’t be afraid, we have lots of new drugs to slow down the advancement of the disease.”

I did NOT want to be dependent of medications the rest of my life for MS and high blood pressure. So I went home and prayed and prayed that if there were another way, could I please be led to it. I also prayed for an open mind to what I found. Then I went to the temple and prayed some more. I decided medications would ONLY be my very last desperate option.

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“I had begun getting whisperings from the spirit”

By: Alethea Galke

I first heard of whole food, plant-based (WFPB) eating from a friend who recommended the book How Not to Die. I bought it but didn’t read it. A few months later she encouraged us again, and I took the book with us on our three-day drive to take our son to the MTC. I read it to my husband as he drove. He is a Family Practice physician, and he was impressed with all of the studies the book contains to back up the claims. After reading 1 1/2 chapters on how to cure diseases, we didn’t need to read any more; we believed!

We believed so much that we began on that trip to eat WFPB the very best we could. We arrived home June 5, 2016, and the next day I went out and put together a whole new WFPB menu, and having faith, I went shopping. One year later we are still faithfully eating WFPB; we love it!

I had been working my way up to WFPB over the years; I just didn’t know it. I found that the older I got the less I wanted to eat meat. With four boys, Five Guys was a special treat for the family. I was tired of hamburgers. I didn’t like them. Once or twice I ordered a hot dog, but I didn’t like that meat either. I found I could pile a small burger with jalapeños, mushrooms, lettuce, onions (both grilled and raw), and lots of sauce to hide the taste of the meat. I never added cheese because I wasn’t really a fan. I would eat it, but if I had a choice I would decline. I would serve soups without meat, but my husband complained he was still hungry. I found a compromise by opening a bottle of shredded chicken, warming it up and setting it on the table for “anyone that wants meat” to add to their soup. When we switched to WFPB eating my husband’s palate changed so quickly. He loved the flavors and looked forward to what I would prepare. He didn’t even miss the meat.

We have always been fairly healthy. Even now, in our 50s, we have no aches or pains, no diseases, no pills. We are healthy. I have always had very low blood pressure, but it has been slowly creeping up. I had gone to the doctor shortly before starting WFPB eating and was concerned that it was higher than usual, now up in the slightly high range. Nine months after starting WFPB eating I went to the doctor for a regular check up, and my blood pressure was completely normal. I know it was because of our new eating lifestyle. I am so grateful.

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“I am no longer obsessed about food or how much I weigh”

Doug WeberBy: Doug Weber

I’ve been studying nutrition and fitness as a hobby for about 20 years. During this time, my weight has been all over the map. I’ve been very thin at times—when serving in the Air Force, I was on a calorie-restricted diet and doing lots of running and got down to 150 lbs. I’ve been overweight most of the time—up to 230 lbs at one point.

My diet has also been all over the map. I’ve tried the good old calorie-restricted diet many times and succeeded in losing a lot of weight each time, only to gain it all back each time. I also saw success with the Shangri-La Diet (google it) but didn’t have the will power to stay on it indefinitely. I saw success with the Atkins Diet; however, I had the same problem, an inability to stay on it long term. The same with Nutrisystem—I did that for a year and lost 55 pounds, then gained it all back.

In late 2015, I decided to try the Ketogenic Diet where 75% of calories come from fat, 20% from protein, and only 5% from carbs. It is an extreme version of the Atkins diet. During this diet, I was eating a lot of meat, a lot of extra fat (bacon grease on everything!) and was checking my ketones each morning to try to hit the magic range of 2.0 to 3.0 mmol/L. My lab numbers all got better, but in hindsight I believe it was due to my no longer eating highly processed foods.

During this time, I was corresponding with my daughter and her husband in Provo. We had an on-going discussion about nutrition and fitness for a few years. My son-in-law challenged me on my interpretation of D&C 89:12-13. I interpreted verse 13 to mean it’s okay to eat meat sparingly all the time, not just during times of winter, cold, or famine. He forwarded an article to me that included a reference to Jane Birch’s book, Discovering the Word of Wisdom. I read her book and decided I was completely wrong. I now understand those verses to mean that it is pleasing to the Lord if we never eat meat unless we must in order to survive. I was inspired by Jane’s notion that she had eaten more meat during the first half of her life than would ever be pleasing unto the Lord, so she is committed to eating no meat the second half of her life to try to make up for the first half—that has become my desire as well.

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“Changing my eating habits has saved me”

Warren TownsendBy: Warren Townsend

I was diagnosed some years ago with pre-diabetes, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and a dangerous buildup of plaque in my arteries. If one of these maladies didn’t incapacitate, cripple or kill me another one would.

The doctor prescribed warfarin or Coumadin, which is the main ingredient in rat poison. It thins the blood to the extent veins and arteries can no longer contain the blood and the animal bleeds to death. I was given information on a diet for diabetics and was told it would help stabilize my condition.

Diabetes, heart failure, cancer and obesity have plagued my mother, father, sisters, brother and their mates for many years. Dad died at age 59 of oat cell carcinoma, a type of lung cancer. At the age of 86, Mother died of congestive heart failure, also called myocardial infarction or heart attack. Her life was not easy during my lifetime. When Mother was 37 years old we nearly lost her to uterine cancer, ulcerated colitis, and improper combinations of conflicting medications prescribed by her doctors. She was prescribed Coumadin, refused it, and turned to the natural help of gingko biloba and cayenne pepper capsules, which did indeed thin her blood. As she got older, continually testing her blood sugar she was able to somewhat control her type 2 diabetes through a prescribed diet for diabetics that still allowed meat and dairy products. Mother developed neuropathy in her feet and so got little exercise and was middling obese for many years.

I have put all this down to tell you of my experience.

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“Even the least of us can do it!”

Jim and Carol LindseyBy: Carol Lindsey

When I was 12 years old, we went to visit my grandparents. As we were traveling, just before our stop for dinner, I realized it had been days since I’d felt hunger pangs. This was a memorable “ah-ha” moment. It was the first of many times over the next 50 plus years that I noticed I was eating for reasons other than hunger.

I’ve always loved food, and I loved to eat, especially sweets. Weight was never a problem . . . until I had my first baby. After my daughter was born, my son came one year later, and for the next 47 years I carried more than 50 extra pounds on my 5’4″ frame. That’s not to say I didn’t try to lose the weight, and sometimes I was even successful, but it never stayed off. No matter how hard I tried, the weight would always creep back on. You could probably say in my whole adult life I was either dieting or gaining weight. Rarely did I ever maintain my weight, and if I did, it was for a very short period of time. My food choices were anything sweet, salty, fried or on a bun. Chocolate, butter and ice cream were their own food groups in my book, and least I leave out the meat, I loved rare steak, prime rib, and any seafood you could dip in butter.

I was so obsessed with my weight that to this day I can tell you how much I weighed at every important event that ever occurred in my life. Food was a drug to me. I used it to dull emotional pain and feelings of failure. In the first nine months after our son passed away, I tried to deal with the grief by stuffing myself. It didn’t work. Once again I went on a diet. This time I lost 30 pounds and figured that was the best I could do . . . after all a woman in her 60’s can’t expect to be skinny. I managed to maintain that weight loss for about a year, but then, just like all the other times, the weight began to creep on again.

We left home in March of 2014 to serve an 18-month mission for the LDS Church. We spent the first six months at Martin’s Cove, Wyoming. Next we were given a six-month assignment to Rosebud, South Dakota where we lived on the Sioux Indian Reservation and taught an addiction recovery program. In April of 2015 we were transferred from Rosebud back to Martin’s Cove.

I had assumed that because the work we did on our mission was very physical that I would easily lose weight, but instead once again I found myself gaining. We missionaries had a funny saying: “No one has starved at Martin’s Cove since 1856.” We made sure of that with wonderful dinners, desserts, and movie nights with treats and BBQ’s and trough dinners and the list goes on. With all that great food, I decided I was through with deprivation. No more diets for me! I’d eat what I wanted and just be happy. After all there are more important things in life than the size of your body!

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“I dropped 80 pounds”

Jeff and Judy SorensenBy: Jeff Sorensen

Growing up I always felt like I was a little “pudgy.” When I got to high school I wanted to be on some sort of team. My mother wouldn’t allow me to play football so I decided to try out for the swim team. We didn’t have a very good team (we didn’t even have our own pool), but I made the team and began swimming and also became quite lean. I continued that way for the next few years and enjoyed being more slender.

When I left for my mission to South America I weighed 170 pounds. I maintained that weight for most of my mission except when we lived with an American family. The good brother worked in the oil fields in Venezuela and enjoyed the standard American diet. I had never eaten filet mignon before in my life, but each Friday night his wife would cook it for us, along with potatoes and gravy and all the other good stuff. Soon my weight jumped to 200 pounds! I could hardly fit in my pants any longer! After a few months I was transferred to the other country (Colombia), and my weight began dropping back towards normal.

In my last city I got ill and lost some weight, which got me back to 170 pounds. My mother was so concerned that on my arrival home she decided she needed to “fatten me up” to a healthy weight. My sweetheart Judy had waited for me, and we were married eight weeks after I returned home. They say that newlyweds gain about 10 pounds the first year, and we did! Before I knew it I had gained 40 pounds.

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“The results were nearly miraculous”

Marc and Vicki SorensonBy: Marc Sorenson

Much of my youth was spent at our ranch/farm, located within one-half mile of the Nevada border in Utah’s west desert. We had no electricity and no indoor plumbing, necessitating old methods of cutting wood for the heater and carrying water in from the well for drinking and culinary purposes. It was a hard but good life, and we always had plenty to eat. We ate the typical cowboy fare, starting with bacon and eggs for breakfast, with an occasional bowl of cereal, and always a plethora of milk. I milked the cow, who was quite generous to us, providing not only milk, but cream and butter, which I often ate by the spoonful.

We did have some healthful foods, since my Dad loved fruit and often would buy cherries, apricots, peaches, watermelon, and apples, and we had some corn, peas and tomatoes from our garden or the gardens of our neighbors who sometimes had surplus.

Every meal contained meat and/or chicken, duck, turkey, fish or other animal food. I killed them, cut them up, put them in a cool area, and sometimes cooked some meals. When Mom was gone for a few weeks to keep her teaching certificate renewed (she taught school in the winter), Dad and I would eat as many as 16 eggs daily, he consuming about 8-10 and I another 6 or so. They were all sloshed liberally with bacon or other meat grease. I feel fortunate to have survived past my teenage years, considering the mountain of animal products along with their cholesterol and saturated fats that went through my digestive and circulatory systems! In spite of the hard ranch work my weight at one time was as high as 217 pounds at a height of 5’10 ½.” I now weigh about 178 pounds and am very muscular for a man of 72 years.

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“It’s not God’s plan that so many of us be sick”

Sue Reuser

By: Sue Reuser

I’ve been interested in physiology since I was in college, but when I was young I was not necessarily concerned about my own good health. In fact, I was a smoker for almost 20 years. After getting married in 1980, it was only in consideration of my new family of four children that I finally quit.

I first became involved with Dr. John McDougall’s plant-based diet in 1985 when I heard him interviewed on a radio talk show. McDougall sounded very extreme to me at the time, but everything he said was so logical that I couldn’t deny its correctness. It was completely different from everything that I had been taught about food and what I had always eaten, but deep down I just knew that he was right.

In 1985 I talked my husband into both of us enrolling in Dr. McDougall’s 12-day program. It was for him, not me. I didn’t need it. I was healthy, active, and trim, but at 30 he could not get insurance because of his high blood pressure. We attended the program together. Even though we had enrolled for my husband, the science soon convinced me to switch to a low fat starch-based diet.

Changing my diet was not easy. A huge part of my diet was sweets, and I sure didn’t want to give those up! Meat was not a problem for me. In fact, I liked the idea of not killing animals to eat them, but I still couldn’t imagine how I would feed a family without using lots of hamburger and cheese. Even though I had lots of questions, I was able to work things out. I didn’t know it at the time, but I think that even back then (before I joined the Church) I was feeling the influence of the Holy Ghost.

It was only later that I realized that the McDougall program most likely saved my life. My mother died of breast cancer when I was 10 and she was 49. My sister died of breast cancer when she was 51. If I hadn’t changed my lifestyle I probably would have been dying of breast cancer in 1994 instead of getting baptized into The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints and getting a new and happy life.

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“I am 81, and my wife is 79”

Cy and Pat WelchBy: Cy Welch

My name is Cy Welch. My wife is Pat Welch. I am 81, and my wife is 79.

When I read “Discovering the Word of Wisdom” by Jane Birch on Meridian Magazine, it rang a bell with me. I was struggling with the normal health problems of aging, such as lack of mobility, some arthritis, enlarged prostate (BPH), hypertension, hearing problems, and lack of strength. My wife is diabetic, arthritic, has fallen many times over the years, has hearing problems, and lots of migraine headaches, etc.

After I read a couple of the articles on “Discovering the Word of Wisdom” on the Internet, I bought the book and started the transition to a whole food, plant-based (WFPB) eating. It has been an interesting journey to say the least. I also bought and read The China Study as recommended by Jane. It connected the dots for me on health problems we were dealing with and just made sense. We went on a two-week vacation about this time while making the transition and found out just how difficult it can be to find food which supports the WFPB lifestyle on the fly so to speak. We did the best we could and are now about 90% changed over to WFPB.

One of the first benefits I noticed was my mobility began to return. I used to be fairly flexible, but I slowly lost my flexibility over the years. I am now flexible enough to get in and out of the van without bumping my head on the top of the door opening. I feel almost twenty years younger. I’m also slowly losing weight, although I wasn’t much over weight. I have much greater flexibility, strength and endurance.

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“It brings me joy to eat this way”

Janae Wise FamilyBy: Janae Wise

Though I didn’t grow up vegetarian, I was raised on plenty of farm fresh, local produce—apples, asparagus, cherries, grapes and corn were common local crops. My mother made sure we had plenty of nutritious plant-based meals around the dinner table. Growing up in this environment helped instill in me a love for vegetables, fruits, and all other food grown from the earth.

Fast forward to my adult years. In 2006, I was 23 and pregnant with my second child. My husband was a student, and we couldn’t afford the hefty co-pay for delivering in the hospital, so we decided to have a home birth. I had hypertension at the end of my first pregnancy, and my midwife told me that she could only deliver healthy moms at home, so if I developed hypertension (or any other trouble) I would need to deliver at the hospital. I thought that hypertension was not in my control, but she gave me a different perspective: You can choose to have or not have hypertension based on what you eat. She recommended I go vegan for better health during pregnancy. I thought she was crazy.

But, per her recommendation, I read The China Study (it had just been published) and realized, “You know, there is pretty strong evidence that a plant-based diet is the way to go.” Over the next months (about seven), I slowly weaned myself off dairy and meat. It wasn’t easy (I was pregnant after all), but a few weeks before I had my son, I was completely vegan.

I felt self-conscious about my diet, and I didn’t have a lot of courage. I had told friends and family that I was only going vegan “for the pregnancy.” But once I had my son, I realized, “Hey, I like this. I feel great, and it makes sense to me. I never want to go back to eating the way I used to.” So I told my very supportive husband of my decision, and I’ve never looked back.

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