That depends on a number of factors.
We know from the Framingham Heart Study that no one (in the study’s cohort) with a total cholesterol score below 150 has ever died of heart disease. Armed with that number, Dr. Esselstyn decided to make sure that all of his patients got their total cholesterol below 150—primarily through diet. He instructed them to eliminate ALL animal products and other very high-fat, plant-based products like oil, avocado and nuts. If a patient was still over 150, he prescribed a mild statin drug.
But what about a guy like me? A guy that has taken charge of his own health and only goes to the doctor for emergencies? A note from a reader in the UK inspired me to address these questions in this blog. She wrote:
When I started eating the Esselstyn way after seeing the Clinton clip, I was doing it to lower my cholesterol. I was already in very good health before I started and had been surprised to find my cholesterol quite high. So I gave up the oil first then, after the China Study had convinced me, I gave up the eggs, fish and yogurt that I had been eating, switched my milk to soy, and simply ate more of the whole grains, pulses and vegetables that I was already eating. I found it easy to go whole foods, plant-based because I was already eating many whole foods.
In terms of my cholesterol just stopping; the oil had a dramatic effect and I also lost a few pounds. But my point is that I have enjoyed vibrant health all along. Having raised cholesterol is not something we notice unless we go for a test.
Point taken. Here’s the way I see it. As you may know, I quit going to the doctor on a regular basis about ten years ago. But being curious about cholesterol, I have found ways to learn my score without going to the doctor. The first way is through the American Red Cross, to which I have donated blood about once a year. If you ask them for your total cholesterol score, they will send it to you in the mail. It takes about a week—for free. They also check your blood pressure and pulse, which you get on the day they draw the blood.
The second way is a home test kit. Recently, my son and I bought one at the drug store and checked our own total cholesterol at his kitchen table. You can read about that test in a blog that I posted a few days after Christmas. In the quest for “vibrant health,” weight-loss is just a bonus. There is also a similar home test kit for checking your diabetes numbers. Both are included in the referenced blog in this paragraph.
So what about going to the doctor? Now that I have found convenient ways to check things like cholesterol and blood pressure, I see no reason to go to the doctor except for emergencies, like when I ruptured my Achilles tendon playing tennis on a grass court for the first time.
Not only am I not going to the doctor anymore, I have also quit checking my cholesterol, my weight or anything else. My diet is consistently at the 4Leaf level so there’s no reason to keep checking things that always remain fairly constant. Another one is my weight.
What about the routine colonoscopy for people over fifty? No thanks. My bottom line is this. Over the past decade of eating a near-optimal diet, I have taken charge of my health and I trust my body to tell me when something is wrong. Besides, even if I was tested and knew that I had cancer, I would never let them do the “slash, burn and poison” thing on me.
- An earlier blog. Are you a colonoscopy customer?
- Blog with brief video. The “war on cancer” turns 41; now a major industry…
Disclaimer. Please understand that I am not making any recommendations in this blog on this topic. I am simply sharing my story and my opinion. As stated inside the cover of our book:
The author of this blog or the “Healthy Eating – Healthy World” book is not rendering professional advice or services to the individual reader. The ideas, suggestions and procedures on this blog are not intended as a substitute for consulting with a physician. All matters of health require medical supervision. The author will not be responsible for any loss or damage allegedly arising from any information or suggestion on this blog.
Handy 4-piece take-charge-of-your-health kit—from Amazon.com
- The movie that’s changing the lives of millions: Forks Over Knives DVD
- Healthy Eating, Healthy World, The “big picture” about food (our book)
- An essential scientific resource: The China Study by Dr. T. Colin Campbell
- Dr. McDougall’s new book, The Starch Solution, with lots of great recipes.
Want to find out how healthy your family is eating? Take our free 4Leaf Diagnostic Survey. It takes less than five minutes and you can score it yourself. After taking the survey, please give me your feedback as it will be helpful in the development of our future 4Leaf app for smartphones. Send feedback to email@example.com
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Blogging daily at hpjmh.com…from the seaside village of Stonington, Connecticut – Be well and have a great day.
—J. Morris Hicks, board member, T. Colin Campbell Foundation