The Single Dad’s Guide To Health: High Cholesterol

Hi and welcome to the third in my series of health posts here at the Guide.  The first of which covered the fun middle-aged man’s disease: Gout.  It went through the reasons for getting it and dietary issues when trying to eliminate it.  Next, we went on to diabetes and the issues with the illness as well as dietary precautions both positive and negative when dealing with diabetes.  These were the first two parts of diagnosis I was faced with but a few short weeks ago.  This week, I cover the third of those diagnoses, issues with it and what can be done in The Single Dad’s Guide to Health: High Cholesterol.

As I said in previous issues on health, I was presented with the fact I had a high uric acid count, borderline diabetes, and high cholesterol.  This didn’t exactly put me into a tailspin.  But it did make me rethink choices I made, and take stock about where I needed to go from here.  So I started revisiting my diet and seeing what changes I needed to make.  Obviously, there would be many.  I recall having a “see food” diet.  It wasn’t going to cut it anymore.  And after research on each of the first two ailments, I drew up a diet plan and something to view how limiting the diets could be due to issues with other diets.  The Gout and Diabetes posts were the first two in the health series, bringing me to the third of three issues I am facing.

When it comes to my life and cholesterol, honestly this is the first time I have faced anything like high cholesterol.  No one ever told me, even when I was exceedingly overweight before, I needed to change my diet because of cholesterol reasons.  I realize that things change when I hit 40, and my exercise regimen leaves something to be desired.  Thus, I was not surprised things might change for me.  I just did not realize three major health issues would hit me simultaneously.  But you should go big or go home, I always say.  (Or maybe, I don’t say it.  And I definitely shouldn’t say it here.)    

Now with gout and diabetes, you hear a lot about dietary changes, which can help.  But when it comes to high cholesterol, the first thing which comes from people’s mouth is medication.  Obviously, I understood there were dietary changes one could make.  Unfortunately, the people I knew who ended up suffering from high cholesterol, dietary changes did not seem to make a dent.  I suppose it was why I was more open to taking the medicine right off the bat.  Unfortunately, something would make taking the medicine more challenging.

Every medicine you take has side effects.  In fact, most medicines I hear about the side effects make me want to avoid the medication altogether.  I know some of these side effects are exceedingly rare and only mentioned because the drug companies do not wish to be sued.    Nevertheless, they scare me.  Unfortunately, the one thing you do not always consider, when the amount of drugs people prescribe you increases, is the negative side effects of drug interactions.

Guess who, when dealing with three different health issues simultaneously, confronted negative drug interactive side effects?  If you see a tall white man with blue eyes and curly brown hair named David jumping up and down with his hands in the air, it would be me.  Ok.  At least I found out about the negative side effects before taking both drugs.  It appears the high cholesterol medication and the gout medication seem to have negative interactive properties which can do joint and muscle damage.  Oops!

I started to weigh the consequences of taking the drugs together and decided I would not be doing that.  What I did decide was I would deal with the more pressing problem: gout.  As gout made it difficult to walk, let alone do anything else of consequence, I knew I had to deal with that first if I was going to exercise or anything else that would be helpful for weight loss. Therefore, I proceeded to take the gout medication.  As it has persisted for a couple of weeks, I have not had time to gauge how the new cholesterol medication is holding up.  I will cover that in future health posts.

What I will do is tackle the two main forms of dealing with cholesterol aside from taking medication.  Ok.  Let us be honest.  I will only tackle one of them, as the secondary method is exercise.  While I am not opposed to fitness and exercising posts, this is not what this one covers.  And exercise posts are more generic.  They work for a whole host of maladies.  If I were talking about exercise after knee surgery, it would be different.  Maybe it would be useful for a particular injury.  As this is more nutrition related, I am going to be covering the Cholesterol Diet.

Cholesterol by Nick Youngson CC BY-SA 3.0 Alpha Stock Images

The Cholesterol Diet

When doing research on a diet, which would reduce cholesterol, I was inundated by a series of different dietary measures people suggest you take.  I suppose this is true with all health issues.  Multiple people will create a diet saying they have the answers to all of your health problems.  I want to believe that, but I know it’s not possible.  So I try to pare down diets and see which one seems the most reputable.  And while I am very curious about the Mediterranean diet, the diet which stood out to me as most reputable came from the Mayo Clinic.  Not that I completely trust doctors.  But the Mayo Clinic knows its stuff . . . for the most part.

They have a five-step plan for everything.  And as I know exercise is involved, I said I would avoid it.  But there is one big one on there I’m thinking is redundant or they think your IQ must be around 50.  The Big Number 4 of 5 is Lose Weight.  Of course, the practical applications of 1, 2, and 3, along with following 5 should help with the weight loss.  But never mind that now.  Because losing weight is a thing to do. Like chewing gum.  I go out there and lose weight every day.  Don’t do anything.  Just lose weight.  No.  Wait.  I exercise, eat less food, avoid too much drinking, and don’t smoke. And magically the weight loss occurs.  Without the other 4 . . . I’m guessing weight loss is a pipe dream anyway.  So let’s move on to the actual diet.

1)  Eat Foods Rich in Omega 3 ’s

a. Salmon – Ok . . . I’m good with this one.  And shouldn’t affect gout . . . I hope.

b.  Mackerel/Herring – Brilliant.  Lower My cholesterol but make my foot look like I should try out for the next cast of Hunchback of Notre Dame.  Sounds perfect.

c. Walnuts – Also good for gout and diabetes.  And my least favorite nut.  Sounds perfect.

d. Flaxseeds – I just knew we would get to this.  To me, this is the human equivalent of eating birdseed.  Tasteless, and doesn’t go down easy.  But it’s that or more meds.  And I think I’d rather do fewer meds. Just my humble opinion.

2) Increase Soluble Fiber

a. Oatmeal -The non-sugary kind.  Cherries in oatmeal here I come.

b. Kidney Beans – Still tastes like sand.

c. Brussel Sprouts – The worlds least appealing and most bitter vegetable.

d. Apples / Pears – Definitely something I will have to add to my diet more.  And hey.  An apple a day and all that jazz.

3) Add Whey Protein

– It would appear Dairy Products contain this.  And it’s a thing.  So low-fat cheese, milk, yogurt . . . with cherries . . . all coming to a diet near you.

This concludes the “do eat” portion of the program.  Notice there is something missing from there.  Of course, this would be meat.  Do people have something against meat or something?  What’s wrong with the burger?  Maybe a lot.  But what’s really us is that we get lazy and don’t put balance into our diet.  If we had balance in the first place, the one burger isn’t going to kill you.  It’s when things get out of whack that you have to go through a correction period.  I surely wonder what I will look like at the end of mine. 

The Heart Attack Diet (Coming To A Fast Food Vendor Near You)

So these are the foods to avoid if that could be any clearer.

1) Red Meats – Yup.  The bane of my existence at this point.

2) Full Fat Dairy Products – Gone the full-fat milk, yogurt, and cheese.  Hmmmmm… I now know why I hear people quitting and giving up altogether.

3) Fried Food – I’m going to have to do something about my fried chicken consumption of late.  Bye KFC.

4) Margarine – I can do without this . . . but what about butter . . . which brings me back to number 2.  Ugh!

5) Store Bought Cookies / Crackers / Cakes – (You cannot see me curled up in a pile of my own tears.  But you can imagine it.)

Other Things To Avoid

1) Too Much Alcohol – Ummm Duh!  Besides. My liver would rebel.

2) Smoking Cigarettes – I know it curbs hunger cravings for some.  But a visit to the morgue with a cadaver who smoked cures any need for the nicotine nightmare.

I’m sure there is a lot more to avoid, but I’m going to ignore them all now for the time being and consider this a start.  In addition, after research, cherries seem to be good at lowering cholesterol as well.  I know I heard apples were a super fruit but I think we need to go back and praise the cherry.

Ode To Cherry

A Fruit that blossoms in the spring

With purple or a reddish hue

It makes my joints and muscles sing

And bids the nasty pain adieu.

Why had no one told before

The magic in your small fruit tree?

The soft sweet center in its core

Could still the pains and aches for me.

Too much forgot in time gone by

I forgot the sweetness of your taste.

And bags of fruit I would let die

Instead of eating you in haste.

But now no longer will I forget

The cherry will be my long-term bet.

So it’s not the perfect poem.  You try writing an ode to cherries in 10 minutes.  I dare ya!  (If you do I will post it next week though.) Moving on from the cherry cheer, let’s take a look at the week that was and visit how things are going.

Things That Worked For My Health-

1) Smaller Meals Portions Reduced My Weight By Four Pounds –

I am very happy with this for the moment.  Although I need to get back on the scales after screwing up the last couple of days.  But I’ll bring those screw ups with me into next week instead.  Instead, I want to focus on getting back on the right track.

2) Continuing To Guzzle Water –

Yes, I continue to drink water in large portions.  Although the last couple of days I took to drinking some unsweetened tea.  I needed a break from only drinking water and found tea was the next best thing.  Although I hear coffee is good too, as long as I stick to the soy milk.

3)  Cherries And Water Reduced Inflammation In My Toe –

I do realize this is a long-term project.  But I will take it in baby steps.  I still have some inflammation but I feel like it’s subsiding.  And the pain is pretty much gone.  But my goal is to get through one whole year without an outbreak.  I figure if I go that long I will have gone on long enough to believe I may actually be making a dent in the uric acid levels.  We will revisit in a year to see.

Needs Improvement In Health – (Didn’t Set Goals Specifically.  But These Are Things I Need To Do)

1) Exercise – Diet alone won’t cut it.  I know that.  So now comes exercising now that the toe doesn’t resemble a golf ball.

2) More Sleep – I have berated myself for not getting enough.  I have gotten some.  Just not enough.

3) Make An Appointment With Doctor For More Blood Tests – Yes I’m nervous about this.  But it needs to get done.  And even if she still wants me to take all the meds, I want to see there is some minor improvement.  We shall see.

Tying Things Up For The Week

So this is the week that was.  It includes Cholesterol advice, discussion of drug interactions and much more.  Lots of good material here.  And don’t take my word on anything specifically. I am not a doctor and cannot say you will receive the same results as me in any area.  What I will say is that you should become your own health advocate.  After seeing so many people suffer at the hands of doctors and hospitals, I realize when they say practice they mean practice.  And they are practicing on you.  The only way you can make sure you know what’s going on is to do the research and find out.  There is a ton out there.  You just need to look.  I wish you a wonderful week and will discuss next week about starting a drug regimen and how it all works.

Continue The Conversation

So what do you think about the dietary needs for cholesterol?  How do you handle when you have to take multiple things into account for a diet?  How do you make sure you eat well with your children when your children don’t want to touch the things you need to eat?  Any advice is most welcome.  Oh and don’t forget the Ode to Cherry.

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Until next time, this is me signing off.

David Elliott, Single Dad’s Guide to Life

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