Monday, July 27, 2009

My Numbers @ 40

I had not been to my primary care physician since becoming vegan in June of 2005, and being that I am now 40, I wanted to get a baseline on my bloodwork to see what the dealio was. Now, I get a lot of shit for being vegan, especially from my friends in the iron game. And I constantly get the "where do you get your protein" question from my professional colleagues. My answer is "from the food I eat." As long as I get enough good quality calories from a variety of food and lift some heavy-ish weights, I keep a pretty consistent lean body mass and a modicum of strength. I am not a high-level athlete in training, so as long as my diet is between 10-20% protein (WHO recommendations), I figure I'm doing ok.

I don't focus on ratios of macronutrients. I do make greens and vegetables the foundation of what I eat--whole foods. I am about 90% gluten-free and do not eat processed grains on a regular basis, with the exception of a nice German Hefeweizen or a Belgian White Ale, or occasional seitan. I avoid dairy and try not to eat too much processed soy; both tend to kick my sinuses in high gear. I do have a weakness for soba and rice noodles, but I consider them a treat and do not eat them too often. Our house is basically vegan, with the exception of some egg whites and The AD's cheese (he is from Wisconsin). And The AD and I do enjoy an occasional sashimi splurge at Wasabi in Clayton. We try to eat well for our health, but we are not curmudgeonly about it; we like to sample and try cusine from all cultures.

I do take a B12/Folic acid supplement from Trader Joes, and am trying to find the DHA/Omega-3 combo I can tolerate I really don't care if it is vegan or not; I just don't want the icky burps.

So here are my numbers (12 hour fast), with the normal ranges in parenthesis. My basic metabolic panel, WBC, hepatic function, diff type, platelets, electrolytes are all normal.

Glucose: 81 mg/dL (74-106)

Cholesterol: 173 mg/dL (<200)

Triglyerides: 90 mg/dL (<150)

HDL: 76 mg/dL (>40)

LDL: 79 mg/dL (<100)

Hemoglobin: 12.8 g/dL (11.8-14.8)

Hematocrit: 37.9% (35.5-44.0)

Sed Rate: 10 mm/h (0-20)

Homocysteine: 6.2 micromol/L (<10.4)

Everything seems pretty good. My total bone density is 1.413 g/cm2, for a T-score of 3.6 and Z-score of 3.9. Normal is a T/Z-score of anything above -1. Bodyfat is somewhere between 15%-19%, with bodyweight anywhere between 140-149 lbs at 5' 8".

My goal is to be healthy and strong, maybe compete at the masters level in cycling, but I'm not gonna let my ego control the workouts. I never want to be beholden to any prescription meds or NSAIDs; and I'm hell bent on preserving my spinal discs and keeping my own hips, knees, shoulders, hair, teeth and eyes.

So there it is. The veg thing seems to be working for me. I still need to work on getting good fatty acids in my diet and keep my exercise frequency/intensity up. Do I think you should be vegan? Nope. I don't give a care what you eat or drink. That's your business. It is simply my hope that you are taking responsibility for your physical health, and that you use whole foods and exercise to promote longevity and health for yourself. And you have fun while doing so.


Anonymous said...


Your numbers are fantastic. Congrats! You always look great too--clear skin, bright eyes, healthy hair. You are clearly doing what is right.

Hey--I also recommend this for your DHA-Omega 3 needs:

It's from Dr. Fuhrman who also promotes your type of diet (he doesn't call it vegan, but nutritarian). A nutritarian is someone who focuses on high nutrient intake and excludes those foods that are low in nutrients.


Orie said...

Great numbers and great post!

I think what most people forget is that the best dietary advice from even the wisest of experts doesn't mean a damn thing if they don't work for you in practice.

I think everyone should take the approach you have taken. Get the numbers, make a change if you need to, and then get the numbers again. Repeat until the numbers look good.

There is no single optimal diet that will fit everyone's health needs, and we all have it in our power to modify our diets and measure the results.

Then again... It might just be the Shashimi.

The Iron Maven said...

Alex and Orie,

Thank you for the comments. You both have been fabulous resources with regard to eating, cooking and dining! Nothing better than smart dudes who really care.

I am grateful to call you both my friends. You both inspire me to keep on keepin' on.


P.S. Orie, maybe it is the Old Fashions I've been sneaking at night--j/k!

P.P.S. Alex, I love the picture you sent me of "us" together--you as the iced tea and me as the hemp ale. I am dragging KFF to SF as soon as I can manage it.

P.P.P.S. Remind me to tell you both about the most recent Hexlite bar sale. It's pretty awesome.

Keith Sutorius said...


Have you tried taking the omega 3's on an empty stomach? I always take mine(Carlson's brand)before my meals.

Something else I would recommend is Brewer's Yeast. Great source of amino acids, b vitamins. We add it to our Whey protein in the am.


Steffi said...

Why are you vegan? Do you think it's more healthy? Or some moral reasoning? I am just curios =)!

lisahautly said...

Empowering post. A good reminder of the measurable benefits of healthy eating. My recent blood work showed a few deficiencies. Now popping supplements while adjusting diet to beef up low b12 and iron levels.