Show me the money. That should be what you think when people advocate a certain way of living. Words are cheap. Proof is everything. I’m a big believer in the gluten-free, whole foods way of living. So I’m putting my money where my mouth is by revealing how the diet affects my health and where it puts me on the health scale compared to the average American.
Periodically I like to stop by health kiosks at places like Walgreens to get a free and simple blood pressure, BMI, pulse, and weight screening. They’re great snapshots of overall health. Today’s stats? Excellent – all thanks to my way of eating.
Here were the readings (sorry for the candid quality of the shots from the machine screen).
Blood Pressure and Pulse
These are fantastic stats. My blood pressure used to be around 136/86 back at the end of 2015 when I still ate a crappy diet of microwaved lunches and carbalicious foods like pasta, pizzas and cookies. Then, I cooked a lot of my meals and ate what I thought was a diet of moderation. How wrong I was.
Used to treatment for high blood pressure began at 140/90 but in 2017 the American Heart Association and the American College of Cardiology lowered it to 130/80. At the new cutoff, around 46 percent, or more than 103 million, of American adults are considered to have high blood pressure. It’s pretty bad when almost half of Americans have high blood pressure, especially since high blood pressure accounts for the second-largest number of preventable heart disease and stroke deaths in the United States, second only to smoking.
Most people think normal blood pressure is 120/80 but that’s actually in the elevated range. Look at that picture again and at how 120 and 80 both sit squarely in the yellow range rather than the healthy, normal green range. A large, government-sponsored study of hypertension patients aged 50 and older showed that death from heart-related causes fell 43 percent and heart failure rates dropped 38 percent when their systolic blood pressure was lowered below 120. Even patients in the 120 systolic blood pressure group had a higher rate of kidney injury or failure, as well as fainting. Takeaway? You want to be under 120/80.
And of course most professionals invariably try to treat high blood pressure with an array of medications, all of which come with side effects. Guess what? You can treat your blood pressure with diet like I did. I still salt my food the same, drink 1-2 cups of coffee daily, and I’m not a gym bunny either. And yet it no time, my stats changed when my eating patterns changed.
My resting pulse rate came in at 69 beats per minute, which is excellent. According to the Mayo Clinic, normal falls between 60-100 beats per minute. Generally, a lower heart rate at rest implies more efficient heart function and better cardiovascular fitness. For example, a well-trained athlete might clock in at 40 beats per minute.
I’m no athlete and regularly fight the sedentary battle of sitting before my computer for 12 hours a day or more. Usually I go for a 20-30 minute walk a couple of times a week at most and lately have been jogging 3 miles a couple of times a month but not regularly enough to call it a habit.
Weight & BMI
Here are my weight and BMI stats. Yes, I’ve even shared my weight. Ugh. Who likes to do that?
Everything clocked in solidly excellent and normal for my height at 133 pounds and a BMI of 23.57.
In the US, we struggle with an obesity epidemic. According to the CDC, a normal or healthy BMI is between 18.5 and 24.9; overweight runs between BMI 25 to 29.9; obesity starts at 30. In 2015-16, the average BMI was 29.1 for men and 29.6 for women, right at the cutoff for obesity. The average weight of American men in 2015-16 was 197.9 pounds; for women, it was 170.6 pounds. These weights are for the average height of men at 5 feet, 9.1 inches and women at 5 feet, 3.7 inches.
Obesity is linked with a number of health problems, including metabolic disorders like diabetes and cognitive diseases like Alzheimer’s. Guess what we’re eating that healthier cultures aren’t? Tons of processed, refined foods loaded with sugar and refined carbs like wheat that spike our blood sugars, make us insulin resistant, and destroy our gut biome – all of which causes a host of problems in addition to those listed above. My diet? A gluten-free, whole foods diet modeled on the healthiest cultures in the world. These populations live the longest and in remarkable health.
I think the numbers speak for themselves on my stats. At 40 years old, I’m hardly a spring chick. These numbers are hard-fought and well-earned. I had to battle my addictions to sugar and wheat, which was no easy accomplishment. Only in the last few months, after nearly a year and half on my gluten-free, whole foods diet have I reached a place where I don’t actually crave them so I know how difficult the battle can be. Believe me I do! For my story, read What Happened When I Gave Up Bread and How I Went from the Standard American Diet to a Whole Foods Diet in a Year and Reclaimed My Health. Like me, so many others every day are proving that the road to good health is achievable and sustainable with diet.
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