A few months ago, in May, I wrote a post about being diagnosed with background retinopathy (early stage of retinal/eye damage). In that post, I explained what background retinopathy is, what the treatment is, and what my plan will be to prevent it from progressing and try to reverse it. If you haven’t read this post, you can read it here: Diabetic Retinopathy: My recent diagnosis.
The main cause of retinopathy is uncontrolled blood glucose levels, high cholesterol, and high blood pressure. Therefore, being a type 2 diabetic with a tendency towards high blood pressure and high cholesterol, my goal is to control these.
I currently take a 5mg statin three times a week to help with cholesterol control, and ramipril daily to help control my blood pressure. My dosage of ramipril has recently been increased from 5mg to 10mg as my blood pressure has been creeping up.
A recap from my previous post about background retinopathy
Here is a brief recap of the diet/lifestyle I outlined in the background retinopathy post to help control my health conditions:
- Eat a low carb, high-fat diet. I will focus more on polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats and try to reduce my saturated fat intake. Please note: Most individuals are fine on saturated fats. I have noticed that my bad cholesterol, LDL, increases when I consume more saturated fats. There are some people with a specific gene that causes this issue. I have been tested for one of the types (APOE 2) but not another type that is also associated with these issues (APOE4). So, there is a chance I have a genetic factor influencing my bad relationship with saturated fat.
- Eat a plant-based diet 3-4 times a week
- Increase physical exercise.
I also explained that I was undergoing tests to confirm whether I had IBS or something more sinister as I have been experiencing a lot of issues with digestion. My doctor highly suspects it is IBS that is caused by anxiety as he has recently diagnosed me with health-related PTSD, which I will cover in a separate post. I was going to explore doing a low FODMAP diet (a diet for better IBS control), however, I want to first prioritise my blood pressure, cholesterol and diabetes control as well as my health anxiety. My hopes are, once I get this all in check, my IBS may be better managed.
Since writing that post, I have been tasked with producing low carb vegan recipes, which can be quite tricky. A lot of plant-based diets are high in carbohydrates, so planning recipes that met the low carb and vegan requirements was one thing, but also trying to meet the requirement for protein intake was another! As I explained in the retinopathy post, I promised to pull together a free recipe book for our newsletter subscribers that specifically catered for low carb plant-based diets. While it may have taken me a lot longer than anticipated, I am thrilled to say it is finally complete and is available in the August Newsletter.
During the last few months I have also been doing some more reading. I have finished reading the ‘Diabetes Code’ and the ‘Obesity Code’ by Dr. Jason Fung. I have to say, I felt like I was well educated on diabetes before reading those books, and while I don’t claim to know everything about diabetes as I’m not a medical professional, I learned an awful lot from those books. For individuals that have diabetes, I highly recommend you read both. For anyone struggling with weight loss, I recommend you at least read the Obesity Code. These books have made me review my lifestyle plan yet again and I have added to the original lifestyle/diet plan I outlined above.
One of the things Dr. Jason Fung highlighted in his books is the issue of hyperinsulinemia (too much insulin) which is caused by too much sugar and carbs. Hyperinsulinemia is the cause of obesity (as insulin is a fat promoting hormone), insulin resistance, and type 2 diabetes. This is a chain reaction of events, as type 2 diabetes can also lead to the numerous associated health conditions. Dr. Jason Fung’s proposed solutions are to eat a low carb high-fat diet and do intermittent fasting. The aim of fasting is to lower the insulin levels in your body. Once you lower your insulin levels, you can reduce your insulin resistance.
The updated lifestyle/diet plan
With that in mind, here is the updated plan:
- Eat a plant-based diet 3-4 times a week
- Eat a low carb & a high-fat diet with the focus on polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats
- Aim to snack as little as possible
- Intermittent fasting, which I will start off at one 24-hour fast a week.
I have also read ‘How Not To Die’ by Dr. Michael Greger. This is another book I highly recommend, as it explores nutrition in great detail and how our diet impacts most diseases, not just diabetes. I want to implement some of the nutrition advice Dr. Michael Greger gives in that book. So, I will aim to consume the following foods on a daily basis:
- 2-3 portions of berries
- At least 1 other portion of fruit, which of course will be from the lower carb variety, such as avocado or a small satsuma
- 1 portion of cruciferous vegetables, such as cauliflower or broccoli
- 2 portions of greens, such as spring greens, kale or spinach
- 1 tablespoon per day of flaxseed
- 1 portion of nuts and seeds
- ¼ tsp of turmeric to help with any inflammation (I take these in capsules or add it to my meal)
These foods are included in Dr. Michael Greger’s daily dozen checklist. This checklist is what he recommends we should all aim to consume every day to ensure we are getting the right nutrition. I haven’t included everything, such as grains or pulses, as this is high in carbs and will cause a spike in my insulin and eventually my blood glucose level. So I have adapted it to suit my diabetes.
A meal plan for LCHF, part-time vegan, and intermittent fasting
|Mon||Goodness Green Smoothie (recipe from the free low carb vegan recipe book)||Salad with chicken pieces, mozzarella balls, and sundried tomatoes. Drizzled with olive oil and sprinkled with flaxseed||Beef ravioli with a portion of greens and cruciferous vegetables||Portion of nuts and berries|
|Tue||Hemp breakfast bar (recipe from the free low carb vegan recipe book) and berries||Spiced vegan burger (recipe from the free low carb vegan recipe book), flaxseed wrap, hummus, spinach, and avocado||Fasting||AM: Chocolate milkshake (recipe from the free low carb vegan recipe book)|
If I must have a snack, I can only have it in the morning after breakfast
|Wed||Fasting||Fasting||Beef burger with a low carb bun, celeriac fries, and salad||Portion of berries and a hemp breakfast bar|
|Thur||Strawberry vegan yogurt (recipe from the free low carb vegan recipe book)||Vegan tomato pizza with nutty palm, peppers and a side of salad (recipe from the free low carb vegan recipe book)||Cauliflower steaks with chermoula sauce (recipe from the free low carb vegan recipe book), celeriac fries and a portion of greens||Flaxseed crackers with vegan garlic dip (recipe from the free low carb vegan recipe book)|
|Fri||Cheese, bacon and spinach frittata||Steak with salad and avocado||Chicken biriyani with cauliflower rice||Portion of berries and nuts|
|Sat||Low carb fry-up: consisting of a low carb roll, burger, sausage, bacon, fried tomatoes, and mushrooms.||Low carb breaded chicken with celeriac fries and salad||Courgetti, meatballs and homemade tomato sauce. Topped with cheese||Strawberry, raspberry and coconut ice lollies (recipe from the free low carb vegan recipe book)|
|Sun||Nutella style chocolate smoothie (recipe from the free low carb vegan recipe book) and a small satsuma||Tofu stir fry with low carb shirataki noodles, peppers, green beans and cherry tomatoes||Nut roast with celeriac roasties and a generous serving of greens and cruciferous vegetables||Flaxseed crackers with vegan garlic dip (recipe from the free low carb vegan recipe book)|
Portion of berries
Starting this new regime
The plan is to start this new regime from the 6th August 2018. For those of you that saw my last vlog (see below), will know that I did a blood test which I was going to use as a marker for when I started this plan. Although this was done over a month ago, I have recently had a blood test done at my doctors and I was happy to find the results were pretty much the same. After about 1-2 months following my new diet plan, I will repeat my blood test and retake my blood pressure to see if there has been any improvement. I will, of course, update you all on my progress.
Also, I must apologise for how serious/monotone I come across in the video and how much I blink! I’m still getting used to being filmed, and I promise I will get better at showing my personality more and not be so serious/robotic, haha! I’ll also refrain from excessive blinking, so stay tuned ?
Anyhow, let’s look at my starting figures.
My current blood profile and blood pressure
I monitor my blood profile with a company called Thriva. You can order specific blood tests to review the areas you are concerned about and a doctor will evaluate your results and write up a report for you. When it is ready, you are notified by email and the results are available on your Thriva dashboard. I must say, I am very happy with the service, even if getting the blood sample was a tad tricky! If you want to know more about the blood test with Thriva, I suggest watching my video above.
My blood profile
I was pleased to see that my overall blood profile was within normal ranges. This means the low carb diet, along with the statins I take 3 times a week, have helped to keep my HbA1C and lipid profile controlled. See below for a more detailed breakdown of my results:
My blood pressure
My blood pressure is a little higher than I’d like. My doctor has set my target to be under 140/80. However, I’d like to aim for under 118/80 which is optimal blood pressure. As you can see from my reading of 135/88 (even after taking 10mg of ramipril), I have some work to do here. I really hope that my new lifestyle plan will help lower this further. I dream of the day when I can come off all medication and control everything with diet alone. However, I don’t want to get my hopes up too high with my blood pressure as this has been problematic for me since I was 16, so I clearly have something genetic or some undiagnosed underlying cause.
So, there you have it. My plan for controlling my health conditions. If you are reading this and have any similar health conditions, I’d love to hear what you do to control them. Feel free to comment below, or if it is too personal you can always connect with me on the contact us page.
I look forward to updating you all on my progress and sharing more recipes with you along the way.