Author: Dr. Michelle Durkin on 24 May 2016
One area that I decided to focus on after getting blood work back on myself a few years ago was my diet. It’s not that my diet was bad, in fact, compared to most people my diet was really good. I also didn’t feel bad. I had more energy than most of the people around me, I slept really well, and didn’t have any chronic inflammatory or digestive complaints. So when I got my blood work back, initially I was surprised.
Here is a synopsis of my results:
White blood cells 3.8 (4.0 – 11.0)
Fasting glucose 5.2 (3.6 – 6.0)
Hemoglobin A1c 0.055 (>0.055 = at risk, >0.060 = prediabetes)
TSH 3.91 (0.35 – 5.00); this is the conventional range, I however like to see
this number between 1 -3; the lower the better
After getting over the initial shock of seeing my results in black and white, I started to critically evaluate how I really felt. I started to connect some of the minor symptoms I was having to my less than desirable blood results.
The 2 markers that I decided to focus on included my hemoglobin A1c, and my TSH (thyroid stimulating hormone). Hemoglobin A1c is a marker of how well my blood sugar was controlled over the previous 3 months. TSH is a marker of how well my thyroid was doing, the higher the number, the lower it was functioning.
I knew if I could improve both of these markers I would improve my overall health, increase my ability to prevent chronic disease, and address some of the minor symptoms I was having. I knew I could take my level of health from an 8 out of 10 to a 10 out of 10.
So what did I do?
I treated myself like I would treat a patient.
I ended up shifting my diet to a real food, primal or paleo-type diet. I got rid of bread, even the gluten-free stuff, all chocolate except dark chocolate occasionally, whole grain cereals (I used to love Kashi cereal), brown rice, whole grain or gluten-free pasta, fruit smoothies, and rice crackers with hummus (one of my go to snacks).
I became more aware of eating enough protein, more fat (yikes!), and lots of veggies.
My smoothies switched from mixed berries and protein powder to spinach or kale, celery, cucumber or zucchini with protein powder and fat in the form of avocado. It was amazing how much longer I could go without feeling hungry.
My snacks became nuts and seeds, veggies and guacamole, and whole fruits with nuts butters. I also started using the medical foods I use with patients, mixing them with water. One medical food in particular that I used was called UltraMeal360. I use it to treat mild insulin resistance.
Lunches and dinners had more veggies in them than I ever had before. It became standard to have 2 veggie dishes with some good fat + a protein for dinner, and then the leftovers for lunch. I was eating cauliflower rice instead of brown rice, spaghetti squash instead of pasta, and burgers with lettuce wraps instead of buns.
I no longer felt bad or unhealthy eating bacon and eggs on the weekend for breakfast and I substituted the bread for tomato slices.
Fast forward to today. I have been eating a real food diet for over 2 years and feel better than ever. I frequently get comments from family friends about how healthy I look. I knew it was time to repeat my blood work to see if it had changed as well.
Here are my new results:
White blood cells 5.0 (4.0 – 11.0)
Fasting glucose didn’t recheck because it was normal last time
Hemoglobin A1c 0.046 (>0.055 = at risk)
TSH 1.68 (0.30 -4.00)
hsCRP 0.2 (<1.0) – didn’t check the first time but wanted to see the level of
inflammation in my body
What really impressed me was my improved thyroid function.
So often people just treat the symptoms and never address the underlying cause. Could I have taken thyroid supplements to “fix” my thyroid? Sure. But then I would have been using a machine gun when a handgun would suffice.
I decided to make the commitment to address the foundation of my diet first and it has made all the difference.
Now I would love to hear from you! Have you ever made changes to your diet and had surprising changes to your blood work? Leave your comments below and I will be back next week with another Doctor as Teacher Tuesday.
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