What I Eat and Why

I’m about to kick off a brand new sequence of posts about diet, I’ve realized loads within the two years since my earlier series on this space. I’ll give the identical caveat I gave the final time: I’m an beginner within the topic of diet, although I prefer to suppose I’m effectively learn on this topic.

I believed I’d begin issues off by explaining what I personally eat and my reasoning. I recounted my consuming historical past up until early 2019 here.

I now eat a food plan that’s near whole food plant-based (WFPB), no less than as I interpret it. I’ll clarify that in additional element within the subsequent put up, however right here it’s in a nutshell: I eat a number of unprocessed plant meals, like fruits, veggies, legumes, complete grains, and a minimal quantity of animal merchandise, processed meals like cooking oils, and overly processed packaged meals. As I’ve mentioned previously, I don’t interpret “processed” vs, complete meals as strictly as some do. Processed meals for me brings up pictures of issues like donuts, cookies, potato chips, not canned beans or frozen greens, which to me are complete meals. There may be concern expressed about sodium content material of some canned meals, however you’ll be able to all the time select decrease sodium variations.

Lastly, I eat, however carefully, wholesome unprocessed meals like avocados and nuts which might be increased in fats (these Chef AJ’s “purple meals). Most WFPB authors, like Dr. Michael Greger and Joel Fuhrman, emphasize that these are extremely nutritious meals, however for these with some well being situations (which incorporates me), it’s higher to decide on meals with a decrease fats content material. Dr. Greger mentioned intimately how the WPFB food plan addresses all the highest power ailments plaguing trendy civilization, together with coronary heart illness, diabetes, and most cancers in his guide How To not Die.

I select to be stricter about fats content material, together with oil, and animal merchandise, as a result of I’ve two “pre-existing situations” (to make use of insurance coverage parlance): heart-valve illness and coronary artery illness. I’ll get to those and the way food plan impacts them under.

A Be aware On Strictness vs. Moderation

I discovered that the stricter I’m at following WFPB, the more healthy I’m (for instance blood test results. I’m additionally in a position to eat as a lot as I need with out being bodily hungry. I’m additionally much less subjected to psychological food cravings. For me it’s completely important to carry the road about overly processed meals, what I’ve referred to previously as my “no junk rules“. The little gremlin that whispers candy nothings in my ear, like “what might it harm simply this as soon as, in the event you had one little piece of…”? It by no means does that for oatmeal or kale. It’s for cookies, sweet, and different junky meals. These are all meals to the precise of Chef AJ’s crimson line, mentioned previously. I can get away with moderation on “purple meals” (nutritious meals to the precise of the road like avocados and nuts). However junk is far more harmful.

About the one time I enable it’s at particular events, like a celebration the place I’ll have a small piece of cake. However I’ve to be on my guard and never be tempted into seconds. And say “no thanks” when somebody says “Richie, there’s one piece left, it’s received your identify on it”.

I’ve been at this WFPB strategy for a bit over 4 years now, and I’ve discovered stricter works higher for me. Once I first tried it, in early 2017, in my newfound enthusiasm I used to be fairly strict, and it labored nice. I had the traditional “final ten kilos” to lose, and I had simply gotten excessive triglycerides and mediocre ldl cholesterol numbers from my Doc. I recounted that story here. Over the following few months, I effortlessly misplaced the load, throughout a time when my aortic stenois was extreme and I used to be having exercise-induced AFIB, so I couldn’t train a lot. This additionally led to vastly improved bloodwork and a very happy Doc. Better of all, the little gremlin voice was gone. No psychological cravings.

However after recovering from my heart valve surgery, I loosened up a bit, pondering it was okay to observe the 80/20 rule, the place you eat “on plan” 80% of the time and stray from it, carefully, the opposite 20%. This labored out OK however not nice for me. I gained some weight again and the little gremlin got here again, not as sturdy previously however nonetheless a nuisance. My weight didn’t get too dangerous as a result of I might now train all I needed and I get pleasure from train. Each as soon as in awhile I’d suppose “why not simply return to what labored in early 2017?” I lastly received again to that time this spring, and the psychological cravings are gone once more, and my weight is the place I need it.

So I’d should say that for me, stricter is healthier. Being too strict about food plan raises the alarm bell of “orthorexia” (being obsessed about wholesome consuming), however for me that isn’t an issue. The foundations are fairly easy. Follow all kinds of scrumptious and nutritious meals, and eat until full. Keep away from junk.

Medical Situations and Food regimen

I are inclined to learn the literature fairly a bit about my coronary heart valve and CAD situations, as a result of with my technical background it pursuits me, However I don’t fear about it, I simply suppose it prudent to do what’s underneath my management to take care of them. What I eat is a kind of issues.

I’ve a alternative coronary heart valve which I’d prefer to final so long as attainable. These valves can final from as little as eight to 20+ years, and clearly I’d favor the upper finish. They don’t normally fail by “sporting out”, they have a tendency to calcify. Not sufficient is understood about how food plan impacts that, however it seems that a “coronary heart wholesome” food plan can be a “coronary heart valve wholesome” food plan. Particularly, it seems that low ldl-cholesterol helps [1]. Curiously, driving ldl decrease with statins doesn’t assist with heart-valve well being [2], so food plan turns into extra vital. I do additionally take a vitamin K2 complement as a result of there may be proof that it makes calcium go the precise locations, like your bones, and avoid the place it shouldn’t be, like your coronary heart valves.

Secondly, I’m formally identified with coronary artery illness. I flunked the calcium score take a look at badly, which signifies calcification in my coronary arteries, which is normally related to plaque. A score of less than 100 means small amounts of plaque, while greater than 400 means large amounts. My rating was 1800! This was the very best my heart specialist had ever seen in his apply. This take a look at may be very dependable with few false positives. The one mitigating issue is that there’s some evidence that flunking the take a look at could also be much less dangerous for endurance athletes. Nonetheless, this was a significant alarm bell. I had additional testing which signifies it’s not too extreme but, however I additionally had an angiogram which indicated gentle to reasonable plaque. My heart specialist feels I’m borderline at this level, my present ldl of 101 is okay however he’d favor to see it decrease since I’ve already proven no less than indicators of CAD (the best quantity for CAD sufferers is taken into account 70).

The one approach I’ve been in a position to get my ldl within the vary under 100 is by being stricter about low fats, We might additionally do it by rising my at present low dose of statin, however as we noticed above, that doesn’t assist with my coronary heart valve. Additionally, ideally, I’d prefer to reverse what coronary plaque construct up is already there. Whereas a lot is made concerning the heart-healthy elements of the Mediterranean food plan, that food plan has been proven to gradual the progress of CAD, however not reverse it [3]. The one food plan which has been clinically proven to reverse CAD is a low fats model of WFPB [4,5]. I’ve talked about previously that I went by way of cardiac rehab after my valve surgical procedure. The nutritionist on the hospital additionally advisable WFPB.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is image-17.png
Regular vs. Calcified Coronary Artery. Flunking the Calcium take a look at places me in danger for being within the center (“calcified plaque”, hopefully not “susceptible”): https://thoracickey.com/coronary-artery-calcification-pathogenesis-imaging-and-risk-stratification/

Lastly, I’m 68, and taken with wholesome ageing generally. The populations around the globe which have much less incidence of our trendy power ailments and stay longer and more healthy all eat a food plan is nearer to WFPB [6,7]. Just one is totally vegan, however whereas the others eat some animal merchandise, it’s a lot lower than sometimes eaten in trendy diets.

That’s the reason I eat a WFPB food plan, Within the subsequent put up I’ll go into extra particulars about WFPB, and present that there’s nothing excessive about it. It’s much like mainstream tips (reminiscent of these from the Harvard School of Nutrition), however decrease in fats and animal merchandise.


  1. Nalini R,, “Low-density lipoprotein and aortic stenosis”, Coronary heart. 2008 (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3951852/)
  2. Rosebo, A, et all, “Intensive Lipid Reducing with Simvastatin and Ezetimibe in Aortic Stenosis”, N Engl J Med, 2008 (https://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMoa0804602).
  3. Kris-Etherton, P, et al, “Advantages of a Mediterranean-Type, Nationwide Ldl cholesterol Schooling Program/American Coronary heart Affiliation Step I Dietary Sample on Cardiovascular Illness”, Circulation. 2001 (https://www.ahajournals.org/doi/full/10.1161/01.CIR.103.13.1823)
  4. Ornish, D, “Can way of life adjustments reverse coronary coronary heart illness?: The Way of life Coronary heart Trial”, The Lancet,, 1990.
  5. Esselstyn C, “A solution to reverse CAD?”, J Fam Pract., 2014.
  6. Buettner, D, “The Blue Zones: 9 Classes for Dwelling Longer From the Individuals Who’ve Lived the Longest”, Nationwide Geographic, 2012.
  7. Day, J, Day, A, and LaPlante, M, The Longevity Plan: Seven Life-Remodeling Classes from Historical China, Harper, 2017.