Thursday, January 15, 2015

The Writing Brain: Lab Results

I've been contemplating doing a series called "The Writing Brain" on my blog for a long time. As mental illness (and its often accompanying brilliance) runs on my mother's side of the family, the health and longterm productivity of the brain has long been an obsession of mine. When my paternal grandfather was diagnosed with Parkinson's in the eighties, my obsession turned to research into diet and lifestyle. It's been quite a journey. I've probably tried almost every "healthful diet" out there from being a raw vegan to consuming high protein. (Ugh!) In the past year, my husband's mother passed away. That loss triggered another round of research and recommitment to the practical application of what I've learned over the past thirty years.

As a result, I made some significant dietary changes in March of 2014. I've just received the lab results from blood taken this Monday (January 12, 2015) and since it seems I'm still "healthy" I feel comfortable sharing more on this subject I remain so passionate about.

The results of the dietary changes I've made over the past ten months in terms of some numbers: my Fasting Blood Glucose dropped from 91 to 77, my Blood Pressure remained low: 100/62, but my cholesterol has shot up from Total Cholesterol of 246 to 282! The good news is that my ratio of HDL to Total Cholesterol remains below 4.0 (3.71) which is an indicator that it's not yet time to freak out about my "high cholesterol" since my HDLs are also high. Looking over my cholesterol numbers for the past seven to eight years, they've been gradually increasing, so I'm not surprised by the lab results. Especially considering the changes that I've made to my diet, which I'll get into in another post.

I'm sharing these numbers as a concrete way to describe the overall health of my body, which I've long believed affects the strength and health of my mind plus my all-important mood. The two tweaks I plan to make based on my recent lab results are to add some cardio back to my exercise routine. (I confess I haven't been doing any cardio for several years...) For the past four months I've been doing mostly just Pilates, which I love. I may also experiment with having a couple vegetarian nights a week, centered around the humble avocado (which I also love!) and a variety of nuts. BTW the one thing I really miss since we've left Southern California is the awesome Reed Avocados I've only ever been able to find there!

I'll have my blood re-checked in about six months to see if this has changed anything. In the meantime, I'll be blogging about my journey, my research, and what it takes to maintain the health of our brains—thus not squandering the hard-won experience gained through living—in my new series "The Writing Brain."

*I'm not a medical professional. "The Writing Brain" posts are based solely on my individual experience and cannot replace professional medical guidance.