How I Reversed Prediabetes, Slashed my Blood Pressure, and Annihilated my High Cholesterol: And How You Can Too

 

In August of 2017 I walked into a doctor’s office, sat down, and listened to her tell me I had high blood pressure, very high cholesterol, and was prediabetic.  You may recall that in my blog post titled “Raising the Stakes,” I wrote,

“I believe my reaction to her somber news was incredibly incongruous and wonder if my feelings were visible on my face.  Instead of being depressed or disappointed about the news, I was struggling to refrain from giggling out loud as I thought to myself, ‘This is so awesome!’.  The reason I believe my poor health is good news is because I am convinced my conditions are reversible, just as my age is.  Even if I fail to reverse my biological age by lengthening my Telomeres, I am certain I will be able to dramatically reduce my cholesterol and dramatically reduce my blood sugar level.  I am further convinced just about anybody will be equally capable of duplicating my results.  Instead of being able to merely talk about it theoretically in conversation, I’ll be walking, talking, living, breathing proof that these conditions are quickly reversible and I’ll have a ton of data to reinforce my proof.”1

I inexplicably found myself a hair away from being technically obese (BMI of 30 is obese), with a BMI of 29.16.  How did I let myself get so fat?  Gross! Though, in fairness to myself, I do not like BMI as a biomarker of anything.  It is an antiquated metric that should be abolished, though I still note it because everyone else does too.  Body fat is a far better, more revealing, biomarker.  Regardless, the bottom line is I was in the worst shape of my life; fat, weak, and slow.  I was on an express train heading towards a massive heart attack or stroke; maybe not tomorrow, but likely within the decade.

What typically happens when a patient with my original blood work results returns to see the doctor in a few months is they get placed on prescription drugs to manage the various conditions.  They then become a customer for life of both the doctor and a pharmaceutical company.  The patient also begins a very slow death.  I was not ready to begin dying, nor was I eager to line anyone’s pocket at my expense.  I believed my efforts to lengthen my telomeres would resolve all my health issues.  I swore that when I returned, I would not let the doctor put me on any drugs to reduce my blood pressure, lower my cholesterol, or lower my blood sugar.  These drugs often simply don’t work, the list of side effects is a mile long (some of which are quite serious), it would cost a fortune both in lost time and money, and, most importantly, one can do it oneself with diet and exercise.  I would do whatever it takes.  How inconvenient would it be to have to keep going to the doctor and pharmacy every few months, refilling this, that, or the other prescription?  How much time would this take over the course of the rest of my life?  How much would it cost for the rest of my life?  Clearly, one is significantly better off repairing one’s health issues without the use of drugs whenever possible.

PreDiabetes
Diabetes is the #1 cause of death in the world and 422 million people currently live with the disease.2  It is an epidemic that is growing, not shrinking, which is inextricably linked to obesity, another epidemic of modern, western life.  Diabetes causes blood glucose levels to rise higher than normal because one’s body is not using insulin properly.  This is called insulin resistance.  At first, your pancreas makes extra insulin to make up for it.  Over time, it cannot make enough insulin to keep your blood glucose at normal levels.  Type 2 diabetes is a preventable, non-communicable, chronic disease.  Many consider it a progressive disease that is manageable, not curable.  I, however, firmly believe in the overwhelming majority of cases, it is not only curable, but quickly curable.Doctors typically place diabetic patients on one of a handful of drugs.  These common diabetes drug side effects include:  low blood sugar, upset stomach, skin rash, itching, weight gain, sickness with alcohol, kidney complications, tiredness, dizziness, metal taste, gas, bloating, diarrhoea, risk of liver disease, anaemia risk, and swelling of legs or ankles.3
On August 4, 2017, when I first saw the doctor, my glucose/serum levels were 100 (prediabetic).  My glucose serum levels likely got worse before they began to get better.  I did not begin attempting to reverse my age until October 1st.  So, I have spent a mere three months working towards lengthening my telomeres and improving my overall health.  In that time, I reduced my glucose/serum levels to 86, a 14% reduction.  I expect my levels to continue to fall.  If I can do it, you can too.Metformin is a drug commonly prescribed to diabetic patients.  It also happens to be a drug frequently taken for anti-aging purposes.  According to Life Extension Magazine, “Although it might seem like science fiction, researchers have already proven that the diabetes drug metformin extends the life of animals, and the Food and Drug Administration in the US has now given the go-ahead for a trial to see if the same effects can be replicated in humans.”4  We will see what, if any, progress my telomeres have made when I retest them in April.  If my telomeres fail to lengthen despite all the hard work, pain, and suffering I’ve endured, I will seriously consider attempting to get a prescription for metformin.
High Cholesterol
Cholesterol is a waxy substance found in the fats in your blood.  You need some cholesterol to be healthy and your body naturally makes it.  Eating eggs, meats, and dairy products also gives it to you.  When your body has more than it needs, it can cause plaque to build up in your arteries.  In time, this thick, hard plaque can build up so much that it makes it difficult for blood to flow through freely.  This is, essentially, what causes heart disease and is a leading cause of death.  The plaque in your veins and arteries increases blood pressure and means your heart may not get as much oxygen rich blood as it needs, which increases the risk of a heart attack and can also decrease blood flow to the brain, resulting in a stroke.5  WebMD explains, “If there is a clog in a coronary artery, your heart gets too little blood and oxygen. Without enough oxygen, your heart becomes weak and damaged.  If a clot completely blocks an artery feeding your heart, you have a heart attack.”6Statin drugs are commonly prescribed to reduce cholesterol.  Common statin side effects include: muscle pain and damage, liver damage, kidney failure, increased blood sugar, type 2 diabetes, memory loss, confusion, and death.7I don’t know exactly how, but sometime in the last few years, my cholesterol began to get out of control.  Maybe it was all the red meat I was slamming down my throat.  Or the eggs.  Or the cheese.  Maybe I was drinking too much gluten free beer.  Maybe I was simply wrong when I convinced myself that my job provided enough exercise to maintain good health.  Regardless, in August of 2017, a doctor somberly told me my total cholesterol was very high at 256.  My triglycerides were also high at 254.Upon returning less than three months after beginning my quest to reverse my biological age, my total cholesterol had dropped from 256 to 122, less than half the original number.  My triglycerides had plummeted from 254 to 97.  I don’t care who you are or what your circumstances may be, I am certain you can duplicate my results.  While some cholesterol issues are genetic, high cholesterol can be prevented and reversed through lifestyle choices.  Even the genetic variety can be managed without drugs, though this may require substantially more effort.
High Blood Pressure
Healthy arteries have smooth walls through which blood flows unimpeded.  Your blood flows around your body providing oxygen and nourishment to your organs and tissues. When your blood pressure is low, there is no problem, though it can be too low, which is almost always the result of some kind of medication.  When one has high blood pressure, blood flows through one’s arteries with too much force, even though you cannot feel it.  This damages your arteries and is putting stress on your organs and tissues.  You don’t want a constant barrage of pressure slamming into your brain, liver, kidneys, and testicles because it will eventually destroy them.  In time, high blood pressure will make your artery walls less smooth, causing fat and calcium will stick to them.  This buildup of plaque is known as atherosclerosis.  As the plaque keeps building, the passageway through your arteries keeps shrinking, thus raising your blood pressure even more.  Atherosclerosis also hardens your arteries.  According to WebMD, atherosclerosis can lead to coronary artery disease, heart attack, heart failure, stroke, kidney failure, peripheral arterial disease, and eye damage that can lead to vision loss and blindness.8
Think of a house’s front door.  Knocking on it, while a little stressful, will not destroy the door.  The door could last forever with people knocking on it all the time. Now picture knocking with a sledge hammer.  The door will not immediately fail.  But if I keep swinging that sledge hammer, the door will weaken.  The wood may begin to splinter.  The hinges may begin to give.  If I keep swinging, eventually that door will fail.  The same goes for your organs.  So, it is important to keep your blood pressure at a healthy level.
How the medical industry defines high blood pressure has recently been changed for the first time in more than a decade.  Now the American Heart Association (AHA) and the American College of Cardiology (ACC) recommend lifestyle changes and/or medication at at 130/80 rather than 140/90.  As a result of this change in policy, “Rather than 1 in 3 U.S. adults having high blood pressure (32 percent) with the previous definition, the new guidelines will result in nearly half of the U.S. adult population (46 percent) having high blood pressure, or hypertension.”9  Almost half the country is now a likely, lifelong customer for the manufacturers of these drugs!  A relatively minor policy change resulted in a windfall of free money for big pharma.  Call my cynical, but might the new blood pressure guidelines be a perfect example of the medical INDUSTRY working hand in hand with the pharmaceutical INDUSTRY?  Don’t be a sucker!  Take control of your health! Eat fruits and vegetables!  Get physically active and lose weight!
When one now goes to the doctor and has a blood pressure over 130/80, a doctor will likely prescribe one of several types of drugs.  According to WebMD, the side effects of these drugs include: extra urination, erection problems, weakness, leg cramps, fatigue, intense and sudden foot pain, asthma symptoms, cold hands and feet, depression, insomnia and sleep problems, a dry, hacking cough that doesn’t go away, skin rash, loss of taste, constipation, dizziness, headache, irregular or very rapid heartbeat (palpitations), swollen ankles, lightheadedness or weakness when standing up suddenly or getting up in the morning (from reduced blood pressure), anemia, drowsiness, dry mouth, fever, diarrhea, heartburn, stuffy nose, excessive hair growth, fluid retention, joint aches and pains, swelling around the eyes, cough, stomach pain.10  Now that’s a serious list of some serious side effects, some of which are seriously undesirable.  In fairness, that is not from one type of drug, but from the list of several types of drugs commonly used to treat high blood pressure.  Regardless, why subject yourself to this vast list of side effects when you can have even better results with none of the side effects or cost?My original blood pressure reading was 141/95, which was high for both the old and new guidelines.  I was a strong candidate for blood pressure medication.  However, upon my recent return, my blood pressure had dropped to an astonishing 96/60.  That is a spectacular change in a very short period of time.  You can also do it if you try!
How You Can Do It
Perhaps you too have blood work that indicates you are headed towards a heart attack or stroke.  Maybe yours is even worse.  Fear not because it’s not how healthy you are; it’s how healthy you want to be.  Sure, you can do what most people do and try healing yourself the traditional, big pharma, way, exposing yourself to potential liver damage, erection problems, and even death.  Ironically, despite the potential hazards associated with these drugs, they often simply don’t even work.  There’s a much easier, side effect free method of getting control of your blood pressure, cholesterol, and blood sugar.  Just do what I did.I know; you’re already objecting to my suggestion, claiming you can’t afford to do it my way.  Or, you simply lack the time.  I can hear you saying, “John, you don’t have kids.  You don’t know what it’s like.  They become your life.”  Or, “John, I work 60 hours a week.  I have no free time.”  And, “John, I simply can’t afford to spend all kinds of crazy money doing the things you do.”  It’s true.  I don’t have kids and I do devote a considerable amount of time to lengthening my telomeres and improving my health.  I’ve made it a priority.  You should too.  You may find you actually save money in the process and all you really need to invest timewise is about 15 minutes a day.  Can you really afford not to?My new lifestyle has had an unforeseen side effect.  I spend far less.  I used to burn through money buying multiple Monster energy drinks daily.  I’d rarely walk out of a gas station convenience store without a Monster and some cookies, or brownies, or a candy bar.  I’m also likely saving a small fortune by quitting drinking.  I cringe when I think about how much money I’ve spent in bars, often buying totally disinterested women expensive drinks.  What a fool I was!?  I also very rarely eat out and eat nothing at all two days a week, so my food bill is significantly lower than ever.
What You Need to Get:
Activity Tracker
Body Fat Scale, preferably Wifi
Weight/Body Fat App
Running Sneakers
Clear, Attainable Objectives/Goals
The Right Attitude
What You Need to Know:
Your health issues associated with your weight (diabetes, metabolic syndrome, high blood pressure, high cholesterol) are largely hormonal.  While calories matter, it is not all about the calories.  Hormones are more important, specifically insulin and cortisol.  Everytime you eat, your insulin levels spike.  Some foods cause your insulin levels to spike more than others.  You want to keep your insulin levels as low as possible, as long as possible.  That’s why intermittent fasting has worked so well for me.You will suffer, especially in the beginning.  This is the only side effect of my method.  Purposeful suffering is good and part of the process.  It will make your accomplishments all the sweeter.  Gradually, the suffering will cease and you will look forward to fasting and grueling workouts.
What You Need to Do:
Consult Your Doctor
Eat Real Food
Eat Until Satisfied, but Never Stuffed
Avoid Sugar
Avoid Foods with a High Glycemic Index Value
Drink Nothing but Water
Practice Intermittent Fasting – Any one of several methods
Perform Strength Training 3 Days a Week
Perform Cardiovascular Training 3 Days a Week
Track your Weight, Body Fat, and Activity Daily
Don’t Get Frustrated or Give Up

Ask for Help and SupportEase into it.  You don’t have to be a maniac like me.  In fact, I beseech you not to begin fasting or training like an animal.  Do it slowly.  Focus on one thing; losing pounds and reducing body fat.  You don’t need a lot of details and most of the information you think you know, is likely simply wrong or grossly incomplete.When I write “eat real food,” I mean do not eat processed foods laden with preservatives, chemicals, artificial flavors and colors.  Most of the things you eat shouldn’t have any ingredients at all.  Try to limit foods that have high glycemic index values like: bread, pasta, white rice, and potatoes.As far as intermittent fasting goes, you have a number of options to choose from.  Basically, you want to compress the amount of time you are eating into as short a period as possible.  Some people only eat during a 4-8 hour window every day.  I found doing water fasts on Tuesdays and Thursdays most effective for me.  I suggest trying different methods and choose what works best for your physiology and personality.Strength training need not be a time consuming, complicated production, or even involve a gym.  You can make huge gains just doing pushups, situps, dips, and chin ups.  All I’m asking for is 15 minutes every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.  Your physique will change quickly.You say you don’t have time to do cardio?  All you need to devote to it is 4 and 1/2 minutes on Tuesday, Thursdays, and Saturdays.  Sure, I’d love to see you do more, but if you sprint as absolutely fast as you can for fifteen seconds and then walk for thirty seconds and repeat that for six sets, you will make tremendous gains.  In fact, you may make greater gains than those who run mile after mile, week after week at a moderate pace.  You should feel like puking during and directly after this workout.  You may actually puke, which would be terrific and proof positive you are working hard and making progress.

You’re going to miss workouts.  You’re going to cheat on your diet.  You’re going to gain weight sometimes.  Don’t be too hard on yourself and don’t give up.  Got questions?  Shoot me an email and ask away.  Few things make me happier than helping someone improve their health.

Happy New Year!  May your telomeres grow longer and stronger in 2018!

 

Citations
1  Loehr, J. (2017, August 17). Raising the Stakes… Retrieved January 02, 2018, from https://www.reversingmyage.com/blog/raising-the-stakes
2  10 facts on diabetes. (n.d.). Retrieved January 02, 2018, from http://www.who.int/features/factfiles/diabetes/en/
3  Diabetes Medication Side Effects. (n.d.). Retrieved January 02, 2018, from http://www.diabetes.co.uk/features/diabetes-medication-side-effects.html
4  Anti-Aging Human Study on Metformin Wins FDA Approval. (n.d.). Retrieved January 02, 2018, from http://www.lifeextension.com/magazine/2016/3/anti-aging-human-study-on-metformin-wins-fda-approval/page-01
5  High cholesterol. (2017, August 15). Retrieved January 02, 2018, from https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/high-blood-cholesterol/symptoms-causes/syc-20350800
6  Griffin, R. M. (n.d.). High Cholesterol: What It Can Do to You. Retrieved January 02, 2018, from https://www.webmd.com/cholesterol-management/features/high-cholesterol-risks-top-2-dangers#1
7  Statin side effects: Weigh the benefits and risks. (2016, April 26). Retrieved January 02, 2018,
8  High Blood Pressure – What Happens. (n.d.). Retrieved January 02, 2018, from https://www.webmd.com/hypertension-high-blood-pressure/tc/high-blood-pressure-hypertension-what-happens
9  High blood pressure redefined for first time in 14 years: 130 is the new high. (n.d.). Retrieved January 02, 2018, from https://newsroom.heart.org/news/high-blood-pressure-redefined-for-first-time-in-14-years-130-is-the-new-high
10  Statin side effects: Weigh the benefits and risks. (2016, April 26). Retrieved January 02, 2018, from https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/high-blood-cholesterol/in-depth/statin-side-effects/art-20046013

Comments

  1. thecountofzero

    What foods do you suggest people eat and which do you suggest be avoided? Do you have a consistent diet? Meaning, do you typically eat the same foods on a regular schedule?

    1. John Loehr

      Count Zero,

      Thanks for the question.

      First and foremost, I suggest people eat real food. I think we’d all be a lot healthier, happier, and live longer if we avoided heavily processed foods loaded with chemicals, sugar, and artificial colors and sweeteners.

      I practice keto and complete water fasts two days a week. I generally avoid carbohydrates and especially foods with high glycemic loads. I believe the more insulin one produces, the faster he/she will age.

      I would not say that I always eat the exact same food at the exact same time. I eat when I am hungry until I am satisfied, not stuffed. Generally speaking, I eat a lot of seafood, turkey, chicken, and healthy fats/oils like grass fed butter, extra virgin olive oil, and coconut oil.

      Thanks Again,

      John

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