Mike tells this astounding story of a journey back from Wheat Hell started–of all people–by his orthopedic doctor!
Started the wheat-free diet back in July on the advice of my new orthopedic doctor. So far almost 30 lbs gone.
14 years ago at 37, I had a stent in my LAD (98% blocked) [left anterior descending coronary artery]. Lost 40 lbs on the Ornish diet. 4 years later, having LDL reading in the low 80′s, HDL in the 30′s, I was back for a major blockage of 90%+ in the top of my heart. They opted for 5 bypasses. (I was 41).
Stayed on a moderate diet, low-fat, lean meats, pastas, and moderation. Have been on statins. My back that was always an issue (3 broken vertebra at 19) went out of whack: left leg was paralyzed and bowels stopped, etc. They said I lost muscle tissue in my back and spine collapsed: It was statin-related.
My weight was back up a bit from no activity. A few years later (5 years ago), my Achilles tendon snapped. Again the statins beat me up, but I was told I had to have them. Last summer, I built a 1000 sq ft garage. Working at night and weekends, roof, siding, electric, finishing, etc., my 80-year old dad was moving faster and pushing me to get it done. My knees and legs hurt so bad, I eased up on statins a bit, lost 10lbs and felt a bit better. Week before Christmas, 2011, my right knee popped, tendon behind knee, meniscus torn, acl [anterior cruciate ligament] torn. Local ortho doc scoped it and said it is done: I need a new knee. I opted for some rehab to get by. Left knee then tore, also, but not as bad. I consulted the same doc. He said we need to do both, come back when ready. I got another opinion from a leading knee guy: same thing.
From Easter ’til July, I could not walk up or down stairs; I slid on my butt. I would eat 4-6 oxy’s [Oxycontin tablets] a day to get through work. A few people told me to see a doc who actually went to my high school and was a senior when I was a freshman. I remember him, as he was a great swimmer and I wrestled. Anyway he practiced out of my area but had a satellite location close enough so my insurance would pay. He sent me literature on statin issues and wheat to read while I waited a few weeks to get to see him. Well, I figured: What the hell? I ditched the statins and gave up pasta and pizza as a start, no morning pastry, etc.
In 3 weeks, I noticed I was able to slowly walk up stairs and come down carefully. My wife went to Florida for 2 weeks, being so nervous that I was going to be able to get dressed in the morning (she did my socks for years, as my legs would not bend, nor my back). Another 2 weeks–now it is August–and, wow, I can do steps. I lost almost 10 solid pounds. Felt better, noticed I was not taking any narcotics.
She came home and I proceeded down the stairs (21 of them) with my 2 Siberian Huskies on a leash, pulling all the way to meet her at the car. She was almost in tears and amazed. The following week I saw Dr. Meade and my pain went from a 10 to a 4. He was pleased. He reran the MRI’s for comparison. I also saw my family and heart doc the following week. They were not happy that I ditched the statins. Well, my blood work was the best I had in 10 years: total chol 137, sugar 107. Down 14 lbs since March.
Still, they tried another cholesterol drug but did lower my blood pressure med, since my resting heart rate was 37-40 and BP 115/72. Now pulse is 60 and BP is 127-130/74 with a half-dose. I was at Dr. Meade this week for my knees: NO PAIN. If I do a 5-6 mile hike in the woods, then I get a bit of stiffness.
I went from 294 lbs in Dec 11, to 256 now. My MRI’s show mild to moderate osteoarthritis instead of severe/crippling. ACL is healed, tendon is healing, cartilage looks better in left and stable in right knee. Meade said, well, he will lose vacation money, since I do not need reconstruction, and improved my chances by at least 5 years if I stay on the program. Also, narcotic-free for months. If I drop another 20 lbs, he said I may make retirement on these knees with care.
No wheat diet if a tough choice, but I tried Weight Watchers (did a little), Nutrisystem (did a little), Ornish (almost killed me).
This worked for me. My business partner, who is a cancer survivor, has been on a similar eating path and has done well. This has been the easiest way to lose weight ever. I am active but do not beat myself 2-3 hours a day at the gym or take extra time to work out. I just walk a lot, go back to hiking and doing yard work at the house. My son said he has not seen me be this active since he was a little kid (23 now)
Mike’s story highlights several issues:
1) The extraordinary incapacitation that is possible from wheat consumption, sufficient to generate misery, thousands of dollars of medical bills, surgical procedures, and drugs like narcotics–narcotics!
2) The “high cholesterol” (actually excessive small LDL particles) that develops from wheat consumption is treated with statin drugs, drugs that have been associated with increased potential for tendon rupture.
3) Low-fat diets CAUSE coronary heart disease. All you need do is perform lipoprotein analysis–NOT cholesterol testing–to see the metabolic distortions in people who follow low-fat diets and the remarkable transformations that occur when wheat is eliminated. The distortions caused by low-fat diets are hinted at by low HDL and high triglycerides, a highly atherogenic (atherosclerotic plaque-causing) combination, along with high blood sugars in the pre-diabetic or diabetic range.
I was especially heartened that at least some orthopedists are beginning to appreciate the power in wheat elimination for bone health, as well as the inadvisability of statin drugs. Yes, elimination of wheat is a powerful weight loss tool. But, as stories like Mike’s remind us, it is about so much more than weight loss.