Al: Got off Statins, Healed GERD and Returned to his College Weight!

Updated December 28, 2020

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My father and mother did a lot together —  they both had their gallbladders removed before age 60, got cancer at age 72 (dad had stomach cancer and mom had Lymphoma) and, sadly, died at the same age of 79. Meanwhile, their siblings, on both sides, lived cancer-free well into their late 80’s.

I began to realize the difference had to be diet related, and took the first steps to change my diet by drastically cutting my consumption of red meat because, growing up, our family enjoyed a lot of red meat — sometimes three times a day! And when we weren’t eating red meat, we were eating pork and chicken. 

I had heard about the McDougall Program years ago from my ex-wife Wendy, a McDougall alumnus, but had not been convinced to change my way of eating when I agreed to accompany her to a McDougall Intensive Weekend in March 2020. I was interested to hear the information, but merely thought of it as a fun weekend in Northern California. I had no intention of changing my way of eating. In fact, on the way up from Orange County we stopped for lunch at In-N-Out Burger!

During the meals at the McDougall Weekend, Wendy and I joined a regular group of nice folks that included a retired HR executive from Texas. He mentioned pain he was having in the quad muscles of his legs and the diagnosis from his doctor that the pain was being caused by the long-term use of the statins he was taking for cholesterol. This concerned me because I had been on statins for 25 years and had been experiencing pain in my quads for about three weeks. I thought they were related to age because I retired a year ago and do not exercise as much as I used to. Now I began to wonder.

Later, during one of the lectures, Dr. Lim talked about the ramifications of diabetes and the link to diet (especially animal fat) and then delved into how Proton Pump Inhibitors (PPI) taken for acid reflux, GERD, have been linked to osteoporosis — and the impact that broken legs and broken hips have on those over 50, including a high death rate. I have taken a PPI for 15 years for acid reflux.

So there I was, learning that the two long-term drugs I take are having significant effects on my body. It was quite a jolt.  But like a movie with a good ending, I also learned that if I changed to a whole food, plant-based diet I could not only feel better, but get off BOTH drugs. Really? That can happen? COUNT ME IN!

I left the program on March 8, 2020, committed to a new way of eating. I was on a beeline to finding the 4 or 5 meals I could enjoy that would help me stay on course. Dr. Doug Lisle would say I have the perfect personality for this kind of diet — highly conscientious and disagreeable; as well as introverted, not too open and stable. With the information from the McDougall Intensive Weekend, I was on board 100%. 

On May 30, 2020, my general practitioner agreed to a “trial off” of both the generic I take for Vytorin (the statin), and the generic I take for Prilosec (the PPI).   

Three months later, without the benefit of statins, my blood test showed my cholesterol was 189, the same as it was on the medication. My LDL was slightly higher at 117 (compared to 99), but as I understand from Dr. McDougall, these numbers will continue to drop as I maintain this way of eating. I was excited to be accomplishing these good numbers with the food instead of the medication!

I have lost 25 pounds without really trying, and at 143 pounds I am actually 5 pounds less than I weighed when I graduated from college 45 years ago!

My stomach is also feeling the best it has in recent memory.  And the other nagging issues I was having — like hemorrhoids and a swollen lymph node under my jaw that I have worried about for years — are gone.    

Thanks to everyone at the McDougall Program for showing me the way to better health!!!