It's been a while since I updated you on my wife's blood pressure problem. So seeing as how we were out of town this weekend and I have no recipe, I thought I'd update you on how she is doing and talk a little about her WFPB journey.
I have been vegan since 2008, and although my wife has always supported me on MY journey, she never really jumped on board 100% with me until January of this year. She has dabbled with it, and seen the positive benefits on both her and myself, but never committed to going 100% - until this year.
On January 1, 2023 - I started a new challenge for my BNV Support Group, and she decided to come along for the ride, to address her long-time blood pressure issues and lose some weight.
Keep in mind she has had blood pressure issues for as long as I can remember and has taken a combination of Losartan and Hydrochlorothiazide for years now, which truthfully had never really controlled it that well.
Fast forward to Feb 17, 2023.
After a month of eating a pretty clean, whole-food, plant-based (WFPB) and getting lots of exercise (jogging with the granddog, Supernatural VR workouts, etc) I had to call 911 in the wee hours of the morning because she had woken up with a nosebleed and a blood pressure of 208/123.
These random blood pressure spikes had been happening more and more frequently, sometimes accompanied by a nosebleed, and usually accompanied by some tummy gurgling and other GI-related issues resulting in a mad dash for the bathroom.
What the hell ?!?! Right?? She's supposed to be getting healthier, not sicker!
And when she started feeling really sick that morning - I made the call and the ambulance whisked her away to the ER.
After hooking her up, we learned that the ER docs are VERY hesitant to treat blood pressure problems on their own. But, because the Physician's Assistant we had just visited the day before had just prescribed a new drug Clonidine - they gave that to her and monitored her for a few hours before sending her home.
The Treatment Plan
Since that day in the ER, we have seen our family doctor, his physician's assistant, his multiple nurse practitioners, and even a plant-based telehealth virtual call with Dr. Nikki Davis.
She's had blood tests, urine tests, 24-hour urine tests (that was fun), EKGs, ultrasounds on her kidneys, adrenals, gall bladder, you name it - and everything so far has come back normal.
The doctors can't seem to figure out why this is happening, so they usually end up prescribing yet another new blood pressure pill. We even saw a Cardiologist, who honestly looked very confused as to why she was even there - as everything looked normal. Oh, and he prescribed another pill too.
And no - despite all the new pills being shoved at us - the only new medication that she is taking currently is Clonidine at bedtime.
What Actually Works
It's sad to say that in this day and age, we have to figure this out on our own, but that is precisely what it has come down to.
I will say, that in that flurry of doctor visits last month, we DID talk to one doctor who seemed to give some pretty solid advice...and that was Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn.
He suggested his Reversal Diet and when I explained that we were pretty much doing that already, he asked, "Rhonda, what did you weigh in high school?", to which she replied, "98 pounds".
"Then why don't you weigh that now?"
That Essie, man he's hardcore. I know that answer has upset a lot of people but given his experience and his track record..... he knows what he is talking about.
So since that conversation, based on his advice and some trial and error on our own, this is what my wife has been doing:
- No coffee or caffeine
- No alcohol
- No oil whatsoever
- No wheat - completely gluten-free
- No soy sauce (it has wheat)
- No spicy foods
- 100% WFPBNO
- VERY careful with FODMAP foods (onions, garlic, cabbage, etc)
- She eats spinach multiple times a day
- She has embraced starches (potatoes & rice)
- She still exercises 4-5 days a week
We are slowly experimenting with adding back some foods (like the steamed tofu and broccoli in the picture) to see what her tummy will tolerate.
Results Don't Lie
The changes she has made may seem extreme, but the results don't lie. Those 2 photos are just 30 days apart.
- The blood pressure spikes are now GONE
- The nosebleeds are also GONE
- Her blood pressure CONSISTENTLY averages around 110/70
- She has lost 25 pounds and has to buy new clothes for her birthday 🙂
- We are hoping the doc will lower her BP meds soon
As I mentioned, we were out of town for the first time since this started and it's somewhat comical in that "I" have always been the one who couldn't eat here, or there, or "Chuck has to eat vegan".....
NOW it's Rhonda lol, and try adding gluten-free to the mix when going out to a restaurant. Now THAT is challenging.
But I am happy to say that there were a few places we found that worked with us to find compliant meals for Rhonda when we were out. Dynasty Chinese in Sequim, WA were wonderful, and also a big shoutout to Turnip the Beet in Port Angeles.
It's not easy to find oil-free or gluten-free meals - but it can be done- you just have to ask.
High blood pressure is a symptom - not a disease. Try eating super clean as my wife did for 30 days. The results might just surprise you.
Wow, what a story. I'm so happy that your wife is improving. I've had high blood pressure since I was 15, I am 70 now. It improved a lot since following Dr. Esselstyn's advice, but I have not been completely 100% compliant like I should be and have been watching my blood pressure rise. I'm going to do what Rhonda is doing and see where it goes from there. It certainly is worth trying. Thank you for sharing, it helps.
Thanks Chuck for sharing your wife story!
Glad she is on the mend! This show how powerful our food choices are and how fast our body can start repairing itself.
How incredibly encouraging your wife's story is! Thank you so much for sharing it with us! I'd love to hear updates!
Chuck I have been plant based for over 7 yrs, and unable to lose weight. And at 204 lbs, i need to lose. Did your wife find it hard to lose until she went low fodmap? I know I have some food senstitivies. When I started 7 yrs ago i did a 30 day juice fast and lost weight and felt fantastic. When i juiced tomatoes I vomited just a few drinks in. I can eat a few slices or in soups and do ok. Recently I tried to do a smoothie with kale and the same thing happened. I usually try to go under 15% fat but seen a video with Dr goldner touting 1/4 c flax or more per day. So have considered adding her smoothies, but just a little afraid . But I know she is usually associated with many WFPB groups.
Decaf coffe still has some caffeine in it! Drink chickory tea. It tastes just like coffee and it’s caffeine free👍🏽 Google
Teeccino Tea. They also have caffeine free coffee. The taste is amazing!
Wow, that is proof it really is the food! Good for Rhonda! You do have to love how Dr. Esselstyn just tells it like it is. Dr. McDougall is a lot that way also.
Thanks for sharing her update.
Hello from Canada, Chuck. So glad to hear our wife is on the mend. Thank you for sharing the story.
What a great wake call to those of us still trying to get 100% on the Whole Food Plant Based wagon. I am almost there.
Love your recipes. Hope you and your wife continue with great health.
Wow, that is truly amazing!! Can you clarify - you said she had been basically doing the Reversal Diet and was still having significant blood pressure issues, what is now different? Did you think FODMAP foods/spicy foods were part of the blood pressure problem or behind the tummy problems? And, if I may ask... is she back to high-school weight or did the pressure problems improve despite still having pounds to lose? Either way reading this is great encouragement to continue losing my excess fluff.
I am the one who mention to Essie that she was eating clean....and he was like, "Yeah? Hold my beer" lol. In other words - we weren't doing HIS diet as STRICT as he wanted. She is not totally back to high school weight - but I see it happening soon. We're still not sure if the tummy problems were causing the blood pressure or vice versa....a nurse practitioner suggested the low FODMAP diet so we tried it.
ROFL, ok, he would say that to me also. Time to totally firm up those last areas of dietary indiscretions and see what happens. I'll pull his book back out today and reread it.
Good morning my name is Linda and I was wondering what is Fabmap I'm wondering what book does Dr Essie have? Thank you
Here is an article explaining why a low FODMAP diet may help some people:
And here is Essie's book: https://amzn.to/3M97m2J
Good news! Truth be told I've been following Esselstyn for a while, with BNV a close second in terms of recipes. But "Essie" doesn't include soy in his reversal way of eating, right? So apparently you modify his more strict WOE to suit your situation and get good results. When I first started on Esselstyn's WOE my weight went down like a bomb, even though it was not my intention, but 135lbs isn't too bad for 5'1". I could hardly keep up with the size changes!! I've been 105 lbs for a while now and love it!
We are trying to introduce old things back into her diet - the tofu was a test to see if her tummy would handle it. She has been avoiding it.
Great news and thanks for sharing!
I'm so happy for your wife! Quick question: I drink Decaf coffee. Do you think that would be a problem? Otherwise, I'm with you and Rhonda all the way in WFPBNSOS.
As long as there's no caffeine...