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.
Chuck, thank you for taking the time to share and it is wonderful that your wife is doing so much better. Hugs from CHICAGO.
I'm so glad your wife is better. My friend has the same problem and I will give this to her to try. What is 100% WFPBNO?
100% Whole Food Plant Based No Oil = WFPBNO
For Dr. Esselstyn's 100% reversal WOE, it's also called WFPBSOS, meaning Whole Food Plant Based no Sugar Oil Salt (!). There are changes in his protocol since his book & cookbook came out.
Thank you for sharing her story. I do not have those health issues. I have been vegan for 15 years and vegetarian for a decade prior. My health issue is that I am underweight by about 10 lbs since going vegan. I have increased WFPB fats and overall increased daily calories but the scale will not budge upwards. I wish your family continued success. I follow your blogs for your recipes.
I am in the same boat! WFPB, No gluten, no oil. There are some soy sauces without wheat and there's always tamari fyi.
What a wonderful story! So happy for Ronda and you! Love BNV, especially your southern and Asian recipes that are WFPBNO. Keep it up!
PS how do you get to consult with Dr Esselstyn? I’d be interested due to cardiac issues in Family history.
Use the contact form on his website and someone on his staff will contact you and ask for your phone number. He WILL call you back.
Thanks for sharing this amazing example. Love your recipes and example too!
Best wishes to you and Mrs.😀
Hi. Can you tell me why you cut out the spicy foods? Thanks
She's not a fan anyway - but spicy foods can irritate your gut if you are not careful.
What an inspiration she is. Thanks for all you do chuck.
Congratulations!!! I have a small health food store and I'm forever telling people that 95% of what is wrong with their health is what they are putting in their mouth. Most people just don't want to make those changes even little by little.
I've been vegan for decades and am doing great at 69. This website/podcast/youtube is the best!!!! Love BNV!!!
Congratulations to both of you. It is an ongoing effort for me to keep my weight down. My biggest issue is that I am the mother of 4 grown children, and 9 grandchildren (and some partners) and none of them are interested in eating WFPB. They are considerate but stressed when I am coming over for dinner; what am I going to make for her??? Best wishes to you and Rhonda to continue your journey. Do you happen to have before and after pics? It would inspire me and I’m sure others. Thanks for all the wonderful recipes.
Amazing! Can you give us an idea what meals she’s been eating?
For a while there - she would eat nothing but white rice, mushrooms, bell peppers, and nutritional yeat with her spinach - 3x a day!
Great that Rhonda is feeling so much better. I feel for you finding restaurants that accommodate your/her needs. I have the same needs and am also lactose intollerant. I usually eat at home but if and when I can go out, it's challenging. Keep up the good work! Both of you.
GOOD for you TWO.. Great team effort.
Look after yourself and continue to trust your instincts.
Our two adult children are on a NEW food journey (.mostly dairy free gluten free) and Low FODmap.
I just finished reading a book by Gabor Mate - WHEN THE BODY SAYS NO The hidden costs of stress.
Perhaps you can borrow it from your library.
Remember to keep consistent with your exercise BUT don't be extreme - consistency is most important.
I am 90% plant based and follow Mediterranean and Dash diet as guide line.
Cheers and thanks for sharing your journey.
I need to hear this so bad. My blood pressure has not been great and I'm on one med. Doc just gave me a 2nd one, which I haven't started to take. Although my pressure is down about 10 points (on top number) it still isn't ideal 130-140. Today I'm starting my WFPB way of eating again. I am curious to know if gluten was part of the BP issue or just stomach issues (I have a load of those as well).
I hear Dr. McDougall say in a YouTube video he never prescribed BM meds unless they were CONSISTENTLY 160/90 - for months! Lots of factors can affect the top number, stress, anxiety, exercise, having to pee, all kinds of things. We weren't sure if the GI was because of the BP or vice versa.... but if she did eat wheat it meant instant diarrhea so we cut it out completely.
I applaud you and your wife! What a scare and challenge! My best wishes for your continued dedication and success.
I'm SOOOO happy for Rhonda. Dr. Esselstyn knew what he was talking about for her. You two are champions of Brand New Vegan WFPBNSOS. It makes ALL the difference. She will inspire so many new BNVs and some older BNV followers.
Thanks for sharing.
What a wonderful and amazing journey!!
So happy for you both!!