I saw a patient the other day. His weight was 73kg. His blood pressure was 124/84mmHg. His LDL was 103mg/dL, Triglyceride 88mg/dL. So why am I seeing this fit gentleman? That is because 3 months ago, he weighed 90kg. His blood pressure was 140/95mmHg, his LDL was 206 and his triglyceride was 156mg/dL.
I said that at that level of LDL, I strongly recommend him starting a statin and may be even blood pressure tablets. After all, he could enjoy life and just take a pill every day. He was very reluctant. As most people, he didn’t like the idea of taking medicine on a long basis. So he said that he will go do exercise and watch his diet. I was very skeptical. In all my years of practice, very few people have succeeded in doing this. After all, this is Singapore- the land of food and wine. We would drive half way round the island to have our favorite mee-pok. Queue for an hour for nasi lemak. So I bet him a bottle of wine that he will not succeed.
Thankfully, he was more gracious than I. Upon entering my consultation, he was the one who gave me the gift. I just had to ask how he had achieved the miracle. Not surprisingly, it all boils down to self-discipline. He had cut out carbohydrates almost completely. Despite of his busy work schedule, he was running 5km daily. All these have contributed to the disappearance of his pot-belly, normalizing of his blood pressure and disappearance of cholesterol.
As it just so happens, one of my favorite sushi chefs had exactly the same adventure. He was overweight and had diabetes. His doctor had wanted to prescribe him diabetes medicine. But he too refused. Over a period of six months, he would and cut out all alcohol. He even turned down the fantastic sake we offered him. He would exercise in the gym every day after work. This is absolutely commendable as he closes his restaurant very late at night. So proudly, in the middle of the restaurant, he lifted his shirt to show us the disappearance of his pot-belly and the appearance of an almost six-pack. His blood sugar has come down to normal and his doctor agreed that he doesn’t need any medicine for now.
These are exemplary heroes who show us that diabetes, hypertension and high cholesterol can be beaten with exercise and diet. All 3 are mediated by obesity. Which the World Health Organisation is calling the biggest epidemic, no pun intended. By staying fit, we can avoid all these diseases. The end product is fewer heart attacks, fewer stroke and all the complications of diabetes.
It can be done.