Sunny day but sad islands & diet talk

We finally got a sunny day, at least not rainy day. I checked with the boat man if boats are allowed to go out at 6am, confirmed it’s okay so we left the hotel for half day island hopping at 8am. Glad to be back on the boat. The last time were on one was January, so a long time for us.

Not too long later, we got our first spot, for some snorkeling. I waited while daddy and Sofia explored. I am super sensitive to ocean cold water so I wouldn’t go down unless it’s absolutely fantastic. 10 min later, daddy said it was very cold and just few fishes. Definitely not up for my standard to get wet. hahaha….. We left the spot 30 min after we got there. I know we’ve been spoiled by the beauty of El Nido Palawan so our standard for good snorkeling spot is high and hard to beat. We were not too disappointed though, we were for the adventure, not to beat el nido.

Second stop is an abandoned island. There used to be a resort on this small island but it was totally destroyed by Typhoon Odette last december. It is quite sad to see the abandon island due to natural disasters. That’s the story of many islands and families in the Philippines, fragile life and work conditions, and helpless to change it. Very sad.

Third stop was a small island with many fishermen precarious houses, and seafood stands. Nothing in particular to see but the devastating impact of the pandemic on their livelihood. due to the pandemic and lack of foreign tourists arrival, they didn’t have much to do other than live on their caught seafood.

We got back to the hotel before noon, earlier than we expected since we didn’t stay long in any of the spot. Girls played at the water park for a bit. then we ventured out to buy some fruits. We stopped by an ice cream place, girls were happy, hubby and i couldn’t shake the sad feeling of seeing people struggling to make a living.

Then the girls tried the electric scooter around the hotel. Sofia as the driver, Lizzy the passenger. They both got to be the driver for few minutes.

final stop of the day: the beach before it started to rain again.

two things that happened to ponder. First, the electric scooter was not allowed for kids to drive. It is suppose to be for 1 adult and 1 kids but i didn’t want to ride twice with them. so I had to argue with the person that Sofia is old enough to drive since she’s 10. Sofia said nothing. Lizzy later asked me why did I say Sofia is 10? she’s 9 only. I didn’t know what to respond since I was clearly lying to get the guy to agree.

We bought some sushi rolls at the ice cream place. After we ordered it to take back to hotel, I realized I saw a sign saying no outside food is allowed at the hotel. So we kind of hide them in the hat. Sofia said nothing. Lizzy kept asking me why I put the sushi in the hat. Again…. tough question to answer.

I wonder when is appropriate to explain to kids that we all lie to get what we want. Some lies are minor, harms nobody, and other lies are not acceptable. I don’t know the answer but need to think a way to explain them soon. Sofia probably has her guesses but Lizzy has no idea.

Some thoughts on diet changes I did last year and how they were reflected in my lab results.

I was vegan 99% of the time for 3 years after my dad passed away due to a sudden heart attack. I wanted to try veganism for a while as it was claimed to be the best diet. I gave it a try and I loved it. Yes, it was restrictive in many ways but I felt good on it. I felt light, my running performance was good, and overall energetic. For 3 years, my blood results were great. Some stats (jan 2021) for later comparison

Fasting blood sugar: 88

Hb1ac: 5.4

HLD: 84

LDL: 78

Triglycerides: 43

Liver function tests were borderline normal but the doctor said these fluctuates a lot so nothing to be concerned.

I incorporated egg/fish/seafood and minimal dairy back to my diet for several reasons: (i) less restrictive while traveling. Sticking to veganism is hard when eating out. It was clear that it was better to eat some eggs than white bread. For the sake of being vegan I was eating unhealthy food. (ii) I was reading more about nutrition and wondered if veganism is the best diet in the world. maybe not. As I mentioned before, I am happy to change my mind on a subject whenever new evidence presents. Diet is not religion so I am okay to change my belief on due time.

Then I got covid on August 2021, the only person in the family. I was shocked as I thought I was the healthiest person in the family. Yet, it seems that I was not strong enough to get over it quickly, which might be the case of my family. That really made me question whether I was carrying healthy lifestyle. As you know, I had “long” covid for 2 months and did all kind of tests to prove that it was not just in my mind (which I finally realized it was two months later). In one of the test, two stats went off the normal range for the first time: fasting glucose went to 96, Hb1ac 5.4%, and LDL 105. I was shocked to see them. This is when I discovered continuous glucose monitor, signed up with Levels. This new world fascinates someone who loves evidenced based research like me. I discovered the role of glucose in metabolic health. I made changes to my diet seeking stable blood sugar levels. I discovered that veganism that is heavily based on grains, starchy vegetables, and beans were taking my glucose in a rollercoaster. I made changes, found alternatives to my staple foods, incorporated even more animal proteins (fish, eggs, chicken), and fats (avocado, olive oil, nuts). 4-5 months into this, I know understand better how my body reacts to most of food, and can manage to score high (minimal bs fluctuations) if I want to. Yet, I just don’t feel good with too much animal products.

I scheduled yearly check-up intentionally at 6 months after covid to let any post-covid effects to wane. I was nervous to get into the check-up, didn’t know what I’d find. Here are the same stats on April 9, 2022

Fasting blood sugar: 84

Hb1ac: 5.3%

HLD: 103

LDL: 132

Triglycerides: 33

liver panel all normal.

Fasting blood sugar came down together with Hb1ac no surprise. What is surprising is the rise on HLH, LDL, and further lowering of triglycerides. I was eating more fat than ever in my life, yet triglycerides went down. LDL went up above normal range and HLD went even higher than before. Note that my weight hasn’t changed in the last two decades or so regardless of what I eat so it’s purely composition change.

Through looking at the latest discussion on LDL which is not accompanied by low HDL and high triglycerides, I discovered Dave Feldman and the group of Lean Mass Hyper Responders, with the characteristics of having higher than normal LDL, higher HLD and low triglycerides. They tend to be lean, with low BMI and active/athletic. They are currently doing research about this group of people, to see if high LDL has the same negative effect on them in term of cardiovascular risk than the normal population. I’m really intrigued what they will find. My LDL level is not as high as this group of low carb keto people (some as high as 600, with average 250), but substantially higher compared to when I was vegan. The energy model Dave has makes a lot of sense to me, but it remains a model, to be proved by evidence.

Until more research is done in this subject, I’ll do the following:

  • continue to manage blood sugar fluctuations, minimize if possible but not strictly low carb, definitely not keto.
  • eat plant based as I feel the best that way
  • eat egg/fish when I feel like it
  • repeat my blood test in 3 months to monitor LDL

Nutrition is a fascinating subject. Because there’s not set conclusion of what’s best for each individual, science keeps evolving. New findings are questioning conventional way of thinking, which makes it interesting (instead of frustrating). Due to social media, these new findings are spreading out faster than ever, allowing non-medical people like me to get a glimpse of it.

Woooo… that’s a long post, only possible while on vacation and kids at the playground. 🙂 Now let me go back to my nap.

5 thoughts on “Sunny day but sad islands & diet talk

  1. This is all very interesting!! I find “diet research” to be so confusing/ overwhelming….because it always seems like things can contradict each other. For example, one study/ school of thought will say X food should be avoided due to whatever, but then another will say it’s GOOD for something else. (Like oats, for example- you’ll read about health benefits of oats, but then in the next article, they should be avoided due to high carb…) Same with eggs and cholesterol. Or many times a higher protein, low carb diet is recommended to improve body composition, which brings on many conflicting ideas- one will argue the animal protein isn’t good, another will say it’s fine (like in keto type diets) and that levels actually improve this way, etc. It just gets very overwhelming to know what “is right”. I suspect, as I think you’d agree, that there isn’t one right universal answer for everybody. The key is finding what’s right for YOU, but that can involve a lot of trial and error and can be difficult to really figure out. I want to learn more about anti-inflammatory diet in a more formal way, like a book or something. I just did a little google research but haven’t officially made any big changes besides cutting back on sugar. I would/ will need to be a little more methodical about it all- like maybe make a little “meal plan” or list of meals/ foods, etc. Because it’s hard to just implement big changes off the top of my head, for me anyway.

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    1. Fully agreed about personalized approach to nutrition, with evidence based regular assessments. What’s your motivation for anti inflammatory diet? Do you have tests that show your inflammation is high?

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  2. So true, diet research is very confusing. I’ve just landed on eating most unprocessed fiber-rich plant-based food. My family and I still eat fish, meat, and dairy maybe 10-20% of the time and that works for us. Also I suppose where research is clear is that vegetables are good for you and you look like you are already doing great there!

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  3. my company pays for it so it’s free for us. Yes, it’s much cheaper here than elsewhere ( I paid 40k including mammogram, husband’s was 21k). we did it in st Lukes bgc.

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