Let’s talk health care coverage in the U.S.

I have conservative friends who are opposed to what they call “socialized” medicine. And they claim breaking up the for-profit health insurance system would hurt hundreds of thousands of people employed by that industry.

And I have liberal friends who want to scrap the entire private insurance system altogether.

I think letting people keep what they have if they like it (i.e. private coverage through their work) is important. It’s a more winning, practical position to take politically than saying we’re going to take your insurance away from you. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with being practical and making actual progress, rather than taking an adamant, unyielding stance.

While I like the Japanese model of national health insurance and single payer, I recognize that it’s not the only possible model. Some European countries with full coverage also have a mix of private and public insurance plans. It might be hard getting the U.S. to completely dump private health care.

But… but… but… The current U.S. health care model does not work. And sorry my conservative friends, but the private marketplace is not the complete solution. There are huge gaps of desperation. If you don’t recognize that you are plain wrong. High risk pools in the private market place have never been the solution to that problem. That’s why the ACA was passed to begin with.

I was talking to one friend the other day. She has a private business and under the ACA it would cost her and her husband $2,800 a month for coverage with an annual deductible of $6,500 each! That’s like no coverage at all! It’s unaffordable. So they opt to pay a few thousand dollars a year instead as a tax penalty for no health care coverage. She was in an accident recently and couldn’t afford to go to the hospital!

Clearly that system doesn’t work.

So I think adding the so-called “public option” is the way to go. People should be able to buy into Medicare (or something like it) at a guaranteed affordable rate. Preferably something based on income.

I think that’s a reasonable, achievable way to go for now.
It’s also one of the things Biden describes in his platform. It seems like a good way to make progress.


My healthy WFPB breakfast this morning – with sequencing

As part of my weight loss strategy while eating WFPB (whole food plant based) I’ve started “sequencing”, a strategy suggested by Chef AJ. 

This just means starting meals with vegetables before proceeding on to the higher calorie density starches.

For breakfast, in particular, I’m doing what she refers to as VFB – veggies for breakfast.

I started with my very delicious salad, consisting of mixed greens, including spinach, and other vegetables, flax seed, and cherry tomatoes. I typically have this salad two or three times a day, depending on whether I’m working from home or not. The dressing is my own homemade dressing made from soy milk, some brown mustard, nutritional yeast, and balsamic vinegar.

My next course was a 300 g bag of frozen mixed vegetables, simmered in water, to which I added various spices like smoked paprika, turmeric, ginger, and black pepper. I mixed in some nutritional yeast so when the water boils down it becomes a thick, cheesy flavored sauce.

Finally, I had a potato, microwaved. I mashed it up and added some spices to that as well, and also some nutritional yeast, and added a little soy milk for moisture.

All in all, an extremely filling, tasty breakfast and only 329 cal for everything!

Following this sequencing procedure the past week or so, I’ve noticed that the number of calories I am taking in every day has naturally dropped from around 1800 to around 1300 or 1400, and as a consequence my weight loss has continued, with basically no extra effort. And most importantly with no hunger.

For snacks I’m eating fruits, but I’m tending towards the fruits with lower calorie density like berries, watermelon, apples, and things like that. I am tending to avoid bananas because they are higher in calorie density and too easy to binge on.

And no, I am not doing intermittent fasting at all. I think this is perfectly sufficient.

Antibiotics save lives – use them wisely

After feeling so much better just 48 hours after starting on antibiotics for my sudden tonsillitis I feel so angry about the misuse of antibiotics in livestock farming, which makes antibiotics less effective for humans. I was just reading this summary here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Antibiotic_use_in_livestock

Reading the quotes from pork producing interests I’m just glad this isn’t left solely in the hands of the “free market.”

I also can’t believe people eat poultry, pork, or beef after reading more on this.

Quarterly blood tests update – great results – read more!

Quarterly blood tests update – WFPB eating – Normal blood sugar with lots of carbs and fruits –  Cholesterol fantastic – Losing weight – Doctor amazed. Details below!

My blood test results are in, 35 weeks after recommitting to WFPB (Whole Food Plant Based) and following Dr. Greger’s guidelines in “How Not To Die.”

Note: My only exception to Greger’s Daily Dozen is I have been avoiding nuts because, like many people, I find that they do, in fact, impact on weight loss. See Chef AJ for example. She’s very supportive. 

In general, I stick with lower calorie density foods, including satisfying carbs like potatoes, sweet potatoes, and brown rice. Potatoes in particular are very filling and low in calorie density. 

And I eat lots of veggies, legumes, and have multiple fruits every day. In other words, I eat lots of carbs. Carbs do not impact negatively on blood sugar or weight. 

I avoid animal products, oils and other added fats (completely), added sugar (as much as is practical), added salt (as much as is practical), and also stay away from highly processed high calorie density foods, like breads. I don’t obsess about tiny amounts of animal products though, like bonito extract in miso soup at a restaurant. I’m trying to make this easy and sustainable. I will very rarely have some sushi with a friend. And while I go for brown rice when possible, I will eat white rice if that’s all that’s available.

I also log my food and exercise calories in MyFitnessPal, and keep within 1800 net calories per day (food calories minus exercise calories). There is no feeling of deprivation. If I’m hungry I’ll eat something, like a fruit, or edamame (great snack). 

Here are the results. Normal ranges are in parentheses. 

Total cholesterol (120-219)

  • Jun 8 – 136
  • Mar 19 – 133
  • Dec 20 – 124

HDL (35-80)

  • Jun 8 – 34
  • Mar 19 – 38
  • Dec 20 – 36

LDL bad cholesterol (70-139)

  • Jun 8 – 73
  • Mar 19 – 72
  • Dec 20 – 67

Triglycerides (30-150)  

  • Jun 8 – 129
  • Mar 19 – 114
  • Dec 20 – 100

While well within the normal range I’m sort of curious why it is going up over time. Normal fluctuations?

HbA1c (4.7-6.2)

  • Jun 8 – 5.5 (wow)
  • Mar 19 – 5.9
  • Dec 20 – 6.5

Previous quarterly values were 8.2, and 10.8. This value does not fluctuate over the short term. It’s a 2-3 month average. So it’s definitely staying in normal range at last.

All my blood values are basically in normal range. 

Weight loss is also going well, though slowly. Since September when I recommitted to WFPB my weight is down 19.2 kg = 42 lb.

My total weight loss following WFPB is down 36.8 kg = 81 lb since my peak back in 2012. 

My MyFitnessPal Streak Day is 2580 as of today. Daily logging in MFP has been a great sanity check and prevented me from having a complete rebound when I fell off the wagon in the past. 

The nutritionist, who I also met, now agrees that I am fine eating at least three fruits a day, which went against her original guidelines for people with high blood sugar. She agrees with me that blood sugar naturally comes down with weight loss, regardless of what you eat. At least in my case. I really do think that’s true. It’s always been my experience in the past. And she finally agrees that I’m getting enough protein. 🙂

My doctor continues to be amazed and says he’s never seen anything like it. While he’s taking a conservative approach, he is reducing my blood sugar medication as of today. Last time he wanted to wait a year before making changes. Since he’s my doctor, I will stick with his advice for now. 

I do not do intermittent fasting. It’s not necessary and I’m not interested in that.

My mantra if I ever feel tempted by anything I know is bad is, “Stay the course.” But you know what? I haven’t been tempted by anything bad at all lately. I was even good on my recent trip to Boston and St. Louis. 

My daily exercise is down because of an accident I had last month where I ended up in the hospital for 8 days. My strength hasn’t fully recovered. But I’m doing more and more walking each day and rebuilding my strength.