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Still in my prime??

May 19, 2016


Those of you who know me well, will have heard me say, “I’m 45 years old and still in my prime!”  Unfortunately it didn’t feel like that towards the end of 2015, when I suffered from the worst attack of flu that I’ve ever had.  I was bed ridden for two days straight, and continued to suffer for a further two weeks.  I felt old and week.  I also lost half stone in weight. My wife insisted I go and see the doctor, which I did be-grudgingly.  I don’ often bother to go and hadn’t in over a year.  In February 2014, I’d

had a blood test to ensure I wasn’t suffering from Diabetes.  I didn’t check the results until my recent visit, when I was told that my cholesterol was 6.7. My doctor suggested taking statins. I didn’t want to. I told her I was
making some lifestyle changes such as stopping eating sandwiches for lunch. She asked about my life style and I told her how I take care of myself.  She said that as I was already leading a fairly healthy lifestyle, there might not be a lot more that I could do, especially as I’ve weighed just 11 stone for the last 25 years.

The way I was now feeling made me see that whilst I looked all right on the outside that might not be true on the inside.  Both my parents have diabetes, so I might be pre-disposed to get it.  My younger brother at the age of 35, had a minor heart attack and has had a stent fitted.  The odds could be stacked against me.  This time it was me insisting on another blood test, and the doctor agreed.  In January 2016, I got my results and found that my cholesterol had risen to 6.1.  The treatment on offer was again statins. I said, “Give me six months and I will reduce it.” I explained that on work days, I walk at least five miles.  The nurse agreed that’s good but said “Your body is used to that now; you need to shock your body and do more exercise.”  She also suggested I change my diet and reduce the amount of rice that I eat.  Now, for a Bangladeshi, this is very difficult.  There is a Bangla saying ‘Rice and fish makes a Bengali’.

Growing up in Bangladesh, our diet was mainly rice with vegetables or fish.  It was only on
rare occasions that we would eat meat, perhaps two or three times a year.  Chicken was eaten every few months.  In the UK, it is common to find all the above being served in one sitting.  This over consumption of rich foods, has had a detrimental impact on our health.  There is a dramatic rise in heart related illness, diabetes, high blood pressure, cholesterol and other such conditions in our community and the wider South Asian community.  I spoke to several friends who are of similar ages and was told “I’m already on Statins; you have nothing to worry about”. Well, I did worry, as I didn’t want to be on any long term medication.

I spoke to my family about it and my daughters, Leya and Maya asked me what cholesterol is?  I tried to explain in the best way I could, and Leya, at five year old, summed it up by saying, “Daddy, you have fat blood”. The first thing, I cut down on was the amount of rice that I was eating.  The nurse suggested I eat no more than a third of a plate, and better still make it brown rice, and to eat more fruit and veg.  Recently, I have started making smoothies with fruit, often using ripe Avocado as well. I have porridge several times a week and have salads for lunch with a variety of veg and fish.  I have also started having daily doses of benecol or the supermarket’s own brand, which is much cheaper.  I have also changed my butter spread to one that has plant stanols and I started exercising more, with an extra session of football each week.

Within the first month, I lost half a stone. I found my trousers slipping off me, and my shirts fitted me so much better.  I feel as though I have earned the right to buy myself more fitted shirts and suits….all in good time. Three months in now, and I find it hard to believe the changes that I have made and the positive impact it’s having on my body.  I may even be able track down that ever elusive six pack I’ve been chasing for years.  I am due a re-test in the next few months and if I manage to get my cholesterol down below 5, then I think I will treat myself to that new slimmer suit. I will keep you posted, when I get tested.

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