J Morris Hicks

J Morris Hicks

Posted December 29, 2011

Published in Health

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In the quest for "vibrant health," weight-loss is just a bonus

Read More: home A1C test for diabetes, home cholesterol test

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We have begun conducting "4Leaf Challenges" for clients such as businesses, clubs or churches. The challenge consists of a group of ten or more participants who agree to eat at the 4Leaf level (over 80% of their daily calories from whole plant-based foods) and to refrain from all animal products during that period. In this post, we'll talk about the three indicators that we like to measure -- in addition to the body weight a.ka. BMI (body mass index).

But first, a holiday note re alcohol abuse. This is a word to the wise for all my friends, subscribers and readers. I would 
like to share an experience with you, it has to do with drinking and 

As you know, many people have had brushes with the authorities
 over the years. The other night, I was out for dinner with a few
 friends. After being a bit "over-served," and knowing full well that 
I was under the influence, I did something I've never done before. Believe it or not, 
I took a bus home.

Yes, a bus. I arrived home safely and without incident. 
This was really a surprise to me since I had never driven a bus before.

Hopefully, you recognized the above as a modest attempt at a little holiday levity on my part; now for the serious stuff. We talk a great deal about "vibrant health" being the ultimate goal of any permanent dietary lifestyle change. And we always stress that weight-loss is merely a fringe benefit of vibrant health. As such, we like to measure four indicators that together, paint a pretty good picture of vibrant health. They are:

This is the one we used; it has two tests per carton.

1. Total cholesterol: Here we are looking for a number well below 200, preferably below 150. Not a single person in the massive Framingham study, with total cholesterol under 150, has  ever died of a heart attack. The Mayo Clinic says below 200 is best, 200 to 239 is borderline high and 240 and over is HIGH. Dr. Esselstyn likes to see all of his patients below 150. On Christmas Day, my son Jason tested at 120 and I tested at 160 (using the FirstCheck Home test kit). It was pretty easy and yielded the scores that we expected, based on past tests by professionals. (See Dr. Greger one-minute video below on this topic)

2. Blood pressure. A simple measurement that anyone can learn to take. 120 over 80 is considered normal, although the normal for athletes and children is lower. 140/90 is Stage 1 high blood pressure with Stage 4 high blood pressure beginning at 210/120. Click here for source of this information.

Unlike the cholesterol test, this one has a digital device that reads your exact score.

3. A1C for Type 2 Diabetes. According to the Bayer A1CNow SelfCheck that I used, any reading under 6 is considered non-diabetic. According to the Mayo Clinic website, any reading between 5.7 and 6.4 is considered pre-diabetic. According the 2011 ADA National Fact Sheet, almost 26 million Americans were diagnosed with diabetes. Another 7 million have the disease but are undiagnosed. Alarmingly, a staggering 79 million are pre-diabetic -- knocking at the door of this deadly disease. On 12-26-11, I tested safely below the pre-diabetic range using the Bayer home test kit shown here

BMI Charts are available on the internet or you can check your BMI (along with your calorie needs) at

4. Body Mass Index (BMI). Normal is 18.5 to 25. Overweight is 25 to 30. Obese is over 30. After eating at the 4Leaf level for a year or more, most people will enjoy a BMI in the low 20's. It's easy to check your BMI in the bottom right corner of the website, where it says daily needs calculator. You fill in your height, weight, age and activity level (from sedentary to very active). It then calculates your BMI and the number of calories you need to support that weight and activity level. At 6'0" and 155 lb., my BMI is 21.0 and  I need 2371 calories as a moderately active person.  If you go on the 4Leaf program and have a lot of weight to lose, you will naturally consume less calories than you need to support your current weight. But when you eat 4Leaf, it's difficult to consume too many calories; you fill up long before you do -- unless you're loading up on high fat plants like olives, nuts and avocados.

Please click here to continue reading and view one of Dr. Greger's videos about cholesterol.

—J. Morris Hicks…blogging daily at