At the start of 2018, I decided to give up chicken and turkey. I had given up red meat many years before (maybe 15 or 20 years earlier) and after hearing a wellness talk about the antibiotics in poultry, I decided to become a pescatarian. A friend told me I’m actually a lacto-ovo pescatarian. Lacto-ovo vegetarians are the most common kind of vegetarian—they eat dairy, and eggs, along with veggies—and that’s how I eat, with the addition of fish.
I used to eat chicken very often. Some days for both lunch and dinner. When I switched to pescatarian, I replaced the chicken with fish: mostly salmon, tuna, sardines, and herring at home, along with a variety of fish when I ate out, such as cod, sea bass, trout, branzino, swordfish, and snapper. Often I ate fish for lunch and dinner.
When I had my annual physical in November of 2018, I asked the doctor to check my mercury level. I had to ask because that’s not a level that is regularly tested. It came back at 14, which is above the recommended level for me of less than or equal to 10.
I talked with the doctor and we agreed I would change my eating habits over the next three months and get re-tested. After reviewing a list showing how much mercury is in various fish, I cut out tuna and many other high-mercury-level fish almost entirely, I cut my fish intake to at most once a day, and for protein I began eating more eggs and more dishes with tofu.
When I was re-tested, I was very happy to find my level was down to five.
My three takeaways from this experience:
- It’s critical to get an annual physical (which is free if you have health insurance in the U.S.) so you can know your numbers. (Knowing your numbers will help you make adjustments to be as healthy as possible.)
- It’s worth it to learn about the mercury levels in various fish. (Here is a resource I use.)
- Everything in moderation. (I went too far adding so much fish to my diet.)
Are you making sure to get your annual physical? Join the conversation with your comments…