Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Day 10

I've been in somewhat of a rut. (Or is it a groove?) I've been eating a lot of pork lately. I'm not complaining, understand. When cooked properly, pork is very good. And who can argue with the "magical animal" that produces such wondrous delights as spare ribs, bacon, pork chops, and ham?

Tonight's dinner was a pork roast cooked slowly in the oven for a couple of hours. For a side dish, I ate half a cup of pumpkin, mixed with a little butter, cinnamon and Splenda. Before this, I really thought pumpkin was only good for pies, but this was really quite filling and very tasty. Unfortunately, it had to be canned pumpkin, as the real ones aren't quite ready here yet. Maybe in a few more weeks, as the leaves start to change.

A couple of days ago I called my doctor's office and ordered copies of my cholesterol tests from back in May. Dr. Eades asked participants for the information "if we have it." As I said, the tests were done in May, so I hope they can still be considered relevant, even though I started the plan in late August.

At the time, my doctor was concerned about my total cholesterol and LDL values, which were as follows:
  • Total Cholesterol: 257
  • HDL: 57
  • LDL 172
  • Triglycerides: 141
She immediately began talking about the importance of bringing that pesky LDL number down. She went on about how important it is to cut back on the red meat and eat a low fat diet. I have to admit to being a bit nervous. I knew I was overweight, and being over 40 suddenly put me into that danger category. I was a heart attack waiting to happen!

Fortunately, I had recently read one of Dr. Eades blog posts where he discussed that a more telling indication of heart attack risk isn't in looking at LDL or Total Cholestorol. Instead, we should look at the ratio of Triglycerides to HDL. The lower this ration, the better. A value greater than 5 is worrisome. As you can see, my value is 2.47.

Using this ratio and simple arithmetic our guides, it easy to see what needs to be done: raise HDL and lower triglycerides. And which type of diet does both of those things quickly and effectively? NOT the government-approved low-fat/high-carb diet. In fact, people on the latter diets tend to lower HDL and LDL together, and often increase triglycerides -- exactly the opposite result we're looking for. Low-carb diets, on the other hand, can reduce triglycerides and raise HDL in just a few weeks! (See this post by Dr. Eades for a good explanation.)

One more comment about LDL numbers. Evidently modern labs don't bother measuring LDL. It's difficult and expensive to measure directly. Instead, your LDL value is calculated based on your other values. In fact, there is a note on my lab report that says quite plainly, "Note: LDL result is a calculated value." For most people, it seems, this calculation is close enough not to be concerned about. However, as triglycerides get lower, the multiplying ratio used to calculate LDL gets skewed so that it's no longer valid. Thus, anyone following a low-carb diet for any length of time, your LDL calculation in your lab result is likely to be higher than it actually is. So what can you do about it?

You actually have a few options. One is to ignore the LDL value and tell your doctor that you won't take statins for a non-existent problem. You could also insist that your LDL value be measured directly, which may end up costing you. Finally, you can use a different formula the Dr. Eades describes in this post, from an Iranian medical study. This formula is considered to be a more accurate method of calculating LDL. I won't go into the reasons here. You can read all about it at the link I provided. However, I will share the formula:
LDL = (total cholesterol/1.19 + triglycerides/1.9 – HDL/1.1) – 38
Applying this formula to my numbers, we get 200 mg/dL. So in my case, the "better" equation actually produces worse results. As Dr. Eades points out in his article, the formula makes the most sense for people with low triglycerides, which I certainly do not have yet.

I've scheduled a follow-up test for the first week of October, which is immediately following the end of the six-week plan. I will be sure to post the results as soon as they're available, and I will be sure to show both the lab's calculations for LDL as well as the one above.

Finally, for those keeping score at home, here are my numbers from today:

Dietary Fiber

1 comment:

  1. Mike

    Nice blog. My low carb and 4 grams of fish
    oil dropped my trig. from 170 to 60. 60 trig
    and the fish oil is what Dr. Davis recommends.