Cholesterol, a Love Story

Carla asked if my cholesterol improved after being diagnosed Celiac. As usual, I can’t tell a short story and it’s not even well-told.

My Cholesterol’s Character Arc

Short answer: No.
Medium answer: I fixed it before Celiac diagnosis.
Long answer: Since a KID, doctors said:  You inherited this and you’re screwed. I had high cholesterol and triglycerides.
I flung myself into a vegetarian lifestyle, eating meat once a month, around my period when I’d crave tacos or chili. I wouldn’t eat turkey at Thanksgiving so I could have dressing! I adhered to the prescription of low fat, whole grains, vegetarian as best model for lowering cholesterol and cardio health. BEFORE that, I was ‘quasi-vegetarian.’ I’d skip meat so I could have vodka — that was about calories cos I was young and dumb 🙂
My cholesterol grew worse over those 20 years. Doctors repeated their BS about whole grains, low fat… I’d show them my food journals (tracked most of the time since 1985). They’d shrug. With everybody in my family on cholesterol lowering or BP meds, I’d have to get on them SOME day. Then, that day came.
With nowhere else to go, I tried something crazy, based on what I’d seen lifters doing:
eat animal protein — lots of it —  healthy fats and remove processed foods (which excised a LOT of grains!).
In less than six months of eating ~1g animal protein per lb of body weight, increasing fat intake (avocados and EVOO) but mostly binning the low fat Wheat Thins and 17 grain breads…
I had blood panels for which people would kill. My doctor was GIDDY.
Let me digress: I was 98% on program  during this period because I knew what was waiting at the GPs: meds. It’s a strong incentive!
She said most people aren’t willing to do what I’d done for health. I proved that I would. I’m going to be honest: those first three weeks of meat-eating after non-meat eating was ROUGH. My body didn’t know what the hell to do with it!
My GPs next move was to tweak my autoimmune. My first food challenge was wheat.
After the Celiac diagnosis, my gut healed and I packed on a layer of blubber that I still haven’t shifted. I was deeply worried (just KNEW that I’d ruined my ‘fixed cholesterol’). To my RELIEF, my blood panels are still great!
Then, mum had her latest big hospitalization where they found she had to get quadruple bypass and that sent me into another tizzy about heart health. I had a full work up. Turns out, mine’s fantabulous. My genes are still my genes. I’m fighting them (sometimes I hit the frozen custard, Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups and Doritos — and vodka).

blood panel results: 2012

2012:

BP: 100/ 76 (a bit higher than normal but I’m stressed as hell and in constant pain, more than usual…just saying).

  • fasting blood sugar normal
  • HDL: (‘good’ meant to be 45 or above) 70
  • LDL: (‘bad’ meant to be under 130) 126
  • Total cholesterol: (normal is 200, I’m a bit high) 211mg/dl
  • Triglycerides: (meant to be under 150) 73

2012 cholesterol ratiosI used a ratio calculator cos I’m crap at maths.

While my total cholesterol is HIGHER than deemed lovely, you’ll notice my HDL is ‘the culprit.’ Again, HDL is ‘good.’ I also read an article about the 2 kinds of LDL (now there’s ‘good’ and ‘bad’ kinds of LDL, the ‘bad’ type). ‘Fluffy’ LDL doesn’t seem likely to lead to artherosclerosis. As always, don’t trust me. I have zero medical training.

This doesn’t seem like a fail apart from:

Even though mine’s ‘fluffy,’ LDL* is too close for comfort. I like it lower.

EDIT: Oh, gosh! I realized that I should probably give history for New Readers (hi!). I had high cholesterol my entire life til last year’s panels. All of my family members are on cholesterol lowering meds & BP lowering meds. My father has had 5 heart attacks and had stents. My mother had quadruple by-pass surgery recently. My mother’s family for 4 generations have documented heart disease. My father’s mother died of a heart attack in her early 50s. Doctors tell me genetics trump lifestyle. I’m fighting that.

I ate vegetarian 1994-2009 (meat ~1x/mo). I was a soy baby due to dairy intolerance but still sometimes have some (I always react but cheese and ice cream call me…

When I switched to eating meat and making an effort to ‘up’ healthy fats? That changed.

Newer research supports avoiding grains and taking plenty of meat and fat (not deep-fried turkey drums!) for an over-all healthier life — and it lowers cholesterol.

I don’t take RX. It’s from eating and regular exercise. In case you’re thinking, ‘It’s the exercise,’ I’ve always gotten exercise. I do less now than ever. Raised on a working ranch, I worked a minimum of 4 hours manual labor a day in addition to school and housework. Throughout my 20s, I did 90mins (at least) of cardio a day (cardio bunny!). I love moving. In my late 30s, I discovered lifting heavy with short reps. I ran 3-12mi a week for 26 years…

I was born with autoimmune (don’t recover well & catch everything that comes down the Pike!). I suffered many injuries very early in life; my spine is deteriorated and I have 4 known disc hernias. It means that I get to keep trying new things, which isn’t bad!

This is still Very Good but Not as Good as Last Year’s. **

* ‘Large, fluffy LDL particles are not only harmless, but may be protective.  If they are protective, what’s wrong with having a bit more of them?‘ That’s one opinion.

 

**2011:

Blood sugar: (after 18 hour fast) normal

Cholesterol: (s/b less than 200) 177 mg/dl

HDL (s/b greater than 45) 48

LDL (s/b less than 130) 118

Triglyceride (s/b less than 150) 57

This is what it looks like — America’s #1 Killer

I had noooo idea this is what it looked like. WOW!

Everybody should watch this–even if you’re super-healthy! Thanks to Laurie for sharing it with me. If you don’t have 2.5 minutes, skip to 1:00.

(as always, I have zero medical training–do your own research & get health assessments)

 

 

Goals? How about avoid THIS

Goals? How about avoid THIS

Mum’s were too bad to ‘clear.’ They chopped hers out and ‘transplanted’ arteries from her leg into the heart. My mother weighs under 80lb. She’s not fat.

a) it’s genetic, sure

b) while she doesn’t eat much, she’s a grain-eating fool

You know what grain is used for in ranching, right?

As oft-mentioned, I grew up on a working ranch. Our cattle (sheep, goats, mules and horses) were grazed. The hogs were pretty much grain-fed (hrm!) with additional ‘slop’ (which could contain things like chicken heads I’d just wrung or lopped off with an axe — my version of keeping it real is realer than most!).

Grain-feeding makes sickly mammals. They’re fat and weak. This is not in dispute.

Ranchers have always known this! That’s why, one month prior to auction, we GRAINED THEIR ARSES TO MAKE THEM CHUBBY.

(it’s like giving them cake with ice cream for all meals) *

I had no idea clogged arteries looked like that. I showed it to several friends who had no idea, one of which worked as a medic in the Armed Forces for over 20 years.

* I’m not saying eating a diet full of grains guarantees this. I haven’t consulted my Augury yet. We all know a diet high in grains makes fatty bodies. We’ve known it for centuries. I’m big on middle road living, however, if coronary artery disease/ artherosclerosis/ heart disease runs in your family OR you eat lot of sugar, fat and/ or grains…remember this video. Personally, I’m regretting that ice cream supper.

Last year’s Blood Panels (‘physical’)

Dug this out because it’s getting close to the time I get my yearly physical and next week, I’ll see my first cardiologist!

(I had no idea that I’m 5th generation (at least) heart disease!  I’ll meet / greet this dude and see if he sends me for only blood panels or if a stress test is indicated.)

I’ve always had low to normal blood pressure.

I’ve always had ‘sticky blood’ (while I didn’t know heart disease, I knew we had high cholesterol…maybe I’m dumb and didn’t know one equalled the other or maybe that’s not the case — I’m learning, this is new!).

Last year’s blood panels were not only the best I’d seen in my life but they were EXCELLENT for anybody. I was so freaking proud!

Previously, I was vegetarian (ate meat once a month) for over 16 years. When I started lifting, I couldn’t get enough protein without abusing processed protein sources. I wanted real food and I was trying to get about 1g per pound I weighed. I switched back to eating meat (boy, was that a tough 3 week adjustment on my system!).

I’ve been eating atrociously for over a month and fat packs on quickly when eating ice cream and Earth Balance on gluten-free crackers by the bag as meals. I’m wondering how it’ll compare to last year?

Blood sugar: (after 18 hour fast) normal

Cholesterol: (s/b less than 200) 177 mg/dl

HDL (s/b greater than 45) 48

LDL (s/b less than 130) 118

Triglyceride (s/b less than 150) 57

If I’m like this, I’ll be so happy! I can’t run anymore (ever). Last year, I was running regularly (although not far but frequently) and swinging kettlebells…

My blood pressure a week or so ago was the highest I’ve ever seen: 117/ 73. I realize that falls into ‘normal’ for most people but mine is usually 107/65.  Basically, not only do I want to see SuperStar numbers for myself but I’m completely insane and want to impress this cardiologist I’ve never met. Talk about theCrazy? Me poor brain…