NOTE: This post will be of interest to those who have, or have had, issues with total cholesterol and/or triglycerides. While just one personal anecdote, it provides corroborative data that anyone might find both remarkably enlightening and, I hope, ultimately helpful.
I love food.
And, I always have. Appetite for the culinary taste sensation is just one of life’s gifts.
But, like all drives in life, appetites can get out of hand.
On August 3rd, I had blood drawn to test the “lipid panel” (HDL; LDL; triglycerides; Total Cholesterol), among other things, and for a reason that is not immediately relevant. THE POINT: The results were concerning.
Very small of frame I had, in recent years, become quite sedentary and gained weight around the mid section. For someone of such build, pushing 140 lbs was not a good thing.
And, certain eating habits were curious: Always fastidious about buying only organic and eating mostly whole foods, for much of the month I would follow such a food plan – except for concert week (if you’re new here, I’m a professional musician) which would invariably be all about “carb loading” – massive pasta with cheese and olive oil and peas and broccoli, generally, plus cheese sandwiches for “breakfast” – , as playing cello for two and a half hours takes raw, caloric power; MENC (Music Educators’ National Conference) discovered, decades ago, that cello takes more kinetic energy to play full throttle than any other instrument in the orchestra.
However, post concert rush (or, blues) (depending on [ highly self-critical ] personal outcomes), I had begun, in the privacy of my solitude, to binge. Never either anorexic or bulimic I was, nevertheless, a grotesque over-eater; I could pound seven cookies and never feel it; chocolate; a bag of [organic, whole grain] chips; or, even a pint of ice cream before passing out for the night.
Now, that lipid profile always requires a twelve hour fast.
So, dutifully, I’d fasted the 12.
The results, from August 3rd:
- HDL – 65 (great – all the avocados paid their dividends!)
- LDL – C (calculated*) – 166 (not good)
- Triglycerides – 304! (Serious.)
- Total Cholesterol – 291. High. Not good.
*(LDL is calculated by subtracting HDL from Trigs, then dividing by 5; it does not represent an actual measurement)
One doctor, viewing both these results and me for the first time, decided that I was seriously abusing my body. He told me to CUT THE ICE CREAM AND COOKIES. He said to CUT CARBS. He said to BOOST protein intake, and agreed that the supplement I’d found at the Co-op, with its massive Niacin component (2300 gs?!), COQ10, and red yeast rice, plus another, methylated B-complex, was a good regimen to continue. (I’d started on the two supplements August 22).
So, I did. I took about half the daily recommended dosage of each for about 8 or 9 days. Stopped eating cheese. Stopped eating bread and, not until Sept 3rd did I consume any of my beloved pasta.
But, the Niacin did a number on my heart. Atrial flutter was not new to me (1988 echogram revealed mitral valve prolapse, common among women of very small frame), but this jumping heart was keeping me awake at night. Research revealed that some people just can’t tolerate extra Niacin, for this very reason. And, the doc had also seen the blip in my heartbeat on the EKG.
Reluctantly, but with relief that I did not have an electrical “node” problem, I ceased the Niacin supplement, added Magnesium (thank you, Merja) returning it to the Co-op (for a full refund.) (They’re good like that.)
BUT: Here’s the thing: On the advice of a Facebook friend (thank you, David), I stocked up on my favorite Wild Caught Red Sockeye salmon, the smoked variety which was ready to eat. I ate about 7 ounces per day, for about a week. This had become a favorite anyway over the spring and summer – easy, tasty, and a quick source of major protein. Originally consuming it to reduce abdominal inflammation, I was about to find out just what else wild caught sockeye could do for me.
Plus, the Co-op had frozen salmon burgers. These would steam up in 6 or 7 minutes, and mix well with avocado and fresh, homegrown tomato.
And, I added about three breakfasts of oatmeal and a handful of whole walnuts to the plan, as well as a return to about six days of sometimes two servings of my predigested powdered rice bran derivative almond milk shakes (Rice Manna/Patty McPeak).
So — in Summary:
1.) approx. 9 days of half doses of massive niacin, red yeast rice, COq10;
2.) approx. 9 more days of major sockeye salmon intake;
3.) predigested rice bran derivative almond milk protein shakes;
4.) a few small bowls of oatmeal, w almond milk, and walnuts;
5.) deletion of cheese, bread and pasta. 6.) increased daily intake of Vitamin C, D3, and B-complex.
On September 1st, I submitted to a Lipid panel again, this time specifically to test for lipid particle size and density. My research had shown that, if the fatty particles were small and prolific, these would adhere to the vessel walls and lead to cardiovascular disease; if large and “fluffy”, no threat in that arena, apparently, at all. A real coconut oil lover and promoter, I’d consumed quite a bit over the past weeks, as well, frying omelettes in it and, of course, using it as a facial make up base. Plus, the sweet desserts from the Co-op that populated my binges always contained coconut milk. The study I found had theorized that coconut milk and its oil only produced large LDL particles, the “safer” kind, and I was on a mission to see what kind were rolling around in my blood.
The only national laboratory that tests for particle size and density is LABCORPS. My town tends to favor ACL, but ACL has no test for this – LABCORPS actually developed the test.
And, as many may know, my elder brother, Nathan, was a LABCORPS director for several decades across the country [ Albuquerque; Phoenix; Winston-Salem; Louisville; Cincinnati; Chicago ] and still consults. I texted him; he gave me the codes, and my doc called in the test.
The vial was shipped to Burlington, NC to be run. Results came in within 5 days. When I read them, I gasped and exclaimed so effusively that the two techs at LabCorps actually stared and laughed.
- HDL – C — 90 (60, or above, is considered excellent)
- triglycerides — 110 (ref.range: 0 -149)
- Cholesterol, total — 167 (ref.range: 100 – 199)
- HDL – P (particles) — 40.4 (ref. range: >30.5 = Low CVD risk)
- Small LDL – P — <90 ( ref.range: <=527)
And: as for the size of LDL particles? “LDL levels not sufficient for size determination” – There were so few, they could not fulfill the test!
….all this…….in less than one MONTH!
So, David from Facebook was, apparently, right; Wild Caught Salmon intake caused his trigs and LDL to plummet in a month’s time, as well; and, the LABCORPS tech knew of a friend’s relative who consumed only salmon and brown rice, and had been told he had “the heart of a 23 year old.”
Speculations Worth Noting:
Nathan had said to me that he’d been trying to convince physicians regarding the twelve hour fast, which is a requisite for lipid panel assessment. He believed that, unless eating patterns were relatively balanced and stable prior to the test, fasting for twelve hours would not produce a valid representation of overall maintenance levels.
In short: BINGING affects blood test results, even when fasting for twelve hours. Every time you consume carbohydrates, your triglycerides go up; if you consume them in massive quantities, they will likely remain elevated even if you fast for twelve hours — and, your test results will be, at best, misleading and, at worst, likely to provoke you to submit to dangerous statin drugs.
My Conclusion: A solid, organic, whole food plan, on maintenance (minus the binges on cookies, cake, ice cream, and chocolate) provides the true read on blood fats and cholesterol. And, binging is proof that it might only take one over-indulgence to threaten blood into sludge so thick that one clot could cause a nearly critical cardiovascular (or, cerebral) event.
I hope those of you who read this all the way to the end can take the same lesson from it that was provided to me: Maintain a solid food plan and, when you indulge, be sure to check your quantities at the door and then counter with blood cleansing foods like wild caught sockeye salmon (farmed is inflaming), whole walnuts, and rice bran derivative protein shakes. It’ll be far more than just the doctor and the lab techs who’ll smile about it; your blood will thank you, and so will your heart.
© 9/7/16 Ruth Ann Scanzillo — Please share freely!!!!