1

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Hack my blood work and cholesterol reduction plan

Answered on August 19, 2014
Created January 14, 2013 at 8:20 PM

I'm trying to lower my Total Cholesterol/HDL ratio.

First, before you accuse me of being un-paleo and buying into the lipid hypothesis, note that I???m just trying to bring my numbers in line with what Robb Wolf suggested in the podcast referenced in this question (i.e., get my TC/HDL ratio under 4).

Here???s my blood work:

Total Cholesterol: 240, LDL: 176, HDL: 40, TC/HDL ratio: 6, Triglycerides: 119, Glucose: 95, CRP: 0.41.

Here???s my plan:

  1. Eat Paleo 80% of the time.
  2. Eliminate refined sugar 6 days/week.
  3. Exercise 5 days/week (3 aerobic, 2 weights).
  4. Meditate 5 days/week (for stress reduction).
  5. Take the following supplements daily: a. A multivitamin. b. 2000 mg of cod liver oil (Carlson???s brand) c. 10,000 IU of vitamin D3 d. 500 mg of calcium e. 250 mg of magnesium f. 1 dose of probiotics (Jarrow brand)

Please note that I???m not interested in guesses, but I am interested in anecdotes (i.e., I did x and my HDL rose 20 points) or suggestions where you can cite a reliable source.

Thanks!

UPDATE 4/30/2013: I stuck to the Paleo Diet 100% for 30 days, and my numbers got way worse, and I gained 5 lbs. TC: 255, LDL: 192, HDL: 37, TC/HDL ratio: 6.9, CRP: 1.0. I also tried supplementing with the minerals recommended on the Perfect Health Diet. That didn't help either.

The following 30 days I started counting calories, and my numbers got substantially better, and I lost 5 lbs. TC: 193, LDL: 136, HDL: 30, TC/HDL ratio: 6.4.

Sorry folks, the Paleo theory doesn't prove out in this case. I still believe Paleo is generally a good way to eat, but I no longer think it eliminates the need to count calories.

UPDATE 7/30/2013: I continued counting calories and increased my exercise to 45/min x 5 days/wk, and my numbers improved massively. TC: 195, LDL: 127, HDL: 40, TC/HDL ratio: 4.9, hsCRP: 0.62.

74075df7b66e81e049783e8bbfb46bc0

(15)

on January 29, 2013
at 05:50 PM

Yeah, he mentioned is was only for some people. I appear to be one of those people. I don't notice much difference between when I eat 100% paleo and 80%. I guess I'm just lucky in that regard, so I might as well take advantage of it.

75d65450b6ff0be7b969fb321f1200ac

(2506)

on January 29, 2013
at 12:43 PM

Well I disagree, at least for those with any sort of food sensitivity. Eliminating 80% of gluten, or in my case dairy, will not yield 95% benefits. You might get 5% benefit ... if that. If I nibble on a little dairy my psoriasis explodes. My skin will look about as bad if I ate a little dairy versus a lot of dairy. And I could kiss away any chance of healing my leaky gut.

74075df7b66e81e049783e8bbfb46bc0

(15)

on January 28, 2013
at 10:58 PM

Rob Wolff mentions that many people can get 95% of the benefits from 80% compliance with a paleo diet. I've done 100% at times, but I find that difficult to sustain without great inconvenience. The 1 day of sugar per week is taking a page from Tim Ferris's 4 Hour Body diet, which isn't strictly paleo, but is pretty similar.

74075df7b66e81e049783e8bbfb46bc0

(15)

on January 28, 2013
at 10:54 PM

Lack of evidence isn't evidence. The fact that one scientist thinks the data are insufficient to prove causation doesn't mean that causation has been disproven. Some scientists believe there's sufficient evidence to infer causation. Some don't. I don't know for sure whether there's causation. Neither do you. But, as I mentioned above, since meditation MIGHT help, won't hurt, and has other benefit, why not do it.

3ce6a0d24be025e2f2af534545bdd1d7

(26217)

on January 23, 2013
at 02:45 PM

Did you read the actual report from Aldwin that is referenced in the webmd report you cited? There was not an acute response in any of the studies the author reviewed and she was left to say there is a slight correlation, but nothing to indicate causation.

74075df7b66e81e049783e8bbfb46bc0

(15)

on January 21, 2013
at 10:52 PM

Thanks for your caution. I'll ask again: Do you have any evidence for your statement above: "When patients have been given stress management techniques, it DOES NOT effect cholesterol levels." I agree that citing secondary sources (like I did) is inferior to citing primary sources. But I'd caution you that secondary sources are superior to non-existent sources.

3ce6a0d24be025e2f2af534545bdd1d7

(26217)

on January 15, 2013
at 08:45 PM

I would caution you from using sources like APA Help Center, about.com, and WebMD Health News. Read the actual study, and make your own decision. These sources rarely provide valid interpretations.

74075df7b66e81e049783e8bbfb46bc0

(15)

on January 15, 2013
at 05:21 PM

"What is clear is that excessive stress can worsen existing risk factors such as hypertension and high cholesterol levels." -The APA (http://www.apa.org/helpcenter/stress.aspx)

74075df7b66e81e049783e8bbfb46bc0

(15)

on January 15, 2013
at 05:14 PM

"When patients have been given stress management techniques, it DOES NOT effect cholesterol levels." Do you have any evidence for the preceding statement? The study author, who clearly understands that correlation isn't causation, believes differently: "It appears that a person's reaction to stress is one mechanism through which higher lipid levels may develop," Steptoe says. Besides, if MIGHT help, can't hurt, and has other benefits, then why not do it?

74075df7b66e81e049783e8bbfb46bc0

(15)

on January 15, 2013
at 05:13 PM

"When patients have been given stress management techniques, it DOES NOT effect cholesterol levels." Do you have any evidence for the preceding statement? The study author, who clearly understands that correlation isn't causation, believes differently: "It appears that a person's reaction to stress is one mechanism through which higher lipid levels may develop," Steptoe says. Besides, if MIGHT help, can't hurt, and has other benefits, they why not do it?

74075df7b66e81e049783e8bbfb46bc0

(15)

on January 15, 2013
at 05:12 PM

"When patients have been given stress management techniques, it DOES NOT effect cholesterol levels." Do you have any evidence for the preceding statement? The study author, who clearly understands that correlation isn't causation, believes differently: "It appears that a person's reaction to stress is one mechanism through which higher lipid levels may develop," Steptoe says. Besides, if MIGHT help, can hurt, and has other benefits, they why not do it?

3ce6a0d24be025e2f2af534545bdd1d7

(26217)

on January 15, 2013
at 03:30 PM

re:4 -- Bad interpretation. There is a correlation between unaltered stress management and cholesterol levels. When patients have been given stress management techniques, it DOES NOT effect cholesterol levels. Thus either (a) High stress is caused by high cholesterol; or (b) High stress causes people to choose lifestyles that will raise cholesterol. There is nothing that suggests high stress causes high cholesterol.

74075df7b66e81e049783e8bbfb46bc0

(15)

on January 14, 2013
at 09:58 PM

See my response to CD above. There's significant evidence that there's a link between stress and cholesterol.

74075df7b66e81e049783e8bbfb46bc0

(15)

on January 14, 2013
at 09:57 PM

Re 1, 2, and 3: I realize that being more aggressive will get me results faster, but I'm interested is something that I can realistically sustain. As long as I'm seeing SOME progress, that's good enough right now. Re 4, See all the sources cited here: http://cholesterol.about.com/lw/Health-Medicine/Conditions-and-diseases/Clone-of-Recurrent-Stress-and-Cholesterol.htm Re 5, most of those supplements are the ones that Robb Wolf recommends that everyone take, because it's hard not to be deficient in those nutrients.

3ce6a0d24be025e2f2af534545bdd1d7

(26217)

on January 14, 2013
at 09:22 PM

Eat Paleo 100% of the time, Eliminate refined sugar 7 days a week. Re:3, because implementation of an effective exercise routine is important. There is a big difference between running 20 minutes 3 times a week and having an effective training plan. re:4, that article and the study is BS. The author states that they *"cannot cite an exact improvement in HDL"*, re:5 then why so much supplementation? Get a blood panel and determine if you are nutrient deficient rather than start pumping your body full of supplements.

74075df7b66e81e049783e8bbfb46bc0

(15)

on January 14, 2013
at 09:11 PM

Regarding 1 and 2, what specifically do you suggest. Regarding 3, why? Regarding 4, some evidence is at http://on.webmd.com/dBFKO and http://on.webmd.com/dBFKO. Regarding 5, I did. I've been eating paleo for I while.

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5 Answers

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1
75d65450b6ff0be7b969fb321f1200ac

(2506)

on January 14, 2013
at 09:26 PM

BodyHacker, I don't have the same cholesterol profile as you and so I really don't know if your plan will work. But I have suggestions...

1) I personally don't like that you have factored in some cheating that would prevent you from going 100% Paleo. I suggest you first go 100%, be strict about it, then after you've achieved success you might allow yourself an indiscretion once in a while. Strict Paleo offers healing of the digestive tract, better absorption of nutrients, etc. Only going 80% Paleo might actually yield much less than 80% value.

2) 10,000 iu of vitamin D per day is probably too much, at least in the long term, unless you know you are seriously deficient. 5,000 iu per day is probably very adequate.

3) Read Perfect Health Diet (Jaminet and Jaminet). It is a seriously good book on explaining what is a Paleo-ish diet. Certainly worth paying full price for it. It also covers vitamins/minerals very thoroughly and offers excellent suggestions.

_Lazza

74075df7b66e81e049783e8bbfb46bc0

(15)

on January 28, 2013
at 10:58 PM

Rob Wolff mentions that many people can get 95% of the benefits from 80% compliance with a paleo diet. I've done 100% at times, but I find that difficult to sustain without great inconvenience. The 1 day of sugar per week is taking a page from Tim Ferris's 4 Hour Body diet, which isn't strictly paleo, but is pretty similar.

74075df7b66e81e049783e8bbfb46bc0

(15)

on January 29, 2013
at 05:50 PM

Yeah, he mentioned is was only for some people. I appear to be one of those people. I don't notice much difference between when I eat 100% paleo and 80%. I guess I'm just lucky in that regard, so I might as well take advantage of it.

75d65450b6ff0be7b969fb321f1200ac

(2506)

on January 29, 2013
at 12:43 PM

Well I disagree, at least for those with any sort of food sensitivity. Eliminating 80% of gluten, or in my case dairy, will not yield 95% benefits. You might get 5% benefit ... if that. If I nibble on a little dairy my psoriasis explodes. My skin will look about as bad if I ate a little dairy versus a lot of dairy. And I could kiss away any chance of healing my leaky gut.

0
Ea1bb0c24b59345463ef96880b6b27fc

(300)

on January 28, 2013
at 05:34 PM

BodyHacker,

I think your screen name goes to the core of the problem which is the idea that you should be chasing lab values as the primary goal of what you are doing. Think of the example of the Niacin trial where it raised HDL and lowered Triglycerides without making any difference in cardiovascular events:

http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/new/remark/aim-high-transcript.htm

In other words, there is no guarantee that simply boosting HDL, for example, in and of itself will make any difference to your health. Ditto for other lab values.

That said, I suggest we start over. Typically, people are jumping in to give you advice without knowing anything at all you or your health, not even how old you are. Some things I would like to know:

1) Why did you start following "Paleo" and what were your health issues, if any, before you started.

2) What do you mean when you say your are eating "80% paleo"; what exactly is your diet? How long have you been following this plan?

3) Do you have any other lab work, particularly pre-paleo to give us some kind of baseline to work from; for example, what was your lipid panel before you started all this?

4) What is your family health history (in general), do you know any of their lab values?

5) How is your health at the moment; what are your goals about health?

6) You seem to be concerned about "stress"; whats up with that?

7) Speaking of stress, how much are you actually exercising and what are you doing?

The more information the better. No two people are alike nor is there likely one "perfect health diet" that fits all people. Once we get a bit for insight into your situation, I would feel more comfortable commenting on your lipid panel.

0
Bdb603fa3b1e2761c98047260f34b0e8

(94)

on January 14, 2013
at 09:10 PM

Look into copper supplementation and taurine supplementation. Both have been shown to reduce total and LDL cholesterol.

0
3ce6a0d24be025e2f2af534545bdd1d7

(26217)

on January 14, 2013
at 08:30 PM

If you are truly worried about your cholesterol I would suggest you revisit 1&2.

As for 3 you need to have a better plan than 3 days of aerobic exercise

4, where do you have evidence that stress increases cholesterol?

5, If your diet is leaving you that lacking of nutrients, fix your diet first, then supplement.

74075df7b66e81e049783e8bbfb46bc0

(15)

on January 14, 2013
at 09:11 PM

Regarding 1 and 2, what specifically do you suggest. Regarding 3, why? Regarding 4, some evidence is at http://on.webmd.com/dBFKO and http://on.webmd.com/dBFKO. Regarding 5, I did. I've been eating paleo for I while.

74075df7b66e81e049783e8bbfb46bc0

(15)

on January 14, 2013
at 09:57 PM

Re 1, 2, and 3: I realize that being more aggressive will get me results faster, but I'm interested is something that I can realistically sustain. As long as I'm seeing SOME progress, that's good enough right now. Re 4, See all the sources cited here: http://cholesterol.about.com/lw/Health-Medicine/Conditions-and-diseases/Clone-of-Recurrent-Stress-and-Cholesterol.htm Re 5, most of those supplements are the ones that Robb Wolf recommends that everyone take, because it's hard not to be deficient in those nutrients.

3ce6a0d24be025e2f2af534545bdd1d7

(26217)

on January 14, 2013
at 09:22 PM

Eat Paleo 100% of the time, Eliminate refined sugar 7 days a week. Re:3, because implementation of an effective exercise routine is important. There is a big difference between running 20 minutes 3 times a week and having an effective training plan. re:4, that article and the study is BS. The author states that they *"cannot cite an exact improvement in HDL"*, re:5 then why so much supplementation? Get a blood panel and determine if you are nutrient deficient rather than start pumping your body full of supplements.

74075df7b66e81e049783e8bbfb46bc0

(15)

on January 15, 2013
at 05:21 PM

"What is clear is that excessive stress can worsen existing risk factors such as hypertension and high cholesterol levels." -The APA (http://www.apa.org/helpcenter/stress.aspx)

74075df7b66e81e049783e8bbfb46bc0

(15)

on January 15, 2013
at 05:12 PM

"When patients have been given stress management techniques, it DOES NOT effect cholesterol levels." Do you have any evidence for the preceding statement? The study author, who clearly understands that correlation isn't causation, believes differently: "It appears that a person's reaction to stress is one mechanism through which higher lipid levels may develop," Steptoe says. Besides, if MIGHT help, can hurt, and has other benefits, they why not do it?

3ce6a0d24be025e2f2af534545bdd1d7

(26217)

on January 15, 2013
at 03:30 PM

re:4 -- Bad interpretation. There is a correlation between unaltered stress management and cholesterol levels. When patients have been given stress management techniques, it DOES NOT effect cholesterol levels. Thus either (a) High stress is caused by high cholesterol; or (b) High stress causes people to choose lifestyles that will raise cholesterol. There is nothing that suggests high stress causes high cholesterol.

74075df7b66e81e049783e8bbfb46bc0

(15)

on January 15, 2013
at 05:13 PM

"When patients have been given stress management techniques, it DOES NOT effect cholesterol levels." Do you have any evidence for the preceding statement? The study author, who clearly understands that correlation isn't causation, believes differently: "It appears that a person's reaction to stress is one mechanism through which higher lipid levels may develop," Steptoe says. Besides, if MIGHT help, can't hurt, and has other benefits, they why not do it?

74075df7b66e81e049783e8bbfb46bc0

(15)

on January 15, 2013
at 05:14 PM

"When patients have been given stress management techniques, it DOES NOT effect cholesterol levels." Do you have any evidence for the preceding statement? The study author, who clearly understands that correlation isn't causation, believes differently: "It appears that a person's reaction to stress is one mechanism through which higher lipid levels may develop," Steptoe says. Besides, if MIGHT help, can't hurt, and has other benefits, then why not do it?

3ce6a0d24be025e2f2af534545bdd1d7

(26217)

on January 15, 2013
at 08:45 PM

I would caution you from using sources like APA Help Center, about.com, and WebMD Health News. Read the actual study, and make your own decision. These sources rarely provide valid interpretations.

74075df7b66e81e049783e8bbfb46bc0

(15)

on January 21, 2013
at 10:52 PM

Thanks for your caution. I'll ask again: Do you have any evidence for your statement above: "When patients have been given stress management techniques, it DOES NOT effect cholesterol levels." I agree that citing secondary sources (like I did) is inferior to citing primary sources. But I'd caution you that secondary sources are superior to non-existent sources.

3ce6a0d24be025e2f2af534545bdd1d7

(26217)

on January 23, 2013
at 02:45 PM

Did you read the actual report from Aldwin that is referenced in the webmd report you cited? There was not an acute response in any of the studies the author reviewed and she was left to say there is a slight correlation, but nothing to indicate causation.

74075df7b66e81e049783e8bbfb46bc0

(15)

on January 28, 2013
at 10:54 PM

Lack of evidence isn't evidence. The fact that one scientist thinks the data are insufficient to prove causation doesn't mean that causation has been disproven. Some scientists believe there's sufficient evidence to infer causation. Some don't. I don't know for sure whether there's causation. Neither do you. But, as I mentioned above, since meditation MIGHT help, won't hurt, and has other benefit, why not do it.

-1
2e61811b43f9eadcc070cbc52d3bac43

on January 14, 2013
at 09:34 PM

hi Body Hacker,

Not sure I understand how stress reduction can affect cholesterol levels? just IMHO

<----------------------------------------------> Can you express your everyday life in numbers? Can you improve your life by turning it into a series of games and experiments? Follow my personal Quantified Self experiment to find out: http://www.measuredme.com

74075df7b66e81e049783e8bbfb46bc0

(15)

on January 14, 2013
at 09:58 PM

See my response to CD above. There's significant evidence that there's a link between stress and cholesterol.

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