Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Bootcamp in North Vancouver Discusses that Cholesterol is Good - Part 3

Yummm butter! And to think not only does it taste good, but it's good for you too!

Many of you have had blood tests but most of you probably don't really understand what these tests are telling you about your health. That's a shame because regular blood testing can be very helpful in determining what effects your diet and lifestyle is having on your physiology. In this post I'll go through cholesterol, HDL, LDL, lipoprotein (a) and triglycerides. In future posts I'll go through albumin, globulin, TSH, homocysteine, c reactive protein, creatine kinase, ferritin, white blood cell count, haemoglobin A1C and 25 hydroxy vitamin D.

Cholesterol measurements get all the headlines but really are not all that helpful. The results needs to be put in context with HDL, LDL, triglycerides and inflammatory markers like lipoprotein (a), homocysteine, c reactive protein (highly sensitive version). The other thing that needs to be understood is that the "normal" levels for cholesterol have been revised downwards over the years so that nowadays many healthy individuals are advised to start using statins if their total cholesterol is over 200mg/dL REGARDLESS of what their other test results look like. Much of this is due to the fact that many MDs get their ongoing education from drug company sales reps, which can lead to problems in and of itself. For a good review of this problem read "Good Calories, Bad Calories" by Gary Taubes, "The Cholesterol Myths" by Uffe Ravnskov and "Put Your Heart In Your Mouth" by Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride. Three really good books that will definitely change the way you look at fats, oils and cholesterol and that they are not evil.

Another problem is that we are all led to believe that if we increase our consumption of eggs, bacon and red meat this will result in higher cholesterol levels. This is not necessarily the case. There are some individuals who experience a drop in cholesterol when they make such a dietary change and others who see no change at all. If you wish to try such an experiment on yourself, make sure you are eating high quality/"clean" eggs, bacon and read meat. If you load up on these foods from cheap, non-organic, non-free range, non-grass fed sources then you are prejudicing the results of your own experiment. The goal is not to see what effect the growth hormones, flavourings, preservatives and antibiotic residues have on your blood chemistry!

Do you feel this way?

HDL is a sub fraction of your total cholesterol and it's main function is to transport cholesterol to the liver, adrenals, testes and/or ovaries. It is actively involved in the removal of cholesterol from arterial walls. In this regard it is antagonistic to LDL (but that doesn't mean that LDL is bad as we've been led to believe). Cholesterol is an absolute necessity for the production of the following hormones:







In other words, if you deliberately cut fat from your diet, or if you are taking a statin, it's just a matter of time before you develop a hormonal problem. You cannot possibly make optimal amounts of these hormones unless you eat fat. Could this be one of the reason why people aren't losing weight because they aren't producing adequate amounts of these fat burning hormones?  Could this also be one of the reasons that so many people have a hard time getting pregnant? What about all those males getting diagnosed with testosterone deficiencies? Generally speaking it is good to have high HDL. High HDL levels indicate that plenty of cholesterol is being transported to areas in the body where hormones are made. The ratio of total cholesterol to HDL can be useful in this regard. If this ratio is under 3.5 you are doing well and lower is even better.

LDL is also a subfraction of your total cholesterol. It has become increasingly obvious recently that the oxidized form of LDL is much more relevant in terms of cardiovascular health and in particular arterial wall health (that's what you want to stay away from oxidized LDL which comes in the form of damaged fats, i.e. powdered, processed eggs for instance). The problem is that this test is not readily available and many MDs do not know about it. For more information go to:

If you are able to get this test done, lower numbers are better.

Lipoprotein (a) is a sub fraction of LDL and is an inherited risk factor for cardiovascular disease. Lower numbers are better. High levels often go hand in hand with infections like h. pylori. H. pylori is a bacterial infection that causes damage to the parietal cells in your stomach, thus reducing the production of hydrochloric acid. This might sound like a good thing but it's not! You need hydrochloric acid to kill pathogens in the food you eat and to break down high protein foods especially red meat. If you have noticed that your ability to digest red meat has deteriorated as you got older, or if you seem to have less of an urge to eat red meat than when you were younger, you should get tested for h. pylori. It's a nasty infection that many of us have for years and do not know it. Left untreated it sets the stage for peptic ulcers and even stomach cancer. Barry Marshall and Robin Warren, two Australian researchers, received a Nobel Prize in 2005 for demonstrating the unpleasant effects of h. pylori in human beings. All of this is relatively new information so don't be surprised if your MD knows nothing about it. It's up to you to figure this stuff out - after all it's YOUR health.

Triglyceride levels generally reflect the amount of carbohydrate in your diet. The more carbohydrate you eat the higher your triglycerides are likely to be. Carbohydrate rich foods include grains, vegetables and fruits and anything made with grains, vegetables and fruits. Over consumption of carbohydrates is probably the single biggest mistake that most Westerners make. Most of us eat carbohydrates in the kind of quantities that competitive marathon runners require. Unless you are running 50+ miles a week you should not be eating like this! If your triglycerides are over 80mg/dL, forget about grains and fruit. Get your carbohydrates from fresh, locally produced, organic vegetables. Contrary to popular belief fruit is not good for everybody at all times. Most of the carbohydrate in fruit comes in the form of fructose (fruit sugar). The only major metabolic pathway for frucotose is conversion to triglycerides by the liver. This is one reason why anything containing fructose should be eliminated if you have high triglycerides. You should see major changes in your triglyceride count if you make these dietary changes AND exercise for at least one hour every day.

We know this is a lot of information but these are some health related issues that you ought to get familiar with.

Helping you get lean and healthy in 2012,

PS. If you haven't had a chance to check out our new boot camp/training facility click the link below to see video of the class in action!

PPS. Thanks to my friends Chris Maund and Janet Alexander for what was shared in this blog.

Janet Alexander
A 25-year veteran of the Health and Fitness Industry and commited endurance athlete, Janet draws her experience from a varied career base, including teaching, sales and marketing, advertising and design as well as working with clients requiring sports performance and orthopedic rehabilitation. Janet is one of the Senior Faculty at the C.H.E.K Institute, co-owner of The CHEK Studio, Inc. in Encinitas, CA where she works predominantly with golfing athletes and their coaches including PGA and LPGA professionals.

Chris Maund
Chris Maund is a member of the C.H.E.K Faculty and has been teaching for the C.H.E.K Institute since 1998. Chris has a bachelor's degree in Physical Education and Sports Science from Loughborough University in England. He has written a thesis to satisfy part of the requirements for C.H.E.K Practitioner Program entitled "Sleep, Biological Rhythms and Electromagnetic Fields". Chris is a strong believer in the value of massage therapy and studied Paul St John's Neuro Muscular Therapy program. An experienced triathlete, he was a member of the British National Squad from 1989-1992 before emigrating to New Zealand in 1993. Chris has a wealth of experience working in a wide variety of rehabilitation and sports conditioning scenarios.
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