We’re well underway in my brand new Christmas season contest called The 12 Days Of Cholesterol Clarity. With hundreds of entries submitted already, I’ve got a lot more autographed copies of my 2013 book release Cholesterol Clarity: What The HDL Is Wrong With My Numbers left to give away on a daily basis through next Friday. If you missed the full details about how to get your name in the running to win a copy, CLICK HERE to learn more. Entering is easy and fun: just send me an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org (only one entry per household please) with the subject line “12 DAYS OF CHOLESTEROL CLARITY” and share your mailing address along with a question or personal story about cholesterol that you wouldn’t mind me putting on my blog. I’m randomly choosing a winner every single day for 12 days and the contest is open to both U.S. and international readers. My second winner in Day 2 is Benjamin P. from Mooresville, North Carolina! Here’s his question of concern for me about his cholesterol:
How long does it take for cholesterol to improve once you’ve started eating a low-carb, high-fat, moderate protein diet? I’ve been to the doctor several times and he continues to push statin drug on me even after I’ve refused to accept the prescription. My numbers have all improved, but not as much as I or he would like. I know that in the past you’ve mentioned that your cholesterol did not go down much while you were still losing weight during your ketosis experiment and only went down when your weight normalized.
Can inflammation cause cholesterol and triglycerides to go up? I’ve been having lower back problems that may be causing some inflammation in my body. Does this contribute to a higher cholesterol levels and if so how much? I’m set to go back to the doctor to have my blood taken for the fourth time and the doctor will no doubt try to push another statin drug on me. Sounds like he needs to read your book.
My personal cholesterol levels are below and if you can recommend some other tests that the doctor may want to run to give a better indication of my state of health. I’m losing weight and doing really well with the LCHF/Paleo diet and don’t want to jeopardize my progress by going back to the Standard American Diet (SAD) or cause any side effects with drugs.
MY CHOLESTEROL NUMBERS IN AUGUST 2013:
Total cholesterol: 227
MY CHOLESTEROL NUMBERS IN OCTOBER 2013:
Total cholesterol: 220
MY CHOLESTEROL NUMBERS IN NOVEMBER 2013:
Total cholesterol: 240
Thanks for all you do.
– Benjamin P. from Mooresville, NC
Thanks so much for your questions, Benjamin. One thing you’ll learn when you read Cholesterol Clarity is that the means for tracking your cholesterol is going to be quite different from what your doctor uses. A great example of this happened just this morning when I was at the post office mailing Benjamin his book. I got into a conversation with the lady working at the window about my book and she said that she was worried because of what her doctor said are her “bad cholesterol” levels. I tried to dig deeper about what this means, but no doubt she was told she has “high cholesterol” and her doctor put her on a cholesterol-lowering statin medication as a result. After a brief conversation with her, I went out to my car and got a copy of my book for her to read and learn more about why her cholesterol may or may not be as bad as she thinks. I’ll be following up with her soon to see if she has any questions.
But Benjamin’s doctor is undoubtedly singing the same song to him. Good for him refusing to take that drug, but I think it’s important to know why a statin medication may not necessarily be the prudent thing to do for his health. In Chapter 14 of Cholesterol Clarity, we share “Nine Reasons Why Cholesterol Levels Can Go Up” and certainly weight loss is one of those things that can make your numbers go awry. They can indeed normalize somewhat once you become weight stable–but the most important numbers to pay attention to instead of LDL-C and total cholesterol are your triglycerides and HDL-C. Ideally, you are looking for triglycerides under 100 and optimally under 70 and HDL-C above 50 and optimally over 70. Getting this triglyceride/HDL ratio under 2.0 and optimally under 1.0 is something everyone should be striving for much more so than artificially lowering your total and LDL cholesterol levels.
Benjamin’s question about inflammation is misdirected though. He’s asking how it impacts his cholesterol levels. But the better way to think of inflammation is to keep it as low as you possibly can and here’s why: WITHOUT INFLAMMATION, THERE IS NO HEART DISEASE. Note I didn’t say “without high LDL or total cholesterol, there is no heart disease” because cholesterol is not the culprit here. It’s merely an innocent bystander at the scene of the inflammation. My favorite analogy for inflammation and cholesterol is the imagery of a fire and firefighters. When your neighbor’s house is on fire (inflammation), the firefighters (cholesterol) come to put out the fire, right? Would we then turn around and blame the firefighters for the fire? Of course not, that would be ludicrous. But that’s EXACTLY what we’re doing to cholesterol when we blame it for heart disease.
Looking at the trend of Benjamin’s cholesterol numbers, his triglycerides are right on the verge of being great at around 100. Cutting his carbohydrate intake a bit more will likely get them below 70 rather easily. His HDL-C is teetering around the acceptable mark of 50, but eating more fat (especially saturated fat) will help get him well on his way to raising these levels above 70 where they should be. He asked about other tests that he could have run to see his state of health and here are the ones he can have run: hsCRP (to measure inflammation levels), NMR Lipoprofile (to see the number and size of the LDL particles), a CT Heart Calcium Scan (to look for signs of calcified plaque in the coronary arteries) and a CIMT (examining plaque located in the carotid arteries). These tests are certainly something you should ask for if a doctor is pushing you to go on a statin drug.
We tried very hard to make Cholesterol Clarity as easy to understand as possible while still staying true to the science with key expert input from the world’s leading voices on the subject. I realize cholesterol can be confusing for so many which is why a book like this is needed in our culture. I’ll keep shouting from the rooftops all this information because it’s much too important for me to remain silent about it. Educating the public will empower them to make better choices for the sake of their own health rather than being treated like lemmings seeking to attain arbitrary cholesterol targets. Your health is about so much more than that! Once again, CONGRATULATIONS again to Benjamin P. from Mooresville, North Carolina for being my winner in Day 2 of The 12 Days Of Cholesterol Clarity. Haven’t entered YOUR name into this contest yet? LEARN MORE HERE.