Monday, July 23, 2012

Testing, 1,2,3

Oh Cholesterol. We meet again, you saucy minx!
If you looked at my LadyGrok FB page, you saw that I got some good news today. Test results were back!

Cholesterol is not something that I am naturally gifted at. I have a couple of strikes against me: I am one of these lucky people who has the hereditary kind of high cholesterol- the kind your docs will tell you, only statins can lower.

I do not want to take statins. My parents both take them. Many people on the maternal side of my family take them. Guess what? Statins can supposedly reduce some of your risk- if you're male. Statins are not correlated with the same proven health results for women. They do, however, have a whole bunch of really unpleasant potential side effects. Here's a list of the "most common" (so, by no means all of them) from WebMD:
  • Headache
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Flushing of the skin
  • Muscle aches, tenderness, or weakness (myalgia)
  • Drowsiness
  • Dizziness
  • Nausea and/or vomiting
  • Abdominal cramping and/or pain
  • Bloating and/or gas
  • Diarrhea
  • Constipation
  • Rash
Ok. I mean, you can live with those. But then, there's this: 

"Statins also carry warnings that memory loss, mental confusion, high blood sugar, and type 2 diabetes are possible side effects. It's important to remember that statins may also interact with other medications you take."
Plus, no more delicious grapefruit.  I'll risk it.

I believe that cholesterol is an indicator, but not the end-all be all, and putting so much weight on one major lab value (and one that I feel isn't fully understood) is so incredibly frustrating. After all, your body needs cholesterol to function. I had "high cholesterol" when I weighed 50 lbs. less than I do now, did an hour of high intensity cardio daily, and ate less than 25 grams of fat and 1200 calories a day like it was my religion. I did this for over a year. My cholesterol tested at 250. I was told to watch my fat intake and exercise more. Thanks, Medical Science. (FAIL!!)

I know for a fact that my cholesterol levels negatively impacted my quest to get privately insured earlier this year. That plus my weight freaked insurance adjusters out. They were convinced I was going to have a stroke at any second.

So now that I am finally, FINALLY covered by insurance again (Thank you, Kaiser!) I was super-worried about what those tests would say about me now.

You see, in January, I was pretty confident. I had taken my diet super-low carb, as advocated in the forums.  I was avoiding fruit, dairy, sugars, and anything starchy. Leafy green veggies and the occasional carrot were pretty much my jam.

So when I went to a naturopath, and he wanted me to get labs drawn, I was confident that my numbers would be phenomenal. (And just in case, I was "off the grid" since I was paying out of pocket- thank goodness!!!)

And boy howdy, were they phenomenal! I got a combined cholesterol of 309. LDL 202, HDL 83, Trigs 121. I also got some weird liver panels, and a flag on my ratio of T3-T4.

Now, I did my research. While the numbers were scary, my ratios weren't bad. Back in the day, when I was on Accutane, I had to be taken off because my trigs went through the roof- I think they tested around 400. But still! This was definitely disheartening. Once again, research: going VLC (very low carb) has this effect on some people. The general consensus- that I was in the middle of clearing crap out of my system, and basically took a snapshot of my levels while my body was freaking out and adjusting. OK.

It took a month or two of experimenting to realize that VLC and fasting weren't putting a dent in the scale, and I was sick of being exhausted all the time. So I added back some fruits and starchy veggies, butter, and cheese. I immediately felt much better. And now, I have the numbers to prove it.

Combined cholesterol: 235. I haven't had a number that low since I was in my 20's. HDL 62, LDL 153, Trigs 101. That's a 74 point drop in just over 6 months, y'all! And my ratios are still good. Happiness! Next time around, I will get a VAP test, to see if my LDL is anything I need to worry about. It's a deal. 

As was posted on Facebook earlier- Paleo eating works. I feel healthier because I AM healthier. Hooray!


  1. I'm happy to get the link to your blog from MDA! I read your success story there and agreed wholeheartedly with the hundreds of comments re: your talent as a writer, as well as the resonance of your story. Have you checked out Peter Attia's series on cholesterol-- Mark linked to it a couple of weeks ago, and it is the most amazing education on the subject. Site is Eating Academy..

  2. Thanks Nancy- happy that you came over here to check it out!

    I haven't looked at the series yet- thank you for the recommendation. I will definitely have to check that out! I wish more health care providers were mode educated about cholesterol- purely for my own selfish reasons, and I am sick of getting crazy advice that doesn't do a darned thing. ;)