By Matt Stone
One of the biggest health wars being fought in the world today is against the rise of what is considered “worsening” blood lipid profiles. The major risk factors associated with heart disease and diabetes are high blood pressure, high levels of inflammatory markers like CRP, low HDL “good cholesterol,” high LDL “bad cholesterol,” high triglycerides, and high blood glucose levels.
Note – these are all just risk factors. They don’t necessarily cause these diseases, but point to an increased statistical likelihood of having heart disease or diabetes. You can have perfect blood lipids and still drop dead of a heart attack. And the “experts” can’t even agree on what an ideal blood lipid profile is. The general public, uninformed and simple-minded, still think that what matters most is getting total cholesterol low. We’ll see how that worked out for the young gentleman that had a heart attack with a cholesterol level of 115 later in the post.
There are many contradictions too. For example, high cholesterol appears to be associated with increased longevity when you reach your 70’s and up. Another is that the highest rates of heart disease are found in men with what appear to be pretty good blood lipid profiles – that of Australian Aboriginal men.
So there are no hard and fast rules. For starters – no matter who you are, you shouldn’t be obsessed about these values. There is just no reason to be obsessed with these values. They are mediocre predictors of disease risk at the VERY best. You certainly shouldn’t be taking medication like statins or blood pressure lowering meds so that you can score better on these tests. That’s probably no different from scoring better on a test by copying the paper of the kid with a pocket protector sitting next to you. Your grades might be better, but you won’t be any better off, and might be worse off. Might even get expelled!
If we take a broad look at several of these supposed health markers, it becomes pretty obvious that such changes occur together, in tandem. This is what led to the branding of the term “metabolic syndrome,” a blanket name given to those who show several or all of the “negative” changes in blood lipids.
I wish the solution to this was more complex. People have become indoctrinated to believe that the answer must be something exotic or “NEW!” If I were to write about some breakthrough discovery – some Amazonian beetle extract that fixes this problem, a significant number of people might read and actually get excited about this post. But I’m not going to write about a beetle extract. Or even an exotic berry of some kind that comes, mixed with grape and apple juice, for $40 a quart.
The solution to the whole cluster of risk factors (clusterfact?) is raising metabolic rate and decreasing stress hormone exposure – two things that happen together.
Cholesterol levels don’t rise as you age because you are eating more saturated fat and cholesterol. As people age, their consumption of both saturated fat and cholesterol decreases. The older people get, the less they eat, because the older people get, the lower their metabolic rate gets.
Triglyceride levels or blood pressure or blood sugar does not rise as we age because we eat more and more sugar the older we get. Sugar consumption typically falls with age, along with total food consumption. This corresponds with the decrease in metabolic rate that occurs with aging.
While we’re at it, we don’t get fatter and fatter as we age because of increased food consumption either. Food consumption steadily declines as body fat percentage rises over the course of our lifetimes.
You see where I’m headed with that. It’s awfully hard to blame a worsening blood lipid profile that occurs with aging on substances that we are consuming less and less of.
I love the statin commercials though! They are so classic.
“Eatin’ ‘right’ and exercisin’ (lowers metabolism and increases exposure to stress hormones) didn’t lower my cholesterol, so I took me some of these pills like my doctor sold me to.” (intentional typo). Try Falcor today, and come in for some Viagra and Prozac when you find yourself depressed and bonerless in 6 months!
That’s enough of that. Had to work in ‘boner’ somehow though.
Anyway, with a rise in metabolic rate and a reduction in stress hormone exposure, something that typically happens synergistically, someone with a poor blood lipid profile will see LDL fall, HDL rise, blood glucose fall, blood pressure fall (if high), and triglycerides fall.
Cool. Well that’s the solution to what mainstream medicine considers to be one of the most pressing health dilemmas of the 21st century. I hope you enjoyed reading this, not thinking it could be true, and wandering off in pursuit of failure in improving these lipid profiles elsewhere. Come back and see me when you’re ready.
High 5 to Chris, 2009 heart attack sufferer who actually did take me seriously, stopped eating so damn healthy, and witnessed many of these changes. Below is his story with a link to his well-documented changes in blood chemistry doing various things, including taking statins and eating a Paleo diet and consulting with many of the biggest names in alternative nutrition. Now if we can get him eating even less health food and taking more naps he would really get somewhere.
Note in his blood lipids the changes from the beginning in his Triglyceride to HDL ratio. That is probably the single most important risk predictor that can be ascertained from a regular blood panel, and something I mentioned years ago. It dropped from 4.93 to 2.51 since he started implementing some 180-inspired changes a few months ago. Other changes include, unsurprisingly, a drop in total cholesterol, LDL, triglycerides, VLDL, and fasting glucose. HDL came up. His testosterone is on the way up too I assume, as discussed in Raising Testosterone Naturally.
Anyway, share this with someone you know. This is an easy fix, and requires no medication, unwanted exercise, or unenjoyable diets. Last time I checked there were like 50 million Americans or more with this type of blood lipid profile, so I expect at least 50 million shares on Facebook, haha.
First, sorry I took so long to get back with you. I just wanted to see another lipid panel before I started waving the Matt Stone flag.
Well, today I had another lipid panel and cardiologist appointment and the lipids are still improving! Total cholesterol went down another 40 points, HDL is steady at 37, LDL went down 36, and the biggest surprise of all, trigs went down 24 to 93! All this after stopping statins and all vitamins two months ago. And I had a freaking milkshake last night! Seriously!?!
So now for the backstory.. I had a mild heart attack in August of 2009. 34 years old, 5’10, 150 lbs. Non smoker, “healthy” (usda) eater, ect. At that time my total chol was 115, with HDL 16. So I exercised. And brought my HDL up to 29 in three months. Cardiologist still wanted me on statins, I declined, exercised more and 5 months later, no change in lipids so I started the 20 mg pravistatin. And my LDL went from 104 to 64 three months later. Cardiologist was happy and all was well. Three months later, another lipid test, 122 total chol, and I was heart attack proof. Go me.
Then something happened. I’m honestly not sure what, but I got curious as to why this happened to me, what my cholesterol should be, and how to get it there. And I found the mecca of everything healthy, Grok. So I posted on the MDA message boards for some advice and advice is what I got. “Get rid of the grains”, “trigs are too high, so reduce carbs” , “cut out all sugar”, “eat more fats”, “eat less fruit”, “exercise less”, “dont drink alcohol” etc. Makes sense, if I ate like the cavedude with all those meat and eggs and none of those grains and carbs, my HDL would go to 1000, just like everyone that posts there. I was so in. http://www.marksdailyapple.com/forum/thread34325-2.html
Well then, I began to eat more eggs and meat and less grains and carbs. And my cholesterol (LDL and Trigs) continued to skyrocket. I even pm’d the anti wheat cardiologist asking what to do and his answer was simple – REDUCE CARBS. Holy shit, I reduced carbs. So much as to not touching milk or beer or wine or honey or fruit for two months. And guess what happened? My LDL went up more!
Well, thats when it was suggested I get a VAP test to see if my “particle sizes” were growing, which would be a good thing, and wrong! Type B LDL. Well shit now what? The Grok gods said my liver is still defatting (whateverthefukthatmeans), give it more time (it had only been 6 months) and to add oils and vitamins and all will be well. After all, that would raise my HDL and thats what I needed to do to get my LDL down. So I added fish oil and coconut oil and niacin and vitamin D3. And managed to get my cholesterol up to 232 (160 LDL, 34 HDL, 188 Tgs). Awesome! To add to the awesomeness, my fasting BG was 95. I’m totally rockin this grok stuff.
So reality (ie my wife – I was all in, hook, line, and sinker) started to tell me, maybe this caveman stuff isn’t good for my cholesterol. So I ate less eggs, less cow (still the free range stuff of course), more potatoes, rice and quinoa. And did another lipid test. And TC went from 232 to 174. And from 174 to 140 (HDL dropped to 30). Then I stopped taking all vitamins and stupid shit and eventually even stopped taking the statin. And my TC went from 140 to 208. Yikes!
So there I was, at a crossroads. Do I further reduce redmeat and eggs (basically eliminating them) or do I continue to eat a few servings of each each week and take the statin. Well, the Paleo Summit couldn’t have had better timing. And surprisingly, one Matt Stone had the biggest impact on me of anyone. Kruse was good too, but Matt’s presentation really intrigued me. So I posted on his wall, my issue with HDL and cholesterol and such and Matt replied, “Raise metabolism. This will start converting LDL into testosterone. It also has a tendency to lower trigs and raise HDL along with it”.
So I read Matt’s site and learned about the role “junk food” plays in metabolism and began having the occasional treat. After a month I got another lipid test (by now I know it only takes me a month to see diet changes in my lipid test results) and good golly miss molly my HDL went from 30 to 37. Trigs from 148 to 117. Total Chol down slightly and LDL up a lil bit. My fasting BG was 79. I pm’d Matt, thanked him and figured I’d continue this another month and retest. No way pizza and ice cream raise HDL and lower Trigs. Thats just not paleopossible. So, today I had a checkup with my cardiologist and figured I’d check my cholesterol again before the Dr appointment. And well, I’m still in shock at the results.
Link to my Lipid Google spreadsheet: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheet/ccc?key=0AmbJs5Qv4fpadDhrVElIdjRpVWw2UGVWTzY1TXg2ZVE
Thanks again Matt – you’ve got a very powerful message to spread! Chris.
For more in the relationship between cholesterol, sex hormones, metabolic rate, and heart disease – listen to this 1996 interview with Ray Peat. With proper thyroid dose, cholesterol levels drop by 50 points per week.