Saturday, January 29, 2011

White Death Revisited

Back in October of last year, I went in for my physical. Mostly everything was fine, but my bloodwork had a couple elevations -- total cholesterol was up ten points over the line, and the ratio of LDL to HDL was not where I wanted it–LDL is the "bad," stuff, HDL, the "good." And my triglycerides, which had been higher, were still elevated–not dangerously so, but enough to make me frown. 

So I did the research and came up with a conclusion–you can read the original post on White Death, herebut the short version is that mostly giving up sugar, and cutting back on alcohol and saturated fats, plus adding in some fish oil, was the way to fix this.

I don't eat much red meat anyhow, but I didn't give up chicken, turkey, fish, or shellfish, i.e., shrimp and crab.

I had intended to wait until the end of February to re-check it, figuring four months was a goodly amount of time to see a difference. I have a CardioChek machine, which is supposed to be + or - 5% accurate when compared to a lab's test. (Less important the exact accuracy than are the results with the same machine over time. A bathroom scale can be off a pound or two, but if you are losing or gaining weight and you use that scale, you will see a drop or rise in the numbers that likely maintain the ratio.)

My wife wanted to get a baseline on her blood, since she started a new diet, so we went ahead and did a check on total cholesterol and triglycerides. (I would have done the HLD/LDL breakout, but those strips were expired, and they won't run after the expiration date.)

A home blood test is considerably cheaper than having it done at the clinic, even if you factor in the one-time cost of the machine itself, which I've had for several years. Strips for the tests run about four and a half bucks each, and usually come in lots of three. 

So–can I get a drum roll here?–both my total cholesterol and triglycerides are down. 

Cholesterol not so much, but thirty points lower, and well inside the acceptable range even with the + or - margin of error. I'd like to drop it another few points, but moving the right way.

But cutting out White Death? My triglycerides went through the floor–down by more than a hundred and twenty points. 

I expected it to drop, but not so much so soon; I'll recheck it another day to be sure–you do these tests 12-hour fasting, by the by–but boy, howdy, am I pleased that giving up sweets paid off. If I'd skipped all that candy, cake, and pie and it hadn't dropped? I'd be pissed.

So, it's anecdotal, but at least in my case, fixing high triglycerides can be done by simple changes in diet. Plus my bodyfat is down. Win-win here.


Justin said...

Stay away from those "saturated facts."
Typos can be fun. :)

J.D. Ray said...

I quit soda last fall, and candy in November. Cookies and other such desserts are still on my diet plan, but in low quantities (once or twice a week or so). I didn't get a baseline blood test like you did, but I'm interested to know what my general blood health is by now. I'll ask my doctor about it soon.

Congrats on your success, BTW.

Steve Perry said...

I'm not sure that the blood levels matter so much, save as I wouldn't have believed mine were high back when. I thought my diet was pretty good, and I jocked out enough so I wasn't particularly porky.

Plus the correlation between high blood levels of cholesterol and triglycerides isn't set in stone. Lot of folks with higher levels die of old age.

Not a major deal, insofar as my numbers weren't sky-high, but even so, the first step in fixing a problem is to recognize that it exists.

Those things that can be easily altered by something as simple as cutting down on this or that? Cheap medicine. There are a lot of things that aren't so easy to fix.