Scientists seem to have enough trouble keeping their ego’s out of supposedly objective research and thinking. What often results is wishful Science rather than real Science. When you inject a significant amount of political pressure all objectivity go’s out of the window. I mentioned in a previous post about LDL particle size and anyone could be forgiven for thinking that this slant on things was a recent discovery and today’s doctors have not quite caught up yet. Not the case, the research on particle size was taking place, with results, around the time a certain Ancel Keys was about to cement the low fat high carb and low cholesterol argument for preventing heart disease. The McGovern report headed by Senator McGovern in 1977 was the political pressure saying we want a solution NOW!, so give us your best guess. With 250 million dollars already invested in cholesterol and fat research no one was in a hurry to stick their heads up and say ‘excuse me I think this is wrong and we have a more compelling argument over here’. In fact one or two did but were instantly bulldozed. When a powerful politician wants his last hurrah no careful Scientist is going to get in his way.
Testing whether you are pattern A or pattern B (prone to large fluffy LDL particles or small dangerous ones) is probably one of the most important tests you can have done with regard to heart disease. Hands up who has had this proposed by their GP. In the UK. I would suggest that’s a big fat zero.(probably the only real occurance of unhealthy fat outside Trans fats) Next test try asking your GP about how to get one. If his eyes glaze over then get rid of him/her.
I mentioned in the previous post that Apo B levels were as good a test as any for gauging LDL particle size as these are the core component of LDL particles. If you have a lot then you probably have many small LDL particles, which is bad. This is why as many people with normal LDL levels get a heart attack as those with high levels of LDL. The theory behind the research is that overall LDL levels from a conventional test, do not show the actual particle size.
Getting a test which includes Apo B levels can cost a few quid (about £250). If however you can pick up a test that shows your Triglyceride levels and your HDL levels then you have the next best test to the Apo B reading test. If your Tri’s are low and your HDL is a healthy high then once again you are likely to have large fluffy LDL’s. You might find that a test through your GP will give you the Tri’ levels. Make sure you also ask for C Reactive Protein levels in your GP supplied test. Its free but not standard, least not with my GP.
You may think I am being unkind about this topic and GP’s but seriously I have asked 2 Cardio’s and 2 GP’s about particle size and none of them seemed to know anything about it. I might as well have been talking about the application of leeches to cure Angina.
Let me know how you get on.
I may have mentioned previously that I am taking a daily Krill oil supplement from Healthspan. This wasn’t always the case, I started out on good old fish oil capsules, but I found that they upset my stomach after a few days of consumption. I also did not notice any significant effect on my lipid readings. Things changed when I read about Krill oil and started taking a daily Krill supp’. My LDL levels dropped about 30% and just as important I experienced no digestive reactions. Research suggests that the the DHA and EPA in Krill are more easily absorbed through the stomach than even larger amounts in fish oil. If you are taking fish oil by the way, make sure you check the levels of DHA. More is better in relation to EPA although with many brands that’s not the case as EPA is the cheaper ingredient. My LDL drop was pretty much in line with a study that compared fish and Krill oil.
Which ever you go for I would also suggest that you store them in your fridge. Oxidization of either will have a negative effect on your system and although Krill, through the Astaxanthin (make sure your krill has this in it), is less prone to oxidization, it is still a good idea to store it cool.
Chris Kresser gives a pretty good summary of fish and krill here
If you are taking fish oil supp’s you may want consider switching to Krill. The following meta analysis suggests it is superior for improving heart bio markers and reducing LDL
I have already mentioned how after a few months of having a heart attack I was expelled from the lipid clinic by Dr Madeira for, in his words, refusing to take my Statins. I still feel a great sense of injustice over this action born from a classic case of the ‘God complex’. His reasons for trumpeting Statins and his insistence that I get my LDL 50% down on what it was is derived from this drug company backed piece of research.
The alternative argument and the path I chose is presented in this piece of research
Which is best is hard to say but clearly both have merits. The irony is that my LDL has been slashed by just under 50% using a solely dietary approach but then again I doubt that Dr Madeira even reads research articles on dietary solutions to illness. This is something I have come across time and time again. The medical profession are either guided skillfully away from any such thinking or perhaps they are so busy they are unable to find the time to read other strands of research. Maybe the two things are one of the same. One doctor I spoke to even excused his lack of understanding by stating that he was not a nutritionist he was a doctor !. You have to feel worried when a GP makes a statement like that.
Statins may also contribute to the reduction of CoQ10 a vital ingredient for heart health as well as reducing Vitamin K2. Vit K2 is responsible for shifting calcium out of your arteries and into your bones and teeth where it belongs. A lack of K2 has been cited as responsible for artery calcification. The following research article cites Statins as a villain in the reduction of K2 and CoQ10
On the subject of Cholesterol, when I returned from a 2 month break in Portugal I found that despite sticking to my diet and lifestyle, my LDL had spiked from 2.1 back up to 3.4 only to settle back down to 2.7 after a week back in England. I have been scratching my head for a reason for this and one of the more plausible explanations could be coffee. I certainly resorted to consuming a few cups a day whilst I was out there whilst in England I drink nothing but green tea. The following article suggests Coffee might be a contributing factor.
Of course a wider question is do low LDL levels really reduce heart disease. They certainly do not reduce mortality. Cholesterol is vital for healthy brain function and LDL is the transporter responsible for getting Cholesterol to the brain. If we smash it into the ground using Statins, what are our chances of getting neurological problems such as Alzheimers ?.
One doctor and head of Heart UK has suggested that Statins should be added to the drinking water. Like me you may think this reckless but I can tell you the doctor certainly is, his name is Dr John Reckless (I am not kidding)
Its been a year since my heart attack and strangely enough despite all the pressure from doctors and Cardio’s to take the drugs to lower cholesterol, blood pressure, heart rate etc, I have not been called in by a single GP or Cardio to have a blood test. Yes not even a blood pressure test. Sure I have had a few of them during the 12 months but they have all been requested and paid for by myself. Somehow this does not seem right. You would think the cholesterol obsessed medical profession would need to check these levels in order to monitor at least your Statin dosage (slight sarcasm in tone).
At the moment my blood pressure is pretty much as its always been, around 120/80. My cholesterol reading was total 4.1 with my LDL at 2.7. My resting heart rate is between 55 and 60 beats per minute. Mt weight is steady at 11st 5 lbs from a pre heart attack weight of 13st 12lbs. This latter number is the most interesting for me. As I have mentioned before I have not been dieting as such, I have simply changed to a wholefood diet, eating as much as I want or can and the weight has simply returned to the levels it was when I was 25. Anybody out there pumping money into WeightWatchers take note. My Apo B number is also good so hopeful that my LDL particle number is healthful.
My running is still pretty poor by my standards. Lack of confidence means I have not pushed things too much as a consequence I do not know whether my poor running is due to one years drain on fitness levels or whether I will never return to a 7.5 minute mile pace. To be honest for reasons I stated earlier I do not really want to pump out 7.5 minute miles any more but I would like to know whether I am capable.
My running has improved the last couple of weeks and I do not know for sure if this is due to my taking of an extra supplement around this time. The ability of your arteries to expand and allow more blood to flow is effected by your ability to produce Nitric Oxide. As we get older this ability is diminished. A Nitric Oxide boosting supplement is l-arganine and I am taking a 500mg tablet per day. Thankfully l-arganine does not give me any side effects unlike CoQ10 which encourages my stomach to do a Samba and for this reason I avoid it. There is a link below to published research article on l-arganine
After 2 months away in Spain and Portugal I returned to have comprehensive set of blood tests with Blue Horizon. It costs around £260 but you get the kind of readings that your GP probably has never heard of let alone offer. Included in the readings are a set that are now considered of greater predictive value than simple LDL and HDL cholesterol readings., namely Apolipoprotein B and Apolipoprotein A1.
You may remember that I mentioned before that Apo B is indicative of the number of LDL particles you have in your blood. This is considered more important than just total LDL. Remember its cars on the highway we need to reduce not simply the number of passengers. People with normal LDL values can in fact have alarmingly high Apo B values. The ratio of ApoB to Apo A1 should be less than 0.9 for men and less than 0.8 for women, although finding people prepared to fix numbers to these ratios is not easy. Mine came in at 0.61 so I was happy. There were however a couple of puzzling numbers. Before I went away my LDL had been consistently around 2.1 to 2.5 and my total cholesterol was around 3.7 to 4. On my return these had spiked to 3.6 and 6.07. I had not changed my diet whilst on holiday, in fact if anything I ate more fish than I normally do and I am at a bit of a loss as to what may have caused it. I certainly did nt come back with any ailments. When I got the results, which was 3 weeks after my return, I had a simple cholesterol check and the figures were back at 4.1 for total and 2.7 for LDL.
The other puzzlement was that when I had the same battery of tests back in October my Vitamin D level was 70.3 nmol/L which could do with increasing a little. After 2 months in the sun I expected to see a rise but in fact it had decreased to 61.8. I am now supplementing with Vit D3 + K2 (hope you watched the video), supp’.
By the way, the more I read about Weston Price, the more impressed I become. A dentist with curiosity and tenacity in equally large measures. I become more and more interested in Vit K2 and its role in preventing the hardening of arteries. When I am through reading the book Vitamin K2 and the calcium paradox see
I must then pick up a copy of Weston Price’s book.
By the way excellent video interview with the author 2/3 down this Facebook page
PS Those eggs in Portugal sure have orange yolks, where can I find some in England ?
PPS In the above book the author gives a list of top K2 boosting foods. Top of the list is Japanese Natto. Difficult to find and not to everyone’s taste you may skip to second top and duck liver pate. In fact these K2 rich foods may go some way to explaining the French paradox. Try telling your GP that you have increased your intake of duck liver pate and then step back and watch his head explode.
Got my blood test results back the other day but before I go over them some wise words from the Dali Lama when asked what surprised him about humanity.
“Man, because he sacrifices his health in order to make money. Then he sacrifices his money to recuperate his health. And then he so anxious about the future he does not enjoy the present; the result being that he does not live in the present or the future; he lives as if he never going to die, and then dies having never really lived.”
Although not really connected I also love the story about the day the Dali Lama was visiting a function in a London hotel. A taxi arrived for him when it was time to leave and the taxi driver entered the large reception room and shouted, “Taxi for Mr Lama!, Taxi for Mr Lama!”