Interesting Horizon program tonight 20/5/15. It was examining the effects of alcohol not just from a quantity point of view but also at what rate we consume it ie binge or steady. One of the heart related subtopics was the role of red wine and its component resveratrol with regard to artery health. Researchers found that in mice bred to be prone to artery disease and then split into 3 groups of
a) Tea total
b) Small amount each day
c) Large amount each day
They found that the most healthy arteries were in group B. They also mentioned that the red wine with most punch in terms of resveratrol is Pinot Noir. The message therefore is that a glass of Pinot Noir per day could be beneficial but more than this promotes the production of a chemical to handle the excess alcohol which also has a damaging effect on the arteries. At lower levels this chemical which kicks in when excess alcohol needs to be shifted out of the system, is not produced by your body.
If you cannot get hold of Pinot Noir then research has also shown that reds from cooler climates hold more resveratrol than from hotter climates, so favour French wine to say Aussie or Californian.
The trick of course is pouring a glass and then corking the bottle.
Those cheap and cheerful lipid tests we get at the GP are not, according to latest research, giving us the clearest picture when it comes to heart disease risk. I have mentioned before about how LDL particle number is a better measure than simply an LDL count that we get from the GP. Current research is also showing that How many HDL particles we have is also of greater significant than just a count we get from the GP.
I recently had a lipid profile which showed my HDL count at 2.17. Now at face values this looks pretty good as most doctors are happy with readings above 1, but my HDL-P was 30.2 umol?l which is just short of the acceptable range of 34.9. In other words my number of HDL particles could be a tad higher
One other factor which can confuse the issue is that when you get an increase in HDL-C from your GPs lab test there is evidence that this increase, once HDL has risen above a certain limit, is merely your HDL particles getting bigger, not as you would prefer, more HDL particles. So when my HDL-C went from 1.6 to 2.17 it is not automatically a reason for celebration.
So how can we boost HDL-P so that we have more smaller HDL particles and decrease the number of LDL particles?.
Niacin has been shown to work with the latter and for HDL-P treatment with Fibrates helped reduce HDL particle size.
Couple of links
Interesting piece on Radio 4 Science program tonight. I have mentioned before the data suggesting that people closer to the equator have fewer incidence of heart disease than us Northern hemisphere dwellers. This ties in nicely with the Cholesterol Sulphate theory (not to be confused with the simplistic Cholesterol theory your GP rams down your throat). The R4 science program chats to a researcher who has been looking at the seasonal variation that exists with inflamation and seems to be adding a more concrete DNA confirmation to the theory.
Get the winter holiday brochures out
Listen at http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b05tm4dq
It is now 2 years since I came back off a customary 2 mile run and suffered a heart attack. Since then I have wondered what really causes a heart attack. The conventional idea focuses on blocked arteries and/or plaque rupture which causes a blood clot and therefore the blockage of an artery. Both of these ideas are challenged by Dr Thomas S Cowan. He believes they are symptoms and in most cases not really the cause. In the case of blockages he believes that the heart is capable of creating alternative supply routes when necessary. In effect its own bypass surgery. With regard to unstable plaque pathology reports on HA victims that died showed less than 20% had suffered from this possible cause.
So what does cause a heart attack for most people ?. His reasoning on this certainly resonated with me. I had a habit of working (sitting down) on a stressful occupation for most of the afternoon and then going for a run at around 5pm, as I did on the day of my HA. In the second half of his article Dr Cowan go’s on to explain the role of the Autonomic nervous system in the development of heart attacks. It is a very interesting read for everyone especially those desk bound weekend or evening fitness warriors.
I mentioned my morning smoothie of Beetroot, Spinach, Spirulina and Pommie juice on a forum and one person suggested that there may be an unhealthy blood sugar spike from the pommie juice and of course the beet. I decided to test this and yesterday had a fasting blood sugar test. My figures came in at 4.5 mmol or 81 mg/dl depending on which currency you prefer. This is a perfectly normal healthy fasting blood sugar level so I was pleased with the result. By the way Asda Pharmacy here in the UK do them for free.
Today I got up and had my smoothie and then popped out for a test first thing in the morning. Now I usually have my smoothie after my porridge which may help slow down any absorbtion into the blood stream of sugar from the smoothie. For the purpose of this test I did not do this, preferring to just see how the smoothie performed on my blood sugar. The result came in at 5.7 mmol or 101 mgdl.
This is perfectly healthy for a post meal blood sugar reading although strictly speaking a smoothie is not a meal. Yes it would be better if the post smoothie reading was even less but I think there has to be a trade off between the nutritional benefits of the beat and pommie’ juice and the slight sugar hike.
What breakfast has the least effect on your blood sugar levels for you ?
While I was there I had a cholesterol test despite the fact that I am less inclined towards the cholesterol causes heart disease theory than ever before. My Total cholesterol was 5.02 and my HDL was 2.03. My LDL would therefore be just under 3. This gives a very good HDL to total cholesterol ratio ie divide HDL into Total giving in my case 2.47 which is well below the 3.5 you should be looking for. A more important question however might be how much oxidised LDL do I have.
One other point on the subject of smoothies. Too many people appear to associate them with a bullet blender full of fruit and in many cases the pulp is separated from the juice. It is interesting to note that all fruits lose some of their anti oxidant capacity when taken only as juice (that’s not to mention the increased sugar spike). However there is one fruit that has a higher anti oxidant capacity when taken as juice………..Tomato juice
I have recently made an alteration to my morning smoothie. I now have beetroot and spinach blended with some natural pomegranate juice. Studies showed an 83% increase in human serum PON-1 when people used pomegranate juice for a year. So whats the big deal with PON-1 ?. PON-1 is a molecule attached to the surface of HDL (the so called good cholesterol) and as we age HDL naturally loses some of it and thus suffers a reduction in its ability to cleanse arteries of oxidised LDL and plaque. Pharmaceutical companies would love to come up with a drug that raises PON-1 but in the form of Pomegranate juice we have a natural promoter. Sadly good Pommie juice is not cheap but you do not need loads of it in your smoothie, the rest of the needed fluid to give your smoothie some mush can be made up with water. I also blend my smoothie with a cheap Kenwood blender that does the job nicely. Wash your Krill oil tablet down with this Pommie based smoothie as I do.