Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Weight, Cholesterol Down

Since October of last year, I've lost 25 lbs and have lowered my cholesterol. This, simply by applying the excellent advice I received from Bend nutritionist Gina Bailey (whose shop is located in the Boom Boom Beauty Room building, one of my favorite building names—and I hope it's one of yours, too). 

The process has been painless. I had to give up on junky food, eat more, smaller meals, and get into the habit of making nutritiously-dense, low-carbohydrate and low-sugar meals high in protein, which is extra-challenging for us non-meat eaters because we have fewer options for proteins. 

But I'm a closeted chef so I really don't mind the cooking. No, I really don't. I enjoy the ritual of chopping and sauteéing, seasoning and dishing.

People have noticed the change. Downtown, at Santiago's Top Leaf Maté shop (excellent maté, I'm a purist, as my reader knows, and only drink it raw) I ran into a young woman who works at the Wine Shop next door. She asked whether I had changed my hair or something because I looked younger?

(Sweet kid. I made a note to give her a bigger tip next time, and maybe write her into my will.)

I felt pleased. I said I've lost weight.

But there is a bigger picture here, my friend. This is not just about getting a compliment from a kind person, this is about seeing the objective health benefits that accrue from weight loss and from change in diet. 

I'm talking about real data from lab tests. The kind your doctor can discuss with you, like my M.D. did with me yesterday. 

We reviewed the results of last week's blood tests and my cholesterol profile has dramatically improved:

Collection Date

Component Range 01/25/10 03/24/10 05/28/10 07/08/10 01/13/11
Cholesterol OPT: < 200 161 181 144 169 126
Triglycerides 30-150 88 88 112 105 48
HDL OPT: > 40 54 56 46 54 50
LDL OPT: <100 89 107 76 94 66
VLDL 4 – 40 18 18 22 21 10
CHOL/HDL OPT: < 4.97 3 3.2 3.1 3.1 2.5
NON-HDL CHOL OPT: < 130 107 125 98 115 76
Big changes, and all for the better. Cholesterol is down, LDL is down, HDL is up.

Here's what I find interesting: 

  1. I have been on statins, cholesterol-reducing drugs, since 2005, and on the highest dosage of simvastatin a doctor can easily justify giving since 2009. Prior to changing my foods, my lipids profile was not looking good.
  2. These improvements in cholesterol and the rest of the lipids are not correlated to BMI or weight loss, so this improvement comes entirely from diet.
  3. This food plan has me eating the opposite of what we are normally advised to eat: Instead of avoiding cholesterol-rich foods, I was told to eat whole eggs because a body needs cholesterol, and instead of avoiding saturated fats, I was told to cook with highly-saturated fatty acids coconut oil.

Results contrary to what most of us believe. Go figure. Gina gave me some papers to read about cholesterol, but I figured I'd just skip the reading this time and simply follow her advice. The evidence is in the lab results, and they speak volumes.

My blood pressure and heart rate are also down (my resting HR is now 61), and other than some BPH (normal for us old guys), I'm feeling right good.

My internist is pleased, my nutritionist is pleased, and Mrs Elliott is tickled. 

I'm fortunate to have such good support.


  1. Very impressive! (inspirational too)

  2. Very impressive results, Jack. Except as I read the chart it looks like HDL is down slightly, not up. But the HDL/LDL ratio has improved.

    Couple words of advice: Drink red wine and take an Omega-3 supplement to raise the HDL, and take saw palmetto capsules for the BPH.

  3. Oh, a question: Are you still on statins?

  4. Raising HDL is on my list o' things to discuss with Gina on Monday, though it is comfortably higher than the level considered too low.Dunno how high it wants to be to be optimal.

    I am still on statins. Gina is urging me to discontinue them, but I want to get my M.D. involved in that discussion. I had a body scan done ten or so years ago and plaque was seen in major arteries, so I want to be careful about this.

    I am consuming omega-3's, but from non-animal sources and it's harder to get high-quality EFAs from those sources than from fish oil capsules. Walnuts, flax seed oil, stuff like that.

    Regarding my old prostate (love how many texts describe the prostate as being about the same size and shape as a horse chestnut, which leaves me wondering what the heck a horse chestnut looks like), it is enlarged but I'm asymptomatic -- no problems with /micturation/ so it's not a high profile issue for me. But maybe I should start taking saw palmetto extract to keep it that way. Thanks for the suggestion.

    Red wine, now -- that's never a bad idea. I might have a glass or two this evening.

  5. Exercise raises the HDL too -- even moderate exercise. Not as effectively as Omega 3's and red wine, though, in my experience.

    Mrs. Blackdog's lipid profile is insane -- her HDL actually is higher than her LDL. I tell her she has the blood chemistry of a dog.

    The horse chestnut:

  6. Oh, and saw palmetto has the added benefit of making your moobs bigger:

  7. That horse chestnut looks all kind of spiky and pointy. That can't be right to have something like that up my backside.

  8. I think the prostate gland is more like the smooth, rounded nut that's inside the spiky husk. Hope so, anyway.

  9. Great progress. Recently I went from 204 to 179 over a period of months. I too am on simvistatin but my numbers are doing fine. I might recommend brown rice and black beans as a pretty good protein dish along with fresh salsa and a bit of cilantro and yucatan lime.

    Works for me.



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