October 6, 2014

By the Numbers, and Why I'm Not Worried

I'd like to think that I'm a pretty honest person, but I am also very private.  I like to share things that work for me, but tend to leave out the messy, personal parts.
This is my attempt to be open about myself in a more transparent way.
I am pretty lucky in the genetic department.  My family has no real issue with heart disease or diabetes.
Yes, I see a lot of it as a nurse, and I realize that genetics only gets you so far in life.

There comes a point when you have to accept that your choices and lifestyle make a huge impact on what your life will look like.

Before discovering Trim, Healthy Mama in November of 2012, before pregnancy and my baby, I had been on a low-fat, vegan diet.  And I loved it.
I loved how I felt, I loved how I had energy and was eating healthy, living foods.
One of my main reasons for eating this restrictive way was because I wanted to be the healthiest I possibly could be.  Like the authors of THM, this led me for a time to a raw, vegan diet.  I'm not here to debate the good and bad of veganism.  Like most things in life, I believe that there is a valid time and place for vegan.  I also think that a focus on vegetables in your diet, and adding more, is never a bad thing.
But I wanted to ward off disease and lose weight and have a better cholesterol, but even as a vegan, I had always struggled in the weight department and often the lab one as well.  So adding the low-fat aspect to it really changed how I ate and lived.
I did, however, see an amazing change in my lipid profile.  The numbers looked amazing.

My cholesterol had always been a bit high.  Not horrible, but usually from 200-220.  I'd had doctors mention statins in passing but only if things changed for the worse.  I figured it was just the "in" drug and just didn't think any more about it.

I was kind of wondering what my results would look like now.  Would they be higher, better?  After all, I'm down about 25 pounds from my vegan, pre-pregnancy weight.  I'm exercising more.  Eating more good fats and good carbs.  How would THM really look as far as the numbers?

It took a while for me to process my results actually.  Some time to wrap my head around what it all meant.

This is where I was and where I currently am.
*All values in mg/dL
My initial reaction was a bit of a freak out. 
Having an amazing doctor helped.  His recommendation was to do nothing.  He feels that this is a great result when you look at the big picture.  This also goes along with the current physician guidelines from the American Heart Association as well.

Now I'm not out to diagnose anyone, including myself.  It's a matter of understanding what each of these numbers represent and see how they all have a meaning
There is so much information available with each specialty group having its own spin on the results.  WAPF will tell you a high cholesterol is fine and that low is a danger.  The authors of the China Study will tell you the exact opposite.
I figure the truth is probably somewhere in the middle?

My total cholesterol is high.  But I want to look not just at a total, but at what makes up the panel.  Generally we are told eat less meat, less processed foods, exercise and quit smoking.  But what if we already do most of that?  What if we do all of these things?

My diet is great.  I also exercise.  This is shown in my HDL, or high density lipoprotein.  Thinks "H" for healthy.   This is the number you want to be high as levels above 60 are associated with lower risk of heart attack and stroke.

LDL, or low density lipoproteins, are the bad cholesterol, and yes,  mine look kind of scary to me as well.  This is the one I'm currently working on by adding more E meals and fewer really, heavy S meals.  I've also consciously added in more fats for S meals from vegetable sources.  Think coconut oil, red palm oil, avocado and nuts.  More olive oil, less butter.  Also consider cutting some of the convenience foods with hidden white carbs?

Triglycerides are a type of fat found in your blood.  Mine are in a great place.  Triglycerides can be affected by fats in food, refined/white carbs in food and alcohol.  Fish can help to lower this level and maybe this is the result of my almost daily habit?

The thing is, most of these numbers are mainly altered by what you eat and how you live.  Things like smoking and a sedentary lifestyle can also contribute.  Sometimes they are related to genetics and how your body processes things.  
It is also important to take into consideration that there are ranges (I did not post).  Sometimes levels can reach dangerous places and intervention might be required.

Yes, my LDL is very high as is my total cholesterol, but the good HDL and triglycerides are in such great places it makes me not worry that heart issues or stroke are in my immediate future.
Doctors also look at the ratios between the values.  Mine are in a good place.

I work at getting exercise and maintain a healthy goal weight, I eat a  a pretty healthy diet based on whole-foods.  I also will add that I have a great resting heart rate and my blood pressure and blood glucose are ideal.  I have no chronic disease or issues that I am dealing with.
I think having knowledge guiding your choices is a good thing.  I think that early intervention is a very important thing, and I will be making sure that I focus on getting exercise regularly 3-5 days a week and adding more low-fat E meals.
Knowing that my levels can be better are making me aware that there is room for change through diet and puts that burden of responsibility on me.

If my overall picture of health starts to change, then it would be wise to re-evaluate, as it isn't just a set of labs, but the big picture, that can affect your health for the short- as well as long-term.
There is always room for improvement and I hope to see a drop in the total and LDL at my next check, but as long as the over-all picture remains the same, I still think I'm on the right track.

1 comment:

Linda Paradis said...

Thank you for the information that you gave us it helps in understanding the whole picture