I had a dirty little secret up until a few days ago… I had terribly high cholesterol even while on my low-carb paleo diet. gasp Yes, I know that the internets abounds with people who say “Cholesterol doesn’t matter but even if it does mine is amazing!” Well I was NOT one of them. My total LDL was 280, triglycerides were 130 and my HDL was an abysmal 24. This was after 10 months of following a strict low-carb (usually ketogenic) diet and the last 6 months I was also paleo.
I had lots of theories as to why my LDL was high (resolving fatty liver, diabetes, maybe I had hypothyroidism) and I also kept comforting myself with studies that showed that high cholesterol in women is correlated with less heart disease. But there was no getting around the worryingly low HDL and for someone on a low-carb diet my triglycerides didn’t add up either. I would pour over Chris Mastejohn’s work and podcasts (his most recent appearance on Ask the Low Carb Experts with Jimmy Moore is quite good!) and still come up with no actionable ideas.
Well now I think I know what happened! The short story is that I had an infection (see long embarrassing story below). Once I discovered the infection and mostly cleared it up, my lipids are pretty damn good: total cholesterol is 170, triglycerides are 68 and my HDL is 46. Which is nice because now I can join the annoying group of people who don’t get bitched at by their doctors for having high cholesterol. But I’m not going to now proclaim to the world that my diet is what fixed everything. There’s just more to it than diet alone, but more on that later.
I’m just very glad that it’s better, not because the numbers matter to me that much but because I was feeling horrible and now I’m back to obsessively cleaning the house and dorking around on the internet. Though having good numbers certainly do help (especially when trying to convince a cardiologist that my white coat syndrome doesn’t matter!). Again something I’ll save for another post.
So if your diet isn’t magically improving your cholesterol, maybe you should take a look at the rest of your health. There is more to life than just numbers!
Long Embarrassing Story
I used CamelBak water bottles (think sippy cups for adults) all the time. I had one on my nightstand, one in the office and another for around the house. I washed all 3 in the dishwasher though admittedly not as often as I should have. For the past few months I had been feeling more run down and by December I was back to taking 3 hour naps on Saturdays and Sundays just to make it through the week. I couldn’t breathe through my nose but had no snot, my nasal passages were simply that inflamed which seemed to rule out the usual sinus infection. I also had splitting headaches as well.
Then one day as I was dismantling my bottles I took a good hard look at the hole in the lid. Some of the most disgusting black, orange and green mold I had EVER seen was growing in each one. To think that I was drinking out of those a couple times an hour still makes me want to gag. After throwing them away and switching to cups (and subsequently guarding them from being tipped over by the cats), all of my symptoms have been going away. I refused to do antibiotics because I love my gut bacteria too much for mass genocide so it’s been a slow recovery.