No blog about LCHF or Low Inflammation Living would be complete if it did not tackle this issue. Yes, HIGH CHOLESTEROL!! The response to carbohydrate restriction varies from individual to individual. For some there’s no change, for others there’s an improvement and for others still, cholesterol goes up, in some cases WAY UP! Why the erratic, seemingly random response between individuals to LCHF? Further, if your cholesterol does go up, should you be worried?
Heather (not her real name) is 64 and from the USA. She has been keto since 2014 & got in touch with LIHF Living to tell us about her life of strict LCHF and high cholesterol. Heather kindly agreed to tell her story on the condition of anonymity. Her original email is shown below..
Lipids & Bio-Markers
Heather has been meticulous in her record keeping and also sent me an excel spreadsheet with her lipids and bio-markers dating back to 2008.
Heather’s overall cholesterol has increased substantially since going keto in 2014. So has her LDL (“bad cholesterol”). However, her TG/HDL ratio seems fairly steady. No doubt her physician would have her on statins in a heartbeat! Note as well that her waist circumference has fallen during the same period and is currently sitting right on limits for her gender & ethnicity. If you use waist/ height ratio as your guide, she comes in at 0.51, just above limits (0.50). Heather is exercising on a regular basis, remains generally “unconcerned” about her lipids & feels happier & healthier than before.
Heather is doing all the right things as far as I can see. After having exchanged several emails, the only MAJOR difference between her diet and mine is DAIRY..
If I were Heather I would be slightly concerned about my waist, something she admits in other emails is a problem, quote: “I am fighting the waist a bit, I admit.” Something inflammatory is preventing it from coming down to “comfortably” below limits. Mine crashed 5cm when I dropped all industrial seed oils and ghee. My latest lipids/ bio-markers also show an improvement since doing so. I have suggested dropping ALL dairy to see if that helps, which may also improve her lipid panel scores at the same time.
Heather talks about the correlation between her stress levels & LDL. Long-term stress is definitely inflammatory and can be a MAJOR external factor featuring on your Inflammation Pyramid. More on this in future posts..
I know of 2 other people, both health professionals, who are LCHF and have high cholesterol. One of them is also on statins because of a family history of CVD (father died in his forties from a heart attack). Again, the only difference between them and me is DAIRY. I have asked both to come forward with their stories, anonymously if necessary so that we can ALL learn. I appreciate that it’s potentially a sensitive subject and I can’t force them. Only time will tell whether they decide to or not..
My overall view is this: If you have identified EVERYTHING on your personal Inflammation Pyramid, including external factors such as stress, have done everything in your power to both eliminate/ minimize them AND get your waist to below limits, then you have done everything that you possibly can do to reduce your overall levels of inflammation. If after all this you still have high cholesterol, then so be it. In that case you just happen to be a person with high cholesterol, the same as some people have blue eyes and others have brown. High cholesterol in the context of high-carb has different connotations to high cholesterol in the context of lo-carb. However, we need more data on this to be certain. Since LCHF is fairly new, we need LOTS more people such as Heather to come forward with their stories. Only then can we start to draw some solid conclusions, meaning that the entire subject of LCHF and Low Inflammation Living is and remains very much a “work in progress”.
I would like to thank Heather for coming forward and providing us all with such a detailed health history.
Do you have a similar story to tell? Then please come forward, anonymously if necessary. Your privacy WILL be respected at all times. We are all here to learn!
I look forward to reading all of your comments..