Monday, 3 December 2012

Cholesterol changes

I thought I'd have a blood test to see if there had been any change to my cholesterol levels since I began following the intermitant fasting regime on 30 August 2012.

This involves having two days per week with intake of below 600 calories. It hasn't been much of a problem sticking to this.

I have always exercised well and eaten pretty healthily and my cholesterol levels were just about within range when I last had them checked in 2008.

The key figures are overall cholesterol and HDL cholesterol. The latter is not a different type of cholesterol but a measurement of the cholesterol surrounded by High Density Lipoproteins. This is known as 'good' cholesterol because it causes less damage and even repairs artery walls, unlike the globules of cholesterol surrounded by Low Density Lipoproteins (LDL).

Both HDL and LDL cholesterol is needed. It is the way cholesterol is transported to the cells where it is deposited to make the cells waterproof. As cholesterol is a fat it is not water soluble. And that is why it needs to be surrounded by lipoproteins to be transported through the blood instead of clumping together.

So here are my figures:

Total cholesterol 154 mg/dl (2008: 152 mg/dl - Ideal <200 mg/dl)

HDL cholesterol 46 mg/dl (2008: 40 mg/dl - Ideal >40 mg/dl Protective >60 mg/dl)

LDL cholesterol 96 mg/dl (2008: 98 mg/dl - Ideal <100 mg/dl)

So not a great deal of change over the course of 3 months, comparing these two data points from different laboratories.

If I am aiming to increase HDL cholesterol then I'm heading in the right direction. Over 60 mg/dl is meant to correlate to reduced risk of heart disease.

However, I'm not getting too excited as it naturally occurred to me that these differences may well be within experimental error.

Indeed, I turned up this research paper which suggests readings are subject to error of ± 20%, so the same person can vary in consecutive measurements between at risk and low risk groups, even when following the guidance of 12 hours fasting before the measurements. See:

Which means it is impossible to really conclude anything from these tests, though I probably have no reason to worry about my cholesterol lessons and may or may not be moving them in a healthier direction.

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