T Nation

My Mothers Cholesterol


#1

Hey Guys. After seeing the thread on eggs and cholesterol I thought that I would come here for help. My mother cholesterol was recently tested out at 8.6; and she asked me to help her to get it down through diet as she does not want to use drugs. She is 56 and she is active going to the gym and running 4x per week.


I read through some back issues and here is what I found. Fibre, fish oil (omega 3) and basically the other "Foods That Make You Look Good Nekid" are in order. Where as saturated fats or hydrogenated oils are out. Her doctor also told her to stay away from milk products and eggs. As far as the milk goes, why would she have to stay away? Could she simply use skimmed milk? Is there anything else that I should or should not have her eating?


As of now her diet is somthing like this: breakfast - piece of fruit; lunch - sandwich with meat, cheese and lettuce; supper - rice, chicken and a salad; snack - chips. I have got her eating flax bread for her sandwiches and have eliminated the cheese and the chips. Is there anything else that she could be eating. Would it be okay for me to up her protein consumption a bit?


Sorry for all the questions. I realize that this is long and it is next to immpossible to answer all that but if anyone has any ideas that would be great. Thanks in advance.


#2

What were the units on that measure? I know that European cholesterol values are reported differently that US. If that is her Chol/HDL ratio, then she needs to make the lifestyle changes, but she is also likely going to need meds. Please report as much detail as you can. Units, LDL, HDL, triglycerides and I can give you a little better advice.


#3

Hey, I'm sure that you've got the cholesterol # wrong. Blood work for cholesterol is usually divided into Total, HDL (good), LDL (bad), and triglycerides (fat)--and depending on the labs you might get VLDL and a precalculated ratio. That being said, Total cholesterol is usually used as the index for most people, and 8.6 is unmeasurable....hell, below 100 (if you meant to type 86) is good as well. Check with your mom and see if you got the numbers correct. The first step in treatment is usually a trial of diet/lifestyle modification, which your advice and the MD's are on target--I would add limiting/avoiding red meet. The next and sometimes inevitable step is drug therapy with a class of drugs called "statins". These have a pretty low side effect profile (the "muscle breakdown" or rhabdomyolysis is extremely rare) and are great drugs--very effective. Some folks just have a prediliction to high cholesterol despite their lifestyle. (Which is why all of us active/healthy people should be tested regularly)


#4

Like your mother, mine also has "high" cholesterol. That is to say out of the average range. Good news is that for older women "high" cholestrol is not as much of a problem as some doctors think it is. Check out a book called Heart Myths. It will be covered in detail there. Best of Luck.


#5

My father's side has a history of high cholesterol as well, recently my 13 year old brother was tested with higher levels of triglycerides, its manily genetics but could be controled to some extent with diet. Some doctors now believe that its better to start the drug therapy (mild dosage) even at an earlier age rather than to wait. My own levels are just above 200, but mostly the good one due to lifting.


#6

Hey guys,

My mom did get a full report but I was unable to get it from her tonight. I will get it tomorrow and post the information then. Thanks for the help so far.


#7

Okay. Here is the full scoop - Cholesterol = 8.35 mmol/L; Triglycerides = 1.64mmol/L; HDL= 1.44mmol/L; LDL = 6.16mm?L
Glucose Fast = 5.3 mmol/L


#8

nix the flax, add 6g+ of fish oil, immediately. shoudld definately lower the lipid profiles


#9

I just noticed something looking at her results again. Her HDL count of 1.44 mmol/L is well above the desired normal range of >0.90 mmol/L; while her LDL count is too high at 6.16 mmol/L with a desired range of 0.00 - 3.40 mmol/L.

So I guess her real need is to have her LDL levels lowered. Is there any specific changes that would promote lower LDL levels? I will Up the fish oil as dman suggested - is there anything else? Thanks again.


#10

bump for anyone who might know.


#11

Fish oil, lots of soluble fiber. No high GI carbs. That should get you started. Adding more healthy fats in place of junk carbs. Plenty of lean proteins also. Not all of these will directly impact her cholesterol, but changing her overall dietary approach will get her started.


Next step, fat loss. Exercise does a lot to improve HDL, but her HDL is already high, so you need to combine exercise and diet and get her to lose some body fat. As body fat goes down, total and LDL cholesterol go down and the HDL goes up.


#12

To convert mmol to mg/dl use 38.6. (5.2 mmol = 200 mg/dl)
Total = 332 mg/dl
LDL = 238
HDL = 56
TG = 63
the glucose is 95 (conversion is 18)

If you want help Jason Norcross has my info. Good luck.


#13

Your mom's cholesterol is pretty messed up. Unless she is willing to really start changing her diet around and doing regular aerobic exercise, she should see her physician about medication. Walking around with a LDL > 200mg/dl is not a good situation.


Ultimate goals:


Diet - lean proteins, low GI fibrous carbs, healthy fats


Aerobic exercise - daily for 30-60 minutes


Strength training - won't necessarily fix her lipids, but if she is going to change everything else, she should include this also.


#14

Thanks for the information guys. One last thing. Her doctor told her not to use milk products. Why is that and can she have skim milk or no fat yogourt?


#15

Oh yah - what about whey or casein (fat free cottage cheese) protein as a lean protein source? Would they be out as a result of the no milk? Thanks for all of your help.


#16

There could be several reasons why she should stay away from milk products, but unless you know why the doc said "stay away" from them, I can't really give you much advice on the topic.


#17

The advice to cut out dairy is probably for one of two reasons. A) The doc doesn't really know a whole lot about nutrition, but "knows" that dairy is "bad." B) Knows the difference but figures that trying to split hairs about low-fat versus regular versus 1% versus 2% versus soy milk, etc. is a losing battle with most patients.