(Breather) My athletic friend reached out to me recently to tell me he had a body scan revealing arterial blockage issues and the need for a pipe cleaning procedure. Yep, getting old brings some surprises and challenges, and it’s important to implement healthy habits and track your risk factors. Today, it’s easier than ever to self-quantify with online blood testing, but when you embark on the process of tracking your heart disease risk, it is integral that you are looking for (and at) the right information.
To ensure you receive the most accurate results, I would follow the advice of Dr. Cate Shanahan and Dr. Ron Sinha, who agree that the most beneficial and reliable method of tracking heart disease risk is by focusing on your triglycerides to HDL ratio. We all know HDL: “the good cholesterol” (or “nature’s garbage truck” as some call it) – the higher the levels, the better. HDL goes through the blood stream, scavenging and eliminating damaged cellular material, like small, dense LDL molecules, which unfortunately have a penchant for lodging on the walls of your heart, prompting the oxidation and inflammation of these molecules that leads to heart disease. Not getting enough sleep, eating a high-carbohydrate, high insulin producing diet, and either not exercising enough or over-exercising can all greatly affect your chances of heart disease. Simply put, you want good things to be happening in your blood in order to lower your risk. Obviously, examining your blood is a great way to deduce what’s going on internally, and for decades, doctors have tracked LDL cholesterol levels with the belief that this was the key to detecting heart disease risk.
However, it’s clear now that examining your triglyceride to HDL ratio is vastly superior to the oversimplified obsession with LDL which has led to widespread statin use, despite a recent UCLA meta study revealing that 80% of heart attack victims had LDL values considered to be in the safe range. Instead, take the focus off the LDL numbers and check out your triglycerides. Firstly, if you’re over 150, it is time to get that down (like, yesterday) because that is too freakin’ high! A triglyceride level over 150 indicates that your bloodstream is seriously overwhelmed by the amount of fat circling around in it, so if you are over 150, then try minimizing (or even full-on cutting out) the amount of refined grains and sugars in your diet, and see what happens after three weeks of this change. Chances are, you’ll find your numbers have gone way down. 150+ is high, but you can decrease it in a matter of weeks if you really commit to making the necessary tweaks in your lifestyle.
For some, even under 150 is too loose – Dr. Sinha recommends you aim to get your triglycerides under 100. It is critical to get your triglycerides to HDL ratio under 3.5 to 1 (if you’re over, you’ll find yourself in the “ticking time bomb” category). Ideally, Dr. Shanahan and Dr. Sinha want to see a 1:1 ratio. Getting your triglycerides even with your HDL is the goal, so let’s say you get your HDL at 60, 65: then you’ll want to drop you’re your triglycerides to 60 – 65 as well.
Many more details are offered in this show about good tests to order and values to strive for. Visit places like DirectLabs.com or UltraLabTests.co m and order some tests. All you have to do is purchase your test, head to a nearby lab for a blood draw, then receive your results by email in a few days. Then you can take action with medical professional if necessary or do some dietary modification to correct red flags.
Brad reminds you that it is important to get blood tests frequently. [04:52]
Stay strong and fit by modifying your lifestyle. [06:00]
The hard choices pay off down the line. Get a routine. [09:24]
What a disaster to think that 71% of the fuel we’re putting in our bodies is merely low octane fuel to burn for energy that’s almost entirely deficient in the micronutrients that we need to be healthy. [11:31]
Move around more! People with a devoted fitness regimen still show signs of metabolic dysfunction and disease patterns. [15:30]
Keep your heart rate in the low range of 180 minus your age when exercising. [21:07]
Once in a while push your body; do something challenging. [24:00]
Have workouts short in duration and explosive in nature. [25:22]
Should you feel sore after working out? [27:14]
We should have periods of brain downtime. [28:58]
Dim Light Melatonin Onset is when you allow the sleep hormone and restorative hormone flood the bloodstream so you can sleep. [30:54]
Get Over Yourself Podcast
Brad: 00:00 Welcome to the get over yourself podcast. This is author and athlete, Brad Kearns, discovering ways to be healthy, fit and happy in hectic, high-stress, modern life. So let’s slow down and take a deep breath. Take a cold plunge and expertly balance that competitive intensity with an appreciation of the journey. That’s the theme of the show. Here we go.
Brad: 03:58 Hello listeners, tips to avoid heart disease and delay aging. Sounds good. This piece is dedicated to my friend who out of the blue reached out to me saying that he just got a diagnosis of having some heart trouble, some blockages with a routine scan, the kind you see in the paper advertised at a discount price. How great that he went in there and ended up getting a full procedure, uh, to do some uh, pipe cleaning. Uh, but uh, my initial response was to offer up some sensible, doable lifestyle tips to help turn things around in the areas of diet, exercise, sleep and also looking at some blood testing strategies out of the gate so you can sort of self diagnose and uh, self quantify your journey toward a along healthy happy life. I know that most of us get into the doctor and have a physical once a year, but the great explosion of online blood testing, uh, has many great options out there where you can just login to one of my favorites as direct labs.com.
Brad: 05:10 No affiliation. They should sponsor my show though. Huh? These guys are great. I’ve done a lot of business with them. You log into the website and you can shop all the cart a, an assortment of different blood tests and pay, uh, pennies on the dollar to what you might see build an insurance when you go and get a complete panel, uh, with anti-aging and male hormone or female hormone panels. You’re talking about over $1,000 worth of blood work, but they have specials and they have packages. And I get one that’s called, um, 10 most important tests or male comprehensive hormone panel anti-aging panel. They have assorted names and you can look through a lot of good, uh, blood test packages that will give you, uh, not only the complete blood count that has the, uh, basics of and whether there was any, uh, immediate concerns going through your bloodstream infections or what have you, inflammation, but also some of the more important parameters for longterm heart disease risk factor.
Brad: 06:09 And most importantly, uh, as communicated very nicely by Dr Cate Shanahan and Dr Ron Sinha, uh, the progressive, uh, medical experts are now, uh, tracking heart disease risk most accurately by looking at one triglycerides to HDL ratio, triglycerides to HDL. We all know that HDL is the good cholesterol, they call it nature’s garbage truck. The higher levels, the better because HDL goes through the bloodstream and scavengers and recycles or eliminates the damaged cellular material. Uh, the small dense LDL molecules that have the propensity to lodge on the walls of your heart disease and initiate the heart disease process, the oxidation and inflammation of these molecules. Uh, the undesirable immune response, the macrophages coming to the area causing a, uh, inflammatory response and then you get a clot or a heart attack. So, uh, that’s the bad news of the heart disease story driven strongly by oxidation and inflammation from adverse lifestyle practices, particular and literally a high carbohydrate, high insulin producing diet as well as not getting enough sleep overexercising or not exercising enough and all those things that we’ve communicated at length in books like the primal blueprint.
Brad: 07:31 So to steer clear of heart disease, you want good things to be happening in your blood. And for decades we have a obsessively tracked LDL cholesterol levels. And, uh, with the alarm bill sounding, if you’re over a certain threshold, uh, usually it’s 200 for your total cholesterol count. Uh, the medical establishment will put you on status which have an assortment of uh, really disturbing and health compromising side effects, but it will lower cholesterol. All manner of cholesterol including HDL will being lowered by your Statin regimen. And now some really important studies. Mehta studies, Dr Sinha references one from UCLA. A meta study is a study of hundreds of other studies on heart disease. Uh, this study, uh, revealing that even a, uh, what’s considered a safe or a low cholesterol number, uh, is no guarantee of heart disease prevention. And in fact, the results of the study revealed that 80% of heart attack victims had a cholesterol level that was deemed to be in the safe range when they dropped.
Brad: 08:39 Why? Because many of them were probably already medicated by Statins because they were high disease risk factor patients. So, so artificially lowering the LDL value a was inconsequential to their heart disease risk. Instead, what we want to see is the triglycerides. That’s the level of fat circulating in your blood. We want that lower because that’s an indication if you have high triglycerides that you’re in this fat storage, inflammatory oxidative stress pattern that you’re setting the stage for heart disease because your bloodstream is overwhelmed as indicated by too much fat circulating around in it too high of a triglyceride level. So it’s urgent to get that number under one 50 immediately. If your triglycerides are over one 50 you have high heart disease risk factors and you can do this so quickly and easily. By minimizing your intake of refined grains and sugars in the Diet for as little as three weeks, you can drop that triglyceride level hopefully down into a safe range.
Brad: 09:48 My friend Rabo had a triglycerides of six 26 at a medical checkup. This was years ago after uh, talking to me about primal blueprint for a long time and then finally deciding to give the diet a shot. And he got his triglycerides under one 50 in a matter of around six weeks. So he went from ticking time bomb by many estimations into safe range just from cleaning up the Diet. So you want that number under one 50. Now Doctor Sinha, uh, wants you to have it under 100. So one 50 is too much leeway and he wants you to, uh, revise that goal and get those triglycerides under 100. Uh, alternatively you can look at this ratio and it’s absolutely critical to get your triglycerides to HDL ratio under 3.5 to one. So if you’re over 3.5 to one ratio, you are in that ticking time bomb category and both Dr k, Dr [inaudible] want to see that ideally at one to one or even better.
Brad: 10:49 So we want the triglycerides to be even with the HDL and getting your HDL up and over 40 is, uh, of critical importance. We do not want to see that number under 40, like to see it up at 60, maybe even higher in some cases. But if you’re looking at an HDL number of 60, 65, something really great in the thumbs up category, then you want to drop those triglycerides well under a hundred and perhaps get them down to 60, 65. Many of the, uh, devoted, uh, primal Paleo ketogenic eaters can well exceed that one-to-one ratio and see triglycerides down in the 30s and forties and HDL up in the 50s, 60s and 70s. Uh, there is some concern that, uh, triglycerides can get too low, but this is talking to a very distinct Freako population that’s deep into Keto as well as doing ambitious workouts and you know, draining that cellular energy routinely, which is a healthy practice, uh, stimulates mitochondrial biogenesis when you starve your cells of energy by fasting or doing intense workouts or prolonged workouts.
Brad: 11:57 But if you’re kind of going to the extreme where you’re doing a bunch of workouts, not eating a lot of carbs and carrying on day after day a, your triglycerides are dropping into the twenties and thirties. Uh, some folks, Chris Kelly at Nourish Balance Thrive, uh, saw one of my blood results and said, yeah, that could be a little low and maybe you should start eating a little more carbohydrate to kind of get that triglyceride back up above. I think I was in the twenties or thirties. Uh, so that’s kind of an aside, but the main goal for humanity to save, save humanity is to get that triglyceride number well under a hundred and strive for a one to one ratio with the important, uh, nature’s garbage truck scavengers, the HDL cholesterol. So when you go get a blood test, you can routinely have those appearing on even a complete blood count across 30 bucks or 40 bucks to get a routine test.
Brad: 12:46 Uh, see how you’re doing right now with heart disease risk factors. Uh, another one is, and this is still in the same category of metabolic disease risk factors, uh, take a look at your fasting blood glucose. Of course, we’re all well aware of that. And uh, the diabetics are tracking that throughout the day. Uh, you can get your own personal meter, uh, like the precision Xtra, precision x, t r a. You can find that on Amazon for 30 bucks. You buy these little test strips and you can test both glucose and Ketones, uh, whenever you want in the comfort of your own home and the discomfort of pricking your finger, uh, with the, uh, tiny poking needle. But then you get a drop of blood, run it into the meter and you can see that all important glucose value, which we want to strive to see under 100 when we’re in a fasted state over 100 and up to one 20, uh, we’re talking about prediabetic and now apparently they are bumping up the threshold because so many people are in that prediabetic zone that they now are talking about 120 and over is the prediabetic danger zone.
Brad: 13:53 So basically with the collective, uh, poor dietary patterns and increasing rates of, uh, uh, body mass index and obesity and modern society, we’re giving ourselves a little leeway in bumping the numbers up. But why don’t we listeners here strive to keep that fasting blood glucose under 100 routinely and that’s a really good sign that your body is metabolically healthy. That’s probably going to go hand in hand with a healthy triglyceride level as opposed to seeing this fasting glucose, uh, dancing around over 100 routinely. And that would also pair with a measurement called hemoglobin A1C or on a blood test. It might read HB A one C and this is a measure, an estimation of your average glucose over a longer period of time than just the snapshot of Fasting Blood Glucose. So the HBA, one c value, typically you’ll land between the numbers of five and six and anything over 6.0 is another warning sign or a prediabetic red flag because that means that your blood cells are carrying a lot of glucose routinely.
Brad: 15:06 As we look back over, I believe it’s sort of a a six week look back where we’re talking about the lifespan of a red blood cell. And then in HB A1C value, uh, these are some of the best things we can do to, uh, track disease risk but not perfect. Some people, uh, object to the accuracy of the HB A1C for example, if you have longer lasting red blood cells, Dr Tommy Wood explains, you might have a higher number than you otherwise would and it might show sort of a risk factor of being over 6.0 but if you have good, healthy fasting blood glucose in the 80s, a someone who’s a real trooper and following, uh, ancestral living patterns, a ketogenic eating patterns, that kind of thing, you’re going to have nice low blood glucose and not worry too much. If some of these are outliers.
Brad: 15:57 Similarly, uh, there’s a value for sex hormone binding globulin that goes hand in hand with your testosterone values or for females tracking estrogen, testosterone, things like that. And if you have a high value here, you might be one of these people who is highly insulin sensitive. That’s the good one. Not Insulin resistant, that’s the bad one. But insulin sensitivity comes from eating a healthy diet, low and processed carbohydrates, uh, burning a lot of energy through exercise. And Insulin sensitive basically means using insulin efficiently, uh, not needing to produce a ton of it to get the job done because your cells are sensitive to the signaling of insulin and receptive to insulin, bringing nutrients into the cell to recover from exercise, recover from life, and not in that insulin resistant pattern where because you’ve overwhelmed these delicate hormonal systems, your body does not respond well to the signal of insulin.
Brad: 16:55 The, the bloodstream is, uh, a stocked with, uh, too much glucose and it’s floating around there too much, too much insulin is being produced because, uh, the signal is not getting, uh, heard very well by the cells. And then you’re in this, uh, pattern of, uh, sometimes you might have heard the term, uh, metabolic syndrome, which is a catchall term for the metabolic disease patterns of modern life where we’re eating too much, not exercising enough, uh, filling our bloodstream with bad stuff and letting the heart disease process play out. So get tested. It’s cheap. It’s easy track. These important things. Uh, triglycerides to HDL ratio, fasting blood glucose, HB A1C, hemoglobin A1C . There’s also an inflammatory marker called high sensitivity, c reactive protein or c reactive protein you might have heard about. And this is a sign of your general state of inflammation, a systemic inflammation and a low number is good.
Brad: 17:57 It means your body’s in inflammatory balance. And if that high sensitivity, C reactive protein, H S C R P is up and out of the normal range or in the high level of the normal range. A, this could be an indication that you’re in an overly stressful lifestyle pattern and the inflammatory processes are poorly regulated. This could be from uh, eating bad foods, over exercising, uh, not getting enough sleep, uh, being an asshole to your wife. Things like that will definitely raise those inflammatory markers. So direct labs.com uh, ultra labs.com is another testing venue and you can go and explore the wonderful world of ordering your own tests and tracking your own results. And of course everything looks great or, uh, there’s a concern here or concern there. That’s when you might want to take the next step to reach out to a functional medicine specialist or even a medical doctor and go in there with blood tests in hand saying, Hey, I thought I might come see you because I’m a little concerned about these numbers.
Brad: 19:00 But for the most part, uh, we’re talking about taking a look at things, tracking them over time, and perhaps making some dietary adjustments and experiments like my friend Robo who took those triglycerides down just by cutting out junk food. It didn’t have to go through the medical system and get dosed with prescription medication when he was able to do it by dietary intervention. That’s not to say some random get over yourself. Guy on a podcast is trying to counter what might happen when you go into the medical system and get treated by experts. But at the very least you can try to optimize your lifestyle practices as you possibly are working hand in hand with medical professionals. And this goes for the, uh, the, the top five list of the most used prescriptions in modern life. So we have statins I believe is number one. We have sleep medication, which is up there. We have antidepressants and we have these, uh, oh, the purple pill, Nexium, the digestive aids. And so all the four that I just mentioned off the top of my head that are used by tens or hundreds of millions of people across the world can also be the same conditions that those are addressing can also be very effectively addressed by lifestyle modifications.
Brad: 20:16 Clean up your diet, maybe have a discussion with your doctor about your desire to, uh, eliminate the sleep medication at some point. Uh, when you get the clean, uh, the thumbs up. Same with the statin medication. Same with the, uh, digestive medication. These things have massive side effects. Uh, downstream. Doctor Phil Maffetone writes and talks a lot about this where if you’re taking any kind of prescription medication, he wants you to lower your training heartbeat by 10 beats per minute. So we talk a lot about 180 minus age for training. Oh, taking 10 beats off that when you’re already frustrated about going so slow on your routine, typical workout. Uh, that can be a, a real eyeopener to realize that the effect of any kind of medication is to kind of minimize the ability of energy output for routine workouts. So we want to get that body clean burning machine without the need for prescription drugs as a healthy esteemed goal that probably no one would dispute, not even your doctor that’s dispensing those medications. So good luck to you on that note. And that’s a little breather show about blood testing a while. Package this with another one where uh, I wrote my friend some quick tips for diet, exercise, and lifestyle that he can implement. Thanks for listening to the breather show
Brad: 21:35 Thank you for listening to the show. We would love your feedback atg firstname.lastname@example.org and we would also love if you could leave a rating and a review on iTunes or wherever you listen to podcasts. I know it’s a hassle. You have to go to desktop iTunes, click on the tab that says ratings and reviews and then click to rate the show anywhere from five to five stars. And it really helps spread the word so more people can find the show and get over themselves because they need to. Thanks for doing it.