There is a lot of confusion about cholesterol levels and human health.
Is your Dr. recommended level of total serum cholesterol under 200 justified?
What would the ideal total cholesterol level be for your health? Here is an interesting graph I came across. It measures cholesterol levels and mortality rates from 164 countries around the world. There are some surprising results. It seems that the *ideal* total cholesterol level is higher than what doctors recommend. By ideal I mean it has the smallest correlation to heart disease and overall mortality.
Those with a total cholesterol level of 208 were the least likely to die from heart disease. About 220 deaths per 100,000 people.
People with a cholesterol level of 150 accounted for 600 deaths from heart disease per 100,000. Meaning those with total cholesterol level of 150 were nearly 3x as likely to die from heart disease than those with cholesterol levels just over 200.
Only when cholesterol levels go above 244 do we find that high cholesterol is worse than having a cholesterol level of 150.
The ideal cholesterol level to have for not dying of any reason, not just heart disease is 223. But this is largely to a dramatic decrease in infectious and parasitic diseases.
My father recently cut down on red meat, and egg yolks and his total cholesterol dropped from 201 to 165. The popular thinking on this is that he just did a great thing for his heart. Yet according to this graph he just doubled his chance of dying from heart disease!
Is this result replicated in other studies? Apparently yes. In a study done by the Japanese they found that patients with total cholesterol levels between 200-219 were the least likely to die. The optimal LDL level was considered between 120-139. A standard lipid profile you get during a routine check up will tell you that having a LDL level of under 130 and a total cholesterol level of under 200 is ideal, but that doesn’t seem to mesh with this data.
According to these results my fathers total cholesterol drop from 201 to 165 increased his risk of mortality by 72%. And his lowering of his LDL from 138 to 101 increased his rate of mortality 20%.
In Conclusion: These are only a few studies, and I am sure there are probably other studies with different results. But at the very least one has to wonder whether or not the relationship between cholesterol and heart disease is really as scary as people make it out to be. There in fact have been a plethora of books on the subject lately that argue that relationship between cholesterol and heart disease is a myth. I’ll tell you one thing, my total cholesterol level at my last check up was 212, and I’m definitely not worried about. It may even be ideal.
When I was younger I always used to wonder how did our ancestors ever survive without toothbrushes and toothpaste? Didn’t they all lose their teeth by the time they were 15? I brushed my teeth twice a day, went to the dentist every six months and STILL got cavities. Our ancestors must have been chewing apples with their gums right?
Well it turns out that our hunter-gathere ancestors didn’t get cavities. Like ever.
And when I switched to a paleo diet two years ago I stopped getting cavities as well. I skipped out on the dentist for two years and when I showed up.. Zero cavities. I had cut out all the processed sugars that I was sure was mucking up my teeth and gums. But it turns out that the answer as to why Hunter-gatherer’s didn’t get cavities might be even a little more complex than that.
In a study published in the journal Nature Genetics, a team of Australian scientists have come up with a different hypothesis. Yes processed sugars ruin your teeth, but our ancestor’s teeth went bad long before the invention of Coca Cola. It all started with the invention of agriculture and our diet changing from that of meat and vegetables to now eating carbohydrate rich foods such as wheat and barley. The problem with this change in diet is that harmful bacteria, especially adapt at feeding off of these carbohydrates began to flourish in our new bread and pasta eating mouths and won out over the friendly bacteria that were the original inhabitants. This lead to gum disease, cavities, and perhaps even diseases not normally associated with the mouth such as diabetes and heart disease. The effect of having your mouth in a state of constant immune response in order to fight off bad bacteria can lead to problems elsewhere in the body.
Just another reason to ditch the grains and start eating Paleo. Avoiding a mouthful of harmful bacteria.
You’ve decided you are going to try the paleolithic diet. You’ve read this post and have a general idea of what it is you are supposed to eat, and what it is you are supposed to avoid. You throw out everything you own that isn’t healthy and you make your way to the grocery storeonly to realize…’wait, what exactly should I buy?’.
Never fear, here is a list of staple items to get..
1st thing: throw out everything not paleo.
Staples to have:
Spices – Will take time and some investment. Just buy as recipe’s call for them.
Tomatoes – Diced
Frozen fruits (for smoothies).
guacamole (or avocados)
Moderation staples: Buy depending on diet needs. Trying to loss weight – buy less fruit and nuts. Nuts can also start being addicting and too easy to snack on.