Tuesday, December 11, 2012

BIG increases in HDL and heart protection....

Today's Post:  Tuesday, 12-11-2012

Earlier this week, I got an email with answers to questions by Peter Hibberd, M.D.

His brief article:

What Can I Do to Boost My HDL? was actually written first on Wednesday, November 21, 2012,  week before last.

He lists regular exercise and taking niacin and taking omega 3 supplements as ways to increase your HDL

He says that the effects of these are not additive and that adding 3 to 6 points total to your HDL level is about all you can expect from doing these things.

Meanwhile, I’ve done a set of things over time that have raised my HDL from the mid fifties to the mid nineties and my last HDL reading was 105. 

That 40 point increase is way more than 3 to 6!!

(Maybe my genetics for HDL are favorable; but the huge increase in HDL and my family background of heart attacks suggest that this effect was and is NOT genetic.)

It seems I’ve done some things outside of Dr Hibberd’s experience!

I’ve gradually found out what some of them are and why some of them work.

The best news is that the most effective methods lower HDL because they lower the risk of heart disease.  And, they all have other health benefits!

In fact, recent research found that just taking a drug that increased the HDL reading without doing those methods did little to lower the risk of heart disease. 

When high HDL readings reflect high heart protection, that’s quite a different story!

A.  I’m indebted to Dr Randall Stafford from the Stanford Prevention Center for the knowledge I list next.

The key factor to look at is the number of small particle LDL particles in the blood.  It’s been found that these particles are so tiny they stick into the molecular wall of your blood vessels and cause plaque build up and I suspect trigger inflammation which then speeds up plaque build up.

But here’s the two key insights he shared at a talk I was lucky enough to hear.

1.  The one he stated directly is this.  You don’t have to get the expensive direct test for these particles because research, I think at Harvard, found that you get an almost exact indication of how many of these you have by looking at the ratio of HDL to triglycerides and an inexpensive lipid panel has those along with total cholesterol and LDL.

So, High HDL & low triglycerides is very protective.  Low HDL and very high triglycerides combined will kill you eventually.

2.  The hugely important fact that he did not state directly has several parts.

If you stop doing the things that increase the number of small particle LDL particles directly and begin to do the things that lower the number of small particle LDL particles directly your HDL will go up and your triglycerides will fall.

And, if you do all those things, the resulting increase in your HDL AND your actual heart protection will go up by quite a bit.  This effect can be far larger than an added 6 point increase in HDL and I think often is.

Similarly, actions and foods that research finds cause the HDL levels of people who do them to go down and/or their triglycerides go up are indirectly but in my view conclusively proved to cause an increase in the number of small particle LDL particles in people who do them.

B.  Enough general stuff, what will protect you and boost the heck out of your HDL levels due to the actual protection you get?

1.  Taking niacin lowers the number of small particle LDL particles.  That’s why it not only increases HDL but lowers triglycerides.  And, the health effect is strong enough the death rate from all causes in people who take niacin go down. (I’ve found that even 300 mg once each after my two largest meals helps but rarely gives me a flush reaction.  Since I finally found a reference suggesting that 300 mg of inositol hexaniacinate actually does deliver about the equivalent of 250 mg of niacin in a very slow release style I also added two of those each day.)

2.  Regular exercise does increase HDL.  But it can and does increase HDL a lot and lowers the number of small particle LDL particles a lot!  But there are some things to know about how to maximize this effect.  Vigorous, even if brief, exercise works far better than light exercise to do this.  That means that even 10 minutes or so of interval cardio and progressive strength training doing some of each every week will produce this effect the best.  But there’s also a new discovery.  The more consecutive years you do this the bigger this effect gets! If after 1 year it boosts your HDL by 5 points after 10 to 15 years of regular exercise it may boost your HDL more like 25 points!

3.  Eating hydrogenated oils was directly tested to increase the number of small particle LDL particles.  That means that a food that has ANY amount of hydrogenated oil, even a tiny bit, is heart attack starter.  Always read labels and never eat this stuff voluntarily – ever!  (Not only is this stuff in most packaged snacks and desserts because it’s cheap and produces long shelf life, shortening, nondairy creamer, and most margarines are MADE OUT OF hydrogenated oils.)

And, it gets worse -- because when you eat hydrogenated oils it takes your body weeks to get rid of half of it!  Do you realize what that means?  If you eat even a little bit every day, after a few weeks, you have enough built up in your system to cause you serious harm.  I’ve long thought that the only safe amount hydrogenated oils to eat is zero.  Now we know that’s quite literally true!

Realize that most people still eat lots of this stuff daily and the fact that it looks like HDL can’t be boosted much becomes understandable.  It’s like trying to lower the water level in the middle of a flood.

But, turn off the flood and add the other things and you will see far more results!

4.  Tobacco smoke exposure also boosts the number of small particle LDL particles.  It’s been directly shown to cause plaque build up and a lowering of HDL and an increase in triglycerides.

If you want high protection and high HDL do everything sane and in your power to avoid breathing tobacco smoke -- ever.

5.  Are there other things that have health benefits and that increase HDL levels?

Indeed there are, and a key to having high protection and HDL levels is to do as many of them as you can.

a) Eating organic berries often increases HDL and I believe the bilberry extract supplement I also take daily does too.  These have other health benefits also.

b)  Eating raw or dry roasted tree nuts if you aren’t allergic on a daily basis does not cause fat gain unless you dramatically overeat them on purpose and does increase your HDL and has many other proven health benefits.

c)  Eating foods such as egg yolks, ideally from hens only pasture fed their natural diet, boosts choline which in turn boosts HDL and provides brain benefits besides.  Wheat germ, ideally from non GMO wheat is high in choline.  And the supplements lecithin, choline, and citicoline are high in choline and DMAE is turned into choline by your body. 

Taking 250 to 300 mg a day of pantothenic acid, vitamin B5 also increases your HDL and I think most people are deficient in it.  I was taking this and recently found from Dr Oz that it also strongly boosts HDL to take it.

d)  The supplement chromium polynicotinate only has some niacin but when taking the supplement, the combination seems to increase HDL and lower LDL more than just the niacin in it would account for; and taking adds a great deal to your blood sugar control.

6.  Is there anything that lowers HDL levels that it makes sense to avoid? 

Yes, eating oils high in omega 6 lowers LDL levels.  BUT eating these oils also lowers HDL and causes inflammation and we now know it speeds aging too.  Worse, I just read that these oils contain some hydrogenated oils due to how they are processed.

If you have been eating these oils, switch to extra virgin olive and only that instead.  It won’t boost your HDL by itself but your HDL may well go up when you switch because you will remove a cause that was lowering your HDL!  And doing this is heart protective by reducing chronic inflammation too!

7.  Eating foods made out of refined grains, high fructose corn syrup, or eating too much regular sugar – all of which most people do in large volume lowers the dickens out of your HDL levels.  Drinking soft drinks has the same effect!  Worse, people who eat and drink this stuff in large volumes have sky high triglycerides!

That means that eating and drinking these foods and nonfoods boosts the devil out of the number of small particle LDL particles in your system.  It’s a deadly combination!

Want high HDL and great heart protection?

Stop totally ingesting any of this stuff or eat it only rarely and not every week.

Small wonder increasing HDL looks undoable, they tested it on people eating and drinking this stuff in volume.

And, there’s a second benefit by stopping this stuff totally or almost so.  Besides exercise it is the one sustainable way to lose fat and keep it off.  It also adds heart protection by helping prevent or turn down type 2 diabetes and low blood sugar.

8.  Eating some raw onions and eating some minced raw garlic occasionally or taking the aged and deodorized garlic supplement and taking omega 3 oils or eating fish high in it -- each lowers triglycerides.  That means doing these things lowers the number of small particle LDL particles in your system.

What happens if you do each of these things or most of them pretty well?

You boost your HDL far more than 6 points the more of them you do and the longer you do them; and you get an even bigger increase in heart protection.   

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