Next up lipoproteins. Never heard of them? Sure you have. Usually they are referred to as ‘cholesterol.’ Does anyone remember the Monty Python sketch often called ‘Bruce?’ All of the Australian university philosophy department members were called Bruce; even their new English arrival had to assume the name.
Well this is like that, or the opposite of that; perhaps nothing like that but it reminds me of that. You see when people talk about cholesterol they are not talking about cholesterol at all, rather they are almost always talking about lipoproteins. High Density Lipoproteins (HDL) and Low Density Lipoproteins (LDL) and VLDL; oops Very Low Density Lipoproteins. Which brings us to the next marker to measure and track: HDL.
HDL, get cholesterol out of your head!!, is very important for your health. Go back and read my post, “Exercise And Cancer” ,to see how important this moiety of your blood can be. So HDL doesn’t just lower your risk of stroke, heart attack, Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia it is associated with an overall lower all-cause mortality rate and affects disease categories not even listed above to do this. Good stuff.
HDL is produced by the liver; you gotta love your liver. The liver’s propensity to produce HDL is regulated by ‘The Big Three.’ Genetics, diet and exercise. Well four actually, stress has a very powerful effect on the liver, but ‘The Big Four’ is not as catchy as ‘The Big Three.’
Several things to bear in mind. The liver produces both HDL and a pre HDL molecule and for the liver to make more of these valuable little guys you need to eat right, train right, sleep right and define/refine your place of stress and spiritual balance. Diet feeds into the liver’s production of HDL mostly as an inverse of what makes the liver produce triglycerides; in general low triglycerides means high(er) HDL and vice versa. Exercise induces the liver to produce more HDL by force marching the maturation of the liver produced HDL into a mature or activated from. As exercise forces the maturation of the HDL it provides a positive feedback to the liver to make more HDL which then…well it is a cycle and a positive one if you work it right. Stress intervenes by the hormones associated with stress regulating the liver’s tendency to produce, store and dump glycogen/glucose and triglycerides.
The diet part is fairly straightforward; my Step One is a good place to start. There is no one size fits all but you are going to go through an intricate series of experiments to determine the right diet for your liver so starting with a clear baseline is the first step and the Step One is exactly that: a perfect baseline diet.
How exercise fits in is surprising. First it has a very powerful effect on HDL production but it can also suppress HDL production if it is of the wrong type or amount. At some future time of your interest and my availability I will post some of the graphs that show how these experiments look and their effect on HDL production. For now let me tell you of several examples: a late 50′s very high mileage runner with an HDL of 55 found that by limiting his running and adding Olympic lifting to his routine with his new found free time not ultra-running his HDL shot up to over 80 and he was able to maintain that over the course of several years; by limiting his running time. With very rare exception a male with HDL’s as low as low the 30′s can raise their HDL to the mid 50′s; sometimes much higher by doing whole body power training and intense interval rowing, sprinting or cycling. All in 3 hours or less per week. In point of fact, in my research, most people already exercising when they enter my program need to cut back on their training time and change the type to raise their HDL. More intense to be sure but overall not a lot of training time is needed to affect the HDL change that any rational person should be seeking.
Now one additional point on the diet: while triglycerides can be strongly inversely linked to HDL in many people for a certain sub-set triglycerides are fairly stable and low even when the usual suspects like alcohol are consumed at a very high level; some people’s livers are just more independent of dietary influence than others. I’ve found no one whose liver was immune to exercise or stress effects but many for whom diet was not an important issue for HDL. Important for LDL size as discussed in the triglyceride article but not for the HDL; again this is the minority but a large enough minority to warrant being watchful for this variant in your own experiments. Cycle time for change in the numbers for change in behavior is about 2 months.
Now I can hear some of your eyes glazing over, kind of a low pitched swoosh sound, thinking ‘I can’t do this, it is too hard, where can I lie down.’ Wake up! You can and you should do this. Remember just raising your HDL by 10 was associated with an over 30% reduction in cancer. And strokes. And heart attacks. You will feel better too.
Have Fun, Smile and God Speed,