Understanding Cholesterol Markers

Getting blood tests is routine for many of us. Most of us do it at least twice a year during physical exams.  To empower you to understand what the results mean and what the values reflect in terms of what’s going on inside your body, it is crucial to look beyond the standard explanations.
 
Here are a couple of things you have to remember when looking at the numbers:

  1. Lab markers don’t exist in isolation. Each lab marker is related to one another, so we are going to look at them in context of their relationship with other markers.
  2. The “standard” numbers don’t guarantee that you are healthy. They can even mean that you have a growing problem that needs to be taken care of. Aim for the “optimal” result (explained below).

 
In this newsletter, I will tackle the cholesterol markers, what they are measuring and what is optimal. So let’s dig in!

Low-Density Lipoprotein Cholesterol (LDL-C)

LDL-C is most commonly known as the “bad cholesterol” and is implicated as the cause of plaque that leads to atherosclerosis. However, LDL is not the ultimate indicator of our cardiovascular health (in fact, it’s not even a type of cholesterol! It’s like a taxi cab shuttling cholesterol around your body). In fact, about half of the people rushed to the emergency room due to heart attack have “normal” cholesterol levels. What is not normal, however, is having higher levels of small cholesterol particles caused by insulin resistance of metabolic syndrome.
 
Thus, if you want to know your cardiovascular health status, you better go look for triglycerides: they are a much better marker than LDL. The serum triglyceride, when unloaded of its fat at the adipose tissue site, becomes these small dense LDL particles. The triglyceride-to-HDL ratio or the ratio of bad to good cholesterol is the true indicator of cardiovascular disease because it shows the number of small dense LDL. It is also a marker for insulin resistance and metabolic syndrome.
 
Don’t focus too much on the LDL values alone, but rather on what type of LDL it is that makes up the total number. For your reference, the standard for LDL values is <100mg/dl but the optimal is <70mg/dl.

 
Triglycerides

When calories go unused, triglycerides are stored in fat cells. In the blood, they are carried by VLDL or very-low-density lipoproteins which become LDL minus the triglycerides.
 
When you have a high level of triglycerides in the blood, it may indicate that you have metabolic syndrome and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) as well as a high risk for acute pancreatitis.
 
Increased triglycerides also reflects the quality of your diet because it is associated with high intake of refined and processed foods.
 
The standard result for triglycerides is below 150 mg/dl, but optimal is below 100 mg/dl or even lower.
 

High-Density Lipoprotein-Cholesterol

As opposed to LDL-C, HDL-C is widely known as “good cholesterol” because it carries some cholesterol back to the liver to be broken down and eliminated from the body as waste (like LDL, it isn’t named properly as it is NOT cholesterol but rather a shuttle for cholesterol back to the liver).
 
Since HDL removes lipids from cells and blood vessels, a high HDL value is considered to be protective against heart disease.
 
An HDL value above 60 mg/dl is ideal.
 

Total Cholesterol

This is a measure of the total cholesterol, including both the HDL and LDL. The normal total cholesterol should be less than 200 mg/dl, but the result should be taken in context to its ratio to the HDL rather than the total number. This is why just looking at the total cholesterol can be deceiving! 

 
Total Cholesterol-to-HDL Ratio

The higher the ratio, the higher the risk of heart disease. A ratio of 5:1 is recommended, but below 3.5:1 is considered very good and even less than 2:1 is the optimal.
 

Triglyceride-to-HDL Ratio

This is the most powerful test to predict your risk for a heart attack. If this number is high, you increase your risk by 16 times! This is because triglycerides go up and HDL drops with insulin resistance. So this is definitely the best marker of insulin resistance, metabolic syndrome, and heart attack risk. The bottom line is, this is the one marker you should focus on. Naturally, lower is better. If you have higher than 2:1, you are at high risk. Aim for 1:1-2:1, but less than 1:1 is the best.
 
I hope that this newsletter has empowered you to take a deeper look at your next blood test’s results. Diet and lifestyle greatly influence triglycerides, insulin, and metabolic syndrome and is, in my opinion, a far more valuable use of your time and energy to improve rather than your total cholesterol level.

It is my passion to work with people like you whose health symptoms are getting in the way of you living life fully and with a sense of freedom in your body. I can help you to regain your health so you can feel great and free to enjoy life fully.

If you’re ready to discover where your best health has been hiding, I’d love to connect with you!
Apply for a complimentary Unstoppable Health Discovery Session. bit.ly/schedulinghealth (subject to availability).

Until next time, I’m wishing you unstoppable health!
~Rebecca

How to Restore Gut Health with Tributyrin

In last week’s newsletter, we explored  postbiotics and their role in restoring gut health.
Continuing with that conversation, this week’s newsletter will tackle the incredibly important short-chain fatty acid (SCFA) butyrate (which is a postbiotic) and it’s critical role in a healthy gut.
 
Being a postbiotic, butyrate is one of the end products when your gut microbes ferment dietary fibers. Among the SCFAs, butyrate has garnered more attention because of its beneficial effects on cellular energy metabolism and intestinal homeostasis.
 
Although it is the least abundant among the short-chain fatty acids, it is still considered the most important.
 
The cells that line the large intestines, called colonocytes, use butyrate as their energy source so they can multiply and function normally. Without butyrate, these cells will just die. In addition to that, butyrate has anti-inflammatory properties that enhance intestinal barrier function (think prevent leaky gut!), and increase the immunity of the GI mucosa.
 

Summary of Butyrate Benefits

  • Fights inflammation
  • Aids in intestinal motility
  • Stimulates the absorption of water and sodium
  • Maintains the protective mucus layer of the intestines
  • Helps fight leaky gut

 
Because butyrate maintains and restores gut health, and fiber fermentation leads to butyrate production, it goes without saying that it is important that you have a good supply of dietary fiber. This way, your gut microbes are supercharged to produce butyrate.
 
However, not all people can tolerate eating a high-fiber diet. Gas is also produced when fiber is fermented, so this can cause flatulence, bloating, and stomach discomfort for some people. Others may experience either diarrhea or constipation.
 
So how can you increase butyrate in the gut when a high-fiber diet is not tolerated?
 
First, you can try a very gradual progression with fiber-rich foods–go slow and let your body adjust. Secondly, try a variety of sources of fiber-rich foods since you might tolerate some a lot better than others (this is known as biochemical individuality).
Third, this is where butyrate supplementation comes in.
 
Specifically tributyrin.
 
According to research, tributyrin is more effective and easier to use than some other supplemental butyrate. Since butyric acid salts are easily absorbed in the small intestines, you need a form that can reach the large intestine as well.
 
Tributyrin has a high bioavailability–meaning the body absorbs it well and uses it as intended. So when you take tributyrin, there’s nothing wasted. 
 
The brands I recommend are Healthy Gut Tributyrin-X and Designs for Health Tri-butyrin Supreme. Both are very high quality brands.
 
It is my passion to work with people like you whose health symptoms are getting in the way of you living life fully and with a sense of freedom in your body. I can help you to regain your health so you can feel great and free to enjoy life fully.

If you’re ready to discover where your best health has been hiding, I’d love to connect with you!
Apply for a complimentary Unstoppable Health Discovery Session. bit.ly/schedulinghealth (subject to availability).

Until next time, I’m wishing you unstoppable health!
~Rebecca

Postbiotics and Their Role in Restoring Health

Postbiotics and Their Role in Restoring Health

While prebiotics and probiotics have gained a lot of attention in recent years, there’s another tool that you should know about and may need.
 
There is no denying that prebiotics and probiotics are extremely valuable for your gut and overall health and well-being. But postbiotics may be an even more essential tool.

Probiotics, Prebiotics and Postbiotics

I know the terms can be kind of confusing, so let’s first get clear on what each is.
 
Probiotics — are live healthy or friendly bacteria that naturally reside in the gut or come from an external source such as supplements. Your gut microbiome is made up of probiotics that help you be healthy. The human body and probiotics live in a symbiotic relationship, in which we provide the probiotics with free lodging plus meals and in turn, we benefit from their presence and the byproducts they produce.
 
Prebiotics — are the nutrients that feed the probiotics or the gut microbes. They are usually dietary fiber that can be found in plants foods like green leafies, vegetables, fruits, starches, and collagen from animal foods.
 
Postbiotics — are the byproducts of the action of probiotics as they consume prebiotics. These byproducts are bioactive compounds that result when the healthy bacteria ferment fiber. There are actually different types of postbiotics, but one that is widely known is the SCFA or the short-chain fatty acids.
 
To put it simply, prebiotics are the food for the probiotics or bacteria in the gut. When the probiotics ferment the prebiotics, postbiotics are produced and you get the benefit of that.

A Closer Look at Postbiotics and Their Benefits

 The benefits of having a diverse gut microbiome and eating enough fiber all result in the production of postbiotics, particularly the SCFA. SCFAs are the main source of energy for cells lining your colon, so they are valuable in keeping your colon healthy. In addition, they provide about 10% of your daily caloric needs and are essential in the metabolism of carbohydrates and fats.
 
SCFA is also associated with decreasing the risk of inflammatory diseases, type 2 diabetes, obesity, heart disease, and other conditions. It also helps to prevent and treat diarrhea, reduce symptoms associated with irritable bowel disease, and reduce symptoms of some allergies.
 
Technically, whatever benefits probiotics provide is the same as what postbiotics can offer.
 
The SCFAs in your body are butyrate, acetate, and propionate. But the most commonly studied and most powerful of the three is butyrate. Despite that, other SCFAs are important as well.
 
Acetate maintains the right pH of your gut, which is just acidic enough for the good microbes to thrive and survive and to keep the pathogenic ones out. It also helps protect you from unnecessary weight gain because it helps control your appetite and regulates the storage of fat. In addition, acetate nourishes the bacteria that produce butyrate. 
 
Just like acetate, propionate also suppresses appetite. It lowers cholesterol, reduces fat storage, and protects against cancer. It has anti-inflammatory effects as well. Meaning, it helps to protect you from various inflammatory diseases like atherosclerosis.
 
In next week’s newsletter, we’ll delve into butyrate and postbiotic supplementation.
 
It is my passion to work with people like you whose health symptoms are getting in the way of you living life fully and with a sense of freedom in your body. I can help you to regain your health so you can feel great and free to enjoy life fully.


If you’re ready to discover where your best health has been hiding, I’d love to connect with you!
Apply for a complimentary Unstoppable Health Discovery Session. bit.ly/schedulinghealth (subject to availability).

Until next time, I’m wishing you unstoppable health!
~Rebecca