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A few weeks ago, I went for my yearly physical. In preparation for this, I went to get blood tests. In the interests of light and transparency, I’m not only posting this year’s values for some of the more important tests, but test values that I can find going back to 2005 as well. I took the gluten challenge test (added 2 slices of whole grain bread to each meal) in preparation for the February 2011 testing, I was re-tested in May because of a consistent cough I had which turned out to be silent reflux which I believe was related to the gluten challenge. (I was pretty sick for the entire first half of 2011).


9/2005 10/2007 1/2010 2/2011 5/2011 2/2012 2/2013 Normal Range
Weight 166 178 186 197 196 204 180 135-150

Like many middle-aged women, I’ve gained weight in the last 7 years. The highest weight for me was in 2/2012 at 204 pounds. But at this year’s weigh-in, I came in at 180 pounds, a 24 pound weight loss. Keep this in mind, it’s going to be important later on. Looking at the numbers, I gained the most weight between 2010 and 2012. This is when I believe (looking at further numbers) that I became gluten intolerant, but didn’t know it. It also correlates to the point in time that once having acknowledged that I was gluten intolerant, I decided that any non-gluten containing grain was okay to eat which lead me to that horrendous 204 number. Once I clicked back that grains of any sort and I don’t do well together, the weight loss is obvious.

Blood Pressure

9/2005 10/2007 1/2010 2/2011 5/2011 2/2012 2/2013 Normal Range
Blood Pressure/Systolic 110 109 119 129 124 123 114 90-139
Blood Pressure/Diastolic 70 70 76 75 78 66 65 60-89
Blood Pressure and Weight Chart. Notice the lines all move the same direction

Blood Pressure and Weight Chart. Notice the lines all move the same direction


Systolic pressure measures the pressure in the arteries when the heart beats, and diastolic measures the pressure in the arteries between heart beats. As you can see, my blood pressure is following my weight. Blood pressure is something I keep a close eye on since my mother had high blood pressure and ended up with a variety of problems associated with it. Luckily for me though, my blood pressure has always and continues to be in the normal range.


9/2005 10/2007 1/2010 2/2011 5/2011 2/2012 2/2013 Normal Range
Glucose 90 97 116 99 96 95 <= 110

I keep a sharp eye on my glucose levels, specifically because both of my parents were Type II Diabetics. I’ve seen the havoc that diabetes can wreak on people (specifically my mom and aunt) and I have no desire to get into that downward spiral.


9/2005 10/2007 1/2010 2/2011 5/2011 2/2012 2/2013 Normal Pref Ideal
Chol 189 236 218 230 238 192 217 <200
HDL 64 56 76 72 64 62 70 >40
LDL 107 162 115 117 142 104 118
Tri 90 89 134 207 158 123 156 <150
Total/HDL 2.950 4.210 2.870 3.190 3.720 3.100 3.100 <5/0 <3.5
HDL/LDL 0.598 0.346 0.661 0.615 0.451 0.596 0.593 >0.3 >0.4
Tri/HDL 1.406 1.607 1.776 2.847 2.500 2.097 2.071 <4.0 <2.0

When I got my lipids panel back this year, the first thought was “I can’t share this, Look at the numbers, they are horrible. Especially my triglycerides. But I decided to do some research and also look at my historical numbers. Once I did so, I calmed down immensely (now if only I could get my new doctor to actually look at the historical numbers).

First let’s discuss the raw numbers (top set). A cholesterol total of 217 isn’t horrible. After all, it was much higher in 2007, 2010 and 2011. A total cholesterol number doesn’t mean much. What is more important are the ratios of HDL, LDL and Triglycerides. So even though the medical industry sets a number on total cholesterol as under 200, it’s an arbitrary number based on older studies that didn’t look at the ratios I mentioned. It’s also important to note that our bodies manufacture cholesterol and cholesterol is necessary in our bodies. It is a precursor to Vitamin D and bile. It’s essential for all human life and our bodies manufacture it. Cholesterol is important for both brain development in infants and is actually protective of brain function as adults. Ingestion of dietary cholesterol has little effect on our overall cholesterol levels for most people (there are a limited number of people who are sensitive to dietary cholesterol, I am not one of them).

My HDL level is way above the normal 40. High Density Lipoproteins are the fluffy cholesterol, which basically go through and scours your arteries and veins. It also removes the LDL (Low Density Lipoproteins). My LDL is slightly raised, but effectively has gone down from the high’s of 2007 and 2011. Still 118 isn’t horrible, just up.

Triglycerides are another matter. Triglycerides are part of VLDL (Very low density lipoproteins) which appear to be very good predictors of atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries) and heart disease. After having a lower level of triglycerides in 2012, my triglycerides were back up in 2013. What gives? Hold that thought, we will come back to it in a moment.

So the overall numbers on my cholesterol levels don’t give a really great indication of what’s going on. In fact if you were to only look at the numbers throughout the years, you would think I need to be on cholesterol lowering drugs. Nope. Because there is something called cholesterol ratios. Raw numbers don’t tell the entire story when it comes to cholesterol, instead, it’s the interaction between your HDL and LDL that gives a better picture. There are three ratios that I calculated for each year in my lipids test. They are:

  • Total Cholesterol to HDL ratio which should be at least less than a 5 to 1 ratio and ideally less than 3.5 to 1. My current Total to HDL ratio is 3.1 : 1 So definitely in the ideal range.
  • HDL to LDL ratio. It should be greater than .3 and ideally greater than .4 My current HDL to LDL ratio is .593, still in the ideal range.
  • Triglycerides to HDL Ratio should be less than 4.0 and ideally less than 2.0. I’m at 2.071 which is still preferable and almost ideal.

So my ratios are really good. But why did my triglycerides spike? They definitely spiked in 2011, when I did the gluten challenge. Remember when I said that dietary cholesterol doesn’t affect cholesterol levels in most people? Well, sugars and carbohydrates are the primary causes of high triglyceride levels. With the exception of those two years and currently, my triglyceride level has consistently been low. I can definitely attribute the higher triglyceride level of 2011 to the gluten challenge. So what about this year? What’s caused my triglycerides to go up above that magic number of 150? I have a theory.

In the past year I’ve lost 24 pounds. 4 of those pounds happened within the 3 weeks prior to the blood tests. This means that fat I had stored in adipose (fat storing) tissue was released into my blood stream. So that extra fat (and triglycerides) were floating around in my blood stream just waiting to be burned and/or discarded. It would have been interesting to see what my lipid levels were during the time I was at a set point. I have no way of knowing, but I’ll bet my numbers overall were lower.

The bottom line is that all my ratios are in the preferable to ideal range (most in the ideal and the one preferable is really close to ideal). So I’m not going to worry about it. I plan on continuing to eat in my low carbohydrate way, consuming healthy saturated fats from coconuts and grass-fed animals. My glucose levels are good for me and my blood pressure is normal. I see no reason to stop doing what I’m doing in terms of my diet.

Just a Head Up

Last year I spent 3 weeks doing the Raw Milk Cure. I found it interesting to track certain issues in my body and to really spend some time giving my body (especially my digestive system a rest).  In fact I liked it so much I’m going to do it again starting at the beginning of April.  I’d love it if some of you join me.

I do the milk cure as much as I can based on two books (both are available free on-line:

Just because I do it this way, doesn’t mean you have to. I know people who just drink milk in place of their meals rather than treat it like a rest cure.  If you have a clean raw milk source, then consider joining me on this challenge. I’m going to start doing this on March 30th, (beginning to blog on April 1st) and I plan on going for 3 weeks (mostly because that seems to be all GC can handle of my not eating).  I’ll have a link to the post from the past year as well as a chart detailing my vitals and my experiences. Feel free to follow along with your information in the comments.  Let me know if you are planning on doing this.


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