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Thread: Turned 50 & concerned about blood test results page

  1. #1
    Little Owl's Avatar
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    Question Turned 50 & concerned about blood test results

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    Hi Everyone,

    New here & hoping those with more knowledge than me can help allay some recent concerns I have about health. I have been semi primal for about 2 years regards nutrition & have read a lot on here & places like Chris Kresser etc. so aware of the general gist & also the medical myths/debates & so on.

    Some info about me & my diet/lifestyle. Height 171cm & current weight 73kg (BMI 24) have never been obese.
    I work from home at the computer all day & I have never been keen on exercise & must admit since my treadmill died mid last year I have become quite sedentary, only walking about the house & garden, not much strenuous sweat inducing exercise, but have started doing some weights & squats over the last few months, but not more than twice a week & some weeks I have missed doing them altogether.


    I eat mostly our home grown fresh or snap frozen veg (cauliflower, beans, peas, carrots, Brussels sprouts, sweet potatoes, tomatoes, cucumber, onion, garlic) with grass fed unsalted butter on veg, Atlantic salmon, Flaxseed meal, free range chicken & beef, free range eggs, raw nuts, cheeses, organic berries, home made yoghurt, coconut/olive oil, coconut flour, spices like ginger, Ceylon cinnamon, herbal tea, water, & have been using 100% pure organic stevia to sweeten food several times a day. I have since Christmas slipped back into eating some refined carbs as I have always had a strong sweet tooth - foods like mince fruit pies, biscuits, peanut M&M's, chocolate a few times a week & over indulging in nuts & coconut most days with stevia. I gained about 3-4 kilos during this time as well.

    Recently I turned 50 & my GP suggested a routine fasting blood test.

    Results came back all normal for liver enzymes & most minerals etc but a few concerns as follows:

    Cholesterol 5.7 (HDL 2.33, LDL 3.2, Triglycerides 0.44, Cholesterol/HDL ratio 2.4)
    Question - I have read that the whole high cholesterol being an issue thing is a myth? What does the triglyceride reading mean especially in relation to the cholesterol readings?

    eGFR 84 (relates to kidney function I believe & is a little lower than the >=90 stated as average)
    Question - Does this mean my kidneys are not working correctly, should I be concerned & could it be affected by dehydration as I fasted but only took in about 100ml of water between 9pm & 10.30am next day when the test was taken? My doctor didn't mention it as an issue but I'd like to know more.

    Anion Gap 11 ( Average says 12-20)
    Question - What is this & is 11 too low?

    Lastly & of most concern to me is fasting blood glucose at 5.6 mmol/L. (normal range is 3.0 -5.4).

    I previously had this test done 7 years ago before eating better & the reading came in at 5.7 but back then the upper normal range was 6.0 so my GP said all was fine. I was a bit surprised it was about the same as in my mind I had improved my diet (but exercise had dwindled).

    Questions: 1. Since my diet is reasonable I am concerned that even though the reading was a minute amount smaller than 7 years ago it may have been rising but held in check by my diet? But I feel the lack of exercise is more likely to be a contributing factor? Two people in my family with non insulin dependant diabetes (acquired in old age 75+ only) are my aunt & my great grandmother.

    2. Since I haven't become obese due to low exercise - could this be an indicator my body isn't good as using insulin to lay down fat? Hence my partial insulin resistance showing in my results?

    3. I tend toward being a bit anxiety driven due to work & now health concerns (can you tell! LOL) & wonder if cortisol release may be playing a part in the following health concerns as I read cortisol can affect both kidney function & blood glucose?

    4. How long does it take for exercise to make an impact on blood glucose levels on average?

    What I'm doing about it - as of a few days ago we invested in a new treadmill & I've started doing some mild HIT for 15 minutes with brisk walking interspersed by 30 second running as a start once or twice a day. I'm raising a good sweat doing this & will increase intensity often as I gain fitness.

    I cut out ALL sugary foods (including fruit) & stevia in a big panic - could the 100% stevia be causing issues as I've read about non sugar sweeteners causing issues with tricking the body into releasing insulin? Although I have also read that stevia can regulate insulin!! Confused.

    I have just today purchased a blood glucose meter to see for myself what my body is doing in response to my increased exercise & better diet. I feel a bit afraid to use it in case it's worse than my blood test which is stupid I know, but that's how I feel. I intend to do a 3 day testing regime I have found online starting tomorrow morning.

    Good news is my blood pressure is usually very good & is 119/75 & last year was 121/77 when tested.

    I try to drink 2 litres of water a day ( we have rainwater tanks so no chlorine etc ) but admit some days I will go half a day without a drink - I have always been a bit like this unfortunately.

    Thanks for wading through all this info - I am here really looking for some sound advice on the best way forward to gain better control over my health before it becomes an issue with nasty consequences.

    I appreciate any constructive advice. Thanks so much.

  2. #2
    M!chael's Avatar
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    Little Owl

    I'm not a Dr but, I had these tests done for the first time a few years ago and didn't think I got a good explanation of the results from my Dr (what can you expect in a 7 min appointment?) so I did some research from links on here.

    My understanding is . .

    I have read that the whole high cholesterol being an issue thing is a myth?
    Kind of, "Total high Cholesterol" is fairly meaningless, what matters more is the ratios between different types.

    LDL/HDL:- Gives an indication of plaque in your arteries (a bad thing) the lower the better, below 4.3 is considered good, you are 3.2/2.33 = 1.37 so excellent :-)

    Total/HDL:- The lower the better, below 5 is good, you are 5.7/2.33 = 2.45 so excellent :-)

    Triglycerides/HDL:- The lower the better, below 2 is good, you are 0.44/2.33 = 0.19 so excellent :-)

    Blood glucose:- The lower the better, Normal/Average is 6, 7 or more is diabetic, so at 5.6 you're not excellent, merely pretty good :-)

    Hope this helps, I didn't look into kidney function numbers, my Dr just said mine were fine and I took his word for it. You are just under average (I don't even know if lower or higher is better) so probably excellent. Never heard of Anion Gap!

    All in All you seem to be in amazingly good health, I'd say, stay primal and worry less :-)

    Michael
    Last edited by M!chael; 02-21-2015 at 03:24 AM.

  3. #3
    The Scientist's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Little Owl View Post
    I work from home at the computer all day & I have never been keen on exercise & must admit since my treadmill died mid last year I have become quite sedentary, only walking about the house & garden, not much strenuous sweat inducing exercise, but have started doing some weights & squats over the last few months, but not more than twice a week & some weeks I have missed doing them altogether.
    I think you diagnosed your own problem. Your fasting glucose level does not put you at incredibly high diabetes risk, but it is definitely not where it should be. People with fasting glucose in your range are several times more likely to be diagnosed wither type 2 diabetes than those with levels about 15% lower than yours:

    http://www.amjmed.com/article/S0002-9343(08)00231-3/pdf

    The answer (as you seem to intuitively know) is intense exercise. This is well documented to have a powerful effect on increasing insulin sensitivity and decreasing fasting glucose:

    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/arti...dmso-6-113.pdf

    For what it is worth, mine used to be 5.5 several years ago, and is now regularly at 4.6 after consistently putting in 30 minutes a day, 4-5 days/week of strength training and/or sprinting.

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    Rig D's Avatar
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    +1 to both posters above. If you dig around you will find ranges for the ratios Michael indicated. Here they are:

    Total to HDL: 3.5 optimal, 5.0 is OK ( Lower is better)
    Triglycerides to HDL: <2 Ideal 4 is High, 6 Danger
    LDL to HDL: <=4.3 ideal 4.4 – 7.1 Avg >7.1 High

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    Little Owl's Avatar
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    Thanks for the replies, especially Michael for the Cholesterol break down - very helpful & positive.

    The Scientist - how long did it take for your increased exercise regime to start showing noticeable reductions in your blood glucose?

    Would be interested if anyone has further comment regards the following questions in my original post:

    1. The Stevia question about wether it fools the body into releasing insulin because it tastes sweet?

    2. The effect of cortisol on blood glucose. As an example - this morning having fasted since 9.30pm last night I had a glass of water at about 8.30am, then at 10am did my first test with the glucose meter I purchased. The finger prick didn't hurt hardly at all which was better than I expected, but the level came in at 5.8 (it has variability of +/-10%). I haven't had any sugar or stevia or bad carbs for 3 days so I guess I was hoping for at least it being the same as my blood test of 5.6.

    But I realise that mild insulin resistance doesn't reverse in such a short time & my exercise regime has only just begun. Patience is required - I just hate having what I see as lurking potential health issues - I just want them resolved yesterday! LOL

    However, I ask the cortisol question because being the anxious type I felt nervous on awaking knowing I would be doing the test this morning - it was all new to me - by the time I pricked my finger my hands were noticeably shaking! (I know this sounds stupid to many & I feel foolish being this way as I am otherwise a strong person running my own successful business etc). So I'm wondering if being nervous about this from waking to test (about 2 hours) that I was releasing cortisol & whatever else that may effect the result to some degree?

    3. Kidney function eGFR - interested if anyone has comments on this being a tad low.

    4. Anion Gap - OK I did some more research & found it to relate to acidosis when it's high, so I guess my being 11 when average is 12-20 means I don't have that - does it mean a more alkaline blood though? Interesting to learn more as from what I read over the years being slightly more alkaline than acid is a positive thing?

    I need to be less anxious I know & sometimes when I do rarely take an anti stress supplement that contains just Withania (Ashwagandha) which helps reduce cortisol, I do feel calmer. This herb is noted as potentially having the ability to lower blood sugar so maybe I should take it more often?- I assume because it lowers cortisol? So ergo I'm thinking cortisol increases blood sugar? Any thoughts on this?

    I also came across some interesting facts on how it aids the body in relation to exercise here Effects of Withania somnifera (Ashwagandha) and Terminalia arjuna (Arjuna) on physical performance and cardiorespiratory endurance in healthy young adults

    Thanks again for any comments - much appreciated!

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    The Scientist's Avatar
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    1. The data on artificial sweeteners are not clear, but they do not trigger insulin release. I take the stance of dose being the most important thing. I have one pack in my coffee, but would not feel good having 10 packs a day.

    2. This is possible. You need to find a way to relax, not just for the sake of your glucose measurement, but for your health.

    3. I wouldn't worry. The margin of error here is high enough that it is likely a fluke.

    4. No concern.

    I think getting some strategies for reducing stress other than supplements is important. I'm a very calm person, so I have never had the problem, but using like light stretching, meditation or calming music now and then might help. I'm sure there are resources out there to help with this.

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    NewOldGuy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rig D View Post
    +1 to both posters above. If you dig around you will find ranges for the ratios Michael indicated. Here they are:

    Total to HDL: 3.5 optimal, 5.0 is OK ( Lower is better)
    Triglycerides to HDL: <2 Ideal 4 is High, 6 Danger
    LDL to HDL: <=4.3 ideal 4.4 – 7.1 Avg >7.1 High
    No, the recommendations you show above do not apply to the mmol/L measurements discussed in this thread. They are recommendations for the mg/dl measurements used in the U.S. The conversion is not linear. The <2 recommendation for the TG/HDL ratio converts to < 0.87 when using mmol/L measures. This is critically important because it is so far off when you use the wrong units. In mmol/L measurements the TG must be lower than HDL to be in the healthy range.

    The other ratios you mention are pretty useless as LDL-C is meaningless without particle counts. But the same conversion problems apply.

    HDL of 50 mg/dl converts to 1.293 mmol/L.
    TG of 50 mg/dl converts to 0.564 mmol/L.

    That's why your 2.0 ratio does not apply to the mmol/L measurements.

    All that said, I also believe that the ratio of 2 for U.S. measurements is too high as well. I believe you want closer to 1:1, with both HDL and TG somewhere around 70-75 mg/dl.

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