I don’t believe in it. But other people do and they must be coddled.
I have a physical coming up. Normally I wouldn’t care, but this time it is important to me personally to have “good” scores on the cholesterol tests. I normally have a high level. Have had for decades and that is my “normal”.
The consumer information on this is weak, unsupported by actual science and full of snake oil pop medicine.
As a guy who understands the value of numbers and measurement, I understand that taking a single measurement at a single point in time doesn’t necessarily give you an accurate picture of the whole system you are observing. It is very hard to find out information about normal variability in the testing and in the system when it comes to cholesterol.
Thanks to the magic of the internet, here is this:
It seems that there is HUGE variability in cholesterol levels in each human body. So, you can have a 10% reduction in cholesterol from one test to another and have NOTHING to crow about since that is well within normal DAILY variability. It was an accident of testing, not a real reduction.
Here is the bottom line, (from the bottom of the article):
Cholesterol concentration must change at least 18%, HDL cholesterol 27% and triglycerides 84% before one can be assured that the difference is not simply due to intra-individual and analytical changes.
How can you get a better reading? More testing. Ideally, testing several times a day and several times per month. then your average would give you a pretty reliable picture of your normal range. Real medical science should base treatment options on your normal range, not on a single visit to a lab. On top of the variability of your own body, there is variability at the lab of an added 2 to 4 %. You can’t do anything about that. Just realize that when your DR talks about a 5% increase of decrease in anything, it is the same as saying ” the change was too small to notice”.
From reading the data, I can make the following wild guesses on how to improve my scores:
- Take the test in the morning. Triglycerides are lowest then and they have the highest variability. This is the biggest win you can get from just understanding the test.
- Take the test in the summer. That’s when bad cholesterols are lowest , by as much as 10%.
- Take the test lying down. A whopping 10-20% variance from this simple thing. If this is so simple, why wouldn’t it become a standard principle of taking the sample?
- Then the other stuff about weight loss and exercise being good, blah, blah, blah.
Other strategies to lower cholesterol for a particular test, based on unsupported internet hype:
- Eat flax seed. No idea how much is the right dosage.
- Eat Oatmeal. Lots of variability on this between “must be organic, grown in your own garden, harvested under a waning moon with a silver pair of scissors” and “Quaker oats with raisins, cinnamon, brown sugar and dried apples”.
- Extra fasting before the test. Increase from “the night before” to 36 hours.