This was a book I’ve been looking forward to, especially since it was Jimmy’s own n=1 experiments that inspired me to get off my butt and begin my own n=1 experiments. I was also eager to see what he had to say regarding the phenomenon of elevated LDL on a low carb diet that many of us seem to be experiencing.
Jimmy is upfront right away about his lack of credentials and gives credit to all the experts he’s consulted for his information. In the beginning of the book he provides descriptive blurbs for every expert he interviewed.
Since Jimmy is such a prolific podcaster, he accumulated many contacts over the years and made use of many of these experts to provide insight onto the subject of cholesterol. He is upfront right away about his lack of scientific credentials and gives ample credit to the experts he interviewed for this book.
In fact, he even posted the actual interviews he used onto his podcast, The Livin’ La Vida Low-Carb Show recently. I listened to a few of them and when I read the book it was a little funny to come across some of the exact words I heard from the interview.
The book is short and very easy to get through in the span of a few days. It’s written in a very friendly, plain-spoken manner, similar to how he speaks, and is not intimidating at all. The concepts are very easy for a layman to understand, and I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend to this book to folks like my parents, who are interested in health but have no science background.
The chapters are organized around a general subject with selected quotes from his many expert consultants interspersed with a few paragraphs written by Jimmy himself. It almost felt like I was listening to an actual interview. One of the drawbacks of this format however is that it can be a little disjointed. There will be a paragraph by Jimmy, followed by a quote from one expert, followed by a quotes from two other experts, concluding with another few paragraphs by Jimmy. In the span of a few pages you are exposed to excerpts from three or four different interviews which breaks up the flow a little. I understand that he probably did this in order to accurately reflect the points his consultants wanted to express. This is only a minor complaint and doesn’t take away from any of the content of the book.
My other complaint is that I wish some references were provided regarding some of the claims made by his experts. Here is an example from a quote he used from Dr. Fred Kummerow:
“The statin drugs that people are taking to lower their cholesterol levels actually cause the liver cells to die. When enough liver cells die, there’s less cholesterol in the blood. So naturally the cholesterol level goes down. But it’s all a big farce!”
This is something I’ve never heard before and when I come across statements like this, I’d like to look more into it. Since I have a science background, I feel comfortable examining the source data for myself sometimes, but since his book is geared more towards a general audience, providing sources for each statement made by his consultants would probably be overkill.
At the end of each chapter there are bullet-points of the key concepts discussed which really help to reinforce the information.
The book does a really good job of discussing why our bodies need cholesterol, why conventional wisdom completely gets it wrong when it demonizes cholesterol, and why statins can be dangerous, among many other things.
The important take aways from the book are:
- Cholesterol is not bad, our bodies need cholesterol to function
- It’s not actually cholesterol that causes heart disease, it’s chronic inflammation
- The best way to minimize risk of cardiovascular disease is to reduce chronic inflammation, and the best way to do this is to eat low carb and avoid processed foods
Jimmy does address the phenomenon of rising cholesterol and LDL levels despite eating low carb, which is one of the main reasons I picked this book up and the conclusion among all his experts is pretty much that it happens often enough that people have taken notice, but its significance with regard to health and cardiovascular risk is unknown at this time because we just don’t know enough. The best thing to do as to make sure your other markers are good (low triglycerides, high HDL, normal fasting blood sugar, low CRP).
If this sounds familiar, it’s because I arrived at the same conclusion during my own n=1 journey.
I would highly recommend this book if you are interested in learning more about cholesterol. I feel that if you read this book you will know more than many primary care physicians out there and will be better equipped to take charge of your own cardiovascular health. This book is especially well suited for people without a science background (although I think it’d be helpful for science folks as well)… In fact I’m going to pick up a few copies for my family.
You can pick it up from amazon here: