I had normal cholesterol, went low carb, and then ketogenic, and saw that my cholesterol started to go crazy. I tried a host of things to bring it down including raising my carbs and taking various supplements to no effect. I finally saw a lipidologist, did some more research, and came up with a 12 point gameplan which surprisingly worked!
I’m now in the process of peeling away parts of my gameplan to see what changes, if any happen to my cholesterol levels.
This past October I stopped taking bergamot and saw a bump in my LDL-P. My next step was to stop taking bionic fiber and in December… and found myself caving into my desire for coffee, and found that my LDL-P dipped back down.
The next thing I planned to stop taking was Berberine.
Screwing Things Up
So um… yeah… that was the plan. I dutifully put away my bottle of Berberine and continued with everything else… but after a week or so I noticed that my supply of probiotics was running low.
December was a busy time for me at work, so I kept putting off reordering another supply… and I also upped my coffee habit to two cups a day. Suddenly, the holidays were upon me and I still hadn’t replenished my stash.
Finally, the middle of January approached and I realized that it had been almost 6 weeks since my last dose of probiotics.
So there we go… I did what scientists should never do: screw with more than one variable at a time.
- I stopped taking berberine.
- I inadvertently stopped taking probiotics.
- And I added an additional cup of coffee to my day, (this I don’t feel too guilty about)
I figured I’d get a blood test anyway just to see where things stood, but anticipated that it’d be hard to draw any conclusions from the results… as if drawing accurate conclusions has been easy thus far 😛
What Happened to my Cholesterol?
Here s the tabulated data including all of my prior tests. You can click on it to make it bigger.
LDL-P: This soared back into the stratosphere to 2468 from 1611 for an increase in 857 points. DAMN!
Small LDL-P: This also skyrocketed back up to 1159 from 547, more than doubling. DAMN DAMN!!
LDL-C: Back up to 196, now showing more of a concordant pattern with LDL-C and LDL-P.
Triglycerides: Bounced slightly higher to 98… probably reflecting some of the holiday treats I enjoyed.
HDL-C: Minimal increase to 60.
Lp-PLA2: Still high and not really changed since July 2015.
Vitamin D: Increased to 49.2 from 35.2, indicating that the Vitamins D+K I’ve been taking has been doing it’s job. I had to increase my dose to 8000-12000 IU per day.
So Where Does That Leave Me?
I’m right back to square one!
Here are the things that I’ve still been doing:
- Reduce saturated fat intake
- Eat low carb but not ketogenic
- Omega 3
- Vitamins and Minerals (Athletic Greens, Vitamins D+K, Magnesium)
- Oral Hygiene
- Exercise regularly, BJJ 4-5x per week and weight lift 1-2x per week
It doesn’t look like these things played a major role in lowering my LDL-P, especially since these have been pretty constant for the past 6 months. Nevertheless, I’ll continue doing these things for general health and well being.
The answer has to lie somewhere between the probiotics, berberine, and bergamot.
I’m also going to start tracking my diet again in MyFitnessPal to get a better sense of what I’m eating.
My next steps will go something like this:
- Take ~500 billion bacteria of VSL#3 daily for 4-6 weeks
- Check lipids
- Go off VSL#3 for 2 weeks
- Take 1000 mg Thorne Research Berberine daily for 4-6 weeks
- Check lipids
- Go off Berberine for 2 weeks
- Take 500 mg HP LifeScience Citrus Bergamot daily for 4-6 weeks
- Check lipids
This will be a good opportunity to test the effects of probiotics vs berberine vs bergamot independently and will hopefully reveal which of these individual components was responsible for my improved LDL-P.
*Image found here