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Extreme carbohydrate intolerance

Posted Aug 24 2010 2:28pm
Here's an interesting example of what you might call "extreme carbohydrate intolerance."

May is a 44-year woman who has now had her 7th stent placed in her coronary arteries. She lives on a diet dominated by breads, breakfast cereals, muffins, rice, corn products, along with some real foods.

Her conventional lipid panel and other lab values
Total cholesterol 346 mg/dl
Triglycerides: 877 mg/dl
HDL cholesterol: 22 mg/dl
LDL cholesterol: incalculable
(Recall that LDL cholesterol is usually a calculated, not a measured value. The excessively high triglycerides make the standard calculation invalid--more invalid than usual.)

Fasting blood glucose: 210 mg/dl
HbA1c (a reflection of previous 60-90 days average glucose): 7.2% (desirable 4.5% or less)
ALT (a "liver enzyme"): 438 (about five-fold normal)

At 5 ft even and 138 lbs (BMI 27.0), May appears small. But the modest excess weight is all concentrated in her abdomen, i.e., in visceral fat.

By lipoprotein analysis via NMR (Liposcience), May's LDL particle number was 2912 nmol/L, or what I would call a "true" LDL of 291 mg/dl. (Drop the last digit.) Of the 2912 nmol/L LDL particles, 2678 nmol/L, or 92%, were small.

The bad news: This pattern of extremely high triglycerides, extremely high LDL particle number, low HDL, predominant small LDL, and diabetes poses high-risk for heart disease--no surprise. It earned her 7 stents so far. (Unfortunately, she has made no effort whatsoever to correct these patterns, despite repeated advice to do so.)

The good news: This collection is wonderfully responsive to diet. LDL particle number, small LDL, triglycerides, blood glucose, and HbA1c drop dramatically, while HDL increases. Heart disease will at least slow, if not stop.

It's amazing how far off human metabolism can go while indulging in carbohydrates, particularly a genetically carbohydrate-intolerance person. (Actually, I wouldn't be surprised if May's diet, as bad as it seems to you and me, still fits within the dictates of the USDA food pyramid.) The crucial step in diet to correct this smorgasbord of disaster is elimination of carbohydrates, especially that from wheat, cornstarch, and sugars.

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