I had my annual physical or "well-being check" this year and was very pleased with the results. Of course, there are probably 50 different items that they look at, most of which are quite dry and uninteresting. However, a few them are of great interest and, in my opinion, whould be of great interest to almost any man. I will highlight them one by one:
1. LDL = 71 mg/dl.
If you've read my blog much, you know I'm into a Low Fat Diet and attempting to control and, ideally, regress some of the arterial plaque I may have accumulated from years of low testosterone and fast food. I discuss in my link on the Ideal LDL Level to Get Your Arteries Back, the level that Esselstyn shoots for with his plaque-regressing strategy is 80 and the heavyweight Ornish recommends 70 for those with heart disease. So I am in good company at least and on target to actually improve my plaque levels and boost nitric oxide.
2. Triglycerides = 83 mg/dl.
This read particularly pleased me. One of the criticisms of Low Fat Diets is that they can in some cases raise triclycerides, which is a risk factor for both heart disease and erectile dysfunction. I have always contented that a low glycemic Low Fat Diet would do nothing of the kind and I have been very careful to incorporate that philsophy. In addition, I supplement with extra protein (egg whites, some non fat yogurt, and undenatured rice protein. This further lowers the need for carbs and, apparently, it is working quite well on my trilyceride levels. The typical recommendation is for triglycerides to be less than 150. Dr. William Davis, a cardiologist and champion of regressing plaque, insists that hi followers are lower than 100. So I was pleasantly surprised to find that I was even well below his rather conservative threshold.
3. Creatinine = 1.35 mg/dl.
I was particularly proud of this rather obscure lab result. Creatinine is taken during a physical to monitor kidney function. However, it is not as well known that it is also an indirect measure of muscle mass. In general, the more muscle you have, the higher your creatinine read will be. And the importance of this is that low creatinine is a new risk factor for developing diabetes, something that some people in my family have developed in their middle-aged and senior years. I have been working hard in the gym and have put on a fair amount of muscle and it's nice to see that it may be having a protective effect on my overall health.
4. Hematocrit = 43.9%; Hemoglobin = 15.4 g/dl; RBC = 12.5 million/cubic mm.
One of the big risk factors for heart disease, dementia and possibly colon cancer is elevated stored iron levels in tissues. Iron doesn't just rust your car - it can do an nasty job of oxidizing many of your tissues as well. This is why I was pleased to find that I was on the low end of the range for all three of these indicators related to plasma iron levels. What is particularly surprising is that I am lowish in iron levels in spite of my testosterone being at the upper end of the range, a subject I will discuss in more detail below. Remember that testosterone stimulate production of a key kidney hormone (EPO) that drives red blood cell production in the bone marrow. Some men on HRT struggle with elevated iron levels and I believe that my very limitied consumption of red meats is largely responsible. (I have not donated blood in quite awhile (for no good reason as I believe donating blood is a GREAT idea).
5. Total Testosterone = 1346 ng/dl.
This shocked me. I did not even know that my primary doctor was going to pull my testosterone but found that it was a little too high. I dicussed this with my HRT clinician and he agreed. They shoot for 1100-1200 ng/dl peak and so we backed off my dosage of testosterone cypionate even further to a weekly dosage of 120 ng/dl. Eventually, I might like to lower that even a bit further.
6. Vitamin D (25 Hydroxy) = 65 nh/ml.
This level surprised me. It is higher than past reads and I am generally taking a little less Vitamin D than in the past over the possibilit of pushing calcium in the soft tissues, i.e. arteries. My regimen has generally been just 2000 IU per day. I am not sure what to do about this as most of the capsules come in 1000 IU increments and I do not necessarily want to go all the way down to 1000 IU per day.
6. Abs Definition.
My doctor didn't measure this one, but I'm putting it in as a side comment. I now have a line down the middle of my abs to the navel. This is even better definition than I had in college.
7. Arimidex Reduction.
I believe that losing a little more weight has made it possible for my HRT clinic to reduce my Armidex dosage from .5 mg 2X/week to .25 mg 3X/week. I'd like to eventually get off of Arimidex or at least get the dose down a quarter mg 2X/week. Minimizing and/or eliminating pharmaceuticals is one of my big goals.
7. HDL = 25 mg/dl.
I can tell you that almost for sure this lower than any HDL level ever posted on the Peak Testosterone Forum. So am I concerned since HDL is the "good" cholesterol. Here is something that most men don't realize: you only need elevated HDL if you are eating fat. The more fat you eat, the more HDL you need. A shining example of this are the Tarahumara Indians. This indigenous group (in Mexico) have NO heart disease and NO hypertension and are known for incredible longevity. Their HDL levels and total cholesterol levels are almost exactly the same as mine. So I feel I am on track and, as I say, in good company. However, I do feel I need to do some follow up work on this. Dr. William Davis points out that some men can have elevated Lp(a) and still, in spite of very healthy lifestyle and cholesterol numbers, end up with arterial issues. So I plan on getting some of these types of lipid tests as soon as possible.