The Trouble With Wheat # 7: LDL Particle Size and Heart Disease
You should know about LDLs from all the ads on TV. “Lower your cholesterol and prevent a heart attack” they promise. “Take our statin!”, they hawk. It’s your LDL’s they are after, not your cholesterol per se. And your money. The current understanding is that it’s not really your cholesterol they are after but the number and size of your LDL particles. Small, dense, oxidized LDLs are troublesome. They are the ones that weasel their ways into your arteries and start the plaque formation in your artery walls. Just take a pill and don’t change anything. We’ll allow you to live the lifestyle your are used to. (SAD but true: SAD stands for Standard American Diet)
We have done articles before about LDLs and HDLs. By and large, HDLs are protective and function as your body’s garbage trucks. They scour your arteries for left-over cholesterol and take it back to your liver for reprocessing. You want a high HDL count. But more importantly, you want a low LDL count. They are your body’s teenagers, carelessly throwing garbage out the window of their cars, littering your body with trash. But LDLs aren’t so bad in and off themselves. Large, fluffy LDLs are benign cholesterol carriers. Your body needs cholesterol in all of its membranes, so having a means of transporting it isn’t so bad. Your liver receptors recognize large LDLs, pull them out of circulation and reprocess them. It’s the little, dense LDLs that don’t fit in the liver LDL receptor so last longer in the blood (5 days versus 3). And small LDLs get oxidized easier and get glycated easier, both of which cause them to participate in plaque formation more readily.
The question arises, “What does wheat do to my LDLs?”. Simple. The more you eat, the smaller, denser, more inflamed and glycated your LDLs. And the more wheat you eat, the lower your HDLs. Pretty simple. Both change. The bad get worse. The good get worse. The reason is wrapped around the easily digested glucose, the rapid rise of sugar and the subsequent quick response of insulin.
And that’s the trouble with wheat. We grind it up into talcum powder flour and then process that into 20% of the calories we eat. It’s not just bread, but cookies, cakes, donuts, tacos, cereals, bagels, muffins, brownies, croissants, pita, chapattis, breading on your fried food, croutons in your salad…..on and on. Try going gluten free and you will find just how ubiquitous wheat is. Roughly 20% of America’s calories come from wheat. In that regard, wheat is not alone in causing trouble. Any freely available carbs will do the same. Potatoes and rice aren’t much better. They just aren’t as common and don’t participate in as many products.
In fact, you can look at your HDLs and measure how well you are doing at a low carb diet. Dr Westman, at Duke, professes that he uses HDLs to measure compliance with low carb diets. Each person has an individual HDL sensitivity which can be discovered by measuring your HDLs as you gradually add carbs back. Dr. Westman has observed HDLs as high as 100 for folks on low carb diets for 5 years.
WWW. What Will Work for me! The pattern is getting clearer. We have an epidemic of heart disease, caused by small, dense, oxidized, glycated LDLs, caused by processed, refined carbohydrates, of which wheat is the most common. Want to get better? Cut the wheat! Want big, fluffy, safe LDLs? Eat more vegetables and meat.
Written by John E Whitcomb, MD Brookfield Longevity and Healthy Living Clinic, 17585 W North Ave, Suite 160 Brookfield, WI 53045 262-784-5300