Estrogen HRT and LDL Cholesterol

The HRT regimen that my health car professional has suggested is a combination of Spironolactone (“spiro”) and Estrogen. This fits well with what I’ve read on the subject.

Before either of these were prescribed, I was sent to a lab for blood tests. The tests show that I’m in fine shape as to starting Spironolactone, and so this was prescribed. As to Estrogen, the LDL ratio in my blood was too high, and so taking Estrogen would be unsafe.

LDL is an acronym for low-density lipoproteins a.k.a. “bad cholesterol” even though technically LDL isn’t actually cholesterol, according to Wikipedia. LDL basically builds up plaque in the arteries, which (estrogen or no estrogen) is a serious health risk. Violence and car crashes aside, the high ratio of LDL is the largest risk to my health.

I resolved to eat better and exercise more, and I did. I focused on ab and butt exercises, plus various belly dancing routines. I ate more fiber, including more peas, beans and oatmeal, and I also ate more nuts, salmon and olive oil. Two months later, the results of the next blood test showed no improvement. In fact, the LDL ratio had actually gotten worse. So, no estrogen for me, any time soon.  Besides, the numbers were so bad that I needed to pursue a correction aggressively.

My mom is a dietician so I asked her advice. She explained that I was on the right track but needed to remove cheddar cheese from my diet (I was eating a lot of that) and get more sleep. And, she advise that I focus on more yet of all the good things that I was already doing. My mom reminded me that all my muscle-building exercises were no substitute for some intense cardio, and that I needed to exercise intensely enough to get my heart rate up and keep it there for a while.

My mom had had a client with a similar dilemma, and my mom has looked into the medication that her client was considering, as prescribed by her physician. The side effects were so problematic that my mom, no stranger to side effects herself, suggested making that medication a last resort only after diet and exercise had been optimized. She gave me the same advice. Ironically, this conversation occurred the evening before Thanksgiving, November 26th.

For many in the US, Thanksgiving Day is the one day of the year when they eat too much. For me, it would be the first day of eating exceptionally well, and exercising intensely too. And so it was.

A few years ago, I made some custom software that tracks what I eat, and here is a screen-shot of what yesterday looked like until about 11 p.m. after which I had three more cups of coffee, two glasses of water and a square of dark chocolate.

TGDAY

A key principle that helps me is to consider every calorie to be precious and to use every one wisely, for maximum fiber, protein, Omega-3 and the good sort of fat (unsaturated fat). And, with all the protein I’m eating plus being on Spiro, I need to drink A LOT of water. So, I did. By bedtime I’d had 25 eight-ounce glasses of water, either pure or in coffee or milk.

Here’s an example of my reasoning, in case it helps you: HDL is an acronym for high-density lipoproteins a.k.a. “good cholesterol” even though technically HDL isn’t actually cholesterol, according to Wikipedia. HDL basically removes plaque build-up from the arteries, which is a very good thing. Niacin (Vitamin B3) can play a role in increased HDL, so making sure I get enough of that would be good. That’s why I eat wholewheat bread. But, I just read the label carefully. A 120-calorie slice provides only 6% of the Niacin I need. I’d have to eat an entire loaf of bread per day to get enough Niacin from bread, and then I’d have used up my calorie quota for the day with all sorts of important nutrients having been neglected. So, then I read that peanut butter is a good source of niacin, as are eggs (because these contain Tryptophan, which breaks down as Niacin). And since I already eat decent amounts of peanut butter and eggs, I can stop being concerned about my Niacin even if I reduce the amount of bread in my diet.

As to exercise, I had decided on dancing, and so I huffed and puffed while refining my dance moves.

After two months of this, we’ll see that the next blood test shows.

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