How I used the FDA and USDA recommendations to control and alter FH diagnosed cholesterol.
In 2006 my husband had triple bypass surgery, at the age of 34. He was diagnosed (possibly improperly) with Hyperlipidemia Type IV. Later, in 2012, both of our daughters, aged 7 and 11, were diagnosed with what was at the time referred to as Familial Hypercholesterolemia (FH).
FH is a genetic condition that affects the body’s ability to filter cholesterol and/or control the making of and elimination of cholesterol. If you listen carefully, you will notice that no one seems to know anything conclusive except that it tends to run in families.
But then so does diet, lifestyle, personal habits, and attitudes regarding health and wellness.
Here is a short list of what we know about FH and about cholesterol:
- FH is a genetic condition.
- Yet, researchers do not/have not narrowed down specific genes related to it. (But according to the geneticists, they have…)
- HDL is the ‘good cholesterol’ and carries LDL back to the liver for disposal (per all the literature).
- Yet, raising HDL does not lower LDL.
- We know lots of things about FH, since the 1970’s there has been a struggle to raise awareness.
- Yet, 40 years later, we know nothing definitive about cholesterol production and elimination in the body.
- Triglycerides are an unknown variable and may or may not have something to do with overall CVD and heart disease risk.
- We can’t raise HDL. (Because we’ve never really tried)
My daughters’ highest cholesterol readings were 360 and 270. My younger daughter’s highest LDL was 302. Her older sister’s was 190.
Now, 2 years later, by managing diet alone… my younger daughter’s cholesterol was 212. Her LDL 160. My older daughter’s was 223. Her LDL 123. Both have had echocardiograms. Neither have arterial damage. Their inflammatory responses (CRP, fibrinogen, levels) are normal.
No one seems to be interested in their HDL or triglycerides. Although, my older daughter’s triglycerides, on the diet have never been over 60. Yet, her sister, if I let her loose with honey and other sweet toppings, has triglycerides that go triple digit (and so does her dad). Meanwhile, big sis has never had HDL below 46 (now it is 50). And her little sister has only twice had her HDL above 40. Now, it cannot be coaxed past 38.
So the ‘fix’ for my younger daughter’s borderline, 160, LDL is a statin drug.
160 is the cut-off.
159 and drugs are off the docket.
What to do?
Well, I think I will stick with our diet plan for now and see what happens. By the way, the diet I created was not imaginary. It was based on known research data regarding cholesterol ‘elimination’ in the body. And of the vitamins and minerals that support cell structure and thus arterial walls.
The diet plan I created was copied, almost word for word, straight over from the USDA and FDA requirements per a 2000 calorie a day diet.
Here’s the official, check-the-!%#*-website, breakdown:
- Minimum 25 grams of fiber a day, from natural sources (beans, legumes, whole grains). Not to exceed 40.
- 6-8 8 ounce glasses of WATER daily (you need this to process the fiber)
- Maximum 40 grams of sugar (natural and added)
- Maximum 25 grams of added sugar (in addition to the 15 natural)
- 9 inch MyPlate portions: 2 vegetables, starch, and a meat (or meat or protein alternative)
- Meat portion is 2-3 ounces per serving
- Starch portion is ½ to 1 cup (no more than half the meal)
- Non or low-starch veggies are ½ the plate (funny that my dad was adamant about the same thing back in 1976)
- Fish is 1-2 times per week
- Chicken or turkey is once per week
- 2 eggs allowance per week (occasionally 3)
- Low fat cheese once a week (or vegan/veggie cheese 2 times)
- 1% milk – 8 ounces per day
- Unsweetened, vanilla, almond milk – 8 ounces per day
- Potato or corn – 1-2 times per week
- Apples – daily, minimum 5 days/week
- Bananas, melons, or other high fructose/starchy fruits are 2-3 times per month
- 100% juice – 4-6 ounces per day max
That is not a complete list. I am sure that I have forgotten some small caveat to the diet. However, this gives you an idea of what goes through my head on a daily basis as I tally up the list of things my family has eaten and will eat in the next day, week, or month.
Honestly, 3 years into this ordeal, and I have to say that it is pretty easy.
What isn’t easy is dealing with the social repercussions of the diet.
My daughters, in public school, are subjected daily to the excesses of the inane food culture that defines itself as ‘American’. Hell, let’s just call it ‘white’ American… although, other ethnicities are absorbing it now too…
Food bullying is a daily, weekly occurrence. I have to deal with a weepy teen and pre-teen on a regular basis. It never fails that some kid waved a national food chain pizza slice in their face, or teased them because their hummus looked like ‘poop’.
In my usual mode… I am just thankful that my girls will tell me when other kids are being complete %#*%#*s.
When that mode fails and I want to scream to the four corners… this is what I would say:
Please, for the love of God and all that is good in this world… tell your kids to eat their vegetables. Tell them to not tease other kids for eating theirs… stop the merry-go-round.
What would you do if you were told that stopping your kids from eating cupcakes and pizza would help them live past the age of 28?
If you want to put it in perspective… for those that don’t have children with any diet related genetic predispositions; do you want your kids to live past the age of 60?
I will leave you to ponder the options.
For now… I have to plan out next week’s meals. Because I have already made my decision.
 Yes. I am a little upset right now. Apologies later. For now… deal.
 If you want to know why… please, by all means, exceed 40. But learn from it. Going over 40 reduces vitamin absorption to dangerous levels and has other… um… undesirous consequences. (Drink plenty of water that day.)