The Weekly Thread: discover the real “bad” cholesterol, ditch the sunglasses for your health, and make the minutes of the day matter.
Remnant Cholesterol and its Correlation to Increased Risk of Metabolic Syndrome
A recent paper published in the prestigious journal Nature titled, “Remnant cholesterol can identify individuals with higher risk of metabolic syndrome in the general population” states that recent research points to remnant cholesterol being the true “bad cholesterol”, and an increase in it has a strong correlation to the development of metabolic syndrome.
What is Metabolic Syndrome and why does it matter?
Metabolic Syndrome is defined by the Mayo Clinic as a cluster of conditions that occur together, increasing your risk of heart disease, stroke, and Type II Diabetes. These conditions include high blood pressure, high blood sugar, excess body fat around the waist, and abnormal cholesterol or triglyceride levels.
Essentially, as the body ages, especially the more progressively it ages, it becomes less adept at metabolizing lipids and blood sugar, and when this gets to a point where it starts to cause real potential health concerns and problems, it’s deemed ‘Metabolic Syndrome’.
Once you’ve hit the point of having Metabolic Syndrome, your risk of developing serious health complications and disease goes up significantly.
Weight gain comes on more quickly, blood lipid profiles worsen, and insulin becomes more and more resistant, to the point of developing full on insulin resistance, or Type II Diabetes.
When I mentioned, “especially the more progressively it ages” above, with respect to the aging process on the body, what I’m referring to is an individual aging internally (biological age) at a rate faster than their actual age. This is brought on by a multitude of commonly known factors such as poor diet, poor lifestyle, lack of sleep, and excessive stress. All of which, especially when compounded, will increase your likelihood of developing Metabolic Syndrome earlier in life.
Just as someone’s biological age can increase at a rate faster than their actual age due to the aforementioned factors, one can age biologically more slowly than their actual age when diet and nutrition is good, they largely make good lifestyle choices, sleep well, and mitigate and remove stress from their life effectively. All of which will help you stave off Metabolic Syndrome and the development of disease.
This paper shows that remnant cholesterol is a strong indicator of overall metabolic health in the body, and thus, provides you a barometer to determine if you are at risk of developing, or maybe have developed Metabolic Syndrome.
Once you have drawn this correlation, you are then in a better position to analyze your diet and lifestyle and make changes accordingly, or maybe none at all, if your metabolic health seems to be very good.
How do you find out what your remnant cholesterol is?
Determining your remnant cholesterol is quite easy. Simply take your Total Cholesterol, and subtract both your LDL and HDL Cholesterol. The remaining number, which is essentially your remaining cholesterol, is your remnant cholesterol.
If you have recent blood work panels, you can go back and determine this number right away.
NOTE: This should be a blood work panel when fasted, whether you are referring to recent blood work, or referring to future blood work you will be getting done to determine your remnant cholesterol. Blood drawn while fasted will show an accurate depiction of your lipid profile, and provide a more accurate remnant cholesterol.
For example, let’s say your Total Cholesterol is 230, and your LDL is 120, and HDL is 90. (Measured in mg/dL)
230 (Total) - (120 (LDL) + 90 (HDL)) = 20 mg/dL
A 2021 study suggests that a remnant cholesterol of 24 mg/dL or more indicates a greater risk of stroke and heart disease, and and thus, an indicator of poor cardio-metabolic health. And generally, a remnant cholesterol 30-40 mg/dL and higher is considered an indicator of poor metabolic health, and potential for Metabolic Syndrome.
Anything under that is more ideal, and the lower it gets, the better the indicator of overall positive metabolic health.
Peeling Back the Layers
An interesting finding of this study is the difference between male and female in the correlation between high remnant cholesterol and Metabolic Syndrome.
Men, who, despite being more likely to have higher numbers in the remnant cholesterol range, have a lower correlation between high remnant cholesterol and the development of Metabolic Syndrome.
Meaning, women have a stronger correlation between high remnant cholesterol and the development of Metabolic Syndrome. So, if you’re a woman reading this, and you know your remnant cholesterol number, it’s probably worth placing greater importance on what this number is potentially telling you.
In fact, as women age, the incidence of Metabolic Syndrome goes up quite significantly by the decade.
Below is an outline of the incidence of Metabolic Syndrome in women by age range:
Under 30: < 1%
Furthermore, the paper draws a correlation between menopause, and the rate of Metabolic Syndrome stating:
“Additionally, with the beginning of menopause, the decline of skeletal muscle mass is accelerated, blood lipids deteriorate, and remnant cholesterol levels are significantly increased, all of which increase insulin resistance, which in turn, leads to metabolic syndrome.”
Basically, what they’re saying is that as women go through hormonal changes, and a reduction of progesterone, estrogen, and testosterone, they have a greater likelihood of losing muscle mass, which is critical for mitigating Metabolic Syndrome.
In short, women, at some point, you will be faced with inevitable hormonal changes that will negatively impact your ability to maintain muscle mass, which will negatively impact your overall metabolic health.
This brings us back to a recurring theme of this newsletter blog, and that is…
Lift weights and eat lots of high quality protein.
Protein not only doesn’t make you fat, but it actually speeds up metabolism, and the research shows, the more the better, both for supporting exercise recovery, supporting muscle mass, and boosting metabolism.
The earlier you start the better, as the stronger you are, heading into these inevitable hormonal changes, the less the loss in muscle mass will affect you!
Men, this also happens to you, so the message is the same.
I dedicated an entire Weekly Thread to the importance of muscle mass, strength, and protein in your diet for longevity. CLICK HERE to check it out.
Well, most of the time.
What I’m about to say is going to burst some bubbles…
Your sunglasses are doing more harm than good.
But let’s be honest, many of you aren’t wearing sunglasses thinking first of the eye protection, rather, for many of you who wear them regularly, I’m willing to bet, they’re more a fashion accessory first.
We, as human beings, evolved with the natural light waves of the sun…all of them.
To think certain light waves when exposed to the eyes generally are bad for your eyes, doesn’t make sense.
The light waves in question are UVA and UVB. These are the light waves that good sunglasses block.
Here’s the rub, and why they do more harm than good when worn regularly, or instinctually whenever outside; UVA and UVB waves are also the waves that cause the melanistic response from your skin when exposed to the sun.
When you block these waves of light from the eyes, you are thereby blocking the direct transmitter of these light waves to the brain, which means, the brain doesn’t recognize their presence.
This has two quite negative side effects:
- UVA and UVB (especially UVB) are the light waves that increase the production of the critical immune boosting, disease fighting hormone, D3 in the body. If your brain doesn’t recognize the presence of these waves because you’re literally blocking them from your eyes, it won’t produce nearly as much D3 when exposed to the sun, the only time it does so.
- Since these are the light waves that also cause the melanistic response, (they cause you to tan) in your skin, if you block the reception of them from the eyes to the brain, your body doesn’t respond as properly, and you are actually more likely to get a sunburn when wearing sunglasses outside. If you want to avoid burns, and get a better tan, ditch the sunglasses.
Do sunglasses have any actual utility?
Yes, but not as general eye protection that you put on immediately, and instinctively when you go outside.
They are useful when dealing with a glare.
When you are fighting a glare with your eyes, you are no longer observing a natural light wave, and using sunglasses to help block a glare is useful and beneficial.
- On bright, sunny winter days, when the sun is reflecting off the snow.
- Whenever dealing with a glare when driving.
- When out on the water, and the sun is reflecting off the water and creating a glare.
These are all great use cases for sunglasses, but outside of situations like these, ditch them, as they can dramatically reduce some of the benefits you get from the sun.
Make the minutes of the day matter. The rest takes care of itself.
The future doesn’t exist.
It’s all a figment of your imagination.
What we call, or view as “the future”, is actually a made up, hypothetical world you create in your own mind.
Everyone’s “future” is different, and quite frankly, no one truly knows what it will bring.
Yet, we spend so much time thinking, and then worrying about it.
Ever feel so overwhelmed that you were paralyzed with indecision?
You don’t know what to do next.
You don’t know where to start.
There’s just too much to do, too much to think about.
Start by making the minutes matter.
If you can start by focusing on the “here and now”, and win each and every minute, or even most minutes.
Those minutes add up.
And cumulatively, you make progress.
Probably more than you expected if you just keep making them matter.
If you make the minutes of the day matter, the future will take care of itself.
And heck, you might even be surprised by how good the future looks when you get there.