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Annual Physical Exam - 2015

By Gary F. Zeolla

        This article is an update to Adjusted Levels for Macronutrients, Electrolytes, and Water

On October 2, 2015 I had a doctor’s appointment for my annual physical exam. I was looking forward to this appointment as I had made a couple of significant changes to my diet since my last physical exam a year before, and I was interested to see how that affected my exam results. 

The first change I made was to increase my salt intake. Yes, increase it. I did so as I had been having low blood sodium levels for many years. I also had been following a low salt diet for as long as I can remember, with low meaning less than 2,000 mg/ day. I did so as that is the general recommendation to keep blood pressure low. And mine was always low, possibly too low.

My doctor only told me to decrease my water intake, but I could only do that so much, and it did not help. Prior to my exam last October (2014), I had increased my salt intake to 2,400 mg/ day, the maximum that is generally recommended. And my blood test that year showed my blood sodium levels were just into the normal range, being 135, with the normal range being 134-142, and my blood pressure was 104/ 64, with normal of course being 120/ 80.

But since then, I increased my sodium intake to 3,000 mg/ day. And with doing so, I have been feeling considerably better. My fibromyalgia fatigue is better, and I have been sleeping better at night. But did it improve my blood sodium levels, and did it elevate my blood pressure?

My sodium is now at: 135; the same as it was last year. Thus higher last intake did not increase it. That is strange, but it is what it is. My blood pressure this year was 119/ 74. Thus the systolic went up 19 points and the diastolic 10 points, so increasing salt intake does increase blood pressure. However, in my case, my blood pressure is still below normal, albeit just so. But that is good. It was probably too low before and that might have been contributing to my problems.

But it should be noted that my 3,000 mg intake is still less than the 3,466 mg the average American consumes (Live Science). Also, I consume an average of 4,800 mg of potassium a day, and the sodium to potassium ratio is just as important as the actual amount of sodium, as discussed in my Adjusted article.

The second major change I made was to increase my egg consumption from an average of one egg per day to two eggs per day. I did so as cholesterol is used by the body to make testosterone, and in the past I had been diagnosed with low testosterone levels. I corrected that through dietary changes, as discussed in my book God-given Foods Eating Plan. But now with being in my 50s, it is more of a challenge to keep the levels up, and with powerlifting again, doing so is especially important.

I did not have my testosterone levels checked at this doctor’s appointment, but I did have my blood lipids taken, and there was a significant change in them. Below are the numbers from a year ago and form my recent blood test:

Total Cholesterol: 189 (<200)
HDL: 69 (>39)
LDL: 112 (<100; Mayo Clinic: <130)*
TC/ HDL Ratio: 2.74 (<5.0)
Triglycerides: 40 (>150) 

Total Cholesterol: 210 (<200)
HDL: 69 (>39)
LDL: 132 (<100; Mayo Clinic: <130)*
TC/ HDL Ratio: 3.04 (<5.0)
Triglycerides: 61 (>150)

Thus after almost a year of eating two eggs/ day, my LDL cholesterol went up 20 points as compared to when I was averaging one egg/ day, and my triglycerides went up 21 points. Thus eating more cholesterol does increase blood cholesterol and triglyceride levels. The triglycerides are still very low, but whether this level of cholesterol is high depends on which standard I go by. The lab and thus my doctor says for LDL to <100, but Mayo Clinic recommends <130 mg/d for someone like myself with no other risk factors. See my Adjusted article for details.

But here, my levels would be significantly high based on the former, but only borderline high based on the latter. But either way, my still very high HDL levels keeps this LDL level from being a problem, and my doctor was not too concerned about it. But it is still something to consider.

Also, I have been feeling better since increasing from one egg to two per day. But I did so at the same time as increasing salt intake, and I think that is probably the more important change. So I will decrease my egg intake to in-between these two levels to ten eggs per week or about 1.5 per day. Hopefully, that will not make a difference in my testosterone levels but will bring my LDL levels to at below 130 and thus below at least the Mayo Clinic recommendation.

All of this is important as there are many who do not believe salt intake increases blood pressure or that dietary cholesterol increases blood cholesterol levels. I explain all of the reasoning in these regards in my “Adjusted” article. However, this experience has shown me otherwise. Increased salt intake does in fact increase blood pressure, and increased cholesterol intake does in fact increase blood cholesterol, at least for me.

In my case, the former is not problematic, but only because I began with low blood pressure, and the latter is only a slight problem, but only because of my very high HDL levels. But still, this is important information, so this article will serve as an update to my article Adjusted Levels for Macronutrients, Electrolytes, and Water. For a follow-up to this article, see Annual Physical Exam - 2016.

Annual Physical Exam - 2015. Copyright 2015 by Gary F. Zeolla.

The above article was posted on this site October 9, 2015.

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