Saturday, September 29, 2012

Everything You Need to Know About Cholesterol, LDL, and Heart Disease

Ah, back to cholesterol.  I know I've written about cholesterol a lot in the past, but this one is a game changer.  This information blows the doors off the current thinking in the cholesterol-heart-disease world, and it'll change the way you think about cholesterol.  (Credit goes to Dr. Peter Attia, whose presentation at AHS 2012 just blew my mind.  His 10-part series The Straight Dope on Cholesterol is here, and the shortened version on Mark's Daily Apple is here and here.)  What if I told you that the standard cholesterol test your doctor orders for you is useless? And what if I said it's not cholesterol that's important for heart disease risk, it's the LDL particle itself?

Okay, now you're probably thinking Hey Burn!  LDL is cholesterol, it's the bad cholesterol!  Ugh.  Before I go any further, we need to go over some basics.  Cholesterol is cholesterol.  There is no "good" and "bad".  Cholesterol is only one thing, and it's vitally important to every cell in your body.  LDL and HDL are something different.  They're not cholesterol at all, rather they are the molecules that carry cholesterol (and other fats) throughout the body to places where it is needed.  Cholesterol can't just float around the blood by itself; it needs a carrier.  Just imagine LDL as the "boat", and think of cholesterol as the "cargo".  Here's a nice little diagram of an LDL particle.  This little guy will be the subject of today's post.

The LDL particle, chock full of cholesterol.

You can see here that the LDL particle is full of cholesterol.  LDL particles can vary in how much cholesterol they hold, and their size is proportional in this way.  Small ones hold smaller amounts of cholesterol, while larger ones hold more cholesterol.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Meatloaf Enhancer and the Tragedy of Nursing Home Food

Lately, I’ve had the pleasure of doing some internship hours at a local nursing home.  Or "long-term care facility"; it seems like the term nursing home is frowned upon and/or avoided.  Not sure when that changed.  But anyway, I’ve been learning the ins and outs of nursing home food service.  As you know, elderly adults living in these long-term care facilities get nearly all of their food from the kitchen there.  And now that I've spent a few weeks in the dietary department, I can safely say that I'd rather be dead than subsisting on this non-food garbage for my last remaining years.

Exaggeration?  Absolutely not.  This shit isn't even food.  Example #1...  My first day in the nursing home.  I'm watching the cook prepare some meatloaf for that night's dinner.  He opens a 10 pound package of ground beef and dumps it into the big mixer.  Next, I'm expecting to see some chopped onions, garlic, bread crumbs, eggs, carrots, butter, etc.  You know, the stuff you put in meatloaf.  But NO.  Nothing could have prepared me for the abomination that came next.  Ladies and gentlemen, I give you Meatloaf Enhancer...

26 oz. of powder, ready to enhance meatloaf on your command.  Just add one packet to 10 pounds of ground beef, put it in the oven, and you're done!  Why use fresh vegetables and real food ingredients when you can get everything you need in a convenient shelf-stable pouch?  Oh god where do I even fucking begin...