If I Could Take It There

I could take it anywhere.

Well, I can take it mostly anywhere, but not here. At least not anymore.

Sorry. That was a long way to go to butcher a song lyric. And what the hell am I talking about?

As most of you probably know, it’s incredibly easy these days to have complete control over the diagnostic portion of your health care. You can go online, select and order blood and other diagnostic tests, and get the results online — in many cases, for much cheaper than if you had paid out-of-pocket for doctor-ordered tests. Easy, that is, except in seven states: MA, MD, ND, SD, NJ, RI, and good ‘ole New York, New York. For whatever reason, legislators in these states have decided that information is inherently dangerous, and you need to be protected from obtaining it without a doctor’s supervision.

Which means this experiment shouldn’t have been possible for me. But thankfully, one company — Direct Labs out of Florida — essentially cobbled together a workaround. A limited number of tests could be ordered online, at which point a requisition form would be generated by a doctor in FL that you could print out and bring to LabCorp.

At least you could until about three days after I last posted. Which is when under pressure from the NY Attorney General, Direct Labs terminated its so-called Direct Access program.

I had a brief email exchange with their CEO; she doesn’t believe she was breaking any laws by administering the workaround, nevertheless, she stated that her company couldn’t shoulder the legal and financial burden of trying to fight it.

Which of course makes me reallllly wish I had wrapped up this thing on its original schedule. Because without an ongoing way to order the NMR tests (if I haven’t mentioned it before, my doctors never wanted any part in this endeavor), I can’t really continue.

There is the option of getting the tests done in Pennsylvania. The biggest hurdle there is it would require the time and fuel for a four-hour round-trip to the closest lab. The financial costs of that are potentially doable; the time requirements haven’t been.

The time to make the required remaining trips down there will potentially open up when I finish the semester in May, but this latest setback is making the whole thing seem like a giant windmill I’m tilting at.

Any ideas welcome. Also, if you live in any of the states that have made online test ordering illegal (or even if you don’t), write somebody. Write the AG or your congressperson. The notion that we need to be protected from information about ourselves is insane in 2015.

It’s amazing that both the genetic and diagnostic testing that originally inspired and made this experiment possible — at least in New York — both no longer exist.


So I wrapped up the Potato diet on Sunday night. 42.3 pounds of potatoes over three weeks. On Monday I went for two blood tests. One was my standard self-purchased NMR and metabolic panel at LabCorp. The other was a scheduled basic lipid panel at my cardiologists office. It wasn’t a happy coincidence — I had scheduled it to coincide with the potato diet completion, as I was hoping to use the (hopefully improved) results to finally broach the subject of my experiment with the doc.

Over the past 48 hours I received two voicemail from his office to go over the lab results. Uh-oh. They never call to discuss results unless something negative is up. But what? The numbers couldn’t possibly be worse after three weeks of no-fat/no-cholesterol, could they? Did I have some wacky metabolic numbers?

Well, turns out the call was to discuss this:

LDL-C: 110 (down from the pre-potato baseline of 145, and from the last doctor labs of 161 in August 2013)
HDL-C: 28 (down from the pre-potato baseline of 50, and from the last doctor labs of 34 in August 2013)

To tell you the truth, I thought there would be a greater reduction in the LDL, even from just three weeks. Of course, the doc thinks I’ve been on Lipitor for the past six months, so he was even more concerned, since his target os an LDL-C of <100, preferably 70. As for the HDL, well, I wasn't eating any fat or cholesterol, so I would expect a reduction here as well. The NMR results should be back later this week hopefully. Also will be posting a wrap-up of the potato diet (intakes, etc) in the next day or two.

Denise Minger post on finding the diet that’s right for you (and a mini potato update)

Denise Minger did a guest post on Ben Greenfield’s blog the other day where she lends another voice to the idea that finding out what diet works for you requires a bit of self-experimentation:

None of it made sense. How could people embark on such wildly different diets and achieve similar success (or similar failure, for that matter)? How could one person feel better cutting out meat and another feel fabulous eating it with every meal? Why couldn’t the experts even agree on what we should be putting in our mouths? Answering those questions has fueled my own research adventures over the years, both to satisfy my curiosity and to save my sanity. Maybe you’re in the same boat.

Read the rest of the post here.

And while I’m here: Sixteen days on potatoes under my belt (literally) with five more to go. I don’t even think about it at this point. Where am I at?

  • Down 10.8 lbs, though my crappy Omron handheld body fat “analyzer” shows only a trivial reduction in body fat %, so I’m how much of this is really water and a bit of muscle. Then again, it’s crappy.
  • I’m freezing. It *is* 0° out, but to me it feels like -50, and I’m pretty acclimated to the cold at this point. Or at least I was.

Denise mentions being cold in the post above as a result of veganism. Maybe that’s why all the vegans are in California and Texas.

I suspect that it’s not the veganism per se, but the absolute lack of any dietary fat. Though most vegan diets tend towards low-fat. For purposes of the experiment, I’m going to keep the fat % for my implementation of the vegan diet similar to that of the Mediterranean diet, to see if the level of protein/inclusion/lack-of of meat has any impact on the test results.

Secondary baseline results are in

As I mentioned a few posts back, since so much time had elapsed since the end of the paleo diet, I had blood drawn for an NMR and metabolic panel this past Friday. Liposcience’s lab must have been set on overdrive, as the results were made available to me today. With no further adieu (we’re looking at the fifth column here):

 Original NMR: 4/12/13Pre-Calcium Scan: 8/8/13Experiment Baseline: 9/27/13Post-Paleo: 10/19/13Secondary Baseline: 1/3/14Post-Potato: 1/27/14Tertiary Baseline/Post-Six Weeks Statins: 3/31/14Post-Mediterranean Post-PSMFPost-VeganPost-Experiment: Selected Diet w/Statin
Total Cholesterol218209224272212154126
Large HDL-P1.8< 0.7< 0.7<
Small LDL-P7716708141181395728528
Large VLDL-P0.< 0.81.1
LDL Size20.720.720.920.621.221.220.4
HDL Size<< 8.3< 8.3< 8.48.7
VLDL SizeNot measureable41.338.9Not measureable45.8Not measureable36.8
LP-IR Score44514646614043
 Experiment Baseline: 9/27/13Post-Paleo: 10/19/13Secondary Baseline: 1/3/14Post-Potato: 1/27/14Tertiary Baseline/Post-Six Weeks Statins: 3/31/14Post-MediterraneanPost-PSMFPost-VeganPost-Experiment: Selected Diet w/StatinREFERENCE INTERVAL
Glucose, Serum8590857695TBDTBDTBDTBD65-99 mg/dL
BUN1420129156-24 mg/dL
Creatinine, Serum0.920.810.840.940.880.76-1.27 mg/dL
BUN/Creatinine Ratio15251410179-20
eGFR103110109100107> 59 mL/min/1.73
Sodium, Serum140138139139142134-144 mmol/L
Potassium, Serum4. mmol/L
Chloride, Serum10310310110110497-108 mmol/L
Carbon Dioxide, Total252523242419-28 mmol/L
Calcium, Serum9. mmol/L
Protein, Total, Serum7. g/dL
Albumin, Serum4. g/dL
Globulin, Total2. g/dL
A/G Ratio1.
Bilirubin, Total0. mg/dL
Alkaline Phosphatase, S544961635644-102 IU/L
AST (SGOT)17151614180-40 IU/L
ALT (SGPT)23172313230-44 IU/L

Some of the numbers here are the best I’ve gotten back — most notably the HDL and Small-LDL particle sizes. It’s also interesting that even though these are only the third lowest LDL particle count numbers, the calculated LDL is the lowest yet at 145, though you can still see a consistent correlation between LDL-C and LDL-P, which isn’t really even thrown off by the record high triglyceride count of 86 (triglycerides are used to calculate LDL-C, which is why you’re always asked to fast). That number is what is driving up their proprietary LP-IR score to 61.

I’d say the results are pretty good. They’re certainly an improvement over the Paleo results. And really, all I did was cease mainlining meat and eggs. But I still ate them, along with my fair share of Christmas cookies and the like. I had holiday meals both out and in with my family and my girlfriend’s family, so again, what’s represented here is simply bringing fat and protein consumption back in line with an American average for the holidays.

This just has me more excited for the Potato results.