Low Serum Cholesterol in Newborn Babies

Don Matesz, who has embraced low-fat and low-cholesterol dieting, recently stated that “I now consider anything over ~160 mg/dl [to be] excess serum cholesterol” and cited in his support the Cordain-Eaton claims that healthy hunter-gatherers had low serum cholesterol. Of course, we looked at that and found that healthy hunter-gatherers generally had serum cholesterol over 200 mg/dl and that hunter-gatherers with low serum cholesterol generally had high infectious burdens and short lifespans. See:

When Erik referenced our series and asked, “What do you think of the argument that low cholesterol in hunter gatherer populations stems from infections and parasites?”, Don replied:

Mean total blood cholesterol of healthy human neonates is about 72 mg/dl.

Is this due to infections and parasites?

In case this question was not merely rhetorical, let me answer: No.

But it’s an interesting biology question. Why do neonates have low serum cholesterol?

Neonates and Infants

The study that Don cited [1] looked at cord blood from neonates. Cord blood is blood that circulates on the fetal side of the placenta in utero. As soon as the baby is delivered, the cord is cut and blood ceases to circulate.

So the cord blood serum cholesterol of 70.3 mg/dl is really sampling fetal cholesterol – the blood of babies who have never eaten and never breathed.

The not eating part is relevant, because HDL is generated from the metabolism of chylomicrons created in the intestine when fat is eaten, and LDL is generated from VLDL particles that carry excess calories as triglycerides from the liver. So eating generates LDL and HDL. We might expect that LDL and HDL, and thus TC, levels will rise as soon as the neonate starts feeding.

We can check this out by looking at cholesterol levels in infants. The following data is from Japan [2], but any healthy population would give similar results:

Serum total cholesterol in infants, mg/dl, by feeding method

Infant Age Formula-fed Partially breastfed Breastfed
One month 117 142 163
Six months 140 162 194

Source: Tables 2 and 3, Isomura et al 2011.

The key data is in the rightmost column, the breastfed babies. By one month postpartum, TC is 163 mg/dl (“excess serum cholesterol” on Don’s view). By six months, it is 194 mg/dl.

Formula fed babies had a much smaller rise in TC.

To understand the pattern of this data, let’s look at three issues:

  • Why do formula-fed babies have lower TC than breastfed babies?
  • Why do neonates have low TC?
  • Why do breastfed babies end up with TC near 200 mg/dl?

Formula is a lipid-deficient food

Why do formula fed babies have lower serum cholesterol? One contributing factor may be a dietary lipid deficiency.

Human breast milk is rich in cholesterol. One study found that the cholesterol content of human breast milk follows a diurnal rhythm with a low of 140 mg/L during sleeping hours and early morning, and a high of 220 mg/L in the afternoon and evening. Other studies agree that human breast milk always has more than 100 mg/L cholesterol. Babies typically drink 750 mL/day, so a breastfed baby’s daily cholesterol intake is 100 to 200 mg.

Scaled by body weight, this would be the equivalent of 1.5 to 3 grams cholesterol per day for adults – approximately ten times the typical cholesterol intake of American adults.

Clearly, evolution thinks babies should get plenty of cholesterol.

But cholesterol levels in formula are much lower:

Since … infant formulas contain very little cholesterol (10 to 30 mg/L) (Huisman et al., 1996; Wong et al., 1993), it is not surprising that plasma cholesterol concentrations are higher in infants fed human milk than in formula-fed infants.

I guess the formula makers don’t consider cholesterol to be a desirable nutrient. This may be an extremely consequential mistake.

Low TC in Neonates May Have Evolved to Suppress Immunity

So why do neonates have a very low TC?

In addition to fat and cholesterol transport, LDL and HDL both have immune functions. Low serum cholesterol signifies a loss of these immune functions. Normal immune function is associated with TC around 200 mg/dl or higher.

But infants are well known to have suppressed immunity. This is important: if the fetus had an ability to generate antibodies and mount an immune response, it might generate immune attacks against the mother leading to miscarriage.

After birth, a baby’s immune system gradually matures:

A baby’s immune system is not fully developed until he/she is about six months-old. In the meantime, pregnant mothers pass immunoglobulin antibodies from their bloodstream, through the placenta, and to the fetus. These antibodies are an essential part of the fetus’s immune system. They identify and bind to harmful substances, such as bacteria, viruses, and fungi that enter the body. This triggers other immune cells to destroy the foreign substance….

Immediately after birth, the newborn has high levels of the mother’s antibodies in the bloodstream. Babies who are breastfed continue to receive antibodies via breast milk…. This is called passive immunity because the mother is “passing” her antibodies to her child. This helps prevent the baby from developing diseases and infections.

During the next several months, the antibodies passed from the mother to the infant steadily decrease. When healthy babies are about two to three months old, the immune system will start producing its own antibodies. During this time, the baby will experience the body’s natural low point of antibodies in the bloodstream. This is because the maternal antibodies have decreased, and young children, who are making antibodies for the first time, produce them at a much slower rate than adults.

Once healthy babies reach six months of age, their antibodies are produced at a normal rate.

LDL particles, by presenting pathogen toxins to macrophages which can then present them on MHC molecules, play an important role in the generation of antibodies. (See Blood Lipids and Infectious Disease, Part II, July 12, 2011.) Low LDL signifies a reduced ability to generate antibodies.

Low LDL is therefore highly desirable as long as the baby remains in the womb, and in fact LDL levels are very low in utero.

But persistent low LDL after birth is dangerous: it makes the infant vulnerable to infections. Likewise, HDL has important immune functions (see HDL and Immunity, April 12, 2011). So LDL and HDL gradually rise to normal physiological levels, finally reaching a TC of 200 mg/dl after 6 months in breastfed babies – precisely when the babies attain normal immune function.

If TC of 190 mg/dl or higher signifies normal immune function, then formula fed babies are still immune suppressed at 6 months. Extrapolating the rise in TC, partially breast fed babies might achieve normal immune function at 12 months and formula fed babies might not achieve normal immunity until age 24 months!

Immunity Matters for Infant Health

I don’t want to delve too deeply into this, but infants are vulnerable to infections – this is why infant mortality has always been high. It still is today, and 6 months of age is still the canonical age when the danger lessens:

Globally, approximately 4,000,000 children less than 6 months of age die each year at a rate of 450 deaths per hour. In addition, high hospitalization costs for infected infants are incurred in the United States with an annual estimated cost of $690,000,000.

Formula feeding definitely escalates the risk:

In the United States, more than 40% of all infant hospitalizations are attributable to infectious disease … Diarrhoeal diseases and digestive tract infections are the most common infectious diseases in infants….

Breast feeding has been shown to have a number of beneficial effects in infants, including protection against infectious and allergic diseases. [3]

In this study, 41% of formula-fed infants developed infections between ages 5 and 8 months. [3]

A study from Brazil [4] shows that breastfeeding makes a huge difference in infant mortality:

In a population-based case-control study of infant mortality in two urban areas of southern Brazil, the type of milk in an infant’s diet was found to be an important risk factor for deaths from diarrhoeal and respiratory infections. Compared with infants who were breast-fed with no milk supplements, and after adjusting for confounding variables, those completely weaned had 14.2 and 3.6 times the risk of death from diarrhoea and respiratory infections, respectively. Part-weaning was associated with corresponding relative risks (RR) of 4.2 and 1.6. [4]

Now, deficient serum cholesterol is not the sole factor accounting for higher mortality in formula fed babies. But it is a contributing factor.


If serum cholesterol is healthiest below 160 mg/dl, then formula fed babies have excellent blood lipids despite a high disease and mortality rate, but breastfed babies are already in trouble at age one month and are suffering a shocking dyslipidemia at age six months, despite excellent health.

I think that’s absurd. A more logical interpretation of the evidence is this.

Healthy babies achieve serum cholesterol levels around the adult norm of 200 mg/dl by age six months.

Serum cholesterol levels below 190 mg/dl or so indicate immune suppression and increased risk of infectious disease – whatever the age of the human in question. Formula fed babies are immune suppressed for an extended period – well beyond the six month period of a healthy breastfed baby.

There are multiple causes of low serum cholesterol. A high infectious burden is one; never having eaten is another; a lipid-deficient diet is a third. But there is no evidence I am aware of suggesting that low serum cholesterol is a desirable condition.


[1] Mishkel MA. Neonatal plasma lipids as measured in cord blood. Can Med Assoc J. 1974 Oct 19; 111(8):775-80. http://pmid.us/4370703.

[2] Isomura H et al. Type of milk feeding affects hematological parameters and serum lipid profile in Japanese infants. Pediatr Int. 2011 Mar 21. http://pmid.us/21418403.

[3] Picaud JC et al. Incidence of infectious diseases in infants fed follow-on formula containing synbiotics: an observational study. Acta Paediatr. 2010 Nov;99(11):1695-700. http://pmid.us/20560895.

[4] Victora CG et al. Evidence for protection by breast-feeding against infant deaths from infectious diseases in Brazil. Lancet. 1987 Aug 8;2(8554):319-22. http://pmid.us/2886775.

Leave a comment ?


  1. Hah! Great post. I’d been wondering about how fast cholesterol climbs – considering the neonatal diet – I’d guessed pretty fast but didn’t guess it was near 200 in six months. I can see the eyes of statin makers light up everywhere. Babies with hypercholesterolemia. Awesome.

  2. Great post Paul.

    Excess cholesterol in babies….hhhmmm…I should also note that babies have an irritating tendency to cry…in excess….hhhmmmmm

    And if they cry in excess, that must mean they are unhappy, and if they are unhappy — well, let’s start ’em with some anti-depressants. Can never start too young!!!!


    Cut to: Executive at Big Pharma rubbing his hands together, “Tweens? That’s so eight days ago. We’re going after the depressed newborn market!”

    “Soma” of the Brave New World is coming soon….

  3. Paul, thanks for another excellent post. Good stuff!

    Emily, scary thought the statin formula. Babytor? Neonator?

  4. In Staffan Lindeberg’s “Food and Western Disease,” he wrote:

    Mild forms of atherosclerosis, however, were seen in elephants from both environments, primarily among young, suckling elephants or females who were pregnant or breastfeeding. This form of early atherosclerosis can be easily reversed, and it is also seen in humans [1372,1715] (M.F. Oliver, unpublished observations).

    Couldn’t atherosclerosis in suckling elephants be caused by the high cholesterol content of milk (assuming elephant milk has a similar composition to human milk)?

  5. Hi Emily,

    Great tweet (http://twitter.com/#!/evolutionarypsy/status/91685892464447488). Macrobiotic diet or statins – tough choice!

    Hi Patrik,

    You’re not in marketing I hope?

    Hi David,

    I hope you’ve trademarked those, could be worth a fortune!

    Hi Mirrorball,

    Great question. I’ve been meaning to look into the cholesterol-atherosclerosis link but haven’t gotten around to it. Baby elephants might make a great case study.

    My sense is high cholesterol + mineral deficiencies could do it. Malnourished elephant moms? In marginal territory, or on zoo feed?

  6. Paul, I cannot say how much I appreciate your work. I recently described your blog as “the best nutritional tech on the market.” And its free! I think this series its bigger than most realize. Its starting to connect the dots on seemingly completely disconnected topics. Keep it up.

    Btw, what’s going on in the K2 world these days? Haven’t heard much about that topic recently.

  7. @Paul Jaminet
    Any baby elephants in the wild, even in their natural environment (“the elephant’s original, undisturbed ecological niche”).

  8. awesome! thanks.

  9. Hi Paul,

    I have really enjoyed reading your posts from the past few weeks. Thanks for mentioning me in your post. The timing of his post and your work was quite ironic. I couldn’t resist asking him.

    Don Matesz has a lot of good posts and it is interesting how he has evolved lately. He seems to be advocating a low fat “paleo” style diet. I don’t always agree with everything he writes but he provides insightful viewpoints.

    Looking forward to reading more of your fantastic posts.

    Many thanks,


  10. Paul:

    You are ON FIRE lately. I am in awe.

    In all seriousness: this is very important work.

    Also, it conclusively proves the superiority of patient scientific investigation over spinning a just-so story based on a few carefully cherry-picked pieces of archaeology. What Kurt Harris calls “paleo re-enactment” has clearly led a lot of people astray over the years, and you’re proving this with elegance and a refreshing lack of chest-beating.

    Thank you!


  11. Erik,

    I share your view on Don Matesz – he’s got some terrific posts on partial topics, but often misses the big picture by his tendency to draw premature and strong conclusions. Anyway I enjoy the ping-pong game between him and other nutrition bloggers.

    “Clearly, evolution thinks babies should get plenty of cholesterol.” – quote of the day! 🙂

  12. Thank you so much for all your clear-headed thinking!

  13. My 14 year old granddaughter has had her cholesterol checked at yearly checkups almost from birth. She’s part of a health plan at an ivy league college with a medical school and when I questioned my daughter about it, she said she thought it was just for a statistical study.

    I’ve always been suspicious of academic studies aka trolling for federal grants which so often result in dubious, at best, conclusions which, in turn, result in more intrusive federal guidelines …

    Paul, just a reminder that there are a few of us whose pay grade is well below the scientific and technical information you provide, so please give a short synopsis at the end of posts, especially the long anticipated candida one, on your conclusions.

    Looking forward to your Saturday roundup.

  14. Checkmate!

  15. Agreed on all accounts–once again an amazingly informative post.

    Also, I must second erp’s plea. Most times I can follow where you are headed, but it would be nice if you could “dumb-down” a little toward the end and give a brief overview.

    Thanks again!

  16. Amazing, as usual!

  17. Loved this post!

    I had to chuckle at the first paragraph in the conclusion. 🙂 ha,ha


  18. Considering that cholesterol is:
    1) crucial to synapse formation;
    2) a critical component of cell membranes which form the structure of the brain;
    3) needed to activate serotonin receptors;

    it’s no surprise that mother’s milk would be so high in cholesterol. In fact, the amount of cholesterol in mother’s milk is about 6x greater than the amount the average adult consumes.

    It’s the height of absurdity, as Paul pointed out, to suggest that breastfed babies are dyslipidemic because their cholesterol levels more than double in the first six months in life. Mother nature has had about 3 million years to make breast milk the perfect food for infants.


  19. Matesz is a bag of hot air as are so many nutrition bloggers, Paleo or not (Richard Nokley comes to mind).

    The thing I appreciate most about the Jaminet’s is their rational epistemology. Really, these posts are models for excellent cognitive methodology; patient scientific investigation at its best. They are a pleasure to read.

  20. Dear Jaminets (is that correct?),
    I was curious. If the NADs reek havoc on the gut, therefore possibly increasing microbial insult/burden, then an adaptive response to such a burden would be to produce more LPs? If that were the case and one was on a Paleo/Primal/PHD “diet” then perhaps TC may be “unusually” lower in this “unique” person/population. In other words, if the gut is “protected” would we then need such a high TC?

  21. I wonder if there would be any benefit to continuing that massive cholesterol intake throughout life. After Emily’s awesome “Zombieland” post I took to eating brains for a bit (no longer, blarg! Eggs and fish will do) and noticed that you can easily 6g of cholesterol in a meal of brains. Humans have a history of eating brains, and hunter-gatherers would probably eat at least some brains. I know the amount in a few eggs makes LDL less atherogenic, but I’m after info on massive cholesterol content. Just wondering aloud. 🙂

    I suppose the difference in cholesterol requirement between a growing baby and an already grown person is different, so I would be hesitant to make extrapolations between the two. Of course it looks like cholesterol is very useful as long as it doesn’t oxidize, so I’m certainly not reaching for the corn oil, oatmeal and statins.

  22. Hi Gabriel,

    It’s a good question. I think when people are infection-free they tend to have low-normal LDL and high-normal HDL. When infectious burden is higher they often get more LDL, less HDL. I think I’ll have to reserve that question for later consideration. I don’t think being on a Paleo/Primal/PHD diet is usually sufficient to make one infection free.

    Hi Stabby,

    You got tired of brains? You must find a better chef. By the way, where did you get your brains (the ones you cooked I mean)? Our cookbook could use a little cervelle de veau.

    But I think it may not be a good idea to get 6g a day. In animal models this often produces atherosclerosis. “As long as it doesn’t oxidize” – yes, but can you stop it?

  23. This is all fascinating. And I’m glad to hear I could possibly be infection free at HDL 100 and LDL 72 🙂

  24. Paul,
    The reason for my question was that I am now concerned about TC less than 200. For instance, my wife just had hers tested and was approx. 180 with HDL at 80. We have been predominantly eating a PHD/primal oriented diet. So, naturally I expected her TC to be above 200. I’m not overly concerned but I wonder how many statistical findings are driven by the observance of “sick” humans (due partly to poor nutrition) and the mortality data that they represent. It would seem to me that “PHD/primal” populations would need separate study regarding these biomarkers and related disease risk factors.

  25. Hi Gabriel,

    Unless you have other evidence of ill health, I wouldn’t worry at all. Remember, the 200 to 240 range is a population mean. There are plenty of healthy individuals with 180 mg/dl cholesterol.

    I don’t think we understand all the factors influencing cholesterol well enough to be able to use near-normal levels for diagnosis. If her cholesterol was 150 I’d say maybe she should be checked for parasites or something (or for a macrobiotic diet!) – since that will almost always indicate a pathology. But at 180 mg/dl, probably the vast majority of people are quite healthy.

    If there were independent evidence of a cholesterol-lowering infection, however, then I might take the slightly low cholesterol as confirmatory evidence.

    I do agree, it’s an interesting issue: how does a PHD/primal diet influence biomarkers? It may be that some norms for biomarkers need adjustment. Too little data to say at this point.

    Best, Paul

  26. Hi Paul,

    This is quite the pregnant post – within an excellent series. Thank you.

    You wrote: I guess the formula makers don’t consider cholesterol to be a desirable nutrient. This may be an extremely consequential mistake.

    Indeed! And yours might be the understatement of the year.

    My older brother and I were bottle-fed on goat’s milk, fortunately. I feel for the children being raised on manufactured foodstuffs.

    Now. What strikes me about Don’s dietary conversion is how arbitrary his choice seems. Why TCM? Why not Ayurveda? Or Macrobiotics? He started to lose me with his post on Gwyneth Paltrow; I quietly withdrew my $upport upon his fat Venus post. Knowing me, I’ll continue to check in, but- “Primal Wisdom?” I think not.

    Best, KKC

  27. I got my brains from a local farmer in Calgary. Generally you have to know a local farmer and talk to him about it, the bigger grass fed guys just look at you funny.

    Point taken, I will not try to live off of brains.

  28. Hi KKC,

    Goat’s milk! Awesome. Did you grow up on a farm?

    Don’s conversion is certainly a big surprise. Many things about it surprise me — that he looks to remedy his health problems by changing macronutrient ratios only; that he only adopts extreme low-fat or low-carb diets; that he sticks with them for 14 years at a time despite health problems; that he’s so adamant that his new diet is the right one; that he justifies his change with old arguments that have been refuted many times, and that he would have scorned a year ago; and that he’s apparently had chronic health issues for 28 years that he can’t fix, yet is a professional healer.

    Well, I wish him well. I’ll continue to read his blog, but for interesting facts (true or false), not theory. Hopefully he can find a diet that resolves his health issues, give good advice to his patients, and do well with his new wife.

  29. re. Don, my problem is not that one cannot change his mind. as Stephan, Dr. Harris all changed view.

    just a few months ago, Don claimed PHD made them ill; resuming his old diet (high animal protein) brougt back health.

    yet, from recent posts, turned out his health had been rather poor for all these years? huh?

    his tone is too combative re. Don, my problem is not that one cannot change his mind. as Stephan, Dr. Harris all changed view.

    just a few months ago, Don claimed PHD made them ill; resuming his old diet (high animal protein) brougt back health.

    yet, from recent posts, turned out his health had been rather poor for all these years? huh?

    so what am i to believe?

    for a Taoist, he seems pretty combative. (i do wish them well tho).

    FYI: my acupuncturist/OMD actually advised me to “eat more meat & lard”


  30. Hi Paul,

    I’m a big-city girl (Miami, FL) born & bred, and returned after University. But my maternal grandparents owned/lived on several acres of land west of the city in what was then a predominantly undeveloped area rather affectionately known as “the sticks.” They’d moved there fleeing the Nazi threat in So. America. Lo-o-o-ng story. (Oh, The grandparents were in SA because Papa was with Avianca Airlines; I’m of Irish descent.) In any event, they had a neighbor who kept chickens, horses, a cow – and a couple of goats from which my brother and I received our milk.

    I agree with what you wrote regarding Don. And, what in the world does he tell his clients now? Oops, my bad! That which I told you would necessarily make you fat, lethargic and sick is now to be your staple.

    You know, he always seemed to almost boast about the number of kCals his now wife, Tracy, needed daily. That she got fat on her intake informs us only that she um, didn’t need as much as they’d thought. It in no way indicts the high-fat Paleo/Primal paradigm.

    BTW, any idea how much Iodine is in mother’s milk? Might be instructive.(?) Thanks in advance.

    Best, KKC

  31. Hi KKC,

    The iodine content of mother’s milk is strongly dependent on the iodine content of the diet — suggesting (to me anyway) that nearly everyone is iodine deficient.

    A Korean study (where people eat seaweed, so iodine intake is relatively high) (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10627832) found that colostrum has 2.2 mg/L and mature milk 0.9 mg/L. So Korean babies would get on the order of 750 mcg to 1.5 mg per day. This is about 10 times the adult RDA. Lots of iodine for a little tot!

  32. I have a question if I may; I read from “paleo” sources that most H/G had total cholesterol in the 140mg/dl range.

    This is much lower than recommended on the PHD. Since the H/G is usually proffered as the ideal model of health, at least in regards to the DOC, I’m confused as to the discrepancy in suggested total cholesterol between the paleo and PHD diets.

  33. Hi Tim,

    I addressed that in a recent series of posts:


    Basically, only diseased hunter-gatherers had TC in the 140 mg/dl range. Healthy hunter-gatherers had TC over 200 mg/dl.

  34. Thanks very much Paul.

  35. backyard farm


    I eat a moderate carb paleo diet with the addition of gf liver once a week and my cholesterol has moved from 220mg/dl to 308 over the past three years. In addition, my iron/ferritin is always low as well even though I eat substantial amounts of meat/green leafy veg daily. Should I be concerned with such a high TC? I never thought I would but I am now considering statins. Any insight would be greatly appreciated.

  36. Hi backyard,

    I wouldn’t consider statins. Is the gf liver beef liver? Do you take a multivitamin? What is your thyroid status?

    I have to do more research on the possible causes of high cholesterol on Paleo diets. I think it usually indicates some sort of vascular injury, but I don’t know what the common causes are. Nutrient deficiencies can cause it, possibly some infections. In any case, high cholesterol levels increase the requirement for antioxidants, especially zinc and copper, so be sure to take a multivitamin.

    Best, Paul

  37. Backyard,

    I followed a very high fat low carb (less than 100 grams/day) diet for several years, my total cholesterol went up to 310.

    I changed to a diet very much like the PHD, but somewhat lower in fat, and began to eat more rice, sweet potatoes and occasionally potatoes. I stopped using all dairy products (I previously consumed a lot of heavy cream and cheese) ate much more fish and chicken while limiting my red meat consumption to twice or three times a week. I ate much more fruit and green vegetables. I also cut down on eggs to two or three a week.

    After six months, my total cholesterol is 198, my LDL dropped over 100 points while my HDL remained high (78).

  38. Hi,

    Wouldn’t Tim’s experience would be typical/expected? … more dairy/meat-based saturated fat = higher cholesterol.

    Then the idea being this is fine under the context of a low-toxin and carb/protein levels within PHD safe ranges.


  39. Hi MarkES,

    My HDL/TC ratio was good even when my total cholesterol was 310, because my HDL was 85, so perhaps that level of TC was okay.

    But what bothered me (besides my doctor recommending statins!) was the “U” curve of mortality with the sweet spot between a TC of 180 and 240. Problems seem to increase as one’s TC drops below 180 or rises above 240.

  40. Hi Mark,

    I’m not so sure it’s fine … I don’t think it is. But there is a lack of evidence — the only hyperlipidemic people who have been studied are diabetics/hypertensives, not healthy low-carb dieters.

  41. backyard farm

    Thanks for all the responses.

    Yes, the liver is beef. The eggs I eat are from my own backyard flock (only eat eggs around twice a week). I do not take a multi but I eat a ton of veggies (chard, greens, brocolli, cauli, etc.). My TSH and free T4 are good (Vit. D is 42). I even drink Kombucha and fermented foods daily. It seems as though the healthier I try and eat, the worse my cholesterol gets. While low carbing and eating sugar-free products and low carb bread my TC was great! I do already consume rice and sweet potatoes usually only in small amounts unless I “earn” them on workout days. I too look at the J-lit study and see that over 240 is bad news which is why I no longer believe that TC is irrelevant in light of the fact that I low carb and eat well.

  42. Hi Paul,

    You mention the incredible benefits of Butyrate, and how rye and 3-5% of butter contain it. Are there any other foods that contain butyrate?

  43. Hi stephen,

    Just to be clear, butter contains butyrate but rye does not – rather fiber in rye is digested by gut bacteria to form butyrate which we can absorb in the colon.

    Many other foods lead to butyrate production in the same way. Any starch will do this; cooked starch can re-congeal when it cools into forms resistant to human digestion, and these trigger butyrate production in the gut. So potatoes, rice, etc all increase butyrate intake. This is how we would favor getting it.

    So just eat safe starches and other vegetables, maybe with butter or sour cream on top, and you’ll get an appropriate amount of butyrate.

    Best, Paul

  44. backyard farm

    Hi Paul,

    So I guess I am going to start your supplementation recommendations in hopes that they may help undiscovered vascular damage. Is there any protocol as to when and how to take (i.e. take magnesium separate from your multi which has calcium). Do you think that it may help supplementing iron as well since my ferretin is quite low (24)? Will Fe interfere or enhance the absorption of Cu, Se, Cr, etc?

    Thank you,

  45. Hi backyard,

    In general, it’s best to take supplements with food, and then if you want finer optimization you could divide them over meals, as you suggest doing with magnesium (ie the multi may have 100 mg magnesium and take 200 mg magnesium at a different meal). However, this probably doesn’t matter.

    It’s a bit surprising that you may have an iron deficiency, given that you eat beef liver which provides both iron and copper (which is needed to transfer iron to transferrin for transport).

    Has your doctor investigated other possible causes of low iron? Wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Iron_deficiency_anemia) says the most common cause globally is parasitic infection by hookworm, whipworms, and roundworms, with malaria and ulcers other possible causes. Worm infections tend to lower HDL and TC however (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/1930580). Checking for blood in the stool is probably the first step.

    Low stomach acid can impair iron absorption, that can be tested with betaine hydrochloride supplements.

    I guess I would recommend trying iron supplementation to see if it raises ferritin levels. I would consider this an experiment and monitor ferritin levels regularly during the experiment. But you should probably also have your stool checked for blood, and consider trying betaine hydrochloride as another experiment.

    Best, Paul

  46. Low Serum Cholesterol in Newborn Babies | Low Carb Daily - pingback on August 4, 2011 at 12:05 pm
  47. Let’s not forget this either: http://www.second-opinions.co.uk/low-cholesterol-damages-babies.html

    “Prevalence of preterm delivery among mothers with low total cholesterol was 12.7%, compared with 5.0% among control subjects with mid-total cholesterol. The association of low maternal serum cholesterol with preterm birth was observed only among white mothers. Term infants of mothers with low total cholesterol weighed on average 150 g less than those who were born to control mothers. A trend of increased microcephaly risk among neonates of mothers with low total cholesterol was found.”

    The low cholesterol mothers were defined as less than 160mg/dl too.

    Seems low cholesterol leads to pre-term births, lower birth weights when full-term and smaller heads/brains. Clearly this is what evolution wanted if <160mg/dl is best.

  48. I just wanted the answer to what a neonate’s cholesterol level is, and I read a lot of these posts. I’m not sure what diet most of you are subscribing to but as a nurse and studying to be a Nurse Practioner, nutrition and its relation to health and disease is an important topic to me. Firstly, let’s state some facts about human biology. We are meant to use carbohydrates as our primary source of fuel. But that means complex carbohydrates and not the processed, refined junk put out by food manufacturers. Has anyone read the “China Study” by Dr. T. Colin Campbell, who is professor emeritus from Cornell University? This man has dedicated his life to studying the link between diet and disease. And his conclusions are the same as anyone seeking the truth–we should all consume a whole-foods, plant-based diet devoid of all animal protein and dairy. We are simply not meant to consume animals as part of a healthful diet. In 2003, even the American and Canadian Dietetic Associations stated that a well-planned vegetarian diet could supply all of one’s nutritional needs at every stage of life. And I find it incredibly curious that we are the only mammals who will feed our young another mammal’s milk. Each mother’s milk is perfect for her own young. Anyway this is all “food for thought,” forgive the pun:)

  49. Hi Arlene,

    I don’t agree that we are meant to use carbs as our primary source of fuel. Some tissues prefer glucose, but many prefer fats.

    I have a category labeled “The China Study”: http://perfecthealthdiet.com/?cat=43. As you’ll see I’m not too impressed by Dr Campbell’s analysis.

    Are you aware that the composition of mother’s milk is quite different to the composition of plant foods, but not dissimilar to the composition of many animal foods? So that indicator of the perfect food leans toward animal foods.

    Best, Paul

  50. Hi Paul,
    I’ve written to you several times about some health issues I’ve had, and I’ve just obtained some more information that you might find interesting.

    I chose to comment on this post because one of the most significant/persistent clinical findings in my case is a very low total cholesterol count, even when eating a diet very high in saturated fat and dietary cholesterol.

    I’ve just received the results of a recent stool test on which I tested positive, for the first time, for human whipworm, entamoeba species, and Campylobacter infection.

    I have traveled extensively in Europe and South America, so exposure to a variety of intestinal parasites is highly likely. Also, I had an acute Campylobacter infection after eating some bad chicken in Greece a couple of years ago.

    Could any of this explain my extremely low cholesterol levels? I also have relatively mild gut symptoms (constipation), mild rosacea, history of depression, anxiety, insomnia, etc., and hypothyroidism. Actually, I seem to be holding up remarkably well for having a gut crawling with parasites, but that’s probably because I’m young (23), my diet is impeccable, and I’ve spent 4 years adapting to a diminished standard of health.

    Would you mind commenting on these findings? Specifically:
    a) If I truly have these intestinal parasites, could that explain all or the majority of my symptoms?
    b) Can/should these parasites be eradicated? If so, how?
    c) Any more general comments or advice?

    THANK YOU so much for your time and attention. I’ll try to keep you posted on how things progress if and when I decide to treat these issues.

    Best wishes,

    Hi Brendan,

    Yes, the parasites/worms would explain it. In general eukaryotic pathogens like protozoa, amoeba, and worms will lower serum cholesterol.

    Yes, you should try to eradicate the pathogens. But I am not knowledgeable about treatments. See an infectious disease specialist.

    Comments – you’ve done great! This is the hardest part, getting to a diagnosis. Now you just have to keep doing therapies until your symptoms and detectable pathogens are gone.

    Best, Paul

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