The Truth about Cholesterol

Separating facts from soft science, industry propaganda and media misinformation.

Top 5 Myths about Cholesterol

 

 

1. MYTH: Eating cholesterol and saturated fat raises the level of cholesterol in your blood.

 

 

TRUTH: Several controlled, long-term studies have shown that dietary intake of cholesterol and saturated fat has no significant effect on the level of cholesterol in your blood.

2. MYTH: Diets high in saturated fat and cholesterol promote atherosclerosis and heart disease.

TRUTH: Many studies show that people who consume primarily saturated fats from animal origin

have less heart disease than those who consume primarily polyunsaturated fats from vegetable oils. 

75% of the fat in artery clogs in unsaturated, of which over 50% is polyunsaturated.

3. MYTH: Elevated levels of LDL cholesterol cause atherosclerosis and heart disease.

TRUTH: More than 40 trials have demonstrated that lowering cholesterol does not prevent heart attacks. On the contrary, several major studies have shown a higher risk of death with lower levels of cholesterol.

4. MYTH: Low cholesterol prevents heart disease and reduces your risk of dying.

TRUTH: Several large, well-controlled trials have shown an inverse relationship between cholesterol

levels and mortality.  A recent study at Yale University showed that elderly people die twice as often from heart attacks as those with high cholesterol.

5. MYTH: Statins drugs that lower cholesterol (Lipitor, Zocor, etc.) reduce the risk of dying from heart disease, and are safe with few side effects.

TRUTH: Not one study has ever shown that statins reduce mortality in healthy men and women with only elevated cholesterol and no history of heart disease.  Nor are statins effective in the elderly.  Statins do reduce the risk of death inyoung and middle-aged males with preexisting heart disease, but the benefit is small, independent of cholesterol lowering, and comes with many side effects, complications and costs.

Cholesterol: a Hero, not a Villain

 

Structural integrity: cholesterol provides the stiffness and stability our cell membranes need to function properly.

 

Immune health: cholesterol is a precursor to corticosteroids, stress hormones that protect us against heart disease and cancer; cholesterol (especially LDL, the so-called “bad cholesterol”) helps fight infection.

Endocrine health: cholesterol is a precursor to sex hormones (androgen, testosterone, estrogen & progesterone) which govern sexual development, fertility and reproduction.

Protection from fee radicals: recent research shows that cholesterol acts as an antioxidant.

Digestion & absorption: the bile salts are made from cholesterol.  Bile is vital for digestion and assimilation of fats; it is also essential for absorbing fat-soluble vitamins A, D, K & E (which we cannot live without).

Growth & development: is especially rich in cholesterol; babies & children need cholesterol to ensure proper development of the brain and nervous system

Brain & nervous system: 25% of body cholesterol is in the brain, and myelin (coating of every nerve cell & fiber in the body) is 20% cholesterol; synapse formation is almost entirely dependent on cholesterol.

Intestinal wall: dietary cholesterol helps maintain the integrity of the intestinal wall; low-cholesterol vegetarian diets can lead to leaky gut syndrome and other intestinal disorders.

Mood: cholesterol is needed for proper function of serotonin receptors in the brain; low cholesterol levels have been linked to aggressive and violent behavior, depression and suicidal tendencies.

Tissue repair: cholesterol is a repair substance in the body, used to repair wounds, including tears and irritations in the arteries.

The Dangers of Statin Drugs

 

Modern cholesterol lowering drugs act by inhibiting an enzyme (HMG -CoA reductase) needed for the formation of cholesterol in the liver.  These HMG-CoA reductase inhibitors, called statins, are sold as Lipitor, Mevacor, Pravacol, Zocor, etc.

 

Weakness & muscle wasting: this is the most common side effect of statin drugs, occurring in as many as one in three users.  Muscle aches and pains, back pain, heel pain, weakness and slurring of speech result from statin interference with the production of Coenzyme Q10 (Co-Q10), needed for the muscles to function.  These side effects are more common in active people and may not show until three years after commencement of treatment.

Heart failure: rates of heart failure have doubled since the arrival of statin drugs.  Te heart is a muscle that depends on a plentiful supply of CO-Q10. Rhabdomyolosis: rapid breakdown of skeletal muscle tissue which may lead to kidney failure and death.

Cognitive impairment: many patients have reported memory loss and brain fog, including total global amnesia (episodes of complete memory loss).  The implications for pilots and those driving cars and trucks are profound.

Cancer: in every study with rodents to date, statins have caused cancer.  Most human trials are not carried out for long enough to detect any increase in cancer rates, but in one trial, breast cancer rates of those taking a statin were 1500% higher than those of controls.

Depression: numerous studies have linked low cholesterol with depression. Birth defects: almost 50% of pregnant women who took a statin drug in early pregnancy gave birth to a child with malformations.

SOURCES: Weston A. Price Foundation; Te Cholesterol Myths, by Ufe Ravnskov, MD, PhD

If high cholesterol doesn’t cause heart disease, what does?

 

Researchers around the world have suggested that atherosclerosis is actually disorder of inflammation and oxidative stress.  Risk factors for heart disease are those that contribute to inflammation and oxidative damage:

 

‣ nutrient deficiencies        ‣ poor glycemic control

‣ cigarette smoking            ‣ high homocysteine levels

‣ psychological stress       ‣ nitric oxide depletion

‣ high iron levels                 ‣ microbial infection

‣ dietary trans fatty acids   ‣ excessive refined carbohydrate intake

‣ excessive omega-6 fatty acid intake and/or deficient omega-3 fatty acid intake

Free radicals and inflammation of any kind inhibit synthesis of nitric oxide, a vital substance that protects against heart disease at every level.  Oxidized LDL is indeed harmful, but it is the polyunsaturated fat - not the cholesterol - inside of the particle that oxidizes.

Chronic infections, inflammation and stress raise cholesterol levels and significantly increase the risk of heart attacks. Thus, it is no surprise that elevated cholesterol levels are seen in people with heart disease.  The mistake is assuming that it is cholesterol - and not the underlying condition - that causes atherosclerosis.

This “oxidative response to inflammation” hypothesis is well-supported by the scientific data and fits

everything currently known about heart disease.  It is also widely accepted within the research community.  Unfortunately, the message that cholesterol is not the culprit has not yet reached most physicians, dietitians and the general public.

Massive conflicts of interest within the medical and scientific community stand in the way of this message being heard.  8 of 9 physicians responsible for writing the cholesterol guidelines receive money from drug companies, and 2/3 of all medical research is funded by the pharmaceutical industry.  Te result is the perpetuation of the flawed hypothesis that cholesterol and saturated fat cause heart disease.

A “Heart-Healthy” Lifestyle

Take a VAP Test. Click here to learn more.

 It provides the most accurate assessment of cholesterol and triglycerides.

Learn techniques for reducing and managing stress, and make them a regular part of your life.

Maintain a healthy weight - neither too heavy nor too thin.

Engage in at least 30 minutes of moderate exercise several days a week, or every day if possible.

Don’t smoke, and avoid exposure to environmental toxins.

Restrict intake of high-glycemic index foods (white four, white rice, sugar, cold cereals, processed foods), as they have been shown to increase the risk of heart attacks.

Avoid processed food, especially foods containing polyunsaturated vegetable oils and trans fats.

Eat the meat, fat and organ meats of grass-fed, organically raised animals.

Cook with butter, coconut oil or palm oil.  Never cook with vegetable oils such as canola, safower, corn and soy as they become easily oxidized and rancid when subjected to heat.

Enjoy eggs from free-range chickens regularly.  Egg yolks are particularly benefcial, and are most nutritious when consumed raw.

Consume raw dairy products, which are rich in benefcial probiotics, enzymes, vitamins and

healthy fats.  Many people who can’t tolerate pasteurized dairy products have no problem with raw dairy.

Eat cultured foods (i.e. sauerkraut, yogurt, kefr) and consume fermented beverages (kombucha, kvass, etc.) regularly

Take cod liver oil and consume plenty of butter from grass-fed cows to ensure adequate levels of vitamins A, D and K.

Increase consumption of omega-3 fatty acids if you are at risk for heart disease or your diet is poor.

FOR MORE INFORMATION, VISIT:

 

  • The Weston A. Price Foundation http://www.westonaprice.org
  • The International Network of Cholesterol Skeptics http://www.thincs.org
  • The Cholesterol Myths  http://www.ravnskov.nu/cholesterol.htm

 

To find out how to obtain an accurate and complete assessment of your cholesterol and other health related risk factors, click on this link.


Please call 734-726-0153 to schedule a free consultation and evaluation. At Digestive Health Ann Arbor we are known for providing professional and compassionate care. We strive to guide people towards a comprehensive and holistic healing strategy. Restoring your body to health will restore the quality of your life.

What Your Cholesterol Test Isn't Telling You: Keys to Maintaining a Healthy Heart

Responsible for the deaths of more than 500,000 people each year, heart disease is a critical health concern for men and women in the US... Unfortunately, many people do not know they are at risk until it's too late. Normal results from a standard cholesterol test are misleading. Dr. Sinatra, on the Healthy Heart Blog, explains that “the standard blood lipid tests most doctors use to monitor cholesterol belong in the age of dinosaurs.” Let's leave the standard blood lipid tests in the Triassic period where they belong and invest in exams that give accurate and relevant information about heart health.
 
What are Standard Lipid Tests Doing Wrong?
1) Incomplete. Standard lipid tests answer the question “how much” but they should be asking “how much of what.” They calculate LDL (low-density lipoprotein cholesterol) and triglycerides, and measure HDL (also called “bad” cholesterol), but neglect to dig deeper and find out what kinds of LDL and HDL you have.
2) Outdated, inaccurate methods. Standard lipid tests do not measure but rather calculate the amount of LDL in a blood sample. This lack of precision leads to a high incidence of error and inaccuracy.
 
Are there better alternatives?
Yes! There are tests, such as Atherotech's VAP (Vertical Auto Profile) cholesterol test, that break down cholesterol beyond HDL, LDL and triglycerides. Such tests are accurate, affordable and effective. Most insurance, as well as Medicare/Medicaid, pay for the VAP cholesterol test. Even if your insurance doesn't cover it, the tests are only $39. They are easy to administer and do not require a 12 hour fast like most standard lipid panels. The VAP test also measures 22 different components of cholesterol, much more than a standard lipid panel. It also gives a risk assessment of Type II diabetes and atherosclerosis, or hardening of the arteries.
 
Statin: A Dangerous and Over-prescribed Drug
Since arriving on the market in the 1980s, statins have been among the most prescribed drugs in the U.S., topping over 17 million users. Statins work by blocking the liver enzyme responsible for producing cholesterol. This lowers triglycerides, LDL and total cholesterol levels, and raises HDL cholesterol levels. Unfortunately, in addition to many detrimental side effects, statin does nothing for secondary health conditions which often develop concurrently with high blood pressure, such as Type II diabetes.
 
Common side effects:
-        headache
-        difficulty sleeping
-        skin flushing
-        muscle aches, tenderness, weakness
-        dizziness
-        nausea and/or vomiting
-        abdominal cramping or pain
-        bloating and/or gas
-        diarrhea
-        constipation
-        rash
 
Serious side effects:
-        myositis, or inflammation of the muscles
-        myalgia, or intense muscle pain
-        elevated CPK (creatine kinase), a muscle enzyme which can pose a health risk to your kidneys
-        rhabdomyolysis, where muscles all over the body become painful and weakened because of extreme muscle inflammation and damage. This condition can result in kidney failure and death.
 
Medication: Not the Only Answer
While doctors and scientists agree that genes play a critical role in the onset of illnesses such as heart disease, our diet and lifestyle choices are equally powerful. Medication is neither the only nor the best way of improving our heart health. The following are some simple and effective ways of strengthening your heart without relying on medications.

  1. Get your digits. Get blood tested periodically to know your numbers. Take blood tests that measure, rather than calculate, cholesterol levels. Once you know your risk levels, you can make appropriate dietary and life style changes.
  2. Quit smoking. The American Heart Association says that quitting smoking reduces risk of heart disease and repeat heart attacks and death by heart disease by 50%.
  3. Exercise. USDA recommends physical activity for at least 30 minutes most days. Find a way to incorporate movement into your daily routine through walking, sports, dance, or anything else that is fun for you.
  4. Eat a healthful diet. Get a food allergy test and remove trigger foods. Select foods that are low in saturated fat and dietary cholesterol, which are primarily found in animal products. Eat plenty of organic fruits and vegetables. Avoid processed foods and sugars. Be mindful of proportion sizes.
  5. Take supplements as needed. Supplements such as red yeast rice, slow release niacin (one of the B vitamins) and high quality fish oil have been shown to be as effective as statins in lowering cholesterol.

The VAP and other similar cholesterol tests are an effective step in the right direction towards total heart, and body, health. Named “Ten Ways to Live Longer” by Forbes.com and selected as one of “Five Tests Worth Paying For” by the Wall Street Journal, this useful tool has saved many lives. To learn more, check out this article in Men's Journal. The cost of the VAP test is covered by all insurance regardless of the size of your deductible.  If you are interested in getting the truth about your cholesterol and triglyceride levels, please call Ann Arbor Holistic Health to schedule a VAP test.
 
Call us today at 734-222-8210 to set up a free consultation and evaluation.  
 
At Ann Arbor Holistic Health we are known for providing professional and compassionate care. We strive to guide people towards a comprehensive and holistic healing strategy. Restoring your body to health will restore the quality of your life.

2 Causes of Cancer and Chronic Disease: Deficiency and Toxicity

2 Causes of Cancer and Chronic Disease: Deficiency and Toxicity

Chronic disease is drastically rising and there are two key factors: deficiency and toxicity.

1. Deficiency

The typical “American” diet is often devoid of necessary nutrients and supplemented with sugars, artificial flavorings and dyes, and plenty of other synthetic chemicals which react poorly with our bodies existing biochemistry. This lack of vitamins, minerals and nutrients weakens our immune system. It's like putting diesel in a gasoline engine: The car doesn't run well, if at all. Our bodies require a very specific mix of vitamins, minerals and nutrients, and feeding it something else entirely leads to poor performance.

2. Toxicity

We are exposed to toxins every single day of our lives, through the air, food, medicine and water that we consume. Even before we are born, our bodies absorb detrimental chemicals through our parents, and the heredity of our grandparents.