In the first part of this series, we examined four of the most relevant markers used for predicting your risk of heart disease. They were:
- Cholesterol (Both LDL and HDL).
- C-Reactive Protein.
If you have not read part one of this series yet please do so, as it explains what each of these markers mean and the levels of each you should aim for.
This is by far the most commonly known marker and one of the most important so therefore it warrants the highest amount of emphasis. In fact it is so important that I will devote the entire issue after next showing you how easy it is to normalize your cholesterol level through totally naturally means.
But as mentioned in the previous issue some people are genetically predisposed to higher than normal cholesterol levels, and this often does not cause a problem PROVIDED there are no abnormalities with the other markers.
Nonetheless if your cholesterol levels are high you should make every effort to bring them within the 'normal' range.
If your cholesterol levels are too high, the majority of physician's will recommend one or both of the following:
Either have you try to reduce your levels by modifying your diet, OR Modify your diet PLUS prescribe you one of the FDA approved statin drugs.
The first thing that is important to understand about cholesterol is that around 80% of it is manufactured by your liver. In other words only about 20% of it comes from dietary sources.
When recommendations are given to modify your diet the 'official line' is to emphasis the importance of reducing dietary fats and foods high in cholesterol. This has been the approach for the last couple of decades and as recent research clearly shows... it is totally the wrong approach. In fact, for as long as this has been the official stance heart disease has steadily increased. It is possible to reduce your cholesterol levels by diet, but just eliminating fats and cholesterol will not do it!
I will deal with this issue in more depth within the newsletter devoted entirely to cholesterol. However, I can tell you now it is not necessary to stop eating your eggs or butter. What is important is that you stop eating margarine, and reduce your intake of refined and processed foods which are full of hydrogenated fats and oils as well as transfats. These are MUCH more dangerous than the saturated fats in butter and eggs which your body can handle and indeed needs.
In fact, studies have clearly established that the low fat low cholesterol approach is a very dangerous one because it can lower HDL, the good cholesterol but only have minimal impact on LDL, the 'bad' cholesterol. As a result low fat diets do not help to correct cholesterol imbalances and in fact can make the situation worst. More on that in the special cholesterol issue.
Diet and Statin Drugs
I have already touched briefly on diet and the relatively minimal impact it can have on cholesterol levels.. Now lets examine what is rapidly becoming the treatment of choice in mainstream medicine for lowering cholesterol levels... the statin drugs... a multibillion dollar industry.
These drugs work by blocking an enzyme which the liver needs for the manufacture of cholesterol. They are produced by quite a number of pharmaceutical companies under a wide range of trade names all of which include 'statin' in their description.
Here is a list of the statin drugs names with their 'commercial' names. atorvastatin (Lipitor), lovastatin (Mevacor), pravastatin (Pravachol), and simvastatin (Zocor). One other product which was on the list has been removed as that product was withdrawn due to 'unacceptable' levels of deaths of patients using it.
These drugs do without doubt help reduce your cholesterol levels... but with the price of considerable side effects. I will go into these side effects in more depth in the special cholesterol issue...they are not nice. What is interesting is that none of the eighty odd studies of these drugs have demonstrated any significant extension of life span amongst patients. In fact one study showed that although the number of heart attacks were significantly lower amongst patients taking the drug, those people that were unfortunate enough to have a heart attack had three times the chance of dying.
What is even more interesting is that these statin drugs are not necessary because there are other natural substances which have recently been proven in clinical trials to outperform the statin drugs, and have NO side effects and cost a lot less. The problem is that many physicians do not get to learn of these alternatives as most of their information is supplied by the pharmaceutical industry and most physicians do simply not have the time to research the alternatives.
What To Do?
As with any form of treatment there are some 'experts' who will propose one thing whilst other 'experts' will say another. At the end of the day the only information that can be relied on is that extracted from well conducted studies and/or clinical trials. Unfortunately clinical trials are somewhat 'thin on the ground' when it comes to natural products. This is understandable given that natural products cannot be patented and clinical trials are VERY expensive. However, there is generally a natural substance available which will out perform a pharmaceutical drug for a fraction of the price... but you will rarely hear of them.
One natural example which relates to cholesterol is red rice extract. This was available as a dietary supplement and it reduced LDL cholesterol with a similar action to the statin drugs. The big plus was that it had no side effects and cost a lot less. However, it was argued (by whom, I am sure you can guess) that because one of the natural ingredients was almost identical to the synthetic ingredients in the statin drugs that it should be classified as a drug. The FDA then ruled to have it removed as a dietary supplement... so red yeast extract is now difficult to get in the USA.
In the meantime, if you have a cholesterol problem talk to your health professional about taking Niacin or Inositol hexanicotinate, chromium polyniconate, and vitamin C. These substances are thought to be beneficial in helping support healthy cholesterol levels.
One final suggestion as an added precaution. Do what I do first thing each morning... cut up one or two cloves of fresh garlic into small pieces and put them in a glass of pure warm water. Stir them up and drink them with the water.
This is much more effective than garlic supplements which claim to help reduce cholesterol. There are also other benefits that you will get from this practice which I will tell you about later. Don't worry... people will only avoid you for about twenty minutes and then there is no trace of any odors... OK... maybe an hour!
As I mentioned in the last issue, if you have high Cholesterol AND high triglycerides your risk of a heart event goes up exponentially. You MUST deal with both substances.
Much of the accepted protocol for lowering cholesterol also applies to triglycerides, so use the same suggestions as set out above if your triglycerides are out of whack... in addition to the dietary suggestions.
HOWEVER, you must also be aware that levels of triglycerides are heavily influenced by your diet.
For some reason this and other studies which clearly establish that high TG levels are caused through the over consumption of refined, processed carbohydrates seem to be largely ignored. Fat is still viewed as being the 'bogey man' but it is simply not true, certainly in the case of 'natural animal' fats. Trans fats are of course something else again. I will do a separate newsletter on that subject.
Is it true?
Why, you may then ask..."if this is true why is it not the 'official' recommendation?" I don't have a conclusive answer to that...but I do know that one of the most powerful lobby groups in the world is the food manufacturing group. Just think what the impact would be on this sector if everyone woke up to the damage that refined carbohydrates are doing to themselves?
Next time you go to the supermarket just do a mental assessment of what would happen if all the products made from refined carbohydrates were pulled off the shelves? The supermarkets would look like they do after a few hours of panic buying prior to a major hurricane hitting the South Florida cost...almost empty. I've experienced that...but it wasn't too bad as there was plenty of the good stuff left!
There is a real incentive amongst the food industry to prevent the public from being enlightened about what they are really eating. At a later time I'll tell you about the Delaney Act which was designed to prevent known carcinogenic substances being included in manufactured foods, and how the FDA never enforced this act and how it was ultimately repealed with the help of the American Cancer Society.
This is another 'baddie'. You will recollect that I told you that this problem results not from what you eat but rather from what you don't eat which can lead to a deficiency in your B vitamins. If you don't have enough of the B vitamins, especially B6, B12 and folic acid in your body you can not manufacture the enzymes needed to remove Homocysteine.
Excessive levels of Homocysteine will damage your arteries. Ironically it is one of the easiest abnormalities to correct. Like Triglycerides it has been 'swept under the carpet' for decades. Back in the late 1960's Dr Kilmer McCully determined as a result of well conducted research that Homocysteine could be normalized by taking adequate amounts of folic acid, plus the vitamins B6 and B12.
However, powerful forces worked against Dr McCully and he was 'let go' from his position as a pathologist, denied tenure and his work was branded as 'insignificant'. It took a further 15 years and approx 1.5 million deaths related to elevated homocysteine before it was acknowledged that he was right.
A deficiency of these B vitamins is rampant even today as the overwhelming majority of people do not get adequate levels in their diets. In spite of this the American Heart Foundation who publicly acknowledge the importance of maintaining an adequate intake of these vitamins still insist that it should come from your diet.
To help compensate diet deficiencies the FDA ordered that an infinitesimal amount of folic acid should be added to white flour by the manufacturers to help overcome that deficiency... white flour... the very substance that people should avoid eating at all costs!
Even more amazing is that the FDA refuses to lift a restriction of a maximum of 800mcg (0.8mgs) for folic acid supplements.
If your Homocysteine levels are elevated talk to your physician about accessing prescription strength Folic acid (5 - 10 mgs) plus high strength B6 and B12.
This is an inflammation of the blood which can lead to long term damage to your heart. Most physicians will prescribe a daily dose regimen of aspirin or one of the non steroid anti-inflammatory drugs. Try to avoid this treatment.
A final thought!
I sincerely hope that the information in this newsletter will help you have a better understanding of some of the treatment options that are available. But even just as importantly I hope that it has given you a few pointers on what changes you may need to make to your diet to ensure that you can reduce your risk or experiencing a heart 'event' of any type.