Sunday, February 13, 2011

What does cholesterol, sunshine and fat have in common?

Cholesterol, sunshine and fat are not only good for us, but also necessary to sustain life. OK, so cholesterol is a kind of fatty acid, so maybe not a fair question. (BTW, if you already knew that, kudos.) But we have been lead to believe that these things are BAD for us. Will harm us. Kill us! When in fact, these things keep you alive. They are not the enemy. In fact, I suspect that they have become the scapegoats. They get an awful lot of bad press.

For me, cholesterol has always been confusing. Here’s what we all know… there are two sources of cholesterol; from what we eat, and from what our liver makes. If we have too much “bad” cholesterol, it attaches to the arteries and eventually causes blot clots and a heart attack, and you die. Right?


Also, high cholesterol can be hereditary, and if so, there’s nothing you can do about it. Diet and exercise won’t cut it if your levels are really high. You have to take statin drugs (Lipitor and the like) or you’re bound to have a heart attack and die. Right?

Again… Hum.

This never did sit well with me, even ten years ago when the first doctor tried to put me on statin drugs. I just don’t understand the problem. Why does my liver feel the need to make too much cholesterol? Then it became popular to say it was “hereditary”. I say it. But apparently, only about 25 people in 10,000 carry this hereditary trait for real. I doubt I’m one of them. I think family traits are becoming confused with a hereditary condition. It’s more like… “Well, my family eats an awful lot of baked goods and fried foods, and we’re a bunch of lazy asses.” Not really hereditary. It’s like blaming our mothers for all the terrible things that happen in our lives.

But there are people who have high cholesterol but are pretty good eaters, and exercise regularly. So, what the hell? Why does their liver still make too much cholesterol? Do I have to become a strict vegan to manage my cholesterol levels? (I have a friend who did this, and it worked for her, and she’s very happy BTW.) But not everyone wants to go down that path. Is there another way for me to politely ask my liver to stop making so bloody much cholesterol?

And what’s cholesterol for anyway?

And what happens to the cholesterol exactly if I don’t use it?

And how do I manage excess cholesterol effectively?

And furthermore… the big question… Do we have to? Are we blaming cholesterol for a problem that it is merely a symptom of?
It’s taken some digging around. Cholesterol is, like everything in our bodies, complicated. Everything is related to everything, there is cause and effects and imbalances and corrections that make my head spin. There are not many sites that have all the info I wanted in one place. It is understandable how there is so much misinformation and confusion about cholesterol. It’s very hard to get a bigger picture. But perseverance and interest won out.

So… here we go.

The word "cholesterol" comes from the Greek word chole, meaning "bile", and the Greek word stereos, meaning "solid, stiff". OK.

Next, I tackled why we need cholesterol in the first place. What is it, what does it do?

Cholesterol is a form of lipid, or fat, that travels through your blood stream. Nearly all body tissues are capable of making cholesterol, but the liver and intestines make the most. It is a necessary building block in the body for cells and used to make essential hormones, like vitamin D, estrogen and testosterone. Cholesterol comes from what our bodies make (about 75-80%), and what we eat (the rest). was super helpful in listing the things cholesterol does.
As was

Cholesterol has many vital functions in the body. It is required for building cell membranes and gives the membranes the rigidity and stability required. It is needed in the synthesis of the steroid hormones (eg. estrogen, progesterone, DHEA and testerone) and the synthesis of adrenal hormones like aldosterone and cortisol. Aldosterone regulates sodium and water balance in the body while cortisol regulates metabolism and suppresses inflammation.

Cholesterol also produces bile salts that help in the digestion and absorption of dietary fats and fat soluble vitamins. It is needed for the synthesis of vitamin D, which keeps our bones strong, boost the immune system and keeps the blood pressure normal.

OK… a pause for the cause. Turns out, that cholesterol combined with sunshine makes vitamin D. So… getting some sun helps to lower cholesterol levels by turning the cholesterol into vitamin D. Again, I’m ahead of myself, but I just couldn’t help it, because that’s really kind of cool.

Cholesterol is also required for protecting our skin. It is secreted into our skin and helps to cover and protect us from dehydration, cracking and drying. It helps in healing too as a high concentration of it is found in scar tissue. Cholesterol is also necessary for the function of serotonin receptors in our brain. Serotonin helps to protect us from depression and several studies have shown that low cholesterol levels are associated with depression and violent behaviors. (eek!!!)

Cholesterol is the main fat present in the myelin sheath which coats our nerve cells and enable vital neurological functions. A healthy myelin sheath is needed for good concentration and memory. Cholesterol also helps to transport fat-soluble antioxidants such as vitamin A and E around our body.

Cholesterol plays a vital role in the repair and maintenance of the intestinal wall, preventing leaky gut syndrome, ulcerative colitis, and a host of other intestinal disorders.

Cholesterol is now understood to be a vital anti-oxidant that protects us from free radical damage and helps to heal any arterial damage that may have occurred.

Over half of the brain is composed of saturated fats and cholesterol.

So, cholesterol is a busy little bee. Doing all sorts of things we can’t live without. And we call it “bad”. Hum. Which brings me to the kinds of cholesterol.

Dietary cholesterol mainly comes from eating meats and dairy products. These dietary lipids are absorbed through your gut, and then are delivered through the bloodstream to your liver, where your liver places the cholesterol along with special proteins, into tiny sphere-shaped packages called lipoproteins, which are released into the circulation.

Not all lipoproteins are created equal. There are varying amounts of cholesterol to protein in these packages. Basically, the more cholesterol and less protein the lipoprotein has, the less stable the molecule will be.

We’ve all heard about the “good” and “bad” cholesterol. LDL stands for "low density lipoprotein," (more cholesterol, less protein) and HDL for "high density lipoprotein." (less cholesterol, more protein). This means that LDL’s are less stable than HDL’s.

But what do they DO?

Here’s where it gets interesting.

HDL, the heaviest lipoproteins, are primarily responsible for carrying cholesterol FROM various organs and tissues TO the liver for recycling or degradation. Basically, they’re the garbage men. They take out the trash.

“It appears that the HDL lipoprotein "scours" the walls of blood vessels and removes excess cholesterol. So the cholesterol present in HDL is (to a large extent) excess cholesterol that has just been removed from cells and blood vessel walls, and is being transported back to the liver for processing. The higher the HDL cholesterol levels, presumably, the more cholesterol is being removed from where it might otherwise cause damage.”

And even more interesting…

“LDL or "bad" cholesterol, are lighter than HDL and are primarily responsible for carrying cholesterol FROM the liver TO organs and tissues of the body that need it. These lipoproteins are more prone to breaking apart. Since they don't bring cholesterol back to the liver, they tend to hang around in the blood if they’re not being used, sometimes attaching themselves to inflamed vessels.”

Basically, the LDL’s are the “builders” necessary in our body to do all those things listed above. They’re the ones that make and repair and convert stuff. They have to be unstable so they can break apart and do their jobs.

If too much LDL is carried from the liver, more than the cells can use, there can be a harmful buildup of LDL. This is where the trouble starts.

There are even further kinds of LDL’s. Oxidized LDL’s and small, dense LDL’s. These are not even included in the testing. It all gets lumped together in the LDL category. But these are the ones that cause the trouble.

There’s a great article here:
And more info here:

“One may have very high levels of LDL particles yet still have a low risk of atherosclerosis. This is due to the anti-oxidant protection around the LDL particles.”

The larger and more buoyant LDL particles carry a high volume of the antioxidant Vitamin E which helps to fend off free radicals. They pose only a very small chance of being oxidized while traveling through the circulatory system.

Small LDL particles carry less fat-soluble antioxidants such as Vitamin E. This increases the likelihood of oxidation by free radicals. Due to their lesser size they also pose a major threat of slipping into the endothelial wall. Once they slip into the endothelial wall there is high probability they will become oxidized and damage the vessel. Regardless of the total number of LDL particles, this is a very dangerous blood lipid.

But don’t despair! There is good news in all this.

It seems that the issue is oxidization. Free radicals. And there ARE things we can do about that. This is not to say all oxidization is bad. Oxidization is how one thing can be formed into another, in a good way. Ah, I did say it’s complicated. But for the sake of this discussion, when cholesterol oxidizes in the blood, this is bad.

I read an interesting statement in:

“In 1914 only 15% of all heart disease was athero-sclerotic in nature; today that has risen to over 90%. Over 50% of adult Americans now die of cardiovascular disease. Yet the only significant change in dietary patterns in Western countries over the last 100 years has not been in fat consumption but in refined sugar and flour intake.”

Hum. Right.

High fructose corn syrup. Or as they’re trying to rename it, corn sugar. I think we’ve also gone to town on the man made fats. Trans fats (partially hydrogenated vegetable oil, ) started showing up in processed foods about 20 years ago to prolong their products' shelf life, despite public health experts warnings that these kinds of fats clog arteries and cause obesity.

Hum. Right.

So, onto the next question I had… why does my body make more cholesterol than I need?

Let’s assume that we’re NOT talking about one of the more rare hereditary conditions. Although that said, this might help explain anyone’s overactive cholesterol production.

Like most undesirable conditions we develop, overproduction of cholesterol comes from an imbalance in our bodies, via nutrition, toxins and inactivity. Here’s where it can get complicated, because everything sort of relates to everything else. There is a very delicate balance that we try to achieve in the body. It’s easy to get it out of whack, and tricky to get it back in line. Probably why most doctors find it much easier/more profitable to just give us a pill for the symptom and not treat the cause. I digress.

There are ways to have your body’s biochemical levels evaluated. One is through a Hair Tissue Mineral Analysis (HTMA).

My natural path, Gary Moller, who’s a wealth of information on all health issues, is a strong advocate of HTMA, and I have learned an incredible amount about my body and health issues through this information. He is also very enthusiastic on the subject of cholesterol, and pointed me in the direction of copper and zinc and their role in cholesterol production.

If you’re interested in a HTMA, check out…

Another site I ran into had a fascinating take on imbalances and how they relate to cholesterol.

“Every condition or disease can be defined in terms of its Patterns of Metabolic Imbalance. In other words, rather than name and treat the "disease," define and treat the pattern. In so doing you will have a patient-specific approach, derived from a scientific analysis and based upon the concept of biological individuality.”

I like it.

They say that a particular kind of imbalance called “anaerobic/dysaerobic” imbalance fully explains the vast majority of high cholesterol problems. An excess of cholesterol in the cells represents an anaerobic imbalance, while low levels in the cells correspond to a dysaerobic condition. Keep in mind that cholesterol’s biological role happens at the cellular level, so blood levels say nothing about cholesterol status in the cells.

If anaerobic, the cells are so saturated with cholesterol that it has now begun to accumulate in the blood. A dysaerobic patient actually has low cellular cholesterol due to excess fatty acid activity there. Blood levels rise as the cholesterol is unable to penetrate the cells. Both imbalances result in the same high blood levels of cholesterol.

Therefore, according to this site, effective therapy depends on the individual’s biochemical imbalance. Once determined, a diet and supplements specific to the individual’s imbalance can solve the problem. If you’re interested in this route, as I am, you can check out this page:

There is A LOT of cool info in this site, and if you’re like me, you will get lost in here for hours, but then feel like you’ve had a luffa scrub afterwards! (If you’ve never been luffaed, you’re missing out!) I am going to call these guys next week to see if I can find me a doctor that can do these tests for me. If I have success with this, I’ll post it.

OK, back to Copper…
Through a chain reaction involving the thyroid, without adequate copper, cholesterol levels rise. One possible cause is that without adequate copper, a hormone made in the thyroid called thyroxine, is not produced in adequate amounts, and this hormone inhibits the production of cholesterol. This makes hypothyroidism (a sluggish thyroid) related to high cholesterol. Get the thyroid working better (there are many natural ways to do this, which might become the topic of another post) and this will help reduce the amount of cholesterol produced.

The other influence copper has over cholesterol levels are in how we get rid of excess cholesterol. One means of controlling cholesterol involves converting it into bile acids for excretion. This conversion happens in the liver by a copper metalozyme: cholesterol-a-hydroxylase. A deficiency of copper impedes the enzyme, it’s not converted, and cholesterol levels rise.

Then there are even more convoluted ways that copper is involved. It can be an oxidizing agent in the blood. This is bad. BUT it reacts with zinc to become an antioxidant. Copper can make your head spin. It has special relationships with zinc, iron, and is associated with anemia and hypertension, and period cramps. Basically, too much or too little copper can become a big problem. A HMTA can tell you where you sit on the copper scale.

This is a great site that has lots of interesting things to say.

There’s a kind of genetic defect called Familial hypercholesterolemia (FH) (the hereditary kind of high blood cholesterol) that renders the cells unable to absorb LDL from the bloodstream. They produce the cholesterol they need themselves. This makes the concentration of cholesterol in the blood high. And this only becomes a problem because the LDL that tried to get to the cell, now has to make it back to the liver to be eliminated. But because there’s more of it in the blood now, it takes longer to get there, and along the way has higher chance of being oxidized.

And the next question is… what can I do to manage the excess cholesterol in my body so that it doesn’t oxidize?

Most of the sites I read all said more soluble fiber helps reduce LDL’s by reducing the absorption of the cholesterol into the blood stream. Oatmeal is great (If you like it. Sadly, it makes me gag). Kidney beans, apples, pears, barley and prunes are good sources of soluble fiber too.

Nuts are good. Walnuts are high in Omega 3’s (more about that next) and almonds are high in Vit E. They are very more-ish, but handful a day is sufficient.

Omega-3 fatty acids found in fresh fatty fish (and walnuts) have been known to increase HDL and are good for the cardiovascular system. The thing with Omega-3 and 6 is that they are both essential fatty acids, and our bodies don’t make them, so we need to eat them. Most Omega-6’s are inflammatory, but there are a few, like evening primrose oil, that may actually reduce inflammation. Ah, why is nothing ever easy? In any case… here’s the skinny on these fats. We should ideally be getting an equal balance of these two Omegas. But a 4:1 (Omega 3: Omega 6) ratio would still be considered good. However, Omega 6’s are much cheaper than Omega 3’s and found in all sorts of processed foods, farmed fish (rather than fresh fish), etc, where the Omega 3’s have been beaten out of the food. So as a result, the typical American diet tends to contain 14 - 25 times more omega-6 fatty acids than omega-3 fatty acids. Holly Mother of God. No wonder we’re all so inflamed. But this is a fact-finding mission on cholesterol, not Omegas, so… moving on.

Olive Oil has a potent mix of antioxidants that can lower LDL’s. Just be aware that Olive Oil can go “bad”. Once opened, it should be kept cool, and doesn’t have an endless shelf date. Extra-virgin oil is best. It’s less processed and has more antioxidants. Oh, and you shouldn’t over-heat olive oil. It kills all the good stuff.

Fruit and vegetables have both the fiber and the flavonoids (antioxidants). Berries are especially good. Raspberries (and even better the seeds) knock your socks off with benefits. Garlic reduces blood cholesterol and is very good for your heart.

Then there are the vitamins that are key to reducing blood cholesterol levels.
Coenzyme Q10: powerful antioxidant that improves circulation and reduces the formation of arterial blockages.

Vitamin B Complex controls the level of cholesterol. These vitamins are necessary for the metabolism of fats since they protect the liver from fatty deposits.

Vitamin C and vitamin E are used to lower cholesterol because they are antioxidants and improve the circulation. Beta-carotene (A) and Selenium are also up there in the good uns.

And then… there’s birch bark. Oh yeah. And this one is getting a lot of attention.

“Researchers from the Shanghai Institutes for Biological Sciences (SIBC) in China have identified a powerful compound in birch bark called betulin that helps lower cholesterol and prevent both diabetes and obesity. And betulin works particularly better than the statin drug lovastatin at lowering cholesterol, except without the harmful side effects.”

Seems there is still research ongoing about bark. Although it appears to have a low toxicity, they are still looking into it. But it’s also said to be a natural pain reliever, anti-inflammatory, and virus-fighter. It’s available in supplement form, and as a tea. I’m going to look for some of the tea. This sounds like good stuff. Trees do have impressive life spans.
Apparently chromium substantially lowers cholesterol levels. But it’s advisable from this site that you get it in natural forms, ie from seafood. That way, you’re not creating imbalances by taking it as a supplement.

And here’s something on Vitamin C that’s kinda crazy! This site talks about a “Cholesterol-Fed Rabbit Controversy” donei n 1909, and then followed up in 1913.

“One curious difference between rabbits and humans is that when rabbits develop atherosclerosis, their plaques never rupture and they never get heart attacks. The main determinant of plaque rupture according to the current scientific literature is the balance between collagen degradation and collagen synthesis. Collagen synthesis requires vitamin C. Most animals, including rabbits, make their own vitamin C, but humans do not.”

Most animals DO? That’s amazing. So, we humans don’t, and without enough Vit C, our collagen goes to poop, and with it, more collagen is made. Wow. And Vit C is a powerful anti-oxidant too. The site says this may be why atherosclerosis produces heart attacks in humans and not rabbits or many other animals. Humans cannot produce their own vitamin C. (And it’s not a profitable and patentable drug, so we don’t get a lot of media and prescriptions for it either! I digress again.) Maybe this is also why dogs don’t get colds. ?

The last thing I’ll add in re managing cholesterol is… Moderate exercise. Say no more.


And what’s the stuff that makes it all worse, makes our poor livers struggle, causes oxidization (not just with cholesterol) and might be the real cause of heart disease?

Smoking. (seriously, a no-brainer really)

Trans-fats and high omega 6 fats cause a rampant increase in prostaglandin E2 and other inflammatory mediators. A diet high in these anti-nutrients causes massive amounts of free radicals to be produced and significant tissue damage to occur. Trans fats are found in must pre-processed foods. Check the labels. If the ingredient list includes the words "shortening," "partially hydrogenated vegetable oil" or "hydrogenated vegetable oil," the food contains trans fat. I already “mentioned” the Omega-6’s.

Sugar consumption causes a very quick increase in blood sugar. When blood sugar raises quickly the pancreas pumps out massive amounts of insulin to clear the sugar out of the bloodstream. High circulating insulin increases inflammatory pathways. High insulin also triggers triglyceride and cholesterol formation while draining the system of its anti-oxidant protection. Sugar is like a slow acting poison in our bodies. It seems to cause so many problems it really makes me wonder why it has been labeled as such a “treat”. I KNOW it tastes good. I have a terrible sweet tooth. But I do find the less I eat of it the less I want. And as an aside, it really messes with the thyroid and metabolism, and energy levels and basically causes an array of problems. If you HAVE to eat sugar or life isn’t worth living, then try to limit it as much as you can, a weekly treat, not daily. Your liver, thyroid, heart and pancreas will thank you.

High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS) immediately stimulates lipogenesis (fat generation) by turning into activated glycerol (G-3-P). This provides the very backbone for triglyceride formation. The fatty acids created during fructose metabolism accumulate as fat droplets in your liver and skeletal muscle tissues. Over time this causing insulin resistance and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD).

The metabolism of fructose by your liver creates a long list of waste products, toxins, and free radicals. These free radicals steal anti-oxidants from our system and damage tissues in a process called glycation. Glycation accelerates the aging process and dramatically decreases our overall health and well-being. HFCS is bad sh*t. Even when it gets it’s new name “corn sugar”. Steer clear. It’s in most sugary pre-processed foods.

Basically, the ideal diet is eating from dishes prepared with single ingredient foods (ones that your grandmother would recognize), getting your sugars from fruit and eating your veggies without over cooking them, staying away from white flour and go organic whenever possible, and free range meet and eggs.

Can I take a personal moment outside of the information?

I used to say that life is about balance, some good and some bad. I used to say what’s the point of living if you can’t enjoy your life, and eat what you want? But I tell you, there’s no fun in being sick all the time. And there’s no enjoyment if health issues plague you. If you are one of the lucky people who has an iron constitution, never gets sick, eats what you want, and will live to 150, then try to understand how it would feel if you were one of us, and support your friends and family in their struggle for better health. Don’t encourage or pressure them to be “bad” with deserts. The consequences for some people are not fun. If you can manage it, pass on it yourself when you know they are struggling. You will have them in your life longer.

OK. Melodrama over… Onward.

What do statin drugs do?

Here’s the good stuff they do…
“Statin drugs work by blocking a key enzyme in the production of cholesterol. Studies have also shown that statin drugs can help the body reabsorb cholesterol that has accumulated on the artery walls. Statins also have "pleiotropic" effects - for which they were not originally intended - related to the cardiovascular system. They reduce oxidative stress of body tissue, they reduce inflammation (like aspirin), and they stabilize plaque on the blood vessel walls.”

And here’s the not-so-good stuff…
This guy, Dr. Duane Graveline, has written a book called “Statin Drugs Side Effects and the Misguided War on Cholesterol”

“If you are on Vytorin, Lipitor, Zocor, Crestor, Mevacor, Pravachol or Lescol you must read this book. Most of the statin side effects I discuss are unknown to your busy doctor. Although knowledgeable about muscle and liver problems, few have heard of statin amnesia and other forms of memory dysfunction and fewer still associate hostility, aggression and profound depression as statin related.”
“Muscle symptoms are a common side effect of statins; many people experience aching in the shoulders, pain in the jaw, or muscle pain in the legs. The muscle pain is a symptom muscle breakdown that is occurring in the body due to the side effect of the statin drug. When tissues break down, the body must eliminate the excess waste products. The waste products then overload the kidneys, causing more serious problems. Severe rhabdomyolysis can result in death from acute kidney failure due to overload of the kidneys with deteriorated muscle tissue. If fact, the cholesterol lowering drug Baycol was removed from the market after being implicated in over 60 deaths due to rhabdomyolysis. However, rhabdomyolysis remains a dangerous side effect of statins in general.

Some researchers estimate the 1 in 10 people who take statin drugs will experience a mild form of neuropathy (malfunction of the peripheral nervous system) where the symptoms may be muscle weakness, numbness, tingling, a feeling of tiredness, shortness of breath or difficulty walking. In the extreme, severe neuropathy as a side effect to statin use can lead to death.”

A study in East Texas Medical Center reported their cardiology clinic patients who were on statin drug therapy discontinued statin therapy due to side effects (myalgia, fatigue, dyspnea, memory loss, and peripheral neuropathy) and began supplemental CoQ(10). The most recent follow-up demonstrated a decrease in fatigue from 84% to 16%, myalgia from 64% to 6%, dyspnea from 58% to 12%, memory loss from 8% to 4% and peripheral neuropathy from 10% to 2%. There were two deaths from lung cancer and one death from aortic stenosis. Measurements of heart function either improved or remained stable in the majority of patients. We conclude that statin-related side effects, including statin cardiomyopathy, are far more common than previously published and are reversible with the combination of statin discontinuation and supplemental CoQ(10). We saw no adverse consequences from statin discontinuation.”


There are several articles I came across that say statin drugs promote cancer. Perhaps it’s because too little cholesterol increases your risk of cancer along with stroke, depression, memory loss and other undesirable conditions.

Many of the sites I visited are now saying that this onslaught of statin drugs, and the myths we’ve been fed about cholesterol are all coming to light. That big drug companies and special interest lobby groups used “faulty” findings to capitalize for their own greed. And at our expense.

Which brings me to my final question… is cholesterol really the problem here? Have we been hoodwinked once again by an over zealous and greedy pharmaceutical marketing ploy?

The weight of the evidence clearly supports oxidation of LDL is the problem, and not the concentration of LDL in the blood in the development of atherosclerosis. So these blood tests are pretty much useless. Sure they show us how much is in the blood, but not if this is a problem. They assume it is and give us potentially harmful drugs just in case. I think it’s unethical and an easy out. It’s not even prevention, because statin drugs cause a host of other health problems that weren’t even in existence before. AND there are other ways to manage potential cholesterol problems that are usually not even discussed in a doctor’s office.

In this incredibly informative article (the one with the rabbits) it says:

“The solution should not be to diminish cholesterol synthesis, imparing CoQ10 synthesis along with it, but to increase LDL utilization. The appropriate nutritional strategies for increasing LDL utilization desperately need to be researched. The irony in all of this is that there is no evidence to suggest that cholesterol is the culprit.”

“So, does cholesterol cause atherosclerosis? No! But do blood lipids? Yes. Atherosclerosis is a disease in which degenerating lipids infiltrate the blood vessel wall and cause inflammation and degeneration of the local tissue once they arrive there. Solid evidence has amassed in favor of this view for the last 100 years.”

But it’s the oxidation of the lipids that cause the problems, and this is cause by other things. As well, it seems that inflammation is one of the key issues in heart disease. In studies, women with inflammation are twice as likely as those with high cholesterol to die from heart attacks and strokes.
“Pharmaceutical giants reported $33 Billion dollars in cholesterol lowering drugs last year. As a nation, we reduced the fat content in our diets faithfully and yet with 25% of the population taking statin medications, more Americans will die this year of heart disease than ever before and at a younger age.

Inflammation is your body’s natural defense to a foreign invader such as a bacteria, toxin or virus. The cycle of inflammation is perfect in how it protects your body from bacterial and viral invaders. However, if we chronically expose the body to injury by toxins or foods the human body was never designed to process, a condition results called chronic inflammation. Chronic inflammation is just as harmful as acute inflammation is beneficial.”

So, this cool dude, Dr. Dwight Lundell is a heart surgeon, and he wrote a book called The Great Cholesterol Lie.

He’s on you tube. If you feel I haven’t beaten a dead horse enough already, this is worth listening to.

He says the root of heart disease is not cholesterol; it’s inflammation. He said that in 25 years of performing heart surgery, only half his patients had high cholesterol, but all of them had inflammation. He says he doesn’t believe that inflammation is a symptom; he says it’s the cause. Apparently The Physicians Health Study says that an aspirin a day reduces the risk of heart attacks by 44%. Last year, Lipitor sales reached 12.5 BILLION DOLLARS.

Inflammation causes the plaque to form, and in fact, heart attacks generally occur in arteries that have minimal or moderate blockage. And in fact, cholesterol plaque is more likely to rupture than to cause blockages.

Anti-inflammatory drugs are not the answer either. They seem to cause more problems than benefits. So, he came up with a supplement called “Heart Shot”. It’s got Omega 3 (Omega 3 is anti-inflammatory, and Omega 6 causes inflammation), CLA (apparently prevents and reduces plaque in arteries and reduces abdominal fat) and anti-oxidants.

This might not reduce your cholesterol levels, but it will reduce your risk of heart attack.

The bottom line is there are many natural avenues that can be danced down to help reduce the risk of heart disease. Knowing what they are, and making choices for your self is, I think, the key thing. If you decide that statin drugs are for you, then cool. But know what you’re getting into, and know that there are alternatives. Do not let decisions regarding your health be in anyone’s hands other than your own. No one will care about your health as much as you will.

One last note... If you made it all the way to the end of this post, well done you! Whew!

Next up… The Thyroid. (Dramatic music here).