This week I wanted to share this article written by Jonny Bowden about: How to really protect your Heart. We propose getting to the root cause of your high cholesterol and not just taking a statin to make cholesterol blood values look good or too good in some cases.
Whenever celebrities die of heart-related issues—George Michael, Carrie Fisher, and Alan Thicke being recent examples—it raises our collective awareness about heart disease, the No. 1 cause of death in the United States. And while awareness is always a good thing, it’s even better when accompanied by action. Unfortunately, mainstream medicine’s prescription for action—lowering cholesterol—is way past its expiration date.
“Trying to lower heart disease by lowering cholesterol is like trying to lower calories by taking the lettuce off your whopper.” About half the people admitted to hospitals for coronary artery disease have perfectly normal cholesterol. Tim Russert, the popular moderator of Meet the Press, died of a massive heart attack on a treadmill, with his cholesterol perfectly under control. His LDL was 68 and his total cholesterol was a 105—figures that would make any conventional doctor very happy. But if I had those numbers, I’d be seriously scared.
Here’s the problem with low cholesterol.
Low cholesterol is associated with a baker’s dozen of bad health outcomes, including increased risk for cancer, stroke, and (counterintuitively) heart disease itself. It’s even been linked to an increased risk of suicide. Many people don’t realize that cholesterol is a vitally important molecule for the brain, for the immune system, and for the creation of sex hormones and vitamin D.
Our obsessive fixation on lowering it has actually caused us to lose sight of the meaningful steps we can take to lower our risk for heart disease. If you take away nothing else from this article, remember that lowering the risk of heart disease and lowering cholesterol are very far from the same thing.
This is not the place to go into the fascinating history of how we got cholesterol so wrong (while, until very recently, giving sugar—a far more dangerous substance—a free pass). There are excellent books on the subject for anyone interested in how we got here—Nina Teicholz’s The Big Fat Surprise, Malcolm Kendrick’s The Great Cholesterol Con, Gary Taubes’ The Case Against Sugar, and the aforementioned Great Cholesterol Myth by me and cardiologist Stephen Sinatra. But for now, let’s talk about what we can do.
If you want to protect your heart, this is what you should watch out for.
In our book, we identify four factors that promote heart disease: stress, sugar, inflammation, and oxidative damage—all of which (not coincidentally) promote other degenerative diseases as well. So rather than spending another minute worrying about cholesterol, I’d much rather see us focus on lowering inflammatory markers (like homocysteine, IL-6, and small-particle LDL-b), reducing triglycerides and blood pressure, reducing oxidative damage to our cells and organs, managing our stress and eating less sugar.
In fact, in study after study, following five mandates has been associated with up to an 80 percent reduction in heart attacks:
Eat a healthy diet ( low or no sugar )
Exercise about 150 minutes a week
Maintain a healthy weight
Drink alcohol moderately or not at all
Now that’s a plan for reducing heart disease. And cholesterol has almost nothing to do with it. In addition to that excellent list of basics, here are a few more things that increase your odds of dodging the heart disease bullet.
There are so many little things you can do to achieve good heart health.
Get on a good supplement program that includes probiotics, vitamin D, vitamin K, resveratrol, and curcumin. Eat an anti-inflammatory diet with lots of plant foods in it (especially nuts, berries, apples, and greens), and consume only clean, grass-fed meat. Make sure to ditch processed fast foods and take a slow, relaxed 15-minute walk five times a week. Don’t forget to spend some time in the sun and surrounded by greenery. Drink pomegranate juice, green tea, and lots of water.
Follow the principle of HALT: Don’t get too hungry, angry, lonely, or tired.
I hope this article has encourage you to make some lifestyle shifts that get to the root cause of the problem. Last but not least long term statin use comes with a bunch of not so great side effects!
have a healthy week