Join the FREE Autoimmune & Inflammation LIVE Webclass With Dr. Livingood...Get Results, Register Now!

5 Hidden Ways to Make Sense of Your Cholesterol Numbers

 

The Truth About High Cholesterol

If you are reading this, you’re probably having some level of a cholesterol issue, concerned with a cholesterol problem, or have a loved one with a cholesterol issue. We’re going to make sense of this very sticky (pun intended) subject where things get plugged up (another pun intended). We will discover the truth of what your numbers should be, see if you even have a cholesterol problem, know if you should be lowering it, and walk through natural solutions to deal with it. 

The America Heart Association breaks down cholesterol as being a soft, waxy substance found in every cell membrane in your body. It is used to make hormones, essential vitamins like vitamin D, bile, and more. Your liver creates all the cholesterol you need and your diet contributes the rest. Meats, poultry, and dairy contain higher amounts of cholesterol. 

Good vs Bad Cholesterol? 
The two main types of cholesterol are LDL and HDL. LDL is typically frowned upon as being the "bad" cholesterol, while HDL is considered the "good" cholesterol. They are just carriers. LDL can be viewed as the semi carrying the building supplies to the cells and organs to build the building (your body). HDL can be looked at as the dump truck or garbage truck carrying away the waste. As long as there are enough dump trucks to clean up the mess then one's cholesterol avoids any "roadblocks". 

Joseph Pizzorno, the Editor in Chief of the Integrative Medicine: A Clinicians Journal gives clarity on the real problem:

"Cholesterol, a molecule critical to health, has been demonized in conventional medicine and the popular press as the major cause of heart disease. The research is clear that elevated cholesterol is indeed associated with cardiovascular disease. The real problem is not cholesterol but rather oxidized low-density lipoprotein (oxLDL) cholesterol. Elevated cholesterol typically also means elevated oxidized cholesterol, so it is, in reality, an indirect measure of the true problem (cooking cholesterol-rich foods in the presence of oxygen, excessive oxidative stress in the body, inadequate consumption of antioxidants, etc)." 1

Do I Actually Have a Problem?

This is the absolute step one. The answer is not so straightforward and chances are your doctor’s approach is out of date with the research. You shouldn’t be treating an issue if you don’t actually have a problem. Big pharma wants you to have a problem! They keep pushing for tighter and tighter levels to be able to treat high cholesterol. The more people that have the problem, the more people they can treat, and the more they make. You’re left stuck in the middle trying to figure out who and what to listen to. 

A Brief Historical Timeline of Cholesterol Guidelines: 
In the 1980’s, any middle-aged man whose cholesterol was over 240 with other risk factors, such as smoking or overweight, ended up taking a cholesterol medication. In 1984, anyone (male or female) with cholesterol over 200 could receive the dreaded diagnosis and a prescription for pills.

By the time we got to 2011, anyone with cholesterol over 180 and if you have suffered from a heart attack was advised to take cholesterol-lowering medicines, even if your cholesterol was already very low.

We’ve now gotten to the point where anything above 200 is trying to be lowered.  Normal LDL numbers used to be 130. Now new recommendations are looking to get those numbers below 100, as low as 70. Overnight, with that drop of 130 to 100 big pharma just picked up 13 million new customers who are immediately eligible for cholesterol drugs.4

From the 1980’s to 2011, as cholesterol guidelines decreased, over 30 million people were eligible to be put on a cholesterol drug. With the newest guidelines, nearly 100 million Americans are affected. That’s a lot of customers. That’s a lot of money. Are we getting healthier because of it?

Doctors are now finding with the new recommendations that children as young as 8 to have cholesterol problems. They want to put them on cholesterol-lowering medications already. When is this doing more harm than good? 5

High LDL levels are not a good thing. Cholesterol does need to be controlled but to this extent? If heart incidences are not going down then why should all the attention be on more drugs and research instead of taking control of our health and lifestyle choices that are causing the problem in the first place? Is the only way to lower and prevent heart disease to take a statin drug? You can come to your own conclusion, but I’m finding that this is not the case when you look at how the body works and what it’s trying to do. 

Does Lowering Cholesterol Decrease Your Death Risk? 

While many cardiologists insist that lower cholesterol is correlated with a reduction in the risk of heart attacks; few can say that there is a reduction in the risk of mortality. So you can lower cholesterol, but does that make you live longer? That is the question.

Ron Rosendale, M.D. says, “In other words, it has never been conclusively shown that lowering cholesterol saves lives. In fact, several large studies have shown that lowering cholesterol into the range currently recommended is correlated with an increased risk of death, especially of cancer.”

Just because we’re lowering cholesterol doesn’t necessarily mean that we’re living longer. So why do doctors still prescribe it? 

Bristol-Myers Squibb’s main study is given to doctors to give them the incentive to give statin drugs. It’s called the West of Scotland Coronary Prevention Study. It was toted to have a 22% drop (relative risk, not real risk, and I’ll show you what that means in a little bit) in actual mortality; in death rates. 

However, when you look deep into the numbers, 22% is enticing. If you treat 1,000 middle-aged men who had high cholesterol and no evidence of a previous heart attack with a statin for a five-year period of time, it resulted in seven fewer deaths from a cardiovascular incident. Two of the deaths would have been expected in the absence of treatment. A 20-30% relative reduction. But it is really only a mere 0.9% reduction, less than 1% or nine lives out of 1,000 when treated for five years.  

1,000 people would be treated for five years at a cost of over five million dollars to save seven people from congestive heart failure or a cardiovascular incident. Do you see the difference between relative and real risk numbers? It all depends on which percentage you use!

Could you imagine if you put five million dollars into building health, into proper fitness and nutrition, nervous system care, and proper lifestyle choices? The impact of lives you could have saved?  Massaging the numbers makes them look good, but we just shot a lot of holes through the main study of what big pharma is teaching your doctor as to why they should be giving you a statin drug. It brings up a lot of questions. 

Does Cholesterol Cause Heart Disease?

Cholesterol is produced by the body so it does not cause heart disease. The truth is the oxidation of cholesterol causes heart disease. When you have bad (rancid) fats going into the system, lots of sugar going into the system, and a lack of antioxidants, your body is taking in and oxidizing cholesterol.

The body does not recognize oxidized cholesterol. The immune system attacks it. This process creates a large amount of inflammation. The inflammation, in turn, damages the artery and cell walls.  As more damage accumulates more cholesterol is sent to repair the damage, which can further clog up the area. 

A nationwide study conducted by UCLA School of Medicine found that 75% of patients hospitalized for a heart attack had LDL cholesterol within the so-called safe range—below 130 mg/d. (21% of the patients were taking a statin cholesterol-reducing drugs.) Even more astounding, 50% of these patients had LDL less than 100 mg/dl (considered optimal level). This showed that 75% of these people that had a heart attack had normal cholesterol levels. They were taking statin drugs and they still had the heart attack.8

These are big studies with thousands of patients showing that taking a statin is not protecting, but we’re not being told that’s the case. This raises a lot of questions. I’m not saying there aren’t incidences where there is a cholesterol problem, a genetic issue, and statin drugs are necessary.

More people have heart attacks with normal cholesterol than elevated cholesterol. Studies are definitely supporting that truth.8  There is a higher death rate with low cholesterol than high cholesterol. This is because it’s stripping your body of proper nutrients and proper support that it needs. 

Statin drugs (cholesterol drugs) lower cholesterol but not the mortality risk of heart attack and stroke. It has literally said that on the Lipitor website, “has not been shown to decrease the risk of heart attack and stroke.” On their website! Why else would you be taking it? It lowers cholesterol. It will drop the numbers, but the question is, “Does that make you healthier?” Lipitor says no. 

Check out this Lipitor ad...


The ad says, “Lipitor reduces the risk of heart attacks by 36%.” Here’s what I’m talking about again with a relative risk. When you look at the Lipitor ad and it says it reduces the risk by 36%, who wants to know how to do that? Would you like to reduce your heart attack risk by 36%? Heck, yeah! Count me in. You’ve got Dr. Robert Jarvik the inventor of the Jarvik Artificial Heart. He seems to know what he’s doing. He’s a smart guy. He made an artificial heart. Yeah, I’m in!

FOLLOW THE ASTERISKS! Always follow the asterisks.


"*That means in a large clinical study, 3% of patients taking a sugar pill or placebo had a heart attack compared to 2% of patients taking Lipitor.” 

This is a simple manipulation of math--a 1% difference between patients taking Lipitor and a sugar pill. That could have been random chance; by the way, 1%, 2%, 3% is a reasonable standard deviation in any sort of study. The difference between 2% and 3%, if you’re looking at it percentage-wise is a 36% difference the study shows. That’s how they get the number 36. The real math is that it is a 1% difference. If you’re looking at it from a perspective of a 1/3 difference between 1 and 2, and 2 and 3, there’s a 1/3 difference. 

I’m not telling you to just throw them out, but I am educating you on this. The majority of cases I believe there is a better way to teach. You’ve really got to look at the whole picture of insulin, sugars, bad fats and your ratios. You can’t just look at total cholesterol. It’s very outdated and I want to get you up-to-speed so you’re working with your health professional and make educated decisions. 

Statin Drugs: Savior or Safety Issue?

The go-to medical solution for the increase in heart and cholesterol problems is statin drugs. Statin drugs are one of the top medications prescribed in the United States, let alone the world. Upwards of 40 million Americans take a statin drug.2 The drug is involved in billions and billions of sales of pharmaceutical companies, which makes decisions and conversations around it very cloudy. I always proceed with caution when health professional, hospitals, and researchers are making health decisions when billions of dollars of profit are involved. 

I am not telling you to stop your statin, rather I would like to have the conversation of are our hearts getting healthier? Reports show US heart failure rates are on the rise. Medical advances have allowed fewer people to die due to the heart failure but we are having more cases than ever. 3 My job is to educate you based on the research of thousands of hours I have put in to understand this better and pass it along to you. I lost my father and grandfather to heart-related conditions so I take it very seriously. I’ll be a middleman, just to ask proper questions so that you can better protect yourself, your family and your loved ones.

Dangers of the Cholesterol Medication

Statin drugs literature shows over 900 side effects affecting multiple systems in the body especially the body's energy system the mitochondria. 6 This is leading to several prevalent side effects:

  • Muscle wasting/atrophy
  • Heart failure (The heart is a muscle if statins strip the muscles, it creates problems.)
  • Severe joint pain and ligament rupture
  • Memory Issues
  • Liver damage
  • Neuropathy
  • Limits protection from cholesterol against cancer
  • Depression
  • Stops CoQ10 production

Where do I get that information? Right from the FDA’s website. The FDA has warnings against these effects. Doctors must routinely monitor the liver enzymes because of damage to the liver that the statins cause. There’s cognitive brain impairment such as memory loss. Your brain is made of cholesterol. If you strip the body of cholesterol through statin drugs, you are putting your brain at risk and your memory at risk. They increase the risk of type 2 diabetes. They can also cause muscle damage. I have several patients where statins are stripping muscles causing cramping and atrophy, especially in the calves and legs.  

All the statins are included like Lipitor, Crestor, Zocor—all the big ones are causing those kinds of problems. It makes you wonder that if you’re trying to prevent a heart attack or stroke—that’s why you’re taking it—yet you’re causing cancers, diabetes, and Alzheimer’s-type symptoms. Is it actually worth it? Is there a better way?

Again, it’s yours to decide, but I’m just bringing up the research that’s being put out because no one is sending you the email that says, “Hey, if you’re on statins here’s a warning sign from the FDA.” You’re not getting that message. You’re not getting commercials about that message. I just want to bring you the truth. Is there a safer way? Is there a better way of controlling these to have true heart health?

The Greatest Cardiologist in the World...YOU!

Cholesterol is created in your body by your liver. Over 60% of the cholesterol in your body is from your liver, which means your body is not creating a toxic substance to kill you. Now, there are some forms of cholesterol that you eat that are more harmful than others. You’ve got to identify those, know what a good fat is versus bad fat, and understand some misnomers like “Is saturated fat causing cholesterol problems?”

But your body is producing cholesterol for a reason. Cholesterol surrounds every cell in your body. If cells are damaged cholesterol is needed to make new ones. Cholesterol is trying to protect you. Cholesterol is made by the liver as a repair substance. A great example is when you get a cut on your arm, the body has to heal so it produces a scab. That healing is made up of cholesterol. All the hormones in your body are made up of cholesterol. Cells in your body have lipid layers of cholesterol around them. Every cell has cholesterol.

If you’re damaging and destroying cells, you have to make new ones, which means you need a lot of cholesterol. Sometimes athletes need a lot more cholesterol because of the rate at which they damage cells. Cholesterol is a precursor in your body. Your brain is made up of a lot of cholesterol. So you need healthy cholesterol in your body. Stripping it out of your system and forcing it to decrease is not a good thing. 

So How Do You Know If You Really Have High Cholesterol?

Cholesterol is easy to test but how and who interprets your results can make all the difference. For what is it worth, here is the American Health Association Guidelines for Statins. If you answer “yes” to ANY of the following four questions, the treatment protocol calls for a statin drug:

  1. Do you have heart disease?
  2. Do you have diabetes? (either type 1 or type 2)
  3. Is your LDL cholesterol above 190? (Now they’re starting to lower that number even more.)
  4. Is your 10-year risk of a heart attack greater than 7.5 percent?

If your answer is “yes” to any one of those things, they’re going to put you on statin drugs. The head author in this study and the person behind the guidelines is being paid by ten different pharmaceutical companies. The second author is being paid by seven. Another author has stock in eight of those companies. BIG conflict of interest! It makes you question this entire process.

M.D. Dr. Joseph Mercola summed up the fault of the new guidelines best in four points based on information from well-known cardiologist Dr. Stephen Sinatra:7

  1. The heart disease criteria, while it might be appropriate for older men, does not really work for women. There's no data demonstrating that the benefits of statins outweigh the health risks in women—risks that include diabetes and breast cancer. According to Dr. Sinatra: "[I]n my opinion, the only women who should be on statins are those with advanced coronary artery disease who continue to deteriorate despite lifestyle interventions. I believe that less than one percent of women with coronary artery disease fall into this category."
  2. In short, giving a drug that causes diabetes in someone who already has diabetes is nonsensical. It can only make matters worse. What's more, data indicate that statins can cause arterial calcification in diabetic men who take the drug. Thirdly, statins can cause cataracts, which is a common problem in diabetics. The drug may, therefore, increase this risk.
  3. This may be appropriate if you have genetic familial hypercholesterolemia, as this makes you resistant to traditional measures of normalizing cholesterol, such as diet and exercise. This condition is quite rare, affecting an estimated one in 500. In the absence of this genetic situation, treating high LDL levels has little validity.
  4. As you will see below, the 10-year heart attack risk calculation has been "programmed" in such a way as to make patients out of virtually everyone. Besides that, Dr. Sinatra points out that the complexity of estimating risk based on age, race, blood pressure, smoking habits and other criteria is quite likely to lead to overzealous prescribing.


Do You Actually Have a Problem? What Should You Test?

Here are some specific numbers you can look at:


1. HDL to Cholesterol Ratio.  
How much of your cholesterol is the so-called “good” cholesterol, which is HDL? HDL cleans up damage, so you want a lot of it so that it can clean up the damage faster. HDL is like the dump truck that is carrying the heavier load. If 24% of your cholesterol is HDL, you’re in good shape. You want that above 24%. That’s an easy number that supports more positive health as opposed to just looking at the total cholesterol, which is actually a very poor indicator of mortality. Regardless of how high your total cholesterol is if it is made up of the right stuff you'll be ok. 

2. Triglyceride to HDL Ratio.
Triglycerides—the fat that is in your blood—compared to your HDL should be below 2. This means you don’t want more than twice as much fat in your blood as there is the HDL to help clean it up. Nutrition drives this. Sugar is driving up the triglyceride number. Your liver turns fructose into triglycerides. Then you have more fat floating around in your blood which gets the ratio off. That’s going to be a big burden on your heart, on your liver, and on your kidneys to try to filter you out.

If you have a good ratio, below 2, you have enough HDL cleaning up triglycerides. That’s a good number. So you want to look at lowering triglycerides and increasing HDL. Sugar must go down and healthy fat must go up.  

3. LDL Particle Size
LDL is not involved in the first two measurements that I showed you, but it is still important. Not all LDL is made equal though. Since most of the statin drug recommendations revolve around LDL, you need to know how much harmful LDL you have. The smaller the LDL particles, the more harmful. The smaller lipoproteins of the LDL are the ones that can get into the vessels and cause issues, like hardening and clogged arteries. Bigger particles have a difficult time doing this because they can't pass through the vessel. So even if LDL is increased, as long as you have a low amount of small particles, you are at much less risk. 

4. Fasting Insulin Levels 
Your fasting insulin levels have a huge relationship with diabetes and cholesterol levels. Insulin is responsible for getting rid of all the sugar you ingest (carbs, bread, grains, fruits, desserts, etc). You want your fasting insulin number between 2-6.

As you eat more sugar, more insulin is required. A typical American has a fasting insulin level around 8-10. As the insulin level goes up, your body has to work harder to get rid of the excess sugar. This leads to taxing damage on your pancreas, liver, blood heart, and hormone system.  The whole system begins backing up which leads to weight gain and eventually metabolic diseases like high cholesterol, high blood pressure, diabetes, and eventually heart disease. A healthy insulin level indicates a well functioning system. 

5. Fasting Blood Sugar
With the Fasting Blood Sugar Level, people with 100-125 mg/dl had a nearly 300% increased higher risk of having coronary heart disease than people with a level below 79 mg/dl. Below 79 is the target. At least below 100 regularly is a good start. 7

 The above are some numbers you can look at to get a better gauge if are you actually at risk, instead of, “Is your cholesterol number above 200?”. That’s a very poor way of going about it. These are good conversations to be having with your doctor or a cardiologist if you’re working with one. Always consult them for more clarity. 

If you still have abnormal numbers then action must be taken. If you are not willing to change your eating and lifestyle then you may need to take drugs. Based on what we talked about the obvious question is there a less harmful way? Get natural solutions and get to the cause of your cholesterol problem now. 

Who do you know on cholesterol drugs right now? Will you help them by sharing this article? 

NEXT>>PART 2: 6 DRUGLESS SOLUTIONS TO LOWER CHOLESTEROL WITHOUT DANGEROUS SIDE EFFECTS

 

 References:

  1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4684135/
  2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27505443
  3. https://www.cbsnews.com/news/heart-failure-rates-on-the-rise/
  4. https://www.cbsnews.com/news/13-million-more-americans-would-take-statins-if-new-guidelines-followed-study/
  5. https://www.cbsnews.com/news/cholesterol-drugs-for-kids-recommended/
  6. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2849981/
  7. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4609510/
  8. http://newsroom.ucla.edu/releases/majority-of-hospitalized-heart-75668

 

 

REGISTER TODAY AND GET YOUR FREE RESOURCES:  

21-Day Quick Start Guide, Recipes, and Real Health Solutions!

Don't worry, your information will not be shared.

Close