With 1 in 8 Americans dealing with cholesterol problems, the need for safe and drugless solutions has never been greater. Let's dive into natural ways that you can do to take care of your heart without causing harm.
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.
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
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 The answer is not so straightforward and chances are your doctor’s approach is out of date with the research.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.
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. 2
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.
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.3 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.
Statin drugs literature shows over 900 side effects affecting multiple systems in the body especially the body's energy system the mitochondria. 4 This is leading to several prevalent side effects:
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?
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.
For people with high cholesterol levels these powerful natural substances found in plants in their non-GMO, non-synthetic (free instead of ester) form block the absorption of ingested cholesterol in the small intestine.
According to The British Journal of Nutrition: “There is an urgent clinical need for a low-cost, low-risk intervention that can treat those individuals that have not responded well to dietary modification, and where pharmaceutical intervention is not desirable. Consumption of foods containing phyto- (i.e. plant) sterols has the necessary characteristics to meet that need.”5
According to the study taking this supplement for four weeks in patients with baseline elevations of plasma cholesterol, total cholesterol was reduced by 6.4% and LDL cholesterol was reduced by 10.3%. Levels of plasma HDL cholesterol and triglycerides were not affected. 5
In another study, Jones of McGill University notes that sterol supplementation significantly decreased the estimated cholesterol concentrations within small, medium, and large LDL particles by 13.4, 13.5, and 14.4% respectively.6 The Mayo Clinic Proceedings quotes, “Plant sterols and exercise favorably alter lipid profiles in a way that protect against future coronary heart disease (CHD).”7
The type of sterols matters greatly. If they are in a synthetic ester form that can be ineffective and even harmful. The ones I recommend are sourced from non-GMO pine trees and are kept in the free form.
Red yeast rice is a fermented rice supplement that contains a powerful chemical called a monacolin. Monacolins have cholesterol blocking properties and are actually the foundation for popular statin drugs. For this reason, this supplement must be quality and taken properly.
Red yeast rice is a safer alternative to statins for those with high cholesterol and family history of hyperlipidemia. It has been shown by clinical studies to modulate blood lipids. One of these monacolins in RYR, monacolin K, is a functional inhibitor of the HMG-CoA reductase enzyme responsible for the synthesis of cholesterol in the body. 8
The proper non-GMO, organic red yeast I recommend can have the following benefits:
A proper RYR should also contain CoQ10 to be sure to maintain proper levels. Read more below.
CoQ10 is a must if you are on statin drugs! Statin drugs break down and stop one of the enzymes, HMG-CoA Reductase, that produces cholesterol. In the process, that enzyme is also responsible for producing Ubiquinol or CoQ10. In fact, research suggests that some statin drugs decrease serum CoQ10 levels by as much as 40%. 9 So if you stop the cholesterol production you also stop the CoQ10 production as a side effect. Why does this matter?
CoQ10 is a powerful antioxidant in the body. It is a driving force behind the mitochondria (energy sources) in your muscles. Striping the body of CoQ10 stripes the body of a much needed antioxidant and damages the muscles on top of other areas of the body. The most important muscle in your body is your heart. So if you're stripping CoQ10 from the heart muscle you actually increase heart attack risk.
Statin users often also experience side effects such as leg cramps, body cramps, muscle pain, and increased risk of pulling or tearing tendons. Studies show taking CoQ10 negates the effects on muscles and should be used for healthy cholesterol and CoQ10 levels especially in those on statin drugs. 10
The body produces some of its own CoQ10 and it can also be consumed through fish (salmon) and organ meats. If depleted in the body supplementation is recommended.
100-200mg of ubiquinone (the active form) of CoQ10 is recommended daily, especially those on statin drugs or with high cholesterol. The one I recommend is a very high bioavailable, natural form to allow the most benefit for cholesterol as well as chronic fatigue syndrome, congestive heart failure, angina pectoris, coronary artery disease, cardiomyopathy, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, Parkinson's disease, cancer, periodontal disease, asthma, age-related macular degeneration, hyperthyroidism, HIV/AIDS, and Cerebellar ataxia.
To really know where your levels are at, you can request from your cardiologist or your doctor to get your ubiquinol levels measured and then you'll know, especially if you are on a statin.
Omega 3 fatty acids have established themselves as a strong natural solution for heart health. The Omega 3 forms of ALA, EPA, and DHA are the oils to focus on to minimize inflammation in the body. ALA is found in seeds and plants like walnuts, chia, and flax seeds. EPA and DHA are primarily found in fish oils like salmon and krill oil.
Eating these foods in their natural, nonrancid, form is beneficial. Oils go rancid when exposed to heat so food and supplement protection is crucial for the Omega 3 to have the proper effects.
Studies show in patients with triglyceride levels above 500 mg/dl, approximately 4 g/day of EPA and DHA reduces triglyceride levels 45% and very low-density lipoprotein cholesterol levels by more than 50%. 11
Outside of lower cholesterol Omega 3's help inflammation levels and joint health. The studies have now supported that if you have proper omega-3s (1200-2400mg) going into the body, it's equivalent to an ibuprofen or an aspirin as far as lowering inflammation in the body and lowering joint pains. 12
Fatty Acid Supplementation (My Recommendation)
Weight is another step in controlling cholesterol levels and is important in how the body functions and how the body responds to inflammation. Let me give you the important numbers and what to look at to really know where you are at with your nutrition and if it’s affecting your cholesterol numbers. The following numbers will help you to determine if you need to make a nutritional change.
Three blood work numbers you really want to look:
If your blood sugar is high, above 80-100 and your insulin is above 6 you may be at high risk for high cholesterol problems. When too much sugar, especially fructose, enters the bloodstream and hits the liver it is instantly turned to triglycerides and bad cholesterol. This is why your Triglyceride to HDL ratio is also important to calculate. Too much sugar equals high triglycerides.
Focus on sugar. Eliminating bad fats is important but sugar needs to be in the spotlight. In fact, the right fats are actually helpful. A Medical Research Council Survey showed men eating butter ran half the risk of developing heart disease as those there were using margarine. 13 Fake foods and sugars are driving bad cholesterol problems.
Here are three ways to lose weight quickly, keep the weight down, and help lower cholesterol within normal ranges.
1. Cut All Forms of Sugar Out
2. Crank Up the Good Fats
3. Clean Up the Protein
Grab my book for an easy to use, cholesterol-lowering meal plan and recipes.
You must fit in fitness in order to have your blood pressure, cholesterol, the risk of stroke, and the risk of heart attacks, go down. Getting oxygen into your body is critical. The proper exercise can accomplish this in a matter of minutes.
It doesn't take long, you don't need a gym, you don't need to be insane, you don't need 90 minutes, you don't need equipment, and you do not need a lot of money. You just need to be consistent. You can get in the shape of your life and fit in fitness in an hour per week!
The concept is you're going very hard for a short amount of time breathing very heavy, resting, and doing it again. You’ll repeat that cycle for an entire 10 minutes and you'll be done for the day. You just have to breathe hard to burn fat. Intensity is king. To learn more head over here.
Treat sickness and disease and you get sickness and disease. Build health and you get health.
Cholesterol problems should be overseen by your physician but much can be done to build health to help you experience real health. Who do you know on cholesterol drugs right now? Will you help them by sharing this article?
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