Is High Cholesterol a Disease?
The disease isn’t the high cholesterol. Like we said earlier cholesterol is normal in the human body. Not only is it normal it is essential. Dropping cholesterol too low may cause an increased incidence of depression, cancer, anxiety and stroke. Some studies have shown that lowering cholesterol through diet increases the rate of mortality.
The difficult with cholesterol is it can be come oxidized. Oxidized cholesterol particles can cause damage to the arterial walls and resulting inflammation eventually leading to scarring and plaque formation. The LDL cholesterol is more likely to become oxidized due to its fat content. The smaller size particles are linked to increased problems as there are more oxidized particles in your blood stream.
Dietary cholesterol is also a problem when it is cooked it can become easily oxidized. Think of the cholesterol in an egg that is fried. The fried egg has worse cholesterol content than the egg that is soft boiled as heat and oxygen causes oxidization.
So inflammation combined with cholesterol levels are the root of many problems. If you can reduce or remove the inflammation you are going to reduce the cholesterols damage to the body.
Treatment of High Cholesterol
Statins show success because they not only lower cholesterol they also have other effects on inflammatory mechanisms. Statins lower C-reactive proteins. C-reactive proteins are a protein the increases secondary to inflammation. Statins also lower AGEs particle and this may be another mechanism in which they help prevent arteriosclerosis.
The other day I went to the cardiologist for an echo cardiogram. After the test he looked at my blood results which showed I had high cholesterol, around 240. However my test wasn’t a fasting test. He tried to insist that I take statins to lower the levels. Now my HDLs were over 70 so I was at less than 4:1 ration and I know my particle size test shows large HDL and LDL particles. It seems though that this is often the norm. We have been sold a believe that high cholesterol is the disease and statins are the cure.
Statins are not without controversy. They have a variety of side effects that include severe muscle pain, diabetes, headache, nausea and more. Some experts feel we really don’t need statins. Here a cardiologist feels we need to cut back on our statin usage. I personally feel that statins have some limited usage but are over prescribed. In older women they make no sense to use at all. Also doctors don’t try to lower cholesterol by natural methods. If we could only change people’s diet we could lower health cost and mortality risk.
Note: statins do reduce CoQ10 so if you are taking statins you should add CoQ10 to your dietary supplements.
Diet and Exercise
Exercise we’ve discussed before increases the size of LDL and HDL particles. As a result it will help to lower the incidence of arteriosclerosis.
Avoidance of certain types of fat can be helpful in preventing atherosclerosis. Avoidance of trans fatty acids most commonly found in processed foods is helpful in preventing arteriosclerosis. Saturated fats may or may not be bad. People near the equator who eat a high amount of saturated fats from coconut have a low incidence of heart disease. It may be that preparation of saturated fats may be part of the problem, for example high heat resulting in oxidation. Again high heat is bad for development of arteriosclerosis. Even healthy oils such as olive oil will be ruined by heating them at high temperature.
Sugars are associated with plaque formation. High intakes off dietary sugar are linked to low HDL levels and increasing risk of cardiovascular heart disease.
Eating small frequent meals is associated with lower of cholesterol. Eating breakfast every day helps to keep cholesterol levels lower.
To find a diet that helps with health cholesterol levels and decreased plaque formation we need to look at the Mediterranean diet. Olive oil helps to reduce oxidative stress and keep LDL from oxidizing. The Mediterranean diet helps lower cholesterol, reduce C-reactive protein levels, and even reduce mortality rates. Adding nuts to the diet as nuts lowers LDL levels. Nuts to use include macadamia nuts, pecans, walnuts, almonds, pistachios and hazelnuts.
Coffee also may increase cholesterol. Unfiltered coffee seems to have the greatest effect on raising cholesterol levels. However even filter coffee may have some effect.
High cholesterol is a side effect of hypothyroidism. Some people show subclinical thyroid dysfunction and thyroid medication can be very helpful in reducing their cholesterol levels. This should also be considered in stubborn cases of high cholesterol.
Red Yeast Rice:
Red yeast rice works much the same a statins. However the FDA ruled that red yeast rice products that contain naturally occurring lovastatin are unapproved drugs. As a result today red yeast rich has lovastatin removed from it. Research has shown great promise in China and there are fewer side effects with red yeast rice. Red yeast rice without the modifications could make an excellent replacement of statin drugs. It is safer and nearly as effect. Hopefully the FDA will change its mind in the future.
Make sure the red yeast rice is tested for citrinin contamination.
Do not combine red yeast rice with any statin therapy. Also like statins take extra CoQ10 when taking red yeast rice.
Dosages of red yeast rice are 600-2400 mg/day.
Chromium and Niacin
Chromium combined with niacin seems to work better than either alone. The dosages used were 200ug of chromium and 100 mg of niacin.
Niacin is used in dosages of 1500-3000 mg/day to lower cholesterol. However many people can’t handle the itching side effects of niacin.
Pantethine inhibits cholesterol formation. At dosages of 600-1200 mg/day in several studies cholesterol was decreases up to 23%.
Aged garlic has been found to be helpful, from 1500-3000/day.
While turmeric is not specifically for cholesterol it does help with inflammation. Damage from high cholesterol appears to be part of its oxidation and the subsequent inflammation.
Remember that cholesterol is a vital nutrient and levels that are too low can be related to illness, especially depression. The smartest approach is to start to exercise and diet. A healthy diet will increase your lifespan and decrease health cost. This is the first and smartest choice. Add some supplements and see if red yeast rice will lower your cholesterol before going on prescription medication.