Dr Russell Blaylock, neurologist and preeminent nutritionist wrote a comprehensive article about cholesterol and heart health in this month's edition of The Blaylock Wellness Report. I turn to Dr Blaylock for the most thorough research of medical/nutrition topics, so when he writes something, I pay attention.
I'll summarize a few cogent points from his 9 page article.
1. Cholesterol became associated with heart health as early as 1900 when it was observed that there were crusty, gummy collections of cholesterol in diseased arteries. It was incorrectly assumed that cholesterol was the cause of these sick arteries. The fact was that the diseased, inflammed arteries simply collected cholesterol deposits. Cholesterol deposits were the effect of heart disease, not the cause. We now know absolutely that dietary intake of cholesterol does not raise cholesterol levels in anyone except those with a rare genetic familial disorder. Even 2 eggs a day won't budge your cholesterol!
2. Only 50% of people who suffer a heart attack have increased cholesterol levels. This means there is no correlation since 50% of those who suffer a heart attack do not have high cholesterol.
3. Statin drugs were invented by the pharmaceutical companies to lower cholesterol (still thinking cholesterol is the problem - old ideas die slowly!) and in fact, they do lower cholesterol. Too bad cholesterol isn't the problem. Inflammation of the arteries is the problem and statin drugs do slightly lower inflammation. But not much better than an aspirin and not nearly as well as an "oil change" (going from omega 6 veg oils to omega 3 fish oils) and a diet that is full of anti-inflammatory foods: fruits and (mostly) vegetables.
4. The only actual studies ever done on statin drugs have been done on men who have suffered a heart attack. Yet, statins are being pushed on just about everyone with a cholesterol level over 200, whether they are a man or woman, and whether or not they have suffered a heart attack. Since they are slightly anti-inflammatory there is the belief that they will protect you from having a heart attack.
The problem with this thinking might be that the side effects of statin drugs can be severe, so thinking of a different way to reduce inflammation (see #3) might be worth the trouble.
Some of the side effects of statin - drugs are:
ALS (Lou Gehrig's disease)
Severe peripheral neuropathy
5. Before submitting to statin drugs, be sure to have the latest, most scientific cholesterol blood panel test which would include a breakdown of the kinds of LDL you have. Some LDL is bad, some is actually protective! You must ask for this expanded cholesterol panel, called a VAP cholesterol panel. Then you will know more about your risk factors in developing heart disease. This might help you and your doctor decide whether or not to give you cholesterol lowering medications.
6. Keep your magnesium levels high. True magnesium levels can only be tested through a red blood cell magnesium test. (not just a blood-mag level) There is a very strong connection between low magnesium levels and cardio disease. Low magnesium triggers widespread inflammation (remember the types of arteries that collect cholesterol? Yes, inflammed ones!), makes blood more likely to clot, lowers cell glutathione levels (one of the most important antioxidant molecules) and impairs endothelial (blood vessel) function - the most important indicatior of future atherosclerosis.
7. What causes heart disease?
Exposure to toxic metals (lead, mercury, aluminum, cadmium) - eat only small fish, not large ones which contain these heavy metals
Exposure to pesticides and herbicides - eat organic!
Dietary excitotoxins ("fake sugars" like aspartame; soy "meats", MSG, diet drinks etc)
Chronic or repeated infections
High Blood Pressure
Oxidized oils (all vegetable oils from corn, canola, safflower, sunflower, soybean, peanut are oxidized even before cooking with them - all salad dressings are made from these oils exclusively, unless you make your own with olive oil. At a restaurant, ask for olive oil and 1/2 a lemon or vinegar when ordering a salad. All fast-foods and baked goods are drowning in omega 6 oxidized oils)
8. What protects you from heart disease?
Eat your vegetables. At least 10 servings a day. Organic is best, to minimize pesticides/herbicides
Cook with coconut oil or grapeseed oil; use olive oil on vegetables and salads, take omega 3 fish oil supplements
Daily relaxation exercises the help you de-stress (whatever works for you, be it exercise or meditation or yoga or walks in the park)
Keep magnesium levels high through green leafy vegetables, nuts, and magnesium supplements: glycinate, citrate or chelates, about 300 - 800 mg daily
Avoid eating large fish (tuna, shark, halibut, swordfish, etc, rarely and stress smaller fish, esp Alaska wild salmon for it's high omega 3 content and sardines in olive oil
Eat only grass-fed meats and not more than once a week - Dr Blaylock suggests a 6 oz/week max - eat plenty of veggies with it to minimize the toxic effects of iron and excitotoxins in red meat
There is a lot more in this amazingly complete article, but this is the heart of it for you!
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