The cholesterol debate is one of the most highly divisive issues separating the practices of holistic and conventional medicine. The vast majority of conventional physicians, now following the new American Heart Association (AHA) guidelines, continue to routinely recommend dangerous statin drugs based on total and LDL cholesterol numbers, along with other guidelines. In stark contrast, holistically trained physicians do not prescribe statins and instead look at individual cholesterol numbers and inflammatory markers, ignored by most allopathic physicians.
What cholesterol numbers mean
High triglycerides and low HDL cholesterol are believed to lead to elevated levels of small LDLs, which may stick to artery walls, increasing heart disease risk. Eating more healthy saturated fat can raise HDL numbers. Cutting carbs can decrease triglycerides. HDL numbers at or above 70 mg/dL are considered ideal, while triglyceride numbers of 100 mg/dL or less are recommended by holistic physicians, with 70 mg/dl considered to be optimal. Other health factors, such as hypertension, obesity and smoking, affect heart disease risk.
Do cholesterol numbers really matter at all?
Many holistic physicians are looking more at inflammation as the real culprit of causing heart disease, along with obesity and poor diet. In fact, many holistic physicians recognize that total cholesterol numbers mean the opposite of what we have been told. David Evans in Low Cholesterol Leads to an Early Death: Evidence from 101 Scientific Papers, describes the scientific evidence proving that high cholesterol numbers correlate with longevity for both women and men, while low cholesterol numbers correspond with an early death. It is quite possible that one should be celebrating their high total cholesterol numbers.
Impacting all of these numbers are other risk factors including inflammatory markers, measured by important tests such as the ApoB and C-Reactive Protein tests. Many holistic experts argue that cholesterol numbers alone are meaningless, with inflammation being the primary key to heart disease risk.
The misguided current heart guidelines
The AHA and the American College of Cardiology recently announced new guidelines that healthcare providers should follow to reduce heart disease and stroke risk. It is predicted that these guidelines will result in even more adults being placed on statin drugs. While a 20% risk factor was previously required to “qualify ” for statins, a 7.5% risk factor is now all that is needed for a statin prescription.
Dangers of statin drugs
Statin drugs eliminate cholesterol which is essential for many health functions. The side effects of statins include memory loss and muscle cramping. Cholesterol is necessary for heart and brain health and acts as an antioxidant to eliminate inflammation in the body. Reducing cholesterol levels in the body, using statin drugs, can be extremely dangerous to health.
How to lower heart disease risk
Don’t smoke. Exercise regularly. Maintain a normal weight. Counteract stress with rest and relaxation. Avoid toxins, pesticide and pollutants as much as possible. Avoid processed and low-fat foods, refined sugars, additives and hydrogenated and polyunsaturated vegetable oils. Eat pastured, organic meat, seafood and dairy, including organ meats. Eat local and organic vegetables and fruits. Ensure adequate mineral intake by eating whole dairy products, bone broths and sprouted grains and legumes.
Wheat Belly author and cardiologist Dr. William Davis recommends a high-saturated-fat, low-carbohydrate diet to lower heart disease risk. He specifically recommends eating traditional healthy fats and meats, while eliminating wheat, grains and sugar.
Many integrative physicians recommend a high-fat, low-carb diet to increase heat health. It is important that fats are traditional fats like butter and coconut oil. Processed vegetable oils are inflammatory. Omega-3 supplements are also recommended.
Where to find a heart friendly holistic physician?
Try http://www.acam.org/ , http://www.functionalmedicine.org/ and http://lowcarbdoctors.blogspot.com/
Sources for this article include:
Moore, Jimmy, and Westman, Eric C. Cholesterol Clarity: What the HDL Is Wrong with My Numbers? Victory Belt, 2013. Print.
Written by Michelle Goldstein, Holistic Health to Go
The great cholesterol debate and heart disease was first published in Natural News on August 4, 2014.