This is part 2. See part 1 – Fish Oil & Cholesterol.
Controlling Cholesterol with Diet
Trying to reduce your cholesterol by avoiding eggs and meat is useless.
Most – about 80% – of the cholesterol in your body is produced by your liver and other cells in your body. And for good reason. Every cell in your body has and needs cholesterol. There are hundreds of bodily tasks for cholesterol.
Image: Mariola Streim
If you remove all cholesterol from your body, you will die.
So it would be foolish of your body to depend on your diet for all its cholesterol needs. And your body knows it. This is why your liver is in charge.
Your diet only controls the remaining 20% or so of the cholesterol coursing through your body.
All your dieting and cutting out meat or going vegan can at best reduce your cholesterol by about 20%. And that too, only temporarily.
If your body senses that you’re not feeding it enough cholesterol, it will automatically increase liver’s cholesterol production. And vice versa, if you’re eating a lot of cholesterol, the liver will take it easy on cranking out cholesterol.
So if you quit eating meat and become a vegan, to reduce cholesterol, it may work. Temporarily. After all, cholesterol is only found in animal products. But after a couple of months, your cholesterol numbers will start creeping up again even on a vegan diet.
A recent study published by Harvard researchers, followed over 121,000 people over several years. A tiny nugget of data buried in the study showed that:
- people eating the least amount of red meat had the highest cholesterol
- and those who ate the most red meat had the lowest cholesterol
That’s an important finding!
But not a single TV show talked about this.
When to Panic?
What if your total cholesterol is 200? Is it time to panic?
Should you panic at 250? 300?
You should never panic about cholesterol.
What you shouldn’t do is start preemptively taking cholesterol-lowering statin medications to pound and pummel your cholesterol number into double digits.
It’s easy to following this logic:
a) if cholesterol is dangerous
b) and your cholesterol is going up gradually
c) you should simply nip it in the bud before it gunks up your arteries
A cholesterol number close to ZERO is not good. Or perfect.
Having too little cholesterol may be even more dangerous than having too much.
Panicky patients and enabling doctors preemptively popping statin drugs like candy is dangerous. There was a doctor in the UK who called for addition of statin drugs into tap water. Never mind that his name is Dr. John Reckless.
For most people, a total cholesterol somewhere between 200 and 250 is not reason to panic, especially if you’re female and getting older.
Your total cholesterol number is not very revealing. Still, I am NOT asking you to ignore your cholesterol number!
It’s one of your body’s check engine lights
A cholesterol number of 250 or 300 means it is time to open the hood and give the engine a thorough inspection.
Blindly reducing your cholesterol number with statin drugs is like unplugging that check engine light.
Sure, that annoying red light is no longer there when you start your car in the morning, but the reason why that red light went on still remains.
It’s up to you whether you want to ignore the real problem under the hood.
This is why I called hasty, chop-chop statin therapy ‘lazy medicine’ in a recent blog about Fish Oil & Red Yeast Rice.
Before I get drowned in hate mail, let me make the following statements very clear:
- If you’re on statin therapy, talk to your doctor. DO NOT self-diagnose and stop taking prescription medications without talking to your doctor – that can be dangerous. (No, our legal dept. didn’t make me say that. I meant it.)
- If you have a genetic condition called familial hypercholesterolemia, you probably ought to be on statins.
- If you have heart disease or have had a heart attack, you probably ought to be on statins.
What if you don’t fall into the above categories? Well, then, it is time to look under the hood.
If the only solutions your doctor knows for high cholesterol is to:
- immediately put you on statins
- tell you to exercise and cut fat from your diet
Ding-ding-ding! It’s time to look for another doctor.
Some doctors – a sad commentary – will prescribe statin drugs even if the patient does not absolutely need it, to reduce the risk of negligent malpractice lawsuit. Sigh.
But the good ones who have the time to practice good medicine, without being harassed by insurance companies, know that high cholesterol often is just a symptom of metabolic disorder.
High cholesterol could be caused by:
- thyroid imbalance (usual culprit)
- nutritional imbalance
Most allopathic doctors rarely focus on inflammation or nutritional deficiencies – that’s a whole another rant/blog.
But for many, understanding thyroid imbalances and fixing it through medication or even iodine supplementation could fix the problem. DO NOT do this without your doctor’s help! Your thyroid is not a do-it-yourself project! Don’t even think about it.
Speaking of inflammation, what’s a key cause of inflammation? Yup, too much Omega-6 from vegetable oil consumption. I can never beat that dead horse enough.
The solution to most metabolic disorders:
…is not found in a pill. Wish it was!
The solution is a simple, whole foods diet exclusively of non-starchy vegetables, Omega-3 rich seafood, grass-fed meats, fruits, nuts and pastured eggs, all cooked in low-Omega-6 fats – olive oil, coconut oil or pastured butter.
Note the absence of sugars, grains and Omega-6-rich seed-based vegetable oils!
Popping a bunch of fish oil supplements will not correct metabolic disorders. Wish it did!
Sure, EPA Omega-3 is one of the most potent anti-inflammatories. But high dose Omega-3 supplementation only gets you half way there…what’s required is cutting out Omega-6, sugar and flour.
Mainstream medicine is changing…slowly
Dr. Dwight Lundell, cardiologist, explains all this a bit more thoroughly…
The only accepted therapy was prescribing medications to lower cholesterol and a diet that severely restricted fat intake.
It Is Not Working!
These recommendations are no longer scientifically or morally defensible. The discovery a few years ago that inflammation in the artery wall is the real cause of heart disease is slowly leading to a paradigm shift in how heart disease and other chronic ailments will be treated.
What are the biggest culprits of chronic inflammation? Quite simply, they are the overload of simple, highly processed carbohydrates (sugar, flour and all the products made from them) and the excess consumption of omega-6 vegetable oils like soybean, corn and sunflower that are found in many processed foods.
– Dr. Dwight Lundell, Cardiologist
BBC Video: Statins – use them or lose them?
So should you ignore your high cholesterol?
No. Don’t ignore it.
High cholesterol just means it’s time for you and your doctor to take a better look under the hood.