The Great Cholesterol Myth
Why Lowering your Cholesterol Won't Prevent Heart Disease-- and the Statin-free Plan That WillBook - 2012
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Cholesterol is a waxy substance — technically a sterol — that is an important constituent of cell membranes. The vast majority of cholesterol in the body is made in the liver, while the rest is absorbed from the diet. Cholesterol is the basic raw material that your body uses to make vitamin D; sex hormones such as estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone; and the bile acids needed for digestion. Cholesterol travels in particles called lipoproteins, the most common of which are high-density lipoproteins (HDL) and low-density lipoproteins (LDL).
All LDL is not the same. LDL-A is a buoyant, fluffy molecule that does no harm whatsoever as long as it is not damaged by oxidation (a process caused by free radicals that enables cholesterol to form plaque). LDL-B is a small, hard, dense, molecule that promotes atherosclerosis. A pattern of high LDL-A is the most beneficial. Blood tests today can also measure the number of LDL-A and LDL-B particles.
• Cholesterol is a minor player in heart disease.
• Cholesterol levels are a poor predictor of heart attacks.
• Half the people with heart disease have normal cholesterol.
• Half the people with elevated cholesterol have healthy hearts.
• Lowering cholesterol has extremely limited benefits.
Statin drugs are anti-inflammatory, and their power to reduce inflammation is much more important than their ability to lower cholesterol. But we can lower inflammation (and the risk for heart disease) with natural supplements, a better diet, and lifestyle changes such as managing stress.
Almost all of us have experience with acute inflammation. It happens every time you stub your toe, bang your knee, or get a splinter in your finger. When you complain about your aching back, an abscess in your mouth, or a rash on your skin, that’s acute inflammation. It’s visible and uncomfortable, if not downright painful.
• The theory that fat and cholesterol cause heart disease became widely accepted despite much evidence to the contrary. This evidence deserves to be reexamined. The case needs to be reopened.
• Many doctors did not agree with the cholesterol myth and questioned the science upon which it was based.
• The studies upon which the cholesterol myth was based were later found to be problematic.
• The adoption of the cholesterol myth by mainstream organizations and the government had a strong political component to it.
1. Don’t smoke.
2. Drink alcohol in moderation.
3. Engage in moderate-to-vigorous exercise for at least half an hour a day on average.
4. Maintain a healthy weight (BMI under 25).
5. Eat a wholesome, low-glycemic (low-sugar) diet with plenty of omega-3 fats and fiber.
The collection of diseases strongly influenced by insulin resistance has been given the acronym CHAOS: coronary disease, hypertension, adult onset diabetes, obesity, and stroke. They’re all related, and what they have in common is insulin resistance.
In one study out of Harvard published in Circulation, a journal published by the American Heart Association, those who had the highest triglyceride-to-HDL ratios had a whopping sixteen times the risk of developing heart disease as those with the lowest ratios 1. If you have a ratio of around 2, you should be happy, indeed, regardless of your cholesterol levels. (A ratio of 5, however, is problematic.)
“Four Horsemen of Aging.” These Four Horsemen all contribute mightily to heart disease, and we’ll go over all of them in the pages that follow. For those of you who just have to know right now what they are, here’s the list: oxidation, inflammation, sugar, and stress.
• Cholesterol is the parent molecule for sex hormones (estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone) as well as vitamin D and bile acids needed for digestion.
• The only time cholesterol is a problem is if it’s oxidized (damaged).
• Damaged or oxidized LDL cholesterol sticks to the lining of the arteries and begins the process of inflammation.
• The true cause of heart disease is inflammation. • Inflammation is initiated by damage from free radicals (oxidative stress).
• The concept of “good” and “bad” cholesterol is outdated.
• There are several types of LDL (“bad”) cholesterol and several types of HDL (“good”) cholesterol.
• It is far more important to know whether you have a pattern A or pattern B LDL cholesterol profile than to know your total amount of LDLs.
• A cholesterol level of 160 mg / dL or less has been linked to depression, aggression, cerebral hemorrhages, and loss of sex drive.
Even back then the Department of Agriculture said we were consuming 75 pounds a year, and by the early 2000s it was up to 90 pounds. As of late 2011, we’re up to 156 pounds a year. That’s the equivalent of thirty-one 5-pound bags for every man, woman, and child in America.
• the number one dietary contributor to heart disease is sugar, which is a far greater danger to your heart than fat.
• Sugar contributes to inflammation in the artery walls.
• Sugar is the missing link among diabetes, obesity, and heart disease.
• High sugar intakes drive up the hormone insulin, which raises blood pressure and increases cholesterol.
• Sugar and processed carbs raise triglycerides, which are an important and independent risk factor for heart disease.
• When sugar in the bloodstream sticks to proteins, it creates damaging and toxic molecules called advanced glycation end products, or AGEs.
• This same process also damages LDL, contributing to inflammation and ultimately to heart disease.
Fructose is metabolized by the body like fat, and it turns into fat (triglycerides) almost immediately. “When you consume fructose, you’re not consuming carbs,” says Robert Lustig, M.D , professor of pediatrics at the University of California San Francisco. “You’re consuming fat.”
Fructose is the major cause of fat accumulation in the liver, a condition known technically as hepatic steatosis but which most of we know as fatty liver.
Fructose found in whole foods such as fruits, however, is a different story. There’s not all that much fructose in, for example, an apple, and the apple comes with a hefty dose of fiber, which slows the rate of carbohydrate absorption and reduces insulin response.
The percentage of calories from fat in the American diet has gone down at the same time that fructose consumption has skyrocketed, along with heart disease, diabetes, obesity, and hypertension. Coincidence?
A study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that replacing saturated fats with high-glycemic index carbs was associated with a 33 percent increase in heart attack risk. ...
When lard was slammed back in the early part of the twentieth century, the health dictocrats started their cheerleading effort for vegetable fats. (The first major beneficiary of this all-out campaign to make vegetable fats synonymous with “healthy” fat was actually the trans-fat – laden Crisco, the most popular vegetable shortening of its time.)
An omega-3 has its first double bond at the third carbon atom in the chain, while omega-6 has its first double bond at the sixth carbon atom in the chain.
Omega-6s, as mentioned, are found primarily in vegetable oils and some plant foods. Omega-3s are found primarily in fish, such as salmon, and certain animal foods, such as grass-fed beef, as well as in some plant foods, such as flax and flaxseed oil.
Omega-6s are the precursors to the inflammatory compounds in our body — they’re the building blocks the body uses to make these inflammatory hormones. And omega-3s have the opposite function: The body uses omega-3s as building blocks for the anti-inflammatory compounds.
A ton of research has established that the ideal ratio of omega-6s to omega-3s in the human diet is somewhere between 1: 1 and 4: 1. This seems to be the best balance to keep inflammation in check and everything running smoothly. It’s the ratio found in the diets of both hunter-gatherers and healthy indigenous societies where heart disease is rare.
Published values for omega-6 intake closely track observed coronary heart disease death rates for all sorts of populations worldwide. And in the famous MRFIT study, subjects with the lowest ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 had the lowest death rate.
The carbs in these high-carb diets tend to be vegetables, fruits, and a smattering of starches, such as beans and brown rice. And although some of the starches may be high-glycemic (such as potatoes), they don’t contain a ton of fructose (as do most processed carbs and virtually all packaged goods). Fructose is the most metabolically dangerous of the sugars, and it is a very minor player in any of the low-fat, high-carb diets that are successful.
Seneff’s husband was diagnosed with heart disease. His doctor put him on a high-dose statin — four times the usual dose — and told him it was imperative that he stay on it. “If you go off this, or even reduce the dosage, I can no longer be your doctor,” his physician told him. Almost immediately, the side effects started. He developed debilitating shoulder problems; muscle aches and weakness (he could no longer open drawers or jars); cognitive and memory problems; and depression, something he had never experienced before.
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The book does not contradict with the latest cholesterol and heart-disease guidelines in mho:
Johns Hopkins: https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/news/newsroom/news-releases/2018-cholesterol-guidelines-for-heart-health-announced
NHS (British National Health Service): https://www.nhs.uk/news/heart-and-lungs/study-says-theres-no-link-between-cholesterol-and-heart-disease/
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