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Know Your Cholesterol

You've been told that you have high cholesterol and need to take cholesterol-lowering medication for the rest of your life. If you don't, cholesterol will glue itself to the lining of your blood vessels and you'll die of a sudden heart attack or stroke. But this is wrong-cholesterol by itself is not the villian. Furthermore, controlling your cholesterol doesn't guarentee that you won't have a heart attack. And did you know that half of the individuals who have had heart attacks don't have high cholesterol? Cracking some common myths about cholesterol and ditching the class of cholesterol-lowering drugs known as statins for nonprescription, inexpensive nutrients can help you get back on the path toward better health-and what you learn about cholesterol may surprise you.

Myth #1: The Lower Your Cholesterol, The Better

A healthy body needs cholesterol. It is absolutely essential to prevent Alzheimer's disease and is crucial for building hormones, making bile for digestion and detoxification, and much more. In fact, cholesterol that's too-low is actually dangerous. Besides doubling the chance of death, too-low cholesterol dramatically damages mental health, leading to depression, mania, and more. Insufficient cholesterol can cause irregular heartbeat, chest pains, high blood pressure, and shortness of breath.

Tip: Watch out for cholesterol that's too low. Anyone with cholesterol under 160 mg/dL has double the risk of brain hemorrage and an increased risk of leukemia plus cancers of the liver, lung and pancreas. There's also an increased risk of cirrhosis.

Myth #2: High Cholesterol Is The Biggest Indicator of Heart Disease

Having a low high-density lipoprotein (HDL) makes you more vulnerable for a heart attack than you would be having high cholesterol. HDL, or "good" cholesterol, actually carries cholesterol out of the bloodstream and into the liver. An HDL test is an independent predictor of whether your body can keep up with cleaning plaque off your arteries. In one study, researchers found that, way above whether patients had high cholesterol, the progression of plaque accumulation in the arteries was really due to elevated homocysteine. But even though high homocysteine has been known for decades to accelerate the risk of heart attack, stroke, macular degeneration, and Alzheimer's, many cardiologists don't check it. Since there is no drug for homocysteine (the treatment is vitamins), the test is not very popular.

Tip: Insist that your cardiologist checks your homocysteine levels. A Cardio/ION Panel will provide this information plus hsCRP,or high-sensitivity C-reactive protein,another important indicator of yearly progression of coronary plaque. Also know your vitamin, mineral, and fatty acid levels.  Studies show that the vitamins used to treat high homocysteine, including vitamins B6,B12, and folic acid, actually make coronary plaque regress or melt away. Even folks on cholesterol-lowering drugs, vitamins decreased the progression of plaque fivefold above and beyond what drugs could do.

Myth #3: Statins Are The Answer For Lowering Cholesterol

For anyone taking cholesterol lowering statin drugs (Lipitor,Mevacor,Zocor, and Crestor just a few), these drugs can usher in dangerous side effects and seemingly unrelated diseases. Symptoms and side effects and seemingly unrelated diseases. Symptoms and side effects of statins include bloating,diarrhea, and constipation, which invariably lead to intestinal inflammation and poor absorption of nutrients, which in turn leads to an avalanche of diseases. Here's the lowdown on statins:

  • They work by poisoning a liver enzyme that makes cholesterol. However, we need cholesterol to keep the brain from aging.
  • Turning off cholesterol production fuels the Viagra epidemic, because you need cholesterol to make sex hormones like testosterone, estrogen, and progesterone.
  • We need cholesterol to properly release the chemicals we make inside our cells kill cancer cells.

As if the side effects weren't dangerous enough, the same enzyme that statins inhibit is used by the body to make coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10). This vitamin-like substance is crucial for life! By poisoning the body's production of CoQ10, statin drugs actually create a life-threatening deficiency. People taking statins eventually develop a host of diseases caused by a deficiency of this nutrient, including congestive heart failure. CoQ10 deficiency can also cause heart attack, exhaustion, cancer, muscle diseases, depression, high blood pressure, gum disease, hair loss, liver disease, memory loss, cataracts, folic acid deficiency, and much more.

Tip: If you're on statin drugs, start taking CoQ10 today! Keep it up until you find the cause and cure for your high cholesterol. Until you and your doctor are able to eliminate the statin, at least take some rudimentary nutrients to counter the nasty effects. In addition to CoQ10, also take vitamin E. It's crucial that the E supplement contains all eight parts-four tocopherols and four tocotrienols. Also, it's important to avoid synthetic dl-tocopherol and always choose the natural d-alpha-tocopherol.

Tip: There are safer, cheaper and better alternatives to improve cholesterol. Vitamin B3, or niacin, is a wonderful natural way to lower cholesterol and is one of the oldest, safest, and best researched. Niacin not only safely decreases cholesterol synthesis but also raises HDL and helps lower triglycerides. Look for a formula that allows slow release over five to seven hours.

The Dreaded Low-Cholesterol Diet

As soon as you're diagnosed with high cholesterol it seems that someone wants to take away your favorite foods and torture you with tasteless tidbits. A low-fat diet not only makes the situation doubly dangerous because, as you know, we need sufficient cholesterol and the right fats to stay healthy. Since the liver makes 80 percent of our cholesterol regardless of diet, stick to a healthy whole-foods diet if your cholesterol is high. Enjoy grains like brown rice, quinoa, and millet; beans like split peas, lentils, and adzuki; any nuts and seeds; and a variety of fruits and veggies.

     Another helpful supplement is policosanol. This natural product does a better job than statin drugs in lowering cholesterol and, more importantly, elevates HDL. And, unlike statins, policosanol does not force the body's cholesterol-controlling gene into submission.

     It sounds too simple, but vitamin C is also important. C is needed to finish converting cholesterol into bile, which is neccesary for absorbing fat-soluable nutrients like vitamins A,D,E and K plus CoQ10, alpha lipoic acid, and the important fatty acids EPA and DHA, all neccessary for a normal cholesterol level. But when folks are low in C, the pathway for normal cholesterol metabolism is blocked and piles ip inside the blood vessels where it becomes a target for free radicals. Remember that cholesterol, no matter how high it is, is not damaging and does not normally adhere to arterial walls. It is only when it has been oxidized by free radicals and the vessel wall has been damaged that the cholesterol bandage comes to the rescue.

     Finally, studies have shown for more than a decade that taking vitamin E and other antioxidants clearly lowers your chance of a heart attack, heart disease and stroke and even keeps cholesterol from thickening the coronary artery wall. Vitamin E protects against the oxidation of LDL, or "lousy," cholesterol, which glues itself onto the blood vessel lining, resulting in plaque.

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Floral Park, NY Natural Health Practitioners
Nature's Pantry
New Windsor, NY 12553
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