Treating High Cholesterol
Cholesterol is essential in the body. It’s found in every cell, playing an essential role in many biological functions. It is an important part of brain and nerve cells, the prime communication system of the body. From cholesterol the body makes essential hormones such as cortisol, testosterone, estrogen and progesterone. Cholesterol is also essential for the synthesis of vitamin D in the skin from sunlight. Without cholesterol we could not survive. High levels of cholesterol can be bad, but so can low levels. We must look at cholesterol in the context of other risk factors.
It is now clear that about 50% of heart attacks occur in individuals who have “normal” cholesterol levels, or levels determined to be in the healthy range. Don’t gloss over that last sentence without really understanding what it means. In other words, using the most common screening test for cardiovascular disease actually misses half the people who are at risk. Fortunately there is a test that can identify those at risk whether they have high or normal cholesterol. Called a lipoprotein subfractionation test, it looks closely at what type of LDL you have. Considered the “bad” cholesterol, LDL or low-density lipoprotein is actually a class of cholesterol carrying molecules. In some, LDL may be larger and less dense, whereas in others it might be smaller and denser. The bottom line is that your risk depends on what type of LDL you have. With this test you can find out if you have high-risk or low-risk LDL. You can also see if you have the most protective HDL..
With the list of potential side-effects from taking a statin; including muscle damage, hormone deficiencies, low vitamin D, liver damage, depression, diabetes, and congestive heart failure; it is important to know whether your cholesterol levels really warrant taking this medication. Not only do statins block the synthesis of cholesterol, but also a very important molecule, Coenzyme Q10, which is necessary for energy production, especially in the heart and muscles.
Cardiovascular disease is strongly associated with lifestyle factors. Genetics play a role, but only in terms of how sensitive you are to external factors. Nutritional deficiencies, being sedentary, and toxic exposures are often important factors. Kids with poor diets can have atherosclerosis (calcification and hardening of the arteries). A number of natural interventions can reverse and cure cardiovascular disease if implemented early enough. This is with substantial cost savings to both individuals and insurance or government paid health care. For example, Crestor, one popular statin, costs $124 per month or more than $4.00 per dose. A natural approach to obtaining and maintaining healthy cholesterol levels will yield many other health benefits besides just reducing your risk of cardiovascular disease.
The advice to avoid dietary cholesterol is really misguided in most cases. Avoiding unhealthy animal products, such as nitrate laden meats, fried or charred meats and eggs, is better advice. Eating free-range meat, poultry and eggs that are cooked so as not to damage or oxidize the cholesterol and fats can be part of a healthy diet. It has long been known that dietary cholesterol intake does little to directly affect blood cholesterol levels. Cholesterol in the blood stream is controlled and synthesized by the liver. Cholesterol levels climb more from a refined diet of simple carbs and sugar, not enough fiber, lack of exercise, and states of chronic stress.
Whether you know you have high cholesterol or not, it’s a good idea to be screened to determine your risk of a heart attack or stroke. Instead of getting the standard cholesterol test from you doctor, consider getting the subfractionation test and take control of your health. Contact Dr. Graves for more information on the test and natural approaches to cholesterol management.