The Danger with Statins
Cholesterol is a hot topic that seems to change as quickly as the wind. For 30 years we suffered eating egg white omelets and tofu scrambles while our great grandparents enjoyed bacon and eggs on a daily basis. This year the government meekly announced that, oops, eggs are in again! Turns out, eating cholesterol has no impact on cholesterol levels in your body.
We used to think eating fatty, cholesterol rich foods built up plaque in the arteries, but it's actually sticky, sugared coated proteins from sodas, high fructose corn syrup, and processed foods that are the culprit. So eating sugar does raise cholesterol level in the blood, but eating saturated fat does not.
Cholesterol is a marker for inflammation
When there's arterial, organ, or general cell damage, the liver produces cholesterol to repair the damage like a band aid. High cholesterol is the message the body sends to say, "hey there is inflammation here and I'm going to repair it." A holistic practitioner will look straight for the root cause, and more often than not, the client has a blood sugar imbalance. The old school 'doc' curses bacon and eggs and, instead, prescribes a Statin.
The Danger with Statins
Statins are cholesterol lowering drugs and the pharmaceutical industry's answer to high cholesterol. Statins prohibit the liver from making cholesterol as a band aid so the body can no longer repair itself. They effectively shoot the messenger while the source of inflammation goes untreated in the body. Unfortunately, with Statins doctors get that lower cholesterol number, but with the inflammation still brewing, most people still feel crummy symptoms.
Studies show that most people, especially elderly women experience drastic side effects from Statins such as body aches, muscle pain, joint pain, depression, fatigue, and an increased risk in developing diabetes. I think we have forgotten to READ the side effects listed and mention these occurrences to our doctors.
My own cholesterol is "high" according to the "decided numbers" our medical industry uses to try and squeeze millions of unique people into a one size fits all model. I recently did blood work with my OB/Gyn because we were amazed that my postpartum depression, that plagued me for years, is a distant memory, my IBS... gone, I have no more joint pain from my chronic dance injuries, I have no inflammation markers, and I feel GREAT! The reason this surprised him was because the only difference is my diet. I'm no longer a vegetarian, I eat 2-3 eggs a day, I enjoy REAL butter, and I eat whole fat dairy instead of soy.
Eat more fat and less sugar to lower cholesterol
Mark Hyman, MD recently spoke about "Diabesity", the fact that obesity and diabetes cause more heart disease than cholesterol. With a group of doctors, he found that dietary cholesterol is not a good marker for arterial plaque. What are great markers are the intake of sugar, soda, and simple carbs like white flour products. Dr. Hyman's advice echoes the Food Foundation principle that we have to eat more healthy fats and less sugar to keep inflammation, and the resulting cholesterol levels, low.
Before you toss out that beautiful egg yolk rich in vit A, vit D, folate, protein, and selenium and reach for breakfast cereal chew on this: Dr. hyman shared that 75% of people admitted into the ER for heart attacks have undiagnosed pre-diabetes or Type 2 diabetes and 50% of them have normal cholesterol. Dr. Hyman was terrified to add that there is an 87% increased risk of diabetes from people taking Statins.
Thinking out loud... If diabetes is a known risk factor for heart disease, and Statins can cause diabetes, why would people who are trying to avoid heart disease risk taking a Statin???
I am not a doctor, please do not take my advice as a prescription to stop taking meds. I am simply pointing this unnoticed contradiction. If your cholesterol is high, you are taking Statins, but you still feel crummy, they may not be helping you. Please share your side effects with your practitioner and get a second opinion. Look for a Functional Medicine doctor that will take into account the entire picture. There is always a root cause to the inflammation that your liver is trying to heal with the only tool it has. When that inflammation is healed, your cholesterol will return to "your normal."
It never hurts to have a second opinion
My OB/Gyn ran my panel and found out my cholesterol was a little higher from when I was a vegetarian. Unfortunately, with my lower cholesterol, vegetarian self in my 20s I was also anemic, depressed, infertile, hypoglycemic, and inflamed. Thanks to scientists and functional practitioners such as Chris Kresser, MS, I understand that my cholesterol should increase as I get older. My body is healing from years of abuse as I celebrate my upcoming 40th.
With high cholesterol, I feared I would still hear the old fashioned advice to take a Statin and prepared to argue the studies I had researched. Instead my doctor asked if he could send me referrals for cases of inflammation. It turns out, there are doctors that understand the individual model of health, you just have to look.
I recommend if you are feeling crummy seek the root cause. Find the inflammation triggering your cholesterol production with the help of your physician or practitioner and treat it with a REAL food diet. As always, Food Foundation is there to help you find your optimal health.