I have been inserting my ideas on cholesterol into my posts, but decided a special post on this was in order. And I’ll post a couple articles on this topic below but I urge you to do your own careful research. Make up your own mind. Ask questions. Conventional medicine is vague about the actual statistics of those who have had a cardiac event and lump cholesterol levels in (or rather do not differentiate them from) other more valid indicators: metabolic syndrome which is diabetes or tendency toward, visceral fat around the middle, high triglycerides, high blood pressure.
One article from Science Daily references a study from University of California. Very interesting reading of their findings and the lack of testing on top of it. Only 59% of those with events were even checked upon admission. (Sorry I didn’t highlight them for you; I forget the procedure to do it).
One article discusses the complication of assessing cholesterol levels, size and number of LDL and the role of HDL in this picture. If you REALLY want to understand how complicated this picture is, read the article on the new blood test by Life Extension at the bottom. The article by Dr. Harmon is really clear on who actually benefits from a statin drug.
I have concluded from the statistics that total cholesterol alone is nearly irrelevant when determining risk for a cardiac event. Take a good look at Bill Clinton’s situation. His total number was 157 and he exercised and he had 90% blockages in three arteries and underwent a quadruple bypass as did my brother in law. When it appears their issues may have been treated without it. (Also in the Life Extension article).
So this is my personal experience and I think it’s fascinating and relevant. First, my mother died of a massive aneurysm in her brain at age 64. My father and brother both have ascending aortic aneurysms of 4.8 and 5.2 respectively and are presently having more tests. My brother may do open heart surgery at Cleveland Clinic, but my father at 88 is not a candidate so the only thing would be to put him back on blood pressure meds that cause him to pass out constantly. My father and brother have also both had mini-strokes. They all three have been on a more traditional western diet. (I eat keto or carnivore, and mostly grass fed and/or organic whole food.) My husband had a 95% blockage in the widow-maker artery and his total cholesterol was 157 as well or somewhere in there, maybe lower. He eats a more balanced diet, but plenty more carbs and drinks beer.
SO….the next thing you should understand is that cholesterol lowering drugs or supplements OFTEN lower cholesterol BUT also OFTEN increase plaque in arteries. So what is wrong with this picture? One of these is plant steroids. Lowers it, but increases plaque. I know I want to do that one.
Then ME. I am 64 years old. My current cholesterol levels are about 264. But my HDL good cholesterol level is over 90 always. I have fluffy cholesterol particles, low triglycerides, low blood sugar, low blood pressure (average 105/59) I weigh 119 pounds. Due to my family history I have done both Lifeline screening on my own and had a recent echo-cardiogram to check for heart aneurysms. I have NO plaque in my arteries anywhere including carotid, abdominal, heart, peripheral arteries in arms and legs. I have no aneurysm. I have very low c-reactive protein inflammation levels, practically non-existent, but ever so slightly elevated homocysteine levels, so I take B vitamins. It’s 15 which is the very lowest level of risk. Odd one inflammation marker is so low as to be nonexistent and one slightly high. Something seems strange about that. High both levels indicates a much bigger problem than just one, of course. Other than my thyroid issue, I am at risk for osteoporosis Lifeline says, though I am reading there is really no way to tell it from people with small bones. I will not take those fosamax drugs either.
My diet: I eat mostly meat of all kinds and fish and seafood and fat, a few low carb veggies now and then, mostly lettuce, broccoli, tomatoes, mushrooms, onions and mostly in summer months (and I cheat every so often, of course. But I pay for it). I drink a little wine, I eat dairy and chicken livers. I eat eggs, cheese, heavy cream, sour cream (sour cream makes a lovely dessert as does heavy cream with the slightest drop of rum in it). I cook with bacon fat and lard and grass fed butter. I do take a supplement called Berberine, a vitamin B supplement which includes a food grade folate, and I have a thyroid pill since I have Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, my only diagnosed health problem. I take no other prescription drugs, have always refused statins which have a lot of side effects and really have not been tested long enough. I take astaxanthin for my skin and eyes. I mostly get vitamin D from the sun (my level is 60), and I take occasional calcium with K2, vitamin D and magnesium–again mostly in winter.
Not only are these cholesterol levels nearly impossible to make sense of, no testing has yet been done on people who are eating whole food, grass fed, organic meat and fats vs. those eating trans fats and junk food! Can those cholesterol levels be apples to apples? So to speak? It’s so clear how study is still so essential and how little they really know about this subject. Conventional medicine seems to lag behind alternative folks in my opinion.
There is no question that so far I enjoy much better health than anyone in my family or extended family. There is no guarantee I might not get cancer or something bad could happen, but I also practice some fasting and intermittent fasting, high intensity exercise and yoga. One thing with increased protein intake is that you precipitate the MTOR pathways which can precipitate cancer and you want to be in autophagy some of the time and activate AMPK pathway which you will do with exercise and fasting.
Of course, everyone has to make their own decisions on diet and health, but it’s more than clear that so far, we know very little about how cholesterol figures into this picture and of course, I have concluded they are not nearly as important as metabolic syndrome which my mother, brother, father and husband all have. And we need to know how many of these people with higher cholesterol and an event ALSO had these other huge risk factors, right? And they do not tell us that! Again, metabolic syndrome: A tendency toward high blood sugar, even slightly, visceral fat, high blood pressure, higher triglycerides. And all these are associated with eating sugar and carbs! If you eat fat and meat and cut out carbs, your cholesterol will increase some, but the other indicators including blood pressure and weight and sugar will improve!
And here’s the kicker, wait for it: If I eat terrible. If I eat sugar and carbs and junk food, my cholesterol level comes DOWN. If you FAST, your cholesterol level will go UP. Temporarily. Now, make sense of that. If you take plant sterols, your cholesterol will go DOWN, but plaque will increase!
Let me know your thoughts! Happy Wednesday! It’s snowing here and more on the way tomorrow.