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Tag Archives: cholesterol
“High” Cholesterol? Statin Time?
As the umbrella covering potential statin (cholesterol lowering drugs) consuming customers grows larger and larger, profits for the pharmaceutical giants continue to soar into the billions. These profits also naturally extend to the middle man, your neighborhood MD. With so many vested hands in the pot, one cannot help but question the expanding prescribing parameters in an attempt to determine whether or not the drug is absolutely necessary on an individual basis; especially with a drug that carries such an extensive list of potential systemic side effects:
This topic is extensive, and we’ve actually touched on different aspects in the past:
Today we will shed some light on the false interpretations of a flawed calculation based upon on an individual’s lipid panel (blood work consisting of total cholesterol, HDL, LDL, triglycerides, etc.).
One of the main numbers utilized to determine the need for a statin is your LDL, more commonly referred to as “bad cholesterol.” Easy to grasp right? As a patient you receive an official print out that shows your HDL or good and your LDL or bad right there in black and white. Easy to read and comply to statin use in order to change the “bad” numbers.
First you must know that cholesterol is not all bad, but rather a necessity for proper brain function, hormone production, internal vitamin D genesis and more. It is also a form of LDL that delivers the cholesterol to the necessary destination to perform these vital functions. As far as achieving the objective of changing the numbers on a print out, statins are successful as they block the ability of the liver to make all cholesterol, thus lowering your numbers. SUCCESS!
Many different ways we can go here, but let’s stick to the basic interpretation of the test results that leads to the prescription in the first place. Most physicians rarely order the specific tests to actually measure LDL, but rather rely on an outdated and limited equation to calculate the number. This equation is based upon your total cholesterol, triglycerides (TGL) and HDL. It’s accuracy is also highly contingent upon other individually specific variables such as insulin resistance, diet (nothing to do with dietary cholesterol consumption), and other genetic variances. It also only works in successfully calculating an accurate LDL value if in fact your TGL and HDL numbers fall in a specific range to begin, otherwise the results of the equation have been shown to be off.
So if you don’t fit just right into the tiny box of necessary equation specifics, the calculated LDL results are inaccurate and more often then not, create the illusion of a qualifier for another statin customer. To add to the blurred lines, there are two types of LDL, with one being vital for optimal function, and one being potentially problematic, paving the way for the most common issue correlated with high cholesterol: atherosclerosis. This calculation does nothing to differentiate between the two.
To even to begin to attempt to obtain a more accurate picture of this critical LDL value, you have two options. In addition to the comprehensive lipid panel, the test must also include a measurement of apoproteinB, or the use of nuclear magnetic resonance testing (NMR), as both provide a more accurate picture of the LDL value that is relied so heavily upon to determine the need for a statin.
As stated, this topic runs deep. At this point we could easily steer the discussion towards just what causes the accumulation of very small or bad LDL (again, nothing to do with dietary cholesterol) and what can easily be done to reverse and prevent it. However, the information provided above serves as yet another piece of the puzzle that can be utilized to play a more active and intelligent role in your own health.
Just another quick note as to why this is so important: as noted earlier statins are being prescribed to more and more people, old and young and now being recommended by some to be consumed as a preventive measure, even if your numbers are “good.” Among other things, statin use has been correlated with an increased risk of diabetes as it essentially destroys a key part of your metabolic processing factory, the liver. Among other things, diabetes has been correlated with an increased risk of dementia, with Alzheimer’s even being dubbed “diabetes type III.” Keep in mind this is just one aspect of the deleterious effects of statin use and another glaring example of the need to become more educated and take an active role in your own fate.
If you have any questions about this topic or any other aspect of your health and would like to explore your options based upon a firm comprehension of human physiology and how to naturally alter that in your favor, please do not hesitate to reach out at any time, in any way.
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Posted in Drug Discovery
Tagged Alzheimer's, brain, cholesterol, dementia, Diabetes, health, Statin, triglycerides, vitamin D, wellness
Cholesterol: Rethinking Statins
As of the spring of 2014 one in four Americans over 45 were taking a cholesterol lowering drug known as a statin. Over 43 million Americans between the ages of 40-75, along with an increasing number of younger customers are now including a Lipitor or Crestor as part of their daily regimen.
As the lab values that serve as the criteria for prescribing a statin continue to change, the umbrella for those deemed in need of statin therapy continues to widen. Leaning on the outdated and now uneducated vilification of fats and cholesterol, the multibillion dollar statin industry continues to thrive. Sad thing is, cardiovascular disease and overall health have not improved despite the low fat, statin fueled culture we know find ourselves in.
So is this widening spread use of statins necessary? Is it safe? Here are some facts about statins and cholesterol that should at the very least provoke some individual concern and subsequent investigation.
In 2012 the FDA issued a statement declaring statin drugs can cause cognitive side effects such as memory lapses and confusion.
An AMA (American Medical Association) study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine demonstrated a 48% increased risk of diabetes (a powerful risk factor for type III diabetes aka Alzheimer’s) among women taken statins.
It is well known that statins paralyze cells’ ability to make coenzyme Q10, a vitamin like substance found throughout the body, where it serves as an antioxidant and energy producer. Depletion of CoQ10 leads to fatigue, shortness of breath, mobility & balance problems, muscular pain & weakness. CoQ10 deficiency has also been linked to heart failure, hypertension & Parkinson’s. CoQ10 has actually been proposed as a treatment for Alzheimer’s. At the absolute very least, individuals currently undergoing statin therapy should consult with their physician about adding CoQ10 to their regimen.
How about Vitamin D deficiency? Vitamin D is derived from cholesterol in the skin. When statins lower cholesterol, the ability to generate Vitamin D is hampered leading to (amongst other things) a heightened risk for diabetes, depression, cardiovascular disease and ultimately dementia and other neurodegenerative diseases.
Consider the fact that our sex hormones are also derived from cholesterol. Lowering cholesterol through use of statins and diet can lead to lower testosterone levels and subsequent decreased libido and ED (erectile dysfunction) which are common complaints amongst statin users.
LOWER levels of cholesterol have been linked to depression, dementia and even earlier death.
This type of information and suffering will hopefully continue to provoke reconsideration and remodeling of the current paradigm. As we learn more through research and prior failures, the appropriate response is to act on this newfound knowledge and improve. Unfortunately pride and profits appear to be standing in the way, so it is on us as individuals to educate and investigate when it comes to our health.
When it comes to evaluating cholesterol levels, they are usually included in a lipid panel. This entire process should be reevaluated as well, but there are ways to alter and more accurately measure your triglyceride and small LDL. Before resorting to a statin, why not attempt to uncover the reason for the unfavorable levels, and attempt to remedy it?
How about starting with rethinking the dietary approach?
No not the seemingly logical, oversimplified and outdated, disproven theory that dietary fats and cholesterol are the main culprits behind “bad” cholesterol and cardiovascular disease.
You must once again look to carbohydrates and the subsequent release of insulin, which triggers fatty acid synthesis in the liver. This starts the chain that eventually leads to the rise of triglycerides and “bad” cholesterol. It is no coincidence that diabetes (a disease which features erratic blood sugar and insulin levels) is associated with the lipid triad of low HDL or “good” cholesterol, and high triglycerides and small LDL or “bad” cholesterol.
(Calling HDL and LDL cholesterol is actually incorrect as the “L” actually stands for Lipoprotein, and the “HD” and “LD” stand for High or Low Density. These are carrier proteins that transport cholesterol throughout the body.)
The majority of type II diabetes can be reversed by reducing carb consumption, and the same holds true for naturally improving your lipid panel.
Another area to look at is thyroid function.
Patients with hypothyroid symptoms often display a lipid panel that includes high triglycerides and high LDL due to the body making fat much quicker than it can burn it. The slower metabolism seen with hypothyroidism leads to:
…a sluggish liver and gall bladder making fat less likely to be metabolized and cleared from the body.
…it causes cells to be less receptive to LDL circulating which sets the stage for the LDL to accumulate and be oxidized. This is actually when LDL becomes harmful, not merely its presence alone as it is actually necessary to deliver vital cholesterol to our body’s tissues.
…leaves an individual less able to burn fat as fuel as a healthy person would. This creates a reliance on glucose (carbs/sugar) for fuel and the subsequent insulin release, fat storage and higher triglycerides and small LDL.
Diet and hampered thyroid function are just two possible reasons for an unfavorable lipid profile, and in many cases can be improved with lifestyle changes and the application of functional medicine. Depending on the individual, cleaning up the menu, fortifying the digestive system, balancing the immune system, supporting the adrenal and thyroid glands and detoxification pathways can all be used to improve underlying function, which in turn creates a healthier human who can hopefully steer clear of statins and the accompanying baggage.
As always, consult with your healthcare provider before making any changes. If you are interested in a unique, knowledgable approach based on the most current research, experience and understanding of the underlying function of the body and would like to learn more, call us today.
Posted in Drug Discovery, Nutrition
Tagged adrenal glands, Alzheimer's, carbohydrates, cardiovascular disease, cholesterol, confusion, dementia, depression, detox, Diabetes, digestive system, erectile dysfunction, fatigue, Functional Medicine, HDL, hypertension, immune system, insulin, LDL, lipid panel, low testosterone, memory, muscular pain, neurodegenerative disease, Parkinson's, Statin, thyroid gland, triglycerides, weakness
What Causes That Post Meal Crash?
It seems as though nodding off after a holiday meal is just as much of a tradition as eating a Christmas tree or decorating a Thanksgiving turkey. (Did you catch that or did I catch you drowsy from your last meal?) But why does this happen? And worse, are you someone who is routinely tired after meals, regardless of the time of year?
The reason behind this varies depending on your specific situation, but mainly involves too many carbohydrates and poor blood sugar control. Ideally, when we consume carbs/sugars the pancreas releases a proportionate amount of insulin which then delivers the glucose (end result of crab breakdown) to our cells for energy.
On one level we have someone who usually eats relatively healthy, but just consumed a carb load as if they were preparing to hibernate. The flooding of glucose into the blood alarms the pancreas who, being the diligent little organ he is, dumps insulin to handle the carb load. (Elevated insulin levels due to too many carbs or outright insulin resistance is also not a good thing and has been linked to everything from inflammation to autoimmunity and cancer).
The pancreas wants to make sure all the glucose can catch a ride to a cell so it overcompensates with the amount of insulin secreted. This also happens with people who have poor blood sugar control (aka dysglycemic). The end result here is the glucose being cleared from the blood so rapidly that you have now gone from one extreme to the other; from blood sugar spike to crash. This can lead to symptoms of hypoglycemia; which include light headedness, headaches and feeling tired.
Another reason for the post meal siesta occurs when our tissues become resistant to the insulin that is attempting to clear the blood of and deliver glucose. This can also happen from over doing it on carbs and is the mechanism behind diabetes type II. Anyone concerned with intelligently controlling your weight should perk up for this explanation.
When your tissues become insulin resistant due to poor diet, lack of exercise or binge eating, the glucose remains in the circulating blood causing damage to your brain and blood vessels. (We then have our body’s natural bandaid called in (cholesterol), to patch up the damage from the dysglycemia and insulin resistance.)
Your body wants to keep your blood glucose levels under control, so when plan A doesn’t work (glucose cleared from blood by insulin), plan B kicks in. The glucose is then converted to triglycerides and stored around your midsection as, you guessed it, fat. In many cases it’s excess carbs, not fat in your diet that leads towards poor blood sugar control, possible diabetes, insulin resistance, aaaaand additional weight gain in the form of glucose being converted to and stored as body fat.
This conversion of glucose to triglycerides en route to your fanny is a process that requires a lot of your body’s energy/fuel. So much so that it actually leaves you tired and crashing, and thus we have the post meal coma.
Add to this the fact that this process can also raise serotonin levels. As we’ve discussed in past posts, serotonin is actually the precursor to the sleep hormone melotonin, and because of that can induce drowsiness. This is also the reason turkey knocks you out as it contains the precursor to serotonin, tryptophan.
Hopefully this sheds some light on the subject for those curious about why we hit the hay after scarfing down a delicious feast. Enjoy the holiday. Indulge if you like as you now know what’s going on within and the possible dangers routinely doing so can pose.
However, if you are someone who struggles with cravings, crashes, and weight as we discussed, make it a point to address these signs of internal dysfunction before they get worse. We’re coming up on a new year which serves as an ideal time to get serious and make your health a priority.
Again, enjoy the holidays and come see us when you’re ready to step it up in the new year.
Posted in Nutrition
Tagged autoimmunity, Binge Eating, blood sugar, cancer, cholesterol, Diabetes, diet, dysglycemia, exercise, headaches, hypoglycemia, inflammation, insulin, insulin resistance, light headedness, melatonin, sero, tired, triglycerides, tryptophan, weight gain