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High Cholesterol May Not Matter

By Hiren Admin Patel

Jun 11

Worried about your High Cholesterol?  It might not matter.

Maybe you have had high cholesterol for your whole life.  No matter how much you “watch what you eat”, workout, and be healthy, that dang cholesterol number just won’t budge.

Every time you have a physical, blood draw, or a doctors visit, you sit there and wait for it.  “We need to talk about your cholesterol…”   They go over the numbers and point out the dangers of high cholesterol.

Cholesterol

Their answer usually involves statins, a “no cholesterol diet” or something else you have already tried.  You tweak your diet, you tweak your workouts in an attempt to raise that HDL level, but nothing budges.

You decide to choose the statins and ignore the side effects (the sore muscles, aches, pains, diarrhea, trouble sleeping, etc.) and WHY? Because your doctor said to get those numbers lowered.

BUT, is it really necessary?

 Can you relate to this?

If you can, I ask you to consider a paradigm shift. That MAYBE just MAYBE Your blood cholesterol numbers are a symptom of dysfunction—not the dysfunction itself.

Curious? Read on!

The Cholesterol Paradigm Shift

In the paragraphs below I am going to share a substantial paradigm shift with you.  This information is written by my good friend, PhD student, and co-author of the 112 Week Super Shred Program, Ari Whitten.

*NOTE:  Before reading on it is important to note that this article does not claim to be a treatment or cure for any disease.  If you have a serious medical condition, see your doctor and take appropriate action. This article also does not apply to those with a rare genetic disease known as familial hypercholesterolemia.

Decades old Science – High Cholesterol and Heart Disease

In Ari’s words:

For decades now, we have been taught to believe that higher levels of cholesterol will cause heart disease (and many other health problems). After our blood tests, our doctors sit us down to let us know “you’re cholesterol numbers are a little high—we need to do something about this. And by do something about this, I mean we need to start you on statin drugs.”

This is the simple conversation that takes place between millions of people and their doctors, every single day. I usually get at least one call every week or two, from a client or friend, where they tell me “I have high cholesterol. I don’t understand—I never had high cholesterol before. My doctor wants me to go on statin drugs. What do you think, Ari?”

What I think is this: Most of the research linking higher levels of cholesterol to heart disease (or any other disease) is highly flawed, as I will show you in this article. And, most importantly, taking drugs to lower your cholesterol—although they are indeed very effective at lowering cholesterol—don’t seem to actually translate into significant health benefits (i.e. even though it lowers your cholesterol, it typically doesn’t significantly lower your risk of heart disease).

To make matters even worse, on top of the fact that they are almost totally ineffective in reliably providing any health benefit, they are linked with a plethora of damaging effects.

So what can explain all these observations:
1) That lowering cholesterol doesn’t seem to translate into any benefit, and 2) That lowering cholesterol often results in some nasty side effects?

“There is no life on Earth that can live without cholesterol…”

Well, let me offer a quote from anti-aging expert Ron Rosedale, M.D. that offers a clue as to what can explain those observations:
“First and foremost, cholesterol is a vital component of every cell membrane on Earth. In other words, there is no life on Earth that can live without cholesterol. That will automatically tell you that, in and of itself, it cannot be evil. In fact, it is one of our best friends. We would not be here without it. No wonder lowering cholesterol too much increases one’s risk of dying. Cholesterol is also a precursor to all of the steroid hormones. You cannot make estrogen, testosterone, cortisone, and a host of other vital hormones without cholesterol.”[1]

In other words, we need cholesterol for HEALTH! Animals didn’t evolve cholesterol just so that it could cause heart attacks.

And therein lies the key to really understanding what elevated cholesterol really means—it means that elevated cholesterol is not a pathology in itself, it’s a sign of the true pathology! It is not something to be treated with drugs to get rid of it, it’s something that the body intelligently increases in response to increase need for this vital nutrient. Simply put, the body elevates cholesterol when there is increased rates of cell damage, which require cholesterol to repair themselves.

But if you fail to understand this, and if you think that the elevated cholesterol itself is the problem and then use drugs to attack your cholesterol, not only will you fail to actually solve the real problem, but you’ll also get side effects. That is why you get side effects.

When you do something that is truly promoting healthier cellular function, it doesn’t cause negative side effects. The mark of something that is not actually enhancing your health, if it causes negative side effects.

You’ve probably heard of so-called good and bad cholesterol—HDL and LDL, respectively. But do you know what the actual function of HDL is? Well, it’s entire role is basically to take cholesterol from your body’s tissues and arteries, and bring it back to your liver. Why? So it can be eliminated from your body, right? Your body is trying to get rid of all that poisonous cholesterol, right? WRONG! To eliminate it, it would need to take it to the kidneys or intestines. Instead it takes it to the liver?

Why? The HDL takes it back to the liver so the liver can recycle it and put it back into the form of cholesterol that can be delivered to cells for their health. As Dr. Rosedale explains. “Your body is trying to make and conserve the cholesterol for the precise reason that it is so important, indeed vital, for health.”[2]

Cholesterol is in fact regulated by the body in exactly the same way that it regulates your blood oxygen, blood sugar, blood pressure and countless other factors that need to be kept in a tight range.

This is why numerous studies have refuted the notion that eating “cholesterol-containing foods and saturated fats do not actually increase cholesterol levels significantly, and why they routinely find that consumption of these foods do not increase heart disease. For example:

·       A survey of South Carolina adults found no correlation of blood cholesterol levels with cholesterol-containing foods, such as use of red meat, animal fats, fried foods, butter, eggs, whole milk, bacon, sausage and cheese.[3]
·       Another study showed that men eating butter (the fat we were all told causes heart disease) ran half the risk of developing heart disease as those using margarine (the fat we were all told prevents heart disease).[4]

So if you understand this, it should become apparent to you that if cholesterol is elevated, it’s because the body has elevated it (intelligently) in response to increased cell damage. It’s not a mistake, it’s your body’s way of trying to heal itself from the real factors causing heart disease.

So what are those real factors? Well, the link between inflammation, heart disease, and cholesterol gives us an important clue…

The Hidden Connection Between Cholesterol and Inflammation

Inflammation has become all the rage in the medical community in recent years, and it is now scientifically linked to countless diseases, from depression, to Alzheimer’s, to many cancers, to heart disease. Heart disease is of particular interest here since that just so happens to be the disease that people blame on cholesterol.

Now, consider what inflammation’s role in your body actually is. Generally speaking, its role is to respond to potential invaders and to cell damage (like a cut for example). The body responds by:
·       Constricting blood vessels to prevent you from bleeding to death
·       Making your blood thicker so it can clot
·       Immune system activation to fight off invaders
·       To repair the damage, cells are asked to multiply and/or repair themselves

atherosclerosis

Eventually the cut fills in and you get a scar. Note that if this happens internally in the blood vessels, we call it a “plaque.” Now, this plaque, and the increased blood thickness and blood vessel constriction (higher blood pressure) that occurs from the inflammatory response (which in turn, remember, is initiated by cell damage), can indeed increase your risk of high blood pressure and heart attacks.

At this point, cholesterol is elevated in the blood to help repair the damaged cells at the site of the injury. Remember, your cells need cholesterol. So if you damaged your cells, your body has to increase cholesterol levels in order to repair the cells—this is vital to normal cell health and function.

The important thing to realize here is not to make the mistake of thinking it’s the cholesterol that’s causing the problem. (You know, not to be so simple minded as to say “oh, well, often people with heart disease have high cholesterol, and look, the arterial plaque is made from a bunch of cholesterol, so I guess cholesterol is causing heart disease.”)

No! This is confusing correlation with causation. The real problem is cell damage, not the thing you body manufactures to repair cell damage!

Let me put it very bluntly: Cholesterol isn’t the pathology—cholesterol is elevated because of pathological damage in the body. Heart disease is being caused by that pathological damage, not by the cholesterol.

If you understand this so far, you would probably be realizing at this point, that artificially lowering the body’s desired level of cholesterol through drugs, is well, not a very smart idea.

The Foolishness of Lowering Cholesterol

According to lipid biochemistry expert Mary Enig, Ph.D, have gone so far as to call high cholesterol “an invented disease, a ‘problem’ that emerged when health professionals learned how to measure cholesterol levels in the blood.”[5]

In other words, people only started talking about cholesterol when they first measured cholesterol and noticed that people with degenerative disease often had higher levels, and then, foolishly made the very bad mistake of confusing correlation with causation.

Now, once they made that mistake—thinking cholesterol was the “cause” of heart disease—they then went on a mission to attack and vanquish this evil cholesterol. And they created statin drugs, which do indeed work to lower cholesterol levels. Hooray! We’ve cured the cause of heart disease. Except that cholesterol isn’t actually the cause of heart disease.

As Rosedale explains:

“If excessive damage is occurring such that it is necessary to distribute extra cholesterol through the bloodstream, it would not seem very wise to merely lower the cholesterol and forget about why it is there in the first place. It would seem much smarter to reduce the extra need for the cholesterol — the excessive damage that is occurring, the reason for the chronic inflammation.”2

So what happens when instead of attacking the real cause of the problem (cell damage), you attack the body’s intelligent response to the problem (elevated cholesterol)?

Well, two things:
1)   You typically don’t actually fix the problem you’re trying to fix (heart disease) even when you successfully lower cholesterol.
2)  You get “SIDE EFFECTS.” In other words, you get negative effects on physiology instead of positive ones.

Let’s address the first one—that cholesterol lowering drugs don’t actually work to prevent heart disease.

First, a word of how easy it is to create very misleading statistics to show your treatment “works”—which is what drug companies frequently do.

Let me give you an example to show you what I mean: Say I create a pill that I want to promote for muscle growth, and I want to do a study to show my pill works. I have two groups—one taking a placebo and one taking my pill—and I end up with results that show the placebo group gained 0.1 pounds of muscle after 15 weeks, while the group taking my pill gained 0.4 pound of muscle.

I can then say “This pill causes 400% more muscle growth than without the pill!” And I can say that, technically speaking, and it sounds like my pill is a wonder drug for muscle growth—a replacement for steroids. But did it really cause significant muscle growth? No, it didn’t—we’re still talking in numbers that are not very significant. People taking my pill wouldn’t have a noticeable amount of muscle growth. Though my statistic sure makes it sound impressive.

This is the sort of statistics manipulation that drug companies often do to make their drugs sound like they work.

If we look at a drug company’s advertising, we might something like for example, an ad from Pfizer which says “Lipitor reduces heart attacks by 36 percent.”2 Wow, that sounds very impressive, right? I guess cholesterol lowering drugs do work after all.

They make this claim using a statistic called NNT, or number needed to treat. Ever heard of it? Probably not. Most doctors haven’t either. And that’s the problem. NNT means this: How many people have to take a particular drug for it to produce one person who avoids a medical issue (like a heart attack)?

So Pfizer claimed a 36% reduction in heart attacks. Yet, if you look at the actual study, here’s what you find that what the study showed was that “3% of patients taking a sugar pill or placebo had a heart attack compared to 2% of patients taking Lipitor.”[6]

Based on this, Pfizer can say “reduced heart attacks by 36%” which sounds impressive. But if they said “3 people out of 100 in the placebo group had heart attacks, while only 2 people out of 100 in the drug group had heart attacks” it would be a rather laughable claim.

So let me translate: For every 100 people who took the drug over 3.3 years, 2 had heart attacks. For every 100 people who took a placebo over that same time period, 3 had heart attacks. That means that for every 100 people taking Lipitor, potentially 1 of them would have avoided a heart attack. The other 99 people, well, all they’ve accomplished is spending a bunch of money to cause themselves a whole bunch of nasty side effects.

Zetia and Vytorin: No Medical Benefits

A few years ago, a drug called Zetia came out, which works by inhibiting absorption of cholesterol from your intestines, and it, along with Vytorin (which is a combination of Zetia and Zocor, a statin drug) quickly took over the market place—the drugs close to 20 percent of the U.S. market for cholesterol-lowering drugs. And after close to 1 million prescriptions for the drugs were being written each week in the United States, bringing in close to $4 billion in 2007, a study came out that found that these drugs “have no medical benefit.”

As in, they do not work.  (By the way, the fact that millions of people were prescribed a drug long before it had any scientific studies showing that it actually worked to prevent heart attacks, should make you question just how “science-based” much of modern medicine actually is).

These drugs do indeed lower cholesterol levels—quite effectively actually—but the problem was that despite lowering cholesterol levels, they didn’t actually work to slow down plaque progression or decrease rates of heart attacks or strokes.
In fact, they actually found that in those people whose cholesterol was lowered very well (into the “healthy range”), theirplaques grew nearly twice as fast![7]

This simple fact is that these drugs which do indeed lower cholesterol levels, but they don’t really work to prevent heart disease. In fact, in many cases, they actually accelerate heart disease plaque growth. For anyone paying attention to the science, this is an absolutely fatal blow to the notion that high levels of cholesterol “cause” heart disease.

It’s worse than just lack of effectiveness—these drugs can be very damaging!

On top of being virtually totally ineffective in preventing heart disease, cholesterol-lowering drugs are associated with a whole range of terrible side effects[8] [9] [10] [11]:

·       Muscle pain and weakness, and muscle cell death—this is the most common side effect of statin drugs
·       Nerve damage
·       Failing memory
·       Depression and irritablity
·       Cognitive impairment
·       A potential increased risk of cancer
·       Liver problems, including a potential increase in liver enzymes (so people taking statins must be regularly monitored for normal liver function)

Other cholesterol-lowering drugs besides statins also have side effects, most notably muscle pain and weakness.

These associations likely have to do with cells not having adequate supplies (in the form of cholesterol) to repair themselves.

Deprive cells of a vital nutrient to their health and what happens? You get… side effects.

The Intelligent Way To Lower Inflammation, Prevent Cell Damage, and Prevent Heart Disease

images

The most important thing to consider here is the simple fact that humans eating their traditional whole-food diets do not have any heart disease. [12] (Note: They also don’t have significant obesity, and nearly every other degenerative disease in the modern Western world).

Heart disease—like obesity, type II diabetes, and a host of other lifestyle disease—is a modern epidemic, and is unique to modernized and Westernized populations eating a Western processed food diet. As soon as we modernize a traditional culture and introduce processed foods to them, rates of heart disease, obesity, and diabetes begin to skyrocket. It’s not a coincidence. (Note that it is not necessary to eat a low-carb or low-fat diet, but it is necessary to eat a whole-foods diet).

The single biggest contributor to heart disease is eating a processed food diet, which promotes cell damage and dysfunction on multiple levels—from driving neurological food addiction and calorie overconsumption (which itself promotes a toxic state in the body), to causing micronutrient deficiency, among other reasons.

Polyunsaturated fats—largely from vegetable oils, the very things which were originally promoted to prevent heart disease—are a major cause of heart disease (among many other degenerative diseases).

processed oils

Trans fats—hydrogenated oils—are another significant contributor to cell damage and heart disease.

More commonly heard factors as well, such as smoking, being sedentary, and alcoholism all promote cell damage.

Hypothyroidism and metabolism dysfunction are another huge contributor to heart disease (and many other degenerative diseases) that is frequently overlooked. [13]

8 Practical steps to take

1)     Make the commitment to eating only whole foods, and remove all processed foods completely from your life. This step alone will likely completely prevent you from ever getting heart disease. You should eat things that have one ingredient and do not have an ingredient list (i.e. “eggs” “salmon” “kale” “potato” “orange” “carrot” etc).

2)     Cook your own food at home from scratch, rather than eating out, where they typically use low quality ingredients and cook using heart-toxic oils.

3)     Do eat healthy saturated fats like butter (grass-fed) and coconut oil. There is simply no link that these foods cause or contribute to heart disease. And a great deal of evidence to show amazing health benefits from these heart-healthy saturated fats. In fact, some evidence indicates that coconut oil can even displace the heart disease promoting omega-6 polyunsaturated fats from your tissues. These oils should also be the only oils you ever cook with.

4)     Get all vegetable oils out of your life. Do not eat them, do not cook with them, and do not buy pre-made dressings and sauces which are almost always packed with vegetable oils.

5)     Eat naturally raised animals, not farm-raised animals. You want grass-fed, free-range, and wild-caught only. Animals raised on factory farms are not fed their natural diets and have a completely different fatty acid profile, and much higher levels of heart-toxic omega-6 polyunsaturated fats than naturally raised animals.

6)     If you drink or smoke, obviously it goes without saying that these things are not good, as you’ve no doubt heard 1,000 times before.

Hypothyroidism-Symptoms-in-women7)     Exercise daily. Every day, you should go for 1-2 walks. That’s the foundation that you should do everyday no matter what. If you want to step things up from there, consider adding in some high-intensity exercise bursts (like sprints or weight lifting) a few times a week.

8)     If you have hypothyroidism or a slow metabolism, take steps to correct it. Having optimal thyroid and metabolic function can prevent a huge range of problems, from fat gain, to diabetes, to heart disease, to depression to countless others. (This is my area of specialty, so don’t hesitate to contact me if you need help rejuvenating your thyroid and metabolism).

All in all, preventing heart disease has much more to do with eating the way humans are designed to eat than it does taking prescription drugs.

Don’t fall into the trap of chasing cholesterol numbers. Instead, correct the problem at the source by avoiding sources of cell damage, providing the optimal hormonal environment to your cells, and giving your cells the nutrients they need to function perfectly.

ari whitten cholesterol blogby Ari Whitten
Fat loss, anti-aging, and metabolism specialist.

Ari Whitten is an anti-aging and fat loss specialist who focuses on metabolism rejuvenation and enhancement as a path to radical body and health transformation. He has a Bachelor’s of Science in Exercise Science with specialization in fitness, nutrition, and health. He holds two advanced certifications from the National Academy of Sports Medicine. And he is currently pursuing his Ph.D. After over 15 years over extreme and obsessive self-experimentation with every radical system of nutrition ever created (everything from raw veganism and juice fasting to near-carnivorous Paleo diets), he has discovered that optimizing thyroid and metabolism function is the secret key to health and fat loss that most people have no idea about. He has spent the last 5 years developing his extremely unique and science-based approach to metabolism rejuvenation for the purposes of anti-aging and fat loss.

You can contact Ari with questions or comments at: awhitten883 (at) gmail (dot) com , his Instagram page here or via his facebook site here

—————————————————————

[1] http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2010/08/10/making-sense-of-your-cholesterol-numbers.aspx

[2] http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2010/08/10/making-sense-of-your-cholesterol-numbers.aspx

[3] Lackland, D T, et al, J Nutr, Nov 1990, 120:11S:1433-1436

[4] Nutr Week, Mar 22, 1991, 21:12:2-3

[5]Fallon, S. and Mary Enig. “Dangers of Statin Drugs: What You Haven’t Been Told About Popular Cholesterol-Lowering Medicines,” The Weston A. Price Foun

[6]http://www.businessweek.com/stories/2008-01-16/do-cholesterol-drugs-do-any-good

[7]http://www.nytimes.com/2008/01/14/business/14cnd-drug.html?ei=5088&en=181407fac186f36a&ex=1357966800&adxnnl=1&partner=rssnyt&emc=rss&adxnnlx=1223136007-UfzhwBHrw9aUk3qmQSdoRA&_r=0

[8]Mercola.com Sudden Memory Loss Linked to Cholesterol Drugs

[9]Nature Medicine September, 2000;6:965-966, 1004-1010.

[10]Nature Medicine, December, 2000; 6: 1311-1312, 1399-1402

[11]Edwards, I. Ralph; Star, Kristina; Kiuru, Anne, “Statins, Neuromuscular Degenerative Disease and an Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis-Like Syndrome,”

[12] http://wholehealthsource.blogspot.com/2011/08/carbohydrate-hypothesis-of-obesity.html

[13] http://circ.ahajournals.org/content/116/15/1725.full

[1] http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2010/08/10/making-sense-of-your-cholesterol-numbers.aspx

[1] http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2010/08/10/making-sense-of-your-cholesterol-numbers.aspx

[1] Lackland, D T, et al, J Nutr, Nov 1990, 120:11S:1433-1436

[1] Nutr Week, Mar 22, 1991, 21:12:2-3

[1]Fallon, S. and Mary Enig. “Dangers of Statin Drugs: What You Haven’t Been Told About Popular Cholesterol-Lowering Medicines,” The Weston A. Price Foun

[1]http://www.businessweek.com/stories/2008-01-16/do-cholesterol-drugs-do-any-good

[1]http://www.nytimes.com/2008/01/14/business/14cnd-drug.html?ei=5088&en=181407fac186f36a&ex=1357966800&adxnnl=1&partner=rssnyt&emc=rss&adxnnlx=1223136007-UfzhwBHrw9aUk3qmQSdoRA&_r=0

[1]Mercola.com Sudden Memory Loss Linked to Cholesterol Drugs

[1]Nature Medicine September, 2000;6:965-966, 1004-1010.

[1]Nature Medicine, December, 2000; 6: 1311-1312, 1399-1402

[1]Edwards, I. Ralph; Star, Kristina; Kiuru, Anne, “Statins, Neuromuscular Degenerative Disease and an Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis-Like Syndrome,”

[1] http://wholehealthsource.blogspot.com/2011/08/carbohydrate-hypothesis-of-obesity.html

[1] http://circ.ahajournals.org/content/116/15/1725.full

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