Statins are one of the most prescribed pharmaceuticals in the nation. If we have a family history of heart disease, obesity, or high cholesterol we are put on it in our twenties now and told this is to prevent a heart incident. The truth of the matter is… your statins may actually be causing heart incidences and not preventing them.
Take a listen as Danielle gives you an overview of cholesterol and statins.
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Usually I do some kind of greeting on here before I jump into the podcast topic, but I want to just get into it today. Is that okay with you? This topic has been burning and brewing in my soul for a few years, actually. And I think I’m ready to just start talking about it.
So this is definitely going to be an overview, kind of surface level view, of cholesterol. I was introduced to cholesterol medicines or statins when I was really young. My father had his first heart attack when he was 42. I mean, I was 11 years old at this time. He always had high cholesterol and from that point on, I was always scared of cholesterol honestly.
Then I remember my mother talking one time about how the doctor said, some people have genes or genetic coding that make people make cholesterol and my dad had that gene. After all, all of the men and some of the women on his side of the family. All were on cholesterol medicine or were on their second, third, fourth, or fifth heart attacks by this time.
So that must mean that I have this gene too. Now I’m air quoting gene, because we all have this gene to make cholesterol. I’ll get into that here in just a little bit, but all of my childhood through just a few years ago, I was scared of cholesterol, and something didn’t sit right with me. Usually when we’re scared of something, it’s an indication of something is off, right? When we’re scared or fearful of something, something is off. So, something didn’t sit right with me when it came to cholesterol medicines. The premise of taking cholesterol medicines is, or was to prevent heart incidences, right? The medical community now says, if you start taking cholesterol medicine in your thirties, or even in your twenties, because you’re predisposed to, or already have high cholesterol, then you need to be on a statin or a cholesterol medicine, like Lipitor.
It’s a life sentence almost to being connected to that Lipitor for the rest of our lives. But again, something didn’t sit right with me because for something that is supposed to prevent a heart incident, it is never prevented an incident in my family or those. I know they still have heart attacks or strokes or all cause mortality.
So when I joined the nutritional therapy association for schooling, my question started to be answered. Cholesterol is not to be feared. We need cholesterol, and in fact, we need it so much that all bodies create cholesterol if we don’t eat enough in the day. If our bodies make it, it must be vital to survival, right?
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All right, let’s go into why we need cholesterol and what it actually does. The truth of the matter is that fat is the primary source of energy for the heart. Did you hear that, the heart wants fat for its source of energy. But what about all the ads in the American heart association tell us to eat low fat, Danielle? Low fat, no fat. Well, we’ll get there. Again, all my resources will be linked below in the show notes because I realized this is going to kind of blow the minds of some of you. I want you to think about something. Remember we are told the low-fat for our heart health and yet what do they tell us to take when we have high triglycerides are high cholesterol? Fish oil, fish oil is a fat and essential fat mind you. Mean that we cannot make this fat ourselves. It has to be gotten from an outside source. It is an essential fatty acid and fatty acids are essential to the part of the cell membranes that make up the tissues of the heart and the coronary arteries.
So the membrane is like the cell wall and we want that cell membrane or cell walls, cell walls are for plants and cell membranes or for humans and mammals. But cell membranes have to be strong enough, but not so loosey goosey that it can stand firm and not be so firm, that it allows nutrients in and out and the cell poop to come in and out, okay. Yes, your cell is actually poop if you didn’t know that, that’s a fun fact. But, we also learn and that fish oil or our omegas are known to fight inflammation. Let’s take this further, if we’re fighting inflammation with these essential fatty acids, then we must have an inflammation problem that can be in our hearts too, right? Just keep thinking about this. If we’re taking this, that reduces inflammation except we’re told to eat low-fat we’re told to eat no fat we’re told, eat cholesterol free and yet. We still need fat for our heart and we need fat to help with inflammation. Okay. Inflammation is now considered to be a major contributing factor to heart disease, not fat intake. Not fat intake. And the journal of American college of nutrition from 2001, again, I’ll be linking my sources down in the show notes, they shared, during the past several decades reduction in fat intake has been the main focus of national dietary recommendations. In the public’s mind the word dietary fat has become synonymous with obesity and heart disease. Whereas the words low fat and fat free have become synonymous with heart health.
In response to the low-fat campaign, the food industry has produced numerous commercial products labeled as low fat or fat-free, but with high amounts of refined carbohydrates and sugar. Ironically while dietary fat intake, as a percentage of energy intake has declined in the U.S. over the years, total caloric intake has not declined. And the prevalence of obesity and type two diabetes has grown dramatically. So the problem, there is an inconsistency with eating low fat or no fat with the increase of obesity and type two diabetes, which is also form of a inflammation and inability to use our stored energy, our stored fat. So what we see here is that there is a correlation in low fat and fat free, and an increase in obesity and type two diabetes, but how can that be when we’re eating so healthy now? Well, the thing is with these low fat and fat-free options, they usually increase the carbohydrates with something man made to make sure it still tastes palatable.
More carbs, equals more calories. They have to replace the calories from fat sources that were taken out of these foods like yogurts and milks and things, and then add something in to make it taste better. So they have to add more calories in to make it taste better and those calories are coming from manmade processed things that aren’t even found natural. Like, it’s taken yogurt for example, and I will be first to tell you, I do eat some that’s no fat yogurt, no fat Greek yogurt for other reasons, but the no fat Greek yogurt, they take out the fat, which then it becomes no longer palatable, honestly and the consistency is just off and stuff. So they have to add fillers to it, to make it taste better and make it the right consistency, which is no longer technically Greek yogurt, right? So they have to add things back in to make things taste better and thus there’s more calories and imbalanced calories quite frankly.
This idea also hits on something else though. The fact that we are easily sold on easy swaps or a pill. So we don’t have to change the behaviors behind why we eat what we eat or why we eat too much of things. Like, oh, let’s take a statin, you know, I can still eat my wings every weekend. I can still eat my fried tenderloins. I can still, yes. I talk about tenderloins all the time. Yes. I can eat my donuts every day or I can do whatever every day because I have a pill that is going to help me. There’s always a reason why we eat too much and a reason we want to have the freedom to be gluttonous. I’m going to repeat that, there’s always a reason why we eat so much or eat too much of certain foods, and there is a reason we want to have the freedom to be gluttonous. I’m just throwing that out there. And I’m also going to say in here before I even forget. The reason why statins have become an issue and a thought thing to me is that statins actually deplete your body of multiple minerals.
I actually have a post on Instagram about this. I’ll have to go find that. Statins deplete your body of multiple minerals, one of those being magnesium. Most of us live in a high stress life. Most of us don’t sleep well. Most of us eat highly processed foods. Most of us are already depleting our bodies of magnesium anyway.
So when statins are taking magnesium out of you, then you’re already down this huge mineral that does so many things, but one of the things it does is it helps the muscles to contract and relax. Our heart is a muscle. It needs to be able to contract and relax in order to pump blood. Just thinking about that and if statins deplete your body of magnesium, you’re already struggling to keep magnesium because of your lifestyle. It makes a vicious circle here, okay. So, if we’re talking about fat, and I’m trying to make the case here that it’s not fat’s fault for heart disease. So let’s move into what is linked to heart disease, and that is trans fats. It is linked, a higher intake of trans fat can be contributed to increased risk of coronary heart disease through multiple mechanisms. First, trans fatty acids, raise LDL cholesterol levels and lower HDL cholesterol compared to unsaturated fatty acids. Second trans fats increase LDL particle numbers, which are positively associated with the risk of a heart incident.
High intake of trans fats may promote insulin resistance in humans. This is information also found in that same journal of American college of nutrition from 2001, but trans fats, Danielle, I thought that they were outlawed and the foods I say trans fat free, while that may be the case, you can actually create trans fats. Did you know that? If you cook with the wrong oils or too high of a temperature, you can create a trans fat. Yeah, yeah, you can. Did, you know the oil that is clear as yellow and has no smell can actually create trans fats, even though it’s got a little heart label on, it says heart healthy? Did you know your margarine is associated with a 50% increase in heart disease? Thus, there has to be trans fats happening somewhere, right? Did you know high consumption of hydrogenated vegetable oils raises serum cholesterol? Yeah, butter beef, pork lamb. This consumption did not increase your risk. Cookies, white bread does. This source is from Lancet of March, 1993. And yes, I said 1993, because I thought that was important to denote the in 1993, when I was already being exposed to heart disease and diabetes and all these things in my life.
That’s when this low fat fat free movement started actually started like in the late 70s, I believe it was technically, but it entered my life in the early 90s. And this data has been out there for multiple decades now, and yet we’re still struggling to see past how the low fat, fat free life like how we have been marketed for that. And that it’s not helping anything. So I’m trying to make a case not to be scared of fat and here is why, because fat is where we get our cholesterol, right? So cholesterol is required to build and maintain membranes, remember our cellular membrane? Integral in modulating membrane fluidity. You remember, I told you about the nutrients going in and out of that membrane.
Converted in the liver to make bile, to emulsify our fatty acids so we can absorb our minerals and fat soluble vitamins, A, D, E, and K. It’s a precursor to vitamin D. In fact, the cholesterol that’s in our skin when you’re outside. That’s how our body creates vitamin D is when you’re outside in the sun and the sun’s rays hit your skin the cholesterol in there is what actually creates vitamin D in your body, it’s actually a hormone. If you did not know. Cholesterol is a precursor to all your steroid hormones, including cortisol, aldosterone, progesterone, and all of the estrogens and testosterone. So again, we said, Cholesterol is essential to the body. Your body is going to make it, but why does cholesterol get such a bad reputation?
Cholesterol is part of our immune system as well. It is a sticky substance that protects immune cells that go to heal a wound. So let’s think about it, if you fallen and scraped your elbow or shin or some piece of skin, I was a softball player in high school and I’d have some scrapes and scars up on my body when I slid into a base, usually home, because I am not a fast runner. I’m not one of the fastest runners out there and I’d have some kind of open skin wound usually after a game. As the days passed, my skin was healing and as my skin was healing, there’s this almost white pussy substance show up on the edges and sometimes even over the center of the wound, if I kept it covered. That white stuff is actually cholesterol bringing the healing white blood cells to the area.
Same thing happens with any inflamed and weakened area inside the body. Your body wants to take white blood cells and help heal you in those areas. The more inflammation and weakness that needs healed the more cholesterol will be sent to that area because you need more cells to heal.
The more you have in your body that is inflamed. The more cholesterol that will be made to provide for that area or for those inflammation areas. Remember, your body is always geared to survive. Even if you eat zero cholesterol your body is inflamed, you will make cholesterol just for that, let alone to make your hormones and all the other things that make the body function as we just discussed. Cholesterol got a bad reputation because it was caught at the scene of the crime. The question wasn’t posed, why is the cholesterol here? No, it has to be the cholesterol fault. So the way we reduce our cholesterol is to address the inflammation in the body and why the inflammation is there don’t necessarily just go and take a statin. Now some really good doctors out there are going to say, “You know what? We can get this cholesterol down, if you would just not eat fried foods and if you would go and exercise”, and that is absolutely the truth. But how many of us don’t want to do that? How many of us don’t want to give up our crappy food, our alcohol, all and not moving during the day. Most of us don’t want to do that. And so the doctors give the stands.
I’m pro doctor, I’m pro holistic, I’m pro whole overarching approach to your health, not just one way or the other solely. Because sometimes we do need the cholesterol medicine to help get us down. Maybe we do need some things, but to back up the doctors a little bit here, some of the really good doctors, they will give you the cholesterol medicine to keep you alive. Think about that. They’re not doing it for the long haul. They’re doing it because you’re choosing to continue to make poor decisions. Cholesterol balance can be controlled with diet and exercise and your lifestyle. Heart disease can not necessarily be reversed, but it can be maintained and controlled by your diet and your lifestyle.
Your blood sugar, if you have type two diabetes, or if you’re in the way of type two diabetes, it can be prevented, reversed and controlled without medicine, it can be. But the doctors give them medicine because people don’t want to put in the work, and that’s exactly it. They’ll complain about the price of insulin, they complaint about the price of their Lipitor, all the other things.
But yet they won’t change their lifestyle. They won’t put in the effort of preventative health. Instead they’ll do reactive health because we have insurance for that, right? We could go into a whole nother topic about that. So the way we reduce cholesterol is to address the inflammation, the body, and why the inflammation is there.
Inflammation and risk can be due to your lack of hydration, you sitting too much during the day, your diet of processed foods, your diet of imbalanced foods at meal times, alcohol, your use of low fat, no fat products, sickness, illness, not lifting heavy weights in a progressive overload, high fructose corn syrup, leaky gut, elevated triglycerides. You can mitigate that with infection, hypothyroidism and genetics.
The wilderness of wellness provides you all the resources you need to help manage and balance your cholesterol levels so that you can reduce your risk of a heart episode. If you don’t know my story, I was introduced to heart disease when I was just 11 when my dad had his first heart attack at age 42, I’m currently 37. I have every excuse to be on my way to my first heart attack too, but I’m not. You see genes, we can not change, but we can control what genetic coding turns on and turns off by our habits and decisions and behaviors. This is called epigenetics and I am living proof.
The epigenetics is true, I’m not on cholesterol medicine, nor my diabetic. When, according to my genes, I should be, and you can reverse, improve, and also choose to not be a statistic as well.