It’s well documented that statins increase diabetes risk, dementia, liver and muscle damage, yet cardiologists pass them out like candy.
They also tell patients to eat a low fat diet, which is completely the opposite of what you want to do. That is according to my many valuable sources including Dr. David Perlmutter (of Grain Brain fame), Dave Asprey (the Bulletproof diet guy), acclaimed cardiologist Dr. Stephen Sinatra, Dr. Mark Hyman, Dr. Barbara Roberts (author of The Truth About Statins and director of the Women’s Cardiac Center at The Miriam Hospital) and a plethora of integrative/functional doctors.
Here’s the situation, put simply since this is a short blog post, not a book.
- Inflammation from Stress, Lack of Exercise, Eating too much processed food and high sugar – carb heavy foods, cause inflammation.
- The Inflammation damages the arterial walls.
- LDL Cholesterol shows up to FIX the damage and it gets stuck along the linings and creates a blockage leading to cardiovascular disease.
- To be clear, the cholesterol is the good guy here, and it gets elevated to clean up the mess of an unhealthy lifestyle
Here’s a few simple ways to correct the problem:
- Eat more HEALTHY fats i.e. foods high in Omega 3 fatty acids — wild salmon, Coconut Oil, Olive Oil, avocados
- Eat less Unhealthy fats — Omega 6 fatty acids like vegetable oils found in almost all processed foods – they cause almost immediate inflation.
- Cut way back on sugar and “bad” or useless carbs — i.e. processed foods, grains, cereals, crackers
- Load up on good carbs like vegetables and fruits that are lower glycemic like most berries.
- Exercise as much as possible — just get moving
- Many people find success with intermittent fasting
- I know this is the tough one but TRY to reduce stress
Why we need cholesterol:
- LDL and HDL aren’t even cholesterol — they are proteins (low and high-density lipoprotein).
- LDL — the “bad” guy’s job is to carry cholesterol to every cell in the body. It serves as a brain antioxidant and the raw material that is needed for your body to then make vitamin D, testosterone, estrogen and progesterone
- The brain holds only 2% of our body mass but 25% of our cholesterol — we NEED it to have a healthy brain.
Why sugar — not fat — is the really culprit:
- A 2014 study published in the acclaimed Neurology Journal show that it’s actually triglycerides (sugar and carbs) — not cholesterol, led to compromised brain health. The participants in the study with higher LDL actually showed much greater brain health.
- We make cholesterol in our liver, but we still need more from food
- If you lower your intake of cholesterol rich foods (good fats), the body goes into famine mode. Your liver then produces an enzyme called HMG-CoA reductase and causes your liver to produce more cholesterol
- So if you lower your intake of good fats that are high in cholesterol (eggs), and you’re eating more grains (oatmeal, rice, maybe even processed foods) then your cholesterol actually goes up.
- Its been proven that high triglyceride levels (too much sugar) increase your risk of cardiovascular disease.
- Triglycerides move around your vascular system, where they can damage artery walls and cause atherosclerosis, or the hardening of arteries
Why statins are detrimental:
- They lower LDL – which is critical to optimal health, and most importantly to brain health.
- Memory dysfunction is a well known side affect to statins.
- There’s a 50 to as high as 70% increase of type 2 diabetes among people taking statins — which is a major risk factor for Alzheimers.
- Statins handicap your liver’s ability to make cholesterol — therefore LDL lowers significantly — therefore there’s not as much cholesterol enabling communication between neurons and enabling cell growth in the brain.
- Since LDL also carries fatty acids and antioxidants to the brain – you’re getting zapped of those as well.
- They kill and impair our mitochondria – and we know that mitochondria are where all the magic happens for aging well. Not just living longer, but feeling better as we age.Here’s a link to my past post about it.
Here’s what’s well known, and what respected functional medicine Dr. Mark Hyman has to say about statins:
“Even more concerning, is that statins don’t even work that well for preventing heart attacks, despite all the media hype and your doctor’s advice. You have to treat 50 people with statins to prevent 1 heart attack or treat 890 people to prevent 1 death. That means 889 people are taking statins with no benefit.
That’s not to say that statins are useless. Statins can be lifesaving in some situations, but why aren’t physicians focusing on lifestyle and lowering inflammation? These are far more powerful tactics when it comes to prevention.”
Here’s what Dave Asprey has to say:
- Genes, lifestyle, and insulin resistance influence how you metabolize dietary fat, so people with identical diets can have different cholesterol numbers.
- Cholesterol does not cause heart disease. Inflammation does.
- Total cholesterol does not even predict cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk.
- If you have “high cholesterol” you need to know your inflammation markers, ratio of total cholesterol to HDL cholesterol, cholesterol particle count, and triglycerides before you’ll have a real picture of your risk of CVD.
- If your doctor tries to put you on mitochondria-damaging statin drugs based on total cholesterol or LDL cholesterol alone, find a better doctor.
In addition to the tests Dave recommends, I would throw in the A1C. Dr. Perlmutter views it as the most important test to get. It measures the amount of glycation that the protein hemoglobin has undergone. Glycation means that sugar has become bonded to a protein. It causes brain shrinkage. Dr. Perlmutter also adds that people with more gut diversity have lower risks of everything we’re discussing here. Not surprising – it always comes back to the gut.
It seems nonsensical to sacrifice your brain for what is perceived as heart health. Sadly you just can’t get around the harsh reality that heart health requires lifestyle changes, and a pill is not going to solve it. And by lifestyle changes, I definitely don’t mean eating the all too frequently recommended low fat diet. I mean lower stress, get moving, and eat LOTS of organic vegetables, with healthy fat and a LITTLE protein (20%-ish). We’re not talking Adkins here either. To be clear, none of these people are recommending the high fat/ high protein approach.
If you go to your traditional doctor and tell them this, there’s a good chance they’ll look at you crosseyed and belittle you. Your best bet is to find a functional, or integrative doctor who will take the time to look at the whole picture. What’s he difference? Traditional Docs have been trained to put bandaids on symptoms rather than address the root cause to see what is causing the symptom. That bandaid usually leads to other issues in the body while the root cause continues to fester. Functional/Integrative docs see the body as a whole. They spend time learning about the individual. It’s not “Ok you’re 50 and your cholesterol is 240, so here’s a statin.” It’s just such a prehistoric approach. Everyone has the right to know their individual genetics, and have their medical care tailored to their exact, and individual body.
Inflammation is the root cause of most issues, but what is YOUR specific cause of inflammation?
That’s always the missing piece. It’s not the same for everyone. Some people can get away with eating more sugar than others, some people can be exposed to certain toxins and be fine, while others exposed to the same toxins will be deathly ill. A functional/integrative doctor will work with you to find the source of your inflammation. A traditionally trained doctor will continue prescribing pills, surgery etc. to mask the symptoms, avoid addressing the cause and potentially (usually) cause other issues at the same time. The model of looking at HDL/LDL alone is outdated.
In the meantime, if you’re currently taking a statin, you absolutely MUST take a CoQ10 supplement. CoQ10 uses the same pathway as cholesterol, and it’s paralyzed when statins are introduced. We need it for EVERY CELL in our body. A CoQ10 deficiency can be presented in the human body as muscle aches, Parkinson’s, heart failure, balance and mobility issues and more. 20 Mg of PQQ should also be added in the protocol, and preferable, added in before someone tries a statin. Clinical studies have showed PQQleads to a reduction in cholesterol on par as those reductions used by statins! Makes sense since we know cholesterol levels are largely linked to inflammations dn PQQ has an enormous affect on chronic stress. Those studies used 20 MG of PQQ for 12 weeks and showed a reduction in total and LDL cholesterol by lowering blood lipids.