The America Heart Association breaks down cholesterol as being a soft, waxy substance found in every cell membrane in your body. It is used to make hormones, essential vitamins like vitamin D, bile, and more. Your liver creates all the cholesterol you need and your diet contributes to the rest. Meats, poultry, and dairy contain higher amounts of cholesterol.
The Greatest Cardiologist in the World…YOU!
Cholesterol is created in your body by your liver. Over 60% of the cholesterol in your body is from your liver, which means your body is not creating a toxic substance to kill you. Now, there are some forms of cholesterol that you eat that are more harmful than others. You’ve got to identify those, know what a good fat is versus bad fat, and understand some misnomers like “Is saturated fat causing cholesterol problems?”
But your body is producing cholesterol for a reason. Cholesterol surrounds every cell in your body. If cells are damaged cholesterol is needed to make new ones. Cholesterol is trying to protect you. Cholesterol is made by the liver as a repair substance. A great example is when you get a cut on your arm, the body has to heal so it produces a scab. That healing is made up of cholesterol. All the hormones in your body are made up of cholesterol. Cells in your body have lipid layers of cholesterol around them. Every cell has cholesterol.
If you’re damaging and destroying cells, you have to make new ones, which means you need a lot of cholesterol. Sometimes athletes need a lot more cholesterol because of the rate at which they damage cells. Cholesterol is a precursor in your body. Your brain is made up of a lot of cholesterol. So you need healthy cholesterol in your body. Stripping it out of your system and forcing it to decrease is not a good thing.
Good vs Bad Cholesterol?
The two main types of cholesterol are LDL and HDL. LDL is typically frowned upon as being the “bad” cholesterol, while HDL is considered the “good” cholesterol. They are just carriers. LDL can be viewed as the semi carrying the building supplies to the cells and organs to build the building (your body). HDL can be looked at as the dump truck or garbage truck carrying away the waste. As long as there are enough dump trucks to clean up the mess then one’s cholesterol avoids any “roadblocks”.
Joseph Pizzorno, the Editor in Chief of the Integrative Medicine: A Clinicians Journal gives clarity on the real problem:
“Cholesterol, a molecule critical to health, has been demonized in conventional medicine and the popular press as the major cause of heart disease. The research is clear that elevated cholesterol is indeed associated with cardiovascular disease. The real problem is not cholesterol but rather oxidized low-density lipoprotein (oxLDL) cholesterol. Elevated cholesterol typically also means elevated oxidized cholesterol, so it is, in reality, an indirect measure of the true problem (cooking cholesterol-rich foods in the presence of oxygen, excessive oxidative stress in the body, inadequate consumption of antioxidants, etc).” 1
Do I Actually Have a Problem?
This is the absolute step one. The answer is not so straightforward and chances are your doctor’s approach is out of date with the research. You shouldn’t be treating an issue if you don’t actually have a problem. Big pharma wants you to have a problem! They keep pushing for tighter and tighter levels to be able to treat high cholesterol. The more people that have the problem, the more people they can treat, and the more they make. You’re left stuck in the middle trying to figure out who and what to listen to.
5 Key Numbers To Understand [video]
1. HDL to Cholesterol Ratio.
How much of your cholesterol is the so-called “good” cholesterol, which is HDL? HDL cleans up damage, so you want a lot of it so that it can clean up the damage faster. HDL is like the dump truck that is carrying the heavier load. If 24% of your cholesterol is HDL, you’re in good shape. You want that above 24%. That’s an easy number that supports more positive health as opposed to just looking at the total cholesterol, which is actually a very poor indicator of mortality. Regardless of how high your total cholesterol is if it is made up of the right stuff you’ll be ok.
2. Triglyceride to HDL Ratio.
Triglycerides—the fat that is in your blood—compared to your HDL should be below 2. This means you don’t want more than twice as much fat in your blood as there is the HDL to help clean it up. Nutrition drives this. Sugar is driving up the triglyceride number. Your liver turns fructose into triglycerides. Then you have more fat floating around in your blood which gets the ratio off. That’s going to be a big burden on your heart, on your liver, and on your kidneys to try to filter you out.
If you have a good ratio, below 2, you have enough HDL cleaning up triglycerides. That’s a good number. So you want to look at lowering triglycerides and increasing HDL. Sugar must go down and healthy fat must go up.
3. LDL Particle Size
LDL is not involved in the first two measurements that I showed you, but it is still important. Not all LDL is made equal though. Since most of the statin drug recommendations revolve around LDL, you need to know how much harmful LDL you have. The smaller the LDL particles, the more harmful. The smaller lipoproteins of the LDL are the ones that can get into the vessels and cause issues, like hardening and clogged arteries. Bigger particles have a difficult time doing this because they can’t pass through the vessel. So even if LDL is increased, as long as you have a low amount of small particles, you are at much less risk.
4. Fasting Insulin Levels
Your fasting insulin levels have a huge relationship with diabetes and cholesterol levels. Insulin is responsible for getting rid of all the sugar you ingest (carbs, bread, grains, fruits, desserts, etc). You want your fasting insulin number between 2-6.
As you eat more sugar, more insulin is required. A typical American has a fasting insulin level around 8-10. As the insulin level goes up, your body has to work harder to get rid of the excess sugar. This leads to taxing damage on your pancreas, liver, blood heart, and hormone system. The whole system begins backing up which leads to weight gain and eventually metabolic diseases like high cholesterol, high blood pressure, diabetes, and eventually heart disease. A healthy insulin level indicates a well functioning system.
5. Fasting Blood Sugar
With the Fasting Blood Sugar Level, people with 100-125 mg/dl had a nearly 300% increased higher risk of having coronary heart disease than people with a level below 79 mg/dl. Below 79 is the target. At least below 100 regularly is a good start.2
The above are some numbers you can look at to get a better gauge if are you actually at risk, instead of, “Is your cholesterol number above 200?”. That’s a very poor way of going about it. These are good conversations to be having with your doctor or a cardiologist if you’re working with one. Always consult them for more clarity.
Traditional Solutions: Statin Drugs…Savior or Safety Issue?
The go-to medical solution for the increase in heart and cholesterol problems is statin drugs. Statin drugs are one of the top medications prescribed in the United States, let alone the world. Upwards of 40 million Americans take a statin drug.3 The drug is involved in billions and billions of sales of pharmaceutical companies, which makes decisions and conversations around it very cloudy. I always proceed with caution when health professional, hospitals, and researchers are making health decisions when billions of dollars of profit are involved.
Dangers of Cholesterol Medication
Statin drugs literature shows over 900 side effects affecting multiple systems in the body especially the body’s energy system the mitochondria.4 This is leading to several prevalent side effects:
- Muscle wasting/atrophy
- Heart failure (The heart is a muscle if statins strip the muscles, it creates problems.)
- Severe joint pain and ligament rupture
- Memory Issues
- Liver damage
- Limits protection from cholesterol against cancer
- Stops CoQ10 production
Where do I get that information? Right from the FDA’s website. The FDA has warnings against these effects. Doctors must routinely monitor the liver enzymes because of damage to the liver that the statins cause. There’s cognitive brain impairment such as memory loss. Your brain is made of cholesterol. If you strip the body of cholesterol through statin drugs, you are putting your brain at risk and your memory at risk. They increase the risk of type 2 diabetes. They can also cause muscle damage. I have several patients where statins are stripping muscles causing cramping and atrophy, especially in the calves and legs.
All the statins are included like Lipitor, Crestor, Zocor—all the big ones are causing those kinds of problems. It makes you wonder that if you’re trying to prevent a heart attack or stroke—that’s why you’re taking it—yet you’re causing cancers, diabetes, and Alzheimer’s-type symptoms. Is it actually worth it? Is there a better way?
Again, it’s yours to decide, but I’m just bringing up the research that’s being put out because no one is sending you the email that says, “Hey, if you’re on statins here’s a warning sign from the FDA.” You’re not getting that message. You’re not getting commercials about that message. I just want to bring you the truth. Is there a safer way? Is there a better way of controlling these to have true heart health?
Statin drugs (cholesterol drugs) lower cholesterol but not the mortality risk of heart attack and stroke. It has literally said that on the Lipitor website, “has not been shown to decrease the risk of heart attack and stroke.” On their website! Why else would you be taking it? It lowers cholesterol. It will drop the numbers, but the question is, “Does that make you healthier?” Lipitor says no.
Check out this Lipitor ad…
The ad says, “Lipitor reduces the risk of heart attacks by 36%.” Here’s what I’m talking about again with a relative risk. When you look at the Lipitor ad and it says it reduces the risk by 36%, who wants to know how to do that? Would you like to reduce your heart attack risk by 36%? Heck, yeah! Count me in. You’ve got Dr. Robert Jarvik the inventor of the Jarvik Artificial Heart. He seems to know what he’s doing. He’s a smart guy. He made an artificial heart. Yeah, I’m in!
FOLLOW THE ASTERISKS! Always follow the asterisks.
“*That means in a large clinical study, 3% of patients taking a sugar pill or placebo had a heart attack compared to 2% of patients taking Lipitor.”
This is a simple manipulation of math–a 1% difference between patients taking Lipitor and a sugar pill. That could have been random chance; by the way, 1%, 2%, 3% is a reasonable standard deviation in any sort of study. The difference between 2% and 3%, if you’re looking at it percentage-wise is a 36% difference the study shows. That’s how they get the number 36. The real math is that it is a 1% difference. If you’re looking at it from a perspective of a 1/3 difference between 1 and 2, and 2 and 3, there’s a 1/3 difference.
I am not telling you to stop your statin, rather I would like to have the conversation of are our hearts getting healthier? Reports show US heart failure rates are on the rise. Medical advances have allowed fewer people to die due to heart failure but we are having more cases than ever.3 My job is to educate you based on the research of thousands of hours I have put in to understand this better and pass it along to you. I lost my father and grandfather to heart-related conditions so I take it very seriously. I’ll be a middleman, just to ask proper questions so that you can better protect yourself, your family and your loved ones.