Someone asked me today, "Isn't it a good idea to take statin drugs to lower my cholesterol?"
Here's my answer: Let's start with basic physiology. Cholesterol is a hormone, and it's the base for every other hormone your body makes. Cholesterol is also what every cell membrane in your body is made out of. When you have inflammation somewhere in your body, especially in a blood vessel, cholesterol goes to that area to help repair that tissue. Taking a drug that stops the body from repairing itself or self-regulating is like destroying the firemen as they come out of the firehouse to put out a fire.
But doesn't cholesterol cause plaque build up in your arteries (atherosclerosis)?
This is what we are led to believe by all of the drug commercials, but the scientific fact is that 67% of all people who have plaque build-up in their arteries have normal cholesterol levels. If high cholesterol were the cause of atherosclerosis (plaque build-up in the arteries), then wouldn't it stand to reason that everyone with atherosclerosis would have high cholesterol? And that everyone (or at least a large majority of people) with high cholesterol would have atherosclerosis? But that is not the reality.
The reality is that cholesterol does not cause atherosclerosis directly. What causes atherosclerosis is inflammation, and the cholesterol is there trying to put out the fire. A better treatment plan for high cholesterol would be a protocol that addresses and decreases the inflammation that is being created. Having a drug that lowers cholesterol does nothing to decrease heart disease; in fact, heart disease has doubled almost every five years since statin drugs came on the scene. What statin drugs do is create more disease by stopping the hormone that heals and helps the body self-regulate, and keeps healthy new cell membranes from working. This is a great marketing tool for drug companies and a perfect practice-builder for some physicians, but not a good solution for a patient's good health.
What can you do to address inflammation?
Diet. A diet that is high in complex carbohydrates like vegetables helps to decrease inflammation, because it gives the body the most nutrients to repair tissue. The other elements of a diet that can decrease inflammation are good essential fatty acids, nuts and seeds, and eggs, lean meat and fish, with the emphasis on the vegetables as 70% of each meal. When a diet consist of a high amount of processed foods, simple carbohydrates like breads, pasta, and potatoes, refined sugars and fried foods, the body cannot derive enough nutrients to repair tissues and make healthy cell membranes and hormones; thus the liver has to increase cholesterol just to keep you alive.
Exercise! Our bodies need movement, and I'm sure you've all heard that a sedentary lifestyle is now a greater risk factor for disease than smoking. The reason that exercise is so important in maintaining healthy cholesterol levels is because everything that heals the body comes in the blood; if the body is sedentary, the blood moves very little. Exercise milks the muscles, which moves the blood more effectively and helps everything in the body work more efficiently.
Avoiding environmental toxins is becoming harder and harder to do in our increasingly toxic world, but by focusing on organic foods you can avoid a large amount of chemicals. Also be mindful to avoid toxins whenever possible, like when purchasing personal care items and items for your home. One suggestion would be to avoid scented things, which are often high in toxic chemicals.
Certain nutritional supplements can help decrease inflammation.
Dr. Susan Godman