Cholesterol's Medical Applications
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The "Cholesterol Hypothesis" became widely accepted in the 1960s as fact. The lower your cholesterol, the better off you are in the long term - this is what many were told to believe as a result of the "Cholesterol Hypothesis". Over time, millions of people reluctantly gave up bacon and eggs and instead turned to breakfast foods like cereal with low fat milk. We were told that if we could just reduce our intake of cholesterol, less of it would build up in our arteries. This simple way of thinking made sense in a way - if you stop dumping grease down your kitchen sink, your pipes would not clog. Right?
This "hypothesis" was based on very shaky science and has over time been widely refuted and proven to be false. Despite the fact that the science behind the argument was shaky at best, most Americans quickly accepted the idea that high cholesterol foods were the chief risk factor and villain in the disease of atherosclerosis, which is the process of fatty deposits building up in your arteries. This buildup in your arteries can harden and narrow your arteries which leads to a heart deprived of blood.
Over the past 5 decades we have learned that elevated cholesterol is just one of several risk factors for cardiovascular disease and not the most significant one at that!
Do you know what the most popular drug group prescribed today is? STATINs - Yes, cholesterol lowering drugs.
Risks associated with Statins (some, not all):
- Muscle pain and damage
- Rhabdomyolysis - can cause severe muscle pain, liver damage, kidney failure and death
- Permanent liver damage
- Digestive problems
- Neurological problems
- Memory loss
- Lou Gehrig's disease
Does Cholesterol deserve its negative reputation?
Quote from the Weston A. Price Foundation:
"The truth is that we humans cannot live without cholesterol..... Our bodies are made out of billions of cells. Almost every cell produces cholesterol all the time during all of our lives. Why? Because every cell of every organ has cholesterol as a part of its structure. Cholesterol is an integral and very important part of our cell membranes, the membranes that enclose each of our cells, and also of the membranes surrounding all the organelles inside the cell."
There are many factors that influence the ability of your body to maintain healthy balance. Cholesterol is needed for many functions in the body, including proper hormone balance. Just as there are predictable models in financial markets that help to determine the success of companies (such as the Gordon model), there are models in medicine that predict disease processes as well as overall health.
In medicine, we explain to patients that it is important to know what is expected in the process of following a certain treatment plan. That is, knowing short term goals as well as long term goals and how your involvement can affect the outcome. Much like with the associates working on the Gordon model asserted, it is also important to know what is required in the process. Most importantly, this process will require us to grow not only in our understanding of how our bodies work and how cholesterol can be health promoting, but how we associate with the daily habits that determine our long term success.
Fun Medical Facts about Cholesterol:
- Most of the time it is possible to lower your cholesterol with interventions such as dietary changes, weight loss, exercise and advanced alternative medical treatments that are natural and non invasive
- For every 1% you lower your cholesterol, your risk of having a heart attack and stroke is reduced by 2%
- Cholesterol is a crucial element in the body - necessary for the function of every cell
- Cholesterol is a vital component of hormone production and hormone balance in our bodies
- Most Naturopathic Medical Doctors believe that efforts to lower dietary cholesterol may actually cause more harm than good
- Eating eggs, avocados, healthy fats and oils can actually decrease your cardiovascular risk by helping to elevate your "good cholesterol" or HDL levels
To Learn more about medical nutrition and how to eat right for your health, contact the Doctors at Tru Health Medicine. 707-292-8882
Our primary care Doctors are specialists in alternative medicine and integrative medicine. Offering medical care to Santa Rosa as well as neighboring cities such as: Healdsburg, Windsor, Petaluma, Rohnery Park, Sonoma, and Sebastopol. Integrative Medical Associates in Santa Rosa.
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