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Lowering cholesterol safely

old message Lowering cholesterol safely Darrell Miller 07/27/05


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Date: July 27, 2005 04:10 PM
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Subject: Lowering cholesterol safely

Lowering cholesterol safely.

By Kim Vanderlinden, N.D., D.T.C.M.

Atherosclerosis and its complications are major causes of death in the United States and have reached epidemic proportions throughout all of the Western world. Heart disease accounts for 36% of all deaths among Americans and ranks as the number-one killer; stroke; another complication of atherosclerosis; is the third most common cause of death.

Foremost in the prevention and treatment of heart disease is the reduction of blood cholesterol levels. The evidence overwhelmingly demonstrates that elevated cholesterol levels greatly increase the risk of death due to heart disease. The first step in reducing risk for heart disease is keeping your total blood cholesterol level below 200 mg/dl (milligrams per deciliter).

Not all cholesterol is bad; it serves many functions in the body, including the manufacture of sex hormones and bile acids. Without cholesterol, many body processed would not function properly.

Cholesterol is transported in the blood by molecules known as lipoproteins. Cholesterol bound to low density lipoprotein, or LDL, is often referred to as the “bad” cholesterol, while cholesterol bound to high-density lipoprotein, or HDL, is referred to as the “good” cholesterol. LDL cholesterol increases the risk of heart disease, strokes, and high blood pressure, while HDL cholesterol actually protects against heart disease.

LDL transports cholesterol to the tissues. HDL, on the other hand, transports cholesterol to the liver for metabolism and excretion from the body. Therefore, the HDL-to-LDL ratio largely determines whether cholesterol is being deposited into tissues or broken down and excreted. The risk for heart disease can be reduced dramatically by lowering LDL cholesterol while simultaneously raising HDL cholesterol levels. Research has shown that for every one percent increase in HDL levels, the risk for a heart attack drops three to four percent.

Dietary cholesterol

Dietary cholesterol is a major risk factor in developing atherosclerosis. The evidence is substantial. However, several studies have shown that a lower dietary cholesterol intake was associated with up to a 37% lower risk of death from any cause, or an increased life expectancy of roughly 3.4 years.

Although dietary cholesterol intake is an important contributor to atherosclerosis, most of the cholesterol in the body is actually manufactured in the liver. Reducing dietary cholesterol alone is not always sufficient to lower blood cholesterol levels.

Common drugs

In an attempt to reduce blood cholesterol levels, many physicians are ignoring the need to give dietary recommendations and are instead utilizing drugs as the primary treatment. Using drugs before diet is clearly not the best approach, in terms of both effectiveness and cost. In fact, the Report of the National Cholesterol Education Program Expert Panel on Detection, Evaluation, and Treatment of High Cholesterol in Adults clearly states: “Dietary therapy is the primary cholesterol-lowering treatment.”

The drugs lovastatin (Mevacor), prevastin (Pravachol), and simvastatin (Zocor) are commonly used to lower blood cholesterol levels. The main side effect of these drugs is liver damage. In fact, due to the seriousness of the possible adverse effects on the liver, it is necessary to have periodic blood tests to determine if the drug is harming the liver. Other side effects include: muscle breakdown, muscle pain, nausea, diarrhea, flatus, abdominal pain, headache, and skin rash.

Lowering cholesterol

The most important first approach to lowering a high cholesterol level is to follow a healthful diet and lifestyle. The dietary changes are simple: Eat less saturated fat and cholesterol by reducing or eliminating the amounts of animal products in the diet; increase consumption of fiber-rich plant foods (fruits, grains, and legumes); and lose weight, if necessary. Lifestyle changes include; Regular aerobic exercise; stop smoking; and reduce or eliminate consumption of coffee (both caffeinated and decaffeinated).

Here are the six key recommendations of U.S. Surgeon General, American Heart Association, and the National Research Council’s Committee on Diet and Health:


1. Reduce total fat intake to 30% or less of calories; reduce saturated fat intake to less than 10% of calories; reduce the intake of cholesterol to less than 300 mg daily.
2. Eat five or more servings daily of a combination of vegetables and fruits, especially green and yellow vegetables and citrus fruits.
3. Increase the intake of fiber and complex carbohydrates by eating sic or more servings daily of a combination of breads, cereals, and legumes.
4. Maintain protein intake at moderate levels
5. Balance food intake and physical activity to maintain appropriate body weight.
6. Limit the intake of alcohol, refined carbohydrates (sugar), and salt.

Natural alternatives

When there is a need for additional support to the dietary and lifestyle practices that can lower cholesterol levels, it simply makes more sense to use safer and more effective natural alternatives. When evaluating overall effectiveness, both LDL and HDL cholesterol levels must be taken into consideration. When you look at the cost, safety, and effectiveness, it is clear that natural alternatives are substantially superior to standard drug therapy.

Keep in mind that the natural alternatives discussed are, just like the dugs, still best utilized in a comprehensive program that stresses a healthful diet and lifestyle.

Niacin

Niacin, or vitamin B3, has long been used to lower cholesterol levels. In fact, niacin is recommended by the National CholesterolEducation Program as the first “drug” to use to lower blood cholesterol levels.

The safest form of niacin at present is known as inositol hexaniacinate. This form of niacin has long been used in Europe to lower cholesterol levels and also to improve blood flow. It yields slightly better results than standard niacin, but is much better tolerated, both in terms of flushing and, more importantm long term side effects.

Gugulipid

Gugulipid is the standardized extract of the mukul myrrh tree that is native to India. Several clinical studies have confirmed that gugulipid has an ability to lower both cholesterol and triglyceride levels. Typically, cholesterol levels will drop 14% to 27% in a four- to twelve-week period, while triglyceride levels will drop from 22% to 30%.

The dosage of gugulipid is based on its guggulsterone content. Clinical studies have demonstrated that gugulipid extracts standardized to contain 25 mg of guggulsterone per tablet given three times per day is an effective treatment for elevated cholesterol levels, elevated triglyceride levels, or both.

Garlic and onions

Garlic and onions exert numerous beneficial effects on the cardiovascular system, including lowering blood lipids and blood pressure. Numerous studies have demonstrated that both garlic and onions are effective in lowering LDL-cholesterol and triglycerides while simultaneously raising HDL-cholesterol levels.

Final Comments

Without question, the best approach to lowering cholesterol levels is through diet and lifestyle modifications. When additional support is require, there are safer and more effective natural alternatives to commonly prescribed drugs.

The goal of therapy, whether natural or synthetic, is to get blood lipid levels down into target ranges as quickly as possible. Once the target range has been achieved, begin reducing the amount of medicine by half, or take it every other day. Recheck your cholesterol levels in one month. If they have stabilized or continued to improve, you may no longer need the medication. If the levels begin to rise again, return to previous dosage.

If you are currently on a cholesterol-lowering drug, you must consult your doctor before discontinuing the medication.



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