For over 40 years the conventional medical establishment has been telling us that high cholesterol levels are the main cause of heart disease. However, many scientific studies have shown that this is not the case.
- A Massachusetts Institute of Technology study examined the scientific literature on cholesterol and could not find one study with a clear cause and effect relationship between cholesterol and heart disease. Many similar studies have now confirmed this fact.
- Dr. Stephen Sinatra published a book entitled The Cholesterol Myth in which he recounts the original research on cholesterol over 50 years ago when 45 out of 50 studies could not find a clear connection between cholesterol as the cause of heart disease.
- Dr. Mark Hyman reviewed the literature on the effectiveness of statin drugs, the number one cholesterol medication, and determined that 150 people would need to take the drug before one person would live longer than they would have without taking the drug.
Yes, statin drugs do lower cholesterol, but it is very clear that they do not save many lives. And, this would seem to answer the question in the title of this article, that people still experience heart attacks even if they have perfect cholesterol. In fact, 50 percent of people who experience a heart attack have perfect cholesterol levels. So, if cholesterol is not the cause of heart disease, what is? There are several factors, but probably the main one is the presence of inflammation in the body. Inflammation can be caused by many factors including the following:
- Nutrition- eating eggs, dairy, animal protein, sugar, processed foods and non-organic foods.
- Toxins- chemicals in the air, water and food that we consume.
- Genetics- some people make fewer enzymes than needed, make too much cholesterol in their livers or have weaknesses in their arteries.
- Exercise- many people do not get enough exercise, which is needed to help arteries expand and contract.
- Stress- many people are overstressed, which causes the body to make cortisol, a hormone that can damage our arteries.
- Poor diet- beyond the bad foods mentioned above, many people simply do not eat enough nutritious food and are deficient in vitamin B, vitamin C, vitamin D, vitamin E, Omega 3 fats, magnesium and many other nutrients that are important for the heart and cardiovascular system.
Many of these causes contribute to the development of inflammation in the body due to the oxidative process. When we consume or are exposed to unhealthy foods, toxins, stress or acidic foods, free radicals are created. These molecules have a missing electron, which steals an electron from one of our healthy cells. This creates a pothole in our arteries that must be repaired as soon as possible. The patching material is made in the liver and it is called, you guessed it, cholesterol. So, cholesterol is at the scene of the so-called crime, performing a very important function. Cholesterol also helps to make vitamin D3 and many other biochemicals. Lowering cholesterol too much can actually cause serious health issues in many parts of the body. This patching process could be completely avoided if people consumed enough antioxidants that can give back the missing electron that is often needed. And, where are these antioxidants found? They are in the more nutritious foods such as fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds with high levels of vitamin C, vitamin E, selenium, zinc, and astaxanthin.
Based on this initial assessment on the cause of heart disease here are some beginning strategies.
- Eat a diet, such as the Mediterranean Diet, with an emphasis on vegetables, fruits, nuts, and seeds.
- Exercise at least 45 minutes every day with aerobic, strength and flexing included.
- Manage stress with avoidance, meditation, yoga, music, deep breathing, etc.
- Do not drink tap water due to the presence of fluoride and chlorine.
- Take nutritional supplements to optimize key nutrient levels such as vitamin C, vitamin D, magnesium, vitamin B, and Co-Enzyme Q10. These, and other, heart-friendly nutrients are deficient in the diets of a majority of people in the United States.
- And, if you want to take control of your personal health, and reduce the risk of ever having a heart attack, make sure you get the right tests to determine if you are beginning to move in that direction.
Most people get their blood tested as part of the health insurance program provided by their employer.
Others, who are not employed must arrange for tests on their own through Medicare or via personal health insurance plans. In any case, these tests are not usually adequate because of cost restrictions, or doctors who are not aware of the best blood tests to utilize. Here is an explanation of these blood test alternatives.
Tests usually provided in common situations::
- Cholesterol- usually total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol and HDL cholesterol
- Glucose- either total glucose or A1C glucose (fasting level)
- Insulin- total insulin (fasting level) • Triglycerides- total triglycerides
Tests often added by personal request from the patient, or a progressive doctor:
- Hormones- either the male or the female panel
- C-reactive protein- measures the level of inflammation in the body
- Homocysteine- measures the level of vitamin B6, vitamin B12 and folate (methylators)
- Cortisol- measures the level of stress in the body
- RBC magnesium- this test is superior than current magnesium tests
- Glucose tolerance- this test can identify cellular sugar challenges five to seven years earlier
Tests rarely provided due to high cost and lack of awareness of their importance:
- INR- measures the thickness of the blood and thus the likelihood of clots forming
- Omega 3- measures the level of this healthy fat in the body
- CoQ10- measures this enzyme important for energy production and providing the DNA in our cells
- Heavy metals- measures the level of these dangerous toxins in the body
- Apolipoprotein B- measures the level of this early warning protein before LDL increases
- Galectin 3- measures Galectin levels which is an early warning marker for heart disease and cancer
- TMAO- trimethylamine N-oxide is a bacteria produced compound that measures the amount of choline in the body, which is known to contribute to the production of blood clots and plaque.
Many people might look at these tests and say why should I pay hundreds of dollars to get all of these tests? The answer could be that you probably only need to have these tests done every three to five years, depending on your age and health status. The more important reason would be that these tests could provide an early warning system, five to ten years earlier, for the future development of heart disease. By getting these tests every three to five years, and following the lifestyle guidelines previously mentioned, there is a high probability that you will never experience a heart attack or a stroke in your long and healthy lifetime.
When people read an article like this many will ask questions such as, “don’t I get all of the nutrients I need from the food I eat” or “can I take one pill to get all of the nutrients that are not in my food?” The answer to both questions is NO! It is virtually impossible to get all of the nutrients we need from food alone. In a study by the National Cancer Institute of over 16,000 people aged 2 to 80, the researchers could not find one person with a truly healthy diet. In fact, vast majorities were deficient in 11 out of 14 nutritional categories. They were not eating enough vegetables, fruits, healthy fats, nuts, and seeds. This is due to declining nutrients in the soil, over processing of foods, poor selection by shoppers, overcooking, poor chewing and compromised digestive systems. People are simply not getting the nutrients they need to sustain the healthy functioning of their cells. That is one of the main reasons why the number of adults with a chronic illness has increased from 10 percent over 60 years ago to nearly 70 percent today. When cells do not get the nutrients they need they go through a gradual deterioration process in five stages, as shown on the following page.
The recommended blood tests can identify changes in the body’s chemistry at the stressed and weakened stages of cellular deterioration, five to ten years before more serious problems develop.
A strategy to prevent and even reverse heart disease
Some people are very interested in avoiding heart disease, stroke, and other cardiovascular illnesses. They eat what they think is a healthy diet; they exercise as much as they feel is necessary; they avoid stress; they take nutritional supplements, and they get their blood tested every year. These are all good lifestyle decisions, as far as they go. However, as we have seen in this article these steps may not be sufficient to prevent heart disease or some other chronic illness. The blood tests that have been recommended can help to provide an early warning mechanism for anyone, which can then be augmented with nonbiochemical tests such as thermography, MRI for the carotid artery evaluation, and even a CT scan if it is deemed necessary. (Excess radiation exposure should be factored in.)
Nutritional superstars for the heart and cardiovascular system.
Conventional medicine will tell you that there is no science to support the use of nutritional supplements to improve your heart and circulation system. They even have a web site that repeats these erroneous messages on a regular basis. However, this is absolutely not true and there are thousands of clinical studies to prove that nutritional supplements help to prevent chronic illness and often reverse it. Some good sources for these studies are Life Extension Magazine, GreenMedInfo, Metagenics, and books entitled “The Encyclopedia of Natural Medicine” and “The Prescription for Nutritional Healing.” There are over 40,000 scientific studies that prove nutritional supplements work very well, but the pharmaceutical industry does not want you to know that. Here are the top ten nutrients you should look into to protect your body from heart disease.
- Co-enzyme Q10- protects our cellular nucleus and improves energy production in mitochondria.
- Magnesium- is the transport agent for all glucose and insulin into the cell, to make energy.
- Vitamin C- is the key antioxidant for reducing free radicals that cause damage to our arteries.
- Vitamin D- regulates calcium levels, which impacts how nerves carry messages to the heart.
- Resveratrol- protects blood vessel walls and promotes healthy levels of LDL and HDL.
- Garlic- controls blood pressure, encourages blood vessels to stay open and slows plaque build-up.
- Pycnogenol- helps thin the blood and control levels of dangerous choline in the body.
- Omega 3 oils- reduces apolipoprotein B, triglycerides, and VLDL, all heart challengers.
- Vitamin B- niacin (B3) lowers LDL and triglycerides; increases HDL and improves circulation. Vitamin B6, B12 and folate lower homocysteine levels (inflammation).
- Modified citrus pectin- reduces heavy metals, lowers cholesterol, removes plaque and helps keep Galectin 3 levels in balance. Also, lowers PSA levels. Prevents cancer and kills cancer cells.
These nutrients perform many other useful functions to help keep our bodies healthy. CoQ10 helped reverse kidney disease in one study. Magnesium helps to prevent and reverse type 2 diabetes. Vitamin C treats many cancers effectively. Vitamin D3 reduces the risk of breast cancer by 77 percent and prostate cancer by 83 percent. These are truly the superstars of nutritional supplements. There are many other effective nutrients for heart health, and there is excellent science behind each and every one of them. This is merely a snapshot of what is possible in terms of improving someone’s ability to develop an evidence-based strategy for optimum heart health. Now you can complete this journey to better health by researching the recommendations presented here and working with your health care providers to find the best future strategy for you.
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Charles K Bens, PhD
Charles K. Bens, PhD is an author, speaker and wellness consultant specializing in the prevention and reversal of chronic disease. He is the founder and president of Healthy @ Work, Inc. a wellness education and consulting company focused on improving the health of employees. The company provides workshops on a wide range of health topics. He has written nine books including Healthy at Work: Your Pocket Guide to Good Health, The Healthy Smoker: How To Quit Smoking By Becoming Healthier First and over 200 articles. Dr. Bens lectures all over the world on organizational change and improvement as well as on wellness and health improvement. And was selected by Ottawa Regional Cancer Foundation as the Vail Visiting Professor for 2013.
Visit Dr. Bens' terrific website: https://www.drcharlesbens.com/