Medical authorities continue to recommend cholesterol-lowering drugs to treat heart disease. However, nutritional research indicates there are many possible causes of heart disease.
Cholesterol is the precursor or raw material used to make pituitary, adrenal and sex hormones. It is also required to form vitamin D and bile acids. The liver makes about 2 grams of cholesterol daily, regardless of dietary intake. Cholesterol is composed of high-density lipoproteins, or HDL, and low-density lipoproteins or LDL. There are also other fractions. HDL (unoxidized) is often called "good cholesterol", while LDL (oxidized) is often termed "bad cholesterol". Blood laboratories often measure the ratio between the fractions and total cholesterol.
About 100 years ago, scientists observed that fatty deposits in arteries often contain cholesterol. This led to the theory that cholesterol is the cause of arterial plaque. Early studies indicated that feeding animals a diet very high in cholesterol caused cholesterol plaques to form. However, some large studies from America, France, India, Africa, the Soviet Union and studies of Eskimos showed no correlation between cholesterol levels, fat intake and heart disease. The amount of LDL, often expressed as a ratio to total cholesterol, is the best measurement that correlates with the incidence of heart disease.
The cholesterol theory of heart disease is very simplistic. It is like saying that duct tape wrapped around a damaged water hose is the cause of the hose damage. More likely the duct tape and the cholesterol are results of the damage, not the cause. In fact, two scientists, Brown and Goldstein, won a Nobel Prize in 1985 for this theory. Cholesterol-containing plaques are often there to protect a damaged artery. A clogged artery is much better than a ruptured one.
Many factors contribute to heart disease. A properly performed hair analysis may help identify a number of them. Here is a list of factors implicated in cardiovascular disease:
High cholesterol is often a stress indicator. Under stress, the body makes more of it, most likely in an attempt to produce additional adrenal hormones. Any of the factors listed above may increase stress on the body. Stress patterns on a hair mineral test, such as a low sodium/potassium ratio, are often found with elevated cholesterol. Low cholesterol is not healthy either. Serum levels below 120 mg are associated with an increase in depression, strokes and violence.
Healthy fast oxidizers often have low cholesterol levels. They burn fats rapidly and readily convert cholesterol into adrenal and sex hormones. Many fast oxidizers, however, are not in good health. We have often observed cholesterol levels decline in fast oxidizers by adding high-quality fats and oils to the diet. Animal fats provide needed acetates and help slow the oxidation rate. Reducing carbohydrates can decrease blood sugar stress.
Dr. Robert Atkins, a cardiologist, has researched high-fat diets and cholesterol for many years. Fast oxidizers tend to be deficient in copper and zinc. If one is very concerned about one's cholesterol, they can substitute high quality vegetable oils such as avocado and olive oil, instead of animal fats which contain some cholesterol. However, the body makes about 10 times the amount of cholesterol that one eats.
Slow oxidizers do not handle fats as well as fast oxidizers. They can develop high serum cholesterol levels because sluggish adrenal glands may not adequately convert cholesterol to adrenal hormones. Some slow oxidizer vegetarians, who eat no cholesterol, have high serum cholesterol due to stress and/or impaired adrenal gland activity.
Authorities often recommend vegetables oils over saturated fats. However, oils from soy, corn, canola, sunflower, safflower, peanut and others are refined. They often contain chemical residues and no vitamin E. They can cause oxidant damage that can make vascular disease worse.
We only recommend unrefined olive oil and health store oils, such as flax and hempseed oils. Note that margarine is a partially saturated fat. The raw material is an unsaturated oil, but it is hardened or saturated in order to manufacture margarine.
Drugs to lower cholesterol may have side effects and do not address the biochemical causes of heart disease. They are rarely needed if a patient will follow a scientific health-building program. Improving the diet and lifestyle, balancing body chemistry through proper supplementation and reducing stress are often effective, non-toxic ways to control cholesterol.
Extra niacin, chromium, vitamin B6, L-taurine, dietary fiber and ginger may be added to a nutrition program to help lower LDL cholesterol. We recommend consulting a physician before changing any medication.