Cholesterol - Do you have the full story?
Although we live in a day where so much more is known about health and research, medicine statistics show that 50 percent of patients continue to have cardiovascular disease or heart attacks. We know the risks can be from high blood pressure, diabetes, high cholesterol, smoking and obesity but there seems to be a gap in true knowledge, treatment and prevention of heart disease. Today I am going to focus on cholesterol.
Many people are happy when the cholesterol levels come up normal and blood pressure is normal but particularly if there is a genetic tendency these levels need to be looked at in more detail. The aim is to keep it as healthy cholesterol to prevent it becomes a problem. Is all cholesterol bad and perhaps good cholesterol infact looks after the cardivascular system and the brain.
The problems of what we know as bad cholesterol start with functional abnormalities that lead to structural abnormalities, that then can lead to preclinical or clinical cardiovascular disease. I hope in the future that the problems are picked up at a functional level so the structural changes can be prevented.
At the moment the standard way to look at cholesterol or dyslipidemia is to check Total Chol, Triglererides, LDL and HDL and then high prescribe medication. With what we know of the cause of cardivascular disease being genetic, oxiditive stress, inflammation and immune vascular disease then the basic cholesterol testing is not giving us the full picture of the persons condition. The standard viewpoint is that having high cholesterol is bad and low cholesterol is good and the approach is to lower cholesterol at all costs and typically with statin medications. HDL is referred to as the good cholesterol and yet some HDL's are infact not good or disfunctional. On the flip side LDL are demonised to be 'bad cholesterol' yet some LDL's are anti-atherogenic. Perhaps it is time to re evaluate how cholesterol managment is approached.
Aside from the Total Cholesterol, Triglycerides, HDL, LDL, Ratio of HDL:LDL it is also worth looking at:
This can predict the particle size of the LDL's. The ideal ratio is 2:1. If this ratio is below 3:8 then there then the likelihood is that the LDL particle would be larger. This is a better outcome. However if the ratio is high then the LDL is the unsafe smaller size. some say this could be also a predictor of insulin resistance. Things that can help this is avoiding alcohol increasing omega 3 and exercise. Lower carb eating can also help.
This test separates the large LDL (LDL1 and LDL2) particles (safer ones) from the small LDL ( LDL 3-7) particles (more atherogenic). The issue is the smaller ones are small enough to interfer with the lining of the arterial wall. Currently in Australia we can check the size but not the amount of particles.
VLDL stands for Very Low Density Lipoprotein cholesterol and it is producted in the liver and released into the blood stream to supply body tissues with triglicerides. VLDL are often seen as an estimation of a percentage of the total triglycerides. High VLDL are linked with development of plaque which narrow the passages and restrict blood flow to our organs including heart and brain.
IDL is very similar to LDL and transports Triglycerides fats and cholesterol and can also promote arteroma. It stands for independent density lipoprotein.
The disfuntional HDL at this point cannot be tested in Australia but it will not be long I am sure.
High homocysteine levels can be indicative of a potential cardiovascular disease (CVD). It is a naturally occuring amino acid produced as part of the methylation process.There has been a connection between high homocysteine and heart disease and alzheimers. Keeping homocysteine low (I like to see it below 7)
enough is helped with specifically B12, methyfolate and Vitamin B6. If the body is more toxic (coffee, alcohol, cigarettes, some medications) and the liver is working harder, then this can push the homocysteine levels higher.
C- Reactive Protein is a marker for inflammation and inflammation can be the aetiology behind cholesterol amoungst other disorders. Therefor, the level of CRP increases if there is any inflammation in the body.
Blood Sugar Levels
Insulin, Fasting Glucose and Hba1c are ways we check for diabetic tendencies which can influence the cholesterol. It is good to rule this out when treating cholesterol.
ORTHODOX MEDICINES FOR CHOLESTEROL
Statins - examples: Lipitor, Crestor, Pravachol, Zocor, Lipidil, Ezetrol, Vytorin
Stain drugs are very effective at lowering total cholesterol. However they have been linked to muscle pain. digestive problems, liver damage, blood sugar issues and mental fuzziness. Statins block a substance your liver needs to make cholesterol. This causes your liver to remove cholesterol from your blood. If you have concerns about taking statins please seek medical advice before you choose to reduce or stop any orthodox medicine.
SOME NATURAL REMEDIES USED FOR CHOLESTEROL
Please discuss with your practitioner before self prescribing these medicines.
Red Rice Yeast
Red yeast rice is classified as a medicinal food. It is made from a particular yeast called Monascus purpureus over rice. In Chinese medicine it is used for lowering cholesterol, improving blood circulation and improving digestion. Being a food Red Rice Yeast does not seem to have the side effects of statins. Red Rice Yeast has been found to contain an active ingredient called monacolin K which is very similar to a particular statin drug called Mevacor. If your cholesterol level is really high (above 7.5) or you get too many side effects of statin drugs despite its benefits then this could be beneficial for you. When assessed we regularly make sure of tolerance and often swap you over to other remedies to get the best overall effect.
Bergamot is part of the citrus family. It inhibits the HMG- Co A enzyme which helps to reduce LDL cholesterol in the blood stream. This fruit also enhances excretion of cholesterol. It is high in antioxidants which is good for the endothelial lining of the blood vessels. Where blood sugar levels are an issue and maybe a contributing factor for cholesterol Bergamot has showed to be useful especially when used with other natural remedies like lipoic acid and grapeseed extract. This product improves the DHL and LDL ratios and helps improve trigleriride results.
Inositol and Choline
Inositol is a vitamin type substance. It is found in many plants and animals. Both these are found in lecithin and both are used in the structure of neurotransmittors (chemicals that allow nerves to talk to one another). This combination can help reduce fat build ups on the sides of the heart and arteries. Choline helps prevent the build up of cholesterol. It helps emulsify cholesterol so it is unlikely to settle on artery walls. phosphatidyl choline transports the cholesterol so it can be used by the body or else excreted.
Policosanol is a chemical obtained from sugar cane and other sources. It is used for many conditions. In the clinic it is predominately used for cholesterol. There is little scientific evidence of its use but you can see the results for yourself. It helps in a positive way for the heart health and high cholesterol and poor circulation and where there is narrowing of arteries. It works by decreasing the LDL in the liver production and reduces the stickiness of platelets so reducing the risk of clots.
In Australia the Vitamin K2 (menaquone7) is derived from a Japanese food called natto produced by bacillus subyils fermentation of soybeans. Yes this is an important remedy for bone density but has been also known to be great for cardiovascular plaque issues. It is not right for everyone but for the right person it is very good.
The inside of a pomegranite is pomegranite seeds. They are like little red rubys to look at.The juice of the pomegranite seeds contain different types of antioxidants and bioactive polyphenols that can promote cardiovascular health, including healthy blood pressure. Dr. Houston at the recent symposium of intergrative medicine spoke of pomegranites good effect on dysfunctional HDL.
Normal fish oil is good but Krill oil is becoming widely known for its great effects on 'total' and bad cholesterol and lowers triglycerides. It is important that you are not allergic to crustaceans though. As it is a form of oil it needs to be kept in the fridge or a cool spot especailly once it is open. To add to this the effects of krill oil on arthritis are great.
Green tea on its own I do not think will do the job to lower cholesterol. Research has showed that the best dose for significantly lowering cholesterol was 10 cups a day which is a lot of green tea. It is a warming tea, relaxes you, provides antioxidants and prevents free radical damage. Green tea can lower the LDL and improve the disfunctional HDL according to Dr. Mark Houston at the recent symposium. L- Theanine is the extract of green tea and may be an easier way to get the dosage in. Green tea cannot be taken with some chemotherapy drugs, anticonvulsants and some other medications so always best to check with your practitoner.
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