Tips to Lower Cholesterol Naturally
By Dr. Mercola
If you decide to take cholesterol-lowering drugs instead of addressing the underlying problem, you are not only stopping your body's natural healing process, you are exposing yourself to drugs that are loaded with side effects -- not the least of which is depleting your body of Coenzyme Q10, which leads to fatigue, muscle weakness, soreness and ultimately heart failure.
Dr. Mercola's Comments:
When I first started practicing in the mid-80s, after finishing my residency program, I was already very interested in preventive medicine and checked cholesterol levels on nearly every patient I saw. A large number of people, I found, had elevated levels of cholesterol. But surprisingly, a fair number of them took their results back to their previous doctors (since I was the new kid on the block, no doubt) who reassured them their levels were normal.
Well, the problem was that the ranges of "normal" were, and still are, very misleading as they are a measure of what's average -- based on mostly sick people.
It's important to realize that there's a big difference between average and healthy cholesterol levels. It's very similar to what we're now seeing with vitamin D levels.
Today, however, with respect to cholesterol, the pendulum has shifted the opposite way with ever lower levels of cholesterol being recommended, primarily due to the significant influence of the drug industry.
Profit, Not Health, is the Driving Factor Behind Current Cholesterol Recommendations
The pharmaceutical industry quickly realized what an enormous market they could capture with cholesterol lowering drugs. And they could do this very effectively with a drug that you'd have to take for years on end, and which, for the most part, wasn't toxic or dangerous enough to kill you quickly.
Cholesterol lowering drugs (statins) now generate profits to the tune of tens of billions of dollars a year.
They were also able to leverage their marketing efforts by selecting experts in the medical community, and appointing them to government panels that make recommendations adopted by nearly the entire medical and health community.
On the last U.S. government's National Cholesterol Education Program panel there were nine physicians, and eight of them had clear, direct ties to the drug industry. Specifically to companies that make these kinds of drugs. As a result, the panel revised the national guidelines, advising those at risk for heart disease to attempt to reduce their LDL (bad) cholesterol to very, very low, levels.
Before 2004, a 130 LDL cholesterol level was considered healthy. The updated guidelines, however, recommended levels of less than 100, or even less than 70 for patients at very high risk.
In order to achieve these outrageous and dangerously low targets, you typically need to take multiple cholesterol-lowering drugs. So the guidelines instantly increased the market for these dangerous drugs.
Please understand that you have not been told the whole truth about cholesterol. Rather what you're getting from most conventional health practitioners is little more than cleverly distorted marketing.
Cholesterol is Not the Evil Villain You've Been Led to Believe
Cholesterol is essential and crucial for a wide variety of vital functions in your body.
It's an integral part of your cell membranes, and it's also the precursor (the raw material) your body uses to make your steroid hormones - one of which is vitamin D. Your skin contains cholesterol, and when UVB rays from the sun hits your skin it converts that form of cholesterol to vitamin D3, which is then transported to your blood. Your body then further converts it into the active form of vitamin D.
But that's not all. When your cholesterol levels go too low, a host of negative events occur in your body.
The Risks of Low Cholesterol
Cholesterol also essential for optimal brain health. It helps in the formation of your memories and is vital for neurological function. In fact, low cholesterol has been linked to a variety of neurological problems, including memory loss.
Having too little of this beneficial compound also:
- Increases your risk of depression
- Can increase your risk of suicide
- May lead to violent behavior and aggression
- Increase your risk of cancer and Parkinson's disease
What is Too High?
Personally, I believe anything above 330 is likely too high. But another powerful way to determine if you're at risk from abnormal cholesterol metabolism is to check your ratio of HDL, or "good" cholesterol, and your total cholesterol.
Your HDL percentage is a very potent heart disease risk factor.
Simply divide your HDL level by your cholesterol. That percentage should ideally be above 25 percent. Typically, the higher the better, as there are no known side effects of having too high good cholesterol.
If your ratio falls below 15-20 percent you are at high risk, and below 10 percent, it's a significant indicator of risk for heart disease.
How to Safely and Effectively Treat High Cholesterol
Fortunately, there are simple, basic strategies that can help you regulate your cholesterol.
First, please realize that simply lowering your dietary cholesterol intake is not an effective primary strategy.
Because 75 percent of your cholesterol is produced by your liver, which is influenced by your insulin levels. Therefore, if you optimize your insulin levels, you will also regulate your cholesterol levels.
One of the most powerful ways you can do that is by exercising, and paying attention to the foods you eat. Foods that increase your insulin levels will also contribute to high cholesterol by making your liver produce more of it.
Lower Cholesterol Naturally
There are many ways to lower cholesterol naturally. Here are my primary recommendations for safely lowering and regulating your cholesterol levels:
- Get an appropriate amount of exercise.
- Reduce, with the plan of eliminating, grains and sugars in your daily diet.
- Eat the right foods for your nutritional type.
- Eat a good portion of your food raw.
- Make sure you're getting plenty of high-quality, animal-based omega3-fats. I prefer those from krill oil.
- Avoid excessive smoking and alcohol.
- Address your emotional challenges.
I've treated between 20-30,000 patients, and I've only found about five people who were unable to respond to the recommendations I've given here. In these cases they likely had a condition called familial hypercholesterolemia.
It is extremely rare, affecting about one in 1,000 people who are on cholesterol lowering medication, but for those there may actually be some benefit to taking a statin drug.
Some have asked me about taking red rice extract, and there is some confusion on that issue. Please understand that red rice extract is also a statin drug, with the same exact mechanism of action as other statins, even though it's available over the counter.
My Neighbor's Cholesterol Challenge Nearly Killed Him
On June 5 my old next door neighbor gave me a call and asked me if we could play tennis. We used to play regularly before I moved two years ago. He used to beat me in straight sets even though he was 70 years old, he was very good in placing the ball.
Well when we played this time it was a bit different in that he was much slower and I could easily hit balls straight past him. This time I won in straight sets. Sure he was two years older and 72 now but that could not possibly account for his decreased playing level.
After our match he explained that he was tired all the time now because his doctors put him on Zocor. Foolishly they never put him on ubiquinol This should be medical malpractice. In his case the statin drug completely devastated my neighbor's health. His energy level and quickness had been radically reduced.
Fortunately he was open to trying the ubiquinol and going on some vitamin D. I am hoping he will beat me in straight sets the next time we play.
What You Must Know if You Chose to Take Cholesterol Medication
If you chose to continue taking statin drugs, then it's vital that you understand the mechanism of action of these drugs.
They typically work by reducing an enzyme in your liver, which not only reduces the production of cholesterol, but it also reduces the production of coenzyme Q10. When you lower the production of coQ10, you increase your risk of a variety of different health problems.
Premature aging is one primary side effect of having too little coQ10 because this essential vitamin recycles other antioxidants, such as vitamin C and E.
CoQ10 deficiency also accelerates DNA damage. Therefore, it is absolutely vital to supplement with coQ10 if you're taking a statin drug. Unfortunately, many doctors fail to inform their patients of this fact.
If you're over 40, I would highly recommend taking a reduced form of coenzyme Q10 called ubiquinol, because it's far more effectively absorbed by your body.
Cholesterol is such an important issue, surrounded by so much confusion that I'm offering my Special Report on this topic FREE to all my readers. Dr Mercola Cholesterol info. Simply click this link to download this in-depth report and learn how to lower cholesterol naturally.