I don’t worry as much about people’s cholesterol level, I worry about their overall risk of heart disease. Too many practitioners are fixed on just LDL cholesterol and this leads to the overuse of statin drugs.
There are two common treatment approaches:
1) “Treat-to-target”–an approach that uses statins to force LDL cholesterol to less than 70 for high-risk patients and no higher than 130 for people not at risk
2) “Tailored treatment”–an approach that gives far less importance to LDL level, while weighing multiple risk factors to develop a variety of treatments including exercise, diet modification, etc.
Tailored treatment will prevent more coronary artery disease events while treating fewer people with high-dose statins.
Years ago, the Framingham Heart Study showed that total cholesterol levels below 160 caused heart disease problems to RISE! So it’s been well known for decades that low lower lowest is not good better best.
There is research on subjects in their 70’s that found elevated levels of total cholesterol were linked with REDUCED dementia risk in their later 70s. And elevated cholesterol throughout their 70s was associated with reduced dementia risk throughout their 80s.
Let’s talk about natural alternatives to the high cholesterol issue and reducing the risk of dementia as we age.
I don’t care about what you have heard or read lately, these are the facts about these herbal supplements:
Echinacea has “Good scientific evidence for this use”:
- Prevention of upper respiratory tract infections (adults and children)
- Treatment of upper respiratory tract infections (adults)
St. John’s wort has “Strong scientific evidence” for treating “mild-to-moderate depressive disorder.”
Chamomile extract was better than placebo in reducing anxiety.
Milk thistle is effective in interfering with the life cycle of the hepatitis C virus.
Ginkgo biloba helps treat dementia, relieves claudication (painful legs from clogged arteries), and improves blood flow to the brain to reduce cerebral insufficiency (defined as poor concentration, confusion, absent-mindedness, anxiety, etc.).
Pcynogenol helps for treating asthma, and for relieving chronic venous insufficiency (leg swelling and varicose veins).
Ginseng boosts immune function, lowers blood sugar levels in type 2 diabetics, and is a heart healthy antioxidant, which include the reduction of LDL oxidation.
Red yeast rice gets an A for lowering LDL and triglycerides.
Eating food rich in vitamin E may reduce the risk of developing dementia, while insufficient levels of vitamin D may increase the risk of cognitive decline, say two new studies.
Archives of Neurology 67(7):819-825, 2010
Archives of Internal Medicine 170(13):1135-1141, 2010
People who consumed the highest average intakes of vitamin E from the diet were 25% less likely to develop dementia than people with the lowest average intakes, according to new data published in the Archives of Neurology.
Scientists from the Erasmus Medical Center in Rotterdam, the Netherlands, postulated that the benefits were related to the antioxidant activity of vitamin E, which counters the oxidative stress induced by a buildup of beta-amyloid protein.
The buildup of plaque from beta-amyloid deposits is associated with an increase in brain cell damage and death from oxidative stress. This is related to a loss of cognitive function and an increased risk of Alzheimer’s, the most common form of dementia that currently affects over 13 million people worldwide.
In another study from a Swedish study, published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease, which found that a combination of different vitamin E forms could help prevent cognitive deterioration in advanced age.
There are eight forms of vitamin E: Four tocopherols (alpha, beta, gamma, delta) and four tocotrienols (alpha, beta, gamma, delta). Alpha-tocopherol (alpha-Toc) is the main source found in supplements and in the European diet, while gamma-tocopherol (gamma-Toc) is the most common form in the American diet.
Tocotrienols are only minor components in plants, although several sources with relatively high levels include palm oil, cereal grains and rice bran.
For the new study, the Rotterdam-based scientists analyzed data on the intakes of antioxidants—vitamins C and E, beta-carotene and flavonoids—in 5,395 people aged 55 and older. Questionnaires and meal-based checklists were used to establish intakes of these micronutrients.
The participants were followed for about 10 years, during which 465 people developed dementia, of which 365 cases were for Alzheimer’s disease.
After crunching the numbers, the researchers calculated that people with an average intake of 18.5 mg of vitamin E per day were 25% less likely to develop dementia than the people with an average of 9 mg per day. On the other hand, no associations were observed for dietary intake levels of vitamin C, beta-carotene and flavonoids.
“The brain is a site of high metabolic activity, which makes it vulnerable to oxidative damage, and slow accumulation of such damage over a lifetime may contribute to the development of dementia,” wrote the authors.
“In particular, when beta-amyloid (a hallmark of pathologic Alzheimer’s disease) accumulates in the brain, an inflammatory response is likely evoked that produces nitric oxide radicals and downstream neurodegenerative effects. Vitamin E is a powerful fat-soluble antioxidant that may help to inhibit the pathogenesis of dementia.”
The current issue of the Archives of Internal Medicine also carries new data from British researchers who report that seniors with low levels of vitamin D may be at an increased risk of cognitive decline.
Our cognitive performance declines naturally as we age, but new data from David Llewellyn and his colleagues at the University of Exeter in England indicates that insufficient levels of vitamin D may accelerate this decline.
The Exeter-based scientists analyzed vitamin D levels from blood samples of 858 adults aged 65 and older. Cognitive tests were undertaken at the start of the study, and again after three and six years.
The data showed that severe vitamin D deficiency, defined as blood levels of 25-hydroxyvitamin D (25(OH)D) of less than 25 nanomoles per liter—were associated with a 60% increase in the risk of substantial cognitive decline.
“If future prospective studies and randomized controlled trials confirm that vitamin D deficiency is causally related to cognitive decline, then this would open up important new possibilities for treatment and prevention,” concluded Llewellyn and his co-workers.
This continues to be a big topic. I am all about helping clients reduce body fat, heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, stroke, and dementia. It’s true, daily consumption of saturated fats (like coconut oil) can help reduce abdominal fat which helps reduce your risk of these other diseases.
I recommend a whey protein powder by Metagenics called UltraMeal Plus 360 as a shake in the morning. I also recommend Meta Lipoate 300. I always tell clients that they have to stay on this program for at least for 12 weeks (daily shakes of UltraMeal Plus 360). Follow a balanced, low-carb diet with increased protein and fiber intake, start exercising with a 20-30 minute walk each day and I know changes will take place.
Bad LDL cholesterol and good HDL cholesterol levels improve,
body mass index improves, waistlines look better.
Don’t be skeptical about saturated fat!
What I am seeing is that people who eat the most saturated fat, the most cholesterol and the most protein calories weigh the least. I get my clients more physically active and they have the ideal serum cholesterol levels.
Animal fats are not bad for you. They boost your energy and your immunity. They help your body build stronger and more resilient cells. They contain chemicals that help your brain stay focused, and even contain concentrated levels of ‘good’ HDL cholesterol.
Let’s discuss your specific needs!