Watching this little film clip made me think about our medical treatment options offered today. Most of us have family members who, upon learning their cholesterol is high, are immediately offered a prescription to take care of it. Should we really be abdicating control of our own personal health?
Dietary and lifestyle choices have been shown to be far better than treatment. According to Dr. Dean Ornish, author of Reversing Heart Disease, there is a genetic variability in how efficiently (or inefficiently) a person metabolizes dietary saturated fat and cholesterol. Some people can eat almost anything yet their blood cholesterol levels do not increase very much. Others find that even a small amount of dietary fat or cholesterol makes their blood cholesterol levels increase. Most people are somewhere in between on this spectrum.
In 1985 Drs. Michael Brown and Joseph Goldstein won the Nobel Prize in Medicine for their discovery of LDL-cholesterol receptors, located primarily in liver cells, and they bind and remove cholesterol from the bloodstream. According to Ornish, “The more cholesterol receptors you have, the more efficiently you can metabolize and remove cholesterol from your blood.” And this is, in part, genetically determined.
So what is the answer? Ornish goes on to state that if the amount of saturated fat and cholesterol in your diet is low enough, then your blood cholesterol level will be low even if you don’t have very many cholesterol receptors. Three fourths of the cholesterol in our blood is made by the body. It’s the excessive amounts of cholesterol and saturated fat in our diet that lead to coronary heart disease.
By eating healthier, controlling our weight and supplementing wisely, the rewards can be great, particularly over a lifetime. According to Ornish, if drugs are used to control a patient’s symptoms without also treating the underlying causes of the illness, than that patient will probably have to take these drugs for the rest of his or her life, often in ever-increasing dosages and with unpleasant and sometimes dangerous side effects. Not a pretty picture!
With one in three American adults having high cholesterol, one option is using a natural way to lower it. Natural compounds called plant sterols and stanols, when added to a healthy diet, can significantly reduce LDL cholesterol. These sterols and stanols are found naturally in plants, fruits, vegetables and grains and because their structure is similar to cholesterol, they compete for absorption, and thereby may help to decrease the level of cholesterol in the body. Ask me about it.
I am so happy and grateful that I am still prescription-free just as I celebrate my 69th birthday. Fortunately I took control of my own health and it has been very rewarding for me. What about you? What changes are you making daily that keep you on the path of wellness? I would love to hear your comments.