19 Aug 2022

Healthy Living: The race is on to tackle heart disease

Healthy Living: The race is on to tackle heart disease

Having high cholesterol is just one of many factors that can contribute to cardiovascular disease

Modern medicine is great to tackle acute ailments, medications can save lives and are necessary – in most cases. Chronic disease is another matter altogether. Symptom treatment is a major cost to the economy and is not the solution. Drugs are not without their side effects either. A group of cholesterol lowering medications called ‘Statins’ are reported to weaken our muscles – among which the most important one is our heart.

The race is on to find new ways of tackling heart disease, but still focusing on cholesterol. I’ve just read a study about a new gene-silencing jab that targets your liver cells and blocks genes to make LDL cholesterol – claiming it goes to the bottom of the disease.

However, cholesterol is not the cause, just the middleman in cardiovascular diseases.

Cholesterol levels can be higher than normal for many reasons. Our liver makes up 80% of it and the rest we take in through our diet. For many years eggs were doomed due to their cholesterol content, until recent research pointed out that those who ate more eggs had lower cholesterol levels… The reason is that the nutrients that are in eggs help the clearance of cholesterol and support your liver’s function.

When it comes to dietary changes, the most important is reducing sugar and high carbohydrate intake. Excess blood glucose is turned into fat in your liver and all new fats need a “bus” to carry them to storage – and that bus is the low-density cholesterol! Dietary fats on the other hand help to eliminate cholesterol via bile production – we just need to make sure it doesn’t get re-absorbed. Fibre and probiotics are helpful here.

Our genetic make-up also determines our normal levels, it is very individual. People with hypothyroidism and women after menopause have higher cholesterol levels, simply because cholesterol is the raw material for our hormones, and if we make less of them, like in the case of low thyroid function or at menopause, the liver keeps making the raw material for a while. It is completely natural, and our job is to assist the body in removing the excess - naturally.

Cholesterol is essential for life, as a vital component of cell membranes and hormones, transport for many essential nutrients including Omega oils and Selenium. Unsurprisingly then, low cholesterol damages cell membranes, affecting the nervous system and the ability to deal with stress. Low cholesterol levels predispose to cancer: among low-cholesterol populations, approximately three times more people die from cancer compared with their high-cholesterol counter- parts.

Having high cholesterol is just one of many factors that can contribute to cardiovascular disease. The main problem behind hardening and narrowing of the blood vessels is inflammation and damage made by inflammatory cytokines, a by-product called homocysteine and high blood-sugar levels. Once the blood vessel is damaged, adhesion molecules are recruited, and cholesterol can build up on the scar tissue and eventually calcify. All this is not prevented by simply lowering cholesterol levels.

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