Twitter RSS

Why Lowering Cholesterol Won’t Prevent Heart Disease (And What You Should Do Instead)

Published on April 9, 2013,

Nutritionist Dr Jonny Bowden believes “Trying to prevent heart disease by lowering cholesterol is like trying to prevent obesity by cutting the lettuce out of your Big Mac.” Along with cardiologist Stephan Sinatra he recently write the book “The Great Cholesterol Myth: Why Lowering Cholesterol Won’t Prevent Heart Disease and the Statin-Free Plan That Will” and believes the very idea that cholesterol causes heart disease is one of the most indestructible and damaging myths in medical history and stops us taking the action we really need to fight heart disease. This is from Jonny Bowden’s website…

The Great Cholesterol Myth

First, let’s start with some surprising facts…

  • Cholesterol is a minor player in heart disease
  • Cholesterol levels are a poor predictor of heart attacks
  • Half of heart attacks happen to people with normal cholesterol
  • Half the people with elevated cholesterol have healthy hearts
  • Lowering cholesterol has an extremely limited benefit

…So if cholesterol isn’t the cause of heart disease, what is?

The Real Cause of Heart Disease

Here’s the short answer: The primary cause of heart disease isinflammation. Small injuries to the vascular wall that can be caused by anything from high blood pressure to toxins attract all sorts of metabolic riff-raff, from bacteria to oxidized (damaged) LDL particles; the immune system sends inflammatory cytokines to the area, and more oxidation and inflammation takes place eventually resulting in the growth of plaque and, ultimately, to an increased risk for heart disease. If there were no inflammation, the arteries would be clear.

The following is my seven point program for reducing the risk of heart disease. Note that lowering cholesterol isn’t on it. Note also that managing stress is.

Stress is a powerful contributor to heart disease. The stress hormones create inflammatory events that may explain why 40% of atherosclerotic patients have no other risk factors.

Pay attention to these seven action items, and you just may find that you don’t need to worry quite so much about cholesterol after all.

Eat an anti-inflammatory diet. The fruit and vegetable kingdom is teeming with natural anti-inflammatories like quercetin (apples and onions) and curcumin (turmeric). Drink green tea and pomegranate juice. Balance your protein and fat with tons of vegetables. And eat dark chocolate—it’s cocoa flavanols help lower blood pressure and keep the cardiovascular system healthy.

Reduce grains, starches, sugar and omega-6’s (vegetable oils).  Every one of these has the power to increase inflammation—a lot!

Manage Your Stress. Stress is an enormous risk factor for heart disease, and is inflammatory as well. Find a way to manage it. Anything from regular walks in the park to deep breathing exercises to warm baths can help.

Exercise. It’s probably the best anti-aging (and heart protective) drug on the planet

Drink only in moderation. And if you don’t process the word “moderation” very well, don’t drink at all.

Don’t smoke. Probably the number one recommendation for heart disease prevention.

Supplement with antioxidants, vitamin C, Coenzyme Q10, omega-3’scurcumincitrus bergamontAntioxidants like vitamin C protect against oxidative damage (one of the promoters of heart disease) while omega-3’s are one of the most anti-inflammatory molecule on earth. Curcumin does just about everything—it’s an anti-inflammatory andantioxidant.

More at:  Why Lowering Cholesterol Won’t Prevent Heart Disease

Study Shows Losing Weight Lowers Body Inflammation (And Low Carb Loses More Weight Than Low Fat)

Published on November 7, 2012,

A study by researchers at Johns Hopkins Medicine shows that when overweight or obese people lose weight, whether through a low-carb or low-fat diet, they can have a significant reduction in inflammation throughout their body, as measured by three common markers for inflammation. What’s more, the participants on the low carb diet lost 28lbs on average compared with 18lbs on average for the low fat dieters. This is from Newswise…

Photo credit: Gabriela Camerotti

Results of the study are being presented at the American Heart Association Scientific Sessions on November 5, 2012.

Inflammation occurs naturally when the body’s immune system acts to fight off an irritant or infection or responds to an injury. However, fat cells secrete molecules that also increase inflammation, even when an immune response is not needed. Because these molecules are secreted into the bloodstream, being overweight or obese increases the risk of inflammation throughout the body. This more widespread condition is known as systemic inflammation.

According to the researchers, systemic inflammation increases the chance of a heart attack or stroke by promoting the formation of blood clots, interfering with the ability of blood vessels to contract and relax normally to control blood flow, or causing plaque to break off of vessel walls.

“Our findings indicate that you can reduce systemic inflammation, and possibly lower your risk of heart disease, no matter which diet—either low-carb or low-fat,” says Kerry Stewart, Ed.D., professor of medicine at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and director of clinical and research exercise physiology. “The important factor is how much weight you lose—especially belly fat.”

Stewart adds that there’s still some bias in the medical community against a low-carb diet, which, by definition has a higher percentage of fat and protein than a low-fat diet. In their study, 60 people, ages 30 to 65, who were either overweight or obese with excessive fat around their waist, were randomly assigned to go on a low-fat or a low-carb diet for six months. Each group also participated in exercise training three times a week.

The researchers measured the participants’ blood levels for three common markers of inflammation—C-reactive protein, interleukin 6 and tumor necrosis factor-alpha—at the beginning and end of the study. They also measured body weight, body mass index (BMI) and total body and belly fat. At the start, both groups were similar in the various measures, including elevated levels of inflammation markers.

The participants on the low-carb diet lost more weight, on average, than those on the low-fat diet—28 pounds versus 18 pounds. The low-carb diet group also had a greater drop in BMI (4.7 versus 2.9), and a greater drop in belly fat (14.3 versus 8.4 pounds). The level of aerobic fitness increased in both groups by about 20 percent.

“In both groups, there was a significant drop in the levels of all three measures of inflammation,” says Stewart, indicating that a diet higher in fat and protein doesn’t interfere with the ability to lower inflammation, as long as you are losing weight.

More at:  Losing Weight From Either a Low-Carb or Low-Fat Diet Lowers Body Inflammation

© Low Carb Diet News