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am wondering how I could go about "Asking your Experts"
about treating very high cholesterol (naturally, without the use
of conventional medicine). My spouse has been diagnosed with exceptionally
high cholesterol - actually "double" what is considered
the normal level of cholesterol, according to tests done by his
doctor. Otherwise in good health, he prefers meat (animal fats),
he's picky about vegetables, and does not eat fish of any kind
so it is going to be hard to alter his eating habits (though we
will be diligently altering his diet). His doctor has recommended
prescription drugs to lower his cholesterol but neither of us
are enthusiastic about medication. As an alternative I thought
I might ask one of your experts for advice on any types of recommended
natural herbs or dietary recommendations as an alternative to
drugs (and their side-effects). After browsing through your archives,
the professional contributors of your journal offer very sound
advice. Though, I am at a loss for finding out about treating
cholesterol "naturally." Is there any way to help, or
a course of action you could recommend?
from Paul Stewart, Abiogen Agri-Food Services, Marshfield Manse,
Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island, Tel: (902)566-4078 Fax: (902)
high cholesterol" is a serious condition that predisposes
one to stroke, heart attack, and other life-threatening illnesses.
I am not a medical doctor, and prefer to advise on use of natural
treatments for prevention as well as treatment of symptoms, as
compared to replacement of medical prescriptions, monitoring and
care of serious illnesses.
the writer against looking for a fast fix, a way to avoid the
self-regulatory behavior that is the core of any alternate therapy.
If her husband cannot voluntarily design and manage his own diet
to minimize his risk, he will probably not be compliant with any
regimen of natural therapy either. I believe the individual may
need behavioural counselling to show him how to adjust his lifestyle,
as well as several sessions over a few months with a dietician.
for cholesterol, whether they be conventional or alternative,
are mainly dietary. The cholesterol is a necessary substance,
created by the body from the fats in our food. It is the basic
building block for our body to make the sex hormones, prostaglandins,
and other necessary parts of our body's metabolism. Only when
we don't eat a natural balance of dietary fats do we swing the
cholesterol balance out of whack. Some people are also genetically
predisposed to high cholesterol, as are people over a certain
age or who are in poor physical condition. In all these cases,
the metabolic reactions in the body are not functioning well,
allowing a buildup of cholesterol, first in the liver, then spreading
through the blood vessels to all parts of the body.
indicators are mainly the types of fats we consume. Almost all
processed foods are labeled with the amount of saturated vs unsaturated
fats. Saturated fats have a lot of the carbon double bonds "saturated"
with alcohol groups (not booze...but the - OH groups that form
alcohols), and are to be avoided. Unsaturated fats are the "good"
fats, which are less liable to raise cholesterol levels. Cooking
oils and fatty meats are the main source of these fats in the
diet. Use highly unsaturated oils such as peanut, olive, and safflower
oil (of course, they are more expensive), and reduce the amount
of pork and beef in the diet, which is much higher in saturated
fats than chicken and fish. Try cooking using less oil overall,
too (1 tsp vs 3 tbsp).
increase the amount of vegetables (sorry missus, but there's no
free lunch). That's where the behavioural modification comes in.
I myself am a reformed junk food junkie, and now actually enjoy
salads, fruit and high-fibre cereals more than greasy french fries
and cheeseburgers. You, too, can mature your dietary habits, not
because you should, but because you must.
fibre is a great way to control cholesterol. The lipids (fats)
in vegetables tend to be mostly unsaturated (the good guys), and
the dietary fibre of vegetables has the double whammy effect of
also absorbing the HDL (high density lipids) in the digested food
in the gut, passing it out with the feces. The details of lipid
metabolish are tedious and complex, making generations of biochemistry
and nursing students cringe in fear. But the basics are always
the same: less red meat and dairy (ie: less animal fat), more
vegetable fibre and oils (better HDL control and more fibre).
course, it doesn't matter what you eat if the body's machinery
is barely functioning. SO, unless the inquirer's husband is disabled
or infirmed, his best bet at living past 65 is to walk 1-2 miles
every morning and evening, or do something that raises his heart
rate above 120 for more than 10 minutes every couple of days.
for herbs, some claim to lower cholesterol, but these are mainly
what we call "anti-nutritives." They don't do anything
to improve the body's metabolic health, they just block absorption
of the fats...both good and bad fats. Examples are chitosan (Fat
Buster, etc), pseudo-ephedrine ("speedy") and steroid-like
products that increase metabolic rate (Fat Burners), and others.
I would avoid these quick fixes, as they tend to replace good
dietary health, and block absorption of things we need in the
favourite herb for cholesterol is the liver herb Milk Thistle
(Silybum marianus). The active ingredient in the seed coat (silimarin)
increases bile production in the liver, which both flushes out
the cholesterol that tends to build up in the liver's bile canaliculi,
as well as increases the amount of bile going into the gut, which
in turn increases the emulsification, digestion and proper absorption
or elimination of dietary lipids.
supplements that go with this are multi-vitamins, anti-oxidants,
minerals, trace elements, and digestive enzymes. All of these
will give the sluggish, North American junk-polluted digestive
system a boost towards regularity and vigour. Dietary fiber increase
is especially important when you take milk thistle, as the increased
bile being dumped into the gut (along with all that scrap cholesterol
from the liver) will tend to get reabsorbed into the blood, unless
a lot of fibre is present in the gut as well. High fibre breads
(whole grains, not the solidified bubble bath we all are hooked
on), dense fruit fibre such as dried apricots, and grains are
needed during a milk thistle treatment, to the tune of 2-3 servings
a day minimum. Also, drink lots of water and fruit juice, and
lay off the coffee, alcohol and sugary drinks (pop). An exception
is red wine and chocolate, both of which, in moderation (1-2 servings
per day) have been shown to improve health of blood vessels, and
can actually lower cholesterol. (go figure!)
all, don't be shy about insisting on a responsible, compliant
attitude from this gentleman. Bad habits are often reinforced
unknowingly by the partner, so try to set a good example by preparing
meals that fit the above guidelines, or even teach him a few healthy
cooking tricks! Resistance to change is natural...so is having
an unnecessarily shortened life span due to poor diet. So be persistent,
and bring on the salads!
from Irene MacLean, RHN, Charlottetown, PE
bodies naturally produce Cholesterol as it is an essential part
of every cell structure and is needed for proper brain and nerve
function, production of bile, steroid hormones, and in the synthesizing
of Vitamin D.
is a major influence on Cholesterol production. Excess Cholesterol
in the body has definite adverse effects. Excess contributes to
plaque build up in the arteries which impedes blood flow to the
brain, kidneys, extremities and the Heart. It is among the primary
causes of Heart Disease.
are 2 types of Cholesterol: HDL (High-Density Lipoproteins) -
"The Good" Cholesterol; and LDL (Low-density Lipoproteins)
- "The Bad" Cholesterol."
a fatty substance has to latch on to molecules called lipoproteins
to travel around successfully in the blood. LDL's are the main
transporters of cholesterol in the blood and because LDL's seem
to encourage the deposit of cholesterol in the arteries, it is
known as bad cholesterol. HDL's on the other hand carry unneeded
cholesterol away from the cells and back to the liver where it
is broken down for removal from the body.
fats, which are solid at room temperature (includes all fats of
animal origin - butter, lard, shortening), as well as coconut
& palm kernel oils and refined carbohydrates (white sugar,
white flour and baked goods made with such) have a great influence
on cholesterol production and increases the amount of LDL's circulating
in the blood.
fats are liquid at room temperature. Oils high in monounsaturated
fats are preferable (Olive (cold pressed) and canola Oil in particular.
your HDL's by exercising on a regular basis and by eating foods
rich in Niacin (liver, very lean meats, whole grains, brewer's
yeast, wheat germ, cold water fish, skinless chicken & turkey,
avocados, figs, prunes and rhubarb).
your HDL's and Lower LDL's by eating 4 to 5 smaller meals instead
of the usual 3 square meals a day.
such as Vitamin C, beta-carotene, Vitamin E and Selenium help
prevent the oxidation of LDL Cholesterol, which is believed to
contribute to the formation of plaque, "The Ugly." Foods
high in antioxidants include fruit (prunes, raisins, oranges,
berries such as cranberries, blueberries, blackberries, raspberries,
strawberries); vegetables such as carrots, peppers (red, yellow
& green), greens, spinach, broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower,
brussel sprouts, garlic and onions.
Soluble Fibre (Pectin & Plant Gums) binds with bile in the
intestines and is excreted from the body. Cholesterol is used
to produce bile salts; therefore, the liver compensates for the
loss of bile by taking cholesterol from the blood stream to produce
more bile, thus lowering blood cholesterol. So eat lots of water
soluble fibre as it lowers LDL cholesterol levels. Good food sources
are - apples, oat bran, broccoli, carrots, dried peas and beans,
strawberries and other fruits and vegetables.
Summary, eat plenty of the following:
- colourful fruits and vegetables
- water soluble fibre
- high antioxidant foods and
- cold water fish
to eliminate the following:
- saturated and hydrogenated fats (margarines) and refined carbohydrates
- stress (the more stress we are under, the more cholesterol our
4-5 smaller meals throughout the day.
regularly, get plenty of rest and drink lots of good quality water.
fact is that 999 out of 1,000 people can control their cholesterol
level and their cardiovascular health by nutritional means, exercise
and stress management. I urge you to take responsibility for your
own health & wellness.
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