The Dreaded “C” Word…Cholesterol

During the “Frankenstorm” broadcasts in the Fall, I followed the news. I don’t typically like watching TV, let alone watching the news. The reporter interviewed a couple of doctors about cholesterol—one even bragged about his current journey to become healthier and to lose weight [I wonder what HIS cholesterol was??]. They interviewed an elderly woman at a restaurant talking about her bypass surgery not too long ago, and how eating vegetables changed her life. I’m not a doctor, but I was cringing in disagreement with them over a few things.

I’ve already mentioned my struggle with hypercholesterolemia—my lovely LDL doesn’t fit the current guidelines. What my doctor didn’t consider checking were the elements surrounding my elevated cholesterol—I’m a stress freak for one. I’ve always eaten lots of vegetables and was a vegetarian for a long time—even when I was FIRST diagnosed with the high cholesterol.

Enter Brian Sanderoff, P.D. of Wellbeing GPS (www.wellbeinggps.com). Brian changed my life and educated me about cholesterol, for real. I’m on a regiment of vitamins not only for inflammation, but also for adrenal support to help assist my cortisol which can affect cholesterol. Here’s what Brian has to say about cholesterol in general and how to best look at it:

“It is the particle size of your LDL molecules, not the number of them, that is the real indicator of cardiovascular risk. Having more large, buoyant molecules, and less small, dense molecules, as measured by a VAP test, is the real way to evaluate risk. This explains perfectly why nearly half the people going into the emergency room having a heart attack have cholesterol below 200 – because it’s about the particle size, not the number. What kinds of things help make more of the large molecules? Exercise, removing processed and refined carbs from your diet, taking supplements like fish oil… all help make more large, buoyant molecules. That’s part of the reason why people that have those habits live longer!”

Did you ever think that it was as simple as that? Exercise. Get rid of processed foods and refined carbohydrates. Take your vitamins. BAM!

Who knows what cholesterol actually is? Did you know that cholesterol is actually essential to your body’s function? Mary Enig, Ph.D.’s book Know Your Fats has been in my possession for years now. I love digging into it and finding evidence that has been around for a while but often is ignored.

“Cholesterol is essential to life. Without cholesterol the body could not function. Cholesterol is the basic building block for many important hormones and other constituents, but it is never used by the body for energy.” When my cholesterol was deemed a problem, I immediately went to research. There are so many different pieces of advice that it was not only overwhelming but disconcerting. Enig continues, “Whatever cholesterol isn’t brought into your body by food is produced by your ‘body’s cholesterol synthesis.’” This means, “to make up for the difference between what is consumed in the diet and what is needed by our bodies to function properly, our livers and other organs have very active cholesterol synthesis capability (i.e., the capability of manufacturing cholesterol from basic raw material such as carbohydrate, protein, and fat). When there is cholesterol in our diet, our own synthesis declines, and when there is no cholesterol in our diets….the body’s cholesterol synthesis is very active.”

My primary care physician and I discovered, when looking at my results, that over the years I have been able to take control of my cholesterol and reduce it drastically. Now, remember, I’m not a doctor so my dissent on the opinion on these doctor’s from television is derived specifically from my experience with a general practitioner vs. a holistic approach that seems to look more towards the WHY of the problem, not just to simply medicate to curb the problem. Interesting, huh?

Want to know the biggest tips I learned over the years?

1. Exercise can help! My nutritionist suggested cycling classes. I went and got certified to teach them and have been rocking those since. **The first 3 people to comment on this article will WIN a Guest Pass to Bel Air Athletic Club to try my class on a Sunday at 10AM or Friday at 6AM for FREE!!!** My blood results strongly correlate with when I started focusing on a regiment of cardio training. Even better results were apparent when I added in strength training as well. Can you guess how my kettlebell training affected my numbers? Woot woo!!

2. Eating can assist. “The vast majority of cholesterol that is in your bloodstream comes from your liver, not from your diet. Cholesterol is a necessary component of every single cell in your body. Often times lowering cholesterol in your diet results in your liver increasing production to meet your body’s cholesterol needs.” Brian basically confirms here the same thing that Enig detailed in her book—great minds think alike. Many people avoid foods because of their cholesterol or saturated fats, etc. Again, misinformation. Mary Enig even says, “the claim that saturated fat leads to heart disease is simply false.” Interesting, right? False—that is just definitive. Here’s the truth: EAT REAL FOOD. Mostly fruits and vegetables, but also including good fats and lean proteins. If you eat foods that are filled with preservatives, fake sugars, etc., then this certainly will affect you negatively. I know a number of people on medication for their high cholesterol who eat nothing but fake butter, fake sugars, no meat, no eggs, etc. Remember above when I mentioned your body’s cholesterol synthesis?

3. VITAMINS are essential. Vitamins have hit a huge controversy because they are unregulated. Bottom line: see someone qualified to help you choose the vitamins right for your body. Some vitamins are just crap because they lack biodiversity and their sources are not beneficial. Again, do your research or go see someone who has already done the research.

Remember, I’m not a doctor OR a dietician, this is specifically from my experience. What I strongly advise is to develop a relationship with your doctor, and ASK questions. Be informed. Get your blood work checked and ask for specific results BESIDES just the typical cholesterol test. Brian Sanderoff adds, “I have long felt that the number one killer in our country today is actually ‘misinformation’… and that was never more true than the story of cholesterol. For years we have been lowering the guidelines for what acceptable numbers for cholesterol are. One would expect that the result would be less heart attacks… and that has not been the result. Sugar in our diets is the real culprit here, not fat.” Dang. Sugar. Sigh.

There are two parts to this story—above is the cholesterol part. Be informed. Ask questions. Be concerned about your health enough because you only have ONE body.

STAY TUNED FOR THE SECOND PART!!!!

Following up with the January article, “The Power of Unconditional Love,” April Doherty, one of the 2013 Sponsored Athletes for Athleta will be hosting an event, “The Power of Unconditional Love.” On February 24th from 6-8PM at the Towson Athleta located at 834 Dulaney Valley Road, Towson, MD 21204 there will be snacks (for people and dogs!), raffles, prizes, demos, and a squat competition. Families are welcome, including your four-legged children. Special guests Baltimore Bully Crew and Pet-U-Cation Training and Rehabilitation will be there spreading their knowledge and love of dogs! DONATIONS will also be accepted for Baltimore Bully Crew to assist in their rescue efforts, education, and advocacy of dogs. Please RSVP to 410/296-1302 or Alyson Greenberg at Alyson_Greenberg@stores.gap.com–you do not need to RSVP to attend, but we would like to have an idea of the number of people for food and drinks. I look forward to meeting everyone and sharing lots of LOVE!

Comments

  1. Five Iron says

    While I appreciate the article and the “buoyant” LDL is new to me, ingesting vitamins has been pretty much proven as pseudo science. Real vitamins processed from food to the body vs orally taking a pill have been shown to be many times more effective while the others are just passed out with no effects.

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  2. says

    A statement like “ingesting vitamins has been pretty much proven as pseudo science” is a gross exaggeration at best. There are thousands upon thousands of scientific studies showing the benefits of nutrients taken in various forms as being effective at changing physiology and function within the body. Denying that fact is ludicrous. Blood levels of vitamin D increase when you supplement with Vitamin D-3 capsules. Indicators of inflammation, like hsCRP, and Triglycerides go down when you supplement with fish oil supplements. Coenzyme Q-10 levels go up when you supplement with Ubiquinol capsules.

    Real vitamins processed from food? Where is that food coming from? Where is it grown and how it is cooked or processed?? The science of understanding nutrition in food is vast and sometimes complicated… and cannot be fairly summarized with a blanket statement saying that vitamins from food is the only way to go. In fact, because of current typical agricultural practices, many foods do not contain the nutrients that they did even just 30 years ago. Minerals are depleted from the land, and replenishing the soil with only nitrogen and phosphorous makes for plants that grow big and fast, but do not contain balanced nutrients. Even back in the 1940′s the US government identified how our food does not supply what it used to… in terms of minerals like magnesium and also in the changing ratios of proteins to carbohydrates.

    Add to this the fact that we are exposed to many more toxins (environmental and social) then we ever have as a species before, which increase our need for certain nutrients (anti-oxidants in particular) and the simple and sad conclusion is that we just cannot rely on getting our nutrients from food alone any more.

    And that fact is evident by the amount of chronic disease that we suffer from in this country.

    The evidence is right in front of your eyes if you care to look. We have more food than we need in this country… but that food is calorie rich and nutrient poor.

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  3. says

    Thank you for your comment Five Iron. Believe me, I’ve learned a lot over the years, and like Brian said–unfortunately, we are unable to get everything we actually need from our soil today. Even farmers who rotate their crops and are organic often have depleted soil. It’s just the world we live in. I’ve been taking a regiment of supplements including fish oil, probiotics, and vitamin D3 and I’ve never felt better–AND, I don’t get sick. Please feel free to contact me or Brian if you have any questions. :)

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  4. Vinnygret says

    I’m only commenting because you are a columnist – that should be regimen, not regiment. A regiment is a group within the armed services.

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  5. says

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