Does anyone else question the ubiquity of statin drugs? I mean, seriously, do 12 million Americans really need them? Here's what I dislike about the entire philosophy that supports the use of these drugs.
What is high cholesterol? The books say that levels at or below 240 mg/dL means you have "high cholesterol." But more scientifically savvy people suggest it is the ratio of the good cholesterol over the total cholesterol that defines healthy or unhealthy cholesterol levels. HDL/Total cholesterol should be 25% or higher. That makes sense. And, if the ratio is less than 20%, well, we're supposed to take these drugs. Or change our lifestyle. Let's look at both.
Statin drugs work. No doubt about that. They lower an enzyme in the liver called HMG CoA Reductase, which facilitates the production of cholesterol. No enzyme, no cholesterol. But it also lowers other enzymes that faciliate the production of CoQ10, which is significant because low CoQ10 levels have been linked to premature aging (now you're paying attention). So, although the drugs do work and the cholesterol numbers go down, a drug cannot work in a vacuum because the body is an interconnected entity. If a shift takes place in one area, it'll probably affect other areas, too. So there are risks involved. With statin drugs, we risk to wrinkle too young.
Did you know that eating high cholesterol foods does not give you high cholesterol? It's true. There is exogenous cholesterol (the kind we eat) and endogenous cholesterol (the kind we make). Guess what? 75% of the cholesterol in the body is produced by the liver and it is regulated by insulin levels, not the amount of cholesterol-containing foods you eat. So, more important than eating low cholesterol foods is to regulate the blood sugars in your body because higher insulin levels trigger cholesterol production. I do love my sweets but they will be my death, for sure. All signs point to the evils of simple sugars. We just don't want to admit it's true because we're all addicted to the simple sugars (including me) like the bread, the rice, the pasta, the cakes, the candy (excuse me, I'll be right back -- craving a chocolate-covered JoJo).
(yummy, chocolate-covered face)
Now where was I? Yes, the cholesterol in foods.
Eat your eggs. And don't listen to anyone who says eggs are bad or the egg white evangelist who tries to cook you an egg white omelet. And don't buy those liquid chemicals called EggBeaters. What has the world come to that we are promoting artifically colored egg whites over a whole, complete perfect egg. I think it's misogynistic, actually, to deem the egg bad. Damn patriarchal world we live in.
The point is that the cholesterol we eat is a very small part of what contributes to our cholesterol levels.
All that said, don't go out and load your plate with fatty meats saying your online nutritionist said it was ok. We can talk about good and bad choices for meat another time because that steak at Outback has problems that go beyond cholesterol (don't get me started on the beef industry).
Lifestyle strategies that will improve your cholesterol levels include getting enough exercise, reducing sugars in your diet (all simple carbs), eating those foods that come as close to their sources as possible (garden veggies, freshly "harvested" meats, etc...) -- the less processed, the better, and get enough omega-3s in your diet or supplement with fish oil. Omega 3's are so much more important that we realize.
Try all this and then get your numbers checked. If they're still high, you could just be genetically predisposed or you might be a candidate for statin drugs. But, if you're taking statin drugs, supplement with CoQ10 -- in the ubiquinol form for those over age 40.
Don't get me wrong. I'm not one of those conspiratorially minded people who think the drug companies are secretly taking over the world. They're just really good at making a huge profit off of our ignorance. And that just doesn't seem fair.