Last week I started the conversation about cholesterol and heart health since February is Heart Health Month. If you didn’t catch that article “Do Cholesterol Numbers Matter?” you can read it here….so this article makes sense!
I left off last week telling you how important cholesterol is for the body. It is a critical molecule for cell function, hormone formation, digestion, and vitamin D production. Every cell in your body is dependent on cholesterol. It’s getting a bad rap for the damage that it didn’t start!
Inflammation and Oxidation (Free Radicals)
These are the real enemies of cardiovascular health and age-related diseases. What causes them? Poor nutrition, stress, heavy metal toxicity, overgrowth of bad bacteria, exposure to toxins, unhealthy diets full of bad fats, high blood sugars, leaky guts and poor sleep to mention a few!
How Coronary Artery Blockages Form
Hang in there with me for a bit, this is important to understand…
Endothelial cells line blood vessels and are the barrier between the bloodstream and the blood vessel. A healthy endothelium keeps unwanted items out, produces vasodilating molecules, which keep vessels open, and allows the outer portion of the vessel to function normally. If we eat bad food (inflammation) or are exposed to chemicals (oxidation), the endothelium becomes “leaky.” This allows unwanted molecules to traverse from the blood into the artery wall. This is how people get coronary artery disease. It’s actually not a “disease”, it’s a response to the damage done from toxins and all the things I mentioned above, it’s the body’s way of trying to heal you!
Did you realize your immune system is working when you have “inflammation?” Think about this…what if you cut your arm pretty good right now. Twenty-four hours from now what would that area look like? Hot, red and swollen, that is your immune system doing its job, yep, inflammation. So what happens when these molecules get into your arterial walls? Inflammation! Double whammy, inflammation caused by toxins and poor diet then more inflammation because your body is trying to fight back!
Where is Cholesterol in This Picture?
LDL cholesterol particles, usually of the smaller, damaging variety, cross what should be a very selective endothelial barrier, but remember, it’s now “leaky.” A vicious cycle develops when immune cells respond to the damage and release cytokine messengers, which in turn recruit more immune cells. The culmination of this event is either a healed blockage (stable plaque) or an unhealed blockage (unstable plaque). Just imagine this going on for years and decades resulting in coronary artery blockages.
How Do We Fix This?
Pretty obvious we want to lower inflammation and stop as much oxidative stress as possible. In this scenario it’s obvious that just by lowering cholesterol we haven’t gotten to the “root cause.” We must support the body and prevent the damage done by these twin villains.
Tips to Lower Inflammation and Reduce Oxidation
Diet is #1
A low inflammatory diet such as a Paleo diet, rich in healthy fats and antioxidant colorful fruits and vegetables. Eat organic as much as possible to lower your toxic burden. At the bottom of my website home page, you’ll see a suggested Anti-Inflammatory Diet.
Heal your gut
If you are experiencing “gut” issues, irritable bowel, any of the “itis’s” Colitis, Diverticulitis, constipation or diarrhea, gas and bloating or discomfort in the gut, you have inflammation. Work with a nutritionist or naturopathic doc to get your gut healed.
Stress is a big-time inflammation producer. Meditation, prayer, and exercise are the top things that can lower your stress.
Heavy metal detox
We all have metals in our body from the water we drink, the air we breathe, the environments we live in, our dental work and the foods we consume. If you struggle with high blood pressure or high cholesterol (before you take a drug), consider having a heavy metal test done by a qualified health professional.
Your body needs sleep to heal, restore, clean out the garbage and protect your body from all the assaults it is exposed to every day.
Good Dental Health
This is often an underlying “root cause” of inflammation.
Supplements to help
there are many supplements that can help lower inflammation and oxidative stress. Some of my top favorites are Omega 3’s, Resveratrol, Turmeric, Vitamins C and E, n-acetyl cysteine and L-arginine.
I’m not done yet!!
I still want to address statin drugs directly and answer that question “do your cholesterol numbers matter and do you need a statin drug to prevent heart disease?”
In good health,