I am fascinated by some puzzles. One of those is the mystery surrounding cholesterol. The more I dig into the philosophy of optimizing one’s health, the more mysterious the science becomes. One aspect of that science is the controversy surrounding cholesterol.
Why do some people have high cholesterol and no heart attacks or strokes? Why do people with low cholesterol levels have heart attacks and strokes? Why do some people with and without high levels of cholesterol have “plugged” arteries, and some don’t?
A massive industry has arisen around the concept of suppressing bad cholesterol and boosting good cholesterol. Billions of dollars are made each year for pharmaceuticals selling STATINS and wanting to push statins onto everyone, including kids, as a prophylactic, as an early preventative of heart attacks and strokes. Yet, the science, the huge number of company-sponsored and company “influenced” studies raise a lot of questions rather than providing definitive answers. And there are warnings about the long-term negative side effects of a life with statins, including potential for increased risks of cancers and many other side effects which are claimed to be unproven, but assumed to be possible. Some people even report memory problems, from minor to major memory problems which doctors often dismiss as imagined. Some people report their minds feeling as if they are in a fog, or being dizzy, or losing other functions such as muscle strength. Yet these side effects are poorly documented, but serve enough of a warning that something is amiss when chemicals are used to mess with one’s cholesterol levels.
However, the science continues to suggest that if a person has had a heart attack or a stroke, they ought to be put on statins. There is not yet sufficient evidence to suggest the contrary. So, like the various medical associations advise, if you had a stroke or heart attack, and your doctor puts you on statins, stay on them and follow your doctor’s advice.
Statins focus on attacking cholesterol. Yet a growing body of researchers and doctors argue that it isn’t cholesterol that is the culprit, but something else. If that is so, how does one explain the very strong correlation between improved outcomes when people adopt a vegan diet that eliminates all external sources of animal fats, particularly saturated fats?
Epidemiological studies prove over and over again that societies consuming the least amount of animal products fair the best compared to those societies eating lots of animal, dairy, fish, poultry, processed foods, and junk food. Can they really conclude that it is the reduction of bad cholesterol, and the boosting of good cholesterol, in the blood stream that reduces chances of, or reverses heart disease and strokes?
There is no arguing that there are far too many positive outcomes from far too many studies to deny that the closer to a pure vegan diet the more one can optimize their health. Granted, there can be almost no arguing with that premise. The correlation between extended lifespans and vegan diets is made even stronger by some doctors who are proving that by adopting pure vegan diets, no oils, result in REVERSING artery damage associated to heart disease and strokes, even proving that with images of arteries showing damage is rolled back on such diets. So, something about a vegan diet, no oils and low in fruit/vegetable fats, is doing something inside the body that is very positive.
So far, everything is focused on cholesterol. So, everyone has been concluding that it is the reduction of cholesterol going into the body that results in positive artery outcomes. But is it all about cholesterol? Or, is there something more magical going on inside the body that the pure vegan diet facilitates?
Scientists are now beginning to turn their attention to the INFLAMMATORY RESPONSES within the body as being the single mechanism that determines damage or repair to the arteries.
Can it be that it is the inflammatory response from eating high-fat, high-protein, high-junk food diets cause chronic diseases including such diseases such as heart attacks and strokes?
Until the science is settled, it may be smart to adopt a low-cholesterol diet, that is, a vegan diet, no oils, since that is one and the same as a low-inflammation diet.
One of the markers of inflammation in the bloodstream is the C-Reactive Protein biomarker in the blood stream. Apparently, this is not an expensive test and is currently one of the effective predictors of the likelihood of suffering inflammation that may cause strokes or heart attacks.
Now that attention is being turned to controlling inflammation, as well as cholesterol, you may want to ask for a C-Reactive biomarker test if your doctor is ordering blood tests for cholesterol.
NOTE: MAKE NO CHANGES TO YOUR DIET OR LIFESTYLE UNTIL YOU GET PERMISSION FROM YOUR DOCTOR!