Cholesterol Does NOT Cause Heart Disease. INFLAMMATION Does….

There’s a lot of misinformation and misconceptions about cholesterol and its impact on our cardiovascular health. Eating good, clean fats in your diet is NOT bad for you. In fact, elevated cholesterol levels in elderly people actually INCREASES life span and DECREASES the risk of cognitive decline and dementia like Alzheimer’s Disease. Recent studies show that consuming 1 tablespoon of coconut oil daily can slow the progression of and even reverse the signs of Alzheimer’s. Think about it – cells of the brain are lined with phospholipids. Did you catch that? phospho-LIPIDS. Lipids=FAT. Phospholipids that coat all of your nerve cells help increase the conduction of nerve impulses down the nerve cells so that they can communicate with each other and your muscle cells more efficiently and more rapidly.  Side bar – cholesterol is also necessary to produce all of your sex hormones like testosterone. So if your loved one is suffering from “Low T” and taking supplements for it, you may want to revisit what your having for dinner tonight. ?

Now on to this inflammation. I hear you saying “but I don’t have any inflammation”. If you eat the typical American or western diet, NEWSFLASH – yes you do. We were taught for so long to eat “low fat” – translation high additive diets – and to eat fake chemical-laden margarine instead of real butter and to use vegetable oils to cook. ALL of those things contribute to inflammation.  Typically “low fat” food items have added salt, sugar and chemicals to enhance the taste so that you will eat it. These additives are huge part of what is causing our dramatic increase in health problems in our society today.

Recently the American Heart Association released that they were lowering the dietary sugar intake recommendations for kids because of the association with heart disease. THEN the American Medical Association published in their newsletter that back in the 1960s ‘scientists were paid to minimize the effect of sugar by the sugar industry on heart disease and to play up saturated fats and blaming fats for heart disease’. So the truth is that sugar is to blame and has been all along!!  I have known this for years and I’ve tried to explain this over and over again to close friends and family – some listened and some didn’t – that we’ve all been hoodwinked. I’m so glad that this information has finally come to light.

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Additionally if the label simply states sugar and not sugarcane then the source of the sugar is more likely genetically modified beet root than actual sugar. That doesn’t even consider the (genetically modified) high fructose corn syrup which is typically what is used as the main ingredient in most all processed foods these days. Too much to get into today but we will dive into that at another time as it’s very important to know what you’re eating and what it is really doing to you.  Also remember that simple carbs like bread convert rapidly into sugar once you eat it.  So remember that the next time you’re eating out and they bring you that infamous bread basket while you wait for your meal.

Of course, the best way to reduce inflammation, oxidation and free radicals is to eat a diet high in organic vegetables, fruits, clean fats, and protein – in that order. It’s best to stay away from  processed foods in general.  Anything in a box or bottle will likely have some of the common offenders present – even your salad dressing and sauces. So stay on your toes and stay on the perimeter of the grocery stores.  Pretty much everything that you need will be along the perimeter or outside walls of the grocery store – veggies, fruits, meats, eggs, dairy and out! Most of the stuff that is found on the aisles throughout the middle of the grocery store could possibly survive a nuclear war and has no business being eaten. canstockphoto11868540

By the way cooking with vegetable oils is actually a no-no for several reasons. I know, I know! That goes against everything we’ve been taught for the last few decades but hear me out! Remember what happened in the 1960s?! We have to renew our minds around that. Firstly, many vegetable oils are genetically modified. Find out why that matters here. Even that magical Olive Oil has likely been adulterated or mixed with other vegetable oils UNLESS the bottle clearly states otherwise. Secondly, vegetable oils oxidize when heated. It is this oxidation and the free radicals that it produces that causes microscopic damage to the lining of your blood vessels, joints, and other tissues.  That’s why there is all this hype now about eating, drinking, or taking anti-oxidants and their benefits. Anti-oxidants counteract oxidants or oxidation. The prefix anti- comes from the Latin word meaning “against” or “opposite of”. Anti-oxidants are great but if your consuming them on top of an inflammatory, oxidant filled diet, that’s like giving a whale a tic-tac! It won’t do as much as it would if you removed the culprit. 100% Olive oil is great on a cold salad where you would benefit from all of it’s wonderful properties but don’t heat it up! Other oils and fats that have higher smoke points (they can tolerate higher temperatures before oxidizing) are better to cook with like avocado, coconut, palm oil, or small amounts of grass fed butter or clarified ghee, organic tallow (beef fat), duck fat, nut based oils like peanut (if you’re not allergic), and others.

Other factors that you probably eat every day contribute to inflammation. Gluten. Yes, all of the hoopla is warranted. Let me briefly explain…. Even if you don’t have celiac disease or a documented gluten allergy, you could still be sensitive to the presence of gluten and its effects on your body as a whole. Here’s how. Normally the cells that line your intestines are tightly knitted together and there is a gate keeper, zonulin, that keeps those cells in line and close together.

Gluten (the protein found in wheat, flour, etc) acts directly on zonulin and forces the gap between your intestinal cells to widen.

f14-largeThis allows large, undigested molecules to slip straight into your blood stream unprocessed. These molecules aren’t supposed to be there so your body recognizes them as foreign invaders and deploys cells form your immune system to attack them.  The problem with that is that oftentimes these immune system cells fly around all willy nilly and cross react and attack your normal tissues and cause damage.  So if you’re suffering from allergies, auto-immune diseases (or they run in your family), or chronic aches and pains, you may SERIOUSLY want to consider removing gluten from your diet.  I will devote another post in the future with more detail about the hows and whys.

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In the meantime bring on the bacon!

(Organic, pasture raised, no nitrate added, no preservatives, uncured bacon in moderation?)

Happy Healthy Living!

Until next time….

Take Home Tidbits

Helpful Resources

Sugar is the real culprit in heart disease

Plant based anti-oxidants can help prevent and even reverse heart disease

Lowering sugar intake in kids can help prevent the development of heart disease in the future

 

Comments or questions? Feel free to post them below.

 

The Doctor is in…

Sun Exposure – Good, Bad, or Ugly?

Some sun exposure is actually good for you. Shocker!
There has been a lot of hoopla about sunscreen lately.  Is it safe? Is it necessary? Is it all hype?
Yes, yes, and yes!
If you plan to be outside for more than 20 minutes, then yes, you should use sun protection.  That could mean hats, umbrellas, a shady spot (that’s not next to water), or a little mango butter – yes mango butter, or eating antioxidants.  Yes, EATING antioxidants like berries! After all – you are what you eat! Antioxidants are what help to repair the skin DNA damage after over exposure to the sun.
If you plan to be outside for more than 20 minutes, then more protection may be in order like sunblock. (More on that another day).
Our bodies actually use the light from sun rays to convert cholesterol into natural vitamin D which has a lot of great anti-inflammatory and protective properties.
Sunscreen
If you are eating a well-balanced diet that contains healthy fats then your body will have the good cholesterol and bacteria in your gut that it actually needs to produce its own activated vitamin D once your skin has been exposed to the sun’s rays (more on cholesterol and gut bacteria at another time). This vitamin D is very essential to our health and well-being.  It is the UVB rays that help convert the substrate cholesterol into active vitamin D. It is overexposure to the UVA rays typically that is detrimental and linked to certain types of cancers including skin cancers. (Bear in mind, however, that controlled amounts of UVA rays are used in Medical therapy for eczema, psoriasis, and vitiligo. So controlled, small amounts of UV rays can be beneficial if used properly under the guidance of a medical professional.). The problem that arises with some of these chemically based broad-spectrum sunscreens is that they actually can block both UVA AND the helpful UVB rays.  If you plan to be in the sunlight for less than 20 minutes, which you should try to do about three times a week, then sunscreen may not be necessary at all depending on your skin complexion. If you are of a lighter hue and tend to burn quickly and easily, then you may want to consider applying something. Here’s the beauty of it- something as simple as mango butter or shea butter applied to the skin can block some of the sun’s harmful rays. That can get you to an Sun Protection Factor, SPF, of about four. Mixing in other botanicals like green tea, milk thistle, reservation, curcumin (turmeric), sweet almond oil, and others can increase the protective factors even more!  So for brief exposure to the sun (like WALKING to go eat during your lunch break – hint, hint) for less than 20 minutes in a non-tropical climate zone using butters can afford you enough protection while still allowing your skin to get the rays that it needs to produce the vitamin D that your body desperately needs. Vitamin D is essential for the absorption of calcium (see figure above) and also is an awesome anti-inflammatory and anti cancer nutrient.  If you are at risk of, or suffering from osteoporosis, or bone loss of any kind, simply increasing your calcium intake isn’t enough. Your body also needs vitamin D so that it can actually absorb the calcium that you are consuming. Yes, there are supplements of vitamin D available. However, most of them are synthetic and your body doesn’t know exactly what to do with synthetic chemicals. There are better options for obtaining vitamin D. Just a little bit of sunlight three times a week might do it! Making sure that you have enough good fats in your diet like coconut oil, MCT oil (the medium chain triglyceride found in coconut oil – I put some in my coffee every morning.  Yum!), avocado oil, and pasture raised, farm fresh eggs which will naturally have much brighter egg yolks due to the richer type and amount of nutrients including that good cholesterol that we need to make vitamin D.
Sunscreen
Local health food store organic egg (top right) vs a farm fresh egg from a farmer’s market (bottom left). Vive la difference!
Happy healthy living!
Until next time….
Take Home Tidbits:
  • Sun exposure for up to 20 minutes three times a week may be good for you.
  • Vitamin D is produced once the sun’s rays hit your skin if you have enough good fats in your diet
  • Vitamin D is a great anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer hormone.
  • Botanical ingredients may be effective protection from mild amounts of sun exposure.
Note:
If you have a known allergy or sensitivity to any of the alternative solutions mentioned, then please try other options. Use your best judgement if you burn easily in the sun, use sunblock!!
Supportive Documents
UVB rays and Vitamin D
Vitamin D as an anti inflammatory
And I could go on and on….
Vitamin D as an anti cancer molecule
Again, I could go on and on but you get the point…
Botanicals as UV Protectants
Mangos and sun protection