Dr. Gray's Straight Talk

Honest and blunt healthcare discussion and advice.

Posts Tagged ‘cholesterol’

Follow-Up To My Recent Article About Statins

Posted by Dr. Gray on Thursday, July 23, 2015

A few months ago, I wrote an article regarding statin medications and whether or not they should be taken. I came across this video this morning and thought it explained a little more about why I really, really, really don’t like the statins. This is a clip from the movie “Doctored” that was released a couple years ago. I’ve seen it, and it is fantastic. Good news is that the entire movie is being redone with updated information and data. I can’t wait to see the finished movie! Enjoy the clip!

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Cholesterol Meds… Yes or No?

Posted by Dr. Gray on Wednesday, April 8, 2015

As a chiropractor, nutritionist, and acupuncturist, I often get questions from my patients that, I think, are designed to pit my answer against that of their medical doctor. Let me start this by stating that I don’t think this is the way we should approach these kinds of questions. Your health care team should all be questioned with an open mind, and their answers considered, before making an informed health decision. Your health care professionals all come from different backgrounds, philosophies, and different specialties. Take advantage of the knowledge you are paying them for, and make the decision that is best for YOU. Don’t forget, the original Latin term for doctor referred to “teacher,” not dictator. Your health, methods of treatment, and all activities and decisions that affect your outcomes are your choice… and responsibility.

I’ve said for years that with prescription rights, statin medications are the one class of pharmaceuticals that I would never consider prescribing for my patients. However, with further research, my position has changed… slightly. First, we must define what is our purpose for considering statin use. Is it to lower cholesterol? No… cholesterol levels are merely one set of numbers used to evaluate how our body is functioning. The theory is that lowering one’s bad cholesterol levels will decrease one’s risk of death, heart disease or stroke. Therefore, the use of statin medications must be determined based on weighing how well it achieves those goals versus the risk of negative effects as a result of taking them.

Ultimately, the decision lies with the patient and I feel it would be my responsibility to clearly define the pros and cons of statin use. For example, I would point out that 1 of every 50 people who use statins develop diabetes. I would also point out that 1 in 10 develop muscle damage (rhabdomyolysis). About 1 of every 100 develop significant liver damage. Those are pretty strong negatives.

Now for the examination of proven benefits… For those with no history of heart disease,

  • 98% saw no benefit
  • 0% were helped by being saved from death
  • 0.96% were helped by preventing a heart attack
  • 0.65% were helped by preventing a stroke

For those with known heart disease,

  • 96% saw no benefit
  • 1.2% were helped by being saved from death
  • 2.6% were helped by preventing a repeat heart attack
  • 0.8% were helped by preventing a stroke

As a public health measure, this suggests that statins may have an identifiable effect, because while the chances of any one individual being affected are small (19 out of 20 people who took the drugs for five years saw no effect), when one million people who already have a history of heart disease take them roughly 45,000 people saw some benefit, while another 6,000 may see a harm.

Dr. Stephanie Seneff, a senior scientist at MIT, believes statins should never be given to anyone, but being generous one might justify the only two subgroups of people that might benefit from statins as:

  • Those at very high risk of heart attack (based NOT on your cholesterol levels, but on your heart attack risk factors)
  • Those born with a genetic defect called familial hypercholesterolemia, as this makes you resistant to traditional measures of normalizing cholesterol

If you are not in one of those two categories, statin drugs are likely an unnecessary health risk you’re better off avoiding — and you definitely want to avoid the trap of taking them to lower your cholesterol when your cholesterol is actually well within a healthy range.

A better question would be: What are the alternatives to statins that will optimize my cholesterol levels and decrease my risk of heart disease, and stroke?

The most effective way to optimize your cholesterol profile and prevent heart disease is via diet and exercise. It’s actually quite simple too, as 75 percent of your cholesterol is produced by your liver, which is influenced by your insulin levels. Therefore, if you optimize your insulin level, you will automatically optimize your cholesterol and lower your risk of heart disease at the same time.

The primary recommendations for safely regulating your cholesterol, without the need for statin drugs that may damage your liver and your heart, include:

  • Reduce, with the plan of eliminating grains and fructose from your diet. This is the number one way to optimize your insulin levels, which will have a positive effect on not just your cholesterol, but also reduces your risk of diabetes and heart disease, and most other chronic diseases. Use a nutrition plan to help you determine the ideal diet for you, and consume a good portion of your food raw.
  • There is also very good evidence that following a “Mediterranean Diet” (interesting because this diet emphasizes whole grains… be sure to choose the particular nutritional plan that fits for your metabolism) is more successful at normalizing cholesterol levels and decreasing heart disease than using statin medications, and achieves it without any negative effects.
  • Get plenty of high quality, animal-based omega 3 fats, such as krill oil, and reduce your consumption of damaged omega-6 fats (trans fats, vegetable oils) to balance out your omega-3 to omega-6 ratio.
  • Include heart-healthy foods in your diet, such as olive oil, coconut and coconut oil, organic raw dairy products and eggs, avocados, raw nuts and seeds, and organic grass-fed meats.
  • Exercise daily. Make sure you incorporate peak fitness exercises, which also optimizes your human growth hormone (HGH) production.
  • Avoid smoking or drinking alcohol excessively.
  • Be sure to get plenty of good, restorative sleep.

– Dr. Gray

Posted in General Health, Nutrition, Prescription Medicines | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Supertonic – You Wanted It… You Got It

Posted by Dr. Gray on Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Many years ago, my good friend Dr. Page Crow taught me how to make a homemade tonic which he dubbed “Supertonic.” He assured me that it would cure everything, put hair on my chest, make me grow taller, and make me better looking.

Of course, I’m exaggerating, but I was amazed at the wonderful taste and energizing feeling received from the small dropper of liquid that he had asked me to sample. Such an interesting mix of flavors and an explosion of sensation on the tongue. Dr. Crow explained that he had used this concoction as his own immune booster and energy restorer for years, and that it was quite simple to make. I knew I had to give it a go.

Since then, I make at least one batch per year and it has become our family’s number one absolute that we run to as soon as any of us first begins to feel a little down. You know the feeling… that first sensation in your brain where you ask yourself, “I wonder if I’m getting sick?” Whether you’re “getting sick” or just showing a normal response is for another post, but you know what I’m getting at. The power of this simple combination of herbs is, frankly, incredible. We use it for illness, colds/flu, sinus congestion, fatigue, headache, anxiety, as an energy boost,… you name it!

Recently, I have discovered hundreds of recipes similar to Dr. Crow’s “Secret Supertonic.” It seems I had made some assumptions about the origin and secrecy of this recipe that weren’t entirely accurate. In fact, I guess he never really claimed any secrecy at all and encouraged me to share it with others.

Therefore… even though I’ve found (and tried) other similar recipes, Dr. Crow’s has been, by far, the most effective and tasty. Each batch is different. Don’t worry about exact amounts of the different ingredients. In fact, you’ll have to adjust a little up or down based on your taste preferences. Too hot?… back off on the peppers. Flames shoot out of your nose?… back off on the horseradish. You get the idea. Also, the alcohol is not an absolute necessity, it just preserves the tonic longer. So, without further ado, I present Dr. Crow’s Magic Supertonic:

Start with five plants (herbs) and two liquids for extraction and preservation:

  1. Cayenne Peppers – 6-8 peppers (habanero, hot red chili, jalapeno, etc.)
  2. White Onion – 2 bulbs
  3. Garlic – 6 whole bulbs (not cloves… the whole bulb!)
  4. Horseradish – 1 full stalk (or fresh jar of grated if you don’t have industrial blender… fresh root will kill a normal blender!)
  5. Ginger – 2 whole root stalks
  6. Apple Cider Vinegar – 1-2 quart jug(s)
  7. Vodka – 1 liter

Wash your produce and cut into thumb-sized chunks. You don’t have to peel the garlic, just bust the bulbs and separate the cloves. Put handfuls of produce in your blender then a 50-50 mix of the vinegar and vodka to cover the produce. Chop & blend this mixture into a mash then pour it off into a sun tea jar. Keep processing this way until all of your produce is chopped and blended. Pour it all into your sun tea jar. Store in a cool, dark place and shake this mixture up every day for 1-4 weeks (I usually go about two weeks). Then strain off the mash and plant material using cheesecloth, strainer, french press, etc. until you’re left with clear liquid with a little silt. Store your SuperTonic in glass jars and out of the sunlight (we’ve found it easiest to use glass dropper vials bought cheaply on Amazon). It does not need to be refrigerated (but can be if you like) and should stay good for a year or more. Keep out of the reach of children… but they love it, and it works just as well for them as it does for you!

Take a tablespoon of this herbal tonic, swish it around in your mouth, and swallow anytime you are feeling run down or just need a little “pick-me-up.” Or you can use it as a daily immune system booster by taking a tablespoon each morning. If you are getting that, “Uh oh, I’m getting sick feeling…,” you can take four or five tablespoons a day, or more. Remember it’s just food. SuperTonic works! Click Here for downloadable/printable pdf.

I’m still waiting for it to make me taller and better looking…

Dr. Gray

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What Food Terms Really Mean

Posted by Dr. Gray on Wednesday, August 25, 2010

In our last article, I alluded to a discussion of the words used in food advertisements. Although it will be inadequate, and I’m sure I will forget several terms, I will try to address the most commonly seen and used terms here.

Enriched – Doesn’t that just roll off the tongue? Enriched… Kinda sounds healthy, right? This gives the allusion that this particular food is rich with nutrients, vitamins, and minerals. However, “enriched” actually means that the act of processing this food so stripped it of vitamins and minerals that it can no longer be considered food. Therefore, they have added back the bare minimum amount of synthetic isolates of vitamins and/or minerals in order to legally refer to it as “food.” Enriched merely means to replace portions of what was lost during the refining process (see below for “refined”).

Fortified – Ooooohhh… another great marketing word. This makes you think of the strength of fortification. If it’s fortified, it must be strong, eh? Not necessarily. Similar to “enriched,” fortified refers to adding things back in after you’ve stripped a thing of ingredients that qualify it as a food. The main difference is in the amount added back. With fortification, they add just a little more of a vitamin or mineral than was in the original item. For example (hypothetical numbers for illustration), if orange juice when initially in the orange contains 10 units of Vitamin C, yet has none after processing… if they add in 11 units of Ascorbic Acid (which is what the FDA considers “Vitamin C”), then it is considered “fortified.” What is left out of this equation is the fact that true Vitamin C contains from 30 to 50 different nutrients and enzymes and how they all work synergistically in addition to Ascorbic Acid. This is like giving someone an empty egg shell and telling them to make an omelet.

Hydrogenated – Hydrogenation is when they take naturally healthy oils such as palm, kernel, soybean, corn oil or coconut oil and they heat it anywhere from five hundred to one thousand degrees under several atmospheres of pressure. Then they inject what is usually a metal like nickel, platinum, or aluminum for several hours. As the metal bubbles up into the oil, the molecular structure of a once healthy oil is changed. This oil that use to have the potential to provide nutrients for your body is left in a state that is one molecule away from being plastic. Why would they do this, you ask? Money, of course! Hydrogenated oils make a great preservative because you have destroyed all enzymatic activity, therefore, products can sit on the shelf for years at a time. However, these new unhealthy oils are more solid and viscous which leads to thickening of the blood. This makes the heart work harder to pump the thicker fluid through your arteries. Also, evidence has suggested that the metals used as the catalyst end up scratching the insides of the arterial walls which leads to cholesterol build-up as the body attempts to heal the lining of the arteries. Cholesterol build-up, of course, means placques, blockage, and atherosclerosis… which, in turn, makes the heart work even harder… which leads to more irritation of the walls from the metals… which leads to… see where this is going?

Multi-grain/Stone Ground/”100% Wheat”/ Bran – Don’t be fooled. Grains are best ingested only when it is “Whole Grain.” Whole grain means that all three parts (bran, germ, & endosperm) are present. Whole grains are a good source of B vitamins, Vitamin E, magnesium, iron, and fiber, as well as other valuable antioxidants not found in some fruits and vegetables. Most of the antioxidants and vitamins are found in the germ and the bran of a grain. However, most flours are made with bleached endosperm only (meaning there is relatively no nutritional content). Now, this is important… if the packaging on the front says “Made with Whole Grain,” read the ingredients before buying it. Make sure the ingredient label lists unbleached whole grain flour as the ONLY flour. If it lists bleached flour and whole grain flour, then they’ve used 99% crap and 1% whole grain… just so they can claim it is made with whole grain flour.

Refined – Refined, huh? Does that mean this is only for upper crust palettes? No, of course not. Refined food is simply unnatural, highly processed slop that is generally very unhealthy. Refined food is the term for food that has gone through many processes to modify basic foods to improve the shelf life (time before it goes rotten), but also to change the way of storage (ie. longlife milk and juice that doesn’t need refrigeration) or to enhance flavor, color, etc. The additives and processes usually make the food very bad for you. Eating a diet high in refined foods can lead to undernourishment, fatigue and weight gain. This is because refined foods are processed so much that they are virtually devoid of vitamins or minerals. Refined foods are typically high in fat and calories, and eating them as the bulk of the diet causes the overall calorie count to rise. Refined sugars include sweet substances that have been processed and milled to the point that the sugar particles are extremely fine. When refined sugars are eaten, the sugars are able to quickly enter the blood stream. This can spike the blood sugar, causing the body to feel instantly energized. Unfortunately, the energy received from refined sugars is short-lived, and will cause a sudden energy drop shortly afterward. Refined flours have been milled so much that nearly all of the nutritional value has been lost. Many refined flours are fortified in order to compensate for the loss of vitamins and minerals. Refined flours are very fine in texture, and enter the blood stream as quickly as refined sugars, causing the same spike and drop in energy levels. Refined produce include vegetables and fruits that have been cooked to the point that most of the vitamins, fiber and minerals have been lost, and canned. Using canned vegetables and fruits in recipes and in meals will not nourish the body and will cause the body to not have enough fiber to maintain proper digestion. Eating a great deal of processed and refined vegetables and fruits can lead to malnutrition and constipation.

This discussion could literally go on for hours. We could discuss and define preservatives, additives, coloring, “spices,” monosodium glutamate (MSG), and on, and on, and on. However, let’s see if we can get a conversation going. In addition to our patients, we have people from around the world including many doctors that regularly read this blog. I’d like to get some participation on this subject, so jump in if you’ve got some info that will add to the discussion.

Doc

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More Facts About The Cholesterol Myth

Posted by Dr. Gray on Tuesday, August 3, 2010

My last article referenced the myth regarding cholesterol, saturated fats, and heart disease. Well, here are some more facts to chew on:

  • There’s never been a single study that proves saturated fat causes heart disease.
  • As heart-disease rates were skyrocketing in the mid-1900s, consumption of animal fat was going down, not up. Consumption of vegetable oils, however, was going up dramatically.
  • Half of all heart-attack victims have normal or low cholesterol. Autopsies performed on heart-attack victims routinely reveal plaque-filled arteries in people whose cholesterol was low (as low as 115 in one case).
  • Asian Indians – half of whom are vegetarians – have one of the highest rates of heart disease in the entire world. Yup, that fatty meat will kill you, all right.
  • When Morgan Spurlock tells you that a McDonald’s salad supplies almost a day’s allowance of fat, he’s basing that statement on the FDA’s low-fat/high-carbohydrate dietary guidelines, which in turn are based on … absolutely nothing. There’s no science behind those guidelines; they were simply made up by a congressional committee.
  • Kids who were diagnosed as suffering from ADD have been successfully treated by re-introducing natural saturated fats into their diets. Your brain is made largely of fat.
  • Many epileptics have reduced or eliminated seizures by adopting a diet low in sugar and starch and high in saturated animal fats.
  • Despite everything you’ve heard about saturated fat being linked to cancer, that link is statistically weak. However, there is a strong link between sugar and cancer. In Europe, doctors tell patients, “Sugar feeds cancer.”
  • Being fat is not, in and of itself, bad for your health. The behaviors that can make you fat – eating excess sugar and starch, not getting any exercise – can also ruin your health, and that’s why being fat is associated with bad health. But it’s entirely possible to be fat and healthy. It’s also possible to be thin while developing Type II diabetes and heart disease.
  • Saturated fat and cholesterol help produce testosterone. When men limit their saturated fat, their testosterone level drops. So, regardless of what a famous vegan chef believes, saturated fat does not impair sexual performance.

Woo hoo! Three cheers for the mainstream, high-volume, low-quality, cheaply produced food industry! Say it with me folks… “Follow the money!” Refined sugars, vegetable oils, enriched grains, boxed or canned foods, fast food… what do they all have in common?

  1. They cost less to produce
  2. They result in more profits
  3. They last longer on the shelf
  4. They offer “convenience” to the consumer
  5. Most importantly… they offer the minimum amount of nutrition to be considered FOOD.

In our next article, I think I’ll list some words that we hear regularly and see on “food” advertisements… and then give you the true definitions. Until then, take care.

Dr. Gray

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The Cholesterol and Saturated Fat Myth

Posted by Dr. Gray on Thursday, July 15, 2010

Did you know a leading heart surgeon is calling for a ban on butter? Seriously! He explains that obesity and rising rates of heart disease are because children are starting out the day with toast and butter. Okay… are you ready for it? Say it with me folks: FOLLOW THE MONEY! Turns out, this “respected authority” is associated with a major manufacturer of … margarine. Don’t you just love it when they make it this easy? A great question posed by contributing editor Jon Herring of Total Health Breakthroughs was, “Why the butter and not the toast? Two slices of bread contain the equivalent carbohydrates of five teaspoons of sugar. And elevated blood sugar has been directly associated with heart disease.”

If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a thousand times… Cholesterol levels and saturated fats DO NOT correlate to the risk for heart disease! In fact, if you’ll recall, I previously wrote about the Framingham Heart Study which showed that after the age of 50 (when 90% of all heart attacks occur), lower cholesterol levels are clearly associated with a shorter life expectancy. I recently came across an article written by Mr. Herring titled The Greatest Scam in Medical History. Since he’s already done the hard work, I’ll credit him and repost a portion of his article here (emphasis and notations are mine). The entire article he’s written is worth the read, so click the link and check it out when you get a chance.

There have been about 30 long-term population studies that have attempted to link saturated fat to heart disease. Of those, only four have shown even the weakest association. And all four had major disqualifications: they were either too small to be significant, they did not isolate the variables properly, or they showed a slight decrease in heart deaths but an increase in death due to cancer.

But population studies are notoriously unreliable anyway. The gold standard among health studies are controlled, randomized trials. And not a single study of this nature has ever shown definitive evidence that saturated-fat consumption leads to heart disease. In fact, many have shown the exact opposite!

Authors of the MR-FIT trial were determined to prove the case. They enrolled 350,000 men, all of whom were considered at high risk of heart disease. In one set of participants, cholesterol consumption was reduced by 42%, saturated fat by 28%, and total calories by 21%.

What happened? Nothing. The authors referred to the results as “disappointing,” stating that “The overall results do not show a beneficial effect on Coronary Heart Disease or total mortality from this multifactor intervention.”

The Women’s Health Initiative was a huge government study, costing almost three quarters of a billion dollars. Among 20,000 women in the study who adhered to a diet low saturated fat diet for eight years, there was no reduction in the rates of heart-disease or stroke.

Then there was the Cochrane Collaboration, in 2000. This group rigorously selected 27 low-fat and cholesterol-lowering trials to review (more than 200 trials were rejected). Their conclusion was that diets low in saturated fat have “no significant effect” on heart attack mortality. Lead researcher Lee Hooper, PhD, said “I was disappointed that we didn’t find something more definitive.”

Or how about something more recent?

This month, the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition published a review of 21 studies. The studies ranged from 5 to 23 years in length and encompassed 347,747 subjects. In the authors’ own words: “Intake of saturated fat was not associated with an increased risk of CHD [coronary heart disease], stroke, or CVD [cerebrovascular disease].”

In 1988, U.S. Surgeon General’s office decided to end the confusion. They set out to finally prove the causal link between saturated fat and heart disease. After 11 years, the project was abandoned. The Surgeon General’s office stated that they, “did not anticipate fully the magnitude of the additional external expertise and staff resources that would be needed.” Sure! After more than a decade of trying, the government just “just didn’t have the resources.”

Scientists and researchers are supposed to have an open mind. They are not supposed to be dogmatic and swayed by politics and peer pressure. But that is exactly what the majority of scientists and doctors have proven of themselves. It is not terribly surprising. Massive industries and shining scientific careers have been built on this faulty theory.

If it were not so tragic, it would be funny to listen to them explain away contradictory findings and make excuses for why their studies don’t match their hoped-for conclusions. The most common excuses are that the “trial didn’t last long enough” or they “didn’t lower the saturated-fat intake enough.” It seems that option number three never crosses their mind… perhaps the entire hypothesis is wrong!

Uffe Ravnskov, MD, PhD has called the saturated fat theory of heart disease “one of the greatest and most harmful misconceptions in the history of medicine.” Dr. George Mann called it the “public health diversion of the century.”

And the problem is not just the wasted time and billions of dollars dedicated to an unscientific myth. The bigger problem is that undue focus on the saturated fat bugaboo has stolen attention from the REAL causes of heart disease. And perhaps even worse, is that many of the dietary recommendations to reduce heart disease have actually been shown to CAUSE heart disease (not to mention cancer, diabetes and obesity).

If you truly want to protect yourself from the nation’s number one killer, don’t smoke and reduce your stress levels. At least the medical authorities have gotten those two right. And when it comes to your diet, forget about saturated fat and cholesterol. Here is what you should do instead:

• Consume more monounsaturated fats from sources like olive oil, nuts, avocados and avocado oil

• Cut out the sugar and refined carbohydrates

• Consume more omega-3 fatty acids, from wild game, grass-fed beef and bison, sardines and wild (not farm-raised) salmon. And take an omega-3 fish oil supplement.

• And reduce as much as possible omega-6 fatty acids in your diet. These come primarily from conventionally raised meats, processed foods, fried foods and vegetable and seed oils (corn, soybean, sunflower, cottonseed, etc.)

Posted in General Health, Nutrition, Prescription Medicines | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments »

When Baby Comes, “Good” Cholesterol May Go

Posted by Dr. Gray on Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Ah, the joy of pregnancy – in spite of the hormonal changes, unavoidable weight gain, increasing inability to sit down or sit up on your own, and a host of other frustrations, most women say it’s one of the most magical times of their lives. The culmination of this nine-month adventure is a bubbly bundle of wonderment and perfection. Life couldn’t be better, right? Well, according to a recent study, there might be at least one unforseen drawback to a first pregnancy: a reduction in your HDL cholesterol.

“HDL” or high-density lipoprotein cholesterol is also known as “good” cholesterol because evidence suggests that it actually helps protect against heart disease, and may remove excess low-density lipoprotein (LDL, or “bad”) cholesterol from plaque on arterial walls. The more HDL cholesterol we have, the better. Researchers tracked nearly 2,000 U.S. women from 1986-96, establishing lipid profiles at baseline and tracking changes over three time intervals (baseline to years 3, 5 and 7). Results showed that "pregnancy exerts persistent adverse effects on HDL cholesterol," according to the study authors. LDL cholesterol did not change over any interval based on pregnancy/childbirth status.

If you’re expecting, be sure to meet regularly with your health care team to ensure a healthy pregnancy – for you and for your soon-to-arrive child. Ask about ways you can stay healthy, both during pregnancy and following delivery. And whether you’re pregnant or not, ask your doctor about improving your cholesterol profile with appropriate nutritional modifications. A number of foods may help increase HDL cholesterol levels, including fish (particularly salmon), olive or canola oil, spinach, avocado, and soy products.

Reference: Gunderson EP, Lewis CE, Murtaugh MA, et al. Long-term plasma lipid changes associated with a first birth. The Coronary Artery Risk Development in Young Adults Study. American Journal of Epidemiology 2004;159(11):1028-39.

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