Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Moving Forward with a New Health Twist-High Cholesterol



So a couple of weeks back, my new primary care physician ordered lab work which revealed extremely high cholesterol numbers.  She wants me to start a low-dose statin.  If you know anything about statins, they are scary. Some people suffer from rhabdomiolysis, which is scary, and can be damaging, stuff. I asked her if I could do what I know thousands of other doctors agree to with thousands of other patients, and that is to buckle down and make some lifestyle changes that we all know DO affect our cholesterol numbers, and check the numbers again in 30 days.  She still wants me to start them saying she just wants to see how I react to the medicine (as in have one of those terrible side effects). She said that if I've dropped around 10 pounds in 30 days, she'll agree to trying off of them.  Because I know I can drop 10 pounds in the next 30 days, I'm not even going to start them.

Rhabdomiolysis is the breakdown of muscle tissue that leads to the release of muscle fiber contents into the blood. These substances are harmful to the kidney and often cause kidney damage. Some people are reported to have never regained their strength or coordination.

The other issue that scares the wits out of me with taking statins is the development of diabetes.  I've done a lot of reading of late on metabolic syndrome and insulin resistance, and while I'm self diagnosing here, I fit the bill. The biggest reason I worry about the development of diabetes is because my number in this area of the lab work was what she referred to as "borderline."  My result was 1 digit beyond the normal range, so taking something that will raise my blood sugar....well, it stands to reason I run a higher risk of this side effect. The other factor is a raised likelihood after menopause, and if you've been following my blog, you know I entered early menopause at the age of 40.

More minor, yet worrisome side effects that I've convinced myself I would definitely suffer from should I take a statin is the "flushing" and rashes.  Everything that happens to me shows up in my skin and has since I was an infant. The Flushing.....like the hot Flashes aren't unbearable enough?! No thank you. 

I don't expect my physician to make the connection between the metabolic syndrome, the insulin resistance, and the high cholesterol for me because she didn't even do a complete review of systems on me.  Put it this way, having worked in the medical reports field for many years, I know what systems she should have covered on me during my initial new-patient-physical exam and in what order, which she didn't. There are things about me she yet does not even know! THAT's scary. Yay, electronic medical records that distract my doctor so much she can't be efficient. Welcome to the new normal.  

Basically, I want to watch my sugar, as well as my cholesterol, intake while dieting. Buh-bye occasional biscuits and gravy, pop, and gyros, even if my Weight Watchers plan allows them via the points system.

As it turns out, my Grinch Smoothie, or green smoothie, should be excellent for people with high cholesterol.  Every single ingredient in it is said to help cholesterol numbers, so this is a good thing.

Grinch Smoothie Ingredients and Their Benefits: (Research yourself for TONS of information not included here)

  • Green apples: Don't peel your apples because apples have both types of fiber, so the combination of an apple's pectin works with the phenolics in its skin to lower your plasma cholesterol and triglycerides. Some foods actually bind to the cholesterol in your system and help remove it so that your body absorbs less of it. Higher absorption leaves less cholesterol to accumulate in your arteries. This is why eating whole fruit can be more beneficial than eating processed fruit products or taking fruit extract supplements.
  • Avocados: Contain a healthy type of unsaturated fat known to lower cholesterol, monounsaturated fats (oleic acid), which are known to promote heart health by boosting the good cholesterol and lowering the bad cholesterol. Monounsaturated fats can help lower your cholesterol, according to the American Heart Association. It is said we should aim to consume between 25 to 35 percent of our daily calories from fats of the unsaturated type. They are also high in fiber and beta-sitosterol, a plant chemical, said to help keep cholesterol in check. (I'll have to try this myself, but apparently avocado pits are the latest raw foodie craze and are said to be wonderful for you, period, including lowering cholesterol numbers. It is said you can blend one up into a powder....must need a monster processor I'm thinking. lol) 
  • Bananas: A good source of dietary fiber, which can help reduce your low-density lipoprotein – LDL or “bad” cholesterol via the soluble fiber. Soluble fiber helps slow the absorption of cholesterol and sugar in your bloodstream, reducing LDL cholesterol and blood glucose levels. Adding fiber to your diet may also help you lose weight, which can help you lower your cholesterol and blood pressure naturally.
  • Honey:  Small studies have suggested that honey benefits patients with high cholesterol concentrations. A University of Pittsburgh Medical Center study says that 1 to 5 tbsp. of honey two or three times per day can lower your cholesterol. A study by N. S. Al-Waili found that taking these amounts of honey daily improved blood-sugar control and cholesterol profiles in people with diabetes and high cholesterol, according to a 2004 issue of the "Journal of Medicinal Food." Honey has emerged as a healthy, non-drug option to help reduce cholesterol numbers. Two separate studies conducted on the effects of honey on cholesterol came up with similar conclusions. A study published in “The Scientific World Journal” had participants who consumed 70g of honey for 30 days. The test group showed a reduction of total cholesterol by 3 percent, while a similar study published in the “Journal of Medicinal Food” showed a reduction in total cholesterol of 8 percent.
  • Spinach: Contains lots of lutein, the sunshine-yellow pigment found in dark green leafy vegetables and egg yolks. Now research suggests that just a 1/2 cup of a lutein-rich food daily also guards against heart attacks by helping artery walls "shrug off" cholesterol invaders that cause clogging. Spinach is the richest source of lutein. Shoot for a ½ cup a day.
  • Flax meal:  Researchers set out to see how flax seed products affected cholesterol and triglyceride levels. Combing through 28 existing, peer-reviewed studies on flax, they found that use of flax seed, not flax seed oil, lowered levels of LDL (bad) cholesterol, generally without altering HDL (good) cholesterol levels. The cholesterol-lowering effects, which ranged from about 10 to 20 percent, were most apparent in women, particularly postmenopausal women with high cholesterol to begin with. Flax seeds are a rich source of alpha-linolenic acid, which is a plant-derived type of omega-3 fats that have been shown to lower LDL cholesterol, as well as triglyceride levels. One study found that 100 mg daily of flax seed lignan can be effective at reducing blood cholesterol levels in men with moderately high cholesterol levels. Another small study of 40 patients with high cholesterol levels were told to take 20 grams of ground flax seed daily in which those receiving the flax seed did just as well as those given the statin drugs in the study. These are, like avocados, high in soluble fiber which can prevent the actual absorption of cholesterol within the body.
  • Almond milk (or soy milk or rice milk): All three are said to be good options for people with high cholesterol. Almond milk is low in sodium and high in healthy fats (such as omega fatty acids typically found in fish), which helps to prevent heart disease. Almond milk contains monounsaturated fat that may help lower bad cholesterol levels. Because it comes from plants, there's no saturated fat or cholesterol and it is loaded with vitamins E and B12. This milk replacement option is said to be a "definite do."  The proteins in soy milk may actually reduce cholesterol as well. The proteins in soy milk may help to decrease LDL cholesterol and increase HDL cholesterol. A study published in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition compared soy milk with dairy milk in 28 people aged 30 to 65. The participants had to drink enough cow milk or soy milk daily for 12 weeks to consume 25 grams of protein each day. At the end of the study, the LDL cholesterol was 5 percent lower for the soy milk group than the cow milk group. This milk replacement option is also said to be a "definite do." Rice milk contains healthy vegetable oils like canola or safflower oil. Rice milk is a vegetable-based milk replacement option because there are no saturated fats. Calorically, it is similar to almond milk. Some types of rice milk have been enriched with sterols or stanols, a vegetable "cousin" of cholesterol, and studies have shown that sterols or stanols compete with animal cholesterol for absorption and can lower both the total and bad cholesterol numbers. It is said to be a "definite do" also for people with high cholesterol.

    A 2010 study, published in Nutrition Research, found that daily administration of 100mg of flaxseed lignan, can be effective at reducing blood cholesterol levels, in men with a moderately high cholesterol level.


    Another small study, involving 40 patients with high cholesterol levels, were instructed to take 20 grams of ground flax seed per day. When the results were compared to the group taking a statin drugs, those receiving flax seed did just as well as those given statin drugs.


    Flax seeds also contain both insoluble and soluble fiber. Soluble fiber is thought to aid in lowering cholesterol, by preventing the absorption of cholesterol within the body.
    - See more at: http://www.healthcentral.com/cholesterol/c/822/134801/cholesterol/#sthash.cr3hPz9L.dpuf
    Flax seeds are a rich source of alpha-linolenic acid. This is the plant-derived type of omega-3 fats, which has been shown to lower LDL cholesterol, as well as triglycerides levels.

    A 2010 study, published in Nutrition Research, found that daily administration of 100mg of flaxseed lignan, can be effective at reducing blood cholesterol levels, in men with a moderately high cholesterol level.


    Another small study, involving 40 patients with high cholesterol levels, were instructed to take 20 grams of ground flax seed per day. When the results were compared to the group taking a statin drugs, those receiving flax seed did just as well as those given statin drugs.


    Flax seeds also contain both insoluble and soluble fiber. Soluble fiber is thought to aid in lowering cholesterol, by preventing the absorption of cholesterol within the body.
    - See more at: http://www.healthcentral.com/cholesterol/c/822/134801/cholesterol/#sthash.cr3hPz9L.dpuf
    Flax seeds are a rich source of alpha-linolenic acid. This is the plant-derived type of omega-3 fats, which has been shown to lower LDL cholesterol, as well as triglycerides levels.

    A 2010 study, published in Nutrition Research, found that daily administration of 100mg of flaxseed lignan, can be effective at reducing blood cholesterol levels, in men with a moderately high cholesterol level.


    Another small study, involving 40 patients with high cholesterol levels, were instructed to take 20 grams of ground flax seed per day. When the results were compared to the group taking a statin drugs, those receiving flax seed did just as well as those given statin drugs.


    Flax seeds also contain both insoluble and soluble fiber. Soluble fiber is thought to aid in lowering cholesterol, by preventing the absorption of cholesterol within the body.
    - See more at: http://www.healthcentral.com/cholesterol/c/822/134801/cholesterol/#sthash.cr3hPz9L.dpuf

I'm actually pretty disgusted that my primary care provider can't help educate me on what it is I need to do, other than take a medication. It's shameful in my opinion.

Seeing how I never ate breakfast or lunch in the first place, all I need to do is force myself to have a daily breakfast, which I plan to do with this yummy smoothie with the above ingredients, eat oatmeal daily for 3 to 4 Weight Watchers points for lunch, and pay attention to the amount of cholesterol, saturated fats, and sugar in my dinners overall. I also need to get in at least 30 minutes of cardio each and every single day, which I have been doing.  I've also started walking 2.5 miles each night, weather permitting.

The other two things I know are also good for lowering cholesterol are my Favorite Amy's Lentil Soup and green tea. I'll let you look up the cholesterol-lowering properties of these items. I plan to go through my recipe section and mark things that I find are in fact good for lowering cholesterol. I hope this information helps someone else looking for a quick meal-replacement-type of smoothie that is actually good for people with high cholesterol.

(I am not a doctor, and the information in this post is based on my own, nonmedically-guided online research. Please, if YOUR insurance covers a consult with a nutritionist check there, as I am still trying to Figure out if I can get mine to cover a consult with one.) 

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