Monthly Archives: July 2005

Cholesterol – Lowering it Naturally

Cholesterol – Lowering it Naturally

Competency # 13   FATS

Reference:  JAMA. 290(4):502-510, July 23/30, 2003.

Date:  8/05

The Answer?  A LOT of people have high cholesterol!

Who should lower their cholesterol?  ALL of US

One hundred million Americans have cholesterol that is too high.  That’s one in three.

Most of us don’t know it because there are no symptoms until you have a heart attack or stroke.  Taking statins can lower your risk for a heart attack by 20-60% and stroke by 24-31% (these are both the same disease, blood vessel clogging, just in different organs).  Statins may be very potent anti-inflammatories that reduce the inflammation that LDLs seem to cause in our arteries, that then builds up scar and plaque.  If you know your cholesterol, and mostly your LDLs, you want your LDLs (low density lipoproteins) to be below 100.  That was the old goal.  Now, with acute coronary syndrome, the goal is below 70.    The question arises, why isn’t 70 all of our goals?  Let’s do our cardiac rehab before we have the heart attack, not after when the cow is already out of the barn.  That’s my goal.  So, all of us want a lower LDL.  Just like BP, there doesn’t seem to be a low end where lower isn’t better.

This is what will radically help your LDL, without taking drugs.

1.  Avoid tobacco in all forms.  Just quit.

2.  Avoid trans fats and saturated fats like the plague.  Translated, this means avoid animal fats and partially hydrogenated vegetable oil  (this is next weeks topic).

3.  Choose omega 3 fatty acid foods  (two weeks from now).

4.  Eat lots of fiber: over 25 grams a day.  (In Africa, on 50 grams fiber a day: virtually no coronary artery disease or colon cancer).  The more Vegan you get, the lower your cholesterol will go. (Read the China Study – Colin Campbell)

5.  Partake in 30 minutes exercise every day.  A day without 30 minutes, is as much a risk as a day smoking.  This is true.  Deal with it.  Plan for it.  Build it in.

6.  With great caution: one drink of alcohol a day RAISES your good cholesterol.  However, alcohol has all the other risks attached to it.

7.   Stop eating bread and wheat.  Lower your carb intake.  Elevated cholesterol probably means you have overwhelmed your bodies natural ability to process carbs, so you have to turn them into fats and transfer them to your fat cells.  That’s what LDLs are: shuttle buses.

8.  One piece of good evidence that was published in JAMA by the author Jenkins showed the following:

Eating 21 grams of soy per 1000 calories, and 14 grams of almonds per 1000 calories, and 10 grams of soluble fiber per 1000 calories: reduced cholesterol by 30% – as much as with a statin.  C-reactive protein went down with both groups equally.  This is dramatic.  It means you, a normal person with “normal cholesterol”, can lower your c-reactive protein and your cholesterol as much by diet as with a statin drug.

WWW:  What Will Work for Me:  Add fiber to your diet.  Eat almonds or walnuts every day (a few). Add more soy to your life.  I eat soy beans for my snack that I buy at Outpost.  Make a mix of soybeans, almonds and sunflower seeds.  Make your own snack that you nibble on instead of potato chips.

Perchance to Sleep

Perchance to Sleep

Competency # 7  SLEEP

Reference:  Horm Res 2005; 64 Suppl 3:8-15.

Americans now sleep 2 hours a night less than we did 40 years ago. (Job, kids, marriage…)  Research supports that the reason KIDS are overweight is based NOT on how much TV they watch, but how much sleep they get, or don’t get.  That’s what started the research into the connection between the two.  From Wisconsin: in the Wisconsin Sleep Cohort Study: 3000 government employees being followed that shows a clear association between amount of sleep and being overweight. (inverse relationship).  From New York: Columbia University research: 6 hours of sleep, 23% more likely to be overweight.  5 hours of sleep 50% more likely to be overweight, 4 hours of sleep 74% more likely to be overweight. Less sleep = more weight!  Why?  I thought I burned more calories being awake and active.  Not so!  The answer is counterintuitive.  We have two hormones that affect our appetite that sleep affects dramatically.

LEPTIN: put out by fat cells – tells the brain to stop eating.

GHRELIN: made by the stomach –  tells the brain to keep eating.

The less you sleep, the lower the leptin and the higher the ghrelin.  About a 15% swing is all it takes in the hormone levels.  When you are tired, you munch.  We all know that.   Apparently, the brain sees the drop in leptin as a starvation signal and also signals your body to go into low burn mode.  You become more efficient at the calories you got. Finally, sleep deprivation affects insulin resistance, blood glucose levels and these two are key to setting up the “Metabolic Syndrome”.  (Definition of metabolic syndrome = abdominal obesity, low HDLs, high triglycerides, high blood pressure and slightly high glucose).

How This Affects Me:  Research at Chicago – 11 young men in their twenties were limited to 4 hours of sleep for 6 straight nights.  They induced a pre-diabetic state with a 40% reduction in ability to clear glucose, a 30 % slower insulin release effectively making the natural metabolic response of an 80 year old.

WWW: What will work for me?   Sleep is not just for your brain.  It’s for your body as well.  I’m trying to get at least 7 good hours.  I’m also aware that I sleep better if I resist the temptation to snack after 8 pm; at most an apple.  Practicing good sleep habits requires going to bed at the same time every night.  Giving myself some quiet reading time prior to sleep.   Don’t watch exciting cop shows just before sleep.  (They end up in my dreams in odd pieces.)  Caffeine after 4 pm keeps me awake at 2 am.  And easy on the late night water, so I don’t have to wake up to go potty.  If I do all that, I find it’s easier to make it through the day without snacking.  The literature now proves that!

If you are a snorer, get to a sleep lab for evaluation of sleep apnea.  Sleep apnea is everything stated above in capital letters because you aren’t getting any good quality sleep and all of your metabolic markers are 10 times worse.  Fifteen million Americans have sleep apnea and don’t get treatment.  If you snore, have pauses in your breathing during sleep, are tired all day, wake up with headaches, wake frequently during the night, see your doctor and get to one of our leading sleep centers.  Your risk of heart attack is MUCH higher!  Lose weight and your sleep apnea may get dramatically better.  It may even go away completely.)


Reasons to Eat Your Breakfast

Reasons to Eat Your Breakfast

Competency # 5  THE WAY TO EAT

Reference:  American Journal of Clinical Nutrition: Special Supplement on Science Based Solutions to Obesity, July 2005:

Eating breakfast is an event that slips by the wayside.  Many of us don’t, about 25 %.  Here are the reasons you should.

1.Literature shows that you “set” your metabolism for the rest of the day by starting with a low glycemic breakfast – meaning made from whole grains, NOT from standard boxed cereals.

2.Literature shows that women who eat breakfast end up consuming 100 less calories that day on average.  (That’s about 10 pounds a year.)

3.American Journal of Clinical Nutrition: Special Supplement on Science Based

Solutions to Obesity, July 2005:  eating breakfast is one of the top strategies for successful weight loss maintainers.

4.  You lower your LDLs and increase insulin sensitivity by eating breakfast.

5.  You impact your lunch response to foods by eating a low glycemic breakfast.

6.Literature shows, on a 2000 calorie diet, people who eat 70% of their calories for breakfast and lunch will LOSE weight while those same people eating 70% of their calories at lunch or later GAIN weight.


By request:  Here is the recipe for my personal breakfast food – 90% of my breakfasts:


Mix of 50% cracked wheat (wheat grain cracked in half) and 50% steel cut oats

(oat grain broken in half) (This can be substituted with buckwheat instead of oats and

wheat, that gives you a gluten free whole grain breakfast)

Mix 2 cups of that with 6 cups of water

Tsp of salt

Bring carefully to a boil so it doesn’t boil over and mess up your stove top.  Stir frequently.

Simmer 30 minutes, stirring a few times to mix in all the liquid that comes to the top

Let it cool.

Put it in a Tupperware in your fridge.  This makes a two-week supply and lasts that long in the fridge.

In AM, take half-three quarters cup of the cold, cooked mix in a bowl

Add a cup of skim milk

2.5 minutes in the microwave and you have a bowl of hot cereal

I personally add 2 heaping tablespoons of ground flax seed to get my fix of omega fatty acids and a nice nutty flavor (and TONS of fiber.) You could also add a sliced banana or any other fruit.  I personally like frozen blueberries.  I add 2 packets of Stevia sweetener.

WWW: What will work for me?  I’ve lost 50 pounds since I started this.  Almost no fat, all whole grain, two servings of fruit, one serving of calcium in the milk.   I get lots of omega fatty acids and a Glycemic index meal of about 40.   I don’t get horribly hungry at 9:30, like I used to so that I can make it till lunch without snacking.  MY LDLs should  be 5-10 points lower than by skipping breakfast.  My Blood Pressure is about 6-10 points lower than it was three years ago.  And I start my day with 2-3 fruit servings of the 9 that I want to get to each day.   I’m so virtuous, I can hardly stand myself.  Time for a tiny nutritional sin.  Culvers anyone?