Month: August 2015

Effortless Healing Guidelines for Friends and Family New to Natural Healing

August 23, 2015

In this video, originally aired on public television earlier this year, I highlight some of the foundational basics of effortless healing. Effortless Healing is also the name of my latest book, in which I compiled the best of the expert information I’ve learned and shared on this website over the past two decades.

For those of you who missed the book, this article will provide some basic guidance on simple and inexpensive ways to improve your health.

Contrary to the impression you get when listening to the drug advertisements on TV, your body is by nature designed to move toward health, and away from disease.

But to do so you need to provide it with the right lifestyle ingredients it needs to heal and thrive. And drugs are not on that list. The simple truth is, most disease is rooted in poor nutrition and lack of physical activity.

Unfortunately, most physicians are taught very little about the use of food for healing when they’re in medical school, and many never take the time to learn even the most basic nutritional principles.

This is why most conventional doctors cannot guide you in nutritional healing, and why many are outright suspicious about claims that food can heal.

Exercise is another critical component of health, and studies have shown exercise to be as effective a treatment as many drugs, includingantidepressants and medications for prediabetes and heart disease.

Statistically, Sickness Is More Prevalent Than Wellness

Statistically speaking, you’re far more likely to be some level of sick than you are being healthy. For starters, nearly 70 percent of Americans take at least one prescription drug for a chronic or other medical condition, with antibiotics, antidepressants, and opioids topping the list.

Other signs indicating that sickness has become is the prevailing norm include the following statistics:

    • Obesity rates are on the rise, and one in five deaths is now linked to obesity.
    • We are in the midst of a worldwide diabetes epidemic. In the US, more than 86 million adults age 20 and over have prediabetes.1

Of that number, nearly 30 million already have type 2 diabetes — a statistic researchers predicted in 2001 wouldn’t be reached until 2050.2

Diabetes has increased over 300 percent in just 15 years,3 and all told, nearly ONE-THIRD of the 320 million people living in America today have either prediabetes or some form of diabetes.4

    • One in eight Americans aged 65 and over currently have Alzheimer’s, and that number is expected to rise to one in four within the next 20 years.

At present, more than half a million Americans die from Alzheimer’s disease each year, making it the third leading cause of death in the US, right behind heart disease and cancer.

  • Cancer rates are projected to rise 57 percent in the next 20 years, with 13 million people dying from cancer each year.
  • Over half of the US population has at least one clinically diagnosable allergy, and allergies and diseases of the immune system have possibly quadrupled in the last few decades.

What’s Really Making You Sick?

Once you become familiar with the ins and outs of nutrition, you begin to realize that virtually every health problem you can think of can be traced back to the diet.

One of the reasons why so many diseases are skyrocketing in prevalence is because of the foods we eat. Most Americans eat a predominantly processed food diet, which virtually guarantees you’ll suffer health problems at some point.

In short, one of the simplest health directives you could ever come across is to just EAT REAL FOOD (whole, unadulterated/unprocessed, and ideally organic), as this automatically eliminates a number of health-harming ingredients from your diet.

Public enemy number one is sugar (all kinds, but in particular refined sugar and processed fructose such as high fructose corn syrup), followed closely by refined grains, as these ingredients cause your insulin level to spike.

Insulin allows your cells to use sugar, but when you eat too much sugar your cells eventually become resistant to the insulin. Insulin resistance, in turn, leads to diabetes and a long list of related health problems and disease.

When you’re insulin resistant, your body will also store rather than burn fat.

As a result, it becomes exceedingly difficult for your body to use stored body fat for energy, and hence weight gain is typically associated with insulin resistance. This is why sugars and grain carbohydrates need to be avoided, as they not only can make you fat, they can make you stay fat. If your fasting insulin level is over 3 or 4, you’re insulin resistant. Other signs and symptoms indicating you fall squarely into this category include:

Carrying excess weight High blood pressure
Fasting blood sugar greater than 100 (You may be diagnosed with prediabetes if your glucose is between 100 and 125.  Having prediabetes is a risk factor that you may get type 2 diabetes in the future) Less-than-ideal cholesterol ratios
Type 2 diabetes Heart disease or cancer

How to Reverse Insulin Resistance

The good news is you can turn insulin resistance around fairly quickly and easily, by following these simple steps:

    • Eliminate added sugars and sweeteners from your diet. Keep in mind that most processed foods (anything that comes in a jar, can, bottle, bag, or box) contain added sugars, typically in the form of high fructose corn syrup.

Fruit juices are also loaded with sugar, so replace them with whole fruit instead. And don’t make the mistake of switching to artificially sweetened “diet” foods and beverages. Research has clearly shown that artificial sweeteners promote insulin resistance and related health problems just like regular sugar does — despite their lack of calories.

The artificial sweeteners saccharin, sucralose, and aspartame decrease function in pathways associated with the transport of sugar in your body, and can induce both gut dysbiosis and glucose intolerance. Research also shows that artificial sweeteners promote diabetes and weight gain is by disrupting your gut microbiome. Sucralose (Splenda) was found to reduce beneficial gut bacteria by as much as 50 percent!

    • Eliminate grains, especially wheat, barley, oats, and rye, as these not only raise your insulin and contribute to insulin resistance, they also contain gluten, which triggers inflammation and can damage your intestines.

Better alternatives include almond meal, buckwheat groats, coconut flour, and sweet potatoes, as they do not have the same impact on your blood sugar as grains, but if you’re truly insulin resistant, or already diabetic, even these alternatives will hamper your body’s ability to heal. Once the clinical signs of insulin resistance have resolved, you can relax your carb restriction

  • Replace eliminated carbs with healthy fats like avocado, butter made from raw grass-fed organic milk, cheese, raw dairy, organic pastured egg yolks, raw nuts, grass-fed meats, and coconut oil.

Sitting Takes a Profound Toll on Your Health

More than 10,000 studies now show that prolonged sitting is devastating to your health. It actively and independently promotes dozens of chronic diseases, including obesity and type 2 diabetes, even if you exercise several times a week and are very fit. The sad truth is, you cannot offset 8 to 10 hours of stillness with 30 to 60 minutes of exercise, even if you exercise every single day.

The reason for this is because, at the molecular level, the human body was designed to be active all day long. When you stop moving and sit still for extended periods of time, it’s like telling your body to shut down and prepare for death. As soon as you stand up, a number of molecular cascades occur that promote and support healthy biological functioning.

For example, within 90 seconds of standing up, the muscular and cellular systems that process blood sugar, triglycerides, and cholesterol — which are mediated by insulin — are activated.  Surprising as it may sound, all of these molecular effects are activated simply by carrying your bodyweight upon your legs. These cellular mechanisms are also responsible for pushing fuels into your cells and, if done regularly, will radically decrease your risk of diabetes and obesity.

So, the remedy is simple: Avoid sitting and get more movement into your life. Ideally, aim to sit less than three hours a day. Also consider walking more, in addition to your exercise regimen. In short, rest is supposed to break up activity — not the other way around. This kind of non-exercise physical movement appears to be really foundational for optimal health, and if you’re currently inactive, this is the place to start, even before you get going on a workout routine.

Effortless Healing Is Possible

In my new NY Times bestselling book, Effortless Healing, I’ve distilled my decades of experience and knowledge of nutritional healing down to nine simple principles that will help you optimize your weight and health by making small, gradual shifts in what you eat and how you live your life. Health is actually not as complicated to obtain and maintain as you might think. It’s really all about distilling it down to the basics, which is what I’ve done in this new book.

It’s a source of timeless advice that can help you take control of your health. One thing’s for sure; your body is remarkably efficient when it comes to healing and regenerating itself, provided you feed it and care for it properly. Besides food, which can rightfully be viewed as medicine, you also need physical activity — both non-exercise movement and more regimented, higher-intensity exercise.

Other healthy lifestyle components include getting sensible sun exposure, and grounding to the Earth. These are lifestyle habits with potent health-promoting potential that cost little to nothing. The same can surely not be said for prescription drugs and conventional medical treatments, so it seems foolish to forgo them.


New Scientific Analysis Confirms Saturated Fats Have No Link to Heart Disease


By Dr. Mercola

In February the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee (DGAC) submitted its 2015 Scientific Report1,2,3 to the US Departments of Agriculture (USDA) and Health and Human Services (HHS).

This report serves as the foundation for the development of US dietary guidelines.

In a surprise twist, the DGAC not only suggested eliminating warnings about dietary cholesterol, it also reversed nearly four decades of nutrition policy by concluding that dietary fats have no impact on cardiovascular disease risk.

Unfortunately, the DGAC didn’t set the record straight with regards to saturated fats, as it makes no firm distinction between healthy saturated fats and decidedly unhealthy trans fats.

For decades, healthy fat and cholesterol have been wrongfully blamed for causing heart disease, but over 70 published studies overwhelmingly dispute this.4

Trans Fat, Not Saturated Fat, Raises Your Heart Disease Risk

Now we can add yet another large study to this ever-growing list. The meta-analysis5,6,7,8 published in the British Medical Journal (BMJ), found no association between high levels of saturated fat in the diet and heart disease.

Nor could they find an association between saturated fat consumption and other life-threatening diseases like stroke or type 2 diabetes.

However, the study DID find a disease link to trans fat consumption. As reported by Newsweek:9

“[C]onsumption of trans unsaturated fats found in everyday supermarket goods such as margarine, processed cakes, and microwave popcorn can increase the risk of death from coronary heart disease (CHD) by 28 percent.”

Trans fats also increased all-cause mortality by 34 percent. This is important because many “experts” frequently confuse trans fat with saturated fat intake.

Moreover, a pooled analysis of 11 studies10,11 showed that replacing saturated fat (found in foods like meat, egg yolks, dairy products, salmon, nuts, avocados, coconut oil, and olive oil) with monounsaturated fat (vegetable cooking oils12), or carbohydrates (sugars and grains) raised the risk of non-fatal heart attacks.

This prompted the authors to comment that dietary guidelines for saturated fats and trans fats “must carefully consider the effect of replacement nutrients.” This too is in line with previous findings.

What Happens When You Replace Saturated Fat with Carbs?

In a 2014 editorial13 published in the Open Heart journal, research scientist and doctor of Pharmacy James J. DiNicolantonio reviewed the cardiometabolic consequences of replacing saturated fats with carbohydrates.

The health consequences are significant, including the following:

Shift to overall atherogenic lipid profile (lower HDL, increased triglycerides, and increased ApoB/ApoA-1 ratio) Increased risk of coronary heart disease, cardiovascular events, and death from heart disease and increased overall mortality (all causes) Increased thrombogenic markers
Increased oxidized LDL Increased inflammation Reduced HDL
Impaired glucose tolerance, higher body fat, weight gain, obesity, and diabetes Increased small, high-density LDL particles Increased risk for cancer

The Hazards of Replacing Partially Hydrogenated Oils with Vegetable Oils

The issue of what to replace trans fats (partially hydrogenated oils) with is equally important. Ideally, you’ll want to replace them with healthy saturated fats — NOT vegetable oils.

This is discussed in Nina Teicholz’ book, The Big Fat Surprise: Why Butter, Meat, and Cheese Belong in a Healthy Diet, and in the interview I did with her last year. Nina is an investigative journalist, and she was actually one of the reporters who broke the story on the dangers of trans fats, a little over 10 years ago.

Now she’s warning us that the vegetable oils many restaurants and food manufacturers are trading the trans fats in for may actually be more harmful than the trans fats! The reason for this is because when heated, they create highly toxic oxidation products, including aldehydes, which are extremely inflammatory.

So what’s the ideal fat to cook with?

Tallow and lard are two great options. Tallow is a hard fat that comes from cows. Lard is a hard fat that comes from pigs. They’re both animal fats, and used to be the main fats used in cooking.

One of their benefits is that, since they’re saturated fats, they do not oxidize when heated. And saturated fats do not have double bonds that can react with oxygen; therefore they cannot form dangerous aldehydes or other toxic oxidation products.Coconut oil is another healthy option, as it too resists oxidation when heated.

Food Industry Petitions FDA to Make Allowances for Trans Fats in Packaged Foods

The evidence showing trans fats are a major health hazard has prompted the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to remove partially hydrogenated oils — the primary source of trans fats — from the list of “generally recognized as safe” (GRAS) ingredients.

The initial proposal was issued in 2013, and on June 16, 2015, the decision was finalized.14 Food manufacturers have until 2018 to get partially hydrogenated oils (PHOs) out of their products.

Despite the evidence of harm, and less than a week after the BMJ study’s publication, the Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA) petitioned the FDA to permit “small amounts” of trans fats in certain packaged foods.15 Proposed allowance for trans fats in the GMA’s petition include adding PHOs during processing, as an:

Anti-caking agent, free flow agent, and lubricant Emulsifier
Solvent for fat-soluble ingredients Textural agent to improve textural characteristics of the food
Dough strengthener Moisture retainer
Stabilizer Thickener
Surface-finishing agent Heating medium, such as frying oil

In its petition, the GMA argues that “low-level uses of PHOs are as safe as the naturally occurring trans fat present in the normal diet.” Incidentally, this is NOT what the BMJ study16 found. In it, they found no observed link between naturally occurring trans fats in foods like meat and dairy and heart disease.17 That link was only found for artificially created trans fats.

According to the authors, this discrepancy “might reflect a true difference between sources or might be a function of consumption levels…” noting that the average consumption of industrially produced trans fats was about 250 percent greater than that of naturally-derived ruminated trans fats. The assertion that low levels of trans fats is safe also flies in the face of a previous determination by the Institute of Medicine (IOM), which as far back as 2002 noted there is “no safe level of trans fatty acids and people should eat as little of them as possible.”

Heart Healthy Benefits of Nuts and Olive Oil

In related news, both nuts and olive oil — which are sources of healthy fats — have been shown to promote heart health. As noted by Dr. Michael Greger, MD,18 a number of studies in which subjects added nuts to their diet (without replacing specific foods, which might skew results one way or another), found that nuts significantly improved arterial health. Moreover, while some studies show mixed results in terms of the level of benefit, there’s no evidence that nuts might actually worsen health (provided you’re not allergic).

According to Dr. Greger:

“Eating at least one serving of walnuts per week may drop our chances of a cardiovascular-related death by 50 percent.19 However, walnut consumption may only drop our cholesterol levels about 5 percent. How could we get a 50 percent drop in cardiac mortality from just a 5 percent drop in cholesterol? Walnuts must have some other heart-protecting benefits besides lowering cholesterol.

The ability of blood vessels to relax and open normally is considered an excellent barometer of underlying vascular health… So what effect do nuts have? A 2011 review20 in the journal Nutrition, Metabolism, and Cardiovascular Diseases found five clinical trials analyzing the effect of nut consumption on arterial function, and all three studies on walnuts showed an improvement in endothelial function measured in the arm.”

Other recent research21 again confirms the health benefits of extra virgin olive oil, showing it improves blood sugar and cholesterol after meals to a greater degree than corn oil. As reported by Reuters:22

“Lowering (post-meal) blood glucose and cholesterol may be useful to reduce the negative effects of glucose and cholesterol on the cardiovascular system,’ lead study author Francesco Violi, a researcher at Sapienza University in Rome, said…

On two separate occasions, researchers gave 25 healthy people a typical Mediterranean lunch. For one meal, they added 10 grams (about 2 teaspoons) of extra virgin olive oil, and for the other, they added 10 g of corn oil.

Blood tests done before and two hours after the meals found that blood sugar rose after eating in all the participants, which is normal. But blood sugar rose much less after a meal with olive oil compared to one with corn oil. That’s in line with previous research linking EVOO to elevated levels of insulin, a hormone that helps convert glucose into energy, Violi said.”

Take-Home Message: Unprocessed Saturated Fat Is Good for You

Focusing your diet on REAL FOOD (raw whole, ideally organic, and from pasture raised cows) rather than processed fare is one of the easiest ways to sidestep dietary pitfalls like harmful fats — not to mention other harmful ingredients like refined sugars, genetically modified organisms (GMOs) and additives that have never been properly tested for safety. Beyond that, it’s really just a matter of tweaking the ratios of fat, carbs and protein to suit your individual situation.

One key though is to trade refined sugar and processed fructose for healthy fat, as this will help optimize your insulin and leptin levels. We’ve spent decades trading healthy saturated fats for carbs and trans fats, and there can be no doubt that this has had an enormous influence on disease statistics, raising incidence of obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and Alzheimer’s — all the top killers.

Healthy fat is particularly important for optimal brain function and memory. This is true throughout life, but especially during childhood. So, if processed food still make up the bulk of your meals, you’d be wise to reconsider your eating habits. Not only are processed foods the primary culprit in obesity and insulin resistance, processed foods can also affect the IQ of young children. One British study23 revealed that kids who ate a predominantly processed food diet at age three had lower IQ scores at age 8.5. For each measured increase in processed foods, participants had a 1.67-point decrease in IQ.

Another study published in the journal Clinical Pediatrics24,25,26 also warns that frequent fast food consumption may stunt your child’s academic performance.  For more detailed dietary guidance, please see my optimal nutrition plan. It’s a step-by-step guide to feeding your family right, and I encourage you to read through it. I’ve also created my own “food pyramid,” based on nutritional science, which you can print out and share.

Statins’ Flawed Studies and False Advertising

August 26, 2015

By Dr. Mercola

At your next doctor’s check-up, your visit will likely include a discussion of your risk of heart disease, your cholesterol levels, and whether or not you would benefit from taking a statin cholesterol-lowering drug.

In the US, guidelines issued in 2013 state that if you answer “yes” to ANY of the following four questions, your treatment protocol will call for a statin drug:

  1. Do you have heart disease?
  2. Do you have diabetes? (either type 1 or type 2)
  3. Is your LDL cholesterol above 190?
  4. Is your 10-year risk of a heart attack greater than 7.5 percent?

Your 10-year heart attack risk involves the use of a cardiovascular risk calculator, which researchers have warned may overestimate your risk by anywhere from 75 to 150 percent — effectively turning even very healthy people at low risk for heart problems into candidates for statins.

The guideline also does away with the previous recommendation to use the lowest drug dose possible and instead basically focuses ALL the attention on statin-only treatment and at higher dosages. With guidelines like these, it’s no wonder one in four Americans over the age of 40 currently take a statin drug – but are these drugs really beneficial?

Flawed Studies Call into Question Statins’ Effectiveness, Safety

Originally, statin drugs were prescribed for secondary prevention, meaning the prevention of a second heart attack or stroke if you’d already suffered one and had clear signs of heart disease.

But today a majority of people taking the drugs are doing so for primaryprevention, i.e. “preventive medicine” – to help prevent people with certain risk factors of heart disease – although otherwise healthy – from having a heart attack or stroke in the first place.

This switch came largely as the result of flawed studies that hyped statins’ effectiveness while downplaying the risks. Among the first was the ASTEROID trial, published in 2006.1 It found that the high-dose statin drug Crestor led to significant reductions in plaque volume with no unusual side effects. However, as reported by the Institute of Science in Society:2

It was the cross-sectional areas of atheroma [arterial plaque] that were compared before and after treatment, as it was assumed that these measurements were directly proportional to their volumes and that the area of the lumen [the inside of an artery] would show a corresponding increase.

However, what was not discussed in either the press releases or the article was that the lumen area actually decreased by 4%, and… the images also showed that the arterial wall had thickened. This might not be beneficial because a smaller lumen and a stiffer arterial wall would both tend to increase blood pressure, an effect also not addressed in the published report.

The Comments section conclusion said, ‘This very intensive statin regimen was well tolerated.’ But the total dropout rate appears to have been 25%; no details were provided to explain that.

Also, the trial may have been too short for the Crestor side effects reported in other studies to have surfaced, raising questions about long-term safety with this large daily dose that would have to be taken perpetually. In addition, there were no controls and only 349 patients.”

Landmark Statin Study Was Flawed

Shortly after the ASTEROID trial came the JUPITER study, which was published in the New England Journal of Medicine in 2008.3 It boasted that statin drugs could lower the risk of heart attack by 54 percent, the risk of stroke by 48 percent, the risk of needing angioplasty or bypass surgery by 46 percent, and the risk of death from all causes by 20 percent.

The funding for this study came from none other than AstraZeneca, the maker of statin drug Crestor – and once again, we find that industry-funded claims of health benefits for highly profit-producing drugs need to be viewed with a healthy dose of skepticism. The Institute of Science in Society reported:4

“The lead author is a co-holder of the patent for the hsCRP test used, which became the standard method of measurement at $50.00/test. Nine of the 14 authors had significant financial ties to AstraZeneca, whose investigators also collected, controlled, and managed the raw data and monitored the collection sites.

It is well established from other drug company sponsored studies that bias can creep in, such as the preponderance in the placebo group of patients with a family history of heart disease or metabolic syndrome, both of which significantly increase risk.”

Further, statin advocates used a statistical tool called relative risk reduction (RRR) to amplify statins’ trivial beneficial effects.5 If you look at absolute risk, statin drugs benefit just 1 percent of the population. This means that out of 100 people treated with the drugs, one person will have one less heart attack.

This doesn’t sound so impressive… so statin supporters use a different statistic called relative risk. Just by making this statistical slight of hand, statins suddenly become beneficial for 30 to 50 percent of the population. In one study the authors noted:6

“In the Jupiter trial, the public and healthcare workers were informed of a 54 percent reduction in heart attacks, when the actual effect in reduction of coronary events was less than 1 percentage point…”

JUPITER Trial Stopped Inexplicably Early…

The study was also stopped early for unexplained reasons, which, as was pointed out in an accompanying editorial:

[P]rovides inflated estimates of benefits, understates harms, allows findings to be published (and hence used to advantage in marketing) earlier, and reduces the cost of the trial – all significant benefits to an industry sponsor and a financially invested research team.7

Little note was made of the fact that the JUPITER trial also showed a 25 percent increased risk of new-onset diabetes in the treatment group… and this was detected even though the trial was ended early.

Then, two years after the original study came out, three articles were published in the Archives of Internal Medicine, refuting the claims laid down by the industry-funded JUPITER study.

One of these studies carefully reviewed the methods and the results of the JUPITER trial and concluded it was flawed and the results “do not support the use of statin treatment for primary prevention of cardiovascular diseases…”8

In addition, a second study, a meta-analysis of 11 randomized controlled trials, found no evidence to back up the JUPITER trial claim that statins can reduce your risk of death when used as primary prevention against heart disease.9

Do Statins Increase Your Risk of Breast Cancer?

Statin drugs work by blocking the enzyme in your liver that is responsible for making cholesterol. Yes, your liver makescholesterol because you need cholesterol and it is essential for your very survival.

Cholesterol helps produce cell membranes, and in addition it also plays a role in the production of hormones (including the sex hormones testosterone, progesterone, and estrogen) and bile acids that help you digest fat.

Cholesterol is also essential for your brain, which contains about 25 percent of the cholesterol in your body. It is critical for synapse formation, i.e. the connections between your neurons, which allow you to think, learn new things, and form memories…

Statin drugs are effective and do to lower cholesterol, but as your levels fall you may assume that is proof that you’re getting healthier, that you’re becoming well. But that would be far from the truth.

There is far more that goes into your risk of heart disease than your cholesterol levels… and there is evidence showing that statins may actually make your heart health worse.

In addition, as explained by Dr. Stephen Sinatra, a board-certified cardiologist, statins block not just cholesterol production pathways, but several other biochemical pathways as well, including CoQ10 and squalene — the latter of which Dr. Sinatra believes is essential in preventing breast cancer.

Research has shown that long-term statin use (10 years or longer) more than doubles women’s risk of two major types of breast cancer: invasive ductal carcinoma and invasive lobular carcinoma.10

In addition, the use of any statin drug, in any amount, was associated with a significantly increased risk for prostate cancer in a separate study, and there was an increasing risk that came along with an increasing cumulative dose.11

Not to mention, statins increase your risk for many other serious side effects as well. They inhibit the function of vitamin K2 in your body, which means taking them may put you at risk of vitamin K2 deficiency, a condition known to contribute to a number of chronic diseases, including:

Osteoporosis Heart disease Heart attack and stroke
Inappropriate calcification, from heel spurs to kidney stones Brain disease Cancer

Statins also deplete your body of CoQ10, which accounts for many of their devastating results. So if you’re taking a statin drug, you simply MUST take coenzyme Q10 or ubiquinol as a supplement. You cannot get enough of it through your diet.

New Guidelines Call for More Teens to Be Placed on Statin Drugs

Even teens and young adults are now being placed on statins. In 2011, the US National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) issued new guidelines for reducing heart disease in children and adolescents, recommending statin treatment ifcholesterol levels are at a certain level.12,13 Meanwhile, the American College of Cardiology (ACC) and American Heart Association (AHA) have far tighter restrictions on the use of statins in those under the age of 40. According to a recent study, if doctors follow the NHLBI’s guidelines, nearly half a million teens and young adults between the ages of 17 to 21 will be placed on statins.14 As reported by Medicine Net:15

“Gooding’s team found that 2.5 percent of those with elevated levels of ‘bad’ low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol would qualify for statin treatment under the NHLBI cholesterol guidelines for children, compared with only 0.4 percent under the ACC/AHA adult guidelines. That means that 483,500 people in that age group would qualify for statin treatment under the NHLBI guidelines, compared with 78,200 under adult guidelines…

It’s common for abnormal cholesterol levels and other heart disease risk factors to start appearing when people are teens, but the two sets of recommendations offer doctors conflicting advice, the researchers said. For now, they recommend that physicians and patients ‘engage in shared decision making around the potential benefits, harms, and patient preferences for treatment…'”

Dr. Suzanne Steinbaum, a preventive cardiologist at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City, added:16

” … [M]edication should be the last resort and a true behavioral and healthy lifestyle program should be implemented… Regardless of the guidelines, we need to not have this younger generation rely on medication, but instill in them what healthy food choices, exercise, and smoking cessation means before simply giving them a pill. In the short term, it may reduce their cholesterol numbers, but ultimately with obesity and hypertension, their risk of heart disease will continue to escalate.”

New Class of Cholesterol-Lowering Drugs Approved… and They May Have Even More Side Effects Than Statins

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the drug alirocumab (brand name Praluent) in July 2015.17 The European Commission (EC) also granted marketing authorization for evolocumab18 (brand name Repatha) for use in European patients. These medications belong to a new class of drugs called PCSK9 inhibitors, which increase your liver’s ability to soak up and remove low-density lipoprotein (LDL) from your blood by trapping it inside the cell.

The drugs are being touted as an alternative to statins for those in whom the treatment isn’t effective or who are unable to take them due to side effects… but results from a 78-week long study published in the New England Journal of Medicineshow that Praluent causes higher incidence of many of the same side effects as statins:19,20

  • 1.2 percent of patients who received both a statin and bi-weekly injections of Praluent experienced neurocognitive problems, such as memory impairment or confusion, compared to 0.5 percent of those taking a statin only
  • 5.4 percent of those receiving statin plus Praluent suffered myalgia (muscle pain) compared to 2.9 percent of the statin only group
  • 2.9 percent of the statin/Praluent group experienced eye problems, compared to 1.9 percent of the statin only group

Price may keep demand for PCSK9 inhibitors low, at least initially. The drug, which is administered as an injection, has awholesale price tag of $1,200 per month, or $14,400 per year. For comparison, brand name statin drugs typically cost $500 to 700 per year and less than $50 a year for generics. Research firm GlobalData predicts Praluent has “extraordinary blockbuster potential” with the capability of generating $17.5 billion in sales by 2023 – but please use caution before considering this to be a “safer” or “more effective” alternative to statins…

Please Assess Your Real Risk for Heart Disease Before Resorting to Statins

There’s a very good chance you may not need a statin drug at all. If you’ve been told you need to take a statin, please read these 7 factors to consider if you’re told your cholesterol is too high. And rather than relying on total cholesterol as your guide, two ratios that are far better indicators of heart disease risk are:

  • Your HDL/total cholesterol ratio: HDL percentage is a very potent heart disease risk factor. Just divide your HDL level by your total cholesterol. This percentage should ideally be above 24 percent. Below 10 percent, it’s a significant indicator of risk for heart disease
  • Your triglyceride/HDL ratios: This ratio should ideally be below 2

Additional risk factors for heart disease include:

  • Your fasting insulin level: Any meal or snack high in carbohydrates like fructose and refined grains generates a rapid rise in blood glucose and then insulin to compensate for the rise in blood sugar. The insulin released from eating too many carbs promotes fat and makes it more difficult for your body to shed excess weight, and excess fat, particularly around your belly, is one of the major contributors to heart disease
  • Your fasting blood sugar level: Studies have shown that people with a fasting blood sugar level of 100 to 125 mg/dl had a nearly 300 percent increase higher risk of having coronary heart disease than people with a level below 79 mg/dl
  • Your iron level: Iron can be a very potent oxidative stress, so if you have excess iron levels you can damage your blood vessels and increase your risk of heart disease. Ideally, you should monitor your ferritin levels and make sure they are not much above 80 ng/ml. The simplest way to lower them if they are elevated is to donate your blood. If that is not possible you can have a therapeutic phlebotomy and that will effectively eliminate the excess iron from your body

How to Optimize Your Cholesterol Levels Without Drugs

The goal of the guidelines below is not to lower your cholesterol as low as it can go, but rather to optimize your levels so they’re working in the proper balance with your body. In a nutshell, preventing cardiovascular disease involves reducing chronic inflammation in your body while optimizing your insulin level. Proper diet, exercise, sun exposure, and grounding to the earth are cornerstones of an anti-inflammatory lifestyle. For more details on how to naturally reduce your risk of heart disease, please review the following 10 heart-healthy strategies:

Eat REAL FOOD. Replace processed foods (which are loaded with refined sugar and carbs, processed fructose, and trans fat — all of which promote heart disease) with whole, unprocessed or minimally processed foods, ideally organic, and/or locally grown.
Avoid meats and other animal products such as dairy and eggs sourced from animals raised in confined animal feeding operations (CAFOs). Instead, opt for grass-fed, pastured varieties, raised according to organic standards.
Eliminate no-fat and low-fat foods, and increase consumption of healthy fats. Much of the population suffers with insulin resistance and would benefit from consuming 50 to 85 percent of their daily calories from healthy saturated fats, such as avocados, butter made from raw grass-fed organic milk, raw dairy, organic pastured egg yolks, coconuts and coconut oil, unheated organic nut oils, raw nuts, and grass-fed meats. No- or low-fat foods are usually processed foods that are high in sugar, which raises your small, dense LDL particles.

Balancing your omega-3 to omega-6 ratio is also key for heart health, as these fatty acids help build the cells in your arteries that make the prostacyclin that keeps your blood flowing smoothly. Omega-3 deficiency can cause or contribute to very serious health problems, both mental and physical, and may be a significant underlying factor of up to 96,000 premature deaths each year. Research suggests that as little as 500 mg of omega-3-rich krill per day may improve your total cholesterol and triglycerides, and will likely increase your HDL cholesterol.

You also need the appropriate ratios of calcium, magnesium, sodium, and potassium, and all of these are generally abundant in a whole food diet. To get more fresh vegetables into your diet, consider juicing.
Optimize your vitamin D level. Some researchers, like Dr. Stephanie Seneff, believe optimizing your vitamin D levelthrough regular sun exposure, opposed to taking an oral supplement, may be key to optimizing your heart health. If you do opt for a supplement, you also increase your need for vitamin K2.
Optimize your gut health. Regularly eating fermented foods, such as fermented vegetables, will help reseed your gut with beneficial bacteria that may play an important role in preventing heart disease and countless other health problems.
Quit smoking and reduce your alcohol consumption.
Exercise regularly. Exercise is actually one of the safest, most effective ways to prevent and treat heart disease. In 2013, researchers at Harvard and Stanford reviewed 305 randomized controlled trials, concluding there were “no statistically detectable differences” between physical activity and medications for heart disease. High-intensity interval training, which requires but a fraction of the time compared to conventional cardio, has been shown to be especially effective.
Pay attention to your oral health. There’s convincing evidence linking the state of your teeth and gums to a variety of health issues, including heart disease. In one 2010 study those with the worst oral hygiene increased their risk of developing heart disease by 70 percent compared to those who brush their teeth twice a day.21
Avoid statins, as the side effects of these drugs are numerous, while the benefits are debatable. If you are taking statins for any reason it is imperative to take coenzyme Q10, and I believe the best form is the reduced and called ubiquinol