October 31, 2011

138 The Cholesterol Theory of Heart Disease [31 October 2011]

Did you notice in last week’s column the reference to the inverse correlation between cholesterol levels and mortality in women? This deserves further discussion.

The same 1990 Bethesda conference found a correlation between cholesterol and mortality for men, but only when cholesterol was very high (over 240 mg/dl) or very low (below 160). For women, the inverse correlation held over the entire range of cholesterol levels.

This is just one more added to a growing stack of studies (and group of scientists) which do not support the cholesterol and saturated fat theory of heart disease. So how did the theory originate and why is it still so widely held?

The cholesterol theory was first proposed over 100 years ago by a German pathologist who discovered cholesterol in arterial plaque. In 1913 a Russian scientist found that feeding cholesterol to rabbits caused atherosclerotic changes in their arteries.

A study published in 1953 by Dr. Ancel Keys known as the “Seven Countries Study” claimed to prove the link between dietery fats and heart disease. Had Keys however used the data from all 22 countries then available, there would have been no correlation.

Next was the Framingham Study which identified heart disease factors including smoking, high blood pressure, lack of exercise, and high cholesterol. The cholesterol link, however, was weak and a director of the study, Dr. William Castelli, later wrote of their findings in a 1992 editorial that “…the more saturated fat one ate, the more cholesterol one ate, the more calories one ate, the lower the person’s serum cholesterol”. Another Framingham finding (which was ignored) was that people whose cholesterol had declined were more likely to die prematurely than those whose cholesterol had remained the same or increased.

The U.S. Multiple Risk Factor Intervention Trial (MRFIT) trial, first published in 1999, publicized that people who ate a low-saturated fat and low-cholesterol diet had a (small) reduction in heart disease. But they neglected to mention that mortality from all causes was actually higher. And so on.

For more detailed analysis see “Debunking the Myth About High Cholesterol Levels” on www.mercola.com.

This article is intended for educational purposes only; for medical advice consult your licensed health practitioner.

October 24, 2011

137 Cholesterol, Vitamin D & Pregnancy [24 Oct. 2011]

If you are pregnant, vitamin D and cholesterol are essential to your growing baby.

Fat is so important to a healthy pregnancy that ovulation ceases when body fat falls below 17%. Dietary fat is also important to fertility: a study at the Harvard School of Public Health found that low fat dairy foods increased ovulation problems, but even one daily serving of high fat dairy (whole milk or ice cream) normalized ovulation. Don’t overdo it though – obesity is also a factor in infertility, however as I have explained in other columns, saturated fat is not as significant a factor in obesity as carbohydrates and particularly fructose.

Women should not worry about dietary cholesterol either. The cholesterol you eat has a negligible effect on blood cholesterol levels and, in any case, there is growing evidence that high cholesterol is not the cause of heart disease. In fact, when researchers from around the world met in Bethesda, Maryland, in 1990 to compare results on cholesterol studies, they found an inverse correlation between cholesterol levels and mortality in women. Yes that’s right, the lower your cholesterol, the more likely you are to die! And whatever you do, do not take statin drugs in pregnancy. They are now known to cause birth defects reminiscent of the Thalidomide tragedy of the 1950s, only worse as most end in miscarriage.

The reason that fat is so important in pregnancy is that sufficient amounts of both cholesterol and vitamin D are critical to the healthy development of embryonic brain and nerve cells. Vitamin D is of course converted from cholesterol in the skin in the presence of ultraviolet light. The myelin sheath is made of fat and cholesterol, and defects in it are linked with many neurological disorders. For example, a recent study found a correlation between low cholesterol and autism in children.

So it now appears that following the old well-intended advice of staying out of the sun and avoiding dietary fat could be the worst thing you could do for your developing baby.

Source: essay by Dr Stephanie Seneff on Mercola.com

This article is intended for educational purposes only; for medical advice consult your licensed health practitioner.

October 17, 2011

136 Eliminating MSG [17 Oct 2011]

Last week we looked at the health risks of excess monosodium glutamate (MSG). This week I want to show you how to find and reduce it in your diet.

First, who should be concerned about avoiding MSG?
• Not just those who experience the immediate temporary symptoms sometimes called “Chinese restaurant syndrome”, because the disabling neurological effects may take years to develop.
• Anyone who doesn’t need to put on more fat because of its property of encouraging overeating.
• People diagnosed with cancer because it has been shown to increase the growth and spread of tumors.
• Anyone who wants to prevent neurological diseases like MS, Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, asthma and epilepsy.
• In short, everyone.

MSG is found in many processed foods (it’s one of Colonel Sander’s “11 secret herbs and spices”). One estimate has the average American consuming 2 pounds a year.

Avoiding processed free glutamic acid (the chemical from MSG that causes the problems) is not as easy as you may think. There are more than 40 different food ingredients that contain this chemical. Some common examples are: glutamic acid, monosodium glutamate, monopotassium glutamate, calcium glutamate, magnesium glutamate, yeast extract, “hydrolyzed protein”, textured protein, caseinate soy protein, and whey protein. For a complete list of names and tips on avoiding glutamic acid see www.truthinlabeling.org/hiddensources_printable.pdf.

Glutamic acid and its glutamate salts should not be confused with the amino acid L-glutamine – a supplement used to enhance muscle building and wound healing. Glutamic acid is itself an amino acid and acts as an excitatory neurotransmitter, which is why an excess can cause neurological problems.

This article is intended for educational purposes only; for medical advice consult your licensed health practitioner.

October 11, 2011

135 MSG: Much More than a Buzz [11 Oct 2011]

Monosodium Glutamate (MSG) is a common but controversial food additive approved for use in Canada.

Health Canada’s position follows that of most food manufacturers, that MSG is a natural substance whose safety is unquestioned. In fact in Canada MSG is considered a “flavour enhancing ingredient” and is not regulated as a food additive. The Health Canada website states: “…MSG is not a health hazard to consumers… However, some individuals who consume MSG may exhibit an allergic-type reaction … [and temporarily experience] a burning sensation, facial pressure, headache, nausea and chest pains.”

This “Chinese restaurant syndrome” buzz may be the least of our worries. MSG also affects the leptin receptors in our hypothalamus so that even after eating enough we still feel hungry. This makes it a food manufacturer’s dream but also a likely contributor to the obesity epidemic. In fact scientists now use MSG when they want to fatten lab animals for research.

Free glutamate (released by MSG) is an excitotoxin, a substance that over stimulates nerve cells and can damage or even kill them. Lab animals fed MSG show toxic degenerative changes in their liver, kidneys, eyes, nerves and brain. MSG has been linked to a long and growing list of conditions: stroke, heart attacks, epilepsy, Multiple Sclerosis, ALS, autism, ADHD, asthma, Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s and cancer. And unlike the immediate buzz, these conditions may take years to develop.

Even more disturbing is the discovery that glutamate feeds cancer cells, causing them to grow faster and become more invasive. To date, MSG has been linked to melanoma, breast, thyroid and colon cancers as well as glioblastoma multiforme, a particularly nasty brain cancer.

Note these are links only, and more study is required to prove a causal connection. Health Canada must wait until proof is indisputable before acting, but you don’t! Next week: how to identify and eliminate MSG from your diet.

Sources: Cancer Defeated Newsletter #122 “This Food Additive is Like Fertilizer for Cancer” October 2, 2011; website of Russell Blaylock MD, neurosurgeon.

This article is intended for educational purposes only; for medical advice consult your licensed health practitioner.

October 3, 2011

134 Maca [3 Oct 2011]

A radish-like plant from the Andes Mountains of South America is growing in popularity in Europe and North America as a medicinal herb.

The root of the maca plant (Lepidium meyenii) has several medicinal properties that:
• increase energy and endurance
• relieve stress
• strengthen the immune system
• restore hormonal balance in both men and women
• enhance libido and sexual function.

Controlled clinical trials over the past 20 years have confirmed many of the nutritional and healing properties of maca. For example, athletes have been using it to improve performance, and trials have shown that maca increases energy, strength, endurance and blood oxygenation.

Maca’s other benefits appear to be hormonally facilitated. Its unique nutritional profile supports the pituitary and hypothalamus glands which control all the other endocrine glands. This explains why it benefits both men and women, easing menopausal symptoms in women, improving erectile dysfunction in men, and increasing libido in both. Maca’s (indirect) support of the adrenal glands explains how it increases athletic endurance, improves the ability to deal with stress (both physical and mental), and enhances the immune system.

Side effects of insomnia, anxiety and headaches have been reported in some people. Consult a health care practitioner before using maca if you are taking antidepressants, blood thinners, digoxin, or are diabetic. And, as always: This article is intended for educational purposes only; for medical advice consult your licensed health practitioner.