You know, science is a funny thing in that accepted science is always right…until it isn’t anymore. And when the science on anything is widely accepted, governments and people put a high level of faith into it and make major changes in their lives to align themselves with what science says.
When science is right, that’s a great thing that saves lives! Take cigarette smoking for example. Until the science caught up with how bad cigarettes are for us, the majority of Americans smoked! We smoked right next to our kids. In the car with the windows shut. At indoor restaurants. Who remembers smoking on airplanes?!? It really wasn’t that long ago when all of this was accepted. And then science caught up. And well, we all know what happened with that. In that instance, science saved many lives!
But what about when science is widely accepted for many years…decades, even…and then we discover that the science was wrong. Dead wrong! Well, depending on the topic of discussion, the results can be absolutely devastating.
Let’s take heart disease for example. You may have heard about a scientist named Ancel Keys. Keys was the father of the “lipid hypothesis”. Keys conducted a study in the 1950’s that found a major correlation between the amount of dietary cholesterol and saturated fat eaten and heart disease. His findings were heralded by the US government and scientists everywhere and he became the poster boy for healthy eating.
Keys’ scientific findings would go on to be the foundation of U.S. dietary guidelines for the next 6 decades. The guidelines stipulated that to protect heart health and prevent heart attacks, we should drastically limit our dietary intake of cholesterol containing foods like eggs as well as foods that contain saturated fat like red meat and coconut oil. The advice was to replace those otherwise very healthy foods with grains. In fact, people today STILL fear cholesterol and saturated fat, AND believe that grains are good for heart health because of that study.
Only one problem though: Keys was wrong. DEAD WRONG. And worse: His study was FRAUDULENT! Yes, you read that correctly. The US government based over 6 decades of dietary guidelines on a falsified study!
Keys initially studied 22 countries. The problem was, when he included all 22 countries studied on his graph, the data failed to show any statistically significant correlation between saturated fat, cholesterol intake and heart attacks. So Keys did what any good, honest and dedicated researcher would do: throw out the data that doesn’t match your hypothesis!
Take a moment to watch this short clip from the movie Fathead. It perfectly explains how we became so phobic of cholesterol and saturated fat (and it’ll give you a chuckle!):
Yes, that’s correct. Here is a graphic showing Keys’ data and the data that he left out of his study:
As you can see, the data is really all over the place. He lied. He was a criminal! Yet this man was unbelievably put in charge of American dietary guidelines that would shape the way this country eats for over 6 decades! And what was the result?
Did these new dietary guidelines reduce heart attacks for Americans? Nope! In fact, according to the CDC, heart disease is the leading cause of death for Americans. 1 in 4 deaths are caused by it. about 600,000 people die of heart disease every single year. That’s more than cancer, and certainly way more than any vaccine preventable diseases which are all the rage now.
What’s more, the last several decades of research have pointed to inflammation, NOT cholesterol and saturated fat, as the number one culprit of heart disease. In fact, a 2009 study by scientists at UCLA revealed that:
“75 percent of patients hospitalized for a heart attack had cholesterol levels that would indicate they were not at high risk for a cardiovascular event, according to current national cholesterol guidelines.”
“Specifically, these patients had low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol levels that met current guidelines, and close to half had LDL levels classified in guidelines as optimal (less than 100 mg/dL).”
Wait…what?!?! I thought LDL cholesterol was the culprit!?! At least that’s what every cardiologist says. How could legions of brilliant doctors not know this stuff? What could possibly be the reason that this information is being suppressed and under-reported by the media? I’ll leave that part to your imagination.
Fast forward to today, and the influential Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee, the group that provides the scientific basis for the “Dietary Guidelines” has recently stated “OUR BAD! dietary cholesterol intake really isn’t bad for you! OOPS! Sorry for the millions of deaths caused by our piss-poor advice for the last 6 decades.”
The science behind this has been widely available for at least a decade now. They just turned the other way and pounded the table to protect their egos and to not have to admit responsibility for killing millions of Americans with piss-poor health advice!
And the irony of it all…they STILL don’t fully have it right! They are still saying saturated fat is dangerous. It isn’t. The science is out there guys. It’s just not being acknowledged. cholesterol and saturated fat don’t cause heart disease! Sugar and excess carbohydrates do! Oxidized vegetable oils like soybean, canola, and cottonseed oil do!
For the last 60 plus years, our government and the medical community has pounded the table that “the science is irrefutable…cholesterol causes heart disease”. And now after millions of Americans have died based on that faulty science, they are finally saying “our bad…we might have been wrong”.
Dietary cholesterol at worst will account for no more than 25% of a persons total body cholesterol. The rest is made in the liver.
Cholesterol isn’t a villain. It’s one of the most important substances in your body. So important that your body produces its own and tightly regulates the levels.
How important is cholesterol?
- Cell Membranes: It forms the lining of every cell in your body. The cell membrane. Without it your cells wouldn’t even be able to talk to each other.
- Sex Hormones: Circulating LDL cholesterol (yes the “bad” cholesterol) is responsible for producing Pregnenolone in the body. “What is pregnenolone” you ask? Only the master sex hormone. Your body uses pregnenolone to make DHEA, testosterone and estrogen. Without it we cannot make sex hormones. Take a guess what that means for someone who is taking statins to lower their LDL cholesterol?
- Repairs Cellular Damage: Cholesterol has many vital roles. Another one is to repair the damage that injury or wear and tear does to our cells. Break a leg, you’ll get swelling in the area. Your liver will send cholesterol (via LDL particles) to the area of injury to repair the cell damage. Without it you would not heal!
- Vitamin D Synthesis: Cholesterol is needed by the body to produce Vitamin D. You know, that really important nutrient that prevents cancer and heart disease?
- Digestion: Cholesterol is necessary for digestion and is needed in order to produce bile.
So, with that in mind, What do you think comes first:
A) cholesterol clogging your arteries?
B) your arteries becoming inflamed and irritated?
The answer is b! Your arteries become inflamed and less supple from generalized inflammation in your body. This causes damage to the cells on the lining of the artery. What is the body’s response? Send cholesterol (carried by LDL particles) to the site of injury to repair the damaged cells!
Are fires caused by firemen? It sounds silly, but think about it. Every time we see fires, we also see firemen. That’s a correlation. But is it correct to hypothesize that firemen cause fires from that correlation?? That is exactly what science did for the last 6 decades with cholesterol!
Think of the damage in your arteries as a 4-alarm fire and cholesterol as the firemen. Cholesterol is there to put out the fire. But the fire keeps raging. So more and more firefighters with more and more fire trucks keep showing up to fight the good fight and save your life.
The problem is that when you continue to live a lifestyle that is generally inflammatory to your body, the cholesterol cannot keep up with the chronic damage and the inflammation and never really leaves the artery. So Cholesterol’s job is never done. That is how and why cholesterol stays and eventually calcifies in your arteries.
Does that make sense?
So what does this all mean?
1) Cholesterol in and of itself is not the cause of heart disease! It has been wrongly vilified.
2) Chronic inflammation in your arteries and chronic systemic bodily inflammation is a better predictor of cardiac risk. Why? Because take away the inflammation, and you take away the chronic damage to the lining of your arteries, hence you take away the need for cholesterol to stick around to repair damage. It will just flow through your arteries and be carried back to your liver by HDL particles as it was brilliantly designed to do!
3) Cholesterol is a poor indicator for your actual risk of cardiac event.
4) Inflammatory markers such as CRP and Homocysteine should be considered when evaluating your risk for heart disease or a cardiac event. There is also evidence that an enzyme called “Lp-PLA2” is an excellent marker of inflammation inside the arteries (especially for women). If your doctor recommends you take statin drugs based solely on your cholesterol levels and does not test for these inflammatory markers, you need to fire your doctor and find one who does!
By the way, speaking of statins, if you take them or if you know anyone who takes them, you need to read this study that was just released (not surprisingly without much fan-fare from the media despite it’s literally earth-shattering findings) in February of 2015.
The study found that statin drugs:
- May be causative in coronary artery calcification (clogging your arteries!).
- Can function as mitochondrial toxins that impair muscle function in the heart and blood vessels through the depletion of coenzyme Q10 and ‘heme A’.
- Inhibit the synthesis of vitamin K2 which protects arteries from calcification.
- Inhibit the biosynthesis of selenium containing proteins, one of which is glutathione peroxidase, our bosies master antioxidant. An impairment of selenoprotein biosynthesis may be a factor in congestive heart failure, reminiscent of the dilated cardiomyopathies seen with selenium deficiency. Thus, the epidemic of heart failure and atherosclerosis that plagues the modern world may paradoxically be aggravated by the pervasive use of statin drugs.
The study concludes that “current statin treatment guidelines be critically reevaluated.”
The next logical question would be “OK, so inflammation is the underlying cause of heart disease…but what causes inflammation?”
The answer: every part of living a western lifestyle! Too much of any of the following will cause chronic inflammation in your body:
- Lack of sleep.
- Processed foods.
- Omega 6 fatty acids
- Vegetable oils (soy, canola, cottonseed, etc). They are very unstable and oxidize quickly. Easily one of the greatest sources of inflammation in the western diet hands down.
- Prescription and OTC medication.
- Chronic bacterial and viral infections.
- Bacterial imbalances in your gut (this one is HUGE).
- Malnutrition, maldigestion, malabsorption of nutrients.
- Environmental pollutants (air, water, pesticides, herbicides, fungicides, chemicals in household cleaning products, cosmetics, sunscreen, etc)
- Emotional stress and a lack of coping mechanisms (this one is also HUGE).
- Alcohol consumption and recreational drug use. Actually, combining alcohol and Tylenol or any NSAID is a particularly deadly combo. How many of us do that? You get hammered and then take a Tylenol before bed to stave off a bad headache in the morning.
Literally every aspect of living a western lifestyle causes inflammation in our bodies. Lowering your inflammation levels will keep you healthy. That’s what I focus on with all of my clients. Changing their lifestyle from pro-inflammatory to anti-inflammatory.
Inflammation is the precursor not just to heart disease but cancer and autoimmune disease as well. There are genetic components, but like I tell my clients:
Genetics loads the gun, but environment is what pulls the trigger.
You may have a predisposition towards heart disease, cancer, or autoimmunity, but it only expresses itself when your lifestyle leads to the inflammation that causes that gene to express itself. Think of your genes as a chain that has one or several weak links. The chain is not broken yet, just weak. If you apply pressure to that link it will break and render the chain useless. But if you don’t apply pressure, the link will remain intact. In your body, inflammation is what puts pressure on gene expression.
And there you have it: epigenetics summed up in a few sentences.
Think of how many people you know that have died from heart failure. All of this could have been prevented if not for the faulty science of the lipid hypothesis, and the government’s stubborn refusal to acknowledge the changing science for the last few decades. If this makes you angry, GOOD! It should make you angry!
Please spread the word by sharing this article on your social media feeds and email it to your loved ones. It’s not too late for many of us!
And, as always, I encourage you to comment below!
Thanks for reading!
PS – Click here to read an incredible article on cholesterol, its many important roles, and a breakdown of the various lipoproteins.
Rick Gold is the President & Founder of Gold Functional Wellness, Inc. He works with clients locally in South Florida as well as worldwide. Rick holds a certification in Functional Diagnostic Nutrition and is well-versed in the concepts of functional medicine. He specializes in identifying and healing the underlying causes of malfunctions in the gut (i.e. leaky gut, SIBO, dysbiosis, acid reflux, IBS, and autoimmune conditions).
Rick used functional lab testing and intensive lifestyle changes to eliminate his health complaints and vastly improve his overall health. After that, he knew that he had found his calling. Rick acquired his FDN certification and now helps clients heal themselves in the same fashion with fantastic results.
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