Forget Cholesterol - Think Heart Inflammation

Posted on Tuesday, July 13, 2010 in
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Heart Disease is Much More than High Cholesterol

If you listen to all the Lipitor drug ads, lowering cholesterol is all it takes to eliminate heart disease.

This could not be further from the truth, say the most learned minds on the subject. According to all of the latest research, the real danger is inflammation from two compounds found in the blood of heart attack victims; Homocysteine and C-Reactive Protein.

And you don't get these compounds from certain foods - your body makes them in response to other substances.

Why aren't doctors telling us about this? Do they even know? Is it because drugs won't control Homocysteine and C-Reactive Protein?

Checking Your Cholesterol is so Last Century!

For much of the 20th century, doctors and patients tracked the ups and downs of cholesterol levels to determine the risk of having a heart attack. But the evidence supporting the link between high cholesterol and heart disease has been flimsy from the get go.

Certainly, people with extremely high cholesterol levels or familial hypercholesterolemia do have a higher risk of heart disease. But elevated cholesterol levels appear to be more of a symptom, than a cause - a sign that something, somewhere is awry.

In the late 1990s, researchers at the Harvard Medical School were on the trail of a new, and more likely, factor in coronary artery disease. Paul Ridker, MD, and his colleagues suspected that inflammation was a key player in heart disease. They developed a test for high sensitivity C-reactive protein (CRP) that was able to detect chronic low-grade inflammation, something missed by all other medical tests.

Lipitor-Statin Drug Madness

In the 1990s, to hoodwink the public at large, drug companies introduced cholesterol-lowering statin drugs, such as Lipitor, practically cementing the largely unsubstantiated link between cholesterol and heart disease. That began a high-pressure sell to get both consumers and physicians interested in using statins to lower cholesterol levels, and Lipitor alone now accounts for $13 billion in yearly sales.

But nearly everyone seems to ignore a key fact: half of people with heart disease have normal cholesterol levels. So there must be other big risk factors, but what are they? C-Reactive Protein and its kissing cousin, Homocysteine.

What is C-Reactive Protein Anyway?

Heart disease, like all health problems, is multifaceted. There are many contributing causes, and many of them directly or indirectly involve inflammation.

For example, oxidation of LDL cholesterol is an established risk factor - and a sign of inadequate intake of antioxidants, such as vitamins C and E. Trans fats found in hydrogenated oils, sugar and refined carbohydrates all increase inflammation. So does elevated blood sugar, a characteristic of pre-diabetes and Type-2 diabetes. Deficiency of B-vitamins increase blood Homocysteine levels, which are also intertwined with inflammation.

C-Reactive Protein is a byproduct of interleukin-6 or IL-6, one of the most pro-inflammatory molecules made in the body. Both IL-6 and CRP are signaling molecules - they essentially tell the body to rev up inflammation by activating other substances, such as arachidonic acid.

Some physicians have argued that CRP is a marker of inflammation, not a cause, but in another article, Ridker demonstrated that CRP is a very active molecule. It stimulates the production of other substances that promote inflammation, triggers the oxidation of LDL cholesterol and reduces the activity of nitric oxide, which protects blood vessel walls.

The Good News: Vitamins, Herbs & Minerals to the Rescue!

Research on inflammation and heart disease shows that inflammatory disease processes affect more than arthritis, asthma, allergies and the traditional " -itis" diseases.

As the evidence continues to mount, the risk of Alzheimer's, diabetes and many other serious diseases have strong inflammatory underpinnings. Take the necessary lifestyle, diet and supplement steps to reduce low-grade chronic inflammation.

Here's my top recommendations of nutritional supplements that can reduce inflammation:

Multivitamins - Vitamins and minerals with natural antioxidant properties have immediate effect on all inflammation, particularly C-Reactive Protein and Homocysteine. Aphrodite is our mega-nutrient formula for women, and Zeus is the counterpart for men.

Omega-3's - Omega 3 fatty acids are widely recognized by researchers for their anti-inflammatory actions, particularly against C-Reactive Protein. Everyone thinks of salmon for Omega 3 fatty acids, but firm tofu, spinach, chia and ground flaxseed all are fabulous sources of dietary Omega 3's. If you want to supplement, get our Omega 3/6/9 formula and take 2 gelcaps daily with a meal.

Vitamin E - A proven antioxidant for overall health, hair and skin, vitamin E is also shown to lower C-Reactive Protein levels by as much as 30-50%. Amazing! Nuts like almonds, hazelnuts, and sunflower seeds are high in vitamin E. So is brocolli, spinach, butternut squash and avocado.

Curcumin - The spice from India that is new here in the west, but used for centuries in India has broad-spectrum anti-inflammatory benefits. Some research indicates that curcumin might reduce the risk of cardiovascular diseases. Our Super Curcumin C3 Complex is a special, patented extract of 3 forms of curcuminoid compounds for proven bio-availability. Take 1-3 tablets a day.

Antioxidants - Vitamins A (or beta carotene,) C and E are considered the key antioxidants that mop up free radicals, singular oxygen molecules that are byproducts of oxidative stress. Antioxidants are intimately involved in reducing cellular damage -- the pathway for cancer, aging, and disease.

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