Disease & related ailments

Cholesterol Is Not The Enemy

Cholesterol is NOT the enemy: It’s inflammation that’s making you fat and killing you slowly
Wednesday, May 08, 2013 by: Jonathan Benson, staff writer
Tags: Fat, Cholesterol, Inflammation

(NaturalNews) The collective psyche of American society is long overdue for a major paradigm shift in its understanding of fats, inflammation, cholesterol, and the true cause of most chronic illnesses. Even many physicians, who should know better, still argue that cholesterol is evil and that sticking to a low-fat diet is good for health. But the fact of the matter is that avoiding fats is toxic to your health, and consuming the many food additives that commonly replace them – these include synthetic trans fats, refined sugars, and processed grains – are a primary cause of disease-causing inflammation.

It all makes sense if you just stop and consider the native role cholesterol plays in protecting arteries against lesions and other damage. Rather than being the cause of plaque buildup in the circulatory system, cholesterol is actually the healing agent the body sends to sites that have been damaged by inflammation. In other words, if you have too much cholesterol buildup in your arteries, your real problem is too much inflammation rather than too much cholesterol, and a whole different mitigatory approach is required to address the problem.

“It’s the inflammation in the vessels that starts the lesion,” says Dr. Beverly Teter, a lipid biochemist from the University of Maryland who has been researching fats and their affect on the human body for many years, as quoted by CBN.com. “The body then sends the cholesterol like a scab to cover over it to protect the blood system and the vessel wall from further damage.”

This runs completely contrary to the prevailing medical dogma, which still maintains that saturated fat and cholesterol are silent killers that can lead to heart disease, diabetes and other forms of chronic illness. As a result, millions of Americans have been duped into avoiding these necessary nutrients to their own demise, while they instead gorge on unhealthy vegetable oils, trans fats, sugars, grains, and phony low-fat junk foods.

“When choosing which fats to eat, pick the ones that are high in omega-3 fats and also choose natural saturated fats,” advises Lorie Johnson from CBN.com. “On the other hand, stay away from the fats that lead to inflammation, such as trans fats and omega-6 fats,” she adds, noting that most of the oils used in processed food are unhealthy vegetable oils posing as “nutritious.”

Saturated fat and cholesterol necessary for proper cellular function, brain health

What few people today realize is that their bodies actually require both saturated fat and cholesterol for proper metabolism, brain health, hormone balance and cellular homeostasis. Without these two important nutritional components, a cascade of health problems can ensue, including debilitating brain conditions like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. This is especially true for people who take toxic statin drugs to artificially lower their cholesterol levels.

“People with high cholesterol live the longest,” says Dr. Uffe Ravnskov, M.D., Ph.D. “Consider the finding of Dr. Harlan Krumholz of the Department of Cardiovascular Medicine at Yale University, who reported in 1994 that old people with low cholesterol died twice as often from a heart attack as did old people with high cholesterol.”

Sources for this article include:

http://www.cbn.com

http://www.cbn.com

http://lpi.oregonstate.edu/ss08/fat.html

http://www.westonaprice.org

Learn more: http://www.naturalnews.com/040234_high_cholesterol_heart_disease_medical_myth.html#ixzz2SuWZIYCE

Vitamin D Slows Parkinson’s Progression

Vitamin D slows Parkinson’s progression

Friday, March 22, 2013. The results of a double-blind, placebo-controlled trial reported online on March 13, 2013 in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition reveal a benefit for vitamin D supplementation in men and women with Parkinson’s disease.

In their introduction to the article, Masahiko Suzuki and his colleagues at Jikei University School of Medicine in Tokyo note that vitamin D levels are lower in Parkinson’s disease patients. Supplementation with the vitamin has been found to reduce the risk of falling, which is higher among individuals with the disease. Studies have shown that variations in the vitamin D receptor gene are associated with Parkinson’s disease risk.

For the current trial, 114 Parkinson’s disease patients were randomized to receive 1200 international units (IU) vitamin D3 per day or a placebo for twelve months. Hoehn and Yahr stage, Unified Parkinson’s Disease Rating Scale, Parkinson’s Disease Questionnaire-39 and other tests were administered to assess disease status before and after treatment. Blood samples collected at enrollment were analyzed for factors that included 25-hydroxyvitamin D and calcium levels, and variations in genes associated with vitamin D binding protein and vitamin D receptor.

By the end of the study, Parkinson’s disease stage worsened on average among those who received the placebo, but was essentially unchanged among those who received vitamin D. United Parkinson’s Disease Rating Scale scores were similarly unchanged among vitamin D-supplemented participants, but worsened in the placebo group. Total Parkinson’s Disease Questionnaire-39 scores improved on average among those who received vitamin D but were essentially unchanged among those who received the placebo. A significant benefit for vitamin D3 was observed among subjects with either of two vitamin D receptor FokI genotypes, but not among those with a third FokI genotype.

“To the best of our knowledge, this is the first randomized trial to examine the effects of vitamin D3 in patients with Parkinson’s disease,” the authors announce. “However, a meta-analysis showed that supplemental vitamin D for older adults who participated in randomized controlled trials consistently showed beneficial muscle effects on strength and balance. Therefore, it cannot be distinguished whether vitamin D supplementation specifically delays the progression of Parkinson’s disease or whether it just nonspecifically improves muscle strength and balance in older adults.”

The authors observe that the dose of vitamin D3 used in the study may have not been enough to maximize the effect of supplementation to improve Parkinson’s disease, and that the number of participants may have been too few to detect small differences in some endpoints. However, they remark that “Even with these limitations, vitamin D prevented the deterioration of Parkinson’s disease in this study.”

Cardiovascular Disease Risk Factors

Risk Factors
There are many cardiovascular disease risk factors of which to be aware. While all of these factors are serious, it is important to remember that with a diet based on heart healthy foods, nutritional supplements, and exercise, you can prevent and even reverse these cardiovascular disease risk factors. Below are some of the most common risk factors.

Asymmetric Dimethylarginine (ADMA) – This modified amino acid is a better indicator of endothelial dysfunction than the blood level of cholesterol.

Smoking – Tobacco smoke has about 4,000 different substances in it, and any of them can cause problems with your blood vessels. Even second-hand smoke damages blood vessels and speeds up plaque formation. There are several poisons, one being nicotine, that damage blood vessels. John P. Cooke, M.D., Ph.D. and head of vascular research at Stanford University School of Medicine has shown in his research that nicotine can cause plaques and tumors to grow much more quickly. (Short-term use of nicotine patches or gums to stop smoking is safe).

Obesity – Excess body fat is a cardiovascular disease risk factor that puts strain on the heart, elevates blood pressure, and raises cholesterol levels. It also increases the chance of developing diabetes. Overweight individuals tend to lead more sedentary lifestyles, have high blood pressure, and higher blood sugar levels, which all can damage to the endothelium.

High Blood Pressure or Hypertension – This disorder is caused by too much pressure of the blood against the blood vessel walls and heart. This damages both the blood vessels and heart over time. High blood pressure may be caused by high levels of circulating hormones such as angiotensin and adrenaline. These “stress” hormones are useful if you are in a flight-or-fight situation, but if they are constantly increased, then blood vessels will form free radicals that can damage the endothelium and reduce production of nitric oxide.

Diabetes – Often termed the silent epidemic, diabetes involves high blood sugar levels, which seriously increase your risk of developing cardiovascular disease. If you have excessive amounts of sugar in the blood, the sugar sticks to the proteins in the blood vessels. These “glycosylated” proteins function abnormally, and the body does not recognize them. The body’s immune system thinks they are a foreign substance and may attack them. This results in inflammation in the blood vessel wall that can damage the vessel and speed up hardening of the arteries or arteriosclerosis (the general term for any hardening of the arteries; atherosclerosis is hardening of the arteries caused by fatty deposits of plaque in the arterial wall).
High Cholesterol – While high cholesterol is a heart disease risk factor, to what extent depends on several variables. If you have a healthy endothelium that produces adequate nitric oxide, then cholesterol is not much of a risk factor. Knowing your HDL to LDL cholesterol ratio is also an important factor, as your body needs plenty of HDL cholesterol for the structure of our cell membranes.

Homocysteine – This cardiovascular disease risk factor is a modified amino acid that comes from another amino acid, methionine. Our bodies can produce methionine, and we also ingest it from protein we eat. Methionine is converted to homocysteine in a chemical reaction that is important for cell function. However, homocysteine in high levels can damage endothelial cells. The most common reason for high homocysteine levels is vitamin B deficiency. Supplementing with B vitamins can lower homocysteine, and l-arginine or antioxidants like vitamin C may reverse the effects of homocysteine.

C-reactive protein (CRP) – CRP is a protein found in the blood, the levels of which rise as a response to inflammation. Recent research indicates that patients with elevated basal levels of CRP are at an increased risk of diabetes, hypertension and cardiovascular disease.

Stress – Stress is another cardiovascular disease risk factor that can cause damage to the blood vessels. Like other muscles in your body, blood vessels contract and expand according to signals from the nervous system. Fear, anxiety, and stress can activate nerve fibers in the blood vessels, which release adrenaline-like substances into the vessel wall, causing it to either relax or constrict. This helps explains why angina (chest pain) can occur when you have blood vessels that are narrowed by plaque, by activating the nerves in the blood vessels, causing them to constrict.

Vasoconstrictor nerves activated by anger or other stron emotions also stimulate the adrenal gland to release adrenaline into the blood stream. Adrenaline causes the heart to race, along with constricting vessels in the skin and gut, and relaxes vessels to the heart and brain. This is in order to redirect blood to where it is needed in a fight-or-flight situation. Adrenaline also improves the ability of blood to clot. This reaction is beneficial in certain situations, but not if you feel stress from work, traffic for example.

Parasympathetic nerves are ones that slow the heartbeat and cause blood vessels to relax and open. Obviously it is better for these nerves to have more influence over your coronary arteries and heart. This should be the goal with any stress reduction plan.

Sedentary Lifestyle – Is a cardiovascular disease risk factor that makes you twice as likely to have a heart attack or stroke than an active person. Exercising daily benefits cardiovascular health in many ways. Exercise increases your production of good cholesterol (HDL) and decreases your production of bad cholesterol (LDL). It also reduces your blood sugar levels, stress hormones (adrenaline), lowers your resting heart rate and blood pressure, helps with weight loss, and directly benefits the health of your endothelium and blood vessels. Even moderate daily exercise, such as vigorous walking for 30 minutes, can help add years to your life.

One quarter of the Unites States population suffers from at least one cardiovascular disease risk factor, but by taking proper steps through a heart healthy diet, nutritional supplements, and exercise you can take steps toward preventing and even reversing heart disease

Great Article on Vitamin D3

FEDS KEEPING PEOPLE SICK: THE VITAMIN D STORY
Exclusive: Dr. Lee Hieb explains how medical ‘consensus’ robs patients of their health
Published: 2 days ago
by LEE HIEB, M.D. Email | Archive
Dr. Lee Hieb is an orthopaedic surgeon specializing in spinal surgery. She is past president of the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons, a free market medical organization.
Editor’s Note: Dr. Lee Hieb is a new columnist with WND who debuted last week. Check out her archive, so you don’t miss her first, eye-opening column!

No one said it better than Michael Crichton – who, in addition to being a best selling author, was also a physician.

During a lecture at Cal Tech, he said, “Let’s be clear: The work of science has nothing whatever to do with consensus. Consensus is the business of politics. Science, on the contrary, requires only one investigator who happens to be right. … The greatest scientists in history are great precisely because they broke with the consensus.”

The medical community has always been subject to “group-think,” but in recent decades we have become the leaders. Numerous physician-scientists have been ostracized, defrocked, de-licensed and in some cases driven to self-destruction by a medical community that has embraced consensus in science.

In essence, “We don’t care about your data; we all agree you are wrong.”

I once had a paper rejected from a major spine journal with a one line denouement: “Everyone knows you can’t do that.”

With time, ultimately, truth prevails, and renegade but correct physicians are vindicated – but not in time to save those patients who die from the mistaken consensus. Today, this “group-think” is depriving people from some of the best and cheapest medical treatment available – supplementation with adequate Vitamin D3.

Vitamin D deficiency has been associated with childhood rickets – a bone disorder – for over a hundred years. And it has been known since the 1970s that those living on the equator, regardless of particular locale, have lower rates of multiple sclerosis, colon cancer and depression. But more recently, many astute observers have discovered that low Vitamin D leads to many other disorders, including cardiac arrhythmia, breast cancer, adult fractures, dementia, heart attack risk and even diabetes.

Most recently, studies have demonstrated that higher levels of Vitamin D improve longevity and are beneficial at preventing influenza – even better than vaccination. Studies showing beneficial effects of high vitamin D levels are quite convincing. They not only show a correlation between low Vitamin D blood levels and the problem, but show improvement in the disease or prevention of the condition when levels are raised up through supplementation.

As an example, it has been shown in the laboratory that heart muscle does not contract well unless adequate Vitamin D is present. An Italian population study showed that low Vitamin D was proportional to atherosclerotic plaques (clogging of the arteries). Furthermore, a Japanese study of dialysis patients demonstrated that correcting Vitamin D deficiency significantly lowered death from heart attacks and heart disease in general.

These are only a few of the rapidly expanding body of literature supporting the role of Vitamin D in multiple disease prevention. But to achieve the positive effects seen in many diseases, blood levels need to be in the range of 50 to 100 ng/dl, not the 20 ng/dl that laboratories report as the lowest range of “normal” (how labs determine “normal” is the subject of another column). Specifically in the case of breast cancer, if one achieves blood levels above 55 ng/dl, the risk of breast cancer is diminished 85 percent.

It is the observation of many, many practicing clinicians that first, most patients test in the low 20s, and second, 400 iu of Vitamin D a day – the government recommended daily allowance doesn’t raise the levels at all. Studies of equatorial inhabitants demonstrate that some of the longest-lived people on the planet obtain 30,000-40,000 iu of Vitamin D (specifically D3) a day from the sunlight – nature’s source of the vitamin. Given that, it is not suprising that supplementing 10,000 iu a day of Vitamin D3 has been shown to have no adverse effects.

As an Orthopaedic Surgeon, I deal with bone disorders daily, and have long been interested in this topic. I quit testing for Vitamin D levels in untreated people after every one of my patients tested in the low 20s. I only tested my husband because he was convinced that golfing in Arizona 18 holes, six days a week would raise his level. It did not – his level was 22 ng/dl.

As a final fact, D3 supplementation is cheap. For less than $12 a month you can easily take 10,000 iu of Vitamin D3 a day.

Now, given all this, what would you do?

I, for one take 10,000 units of Vitamin D3 a day. I have done so for over 7 years, and my levels of 55 ng/dl are barely in the optimal range of 50-100ng/dl. I recommend the same to all my patients. But I must warn them that the government, via the Institute of Medicine and the FDA, disagree and believe people should take only 600-800 iu a day.

Now it doesn’t take a medical degree to figure out that a cheap treatment that has such potential upside with so little (if any) downside is worth doing as real preventive medicine. But the government consensus – developed by intellectuals who feel they are infinitely smarter than we are, and should be able to make our choices for us – is that there is no evidence for the beneficial claims.

Really? If they emerge from their collective basement, they will find pages and pages of references. Don’t believe it? Do a simple Google search. Or just read the newspaper. Besides frequent articles in medical and general science journals supporting Vitamin D3 supplementation, there are monthly news stories about this rapidly advancing science.

Sadly, the government doesn’t just want to discourage you from taking extra Vitamin D, they want to prohibit it. Senator Dick Durban, D-Ill., in 2011 introduced a bill (innocuously labeled the “Supplement Labeling Act”) which would so over-regulate the supplement industry that they could no longer supply products such as Vitamin D3 at a cost affordable to the average consumer.

And state medical boards, which are now populated by many non-physicians, sanction physicians who step out of this approved “consensus” – what they call “standard of care.” According to them, if you are not doing what 90 percent of your colleagues are doing, you are by definition wrong. And they can punish you, even to the extent of taking away your license. So, regardless of progress in science, if 90 percent of doctors are recommending an inadequate dose of Vitamin D, your doctor must give you this wrong advice.

To be a scientific leader in this new world order is to be wrong. If the phone company had this philosophy, we would still be tied to land line rotary dials.

Science and medicine are not a vote. As Dr. Crichton pointed out, voting is for politicians. Science requires freedom to consider the alternatives, and in medicine, the freedom to make our own choices – not have government bureaucrats or the Institute of Medicine make them for us.

Getting Fit By Age 50

Getting Fit By the Age of 50 Helps Prevent Disease in Your “Golden Years”

By Dr. Mercola

Most people intuitively know that the lifestyle choices they make today impact their future health. But this rather vague connection has now been quantified by science.

A new study shows your lifestyle choices in middle age have a direct impact on how you’ll spend your Golden Years. If you’re fit at 50, you’re much more likely to be healthy into your 70s and 80s.

Never before has it been so readily apparent how important it is to be fit by mid life!

Americans are living longer but not healthier lives. Although life expectancy in the U.S. is now above 78, which is up from 74 in 1980, rates of a number of chronic diseases, like diabetes, cancer and heart disease have steadily risen, and these diseases are appearing earlier in life.

The red flags are flying high – you reap what you sow when it comes to your diet and exercise patterns.

Fit 50 Year-Olds have Fewer Diseases as Seniors

Researchers at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center and the Cooper Institute in Dallas followed 18,670 men and women for almost 40 years in a first-of-its-kind study. They compared fitness levels at middle age with overall health later. The men and women who’d been the least fit in their 40s and 50s developed the most chronic conditions early in the aging process, including heart disease, type 2 diabetes, Alzheimer’s, COPD, kidney disease, and lung or colon cancer.

There are many studies showing physically fit people have a lower risk of dying than those who are unfit. But this is the first study to examine the relationship between chronic disease in the elderly and fitness earlier in life. Essentially, being physically fit “compresses the time” you are likely to spend being debilitated during old age.

It makes a difference in your quality of life. If you want to spend more of your Golden Years on golf courses than in hospital rooms, the time to start making better lifestyle choices is NOW.

In reference to the study, the New York Times writes:

“The adults who’d been the most fit in their 40s and 50s often developed many of the same conditions, but notably their maladies appeared significantly later in life than for the less fit. Typically, the most aerobically fit people lived with chronic illnesses in the final five years of their lives, instead of the final 10, 15 or even 20 years…

Interestingly, the effects of fitness in this study statistically were greater in terms of delaying illness than in prolonging life. While those in the fittest group did tend to live longer than the least fit, perhaps more important was the fact that they were even more likely to live well during more of their older years.”

Exercise Reduces Inflammation, Improves Your Strength, and Protects Your Brain as You Age

One of the reasons exercise is so beneficial is that it reduces inflammation in your body. Persistent low-grade inflammation is a driving force for many chronic conditions, and this is especially true in the elderly for whom inflammation is a major cause of disability and loss of independence. In fact, exercise is considered an important treatment for chronic inflammation in the elderly.

There is also increasing evidence that physical activity has a protective effect on your brain in your later years.

Clearly, exercising throughout your lifespan is highly beneficial, and the earlier you start, the more profound the benefits will be. It makes sense, then, that if you exercise regularly, you are preventing and reducing chronic disease processes, which is exactly what this 2009 Finnish meta-analysis showed. Aerobic/functional capacity and muscle strength were improved by exercise training among patients with various diseases, without detrimental effects.

The authors wrote:

“This is important, as with population aging, exercise therapy may be an important means of reducing disability and increasing the number of older people living independently. Additionally, there is accumulating evidence that in patients with chronic disease, exercise therapy is effective in improving the prognostic risk factor profile and, in certain diseases, in delaying mortality. In some diseases, such as osteoarthritis, pain symptoms may also be reduced. Severe complications during the exercise therapy programs were rare.”

Why You Really Should Be “Fit by 40″

The older you get, the harder it is to become fit, especially after “the Big 4-0.” Once you enter middle age, it is far easier to maintain good fitness than to get in shape for the first time. And this is even truer if you’re a woman, as discussed by CNN’s diet and fitness expert, Dr. Melina Jampolis. As women enter middle age, their sex hormones begin to change.

If you’re a woman over age 40, your body produces less “healthy estrogen” and more estrone, the type of estrogen produced by your fat tissue. Estrone contributes to insulin resistance, cravings for sweets, and loss of muscle mass.

Is blaming your extra flab on your hormones a cop-out? Well, there is actually some truth to it… but it’s not insurmountable.

As you age, your resting metabolic rate tends to decline by about five percent for every decade of life past age 40, according to Madelyn Fernstrom, PhD, director of the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center Weight Management Center and associate director of the UPMC Nutrition Center. Pamela Peeke, MD, a specialist in nutrition and stress at the University of Maryland School of Medicine in Baltimore, lists three primary factors that control your metabolism:

Genetics
Thyroid function (thyroid problems are ten times more common in women than in men)
Muscle mass
Recent research suggests women on average will lose muscle mass twice as fast as men the same age, which can hamper their ability to lose or maintain their weight. And exercising can become more challenging for aging men and women due to AMP-activated protein kinase (AMPK), a muscle-building process that declines with age.

But even with these built-in biological saboteurs, it doesn’t mean you’re destined to gain weight later in life. Good nutrition and optimal exercise help counter these biological tendencies. Exercising – even briefly – can change your DNA in a way that readies your body for increased muscle strength and fat burning. In fact, exercise can boost your metabolism by addressing all three factors listed above. Additionally, it boosts your natural human growth hormone production, which is important for maintaining muscle mass as you age.

Sudden Cardiac Death Actually Less Likely if You’re Exercising

If you think about it, you can probably recall being shocked by the occasional report of a high-profile person suddenly dropping dead during exercise. These news events may scare you into wondering if exercise is really safe. But the reality is that sudden cardiac death can occur whether you’re exercising or not. A new study in the Netherlands reveals that, if you experience cardiac arrest while exercising, you’re more likely to survive than if your heart stops beating when you’re not exercising.

The researchers discovered:

People with an exercise-related OHCA (out-of-hospital cardiac arrest) were found to have a 45 percent chance of surviving the event
People with a non-exercise OHCA had a 15 percent chance of surviving the event
So, your odds of surviving cardiac arrest are three times better if you’re exercising! Additionally, none of the survivors of exercise-related OHCA suffered serious neurological damage, which was not the case for those surviving a non-exercise-related OHCA. So, if you are worried about the possibility of exercise raising your risk for cardiac arrest, these statistics should help ease that fear. Lack of exercise is much riskier for your heart and overall health than having a heart attack during exercise.

Remember, Working Out Longer is Not Necessarily Better

If you think you need to spend an hour pounding the treadmill every day in order to be fit, then you’ll be pleased to learn this is an outdated myth. Research has disproven it many times in recent years. Subjects in the latest study who spent 30 minutes per day exercising lost more weight than those who spent a full hour at it every day. While it may be counterintuitive, the results showed moderate exercisers got more for their effort – they lost more weight in half the time.

Previous research has shown that just 20 minutes of high intensity training, two to three times a week, can yield greater results than slow and steady conventional aerobics performed five times a week.

Time, frequency and intensity are three important variables to keep in mind when creating your fitness program. And, while high intensity interval training is the most effective, you still need variety to reap maximum results.

Don’t underestimate the importance of proper nutrition and positive goal setting as crucial elements in achieving your fitness goals.

You might even want to incorporate intermittent fasting, which is another helpful strategy for optimizing your metabolism. Exercising on an empty stomach has been shown to have a number of health and fitness benefits, as the combination of fasting and exercising forces the breakdown of fat and glycogen for energy, effectively forcing your body to burn fat without sacrificing muscle mass.

My Prescription for Peak Fitness

When you’re planning your exercise routine, variety is key. Make sure it incorporates the following types of exercise. For a comprehensive overview, please see my Workout Plan.

Interval (Anaerobic) Training: This involves short bursts of high-intensity exercise alternating with gentle recovery periods.
Strength Training: Round out your exercise program with a one-set strength training routine. You can bump up the intensity by slowing it down. For more information about using super slow weight training as a form of high intensity interval exercise, please listen to my interview with Dr. Doug McGuff.
Core Exercises: Your body has 29 core muscles located mostly in your back, abdomen and pelvis. This group of muscles provides the foundation for movement throughout your entire body. Strengthening your core can help protect and support your back, make your spine and body less prone to injury, and give you greater balance and stability. Exercise programs like Pilates and yoga are great for strengthening your core muscles, as are specific exercises you can learn from a personal trainer.
Stretching: My favorite type of stretching is Active Isolated Stretching (AIS) developed by Aaron Mattes. With AIS, you hold each stretch for only two seconds, which works with your body’s natural physiology to improve circulation, increase elasticity of muscles and joints, and enhance tissue healing and repair. You can also use devices like the Power Plate to help you stretch.