Friday, April 25, 2014

So What's the Fuss About Statins

Well, the good news is statins definitely lower cholesterol; the bad news is there is much evidence showing cholesterol produces up to 300 side effects and is not the culprit doctors and pharmaceutical companies claim it to be regarding heart problems. Some of the more common side effects are damage to the liver and pancreas, anemia, memory loss, depression, increase in insulin resistance leading to development of diabetes and the one I often deal with directly with clients...muscle pain. Let me be clear before I go further.  I AM NOT A DOCTOR...I am not telling you to stop taking your statin medication or any other medication for that matter. I am not at war against doctors. If I'm in a car wreck or need emergency treatment I want the best treatment available which is right here in the good old USA.  However, there is a growing tendency for the medical community to treat problems rather than try and cure them.  The pharmaceutical companies encourage this because it keeps the prescriptions flowing.  What I do suggest is you make lifestyle changes, first and foremost your diet. Supplement with key nutrients and vitamins, exercise and wean yourself off of as many medications as you can as your condition or conditions improve.

You must take responsibility for your own health and not leave it up to the government or your doctor. I will supply you with information and encourage you to read more about your situation, enabling you to make more informed decisions and ask better questions.

Total sales of statins exceed $30 billion a year.  You read right $30 billion! Yet heart disease is still the number one killer and with the new guidelines recently published statin use is expected to increase even more in the U.S.  In Sweden statin use increased 300% from 2008 to 2012 yet heart attack rates remained the same (J Negat results Biomed 11;10:6).  A good metric for illustrating the use of any medical intervention is "the number needed to treat" or NNT.  It tells you how many patients must be treated with a medication, surgery or other medical procedure for the person to benefit.  A perfect NNT is one which would mean the therapy worked for everyone.  The higher the NNT the less beneficial the treatment. If it is above fourty it is a crapshoot. In the one group statins can benefit, patients with serious cardiovascular disease who have already suffered a stroke or heart attack, statins are recommended for secondary prevention.  Even in this high risk group the NNT to save one life over five years is 83.  Statistically that is worthless.

If cholesterol is not causing heart issues what is?  The answer is inflammation and calcification of the arteries which creates an environment for the cholesterol to stick to. Picture splicing a rubber hose and scrubbing the inside with a stiff brush.  Imagine what the lining would look like, all frayed and bumpy.  This is what inflammation does to the inside of your artery wall creating pockets for cholesterol to adhere to. Some of the best things you can do to lower inflammation involve lifestyle changes and diet not medication. Avoid processed meats, fast foods, and commercially baked products (such as breads, pastries and sweets). One of the best changes for your health is to eat a Mediterannean style diet which consists primarily of plant based food sources.  This includes vegetables, nuts, fruits, olive oil, whole grains and limited portions of fish, poultry and even more limited portions of red meat.  It would not hurt to supplement with B-vitamins and whole vitamin-C complex.  Sugar (simple carbohydrates) is a major cause of inflammation As a matter of fact desserts spelled backwards is stressed. Think about that next time you pick up a chocolate doughnut.

Friday, April 4, 2014

Taking Responsibility for our Health

Many clients coming to me for help with physical pains such as neck or back often have a long history of other health issues. These range from diabetes, fibromyalgia, heart and circulation, lung problems and much more. They ask for advice on topics such as exercise, supplements nutrition and diet. I am not a doctor and make no claims as a health expert but I have acquired a certain amount of knowledge over my thirty plus years of pursuing better health. I have attended countless hours of seminars not only on massage but energy medicine and nutrition as well. I subscribe to numerous health publications and newsletters and read voraciously. That is a double edged sword because if you read enough material you will invariably read a great deal of conflicting advice and theories from experts in their fields. It can be exhausting and confusing. Much of what I've learned has been through trial and error of personal experience.

My goal is to share with you in these pages what has worked for me and provide some suggestions on healthy alternatives for conditions you may dealing with. I also want to plant the seed as mentioned in the headline that we need to take responsibility for our own health and not put ourselves at the mercy of the United States healthcare system. We spend two to five times more on healthcare than almost all other civilized countries, an average of $8,608 for every man woman and child. Healthcare spending accounts for almost one sixth of our economy yet our rank compared to other nations continues to fall.

Two examples. On life expectancy we rank 26th out of the 34 nations studied, down with Poland, Mexico and the Czech Republic. We were 46th out of 48 nations for healthcare efficiency. The un-affordable health care act is not going to improve that ranking.

Doctors prescribe a pill for every problem and we as patients gladly pop them. I admit a pill at first glance may seem easier than eating whole unprocessed foods, making diet changes, reading labels and avoiding Big Macs and sugar. You will find however that your taste buds will quickly respond to the taste of real food. In the end, relying on pills and advice coming from big pharma rather than making lifestyle changes and healthy choices will simply give us old years rather than golden years. 

Next topic...Statins