“We all need cholesterol.”
In the last twenty years, statin drugs have been prescribed for high cholesterol. Formerly hailed as the wonder drugs of the 21st century, statins slow down the production of cholesterol and increase the liver’s ability to remove LDL (or “bad”) cholesterol.
The new warning labels on statins
The FDA recently announced that the entire class of statin drugs to get new labels that alert the public to safety concerns. While the FDA is calling the risk of liver injury “rare”, it’s warning consumers of the risk of memory loss, type 2 diabetes, and the potential for muscle damage.
According to an excellent summary by Dr. Eric Topol who has recently evaluated several of the meta analyses in the literature, the life-saving benefits of statins require a treatment of almost 200 people in order to prolong the life of 2 patients–not a very effective outcome.
“The new information regarding the warnings from the FDA–for the possible generation of insulin resistance and Type 2 diabetes, the incidence risk/benefit ratios are about equal to the life-saving benefits–is making many clinicians wondering if the side effects are worth the advantages, especially given the detrimental consequences of developing diabetes, ” affirmed Jeffrey Green, PharmD, Director of Research and Development at Tersus Pharmaceuticals.
Is the benefit worth the risks?
Topol also suggested that the risks may indeed be higher than this, since there was not a sensitivity amongst investigators in many of the trials in looking for insulin resistance and subsequent rises in Hemoglobin A1c.
Before you fill your prescription, consider opting for a cholesterol-lowering supplement which, combined with exercise and a healthy diet, can help you keep cholesterol under control (without incurring the unswanted side effects).
Here are 4 safe, natural alternatives to statins:
1. Niacin — Niacin can raise HDL cholesterol — the “good” cholesterol in your body. While niacin’s effect on HDL is of most interest, it’s worth noting that niacin also decreases your LDL and triglyceride levels, too. Many consumers discontinue use of niacin due to its flushing effects.
2. Red yeast rice extract — Red yeast rice has been found to lower cholesterol in studies, and has been used for centuries in China for heart and other problems, it is made by fermenting red yeast on rice. Its effectiveness is related to the fact that it contains a naturally-occurring form of the statin drug lovastatin.
3. Omega-3 Fish Oil — Omega-3 fatty acids are essential fatty acids obtained from food. They are polyunsaturated and very healthy additions to the diet. They also help lower blood levels of cholesterol and of trigylcerides, another type of fat. They may slow the rate of plaque deposition in arteries, and lower the risk of heart disease.
4. Purified Omega-7 (Palmitoleic Acid) — Prevents atherosclerotic plaque buildup by raising HDL cholesterol and reducing inflammation in the arteries, and has been shown to (1) optimize cholesterol levels (2) increase insulin sensitivity, and (3) increase metabolic function. It is 100% natural with no side effects, and is the “no-flush” alternative to niacin.
No magic pill
It should be added that while there is a direct link between nutrition and health–and exercise and health–much as we may wish it to be true, there is not no such thing as a “magic pill” to solve all your health issues. Nothing beats eating your vegetables and going for a walk each day.
A high-fiber diet rich in fruit, vegetables and whole grain foods is a healthy diet. The American Heart Association lists oats and oatmeal, beans, peas, rice bran, barley, citrus fruits and strawberries as food that are high in soluble fiber. Also, moderate physical activity can reduce the overall levels of blood cholesterol. Exercise also helps raise the levels of high-density lipoprotein or HDL, the good cholesterol. Any increase in exercise may be beneficial, but the American Heart Association recommends starting with walking and working up to more strenuous exercise for about 30 minutes each day.