Statin drugs, designed to lower cholesterol, are incredibly popular. They are big business for Big Pharma, raking in an estimated $22 billion bucks a year.
There’s a good chance if you’re over 40 your doctor has already tried to put you on one. In fact, according to the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey nearly 30 percent of folks over 40 have used statins.1
But what you may not know is statin drugs don’t work as advertised, and they’re based on a myth that cholesterol is bad. But perhaps worst of all is the fact they can come with some serious side effects.
Luckily there are a bunch of simple changes you can make to improve your heart health, without resorting to risky statin drugs. We’ll go over some of those in a minute. But first let’s take a quick look at why statin drugs are such a failure.
Statins are false advertising
Statin drugs are built on a lie. Oh, they will lower your cholesterol. That part is true. But those lower numbers don’t mean that your risk of a heart attack will drop significantly, or even that you’re healthier. In fact, although mainstream medicine uses some statistical hijinks to make them look effective, for every 100 people taking statins just one single person will have one less heart attack.2
Around half of heart attacks occur in folks who have so called “normal” cholesterol.3 That’s because it’s not cholesterol that’s the real problem. It’s other factors—such as inflammation, homocysteine and the size and type of cholesterol particles—that we should be focused on. Because when cholesterol is fluffy and circulating it’s fine.
You see your body requires cholesterol. It’s the main building block of your sex and stress hormones. And your body produces up to 70 percent of the cholesterol circulating through your system internally. It’s critical for the proper function of every single cell in your body, and is used to make repairs in your arteries (the reason why cholesterol is found as part of arterial plaque).
Statins can do more harm than good
So statins don’t work like we’ve been told. But even worse are the risks that come with them. Statins rob your body of CoQ10 which is used by all of your cells for energy production. This is why so many statin users suffer with muscle weakness and breakdown. And those same low CoQ10 levels are behind why statins could raise your risk of heart failure, too. After all, your heart is a big muscle that requires lots of energy.
Plus statin drugs can send your risk for diabetes soaring.4 Studies show statins increase insulin resistance and raise blood sugar. Your body uses excess sugar to make cholesterol, but when statins stop your liver from making that cholesterol all the excess glucose gets dumped into your blood stream.
Which is likely why a new study out of Australia has found that statins can send your risk for diabetes skyrocketing over 50 percent if you’re taking a higher dose of the drug.5 Ladies taking more moderate doses still have a 33 percent higher risk. And while the study was on women, if earlier studies are any indication we can be pretty sure senior guys face similar risks.
If you’re already on a statin talk with your doctor about a plan for being weaned off of them (never stop a statin on your own). And if you aren’t on them yet and your doc brings them up ask about alternatives.
Boost your heart health naturally
Statin drugs aren’t likely to boost your heart health, but there are some easy changes you can make that can add up to a big improvement in heart health. Following are seven simple steps you can take to boost your heart health naturally.
1. Ban veggie oils:
Toss out all the harmful vegetable oils in your kitchen and replace them with healthy options instead, such as coconut oil and olive oil.
2. Skip the sugar:
Slash the added sugars from your diet by reading labels and making more meals from whole fresh ingredients at home. Processed foods can contain a ton of hidden sugars, and foods marked “low fat” are often the worst culprits.
3. Bump up the Omega-3s:
Boost the amount of heart-friendly omega-3 fatty acids in your diet by eating more foods such as wild caught fish and walnuts.
4. Pick probiotics:
Make sure your diet contains plenty of probiotics in the form of fermented foods such as sauerkraut and consider a supplement too. Studies link gut health—and our good gut bugs—to heart health.6
5. Seek out sun:
Spend some time out in the sun every day with skin exposed, and consider taking a supplement, to raise your vitamin D levels. Low levels of D are linked to heart disease, heart attacks and stroke.7
Make sure you’re getting plenty of high quality sleep every night. Most adults need seven to eight hours, and a lack of sleep may raise your risk for heart disease and a heart attack.8
7. Move it:
Sit less and make sure to fit in some regular exercise. It doesn’t have to be a gym session every time, either. For example, taking a daily, brisk, half-an-hour walk is a great way to get your heart pumping.
Skip the statins and boost your heart health with these simple natural changes instead.
1. “Prescription Cholesterol-lowering Medication Use in Adults Aged 40 and Over: United States, 2003–2012,” National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, NCHS Data Brief, No.177, December 2014
2. “How statistical deception created the appearance that statins are safe and effective in primary and secondary prevention of cardiovascular disease,” Expert Review of Clinical Pharmacology, Volume 8, 2015 – Issue 2
3. “Lipid levels in patients hospitalized with coronary artery disease: an analysis of 136,905 hospitalizations in Get With The Guidelines,” Am Heart J. 2009 Jan;157(1):111-117
4. “Increased risk of diabetes with statin treatment is associated with impaired insulin sensitivity and insulin secretion: a 6 year follow-up study of the METSIM cohort.,” Diabetologia. 2015 May;58(5):1109-17
5.”New-Onset Diabetes After Statin Exposure in Elderly Women: The Australian Longitudinal Study on Women’s Health,”Drugs Aging (2017) 34: 203.
6. “Potential of probiotics in controlling cardiovascular diseases,” J Cardiovasc Dis Res. 2010 Oct-Dec; 1(4): 213–214
7. “Vitamin D Deficiency and Risk for Cardiovascular Disease,” Am J Med Sci. 2009 Jul; 338(1): 40–44
8. “Sleep Duration as a Risk Factor for Cardiovascular Disease- a Review of the Recent Literature,” Curr Cardiol Rev. 2010 Feb; 6(1): 54–61
She is an advocate of self-education and is passionate about the power of group knowledge sharing, like the kind found right here on HealthierTalk.com. Alice loves to share her views on holistic and natural healing as well as her, sometimes contentious, thoughts on the profit-driven inner workings of traditional medicine.
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