Friday, March 29, 2013

The Experts Weigh In: Lowering Cholesterol the Natural Way!

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I was on the phone with my mother the other day when she shared some very impressive news with me. Because her story is a true testament to the quote 'Let food be thy medicine', I wanted her to come on the blog today and tell you about it. With no further ado...


I am here to testify that high cholesterol can be brought down without having to resort to drugs, statin drugs in particular. As you know from my previous post, I have always been a healthy eater and an avid exerciser. I am extremely health conscious, so you can imagine my shock when at my 55 year old checkup, I was told that my cholesterol was too high. In fact, I was so shocked that I was certain it was a mistake (perhaps a mix up in the lab?), but the nurse assured me that the report was mine and kindly explained that as one gets older, cholesterol tends to rise.

I am now 58 and subsequently, every lab work since then has shown my cholesterol to be high. At my most recent visit, my doctor encouraged me to start taking statin drugs and even went so far as to write me a prescription. I just stared and stared at the prescription in my hands thinking, "No way, Jose!". If you're not familiar with statin drugs (Lipitor being the most popular), you may not know that they have many side effects, including muscle pain and weakness, neuropathy, congestive heart failure, cognitive impairment, pancreatitis, depression and possibly the potential to cause cancer.

You can understand my fear of taking them.

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The next morning as I was praying about what I should do, I turned on the TV and found Dr. Stephen Sinatra, a renowned cardiologist, discussing cholesterol. He shared that cholesterol is not the whole problem, but that instead, there are many other factors that lead to heart disease. Inspired by his knowledge, I immediately bought the book he co-authored with Dr. Jonny Bowden, The Great Cholesterol Myth. After reading it cover to cover, I decided that I would try to lower my cholesterol without statin drugs... naturally.

Just recently, I had a check up and I am so thrilled to report that I have succeeded in lowering my cholesterol by 52 points - from 238 down to 186 (over 200 is considered the 'danger zone') - in just 3 months! Today, I'd like to share my dietary secrets with you so that you too can heal yourself through diet alone and avoid the harmful side effects of these popular drugs.

For breakfast, I eat a quinoa porridge sprinkled with chia seeds, flax seeds, honey, sliced almonds and fruit. Because of its recent popularity, you can find quinoa almost anywhere now in the grains aisle. Just cook the quinoa according to package directions and top with whatever ingredients you prefer. I always add chia and flax seeds because of their antioxidant and omega-3 fatty acids. Quinoa stores very well in the refrigerator, so I suggest making enough at one time for the whole week.

Then, for lunch or an afternoon 'pick-me-up', I make a green smoothie. You can use any kind of greens (spinach, kale, swiss chard, etc.). I usually buy my greens mixed in a pre-washed bag. In the blender or Nutribullet, I add 2-3 baby carrots, a sprinkle of flax or chia seeds, some honey and frozen tropical fruit (I like the pineapple, mango, strawberry mix).

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In addition to these two things, I also added Jarrow brand Red Yeast Rice capsules to my diet. I take 2 capsules a day to help support my cardiovascular health. Not only did these changes lower my cholesterol, but they also succeeded in lowering my glucose levels from 99 to 83.

These minor modifications to my diet have given me much more energy and a better quality of sleep. Even my husband (who sometimes eats junk food) has commented on how much more energy he has since he's started following my lead. He just feels better overall.

I realize that not all of you have a problem with cholesterol (and may never have a problem), but I am sure that there are people in your life who could benefit from this information. Even if your cholesterol is fine, I can guarantee that working these modifications into your diet will improve your general health and well-being. I'm a believer because my results speak for themselves. Food can indeed be medicine.

Statin drugs and the side effects that come with them? No way, Jose!

Sharon Yarbrough is the best mother on earth - well, at least according to me. In addition to raising me and my brother Cale, Sharona (as we fondly call her) is an ACE-certified personal trainer and a sales rep for Juice Plus, a whole foods supplement (visit her site here). She has always been extremely active. She was a state-ranked swimmer in Georgia growing up, was on the very first University of Georgia women's swim team and continues to swim to this day. I have my mother to thank for instilling in me a desire to take care of myself through diet and exercise, and I tend to think that IF blogging had been around in her day, she would have beat me to the punch on this whole wellness blog thing.

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