When you hear the term, “high cholesterol,” you probably think about heart disease first, and too much saturated fat in the diet, second. But what if neither of these things are true? What if the real cause of heart disease is quite different, and what if your doctor doesn’t know about it?
To be sure, hearing anything different from the above causes of heart disease will send your head spinning. But which would you rather do: continue believing inSANE lies about high cholesterol, change your diet to reduce your cholesterol, and find out later these changes actually caused your heart attack? Or…would you rather learn the truth and bring some SANEity to your life about diet and high cholesterol?
It’s up to you, of course. But the truth will set you free from old diet myths that do nothing but cause misery and illness.
High Cholesterol, Diet and You?
If you have high cholesterol, you’re not alone. One in three American adults has cholesterol levels considered too high, according to the Centers for Disease Control. Since high cholesterol is a major risk factor for heart disease, says conventional wisdom, the American Heart Association recommends that you should have your cholesterol and other risk factors checked every four to six years – starting at age 20.
Is this necessary, though? Is cholesterol really the boogeyman of your cardiovascular system? Research in the past few years, as well as a surprising number of medical doctors (including cardiologists) say NO. Which brings us to the first thing your doctor doesn’t know about cholesterol, or maybe he or she has just forgotten it in all the hooey about high cholesterol.
Cholesterol is GOOD for You!
Cholesterol has become so vilified that it might surprise you to learn that this substance is not only good for you, but you also need it to live. Every cell in your body is made from cholesterol. This waxy substance helps your metabolism work properly, as it is essential for the production of Vitamin D and bile acids that help your body digest fat and absorb vital nutrients. Cholesterol is also necessary for the production of steroid hormones, which include estrogen, testosterone and progesterone.
Cholesterol is so important to your survival that it doesn’t rely on you to get it from your diet. Your liver takes care of it for you, producing around 75 percent of your body’s cholesterol. The fact that your liver produces such a substantial amount of cholesterol is a huge sign that cholesterol is GOOD for you. But how does your diet play into all of this? That leads us to the second thing about cholesterol and diet your doctor doesn’t know.
Cholesterol in the Diet does not Cause High Cholesterol.
Cholesterol in the diet comes from meat, poultry and full-fat dairy products. For the past 20 years, experts have cautioned Americans to consume less than 300 milligrams of carbohydrates a day. If you want to reduce your chances of heart disease, then, you really have to cut out eggs and all saturated fats. After all, just one egg yolk has 200 milligrams of this artery clogging gook!
This advice stems from the belief that there is a link between cholesterol in your diet and that in your blood stream. This belief started in the late 50s, with the work of Ancel Keys.
Ancel Keys: Creator of the Cholesterol Myth
Ancel Keys, an American physiologist, had an epiphany one day. He wondered why American business executives – surely, he reasoned, some of the best-fed people in the world – had high rates of heart disease. At the same time, Keys noticed the reverse was true in post-war Europe. With food supplies sharply reduced, European countries saw a decrease in heart disease. Keys theorized that cholesterol played a role in cardiovascular disease (CVD) , and presented his hypothesis at the World Health Organization in Geneva.
From 1958 to 1964, Keys and colleagues visited seven countries and examined their dietary habits against their cholesterol levels and rates of cardiovascular disease. Based on his analysis, Keys concluded that high cholesterol was a risk factor for CVD and that a diet high in saturated fat caused high cholesterol.
There are some problems with Keys’ research, however. The biggest problem is that Keys only selected 7 countries out of 22, and the ones he left out – such as France and Germany – were ones he knew had low rates of heart disease, despite diets rich in saturated fats.
Nevertheless, Keys’ research became the truth about eating a high cholesterol diet and heart disease. The fact that the famous Framington Heart Study, conducted around the same time, found no connection between cholesterol consumption and CVD didn’t matter. The only thing that mattered is that the cholesterol industry could make big money on this new medical condition. Pharmaceutical companies started developing drugs to lower cholesterol and food companies started producing and marketing low-cholesterol foods.
Freed from the Myth, but Doctors Don’t Know Yet
In 2015, the U.S. Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee ruled that, essentially, consuming cholesterol has no effect on your serum (blood) cholesterol level. This committee of experts meets every five years and provides the scientific basis for both medical- and government-established nutritional guidelines.
In their report, the experts said that there would be no more limitations on cholesterol consumption for Americans because there is no evidence that consumption of cholesterol affects serum cholesterol.
Being told, after all these years, that there is NO link between dietary cholesterol and serum cholesterol may shock you and your doctor. But it doesn’t surprise Dr. Stephen Sinatra, a board certified cardiologist and co-author of the bestseller, The Great Cholesterol Myth. Dr. Sinatra, who had been a practicing cardiologist for over 40 years, has long known there was no link between dietary cholesterol and serum cholesterol, or between cholesterol and heart disease, for that matter. Dr. Sinatra says that cholesterol plays only a “supporting role” in heart disease.
He hopes the next time the Advisory Committee meets in 2020, they make the same decision about saturated fat and cholesterol. This brings us to the third thing doctors don’t know about diet and cholesterol.
Fat in the Diet does not Cause High Cholesterol
Thanks to Keys and other factors – including monetary interests – dietary fat was demonized by experts and the media. Eating fat was believed to raise serum cholesterol, which increased the risk of heart disease. The story behind the demonizing of dietary fat is outrageous! The media and sugar industry literally duped American into believing a lie for decades!
The Great Sugar Conspiracy
Due to increased rates of heart disease in the 1950s and 1960s, researchers were searching for something to blame it on. There were two theories for the rise in heart disease – increased consumptions of sugar and increased consumption of saturated fat.
Several studies had already shown sugar to be a contributing cause of heart disease, and that was not okay for the leaders of the sugar industry. The Sugar Research Foundation secretly funded a scientific review of the research that downplayed sugar’s role in heart disease. Of course, this review, which was published in the New England Journal of Medicine, appeared to be impartial.
The three Harvard researchers who wrote it were certainly impartial. But what nobody knew at the time is that the Sugar Research Foundation had selected the studies favorable to their industry, ones that also were critical of saturated fat consumption.
That review set off a chain reaction of non-fat, low-fat everything, a dietary recommendation that has hurt more than helped us. In fact, going low-fat caused the obesity and type 2 diabetes epidemic and contributed to many illnesses. Our bodies need dietary fat to function properly.
The Truth about Saturated Fat and Cholesterol
The truth is that there is not one shred of scientific evidence that a saturated fat causes heart disease. In fact, according to Dr. Sinatra, eating a moderate amount of saturated fat is heart healthy, and it is also good for overall health.
However, the quality of the fat you eat can cause abnormal cholesterol levels. Eating huge quantities of saturated fat, trans fats or hydrogenated fats does have a negative effect on your cholesterol. But eating monounsaturated fats and omega-3 fats lowers your cholesterol and improves its quality.
If high cholesterol is not the enemy of the heart, what is? The answer may surprise you – and your doctor.
What Causes High Cholesterol Levels Then?
There are many reasons for high cholesterol. As previously mentioned, eating bad fats can cause abnormal cholesterol levels, as can excess sugar and carbohydrate consumption. Some people are also genetically predisposed to having high cholesterol levels.
High Cholesterol (in the diet or bloodstream) does not Cause Heart Disease
Inflammation is the real cause of cardiovascular disease, as it is for so many other diseases. Inflammation itself is quite natural. It is your body’s way of fighting threats to the system, such as bacteria, environmental toxins, sugar, wounds, etc. It’s only harmful if it becomes chronic.
Cholesterol does create arterial plaque, and it does build up and clog the arteries, but it’s not because the cholesterol level is too high. It is because small, dense LDL cholesterol particles have become oxidized. Oxidation, or free-radical stress, is one of the major triggers for inflammation. According to Mark Hyman, MD, Director of Cleveland Clinic’s Center for Functional Medicine, that’s the real danger of cholesterol. When these small particles are oxidized, it triggers the build-up of plaque or cholesterol deposits in your arteries.
Though doctors test your HDL (good) and LDL (bad) cholesterol levels, and use these numbers to predict your risk of heart disease, it’s much more complicated than that. Research has shown that there are subtypes of both HDL and LDL based on particle size, and they have different effects and come with different risks.
For instance, small, dense LDL particles are more of a predictor of heart disease than large, fluffy particles. Why? Because they are vulnerable to oxidative damage and more likely to become jammed into arterial walls, creating inflammation. Large, fluffy particles, on the other hand, bounce off the arteries. They’re harmless, even if you have high cholesterol.
So knowing your HDL and LDL numbers aren’t much help when determining your risk for heart disease. What is essential, according to Dr. Sinatra, is to know how much of your LDL cholesterol is subtype A and/or B. (Type A particles are large and fluffy; type B particles are small and dense.)
There are two clinical tests that measure the subtypes of HDL and LDL and analyze the particles within them: Vertical Auto Profile (VAP) and the Lipopotein Particle Profile (LPP).
Sugar and Refined-Carbohydrate Consumption is a Bigger Risk for Heart Disease than High Cholesterol
What makes those small LDL particles? According to Dr. Hyman, the culprit is sugar and refined-carbohydrate consumption. Not only does consuming sugar and carbs (white food) create these dangerous particles, but it also lowers good cholesterol and raises triglyceride levels.
Consuming high fructose corn syrup, which is an ingredient in most sweetened beverages and processed foods, is particularly harmful in this regard.
Using Diet to Reduce Inflammation and Risk for Heart Disease
Research has shown some food groups to have an anti-inflammatory effect on the body. Some of these foods include:
- Green, leafy vegetables, such as spinach and kale.
- Nuts, especially almonds and walnuts
- Fatty fish, such as sardines, salmon and mackerel
- Fruits, such as oranges, blueberries and strawberries.
So, if you want to reduce your risk of heart disease, you shouldn’t worry as much about high cholesterol as you do about what is in your diet.
Are you Ready for Some SANEity?
What you eat should be nutritious and anti-inflammatory, such as non-starchy vegetables and nutrient-dense protein. The SANE Solution does just that, focusing on a balanced diet that fills you up fast and keeps you full longer. There is no hunger and no depriving yourself of tasty meals. The goal is to be so full of SANEly good foods, that you can’t even think about reaching for that candy bar or other inSANE food.
Here are the basic food groups:
- Non-starchy vegetables: 10+ servings a day. Non-starchy vegetables contain high amounts of antioxidants, which prevent free-radical formation and inflammation.
- Nutrient-dense protein: 30-50 grams at each meal. Choices include egg whites, plain Greek yogurt, salmon and chicken. Salmon and other fatty fish have high levels of omega-3 fatty acids, making them an anti-inflammatory treat.
- Whole-food fats: 3-6 servings per day. Choices include coconut, avocado, cocoa/cacao, flax seeds. (Be sure to eat the whole food and not just use the oil. The whole food has the fiber and other nutrients that satisfy your hunger.)
- Low-fructose fruits: 0-3 servings per day. Good choices include acai berry, blueberries, cherries and strawberries.
Eating SANEly will also lower your setpoint weight, which will result in long-term weight loss and maintenance. This will further reduce your risk for heart disease. So what are you waiting for? Click here to get started. It’s FREE!
Next Step: Treat High Cholesterol with SANE
There is much more to the SANE lifestyle. Getting 7-8 hours of sleep a night, reducing stress, staying hydrated, and performing eccentric exercises are other important factors in lowering your setpoint.
Ready to finally break free from the yo-yo dieting rollercoaster that can lead to diabesity? By balancing your hormones and lowering your body’s set-point weight, SANE is the solution you’ve been dreaming of.
Want to know the exact foods and serving sizes scientifically proven by over 1,300 peer-reviewed research studies to boost metabolism, burn fat and enjoy virtually effortless weight loss like a naturally thin person?
Begin your exciting journey to lasting, healthy weight loss today. Download the free SANE metabolism boosting food list, cheat sheet and “Eat More, Burn More” weight loss program by
Please don’t believe commercials funded by companies who profit off of high-fructose corn syrup. This caloric sweetener is especially common and fattening. High-fructose corn syrup’s (HFCS) high sweetness and low cost makes it one of the most ubiquitous ingredients in food products. Combine this with the guidance to avoid calories and natural foods containing fat, […]
In 1998 Coca-Cola offered schools $10,000 to advertise Coke discount cards to their students. Deeply in need of the funds, Greenbrier High School in Augusta, Georgia, invited Coke employees to lecture in classes and added the analysis of Coca-Cola to its chemistry curriculum. The school went on to make all 1,230 students dress in red […]
“…a general public health recommendation for weight reduction through dieting cannot be supported strongly with existing data.” – D.S. Weigle, University of Washington
Occasionally when people hear about SANE they react by saying something like: “To lose weight eat less and exercise more…bottom line. I eat whatever I want and stop at 1,400 calories per day…and I’ve lost 12 pounds. A professor ate nothing but Twinkies and lost a bunch of weight because he cut calories overall…etc.”
There’s no denying that starvation causes us to lose weightin the short term. However, short-term weight loss is not our goal. Long-term fat loss and improved health are our goals.
Let’s imagine a world where cutting calorie quantity is the key to long-term fat loss. Now let’s try an experiment. We’ll divide a group of people in half. We’ll feed one half 120 extra calories per day for eight years. What would happen? If weight was ruled by calorie quantity, the math is pretty easy. Multiply 120 extra calories per day times 365 days in a year, times eight years, and the total equals 350,400 extra calories. Take that sum and divide it by the 3,500 calories in a pound of body fat, and we can predict that these people will gain 100 pounds. The equation is easy, but unfortunately, it’s incorrect.
Let’s look at a real-life study: the $700 million Women’s Health Initiative. This study tracked nearly 49,000 women for eight years. Just like our experiment, the women in one group ate an average of 120 more calories a day than the other group. Remember, that adds up to 350,400 more calories. How many more pounds did the women who ate 350,400 more calories gain?
That is not a typo. Eating 350,400 more calories caused the women to gain an average of less than a pound. It seems that something is not quite right with counting calories to burn fat in the long term.
Quantity-focused fat loss theories incorrectly assume that taking less calories in, or exercising more calories off, forces us to burn body fat. That has been clinically proven to be false. It does not force us to burn body fat. It forces us to burn less calories. That is why dieters walk around tired and crabby all day. Their bodies and brains have slowed down.
“Disproportionately large declines in resting metabolism are seen in food-deprived men.”– R.E. Keesy, University of Wisconsin
When our body needs calories and none are around, it is forced to make a decision: Go through all the hassle of converting calories from body fat or just slow down on burning calories. Given the choice, slowing down wins. University of Wisconsin researcher R.E. Kessey puts it more academically: “Metabolism [is] sharply reduced when an organism falls into negative energy balance.”
What’s worse, if our body still thinks we’re starving even after it has slowed down, it burns muscle. Only after it starts burning muscle does it begin to burn fat. A lot less muscle and a little less fat today leads to a lot more fat tomorrow.
Bottom line: If we just eat less of our existing diet we will (in this order):
- Slow down our metabolism
- Burn a lot of muscle
- Burn a little fat
1 + 2 + 3 = short-term weight loss and long-term fat gain (via yoyo dieting).
Fortunately, researchers have revealed a way to speed-up our metabolism, while maintaining muscle and burning fat. I call it Going SANE.
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by Catherine W. Britell, M.D.
When we talk about the “calories” in food, what does that really mean? A calorie is defined as enough heat to raise one gram of water one degree centigrade. Dietitians actually use “calorie” to mean the kilocalorie, or large “C” Calorie (equal to 1,000 calories), in measuring the calorific, heating, or metabolizing value of foods. How are calories in foods calculated, anyhow? Originally, the food was completely burned in a sealed container in a water bath, and the resulting rise in water temperature was measured.
These days, the calories in food are estimated indirectly using the Atwater system. Here’s an article describing that: http://jn.nutrition.org/content/28/6/443.full.pdf+html
The caloric content is calculated based on the protein, (carbohydrate – fiber), fat and alcohol contained in the food. A complete discussion of this subject and the calories contained in a large number of foods can be accessed from the National Data Lab web site at https://www.ars.usda.gov/Services/docs.htm?docid=8964
So, a “calorie” is an artificial and arbitrary way of estimating the amount of heat you can perhaps get from food if you actually burn it. Now, I don’t see many people with flames coming out of their mouths or smoke out of their ears. And of course we don’t have little bonfires somewhere in the middle of our body, being stoked by little bits of salmon and avocado and coconut and strawberries. We actually use all those little potential bundles of energy in our mitochondria…magical, beautiful little microscopic parts of our cells…to manufacture all the things we need to keep our body intact and alive and moving.
It’s important to understand that actual or potential energy can and needs to be used or stored in numerous ways by the human body. For those of us whose education included biology, we remember all those painful hours memorizing energy metabolism pathways. We hated it then, and now we know that it’s quite a bit more complicated than we learned all those years ago. But we now have a much better understanding of some of the factors we can control around this process to make those little bundles of energy work for us in optimal ways.
We know that many things can and need to happen to the calories we ingest a few times per day. They are of course used to help power the manufacture of muscle cells, to keep our nerve cells functioning, to constantly replenish our skin cells, make our hair and fingernails grow and look beautiful, replenish our blood cells, keep the lining of our gut functioning, even keep the bacteria in our gut well-fed and healthy, and on and on and on. And of course we also know that we require so much more than just the energy in the food we eat in order to survive! We also need to have fatty acids, amino acids, and micronutrients to make all these things happen optimally and keep our bodies healthy.
But back to “calories”. Besides being used to help keep our bodies from falling apart, these little bundles of potential energy also keep us from getting cold while we sit at the computer, keep our bed partner warm at night, make it possible for us to run up the stairs, carry in the groceries or walk the dog.
And they make it possible for us to THINK, LAUGH, CRY, MAKE LOVE, AND CREATE!
Because “calories” are so important for life itself, our bodies will store them when there is an excess of these little energy bundles around and hormonal messages tell our bodies that we need to store energy. We have an “energy checking account” (glycogen in the red blood cells, muscles and liver) where we can access the energy quickly, and an “energy savings account” (fat) which is a longer-term storage mode. Sometimes, due to chronic dieting or a long history eating of unhealthy foods, our hormonal environment becomes confused or sick or stressed. Then it will force our cells to put energy into the “savings account” even when there is not even enough around to do the things we need to do. So we are “starving” at the same time that we are adding fat.
When this happens, we can feel cold, unhappy, listless, and generally unwell, and we accumulate excess fat on our bodies. This can often also make us feel very hungry.
Of course we also need to recognize that, depending on our genetic and hormonal makeup, we all handle those little energy bundles differently, and some of us tend, even under the best of circumstances, to favor “savings account” mode whenever our body sees even a few more of those little energy bundles hanging around than it needs.
In truth, losing body fat, which is what many of us are focused on, is really not the most important part of learning how to optimize our nutrition and hormonal environment. Much more important is maximizing all of the good and necessary things that those little bundles of energy do for us! And of course, once we do that, our bodies will naturally become more optimally proportioned — often dramatically so!
So, when you read “The Calorie Myth” (http://thecaloriemythbook.com), supplemented by exploring the websites here, getting [ninja-popup id=11558]your FREE 28-day program[/ninja-popup], and listening to the podcasts, you will learn all the best information available about:
1. How we can deliver the most useful stuff to our cells in the right amounts.
2. How we can set up the hormonal environment in our bodies to make the best use of all the good things we eat, so that we can have the most beautiful and healthy and energetic and functional bodies possible.
10. The rate of obesity has MORE THAN DOUBLED since 1980.
9. There are as many overweight people alive as there were TOTAL PEOPLE ALIVE ~100 years ago.
8. More than 40 million children UNDER 5 are overweight.
7. Obesity is now the #1 health concern among U.S. parents, TOPPING DRUGS & SMOKING.
6. The rate of diabetes and pre-diabetes has INCREASED ABOUT 100,000% in the last 100 years.
5. Diet related diseases have OVERTAKEN TOBACCO AS THE LEADING CAUSE OF DEATH in the U.S..
4. Obesity is shortening average life spans more than accidents, homicides and suicides COMBINED.
3. About ONE IN THREE American kids are overweight or obese.
2. Overweight kids have a 70% chance of struggling with excess fat FOR THE REST OF THEIR LIVES.
1. Thanks to the obesity and diabetes epidemics, for the first time in U.S. history, TODAY’S CHILDREN ARE EXPECTED TO DIE AT A YOUNGER AGE THAN THEIR PARENTS.
I believe we have a moral obligation to stop this…and I promise you, two-thirds of us did not spontaneously become lazy gluttons. There’s a lot more going on here politically, economically, and biologically than we’re led to believe. This is about so much more than weight loss. It’s definitely not about starving ourselves and spending hours on stair-steppers. It’s not about pills, powders, or potions. It’s about simple science, proven biology, and common sense. It’s about empowering others as we heal ourselves. It’s about eating more and exercising less—but smarter.
We don’t use the same computers we used decades ago. We don’t fly in the same planes we flew in decades ago. So, why are we being taught the same disproven nutrition and exercise theories we were taught decades ago?
If you are tired of myths and marketing, then please don’t starve yourself or spend your life on a treadmill. Eat more. Exercise less. Just do it smarter. Together, we can save lives while simplifying slim and making “healthy” healthy again.
– Jonathan Bailor
“The reduction of energy intake continues to be the basis of…weight reduction programs…[The results] are known to be poor and not long-lasting.” – George Bray, Pennington Biomedical Research Center
As we touched on last week, eating less does not create the need to burn body fat. It creates the need for the body to slow down. Contrary to popular opinion, the body hangs on to body fat. Instead, it burns muscle tissue, and that worsens the metabolic issue causing weight gain. Only as a last resort, if the body has no other option, it may also burn a bit of body fat.
Why does the body hang on to body fat and burn muscle? To answer that question, let’s look at it another way. What does our body want more of when it thinks we are starving? Stored energy. What is a great source of stored energy? Body fat. So when our body thinks we are starving, does it want to get rid of or hold on to body fat? It wants to hold on.
Next, what does our body want less of when we are starving? It wants less tissue which burns a lot of calories. What type of tissue burns a lot of calories? Muscle tissue. So when our body thinks we are starving, it gets rid of calorie-hungry muscle tissue. Studies show that up to 70% of the weight lost while eating less comes from burning muscle—not body fat.
Burning all this muscle means that starving ourselves leads to more body fat—not less—over the long term. As soon as we stop starving ourselves, we have all the calories we used to have but need less of them, thanks to all that missing muscle and our slowed-down metabolism. Now our body sees eating a normal amount as overeating and creates new body fat.
“It is only the rate of weight regain, not the fact of weight regain, that appears open to debate.” – D.M. Garner, Michigan State University
In the Journal of the American Medical Association, researcher G.L. Thorpe tells us that eating less does not make us lose weight, “…by selective reduction of adipose deposits [body fat], but by wasting of all body tissues…therefore, any success obtained must be maintained by chronic under-nourishment.” It is not practical or healthy to keep ourselves “chronically under-nourished,” so we don’t. Instead, we yo-yo diet. That is why eating less of a traditional diet is not an effective long-term fat loss approach. And that is why eating more–but smarter–is an effective long-term fat loss approach.
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