Healthy Diet means a Healthy Heart
Host, Gerry Barnaby- Hey, what’s happening? Barnaby here. The old song goes, doctor, “You are what you eat,” and if you don’t eat well, you could be in a bucketload of trouble as regards your heart and your arterial system, and that’s what we’re going to be delving into here on this HelloLife Moment. Dr. Jeffrey Chamberlain, family medicine specialist. You know, cholesterol is a big buzzword—everybody wants to have a good cholesterol number—but truly, what you eat has a big effect, obviously, on how high your numbers are going to be, so let’s talk about that. What are some of the things we should absolutely steer clear from?
Health Coach, Dr. Jeff Chamberlain, MD- So, kind of the two biggest culprits diet-wise that affect your cholesterol are really the fats and then the carbohydrates. They both play a role in your body producing cholesterol, and actually, something a lot of people don’t realize is that most of the cholesterol in your body was actually made by your own liver, and so genetics plays a role, and some people’s liver makes more cholesterol, some people’s liver makes less cholesterol. Diet-wise, there’s studies that show that reducing the amount of fat in your diet really makes a difference. Reducing the amount of animal fats can really help lower your cholesterol.
Barnaby- So if you choose really lean meat over well-marbled meats, you’re doing yourself a big service there.
Dr. Chamberlain- Yeah, you really are, for cholesterol-wise it really makes a difference.
Barnaby- I’m an ice cream fanatic. Am I in trouble because of that? Because there’s got to be a lot of fat in that.
Dr. Chamberlain- Yeah, I mean, the ice cream has the carbohydrates, and it tends to have the fats too, unless it’s something that’s specifically made without the fat, so that’s kind of getting it from both directions.
Dr. Chamberlain- So ice cream does make it—does boost your cholesterol.
Barnaby- Well, file that one under the big crosshairs! All right, so let’s talk about things you can do to lower your cholesterol naturally. So, diet: choose non-fatty products if possible. Can you—like, I take fish oil, because somebody told me once it’s good for your heart. True or false?
Dr. Chamberlain- The fish oil in the higher concentrations, like a gram, two, three, or four grams a day can drastically lower your triglycerides. Taking, like, 100mg or 200mg of omega-3 fatty acids probably doesn’t make that big of a difference with your numbers. But the higher amounts can lower your triglycerides significantly. Other things that have really been shown to be beneficial is red yeast rice, a natural supplement that comes in a tablet form that I’ve just seen great results with patients of getting their cholesterol lower.
Barnaby- And the recommended dosage would be on the package there?
Dr. Chamberlain- Yeah, typically it’s sold in, like, an 800mg tablet, and so usually it’s just one or two tablets before bedtime.
Barnaby- Oh, that’s good, because it’s got to be better than the fish oil, as far as I’m concerned, because that tablet is just like—whoo-hoo—like a man from the sea! So, then, what else do we have—obviously drugs that you can take, like the statins.
Dr. Chamberlain- Yeah, the statin drugs do a great job of lowering the cholesterol, and they both lower the cholesterol and also they do something else which we’re not 100% sure what it is, but they do something else that helps decrease the chance of having a heart attack even more than just the pure cholesterol lowering numbers, and so if you’re making these changes and your numbers still aren’t at goal, the statins would be the next logical step to go because it can really help get your numbers down to where they need to be.
Barnaby- Yeah, I talked to a vascular surgeon once, and he told me just anecdotally, he said, “You know what, everybody should be on a statin, because it just is smart to lower your cholesterol that way. But there’s got to be, any time you introduce a chemical into your system, there’s got to be a potential downside to that.
Dr. Chamberlain- Yeah, I’ve talked to people who claim that, well, everyone needs to be on the statin, because it would help everyone, but I really don’t go for that. I really think we should all look at our individual risks of having a heart attack, and making our choices based on that, because with any type of medication we take, there can be side effects. And so if you’re at a low risk of having a heart attack, and then you’re taking a medication that has a decently low risk of side effects, but still has some side effects, well, you could be causing a problem for yourself, whereas if you’re at a high risk of having a heart attack, we need to be doing as much as we can to help lower that risk for you.
Barnaby- Yeah, I tell you what, it’s all about measured science. And so for that, we’ve talked about ways to lower your cholesterol, and certainly you’ve got some experiences as well, because we’ve talked about the rice, we talked about the fish oil, we talked about the flax, but certainly, joining in on the conversation, we’d love to hear from you on this, and it’s as simple as being part of the HelloLife network, which is just a big social media community that’s crafted around people of similar thought, which is what you’re probably thinking you are, since you’ve joined in this conversation on HelloLife.net. So, check in often, share as often as you can, and thanks again, Doc. It’s always good to talk to you!
Dr. Chamberlain- It was good talking to you!