cholesterol levels

  1. Weight gain after diet can still improve health

    A diet that works -- even when it doesn't

    They say a diet only works if it keeps the weight off -- and that's partially true about weight gain. After all, there's nothing worse than working hard to lose weight only to have those pounds find their way back to your belly.

    But if that happens to you, don't give up too much hope -- because there's one healthy lifestyle that lets you keep many of the biggest benefits even if you regain some of the weight.

    That diet is the Mediterranean Diet, the common-sense lifestyle that cuts out some of the worst processed junk and unhealthy carbs while still allowing for a wide range of delicious foods -- including whole grains and healthy fats.

    In a new study, the diet helped people to lose more weight than a low-fat diet over the short term and led to lower levels of LDL cholesterol and triglycerides.

    That's not a surprise, since losing weight will almost always improve cholesterol levels.

    The real surprise is that four years after the study ended, after many had given up on the diet and most had experienced some weight gain, the improvements in cholesterol remained.

    That's critical, since we know that high levels of cholesterol and triglycerides are a major risk factor -- and keeping them down, even if you have some weight gain, can help lower your disease risk.

    The study also found similar long-term benefits for the low-carbohydrate diet, and while I'm certainly on board with the idea of giving up the worst of the carbs, the diet does have a few problems: too much fat, not enough fiber, and it's so restrictive that most people can't follow it.

    The Mediterranean Diet, on the other hand, allows you to keep eating healthier carbs such as whole grains while allowing more freedom to enjoy a wider range of other foods.

    But no matter which diet you follow, weight gain is always frustrating. If that happens to you, don't give up.

    Tighten your belt and try again.

    Weight loss is a war you can win, even if you lose a few battles along the way. Some people can do it alone, but others can't -- and if you're in that boat, a holistic doctor like me can help. You can make an appointment to see me at the Stengler Center for Integrative Medicine by visiting markstengler.com.

  2. Natural cholesterol treatments go mainstream

    You don't need to be in alternative medicine to know that statin drugs are a bad idea.

    These days, even the doctors who once gave them out to nearly everyone are waking up to the fact that cholesterol drugs do plenty of harm and very little good.

    And now, "mainstream" doctors are turning to what was once dismissed as "alternative" medicine to bring cholesterol levels down -- including the simple lifestyle changes that I've been advocating from the beginning.

    It's not exactly a radical idea, but I'm glad to see the rest of the country catching on -- and some are even bragging about their results in places such as the Journal of the American Medical Association.

    One recent series of editorials there was a debate between two competing mainstream teams trying to treat a hypothetical 55-year-old patient with high cholesterol levels who was otherwise healthy.

    A decade ago, I'm sure they all would have said "statins."

    Today, a set of doctors who said they'd use that approach were practically booed right out of the journal -- with one team of doctors correctly pointing out that they'd have to treat 100 patients like that hypothetical man for five years to prevent even a single heart attack.

    And if that's all that happened -- a heart attack was prevented -- maybe it would be worthwhile.

    But, as Dr. Rita Redberg and Dr. William Katz of the University of San Francisco, California wrote in the journal, at least one of those 100 patients will end up with diabetes because of those meds and a whopping 20 percent will experience the notorious statin side effects (and other studies like the Jupiter trial have shown risk closer to 25 percent).

    Those include serious and debilitating muscle pain, fatigue, memory problems, cataracts, and even sexual dysfunction.

    Now, I don't know if this means these mainstream docs have gone alternative or if I'm suddenly mainstream. To be honest, it doesn't matter to me -- all that matters is that patients are finally getting the common-sense approach to cholesterol control they should have been given all along.

    Better late than never.

    For the most advanced cardiovascular testing contact the Stengler Center for Integrative Medicine at 760-274-2377.

  3. The earl's cure for cholesterol

    If Earl Grey tea is known for anything other than its noble name, it's the distinct smell of bergamot.
  4. Low salt comes with high risk

    Next time your doctor says "cut back on the salt, or else" ask him one question. Or else what?
  5. Statins for the masses

    Pfizer is getting ready to take a multibillion-dollar loss this fall when it loses patent protection on the best-selling drug of all time. But don't expect them to sit back and watch Lipitor's $11 billion a year in sales go down the drain. The Wall Street Journal says the company is hatching a plan to have its cholesterol-lowering drug sold over the counter.
  6. Government guidelines lead to heart disease

    The U.S. government's dietary guidelines released last year allow people to get as much as 25 percent of their calories from added sugars. If it's not immediately obvious why that's a bad idea, a new study spells it out.
  7. Diabetics can go nuts

    Well whaddaya know -- it turns out small changes in your diet can lead to small changes in your health. Researchers asked diabetics to replace a little of their daily carbs with either more carbs or nuts... and found that those who went nuts had slight improvements in blood sugar and cholesterol levels.
  8. Statin side effects worse than thought

    A new study in the British Medical Journal links statins to an alarming number of life-wrecking side effects, confirming the evidence that's been mounting for years: These meds will destroy everything from your muscles to your kidneys.
  9. Statins aimed at healthy people

    The FDA has dished out some pretty bad advice over the years... but this one takes the cake: Crestor, a cholesterol- lowering statin drug, has been approved for completely healthy people with normal cholesterol levels.
  10. Statins linked to muscle pain

    The latest research confirms what Big Pharma has been trying to hide for years: the connection between statins and muscle pains.
  11. Statins: Not good for dementia, either

    Researchers have carried out a major review of the studies on this, and they've concluded that statins won't have any impact whatsoever on your Alzheimer's risk.

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