8 Myths and Facts About High Cholesterol

8 Myths and Facts About High Cholesterol

Claremont Colonic Newsletter
High cholesterol affects as many as 93 million. U.S. adults over the age of 20. As common as the condition may be, many people have misconceptions about what it is and how to manage it.

The following myths and clarifications offer insight into what cholesterol is and how it’s linked to cardiovascular health.


Myth #1: You’d know if you had high cholesterol

Most people with high cholesterol don’t have any symptoms. While some develop yellowish growths of cholesterol deposits on the skin called xanthomas, these growths usually don’t occur unless cholesterol levels are extremely high.

Many people only experience symptoms when they have complications from atherosclerosis, or narrowing of the arteries. High cholesterol commonly causes it.

In people with atherosclerosis, plaque made up of cholesterol, fatty substances, and other materials builds up in the arteries. As the plaque builds up, inflammation can occur.

As the arteries narrow from the plaque, blood flow decreases to the heart, brain, and other parts of the body. This can cause complications such as:

  • angina (chest pain)
  • gangrene (tissue death)
  • heart attack
  • stroke
  • kidney dysfunction
claudication, or pain in legs with walking

It’s a good idea to learn whether you have high cholesterol early on to reduce your risk for these complications. You can screen for high cholesterol easily with a simple blood test.

Myth #2: All types of cholesterol are bad

Cholesterol is a vital substance that helps the body function properly. The liver makes cholesterol to produce cell membranes, vitamin D, and important hormones.

Cholesterol moves through the body on lipoproteins (a combination of the lipid and its protein carrier), hence the names for the two main types of cholesterol:

LDL (low-density lipoprotein) is the “bad” cholesterol. It raises the risk of heart attack or stroke. Too much LDL can build up in the arteries, creating plaque and restricting blood flow. Lowering LDL reduces the risk of heart attack and stroke.

HDL (high-density lipoprotein) is the “good” cholesterol. It carries cholesterol back to the liver, which removes it from the body. High HDL levels can reduce the risk of stroke.

A cholesterol test reports:

  • total cholesterol
  • LDL
  • HDL VLDL (very low-density lipoprotein)
  • Triglycerides

When it comes to cardiovascular risk, your doctor is most concerned with LDL and VLDL, then with triglycerides, and finally with HDL.

Myth #3: Everyone should aim for the same cholesterol targets

There’s no universal target for blood cholesterol levels. Your doctor will look at your cholesterol numbers in the context of your other risk factors that indicate you may be at greater risk for heart disease.

Doctors typically consider above-optimal cholesterol levels to be:

  • total cholesterol of 200 mg/dL or more, or
  • LDL cholesterol of 100 mg/dL or more
These targets change if a person has higher risk for heart disease due to family history or other factors and hasn’t had a previous heart attack or stroke.

Doctors may not recommend the same treatment for two people with the exact same cholesterol levels. They instead create a personalized plan using a person’s:

  • cholesterol measurements
  • blood pressure
  • weight
  • blood sugar levels
  • prior history of atherosclerosis, heart attack, or stroke


These and other factors help your doctor determine what your cholesterol “targets” should be.

Myth #4: Women don’t have to worry about high cholesterol

High cholesterol is a leading cause of heart disease. And heart disease is the number one cause of death among women, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). It affects women and men in about equal numbers.

Some conditions can affect cholesterol levels specifically for women, such as:

  • pregnancy
  • breastfeeding
  • hormonal changes
  • menopause


Certain risk factors, like having low HDL, are worse for women compared to men.

Myth #5: Cholesterol levels are all the result of exercise and diet

Exercise and diet are important factors that contribute to cholesterol levels. But there are other factors at play, including:

  • smoking or being around secondhand smoke
  • obesity or excessive weight
  • heavy alcohol use
  • genetic factors that result in high cholesterol


Myth #6: I take medication for high cholesterol, so I don’t need to worry about diet

Two sources affect your blood cholesterol level:

  • what you eat
  • what your liver produces


Common cholesterol medications like statins reduce the amount of cholesterol your liver makes. But if you don’t eat a well-balanced diet, your cholesterol level can still go up.

Cholesterol is just one factor in an assessment of heart health. Statins can provide a false sense of security.

A 2014 study involving more than 27,800 people found that calorie and fat intake went up among people who used statins while it remained stable for those who did not use statins.

Body mass index (BMI) also increased among statin users.

Myth #7: Dietary cholesterol is the most important part of my diet

Researchers now know that eating foods high in cholesterol doesn’t necessarily lead to high blood cholesterol levels.

A more direct culprit may be saturated fat. Foods that are high in cholesterol are also often high in saturated fat.

Still, dietary cholesterol can make a difference. A 2019 review of research found that each additional 300 milligrams of cholesterol or more per day was associated with higher risk of cardiovascular disease and death.

Counting any one nutrient isn’t the solution. To improve cardiovascular health, the American Heart Association’s 2019 science advisory suggests doctors focus on helping their patients improve their overall eating patterns.

That means eating more:

  • fresh fruits and vegetables
  • whole grains
  • legumes
  • nuts and seeds
  • lean meat


It also means cutting back on:

  • processed foods
  • packaged foods
  • fatty cuts of meat
  • full fat dairy


Myth #8: I don’t need to get my cholesterol checked if I’m under 40 and in good shape

High cholesterol affects people of all body types and ages. Even fit people and those under 40 years old should get tested.

The American Heart Association recommends checking cholesterol levels even if you’re at low risk for heart disease.

The American Heart Association advises the following test schedule for people who don’t have a family history of heart disease or other risk factors for the condition:

  • one test between 9 and 11 years old
  • one test between 17 and 21 years old
  • one test every 4 to 6 years for people over 20, as long as risk remains low


The CDC and Department of Health and Human Services recommend more frequent testing for people who:

  • have heart disease
  • have a family history of high cholesterol or premature heart attacks or strokes
  • have diabetes
  • smoke

The takeaway

High cholesterol increases the risk of heart disease and its complications, including stroke and heart attack.

Your cholesterol levels are just one factor your doctor will use to create a personalized risk assessment and management plan for cardiovascular disease.

Regular monitoring, proper use of medications, and a healthy lifestyle can all help keep your cholesterol levels in check.

Contributor: Healthline.com

8 Reasons to Blast Your Body with Cold Water Daily

8 Reasons to Blast Your Body with Cold Water Daily

Claremont Colonic Center
Do you crave a warm shower each day to help you relax? The truth is, most of us think the health benefits of showering come from a warm shower, when turning the temperature down is actually highly therapeutic. Although it may not seem appealing at first, swapping out a few warm showers a week with cool ones could be just what you need to look and feel your best.
Let’s explore some of the benefits of taking a cool shower daily.

Cool showers supercharge fat loss

Turning the temperature down on your shower can cause brown fat to kick into gear, turning up the heat in the body. White fat is associated with conditions such as obesity and heart disease, while brown fat plays a very important role in health. Healthy levels of brown fat indicate that white fat is also at a healthy level. It appears as though taking a cold shower two to three times a week can help increase metabolism and fight obesity over time.

Cool showers promote healthy circulation

Healthy circulation is important for better overall cardiovascular health. Taking a cool shower helps optimize blood flow and improves circulation throughout the body. According to leading health expert, Dr. Joseph Mercola, a cool shower can lower blood pressure and even clear blocked arteries.

Cool showers improve immunity

Although it may seem counterintuitive, the colder the shower, the better it is for your immune system. One study found that taking regular cold showers increases the metabolic speed, and the number of white blood cells in the body used to fight diseases. One study even found that taking a cold shower could cause the body to be more resistant to certain types of cancer. In the Netherlands, it was discovered that people who took cold showers took less time off of work for sickness.

Cool showers drain the lymphatic system

Cool showers encourage the lymphatic system to carry waste from cells, which reduces the risk of infections.

Cool showers lower stress

If you are having a particularly stressful day, taking a cool shower is a great way to recenter and calm down. Taking a cooler shower helps to reduce levels of uric acid in the body and increase glutathione, which in turn helps to reduce stress levels. In addition, one study found that taking cold shower conditions the nervous system to be more resilient to stress.

Cool showers speed up recovery after exercise

You may have seen athletes take ice baths after a high-intensity training session. A quick and cold shower can easily do the same thing. One study that analyzed 17 trials with 360 people who rested or immersed themselves in cold water after resistance training, cycling, or running found that those who used the cold-water therapy had less soreness one to four days after exercising compared to those who just rested.

Cool showers help your skin and hair look great

Hot water dries out skin and hair while cool water tightens cuticles and pores which prevents them from getting clogged. Cold water seals the pores on the scalp as well, which helps prevent dirt from getting in. According to dermatologist Jessica Krant, ice cold or lukewarm water helps maintain a good balance of healthy oils and causes the hair to appear shinier, stronger and healthier by flattening hair follicles and improving their ability to grip the scalp.

Cool showers relieve depression

Cool showers have the ability to relieve the symptoms of depression. Cold receptors, located on the skin, send electrical impulses from peripheral nerve endings to the brain. This has a powerful anti-depressive effect that can boost mood and increase alertness. One study found that cold hydrotherapy also has a strong analgesic impact without side effects of dependence.

How cold is cold?

Just how cold a shower has to be in order to be effective is not solid science. It appears that anything below 70 degrees F has health benefits. Even if you swap out a couple of your warm showers a week with cool showers, it is likely that you will experience some benefit.

For most people, changing from warm to cool showers immediately can be difficult. Try easing into the routine by turning the temperature down just a little bit each time you shower until you are used to it. Stay under the cool water for two to three minutes and breathe deeply. The next time you shower, turn the water lower and stay a bit longer. You may even find that at some point, you no longer desire to be under warm water at all!


Contributor: Susan Patterson-AlternativeDaily.com

Science Says: Soda is Killing Your Brain – Even Diet Soda

Science Says: Soda is Killing Your Brain – Even Diet Soda

Claremont Colonic Center
Have you given up your sugar-laden soda? If so, that is an excellent idea, but if you have replaced it with the sugar-free thing, you may be messing with your brain in a big way. Science says for people over 45, drinking diet soda increases the risk of stroke and dementia by three times and does a lot more damage than you think. However, there are some fantastic and entirely healthy alternatives that can help you put your soda habit to bed, once and for all.



Let’s start with the bad news and finish up with the good – it’s always great to end on a positive note.


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In the 1950s and 60’s a dietary disaster based on false information ran through the country without brakes. Sugar-funded research studies that were entirely untrue shifted the general public’s perception to believe that fat, not sugar, was the bad guy – causing horrible health issues like obesity, diabetes, and heart disease. That one lie still impacts us today – even though we now know the horrible truth about sugar and the good news about fat. Healthy fats are necessary for our wellbeing, and sugar is, in fact, the bad guy.

However, even now that we know this, people are still drinking too much soda. Too much soda means too much sugar, which means significant impacts on the body – even the brain. But what about diet soda? It’s better right…wrong!

Increased risk of dementia and stroke

Researchers from Boston University looked at the soda drinking habits of almost 3,000 adults, including some over 45 years of age. It was in this age bracket that the data got very dark. People over 45 years who regularly drink diet soda have a tripled increase of developing dementia or having a stroke. This risk even holds true after considering other risk factors such as smoking, diet, overeating, and level of exercise.

Accelerated brain aging found

With the help of MRI imaging, cognitive tests, and existing data, researchers found that people who drank two more sugary drinks per day or more than three sodas had smaller brain volume – actual brain shrinkage in the size of the hippocampus was found. This accelerated aging of the brain resulted in poor memory. Sadly, these are risk factors for Alzheimer’s. They also found that drinking diet soda resulted in a smaller brain volume.

Other things diet soda is doing to your body

Your brain is not the only thing hurt by drinking diet soda. Here are some other well-researched health impacts.

  • Kidney damage: People who drink diet soda over a long period have a 30 percent reduction in kidney function.
  • Kidney stones: Individuals who consume soda regularly may develop kidney stones because minerals are being flushed from their bodies.
  • Depression: People who drink more than four cans of diet soda per day have a 30 percent higher risk of developing depression.
  • Type 2 diabetes and metabolic syndrome: Drinking diet soda daily increases your risk of developing type 2 diabetes by 67 percent and your risk of metabolic syndrome by 36 percent.


Better and healthier options

As bad as that news is for soda drinkers and people drinking other sugary beverages daily, like fancy coffee, juice, etc…there is good news. I promised, right? The good news is that water is not the only beverage option – many healthy and delicious drinks will slash your risk of health issues and promote wellness. Here are some favorites.

Organic kombucha – Drinking kombucha gives you the fizz fix that you love with the added benefit of probiotics which feed your gut bacteria and improve health. If you get ambitious, try making your own kombucha known as “Immortal Health Elixir” by the Chinese.

Tea- Whether hot or iced – tea is a delicious and healthy soda alternative. Herbal and green teas are bursting with health-promoting properties. They boost metabolism, improve cognitive performance, help you sleep, reduce stress, and even feed your brain – resulting in an 87 percent reduced risk of developing Alzheimer’s.- Who wouldn’t trade the increased risk you get with soda for the decreased risk you get with tea?

Homemade Soda Recipes

If you are still stuck on the idea of drinking “soda,” why not try making your own entirely healthy versions. These recipes are super easy and delicious.

Hibiscus Ginger Ale

If you happen to grow hibiscus flowers, you can use the dried flowers to make a lovely flavored tea. When you mix the tea with ginger, you have a tasty and refreshing drink.

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup of organic hibiscus flowers 3/4 cup coconut crystals
  • 1/4 cup grated ginger root
  • Juice from 1/2 fresh organic lemon
  • Pinch of Himalayan salt
  • Carbonated water


Directions:
Combine the flowers, ginger root, sugar, lemon juice, salt, and 1 cup of filtered water in a small saucepan.
Bring to a boil over high heat.
Stir to be sure that all the coconut sugar has dissolved.
Strain all of the syrup into a glass jar; squeeze the solids to get the most flavor.
Discard the flowers and ginger root.
To make soda, mix 3 tablespoons of syrup with 8 ounces of carbonated water.
Store in the fridge and use within a few days for best results.

Citrus Soda

If you like energizing drinks, this one is for you. Packed with vitamin C and a refreshing taste that will satisfy your senses, this homemade soda is sure to please.

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 grapefruit
  • 1/2 orange
  • 2 limes
  • 1 cup of coconut crystals


Directions:
Use a vegetable peeler to remove the zest from the fruit.
Cut the fruit in half and extract the juice with a juice squeezer.
Pour the juice into a glass measuring cup and add enough filtered water to make one cup of liquid.
Combine the liquid, zest, and coconut sugar in a small saucepan.
Bring the mixture to a boil over high heat.
Remove when all of the sugar is dissolved.
Let the mixture cool, and then strain into a glass jar.
Stir 3 tablespoons into cold carbonated water to make a delicious summertime treat.
Store in the fridge and use within 3 days for best results.

Don’t Forget

Always be sure to drink at least eight glasses of water daily, in addition to these great-tasting soda alternatives.

What do you say? Are you ready to give up all soda (including diet) for a better life, right now?


Contributor: Susan Patterson, AlternativeDaily.com

Mental Health Tips for Adjusting to Post-Covid Life

Mental Health Tips for Adjusting to Post-Covid Life

It Takes a While to Adjust’: Recognizing the Pandemic’s Long-Term Mental Health Impacts and How to Find Help

“It takes a while to adjust to things, and we’ve been living with the pandemic and the fear of the virus… for such a long time.”
The COVID-19 pandemic isn’t over just yet, but with the June 15 reopening day that dropped many state restrictions, California is on the way out.

Despite the joy of that victory, 21% of U.S. adults reported feeling “high levels of psychological distress” as a result of the pandemic, according to a March 2021 report from the Pew Research Center.

According to the California division of the National Alliance on Mental Illness, the organization “reported a 65% jump in HelpLine calls, callbacks and emails” between March 1 and April 30 of 2020, when compared to figures from the same time span in 2019.

The past 15 months have forced people worldwide to confront job losses, economic instability, disability, illness and millions of deaths. That unprecedented mental load is in addition to the stress of political, environmental and social upheavals that occurred in the same time period.

Even as Californians are now able to enjoy indoor dining and the ability to go without a mask in many situations, some people may still feel anxious about their safety — even if they know they’re protected with a vaccine.

According to Dr. Bridget Callaghan, UCLA assistant professor of psychology and director of UCLA’s Brain and Body Lab, that hesitation is normal.

The changes everyone had to make at the beginning of the pandemic, such as bringing a mask everywhere and washing and sanitizing hands more often, were “very habitual,” Callaghan said.

The process of habit-forming is part of why people may have initially done things like forgotten a mask before heading back home to grab one — now, the “habit” is normal life.

“It takes a while to adjust to things, and we’ve been living with the pandemic and the fear of the virus… for such a long time,” Callaghan said.

Intellectually, people may know their vaccination means little to no risk of getting or spreading COVID-19, but habitually and emotionally, it’s been a worry for a long time. It’s natural and expected “to feel weird” going back to normal, Callaghan said, even in cases where you and the people you’re seeing are fully vaccinated.

Furthermore, not everyone will feel the same about the impacts of the pandemic. Where an introverted person may have been relieved to have more time alone at home, an extroverted person may have felt isolated, and a person who lost loved ones may have felt intense grief.

“It’s impacted people in an enormous variety of different ways,” Callaghan said, and a variety of reactions are normal.

Someone in acute, immediate distress who wishes to harm themselves or others can call a hotline, such as the LA County Crisis Line at 1-800-854-7771, or the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255. Those who do not wish to call can text “LA” to the LA County Crisis Line Text at 741741.

But someone who simply feels overwhelmed can try and find a therapist to help work through the stresses and grief they’ve been feeling during the pandemic.

“The first thing I would say is definitely to get professional help,” Callaghan said. “If you feel impaired… the best thing to do is to reach out.”

Anyone who feels overwhelmed by new mental health problems can go to their primary care physician, local psychiatric society, medical school or community mental health center and get a referral to see a psychotherapist.

And for people who are coping but may like some extra, non-professional support, Callaghan said, reaching out to a friend or family member and rebuilding your supportive social network may help.

“It’s really good to be open and upfront with people,” she said, and discussing pandemic stress with someone else may reveal that you’re not the only one feeling that way.

“There’s a doorway where those feelings are reciprocated.”

More than anything, when it comes to the psychological impact of the pandemic, Callaghan said, “it’s really important at this time in particular to be really gentle with ourselves.”

“It’s going to take a long time to adjust” to the not-quite-post-COVID period, she said. “It’s not just going to go back to normal easily.”


Contributor: Maggie More, NBC Los Angeles