On Your Mind... Market Euphoria, Cod Liver Oil, and Statins

Today, I've got a hefty mailbag to share with you... And we didn't have a chance to answer many questions last week. So we're going to jump right into the Q&A.

My team and I love reading all of your questions, comments, stories, topic suggestions, and – yes – even your criticisms. So please, keep sending your e-mails our way. They really do make our day... [email protected].

Now for your burning questions...

Q: In the article you link to on the uselessness/danger of fish oil pills (which I don't take), there's a secondary link to dangers of cod liver oil which doesn't seem to work. I also did a search on CLO and David Eifrig without success. I'd be interested in your thinking on CLO, which I've used at times in the past and have had recommended to me by a couple of doctors. – B.H.

A: We've written about cod liver oil a few times (but it's been a while)...

For decades, cod liver oil was advertised as a "cure all." We found an advertisement from 1890 selling Robinson's Emulsion of Cod Liver Oil. The ad claims it's a "reliable remedy for pulmonary disease, coughs, colds, and general debility." The ad also claimed it could treat "throat and lung diseases, consumption," and help improve the overall strength of the young and old.

But current research shows that cod liver oil is packed with toxins (like mercury and dioxin) and damages your bones (much like you'd find in fish oil supplements). You can read more about the dangers of cod liver oil here. I can't comment on your specific situation and I don't know why you're taking cod liver oil, but I don't recommend supplements until after you've tried improving your lifestyle through diet and exercise. That's a healthier way to achieve many of the same benefits.

Q: You talk about euphoria in the market and how you don't want to be left on the sidelines. Are you saying if I have cash sitting now, now is still a good time to put it in stocks? I don't want to get stuck investing at the top. – F.G.

A: This is a great question, and I want to be very clear here... You should never be fully invested in any one asset class.

Many investors think of the stock market as a rocket that they ride higher and higher. And that has certainly been the case over the past few months.

A rocket, of course, goes up... until it doesn't. Many investors are betting they'll know when to release right as the rocket peaks, they could float in orbit – the world of the wealthy – and watch the rocket plummet back to Earth.

But that rarely works.

Like you said, most folks get stuck pouring in money at the very top of the cycle. And they eventually get crushed.

Don't ever decide that it's time to load every penny you have into stocks... At the same time, it's never time to exit the stock market entirely.

There's a much better way to play the market's ups and downs. Don't try to time them with an "all or nothing" decision – simply tilt your allocations. In other words, when stocks are expensive, put less of your portfolio in stocks. When they're cheap, buy more. It's that easy.

I always recommend having a diversified portfolio at all times – even in raging bull markets...

Your hard-earned money should be spread out among things like U.S. stocks, international stocks, gold and silver, bonds, real estate, and cash. I think holding a good amount of cash is especially important today.

I want to share an excerpt with you from my October issue of Retirement Millionaire. In the issue, I talk specifically about how to think about asset allocation...

In the table below, we offer suggestions for how different investors can shift their long-term strategic allocations to today's tactical guidelines. In other words, if you generally like to have 60% stocks and 40% bonds, we recommend adopting a more conservative allocation for the time being... 40% stocks, 30% bonds, 20% cash, and 10% gold and gold stocks.

We don't know your personal situation or goals, but these guidelines explain how we'd adjust our outlook from a variety of starting points...

Hopefully this will give you a good guideline of how to construct a portfolio based on your risk tolerance. Of course, things have changed a bit since October. I would probably tilt some of my bond investments into stocks today given bonds' low yields. But safe bonds – with the key word being "safe" – still deserve a spot in any portfolio.

One thing you should never do is try to time the market... Just tilt.

Q: Please provide the reference for the cited [inflammation] study. Thank you. (It must be considered also why we have inflammation at an evolutionary and biophysical level.) – S.S.

A: You can find the two main studies we use here and here.

It's certainly worth thinking about why we have inflammatory reactions in the first place and how they've developed over time. But that's a topic for another day. And we know that prolonged, excessive inflammation is a risk factor for a host of illnesses like cancer, heart disease, and arthritis. So combating that kind of inflammation is a topic you'll see frequently here at Health & Wealth Bulletin.

Q: What role do statins play in managing plaque in the arteries? – L.S.

A: For years, doctors believed plaque buildups in your arteries were the root cause of heart disease. If you had too much cholesterol, it would "stick" to your arterial walls and cause these buildups. If you lower the cholesterol, the theory went, you'd lower the number of plaques and risk of heart disease.

One job of statins is to prevent plaque that's already in your arteries from getting worse. And some studies have shown stains might reverse plaque buildup.

But here's the problem... Those plaques actually form in response to inflammation. The cholesterol plaques are a sign of disease, not the cause.

Chronic inflammation can cause fissures in our blood vessels. When that happens, our immune system uses the so-called "bad" cholesterol low-density lipoprotein (LDL) to patch the tears. That's why we get plaques. And those plaques can grow over time. They can block the vessel or break off entirely, leading to a stroke or heart attack. Think of the plaque buildup in your arteries like a clogged pipe... Unless you're flushing the whole thing out, there's going to be buildup at some point.

By simply relying on statins, we're ignoring the root cause of heart disease. That's why, as I explained last week, you need to take steps to reduce inflammation. If we control the amount of plaque in our arteries through lifestyle modifications, we can reduce the risk of these inflammatory cells potentially causing a buildup while they're just trying to do their job. For folks who missed it, find four of the best ways to reduce inflammation here.

What We're Reading...

Here's to our health, wealth, and a great retirement,

Dr. David Eifrig and the Health & Wealth Bulletin Research Team
March 5, 2021