I'm known for taking on some of the most controversial positions in traditional medicine. I've argued against low-salt diets, the overuse of supplements, and warned about the dangers of some generic drugs.
But one of the most important topics is... cholesterol.
As I've explained before, unlike what you've probably heard from mainstream medicine, cholesterol doesn't increase your risk of heart disease. Instead, high levels of so-called "bad" cholesterol are more of a red flag for the real problem – inflammation.
I recently tackled this topic and revealed my No. 1 tip – to change what you eat. I explained how to manage your heart disease risk (and lower your cholesterol) through your diet. Retirement Millionaire subscribers can read more about it here.
Today, I want to cover two more lifestyle changes to help you not only reduce your risk of heart disease, but also lower your cholesterol naturally... without dangerous pills.
Doc's Lifestyle Tip No. 2 – Change How You Eat
I recommend fasting for anyone looking to lose weight. In fact, a calorie restrictive diet (like fasting promotes) does lower your cholesterol. Researchers have studied calorie restriction in mice and rats, but one small human study really caught our attention. Published in the journal PNAS, this study looked at the lipid profiles for 18 people before and after they practiced calorie restriction. Some of these folks had stuck to the fasting diet for up to 15 years. Researchers also looked at their C-reactive protein reading, which measures levels of chronic inflammation.
What they found was that caloric restriction led to lower cholesterol levels, improved blood pressure levels, and lower levels of inflammation.
A few of my friends have tried the "5:2" fasting diet. That's where you eat a regular diet five days a week and then on two nonconsecutive days, you cut your calorie intake to about 25% of what you normally consume.
A simpler version of this is the "dinner plan," wherein you finish your regular day with dinner and then don't eat again until dinner the following day. That's effectively a 24-hour fast. You can do this once, twice, or three times a week. I've written about fasting several times. You can find the latest issue right here.
Doc's Lifestyle Tip No. 3 – Move More
Personally, I hate the word exercise. I believe in movement – get up and get moving however you can. Breaking it out into sections makes it much easier... Try a quick routine in the morning, a walk during lunch, and a game of tennis or a night out dancing in the evening. Or if you're at home watching TV, get up during commercials and do some marching in place, jumping jacks, or other simple stretches.
And the best quick routines are called high-intensity interval training, or HITT. A 12- to 15-minute HIIT workout is equivalent to an hour of steady aerobic exercise.
One study from the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center showed that just eight weeks of HIIT increased HDL levels in participants. That's good since HDL helps capture LDL in our blood and take it back to our liver.
It's true that exercise does trigger short-term inflammation, but a 2016 German study showed that HIIT had a smaller effect on levels of inflammation compared with endurance training. Basically, HIIT gives you less inflammation than other forms and it breaks down fat, which contributes to chronic inflammation, better.
If you want to start a HIIT program, I recommend starting slowly. Try walking for 20 minutes with short 30 second bursts of speed walking during that time. We covered more on HIIT right here.
In my next issue of Retirement Millionaire, I'll tackle the problem with statin drugs. They're overprescribed and carry serious side effects you need to understand. Plus, I'll also give my readers a list to help you discuss your real heart disease risk with your doctor. With more than 200 million prescriptions for statins written every year, chances are that you or a loved one take these drugs. You won't want to miss this issue.
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What We're Reading...
- Something different: Meet the artist known as Pigcasso.
Here's to our health, wealth, and a great retirement,
Dr. David Eifrig and the Health & Wealth Bulletin Research Team
March 12, 2019