Standard American Diet (S.A.D.) & The War on Cholesterol
Throughout 40+ years of practicing medicine, I’ve watched the “war on cholesterol” waged so this supposed “enemy” can be vanquished and we can “conquer heart disease, once and for all.” I’ve seen drugs designed—and marketed to the public!—to prevent cholesterol absorption, increase cholesterol excretion, and block cholesterol synthesis.
However, cholesterol is NOT an enemy. Instead, it’s a molecule made in one’s liver and it’s essential for life. It’s the root-stock molecule out of which vital substances such as cortisol, estrogen, myelin, cell membranes, testosterone, and many others are made.
Nevertheless, statin drugs effectively block the enzyme essential for synthesizing cholesterol.
Taking statin drugs will lower cholesterol levels. However, whether this translates into lowering death rates from cardiovascular disease is very controversial. Why do doctors tell patients who take statins it is okay for them to continue eating cheeseburgers and pepperoni pizzas?
What’s not controversial is the fact that interfering with our body’s synthesis of a primordial molecule such as cholesterol commonly causes dysfunction and inflammation in tissues throughout one’s body.
Significant adverse effects are frequently found in people taking statin drugs: muscles become painful, livers become inflamed, and mental confusion indicates adverse effects on brain function. The widespread use of statins is starting to create a tsunami of health concerns and lawsuits connected to their distressingly common side-effects.
As a result, I was left slack-jawed when I read new “prevention guidelines” promoted by the American Heart Association and the American College of Cardiology suggest that millions of more Americans should be prescribed to take statins. The conclusion was derived through use of their calculator.
In reaction to this, I was not surprised to read in the New York Times that doctors are questioning these guidelines.
I agree completely with Dr. Steven Nissen, chief of cardiovascular medicine at the Cleveland Clinic, who is quoted as saying, “Something is terribly wrong. Your average healthy Joe gets treated, virtually every African-American man over 65 gets treated… We need a pause to further evaluate this approach before it is implemented on a widespread basis.”
What sad — and unnecessary — confusion!
All this expensive and damaging pharmacologic chaos would largely disappear if the root cause of the artery diseases these guidelines are directed against were truly addressed: the pathogenic, overly processed, Standard American Diet (“S.A.D.”), laden with salt, sugar, fat, and artery-damaging animal proteins and fats.
Advocation and adoption of a diet based upon whole plant foods — along with smoking cessation — would largely abolish artery disease within a few decades and relieve most of the suffering and deaths from heart attacks and strokes that cripple us as individuals, as families, and as a nation.
In so doing, trillions of “health care dollars” would be freed up to pay for high-quality education and nutrition programs, infrastructure repair and upgrading, environmental restoration, transition to organic food production — so many things that would truly heal us, individually and planet-wide.
It saddens me to see medical research pursuing a quixotic time-wasting, money-wasting, life-wasting search for a magic pill that will make it okay for Americans to keep eating artery-injuring, vessel-clogging cheeseburgers and other fast-foods when the real issue is the consumption of the cheeseburgers (and the rest of the “S.A.D.”) — not the cholesterol levels those damaging foods create!
Healthy diets start with the informed choices each of us makes. Our food choices produce benefits far beyond our body and our individual lives. The examples we set for others — friends, family, and, especially, our children — spread like ripples in a pool and make it easier for others to make healthier choices.
Everything — and everyONE — does make a difference. Do all you can to make your difference healthy, positive, and uplifting — every day.
To your good health and happiness,
Dr. Michael Klaper