My Experience Lowering Cholesterol and 
Recent Concerns About Supplements

I am genetically predisposed to having high cholesterol. My father has had high cholesterol for some time. When I was growing up, I was made aware of which foods contain cholesterol and saturated fats. Consequently, I was only eating these so-called high cholesterol foods in moderation.

About twenty years ago, after a routine physical (my first in many years), my doctor told me that I had a cholesterol level of 280. At the time I was cycling 50 miles per week, running 3 miles per day and playing soccer twice a week in a competitive adult league. Adding exercise was not a recommendation the doctor made.

Since I thought I was on a low cholesterol diet (avoiding high cholesterol food), since I was getting plenty of exercise, and given my family history of high cholesterol, the doctor suggested that I start using cholesterol lowering medication. At the time, I chose to ignore his recommendation and my problem.

About seven years ago, a close relative experienced a heart attack when he was only 32 years old. Since I was quite a bit older, and given the family history and recalling my personal cholesterol level, it was like having cold water thrown in my face. I had to do something to get my cholesterol down. I needed a natural cholesterol treatment plan

As with my earlier exprerience, exercise was not the cure - I was already getting plenty of aerobic exercise. I went on a sensible diet with a good balance of protein and carbohydrates – eating low glycemic foods whenever possible. This reduced my cholesterol levels to about 245, still a far cry from achieving normal cholesterol levels

Under suggestions from family members, over the next year and a half, I tried different varous supplements. I started taking garlic pills, lecithin, niacin, and guggal. Not knowing much about the effects of each and not knowing the dosages, I achieved limited success. In fact, when I tried taking niacin, I actually took too much, too fast. In case you ever start using niacin, you need to work your way up gradually, as it caused me to break out in skin eruptions. For about an hour, I thought I was having an allergic reaction to something I ate.

Anyway, my cholesterol went down to about 230, but would fluctuate enough that sometimes I felt like I was going backwards.

However, my success improved when I discovered food that lowers cholesterol. In conjunction with exercise and a liver cleanse, I was able to achieve normal cholesterol levels - getting my overall cholesterol down to 194 and my total cholesterol to HDL ratio to 3.5.

Here are the foods that helped me:

  • Garlic – although I ate a reasonable amount of food containing garlic, and took garlic supplements, I was finding limited success. Under advice from a natural healer, I increased the amount of garlic I was taking (to total of 2400 mg 3:1 concentrate powder with 24 mg total allicin yield) and ensured that I was using a reputable company for my supplements.
  • Increased fiber intake – I used to eat 2 slices of whole wheat or whole grain bread for breakfast. I replaced this with a mixture of ¼ cup of oat bran, ¼ cup of cooked oats (I use oat groats because I like the texture) and ¼ cup of cooked wheat (I use hard winter wheat for texture). The mixture of soluble and insoluble fiber helps to lower cholesterol and cleanse the colon.
  • Flax seed – I started taking two teaspoons of flax seed oil, one in the morning and one in the evening. I later switched to eating 1/4 cup of ground flax seeds on my breakfast oats – which gives me additional fiber and is easier to store.
  • Trans Fat – I used to have margarine with my breakfast toast. I started avoiding all trans fats and started using olive oil for most of my cooking oil needs.

Concerns with Supplements 
Quality, Product Purity and Shelf Life

Thinking back on my experience of trying various supplements to reduce my cholesterol level, I am convinced that some of the supplements I was taking were of poor quality or were past their useful shelf life - and thus not effective. Gauging the right dosage for some of these herb based supplements is difficult, due to lack of standardization across different suppliers and other factors in their chemistry, such as bio-availability. My recent investigation into supplements leads to a serious and growing concern on the efficacy of store bought supplements. Without specifying a manufacturer, dosage and knowing the age of the product on the shelf, it is difficult to get the right dosage.

According to the National Institute of Health’s Office of Dietary Supplements, "...it is difficult to determine the quality of a dietary supplement product from its label. The degree of quality control depends on the manufacturer, the supplier, and others in the production process. FDA is authorized to issue Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP) regulations describing conditions under which dietary supplements must be prepared, packed, and stored. FDA published a proposed rule…that is intended to ensure that manufacturing practices will result in an unadulterated dietary supplement and that dietary supplements are accurately labeled. Until this proposed rule is finalized, dietary supplements … are primarily concerned with safety and sanitation rather than dietary supplement quality. Some manufacturers voluntarily follow drug GMPs, which are more rigorous..." . Not good – our government is acknowledging that there is a problem with quality of supplements we are consuming.

Paul Zane Pilzer, an advisor to two U.S. presidential administrations and a leading author, claims that "...between one-quarter and one-third of the dietary supplements (vitamins, minerals, and herbals) sold in the United States today… do not contain what they say they do on the label ... No wonder about a third of the people who have tried dietary supplements have found them to be ineffective...". Here is another credible source saying that there is a problem with not thoroughly researching the supplements we take.

Proven Efficacy vs. Voodoo Science

The pharmaceutical industry has done an amazing job of funding and publicizing cholesterol reduction trials on their medications. This has led to a commmon belief that alternative healing techniques are voodoo science. This is primarily because insufficient money has been spent adequately testing these alternative healing techniques using scientifically conducted trial methodology (e.g. double blind testing with large enough samples). Whatever testing that has been done, has not been publicized widely enough. Many of these techniques are based on trial and error medicine (like my experience with supplements). This by no means makes them less effective - just less available. Wouldn’t everyone want to use simple non-drug-related techniques to achieve good health, if those techniques were proven to work using modern science.

The Magic Pill Syndrome

Given our increasingly busy lifestyles, the allure of a magic pill to lower cholesterol is attractive. Few people have the time and inclination to shop around and experiment with supplement-based remedies, to find one that works for them. Our society has become accustom to a visit to the doctor and a prescription pill that will cure their problems. However, the long term side effects of these medications is only now coming to light.

My Recommendation

I may have found a natural "magic pill" in the form of an alternative healing approach, one that has been tested using modern scientific methodology, without the problems associated with the variability in store-bought supplements. Here is my recommendation

Get ready to take The Natural Path to good health.

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