Melinda is a fit, healthy and vibrant woman in her mid-50’s. She has a naturally high metabolism and maintains her great figure – post menopause – with regular visits to the gym. It came as a shock therefore when, after a routine health check, Melinda discovered that her cholesterol was a staggering 9mmol/L. The GP’s recommendation was to get on statins immediately which certainly would have been the quickest, easiest option. But Melinda wanted the best option and was determined to do something herself. She asked her doctor to give her time to change her diet and see whether diet, before drugs, could reduce cholesterol. In just 2 ½ months she has successfully reduced her cholesterol from 9 to 6.8. She knows it’s still too high but wants to see whether in a few more months she can bring it down further to below the desirable range of <5.6 mmol/L. If by then, her cholesterol is still high, she will consider medication.
Google side effects of statins and a long list of symptoms pop up. Google the side effects of reducing your intake of saturated fat from cheese, croissants, full-fat dairy, and adding oats to your diet, and no harm will come to you. Quite the opposite in fact. Weight loss, improved digestion, lowered cholesterol and the risk of heart disease and stroke are just a few side benefits of trying to reduce cholesterol through diet.
Prior to her test results, Melinda regularly grabbed a croissant for breakfast with her morning coffee. Her affair with cheese was a daily occurrence and she used full-fat milk in her daily lattes. Given that she had never needed to worry about her weight she hadn’t seen her diet as a problem. With just a few dietary changes mentioned above, she has made significant health improvements by helping herself.
Medicinal brilliance before convenience
It’s incredible to think that less than 80 years ago penicillin was first used in Australia to treat soldiers serving in Papua New Guinea during World War 2. Before then it was not uncommon for women to die from septicemia after a complicated birth or lose a forearm from pricking a finger on a rose thorn. Today advancements in medicine have moved onto a whole new level with people living through illnesses where not that long ago survival would have been inconceivable. That said, some drugs are handed out like lollies as a quick fix to a range of chronic conditions, and the underlying cause of the problem is largely ignored. In most instances, it’s because we don’t eat properly. Melinda chose to change her diet to reduce her cholesterol, most people don’t. Many of her friends told her to go ahead and take the medication that they themselves were on.
With less money spent subsidising lifestyle diseases, more is available for less common healthcare.
I recently heard a podcast with Professor Luigi Fontana from Sydney University who specialises in aging and fasting. On the podcast, Professor Fontana discussed an ideal world where countries could afford free healthcare by spending less money subsidising medication for chronic conditions, which can be managed by lifestyle intervention. If we use diet before drugs to reduce cholesterol and other lifestyle related diseases, there would be more money in the healthcare budget to spend on people with conditions they cannot cure themselves.
Ask yourself, what have I done to cause this condition.
I will never suggest we turn our back on medicine, but I do suggest you adopt the “Melinda approach”, and ask not first “what this medicine can do for my condition” but “what have I done to cause this condition and what can I do to fix it? Diet before drugs to reduce cholesterol is always a good place to start.
Don’t just think about diet in terms of your weight, the number of calories you take in, and how you look. Instead think about your health, your energy levels, how you feel. Get your blood checked and see whether your health markers fall within a desirable range and if they don’t decide to do something about it yourself.
Hip: Waist Ratio
Your waist-to-hip ratio is a good indication of abdominal obesity The higher the ratio the more likely you are to have visceral fat which surrounds your liver and other organs. Your health is affected by where you store body fat, even if you have a healthy weight or a normal body mass index (BMI). cVisceral fat sends hormones, fatty acids, and other chemicals that cause inflammation into your body. This leads to high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and blood glucose. It also leads to higher levels of triglycerides, a type of fat, in your blood.
To find out your Hip: Waist ratio grab a tape measure and head to www.thefoodcoach.com.au/tools/ratio
One on One Consultations
If you need to improve your diet but don’t know how to start, I am available for one-on-one consultations. For more information visit www.thefoodcoachcourses.com.au/product/lighten-up-one-on-one/