Mason County News
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Natural Health from A to Z
Wednesday, October 29, 2008 • Posted October 29, 2008

It seems like everyone wants to reduce their cholesterol. There are some great natural ways to do this, but everyone is unique – so what works for one, may not work for another. If you read last week’s article, you know that cholesterol is necessary for many body functions, meaning that you don’t want to reduce it completely, but you don’t want unhealthy levels either.

If you want to work on the cause, a good place to start is looking at the diet. Eliminate foods full of unhealthy transfatty acids and hydrogenated oils which tend to increase cholesterol. These include many fried and convenience foods such as cookies and crackers – read labels.

If both cholesterol and triglycerides are high, there is a good chance that you are insulin resistant which means you are eating too many refined carbohydrates. A great way to bring both triglycerides and cholesterol down is to balance your diet and take a multi-vitamin for blood sugar control (I recommend one called Gluco Balance) along with a good quality omega 3 oil.

Another area to consider is how cholesterol is eliminated from the body. Bile from the liver carries the cholesterol to the digestive tract where it is eliminated from the body. Constipation or slow transit time through the digestive tract will cause cholesterol to be reabsorbed rather than eliminated. A good way to work on this issue is to add fiber to the diet. Oat fiber is advertised as a way to lower cholesterol because it will absorb the cholesterol and encourage more regular elimination – but other forms of fiber such as psyllium will work as well. Magnesium supplementation is another way to increase regularity, which will lower cholesterol if poor elimination or constipation is a problem with you.

One of the most common factors I find that leads to high cholesterol levels is poor liver or gallbladder function. There are several common foods in the American diet that cause the bile to congeal and not flow to the digestive tract properly. This can be measured in normal blood tests of liver enzymes using nutritional ranges. If you reduce and / or eliminate coffee (both caffeinated and decaffeinated) and chocolate from your diet and add a supplement to thin the bile so that it flows naturally, you will reduce cholesterol. I have seen good results with a product called Beta TCP.

If you really don’t know why your cholesterol is high, but want to do something natural, a good step is to do an herbal cleanse for the whole body. The one I recommend is a 30 day program that includes herbs, fiber and an omega 3 oil. I have customers that have brought cholesterol down 20-40 points using this cleanse.

There are many natural products that will lower cholesterol. Some of the best known are niacin, lecithin, chlorella and garlic. But there are others such as policosanol. Studies show that policosanol can lower total cholesterol 17 to 20 percent with “bad’ LDL cholesterol reductions of 15 to 25 percent and “good” HDL cholesterol increases of 18 to 20 percent. A companion product to policosanol is phytosterols which has been shown in studies to reduce cholesterol an average of 10 percent in total cholesterol and 13 percent in LDL cholesterol. Both policosanol and phytosterols are often included in cholesterol lowering programs since they enhance the effect of both prescription and nonprescription treatments for lowering cholesterol.

Margaret Durst is a naturopathic doctor who owns The Green House, a vitamin, herb and health food store in Mason, Texas.

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