Inflammation vs. Cholesterol

A long-time cardiothoracic surgeon says the real cause of heart disease may not be what we’ve heard about for years – cholesterol. Instead, Dr. Dwight C. Lundell, a former surgeon in Arizona and author of The Cure for Heart Disease: Truth Will Save a Nation, argues the real culprit of heart disease is inflammation. He goes a step further, suggesting that the low-fat diet we’ve been told to follow is actually to blame for the rise in heart disease.


Heart Disease Explained

Heart disease is the leading cause of death among men and women. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, it’s responsible for one in every four deaths in the United States. That’s 600,000 deaths annually. And the disease is not cheap either. Each year it costs the U.S. $108.9 billion in health care, medication and lost productivity.

Now, Dr. Lundell is speaking out about what he argues is the failure in the medical system to treat the disease properly. Lundell says for as long as he’s been practicing, the “opinion makers” have trained physicians to attack heart disease by working to lower patients’ cholesterol. According to Lundell writing on the website, “These recommendations are no longer scientifically or morally defensible.”

Lundell believes doctors have to look further back than elevated cholesterol. He says before cholesterol can even accumulate in the blood vessels, there must be inflammation.

Cholesterol vs. Inflammation

Cholesterol is not necessarily bad, but when too much of it accumulates, often due to diet – specifically animal proteins – it can become troublesome. But Lundell says even in higher levels, if cholesterol were able to move freely through the blood, it wouldn’t be a problem. The danger, he explains, arises when there is inflammation that makes traveling through the vessels difficult. That’s when cholesterol becomes trapped and can lead to heart attack and stroke.

Inflammation, as a general function of the body, is intended to protect. It’s how we fight off foreign substances such as viruses, bacteria or toxins. The more we’re exposed to ‘bad stuff’, which includes foods the body can’t process, the more inflammation increases until it becomes chronic. Clearly, the more inflammation, the narrower the blood vessels, and the harder it is for the blood to move – especially when there are sticky substances like cholesterol in it.

When Low-Fat is Harmful

For years, the medical community has instructed us to eat low-fat diets to lower cholesterol. This has led to an explosion of foods processed for the sole purpose of being low in fat. Sounds positive, right?

Wrong. The key word is that these foods are “processed”. These are primarily man-made carbohydrates, i.e. sugar and flour, and vegetables oils such as soybean, corn and sunflower oils which are used to promote shelf life. These foods, according to Lundell, are poisoning us.

Dr. Lundell compares arteries damaged by this type of diet to rubbing a course scrub brush against your skin. He writes, “Several times a day, every day, the foods we eat create small injuries compounding into more injuries, causing the body to respond continuously and appropriately with inflammation.”

Refined sugars cause blood sugar levels to rise, which sets off a release of insulin. Not a problem in normal levels. But, when there is too much sugar in the body, and the cells are full of insulin, the excess sugar has nowhere to go. It ends up hanging out in the blood vessels where it attaches itself to proteins in the blood and sets off the cycle of inflammation. When this continues over time, chronic inflammation occurs.

Now, let’s look at the problem of omega 6 fatty acids. Again, they’re not necessarily a problem in small levels. But, when the ratio of omega 6 to omega 3 (another fatty acid) is off, the cells respond by producing a substance called cytokines which are intended to regulate the system, but, again, too many cytokines lead to inflammation.

Lundell says very simply, “There is no escaping the fact that the more we consume prepared and processed foods, the more we trip the inflammation switch little by little each day.”

What You Can Do

Dr. Lundell suggests the answer is easy – put down the processed foods and eat foods closer to their natural state – proteins, complex carbohydrates such as fruits and vegetables, and instead of corn oil use olive oil.

According to Lundell, if you eliminate inflammatory foods and instead add essential nutrients from unprocessed foods, you can reverse the damage you’ve done to your body.

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Ron McDiarmid
Having had health challenges along the way Ron was keen to share the research and learning he gathered. Through MHLC this continued into a current presentation of healthy lifestyle choices and how to implement them. Ron also is a believer in collaborating with many experts in their respective fields to give the MHLC audience access to their questions and answers from specialists and professionals. Ron is committed to his own daily exercise with a combination of Yoga and weight bearing exercise. He is a Certified Raw Food Gourmet Chef, has completed 7 and 14 day detox/fasts and a 30 day juice fast. The immense personal learning, both physical and spiritual, of these events is also rich collateral for MHLC visitors who are interested and curious.