gps don't seem to understand that I have high cholesterol am not at all overweight and do not eat high fat, processed foods

My cholesterol was 7.2 and I finally lowered it to 4.5 after it kept going up and down. I had to keep explaining to the gp that I was already restricting my diet to control my IBS (the gp referred me to a dietitian to be put on the low fodmap diet for IBS) when I had blood tests done. My cholesterol level depended on how much cholesterol lowering foods I could manage to eat ie. porridge, oatcakes pearl barley, soya products, benecol I ate, when they really aggravated my gut and caused my IBS to flare up. I stopped eating porridge and certain other foodstuffs that aggravated my gut and in 3 months my cholesterol had gone up from 4.5 to 5.2 and I know it will just keep getting higher if I don't eat the foodstuffs that my gut cannot absorb. My mother had a stroke when she was about my age, and although my diet and lifestyle are far more healthy than my mother's I do worry that if I can't lower my cholesterol I could have a stroke. I have told my gp that heart disease runs in my family but it didn't seem to count.


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42 Replies

  • Hi you say your eating healthy and not overweight, that's probably true of most people with raised cholesterol, I'm same but its not nescassary that just chubbier people have high numbers, your liver is mainly the culprit, I suggest you make a decision to either live with the high numbers or carry on with the diet you say is causing a problem or you do as I have done, I take 10 mg of atorvastatin each night and it keeps it at 5.3 ish without any side effects, plenty of fluids when I take it though, or you go down the route of trying to find herbal remedies, you still have to stick to a healthy diet as much as possible but not to an extreme.

    Many will tell you to steer clear of the statins but remember its your choice, is your mum OK now

  • What a nice change to read a post that is positive about statins. I must admit that I have been thinking of asking my gp to put me on statins. I am finding my diet too limiting - having to follow two very restrictive diets all the time. It would be a great weight of my mind not worrying about heart disease. Was atorvastatin your choice or your gp's and did you try others before?

  • A whole food plant based diet with some occasional fish is probably the healthiest diet we can adopt, certainly evidence shows that Pescitarians live the longest but I have never understood why people suggest this diet is restrictive and difficult. The range, flavours and all round deliciousness of this eating approach is more than enough for most people who fully embrace it.

  • Soya can cause/exacerbate gut problems and thyroid dysfunction. If you have gut problems, avoid soya and wheat. If possible, avoid other types of gluten too.

    Eat real food as much as possible. Avoid margarines, sunflower oil, rapeseed oil, sugar, etc.

  • It is Heart UK -the cholesterol charity's dietary advice on lowering cholesterol that advocates having soya milk and soya yoghurts. (I personally didn't like the taste of soya and my gut can't cope with it). Heart UK also advocate that you use rapeseed oil, which I do, and olive oil. I guess you don't agree with their recommendations on lowering cholesterol. I don't eat any wheat products or sugar. But when you have to restrict what you eat (I have to follow the low fodmap diet to control my IBS) you can end up, like me, finding your diet is so limited and I had to be realistic about making food palatable.

    I am not obsessing about getting my cholesterol down to zero, I am just understandably concerned about lowering my cholesterol so I don't have a stroke like my mother did when she was about my age.

    I'll check out your link, thanks.

  • I must admit that Heart UK's dietary advice is very limited and slanted towards those who can tolerate eating quite a lot of wheat and soya to lower cholesterol. Their dietary isn't geared towards helping peeps with IBS. Don't listen to Heart Radio so can't comment on it. (joke)

  • First, the Total cholesterol number has little medical validity so stop sweating it. You can get valuable insight to your health from 'some' of the components of the typical Lipid Panel reported from your routine blood test as well as from a CBC (Complete Blood Count).

    Triglycerides - should be less than 1.7 mmol/l but ideally less than 0.7903 mmol/l.

    Divide your TRIG figure by 2.2 and the result will be your VLDL value (Very Low Density Lipoprotein) which is the atherogenic component of your LDL value. Therefore the total LDL value is not as important.

    HDL should ideally be greater than 1.55 mmol/l.

    From your CBC, get your Neutrophil (N) and Lymphocyte (L) values. Divided N/L and you will get a ratio. If this number is greater than 1.5, your risk is increased as it indicates that you have low-grade inflammation. If your ratio is greater than 4.5, that risk is very high. The Neutrophil number ideally should be 2.0 or very close to it. An elevated Neutrophil number implies a potential for problems.

    If you want to know your risk for heart attack and stroke, get the following tests:

    CRP - C Reactive Protein - measures low grade inflammation in your body

    MPO (Myeloperoxidase) - measures inflammation in your arteries

    LP-Pla2 test - measures risk of plaque rupture that can trigger a blockage

    Fibrinogen - measures 'stickiness' of blood platelets which can cause a blood clot to form

    Homocysteine - elevated levels increase the risk of blood clot formation.

    You may have to pay for these tests, but there's a price to pay for peace of mind.

    Good luck.

  • Thanks, have you had these tests done in the UK btw? If you have your cholesterol tested at a pharmacy, which I do every few months, the test is not comprehensive, but I will have a look at my last blood test results done at the hospital for the others.

  • I live in Canada. Each test costs about $35 to $70 Canadian dollars (21 to 42 pounds sterling).

    I have blood tests done at a lab and I tell the doctor what to enter on the requisition forms since I am personally paying for uncovered tests. Here in Canada the government pays for routine CBC and lipid panel.

  • Thanks, I used to live in Montreal. I remember when I lived there how impressive the health service was, my gp would refer me to a specialist and I would probably get an appointment like the week after.

  • Hi, no I was put on simvastatin by my GP originally but did have some minor side effect's so changed over to atorvastatin and been fine on it, I do still watch my diet but I no longer use any artificial fats and use best butter and extra virgin oil, I eat lots of veg and rice and pasta, mostly chicken and fish but I do have the odd piece of red meat as well but keep it lean, I have reduced my sugar intake and although I would like to say I exercise more that would be a lie, I'm sadly disabled and can't do a third of what I used to do.

    Speak to your Dr and ask lots of questions, write them down before you go.

    Do what's best for You

  • Thanks very much AlexandriaUK

  • Instead of focussing on the foods you've been told to eat to lower cholesterol, try eating foods that don't cause an abnormal rise in insulin, that will help normalise your lipids.

  • I don't know what foods cause an abnormal rise in insulin. The issue I have is trying to balance two very restrictive diets that conflict with each other. I follow the low fodmap diet to control my IBS and the low fat, high carbs diet, which is consuming a lot of wheat and soya products that my gut cannot tolerate to lower my cholesterol.

  • My sympathies.

    Dr. Natasha Campbell McBride subscribes to the leaky gut syndrome theory. Essentially, IBS symptoms are an autoimmune response due to the body attacking itself after the development of anti-bodies to undigested food passing through the gut wall. Her GAPS diet is another restrictive diet that is claimed to be curative when followed for up to 2 years.

    Other doctors argue that the cholesterol theory is flawed. Statins for instance are effective at lowering cholesterol, yet only prevent 2% of CHD incidents such as heart attacks or stroke. Diabetes is associated with drinking more water, but we don't blame drinking more water for causing diabetes, and we certainly don't try to minimise water consumption to avoid diabetes.

    I'm sorry if this doesn't seem helpful to you.

  • Thanks Concerned - I have read about leaky gut syndrome ( and gastroparesis) and it does seem to me that sometimes people, can have this condition but are told it is IBS.

  • Are you saying that your diet consists of low fat, high carbs and a lot of wheat and soya? Really? Oh dear. 🙃

  • Why did you think that eating low fat, high carbs, and alot of wheat and soya would be a good idea? And when you saw that it was making things worse, why did you continue with it? 🤔

  • If you have read my thread I never said that eating a low fat, high carbs, high in wheat and soya would be a good idea - - so do give up.

  • This is what you said in this thread:

    "I follow the low fodmap diet to control my IBS and the low fat, high carbs diet, which is consuming a lot of wheat and soya products that my gut cannot tolerate to lower my cholesterol."

  • I had this conversation with my cardiologist last week. He would like me to lower my cholesterol to below 2.5 , its currently 3.4. I asked about diet & he said nothing to do with diet only statins will do it, so changed me from pravastatin to avorastatin. He expects to see good results in 6mths & told me to eat a normal healthy diet.

  • I am not sure on this medication. From my experience of total cholesterol coming down to 2.8 and the issues I had!!!! 3.4 to 2.5 may be in a month, please go to a chemist to do total cholesterol check, do not wait for 6 months.

    Human body needs cholesterol to function properly, may be you need a second opinion?

  • Ive been taking for a week now & havent noticed any difference in symptoms. My meds are only prescribed by my heart transplant cardiologist so I know i can trust his judgement...he saved my life.

    Lowering my cholesterol gives me a better chance of survival.

  • Hi, thank you for your reply. would it be possible for you to let us know if you were asked to do any exercise like HIIT. Thanks.

  • Porsche,

    He should provide reasons why he is of the opinion that your cholesterol should be below 2.5, and you should feel comfortable asking him for those opinions and questioning him about them. Send him a letter and ask, and get his response in writing.

    I believe that it's actually unhealthy for cholesterol to be that low.

    Regardless of my opinion and his opinion, you have to do some research and decide for yourself. After all, it is your body.

  • Cholesterol skeptics cite low cholesterol is associated with cancer.

  • Hi Concerned,

    And many other conditions e.g. dementia, poor Vit D absorption, inflammation, osteoporosis, dementia, cancer, etc...

  • What happened to the health professional oath "First do no harm"?

  • Concerned,

    We, the patients, often do more research than the doctors. Doctors just swallow any nonsense they're told by drug reps. in their medical training course. Nutrient classes are not obligatory and in all the years of study they might do no more than 1/2 day, if that.

    Doctors, therefore, peddle Big Pharma products and know little/nothing about nutrients, supplements and nutritional deficiencies.

    Big Pharma is akin to the Military Industrial Complex i.e. it's Big Business, regardless of the number of lives that are lost or made worse by the Big Pharma products.

    The fact is that we cannot choose to get our health-supporting supplements for our medical conditions from the NHS from the taxes that are/were paid. We are instead forced to accept the Big Pharma products on the NHS... or go and buy the supplements ourselves - in addition to paying tax for healthcare and products. So those of us who choose the less injurious method, via natural health supplements, end up paying twice. And Big Pharma has deliberately smeared natural health supplements so that we end up not easily accessing and buying the natural supplements that we choose for ourselves.

    In other words, the whole thing is dictated by Big Pharma.

    Dr Rangan Chatterjee of the BBC Doctor series went on to study nutrients, supplements, etc because his child was very ill and ended up in hospital... but neither he nor the hospital doctors could figure out what the problem was. After a ton of tests, they realised that the child was Vit D deficient. But none of them had studied Vit D or any other Vitamin in their medical training. It was a disturbing fact for Dr Chatterjee. So he went on to study Functional Medicine and he continues to regularly attend seminars, conferences, workshops about health, nutrients, nutrition, diet, supplements, etc.

    I was very ill for decades with classic symptoms of Vit D deficiency. But not one doctor identified it, diagnosed it and treated it. And not one doctor apologised for their longterm failures and the damage that was caused to my health and life by their ignorance and stupidity.

    So people must question their doctors, and they must do their own research.

  • I'm sorry to hear that you've suffered. I was lucky in that I found out from tests an early stage that following 'healthy eating' was doing me no good.

    TBF, much of the information from the net is dubious, but I think there is just so much more communication now that we can determine what is speculation and what is legit.

    I suppose it is to our benefit that doctors don't do more than 1/2 day on nutrition or they would be even more adamant that we follow PHE 'healthy eating'.

  • Concerned,

    The internet is an international library. It's down to you where you go for your info and how good/bad your research and cross referencing ability is. I can quickly source things online. In an actual high street bookstore it would take forever and I'd still probably not find what I want.

    It certainly wasn't to my benefit that doctors knew little/nothing about nutrients, supplements and deficiencies, etc. Even recently, the GP practice after years, finally, prescribed Vit D, and then prescribed too little a dose and incorrectly said that 800 IU is more than adequate to maintain optimal Vit D levels. It is NOT. I didn't bother to show her the Vit D bottle that I carry, from which I take a few thousand IU Vit D daily.

  • Apart from dementia I've had all the others and my cholestral was 8 after eight weeks in 10mg atvotstatin it's now 4 but I have painful muscles in my back thighs so I've stopped taking them

  • Hi SL,

    You may find my post helpful.

  • This web site is full of people who claim that they eat a healthy diet and yet despite this they have heart disease. I find it hard to believe the vast majority of these claims because I know from personal experience that I too thought my diet was pretty decent but on research I realised 5 years ago that it was awful. It was just pretty good by western diet standards which are pretty low standards. The first simple question you can ask yourself without even drilling down into micro and macro nutrients is this, what is your weight now assuming you are past 40 and what was your weight when you were 20. If you are more than 7lbs heavier then I have to tell you that your diet is almost certainly unhealthy. There is no reason, other than the fact you may be eating the wrong foods, for having anymore than around 7lbs max weight gain in 25 years. Sorry to sound negative but sometimes a bit of tough love is needed.

  • Mark,

    Even a slight under-functioning of the thyroid gland will impact cholesterol and lipid results.

  • I agree

  • I totally agree, in my case 10 pounds.

    Portion control was my problem. I used to travel a lot and had three good meals a day, after retirement, we were discussing home cooked food, (always fresh veg, fish or chicken) and weight, the and answer was portion control, bought small cup, small bowl and small plate. It was difficult to start with but managed it.

    My have lost some weight and under control. By going to the gym on a daily basis I am fitter as well. My body frame is large because of weight training in my younger days.

    Now my wife and friends keeps telling me do not loose any more weight!!!

    My cholesterol is high I am just going to enjoy life without worrying about it, my wife is planning to cook porridge rather then microwave porridge, this is because of an article she read in the paper about porridge, "porridge is better then statin!"

  • I do eat a healthy diet, but a restricted diet to control my IBS. I was referred by my gp to a dietitian to be put on a low fodmap (a diet to eliminate\restrict foodstuffs that people with IBS cannot absorb properly). I weigh 45 kg (just over 7 stone), and I am not at all overweight. I weigh pretty much the same as I did 20 years ago. I personally think that there is this general assumption that if you have high cholesterol you must eat very unhealthily - a high fat, over processed junk food diet and be overweight. I started this thread because, from my experience, there is this misconception that if you have high cholesterol you must eat an unhealthy diet and be overweight - as it seems the norm but if heart disease runs in your family it could be that you have a predisposition to heart disease.

  • I do not accept that heart disease runs in families or at least not to the extent that is touted. What does run in families is a modern western lifestyle and diet

  • I think that despite my having a healthy lifestyle I could have a stroke because my mother, at about my age, had a stroke. I believe that the genes I have inherited from my parents can affect my chances of developing heart disease. If you do not want to accept that then that is your prerogative.

  • Mark,

    Thyroid problems can run in families.

    Also... infections, inflammations, pathogens, etc can all impact cholesterol, lipids, cardiovascular system, hormonal system, etc.

  • Keep it simple fresh food and fresh veg, regular exercise.

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