Healthy Eating; another perspective?

Your doctor informs you that you have a genetic pre-disposition for heart disease. You know you eat a healthy diet; low in red meat, low in saturated fat, low in sugar, low in salt, moderate amounts of monounsaturated fats, plenty of whole-grains, plenty of fruit and vegetables. Unfortunately your condition chronically worsens.

Why wouldn’t you try a hunter-gatherer diet of natural foods to see whether the claims that it improves your blood lipids were true?

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Living With High Cholesterol?

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15 Replies

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  • I'm afraid I don't have an answer for this but I am very interested as it accurately describes my own situation. I am waiting for a bypass but want to do all I can to prevent my arteries blocking up again afterwards. Can you give a reference for the natural food diet you mention?

    At the moment I am following up the possibility that the cause of my problem is heavy metals. I have had a test which shows I have significant amounts of lead and mercury in my body so I am taking Alphaclear (Zeolite and ALA) to remove them - anyone have any comments?

  • There are plenty of sources, but I’m reluctant to provide any here because I don’t want to be thought of as a troll or advertising.

    There are some good replies already and I thank you for them.

    What I would say is to consider what your food had to undergo before you eat it. Has it had to be processed to make it edible (cooking meat makes it safer and more palatable, but theoretically you could eat it raw. You couldn’t eat raw soya or wheat)? Has it had to be chemically extracted (many vegetable oils are not cold pressed). Does it have additives (I know these are tested and passed safe, but they have to have an ‘effect’ or they wouldn’t be used. Preservatives for instance have to reduce decay, so they have to have some effect on bacteria, and consequently gut flora)?

    Hope this helps.

  • Wise words.

  • This seems to sum up my situation. I was told I had elevated cholesterol six years ago. I followed all the conventional dietary advice given to me and was re-checked three months later, and my levels had gone up very slightly!

    Since that time I have been on statins. They have bought my LDL down, but it stubbornly refused to come down to within normal levels. After doing my own reading into the subject, I decided to try the Atkins diet last year – mainly because I wanted to lose a bit of weight but also because I was aware that I was eating too much sugar in my diet and to see what effect it had on my cholesterol levels. As you know, the diet recommends plenty of protein and fat, but very little carbohydrate. Result? After 4-5 months, I'd lost a couple of stone and, for the first time in six years, my cholesterol levels had come down to what is deemed 'normal' limits (I should add, I'm not a big fan of red meat so I did stick to mainly chicken and fish on the diet, with maybe beef mince once a week).

    The only problem? I can't claim to be an Atkins devotee, because I find it an extremely hard diet to stick to – there are only so many cheese omelettes I want to eat in a week! I lead a very busy life and don't always have the time to prepare varied, high-protein meals. My diet since last winter has drifted again. I've put back a stone of weight (although that's not dreadful as people were beginning to say I was looking too skinny). I do crave sugar quite often (I'm shamefully eating a doughnut at my desk at work because someone brought a whole tray of them in to the office this morning!). However, it has really made me think about the whole issue of fats and carbohydrates. For me, I am convinced my cholesterol levels are more closely linked to my intake of sugar and processed carbohydrates, and I have therefore made a conscious decision to try and cut back on them where possible (when work colleagues don't... ahem, put sugar doughnuts in front of me!).

    I can only offer this as my own personal example. I believe it's entirely possible that the causes of elevated cholesterol may differ slightly from person to person, depending on genetics, which is why there might be conflicting advice or information. What works for one person may not work for another. I don't want to state that a high-protein diet will definitely lower your cholesterol, but I do think that experimenting with different diets might surprise you. Cutting fats from my diet appeared to have no effect on my lipids, but cutting back sugar had a big effect. I'd be interested to know of other people's experiences.

  • To be successful in the long term, even Atkins’ recognised the need for eating a balanced diet, though the proportions would be different from the national healthy eating guidelines.

    There is a ceiling level to protein; it can cause sickness, diarrhoea, and even death if it constitutes too much of the diet. It has to be diluted. You need water soluble vitamins, minerals and fibre that you can obtain from fruit and vegetables. You also need fat soluble vitamins and minerals that you can obtain from, surprise, fat.

    Getting hungry and/or eating high glycaemic foods such as doughnuts will set you up for a subsequent fall in blood sugar that will leave you craving more ‘quick fix’ food.

    If you aim to get a third of what you eat from each of the macronutrients, then you can adjust it according to your personal need. If you aren’t very active for instance, you won’t need as much carbohydrate (which provides the energy for intense activity, including brain function, but given the time and need can be derived from protein and fat too).

  • I had an exchange of text messages this morning with husband over the article below. I have been trying a low carb approach and he hasn't as he claims "it will go straight to my arteries" .

    I have lost weight on it, my blood sugar levels, which I check are lower, but in all fairness probably the same when I was just cutting out junk food. I actually feel fuller on it, but the biggest drawback for me is chronic constipation (sorry everybody) so I don't think I could keep extremely low carb for ever.

    Cholesterol levels are more difficult as on a low dose statin.

    There is a lot of blogging on the main stream diabetes sites to say that low carb diets really work to stabilise blood sugar.

    I sympathise about the doughnuts, it always seems to somebody's birthday, anniversary, wedding etc.

    metro.co.uk/.../901594-swed......

  • Aliwally,

    I suffered from constipation on a low carb diet too but I found eating a handful of almonds, an apple and especially 2 tablespoons ground linseeds (in a yoghurt) to really help. Linseeds and almonds have been proven to lower ldl too. I am eating fat buy trying to stick to the so called beneficial ones, oily fish, avocados,nuts, seeds, virgin olive oil. Havent plucked up the courage to try eating fatty red meat, but I do have a small amount of butter and the odd ice cream/pudding when I go out for a meal.

  • I agree about the low carbohydrate approach. I've been carrying too much weight for the past 14 years ( by too much I'm talking about 30ib and I'm only 5' 2''.) I was diagnosed with angina back in March, with a cholesterol of 6.7 and was determined to lose weight and try and get my cholesterol down with diet and exercise - much to the scorn of my GP. Having tried a vege cholesterol lowering diet, during which I lost no weight, despite regular exercise and feeling hungry all the time i decided to try a different approach. With some very helpful information from various members of this forum and reading of my own, I've tried a 'Paleo' type diet - high protein, virtually no grains but plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables (which is different to the Atkins diet I think) The result is that I am regularly losing 2ib a week, I'm never hungry and the IBS I've had for years has virtually gone. I'm due a blood test so I'll post when I've had my cholesterol checked. I don't get constipated because of all the veg I eat and the weight is coming off my abdomen as well as other bits of me. So to all of you who pointed me in the direction of low carbs and books such as 'The cholesterol con' THANK YOU. Added to this I've had no angina symptoms for the past six weeks. I am about to start taking zeolites like Tedh, so I'll see what that adds to the mix.

  • I am so pleased your health is improving Withattitude!

  • Thank you :)

  • I hover between the "hunter-gatherer"diet and the low carb one. I don't eat bread because of the yeast problem I have and I have to avoid cheese, butter, cream, etc., as I am dairy intolerant. I have found over the past year that aside from feeling better than I have in years because I no longer suffer with IBS, I have lost 7 lbs without trying, I eat more salads, vegetables and fruit than I have in years (I couldn't cope with them with my IBS) I eat all meats in all recipes, have replaced butter with soya spread, drink oat milk (I can't abide soya milk!) and have soya yogurt instead of cream on my desserts (yes I eat desserts, I make them myself and use Stork hard marg instead of butter to make pastry, and use soya spread to make cakes,) I am within my BMI, my cholesterol levels are within what I consider acceptable levels and my LDL and HDL are within 1.5 of each other with 0.7 lipids.

    I enjoy my food, also have wine at weekends and on holidays, within sensible limits, and have now, after years of worrying myself sick about my weight and yoyoing from between 7 and 11 stone am now 9.5 stone and am a happy bunny!

    I walk daily, and am fitter than I was at 30. As I will be 60 next year I don't think I'm doing too bad for an olden!!!!

    I have a family history of heart problems, my mother had angina and my grandmother died from a heart attack, but they were both heavy and ate a high carbohydrate diet, with lots of bread (the meat went to the working man in the house) and potatoes. Although my father grew his own fruit and vegetables and we ate well as children my sisters and I are very careful about our diet and we seem to be doing OK (I am the youngest) despite health problems coming out of growing older!!

    All the best to you

  • I don't know if this is relevant to you patch14, sometimes some of the aches and pains attributed to aging can be diminished by resistance training, using appropriate caution.

    Also, aerobic training with an average heart rate of 140+ beats per minute for twenty minutes, or 130+ bpm for 45 minutes will improve stamina, but again ensure you warm up and cool down properly, train around other people, and don't overexert yourself. Always under-train and leave yourself wanting more if in doubt.

  • I do a lot of walking, at a good pace that increases my heartrate. I have low blood pressure, usually about 75/60 or thereabouts and if I do too much "heavy" resistance training, which i have done in the past, I get dizzy and lightheaded, so long hour-plus walks and uphill pacing seems to do the trick without the wooziness!! Thanks anyway for the kind interest.

    A friend of mine has suggested yoga for suppleness and keeping fit. Have you or anyone else found yoga useful for their joints and general fitness? My friend is older than me and is very fit, walking and doing her yoga and also dancing.

  • I find yoga very good for flexibility and joint stiffness. However you should be careful at first because I overstretched myself and hurt a ligament in my knee. Trying to do too much too soon. Am not currently at yoga because of this and have noticed my back and joints are much stiffer and painful.

  • Many thanks deepblue for your advice. I used to do some stretching exercises some years ago that kept me supple but have neglected them somewhat. I may start them again as they are slow and gentle and I can increase them as I go bit by bit. I can then look to do some yoga classes in a few months.

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