Saturday, February 21, 2015

"Healthy" Foods that Aren't

Is It Really Healthy?

There are quite a few foods on the market that we assume are healthy, but it pays to look twice. A lot of the problem is what we've been told for decades- that all fat is bad, so if it's low fat or fat free, it's healthy. A fat-phobic mindset is typical with most people searching out the fat-free products on the grocery store shelves under the impression that they are healthy.

More and more information is coming out now indicating that saturated fat is not the evil we have been led to believe it is. Ironically, the fats and oils that have been promoted as healthy are the processed vegetable oils that are actually proving to be harmful.  There are more and more books out now with information about this; a current best-seller is The Big Fat Surprise by Nina Teicholz; check your library or amazon to find more information. One step the food industry has taken to their credit is to eliminate trans fats from their products. Natural fats are much better than anything that has been altered or completely manufactured in a plant somewhere. For instance, margarine is not good since it is made from processed vegetable oils, while butter, its natural counterpart, is better. Your body knows what to do with saturated fats; altered vegetable oils are another story.

The other issue is sugar and grain products. Both sugar and grains trigger an insulin response and insulin is what moves fat into fat cells, promoting weight gain. We have been told that fat is what puts on weight, but actually it is sugar and carbs that trigger the fat response. And now sugar is being targeted more and more as the real culprit in heart disease. Weight gain is the immediate issue, but the resulting chronic diseases of diabetes and heart disease are the real danger.

Here are a few choices you'll find in your grocery store that are generally considered healthy. See what you think.

Butter is free photo from Wikimedia Commons.


Yogurt

Yogurt comes in at the top of my list, conjuring up images of hard-body, exercising, health-conscious and, yes, skinny people. The problem with yogurt is that they strip out all the good fat, then add sugar, leaving us with two problems. First, the natural fat is what leaves you feeling satisfied. When it is removed, they have to add sugar to make it edible, which is the second problem. Most people are so programmed to requiring a sweet flavor, they won't eat yogurt with the natural zing that it has without any sweetener. So here comes the load of sugar to retain the customer base. If you have read my post The Science of Weight Loss, you will know that it is sugar that puts on weight, not fat. So eating those little single serving containers of yogurt certainly won't help in weight loss, but instead will add to the problem. And without the natural fat, they will still leave you feeling empty.

One way around this is to buy the large containers of generally fat-free yogurt making sure it has no added sugar, then add a little stevia if you need the sweet, and stir in cream to replace the fat. Try tasting it with just the added fat; you may not even want the extra sweetness from stevia.

Yogurt is free photo from Wikimedia Commons.


Fruit Juice and Sports Drinks

Fruit is natural, so it has to be healthy, right? To a point, yes. But the sugar in fruit- fructose- is actually one of the worst forms of sugar where weight gain is concerned. (See Fat Chance by Robert Lustig; link below.) And a glass of fruit juice has as much sugar in it as a cola. An orange is one thing, eaten with the fiber that helps your body deal with that fructose, but a glass of juice from several oranges is definitely fructose overload, something that is very hard on your body. If you want to lose weight and avoid the inevitable fallout in the form of diabetes and heart disease, avoid fruit juice.

And while I am on the subject of fruit, I will mention here that if you want to lose weight, you might want to avoid the fruits with the most sugar- bananas, grapes and raisins all have high fructose content. Berries and melons are on the lower end.

Sports drinks are no better than fruit juice, with sugar content that rivals carbonated drinks in some cases. And along with all that sugar, there is an enormous amount of salt. Unless you are an olympic athlete, you surely don't need these drinks. Your body needs water, not these sugar and salt-laden concoctions.

Orange Juice is free photo from Wikimedia Commons.


Green Package "Foods"

In an effort to market processed foods that will be purchased by health-conscious consumers, manufacturers have reduced or eliminated oils and fats from their products in keeping with the fat-free dogma promoted by the "experts" and package them in green wrappers.  But to make their products palatable, the sugar content has to be greatly increased, making this stuff anything but healthy.

It's a basic rule of thumb that you just don't buy stuff off the shelves in a grocery store if you want to stay healthy; you shop the outside walls where the produce, the dairy and the meat departments are. Anything in a box is probably not good for you to start with, but all those green packages that try to create the image of health are even worse. Packaged cookies that are wrapped in green are still processed, manufactured cookies with a pot load of sugar.

The color green is used universally to promote conservation, recycling, healthy things in general, and it evokes a response that if it's green, it's good. Food manufacturers cash in on this mental association to promote their products as good and healthy. I don't think so.

Recycle sign is free clip art from clker.com.



Whole Grain Products

The latest push from food manufacturers in the name of health is the trend toward whole grain. Granted, whole grains are better than the refined, processed versions we all ate years ago, but there are drawbacks here. First, bread labeled "wheat" probably only has a small amount of flour in it that is actually whole wheat. It is probably mostly refined wheat flour, so you may not be getting what you think you are. If you want whole wheat bread, look for bread that is labeled as 100% whole wheat.

But the main issue is that wheat products in general are full of carbs and carbs are what put on weight, whether they are whole grain or not. The only difference is that the whole grain version is slower to digest and thus slows your insulin response to the flour. Refined flour hits your system very rapidly, spiking your insulin levels while whole grain flour is assimilated much more slowly. But there is an insulin response regardless, a response that will produce more fat. If you are trying to lose weight, you have to cut back on carbs whether they are whole grain or not. This goes for breakfast cereals and pasta as well, and any other products made primarily with flour.

There is one more consideration here, one brought up by a couple authors. The premise is presented in a couple books, one called Grain Brain by David Perlmutter, MD, and another called Wheat Belly by William Davis, MD. Both books document the damage wheat does to your body.The information in these books is quite startling, showing exactly how the gluten in wheat flour affects your body in a myriad of ways, from celiac disease to Alzheimer's to arthritis. Going gluten-free isn't only for those with celiac disease; this protein is truly damaging to our health.

Whole Wheat Bread is free photo from Wikimedia Commons.


Snack Bars

Looking for a quick snack? Read the label first before you start eating one of those granola snack bars. They are loaded with sugar. Manufacturers love to label these products to look like they are all natural and so very healthy, evoking images of mountains, fields, all things natural. Think again. Once more, you are looking at a grain product with added sugar that will do nothing but pack on more pounds. Nuts make a much healthier snack.

Another consideration where snack bars are concerned are the protein bars. I'm on rather shaky ground with this one, but I want to mention the possibility of overloading on protein and causing reactions in your body to a diet that is too acidic. Protein leaves acid residue that affects your body in a lot of ways- that protein has to be neutralized to be processed, and if insufficient alkalizing minerals are consumed, your body will use bone calcium, weakening your bones. For more information on this process, see my post Protein, pH and the Alkaline Diet.

"Nature Valley Trail Mix Bar - fruit & nut" by BrokenSphere - Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons.


Hidden Sugar in Everything

Read your labels- there is sugar added to just about everything. Start with salad dressing. We all know that salad is about as healthy a meal as you can eat, but if you dump red French dressing on it, you just defeated your purpose. First, you'll have a load of processed vegetable oil all over it, and second, a whole lot of sugar. Ranch dressing seems to have about as low a sugar content of any I've seen. But to avoid the dressing trap altogether, I toss together my own by sprinkling flavorings straight onto the salad- herbs, a little stevia, salt, pepper and dried onion, then throw on some olive oil. (I've never cared for vinegar and oil.)

Beware that ketchup, barbecue sauce, even peanut butter all have added sugar. Food manufacturers add that sugar to keep your business. Jorge Cruise (The Belly Fat Cure) recommends limiting daily intake of sugar to 15 grams/day. It adds up in a hurry. Many LCHF (Low Carb High Fat) diets recommend avoiding dairy because of the lactose content that can add too much to your sugar intake.

One other product worth mentioning is vegetable juice. I still buy bottles of the juice, but most of the brands I've seen do have some added sugar, though I noticed that the Walmart brand has a sugar free version available now.

The safest way to go is to shop the outside of the grocery store- stick with the produce, the meat and the dairy departments to avoid the processed stuff that is a health catastrophe waiting to happen.


Great list of research links by Zoe Harcombe linking sugar to  chronic disease of all types:




Recommended Reading

The Big Fat Surprise by Nina Teicholz.  New York Times best seller that challenges the generally accepted belief that fat is bad. Haven't bought this one yet, but plan to at least get the library copy to read.








 Why We Get Fat and What to Do About It by Gary Taubes.  I can't recommend this book highly enough.  All the science is presented on how your body regulates your fat and how to manage your weight.








Fat Chance by Robert H. Lustig.  This one takes everything Taubs presents a step further, and is written in an easy-to-read humorous style. Lustig presents more on the hormone system of regulating fat, and why fiber is so very important to weight loss. I highly recommend this book. I found it first in our local library, but opted to buy my own copy to mark up.







Sugar Nation: The Hidden Truth Behind America's Deadliest Habit by Jeff O'Connell.  Excellent book about the effects of sugar on the body and how to fight diabetes and win.











 Belly Fat Cure by Jorge Cruise- this book explains the insulin connection and includes recipes to get you started. He has a whole program you can sign up for, and he also has an email list you can join with tips on how to stay on a low carb diet.






Grain Brain by David Perlmutter- this book is truly an eye-opener, full of studies that show the connection between grain products (carbs as well as gluten) and obesity, heart disease, diabetes, but most alarmingly, Alzheimer's.










Wheat Belly by William Davis- another book that exposes the dangers of an excess of carbs from grains and starchy vegetables, wheat in particular.







Blog Posts

Alzheimer's, Dementia and Statins- Statins are dangerous drugs that cause memory loss and muscle damage.

Cholesterol- Mother of All Scams- The whole cholesterol scare has been based on faulty research and has been exploited by pharmaceutical companies to keep an otherwise healthy population on their drugs.

Protein, pH and the Alkaline Diet- How the pH of the food you eat affects your health.

The Science of Weight Loss- Find out why the standard advice won't work and what will.

Breakfast Cereal Diets- Really??- Why eating cereal can't possibly help you lose weight for the long term.

Restless Leg Syndrome- Treat the Cause, Not the Symptoms- My experience with RLS and what has helped me.

Six Ways to Take Charge of Your Health- Six different things I found as I started my research into health through nutrition.

Sugar- The Real Villain- This was my first blog post on this subject; some information is repetitive, but there are other points made, as well as links and a list of sugar substitutes.

They Told Me He's a Quack- Several people I have found out about that have gone against the tide of public opinion and "expert" advice and have given thousands of people help and hope.

The Dumb American Diet Is Killing Us- The way most Americans eat has resulted in a population of obese, chronically sick people.

Water for Health- Why we need water to stay healthy.

Why You Can't Trust the Medical Industry- The entire medical industry has been corrupted by greed.  It pays to be skeptical.

Hormone Balance and Estrogen Dominance- Regularly prescribed HRT has serious side effects; there is an alternative.

Arthritis and Osteoporosis: They CAN Be Reversed- Two conditions that can be reversed naturally as proven by doctors who have treated their patients with natural supplements.

Phonics and Dyslexia- Information that can help dyslexic adults as well as children, and a post about the phonics-whole language wars and why phonics wins every time hands-down.

Quill pen is free image from Wikimedia Commons.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Breakfast Cereal Diets- Really??

Can You Lose Weight by Eating Special K?

There have been ads for years by Kellogg's that promote their product by claiming weight loss when you eat two bowls of the stuff a day. Is this for real? These ads always come out in force in the spring when people are trying to take off the winter weight.

If you check out my post The Science of Weight Loss, you can see that there is no way on earth this could possibly work long-term. How people lose weight on this program at all is completely beyond me because all their products are loaded with carbs. The breakfast cereal is obviously nothing but carbs, and sugar is the number three ingredient. The protein bars are basically carbs, they have flatbread sandwiches (more carbs), and their snack food line is nothing but carbs- brownie bites, cracker chips, snack bars, pastry crisps, shall I go on??

Then to top it off, they recommend that you drink beverages as you normally do. For the vast majority of the population, you know full well this means carbonated drinks. And I haven't decided which is worse- the sugar-laden kind or the diet kind. The chemical garbage used to sweeten our food supply is just plain dangerous. I know first-hand what a steady diet of Splenda will do to your digestive tract, and it ain't pretty.

Cereal image is free photo from Wikimedia.


A Grain Based Society

Our diet has been taken over by grains for decades, partly because they can be produced very efficiently, and partly because they store well. You can eat stuff that's been on the shelf for a year and never know the difference. Grain-based foods are cheap and abundant, and we've been told forever that grains are healthy, a vital part of our diet.

We are just now beginning to find out how wrong this is. It is getting easier and easier to find information online about the virtues of low carb diets. The detrimental effects of a diet heavy on carbs is becoming more and more well-known as chronic disease continues to run rampant in spite of our national obsession with "fat-free".

Information is now coming out about how deeply wheat flour affects our health. The wheat we now use has been altered drastically from the wild version of our ancestors, and these alterations have created components in this flour that create inflammatory and allergic responses in many people. According to Grain Brain and Wheat Belly, anything made from flour can trigger disorders that go way beyond just celiac disease, but can trigger conditions from arthritis to Alzheimer's. Both of these authors have done their due diligence in research and have all the technical information that shows the effects of this hybridized, altered product in just about everything we eat. They make a very compelling case with loads of personal stories of people whose health has turned around after going gluten free. The information in these books is truly alarming.

Combine is free photo from Wikimedia.


Where Fat Comes From

Carbs convert to glucose, and glucose causes insulin to rise. Insulin is the primary hormone involved in energy balance; insulin is what moves fat into fat cells. The more carbs you have in your diet, the more apt you are to gain weight. It's simple, but so very contrary to what we've been trained to believe all our lives.

I can tell you from personal experience that a diet heavy on carbs leaves you hungry about two or three hours after eating. You get the sugar spike, then the backlash- the crash- when you fight sleep the rest of the afternoon until you get another glucose fix in the form of cereal, crackers, cookies, whatever. When I started pulling back on all that and eating eggs and bacon for breakfast and a big ole salad for lunch with lots of turkey or ham with olive oil and spices for dressing I found I feel full much longer. The fat satisfies, and no, saturated fat is not evil, and there's no sugar low later. With blood sugar levels much more stable, I feel much better all day. And I lost weight in the process.

The ONLY effective way to lose weight and keep it off is to quit eating the way we've been trained to believe we should. The carbs have to be greatly reduced. Healthy fats are what will fill you up- eat your eggs, use olive oil generously, find sugar-free peanut butter, etc. You can check out my post on weight loss to find out more information and find links to what works and what doesn't.

Another post that will help is "Healthy" Foods that Aren't.

Breakfast cereal diets? That's a joke. Don't be fooled- you have to cut the carbs.

Sugar cubes is free clip art from clker.com.


Recommended Reading

Why We Get Fat by Gary Taubes

This book is the first one I found that explains the body's response to glucose and how fat is managed. Great book and a real eye-opener.








Fat Chance by Robert Lustig

This one takes Why We Get Fat a step further with lots of explanation about the chemical responses to glucose. Rather technical in places, but a very entertaining and informative read. You can skim over the geeky stuff and get the bottom line pretty easily. Lustig is a good writer- he kept my attention through the technical stuff and makes his points very effectively.






Grain Brain by David Perlmutter, MD

Perlmutter makes the connection between wheat gluten and mental function.



Wheat Belly by William Davis, MD

Davis shows the wide ranging effects of wheat flour and its protein, gluten, on the body.







Great list of research links by Zoe Harcombe linking sugar to  chronic disease of all types:




LCHF
Banting, Paleo and Others

The Low Carb High Fat way of eating is becoming more and more popular as people are finding out about the way carbs affect your body. LCHF sites abound. Here are a few:

Diet Doctor-  "The idea to eat less fat and less saturated fat was certainly a mistake. Inadvertently that advice may be the biggest reason behind the epidemics of obesity and diabetes. More and more people realize this. It’s time for a health revolution."

LCHF, Paleo and Health- explanations of low carb and Paleo, recipes and a blog

Eat Like a Swede- LCHF- by Jimmy Moore with links to his books, blogs, videos, etc.

The Harvey-Banting Diet- William Banting was a British undertaker who lived from 1796 to 1878. He went on a low-carb diet on the advice of his doctor, Willliam Harvey and subsequently published a pamphlet called Letter on Corpulence, available online. "Banting" is a term often used for an LCHF diet.

For more information, just do internet searches for LCHF, Banting Diet and Paleo Diet.

LCHF logo taken from Eat Like a Swede


Blog Posts

The Science of Weight Loss- Find out why the standard advice won't work and what will.

Sugar- The Real Villain- This was my first blog post on this subject; some information is repetitive, but there are other points made, as well as links and a list of sugar substitutes.

"Healthy" Foods That Aren't- Several foods that are perceived as healthy but really aren't.

Six Ways to Take Charge of Your Health- Six different things I found as I started my research into health through nutrition.

They Told Me He's a Quack- Several people I have found out about that have gone against the tide of public opinion and "expert" advice and have given thousands of people help and hope.

Alzheimer's, Dementia and Statins- Statins are dangerous drugs that cause memory loss and muscle damage.

Cholesterol- Mother of All Scams- The whole cholesterol scare has been based on faulty research and has been exploited by pharmaceutical companies to keep an otherwise healthy population on their drugs.

Water for Health- Why we need water to stay healthy.

The Dumb American Diet Is Killing Us- The way most Americans eat has resulted in a population of obese, chronically sick people.

Protein, pH and the Alkaline Diet- How the pH of the food you eat affects your health.

Restless Leg Syndrome- Treat the Cause, Not the Symptoms- My experience with RLS and what has helped me.

Why You Can't Trust the Medical Industry- The entire medical industry has been corrupted by greed.  It pays to be skeptical.

Hormone Balance and Estrogen Dominance- Regularly prescribed HRT has serious side effects; there is an alternative.

Phonics and Dyslexia- Information that can help dyslexic adults as well as children, and a post about the phonics-whole language wars and why phonics wins every time hands-down.

Quill pen is free image from Wikimedia Commons.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Water for Health

Put Down the Soda, Drink Water Instead


Water is the basic cleansing agent for detoxification, working to flush every individual cell of toxins. Without enough water, we are like stagnant pools that grow crud and stink. A body that is stagnant essentially poisons itself because it can't throw off toxins; they just accumulate. And accumulated toxins spell trouble in a myriad of forms.

Without enough water joints dry up and arthritis becomes a problem. Without enough water, constipation develops, allowing toxins to build up in the colon. Those toxins are absorbed into the rest of the body and can trigger such conditions as rheumatoid arthritis, psoriasis and leaky gut syndrome. If a condition develops that has an unknown source, drinking plenty of water could certainly help and sure won't hurt.

On the soft drink front, the phosphorus content of soda is extremely high which has the effect of pulling calcium out of the body. Caffeine content is extremely high, and of course the sugar content is a major factor in the obesity problem in this country. High soda consumption is deadly. Your body needs pure water, not all the garbage in carbonated drinks. Your body had to deal with whatever you put into it, and anything you drink that isn't water has to be processed through your kidneys.  Our food supply and environment is contaminated to the point that the toxic load on our bodies is quite high, so your kidneys are having to work hard all the time at best.  Drinking water will help your body deal with that load.

Water faucet is free image from Wikimedia Commons.


Drink Water to Clean Out the Crud

Just making that one adjustment in diet, drinking at least 64 oz of good, filtered water per day, will begin the regeneration process and thus will work to help in overcoming fatigue and a run-down immune system. When your cells are provided the water they need to function properly, all your systems will begin to operate more efficiently- they will be able to throw off toxins, enzymes will begin to function as they are supposed to, and the processes of metabolism will be energized. This is the first step toward healthy cell regeneration, and with energized metabolism, you will be more apt to lose weight. (Check out Benefits of Drinking Water to Lose Weight.)

Some believe that if your body is not getting enough water, it will start storing all the water it can because it goes into survival mode. Then edema will be the result. As sufficient water is provided, the body quits retaining fluid, and natural thirst returns.

Water helps regulate your body temperature, it acts as a lubricant, it transports nutrients throughout your body, and of course it is the primary method your body uses to flush toxins from cells. Dehydration can even impair your thinking processes.  (See The Importance of Water and Your Health.)

Glass of water is free image from Wikimedia Commons.


Dehydration: Watch Your Elderly Parents

Recently, my mother-in-law started going downhill; she was slowing down more and more, and was complaining of pain all over. This went on for several months and involved innumerable doctor visits, yet nothing seemed to work. Finally she was sent to the hospital for blood work when the doctor there asked if she had been eating and drinking. She told the doctor, yes, she had, but thankfully my husband was there to let them know she hadn't been drinking much anything for several days. That's when the doctor figured it out.

She was given intravenous fluids and sent home to drink, drink, drink. Slowly she came back out of it, but after doing a little online research, I discovered that a couple of her long-standing complaints could be traced back to dehydration. Here is a list of symptoms I found at WebMD.com:

Increased thirst
Dry mouth and swollen tongue
Weakness
Dizziness
Palpitations (feeling that the heart is jumping or pounding)
Confusion
Sluggishness fainting
Fainting
Inability to sweat
Decreased urine output
Urine color may indicate dehydration. If urine is concentrated and deeply yellow or amber, you may be dehydrated.

As the body fluid level decreases, organs receive less and less blood, making blood vessels constrict and the heart work faster. Toxins build up, muscles may cramp, and abdominal pain may occur. If left untreated, coma will result.

One of the notable symptoms I noticed was confusion. As our parents are aging, I learned that bladder infections can also cause confusion, and I'd think dehydration would make those much more likely.

Dehydration apparently escapes the notice of doctors, so it is wise to be aware of the symptoms. Particularly watch your elderly parents- once confusion kicks in, they are apt to get their medications messed up, get confused trying to prepare meals, get confused on the road if they still drive, innumerable scenarios.

Desert photo is free image from Wikimedia Commons.



Buy a Filter, or Be a Filter

Filtered water is important; if you don't buy a filter, you'll be a filter. All sorts of contaminants come in municipal and well water including chlorine in city water, and parasites, bacteria and farm chemical run-off in well water. Even fluoride isn't a good thing; check that one out online sometime. Fluoride in your toothpaste is one thing because you spit that back out, but in the water supply it is a whole different matter.

Countertop pitchers with charcoal filters are a good step in the right direction, and very inexpensive. Next step up is the kind that attaches to your faucet. More thorough under-the-sink varieties are available if you can afford them.

Your body can't cleanse itself as it should as long as it's not receiving sufficient good quality water to do so. Step one in the detox process should be to get a filter of one kind or another and start drinking at least 64 oz per day. This will get you going in the right direction on the way to regaining your health.

Brita Water Filter Pitcher is free image from Wikimedia Commons.


Dr. Batman

Watercure.com is a site by the author of several books on the subject. Fereydoon Batmanghelidj, M.D. has done an enormous amount of research into the action of water in the body. His conclusions show that chronic dehydration can be at the root of many ills including arthritis, high cholesterol, angina, heartburn, diabetes and even cancer. His books are well worth reading.


Your Body's Many Cries for Water by Fereydoon Batmanghelidj, M.D. Twenty years of research is presented here showing how water should be the basic, first-line treatment for most degenerative diseases.









How to Deal With Back Pain and Rheumatoid Joint Pain by Fereydoon Batmanghelidj, M.D.  How simply increasing water intake can greatly improve back and joint pain. Includes simple exercises that allow disks to rehydrate and move back into place.








Blog Posts

The Science of Weight Loss- Find out why the standard advice won't work and what will.

Breakfast Cereal Diets- Really??- Why eating cereal can't possibly help you lose weight for the long term.

Sugar- The Real Villain- This was my first blog post on this subject; some information is repetitive, but there are other points made, as well as links and a list of sugar substitutes.

"Healthy" Foods That Aren't- Several foods that are perceived as healthy but really aren't.

Six Ways to Take Charge of Your Health- Six different things I found as I started my research into health through nutrition.

They Told Me He's a Quack- Several people I have found out about that have gone against the tide of public opinion and "expert" advice and have given thousands of people help and hope.

Alzheimer's, Dementia and Statins- Statins are dangerous drugs that cause memory loss and muscle damage.

Cholesterol- Mother of All Scams- The whole cholesterol scare has been based on faulty research and has been exploited by pharmaceutical companies to keep an otherwise healthy population on their drugs.

The Dumb American Diet Is Killing Us- The way most Americans eat has resulted in a population of obese, chronically sick people.

Protein, pH and the Alkaline Diet- How the pH of the food you eat affects your health.

Restless Leg Syndrome- Treat the Cause, Not the Symptoms- My experience with RLS and what has helped me.

Why You Can't Trust the Medical Industry- The entire medical industry has been corrupted by greed.  It pays to be skeptical.

Hormone Balance and Estrogen Dominance- Regularly prescribed HRT has serious side effects; there is an alternative.

Phonics and Dyslexia- Information that can help dyslexic adults as well as children, and a post about the phonics-whole language wars and why phonics wins every time hands-down.

Quill pen is free image from Wikimedia Commons.

Alzheimer's, Dementia and Statins

Memory Loss- Just Accept It?

When my mother's thinking processes began to deteriorate, my siblings and I all assumed it was just simply the aging process- she was entering her 80's, so we didn't think too much about it.

But when I went online to find natural alternatives to cholesterol-lowering medications, I ran across information that suggests that statin drugs (medications prescribed to lower cholesterol levels) can leave you with impaired mental function after years of use. And the more deeply I dig, the more evidence I am finding that these drugs can be devastating. Both dementia and Alzheimer's have been connected with statin use, something I find alarming.

I want to share what I have found, and hope to meet some of you so we can share information. I hope this post will provide information that will help prevent memory loss in you or your loved ones.

Brain diagram is free image from artvex.com.


Our Story

Mom lived in independent living for 7 years, but the last couple of those probably should have been in assisted living. She hid her symptoms very well so we really didn't realize how far she was slipping. Her memory was slowly deteriorating, leaving her confused and upset. She was still trying to take care of her own bank account and keep track of all her medications herself, and both were becoming a problem.

Two other issues had come up around the same time that I didn't connect at the time. She was growing more and more unsteady, falling more often, and she was exhibiting behavior changes. She had always been very, very frugal and careful with her money, but one day we found out she had become consumed with mail sweepstakes scams, something she would never have been involved with before. She was sending money out to these people every day, turning her bank account into a nightmare and prompting a phone call from the bank to me. I didn't think they might be connected until later.

As her memory symptoms became more and more evident, and not realizing how all these problems might stem from the same source, we didn't think too much about it, figuring it was all part of the aging package. It was when conversations became "circular", going round and round over the same things, that we became concerned.

That was also when her doctor realized there was a problem and placed her first phone call to me. She had just had one of those circular conversations with her and was rather alarmed. She was immediately placed on two medications for memory, two more drugs to add to the plethora of medications she was already taking. With her memory declining as it was, we opted to get one of those dispensing machines that has the voice reminder. That worked very well for several months and kept her in independent living a little longer.

But all this came to a screeching halt when she was found on the floor one morning, having spent the night there, putting an end to the independent living experience. She was in and out of the hospital and rehab for several months and finally admitted to the care center.

Pill box is free image from Wikimedia Commons.


Cholesterol and Brain Function
. . . the link

Once Mom was settled in the care center and her doctor was changed to the one on staff there, she was taken off many of the medications she had been on for years. She had been taking pain meds for migraines with which she had suffered since college, as well as drugs for restless legs, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and who knows what else. Those are the ones I know about.

One day I was looking online for natural alternatives to control cholesterol, and found a site that explained how long-term use of statins can lead to dementia-like symptoms. That got me to thinking- I knew that cholesterol was a necessary ingredient for brain function, and immediately put two and two together. It's not rocket science- deprive the brain of cholesterol for years, and it is bound to deteriorate.

This appeared to be a very likely cause of Mom's mental deterioration, and I believe was verified by her continual improvement the longer she was off statins. Personally, I'm convinced of the connection, though doctors are not as apt to see it, blaming the aging process. One of the reasons I tend to blame statins is that her twin brother as well as all her friends, all the same age, were all in good mental shape while she just fell apart. It couldn't just be the aging process, to my way of thinking.

As I continue to look into this online I'm finding that there are vast numbers of people who have reported memory problems while taking these drugs indicating that this is no small problem. And now I find out that statins are a possible cause of her behavior changes as well as the likely cause of her muscle deterioration that left her in a wheelchair.

Cholesterol is free image from Wikimedia Commons.


The Myelin Sheath
Cholesterol, a Necessary Component

The myelin sheath (#5 in the diagram) is a white, waxy coating on nerves through which signals are transmitted from cell to cell, its major component being cholesterol. According to an article at Livestrong.com, The Importance of Cholesterol to the Myelin Sheath, in order to have "high quality myelin", the body must have sufficient cholesterol. It insulates the nerves from "leakage", permitting strong signals to be passed through. With damaged myelin due to a cholesterol deficiency, nerve signals become weak and/or disrupted, resulting in neurological problems.

I don't want to get into a lot of technical detail; the point is that cholesterol is absolutely essential to nerve function, brain function in particular. If you continually deprive your body of cholesterol through the use of medications, and/or the ever-popular low-fat diet, your myelin sheath will suffer, your nerve function will suffer and brain function will be impaired. To me, this just seems like simple, logical thinking, no PhD required.

Neuron diagram is free image from Wikimedia Commons.


FDA Reports

One of the articles I found recently on the subject, FDA Expands Advice on Statin Risks, says that FDA investigations have been going on for several years into the cognitive side effects of statins and they have expanded the list of side effects to include memory loss, forgetfulness and confusion. But one of the physicians interviewed for the article recommended continued use of the drugs anyway.

This confirms the fact that many physicians will downplay the side effects of statins simply because they think the risk of heart disease is greater than the risk of dementia. So I suppose these doctors would be apt to just simply throw more medication at the patient to stop memory loss. This would be the typical scenario found with so very many older patients that have rows of medication bottles to deal with every day- many of those meds there only to control the side effects of other meds. And indeed, this is precisely what Mom's doctor did the day she called me- she put her on two Alzheimer's medications to add to the mess of medications she was already dealing with.

By the way, this article has a list of the medications that are included in these studies, if you are interested.

Pill pile is free image from Wikimedia Commons.


Not Just Memory Loss
Muscle Damage as Well

Mom started falling a lot for over a year before she left independent living. She was getting more and more unsteady and as stated earlier, it was a night spent on the floor after a fall that ultimately sent her to the care center. She rebounded amazingly well after every visit to the hospital in other ways, but eventually became wheelchair-bound- her legs just simply gave out, deteriorating to the point of being useless.

I recently found an article called Statins Cause Muscle Damage in which Dr. Joseph Mercola states that muscle pain and weakness is the most common side-effect of statin drugs but is downplayed by physicians as minor. Mercola contends that pain and weakness indicates that muscle damage is actually occurring, and that damage will not reverse itself after discontinuing the drug. Unlike memory function which seemed to improve somewhat (the "circular" conversations became less frequent), her muscle damage actually became worse, pulling her up into a fetal position, unable to straighten her legs out. Initially, muscle weakness is referred to as myopathy, any condition that results in muscle weakness. Online dictionaries call myopathy a disease, but with statin use, it is a direct result of the way statins work to destroy your cells.

After Mom's initial fall that put her in the hospital, her doctor had told us that her muscle enzyme levels were the highest she'd ever seen. In my research since, I have found out that the enzyme referred to is CK or creatine kinase, muscle enzymes that are released into the bloodstream when muscles have been damaged. Levels 5 times normal indicate the condition rhabdomyolysis where muscle tissue has broken down, a condition that can be fatal. That doctor concluded that it was the night spent on the floor that damaged those muscles. I contend that it was years of statins that did this, and those levels were probably off the charts before the fall. Indeed, it was no doubt the muscle damage that put her on the floor in the first place.
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Muscle damage occurs because statins deplete the body of CoQ10, a nutrient necessary for muscle support. Ironically, continued use of statins will eventually destroy the heart muscle, not just other muscles, while patients are being told that they need the drug for heart health. Muscle aches and weakness are the first symptoms that this is happening, and I remember Mom using the therapy services there while still in independent living to try to overcome what this medication had done to her. She took therapy specifically because she was having trouble getting up out of her chair.

The list of side effects is seemingly endless. After taking our mother off statins, she was free from migraines and RLS (restless leg syndrome) and I have since found quite a bit of evidence online that there is a definite connection. What makes me angry is that her doctor knew how Mom had suffered with migraines for years yet kept her on statins anyway, with migraines listed as a possible side effect. RLS is not listed, but there are innumerable stories from people who have experienced RLS while on statins and relief when they stopped taking the drug. (You can check out my post Restless Leg Syndrome- Treat the Causes, not the Symptoms for more information.)

Wheelchair is free image from Wikimedia Commons.


Scientific American

An article was published October 19, 2010, entitled It's Not Dementia, It's Your Heart Medication: Cholesterol Drugs and Memory.  According to Melinda Moyer, statins are among the most frequently prescribed drugs in the world and claim to do much good in saving lives of heart disease patients. However, side effects that include memory loss and "fuzzy thinking" have been reported, with hundreds registering complaints with the FDA. (And actual statistics on how much these drugs help is murky at best.)

To Melinda the connection is clear, though many claim it affects only a certain percentage of the population, something I would dispute. She recounts the experiences of a NASA astronaut, Duane Graveline, who had incidents of amnesia after using statins. He took himself off the medication, but restarted a year later as requested by his physician. One more experience with amnesia and Graveline was off statins permanently. (His books are available below, as well as a link to his website.)

Don't Forget is free image from stockfreeimages.com.


Is It Worth the Risk?
Pills or Broccoli?

Graveline experienced amnesia for a period of hours; my mother's memory deteriorated over the course of years on statins. And there are reports of some people whose memories actually improve with statin use. Reactions obviously vary, but knowing how these drugs work and understanding the brain's requirement for cholesterol should make anyone wary of long-term statin use.

There is a certain contingent out there that actually promotes the use of statins to treat Alzheimer's and dementia on the assumption that cholesterol causes these diseases- think twice before you follow that route. There are links to articles below that contradict that theory. From what I understand, there are no studies at all that indicate that women should ever take the drug, and the only group that might experience a small benefit are men with pre-existing heart conditions. The benefit of these drugs are highly misrepresented. (The Truth about Statins by Barbara H. Roberts, M.D. New York: Gallery Books, 2012, p. 34)

I hope I have presented enough information to at least get people to thinking about the wisdom of taking these drugs for any length of time. And from what I'm seeing online and reading, it looks like the war on cholesterol is completely misguided- your body has to have cholesterol, and one of its main duties is to keep your brain running. For more information, check out my posts, Cholesterol: Mother of All Scams, and The Science of Weight Loss.

We all need to pay much closer attention to what we put in our mouths; lifestyle choices are destroying us with chronic disease. There are plenty of reasons to change how you eat and to exercise more but "lowering your numbers" isn't one of them for most of us. If your doctor is using the typical scare tactics to foist statins on you, get yourself educated. Statins are dangerous and will cause much more damage than good. If you are brainwashed into believing that you have to lower your cholesterol, then change your diet for that reason. It will still do you a world of good on many fronts.

It's too easy for doctors to prescribe pills and for patients to pop them. We want instant fixes, but statins just aren't a good idea to my way of thinking. The alternative isn't easy, but you have to decide- do you want to make yourself susceptible to dementia or Alzheimer's? You surely don't want to be tied to a wheelchair!
The broad spectrum of severe disabilities with increased prevalence in statin side effect reviews all point toward a general trend of increased frailty and mental decline with long-term statin therapy, things that are usually associated with old age. I would in fact best characterize statin therapy as a mechanism to allow you to grow old faster. (How Statins Really Work Explains Why They Don't Really Work)
Cornucopia is free clip art from clipartclipart.com.


$tatin Nation




This is a clip from a very well done documentary that covers the side effects of statins as well as the politics that are driving the industry. Find the dvd at Statin Nation or at amazon.co.uk.



Cracking the Cholesterol Myth

Cracking the Cholesterol Myth-   A new study finds the chemical war against cholesterol using statin drugs was justified through statistical deception and the cover up of over 300 adverse health effects documented in the biomedical literature.



Statin Drugs- Worth the Risk?


Dr. Johnny Bowden discusses the pros and cons of statins and how they are over-prescribed.


Sites with More Information

Spacedoc.com- Dr. Duane Graveline MD website with over 250 articles available.

Stopped Our Statins- Side effects, resources, general information, and now a forum. A wonderful site with loads of great information; check this one out first. They have also created a Yahoo group Stopped Our Statins, and a Facebook page.

The Connection Between Statins and Memory Loss-  A page at Be Brain Fit with lots of information.

The Case Against Statins- article by Armon Neel, author of the book Are Your Prescriptions Killing You?

The Clue to Why Low Fat Diet and Statins May Cause Alzheimers-In this article, Stephanie Seneff makes a case connecting a low-fat diet and increased statin use with the rise in Alzheimer's disease.

Myth: Cholesterol Causes Alzheimer's Disease Part 1: Debunking the Myth- In this series, the author confronts the claim that Alzheimer's Disease is caused by cholesterol. He demonstrates why this is false and why the brain needs cholesterol to avoid this disease.

Medical News Today: Statins and Memory Loss in Women- "This drug makes women stupid," said Etingen, who claimed having seen these symptoms in about dozen female patients.

Natural News- article about statins causing muscle damage, sometimes without symptoms

The Great Cholesterol Scam- Blog by K.L. Carlson, MBA, author of Diary of a Legal Drug Dealer.

Statins Fry Your Brain and Scramble Your Memory Like an Egg- This is a review of the book Statin Drugs Side Effects and the Misguided War on Cholesterol by Dr. Duane Graveline, M.D. You've got to read this one.

Dr. David Brownstein: How to Increase Your Risk of Dying? Take a Statin Drug- Another doctor with a blog site that is publicizing the dangers of statins; also has written a new book.


Report Your Side Effects

If you have experienced statin side effects you owe it to all of us to report what you have experienced. Doctors don't report statin side effects very often because they generally attribute them to other causes like aging, arthritis, fibromyalgia, whatever. It's a rare doctor that makes the connection. So it is up to the consumer to report experiences with these drugs.

MedWatch- The FDA Safety Information and Adverse Event Reporting Program. Report side effects here, or here to the FDA.

RxISK- "RxISK is the first free, independent website where patients, doctors, and pharmacists can research prescription drugs and easily report a drug side effect — identifying problems and possible solutions earlier than is currently happening." This site provides links to drug regulation organizations in several countries.

Statin Effects Study-  "The UCSD Statin Study group, headed by Beatrice A. Golomb, MD, PhD, has actively been researching statin medications and their risk-benefit balance, including possible side effects. We believe it is important to understand all of the benefits and adverse events of statins. Accordingly, our work is geared towards expanding knowledge of the impact of statins in order to better inform the public and the medical community."  There is a link to a paperless form to report your experiences with statins.



Books at Amazon

The number of books on the subject is growing all the time.

Duane Graveline

Lipitor: Thief of Memory. Dr. Graveline presents his case on the dangers of statins very effectively, and from personal experience with the poison.










Statin Drugs Side Effects












The Dark Side of Statins










Other Authors Make Their Case at Amazon

How Statin Drugs Really Lower Cholesterol and Kill You One Cell at a Time by James B. and Hannah Yoseph. This one explains all the deception involved for decades in getting this stuff approved in the first place, and then promoted as an absolute necessity for a huge percentage of the population. The Yosephs go into great detail on the nature of this stuff (a toxin), how it affects you at the cellular level, and all the gory details on the politics behind it all.




The Great Cholesterol Con by Malcolm Kendrick







The Truth About Statins by Barbara H. Roberts









The Great Cholesterol Myth by Jonny Bowden and Stephen Sinatra










Ignore the Awkward: How the Cholesterol Myths Are Kept Alive by Uffe Ravnskov.  This is another great book that explores all the deception involved in the promotion of statins.









Are Your Prescriptions Killing You? by Armon Neel. Full of valuable information about the over-prescribing of medications, especially to seniors who are particularly vulnerable to side effects. He devotes an entire chapter to the dangers of statins.







Blog Posts

The Science of Weight Loss- Find out why the standard advice won't work and what will.

Breakfast Cereal Diets- Really??- Why eating cereal can't possibly help you lose weight for the long term.

Sugar- The Real Villain- This was my first blog post on this subject; some information is repetitive, but there are other points made, as well as links and a list of sugar substitutes.

"Healthy" Foods That Aren't- Several foods that are perceived as healthy but really aren't.

They Told Me He's a Quack- Several people I have found out about that have gone against the tide of public opinion and "expert" advice and have given thousands of people help and hope.

Cholesterol- Mother of All Scams- The whole cholesterol scare has been based on faulty research and has been exploited by pharmaceutical companies to keep an otherwise healthy population on their drugs.

The Dumb American Diet Is Killing Us- The way most Americans eat has resulted in a population of obese, chronically sick people.

Protein, pH and the Alkaline Diet- How the pH of the food you eat affects your health.

Restless Leg Syndrome- Treat the Cause, Not the Symptoms- My experience with RLS and what has helped me.

Why You Can't Trust the Medical Industry- The entire medical industry has been corrupted by greed.  It pays to be skeptical.

Hormone Balance and Estrogen Dominance- Regularly prescribed HRT has serious side effects; there is an alternative.

Six Ways to Take Charge of Your Health- Six different things I found as I started my research into health through nutrition.

Water for Health- Why we need water to stay healthy.

Phonics and Dyslexia- Information that can help dyslexic adults as well as children, and a post about the phonics-whole language wars and why phonics wins every time hands-down.

Quill pen is free image from Wikimedia Commons.