Cholesterol Medication Alternatives
Theme: Health and Medical Research
Air Date: 2/8/08
Producer: Shelley Schlender
Description: Binx Selby tells how he reduced his cholesterol levels dramatically with a High Fat, High Vegetable, Adequate Protein, No Grain, Low Dairy Diet
A heart scan tests whether or not you have calcium deposits that have built up in your blood vessels, due to injuries in your blood vessels. When Boulder inventor, biker and meditator, Bink Selby got a heart scan, his high calcium score made him think he was going to die.
When he was in college thirty something years ago, Binx Selby had been a PhD candidate in biochemistry. He went on to other things, such as inventing computers. But with his heart health . . . which meant, his LIFE in danger, Binx Selby says that his memories about the basics of biology came back to him.
. . . in my 3:12 in this state of panic . . .
It’s a diet called the Balance Point Health system, and it’s getting some attention because of how dramatically it can reduce cholesterol levels . . . it seems to work faster and drop cholesterol levels MORE than cholesterol medications do . . . and without the side effects of drugs. What’s more, some people who use it say they have fewer allergies and less achiness. Binx Selby says it all started by “inventing” this diet.
That was a hint to Binx Selby, but it was something that most doctors and researchers ignored didn’t bother with. You see, when people are losing weight, their cholesterol levels often go down. But they usually go back up once they’re finished dieting. Because nobody can keep losing weight forever. . . most doctors and researchers ignore the drop in cholesterol that happens when someone’s tipping less of the scale. Binx Selby suspected that the drop in cholesterol levels didn’t get caused by losing weight. It was caused by what the body has to use for energy when someone is losing weight. That’s body fat, which means . . . your body’s metabolizing fat.
Keep burning fat. It’s an idea that a few maverick researchers and clinicians have recommended for years. But it’s officially opposed by groups such as the American Heart Association. To protect your heart and lower cholesterol, THEY say to eat a LOW fat diet. So, what did Binx Selby’s doctor’s say about his plan to lower his LDLs with a HIGH fat diet?
Again, the “diet” he’s talking features high-fat. Binx Selby reduced his carbohydrates. He didn’t eat much protein. He ate a lot of vegetables and some fruits. And he poured olive oil over everything, hoping that this would drop his cholesterol enough to keep him off statin drugs.
In just two weeks, Binx Selby had dropped his cholesterol levels faster and more points than cholesterol drugs can generally do. With a high fat diet. There at the Trident Cafe with his cholesterol test, lot of people wanted to see it.
Other people have had similar results on a program Binx Selby and his wife, Linda Jade Fong, have developed. Selby and Fong advertise their program as dropping “LDL” you know, the so called “bad” cholesterol by 50 to 70 points. In two weeks. And, the authors say, you might start by focusing on cholesterol and find, along the way, that other aspects of health improve as well. So, just how high fat is it?
To reverse his risk for heart disease with a High fat, no grain, high vegetable diet, Binx Selby said he did a lot of research, and one of his favorite studies was by a man named Keys. He’s known as the creator of the “Mediterranean Diet.” Keys also is known for some other things . . . Here’s Binx Selby:
So the diet from Crete, high olive oil, lots of leafy vegetables, no grains, very little dairy . . . it’s sort of like the Dean Ornish program for heart disease protection . . . lots of vegetables, not a lot of dairy. But the Dean Ornish program is LOW on Fats and high on Carbs. So what do some local medical experts like the Balance Point Health system. Up next, here’s the former president of the Boulder Medical Society, who’s also one of the leading endocrinologists in Colorado. Mel Stjernholm. Mel treats a lot of diabetics, which means he sees a lot of heart disease. After all, diabetes is one of the most common diseases in the U-S. And of the people who have diabetes, 2 out of 3 die from heart disease and stroke. After all, high blood sugars, which are a hallmark of diabetes, damage the body, including blood vessels. If someone doesn’t change their diet and relies instead on insulin to keep their blood sugars lower . . . well, insulin also can damage blood vessels and other things. So if your goal is to use diet to prevent heart disease, you’d better make it lower the risk of diabetes too. This means keeping blood sugars low. Mel Stjernholm say that means avoiding foods that start with the letter, “P”.
Mel Stjernholm hasn’t studied Binx Selby’s Balance Point Health system diet, but in theory, he says a high fat, lower carb diet can be healthy. He likes the South Beach Diet. And he wishes there was more research money for studying the effects of food. But there’s not.
When it comes to a diet that might reduce your cholesterol, and even more important, your risk of heart disease, Mel Stjernholm says you can study outcomes in yourself. He gives an example.
Some MDs have tried Binx Selby’s style of high fat diet, for lowering cholesterol. They include Boulder’s John OHearne. He’s an established medical expert on heart disease who sees the value of low and high fat diets. John OHearne.
And so, Binx Selby in his diet for reducing cholesterol, decided to reduce foods that might promote inflammation. This meant reducing dairy and grains. And people soon reported back that without these foods in their diets, they had fewer inflammatory conditions, such as aches and pains. Binx Selby’s wife, Linda Jade Fong, says that while eating a high fat diet that avoids grains and most dairy, she’s had fewer allergies.
Some scientists believe they can explain WHY grains and dairy can cause inflammation. Colorado State University scientist Loren Cordain suspects that a high fat diet can be very healthy IF it focuses on healthy fats, and IF the person eating those fats avoids foods that turn into sugars fast, plus dairy and grains. Loren Cordain:
Loren Cordain is a world renowned expert on Paleolithic diets. You know, the stuff that humans ate before we got hooked on burgers, sodas, pastries, fries. He says that a high fat, low carb diet can be safe, OR a low fat, high carb diet. But not the “meat sweet” diet in between.
OK, so what is Loren Cordain’s theory for why it’s not good to mix high fat with high carb, high grain or high dairy diets? It has to do with fatty streaks the come and go inside our blood vessels. Now, these fatty streaks definitely build up in people eating fast food and stuff like that. But autopsies show that these fatty streaks show up the blood vessels of babies. They’re in populations that never eat fast food OR have heart attacks, such as Eskimos eating their whale blubber and seal livers, or the Masai warriors who eat milk and blood . . . people from these two cultures eat lots of fat, but they hardly ever have heart attacks. However, if the fatty streaks in the blood vessels get inflamed and stuck there, Cordain says they cause blood vessels to stiffen up. He believes that what makes this happen are foods that are inflammatory, grains, dairy and foods that turn into sugar fast. All these can irritate the blood vessel linings. When it’s a low fat, high carb diet, it’s not so bad. But the combination of fat and carbs is pretty damaging. Especially to a delicate lining of the blood vessels called the glycocalyx.
A leucocyte, a monocyte . . . these are white blood cells—they’re members of the body’s soldiers whose mission is to find and kill invaders to the body. The intima is an inner lining of the blood vessel, tucked just below the blood vessel’s surface. The glycocalyx, among other things, protects the intima from being invaded by the white blood cells. And Loren Cordain says that’s important. Because those fatty streaks we talked about only come and go when they’re not attacked by white blood cells. IF they get attacked, it’s like to body’s attacking itself by mistake, and the whole area gets inflamed, and it starts to stiffen up . . . and the wound can rupture into a blood clot . . . in other words a heart attack or a stroke. Cordain points to a diagram of a healthy fatty streak.
Loren Cordain says that it’s only when the glycocalyx gets gummed up and rubbed away, that white blood cells and other things end up crowding inside the blood vessel linings. But . . . there are proteins called dietary lectins that come from grains and these can gum up and erode the glycocalyx.
Loren Cordain points out that in some places, blood vessels branch or bend. Like a river with fast moving water in it, there’s more turbulance in the blood stream where the branching and bending happens. And like a river that tends to erode in places where the water is turbulent, these bending areas in the blood vessels are more vulnerable to stiffening up with plaque . . . maybe because the turbulence makes it easy to erode the feathery protective layer of the glycocalyx. And the glycocalyx wears away faster when it’s also irritated from dietary lectins that come from grain. All this makes it easier for blood fats . . . you know, LDLs, to end up getting stuck inside the blood vessel linings. And it makes it more likely white blood cells will get in there too, attack the stuck-in-there fats, and inflame the entire area. This, Loren Cordain says, leads to that stiff, waxy, dangerous stuff called plaque.
It gets even more dangerous when inflammation keeps happening after the plaque gets patched up with a sort of scab. Remember how Binx Selby said he got a heart scan that showed lots of calcification, and that scared him and got him started looking for a healthier diet? Well, calcium deposits tend to form as part of “healing” these scabs inside the blood vessels. But if there’s too much irritation and they don’t heal . . . then the scab can get more weak over time, and the the blood vessel can rupture. Next, a blood clot can break through the “Lumen,” which is part of your blood vessel lining. Loren Cordain.
As for dairy products, they tend to have insulin like growth factors in them, which also tend to increase inflammation. So there might be something to how they can influence the risk of inflammation, LDL and so on.
If all this is makes you worry about your cholesterol levels, or you’re simply worried about your heart . . . but you don’t want to try lifestyle changes, you can always take the drugs. There’s been a lot of bad press about cholesterol lowering drugs lately, but even though Medical Doctor Mel Stjernholm says most studies indicate that cholesterol lowering drugs are safe. And plenty of people are taking them.
Someone else that says pills can be okay is Doctor John OHearne. Though he also points out a sort of study that warns that there hasn’t been enough research about the chance that statin drugs increase the risk of cancer.
IF you’re looking for an alternative to cholesterol lowering drugs, you do have options. Maybe you’ll be like Binx Selby, who, since changing his diet, has found no further calcification in heart scan tests. His cholesterol is staying nice and low as well. He’s got the energy to bicycle anywhere he wants to go. And right now, he’s having fun enjoying the chance to research the impact of diet on health. Selby says his Balance Point Health group wants to publish some research studies, and do what they can to help other people.
As for me and you. Well, it only takes two weeks to try Binx Selby’s high fat, adequate protein, no grain, low dairy diet and see if it will lower your cholesterol. The website for the program is balancepointhealth.com. For KGNU, I’m Shelley Schlender.
Music for this program from Raymond Scott.