Whenever people find out I’m a health coach, they love to tell me about their latest diet and/or about their latest run/marathon. I mean, if a health coach can’t appreciate what they are doing, who can?
People love to be commended for the positive steps they’ve taken. Maybe you’ve lost a few pounds or you’ve signed up for a medical weight loss plan or you’ve joined a gym, i.e., you are doing something positive for your health.
Just make sure that your outcome will actually improve your health by eliminating your risk of heart disease.
After all, cardiovascular disease is the number one cause of death and disease in the United States. Taking some supplements, running races, eating organic foods, losing weight, forgoing carbs or getting injections to curb your appetite may not get you any closer to preventing your arteries from clogging up.
Did you know that the first stages of atherosclerosis have been found in nearly all American children by the time they are ten? Those fatty streaks in the blood of children can turn into full-blown plaques in young adults and can start killing people by the time they are thirty or forty.
You can have a heart attack in your thirties and forties (and just hope you live through it) like three different friends of my son. Brad was thirty-eight when he suffered a widowmaker heart attack. This usually implies a blockage of the left anterior descending (LAD) artery which can happen in seemingly healthy people without warning (if their cholesterol is above 150). Thankfully, Brad recovered.
Alan (37), a long-distance cyclist, said he was in the best shape of his life, when he suffered a heart attack as did Allen (44), a tennis professional. They also recovered.
My 60-year-old brother-in-law was not so fortunate. His sudden heart attack killed him.
According to Dr. William C. Roberts, the editor in chief of the American Journal of Cardiology, your utmost concern as you develop your healthy lifestyle should be to drastically reduce your LDL cholesterol to below 70 and your total cholesterol to below 150.
Dr. Roberts argues that there is only one true risk factor for coronary heart disease – your cholesterol. No deaths from heart disease were recorded in the famous Framingham Heart Study, with a natural cholesterol reading below 150.
If you can do that by not eating sugar, taking supplements or by running twenty miles a week, then I’m all for it.
However, if you are not making progress in lowering your cholesterol, then you need to learn about a low-fat, plant-based diet.
Dr. Kim A. Williams, Sr., past president of the American College of Cardiology, enjoys telling audiences that he believes there are two types of cardiologists: vegan or those who haven’t read the literature yet.
If your total cholesterol is above 150, you are at risk, no matter what your age.
Lipitor, a cholesterol-lowering drug, has become the best-selling drug of all time. If you are unwilling or unable to bring your cholesterol down naturally, the benefit of taking a statin generally outweighs the risks. But, why would you want to take medication for the rest of your life? Some side-effects of statins can include liver toxicity or muscle damage, memory loss, an increased risk of diabetes and the doubling of a woman’s risk of invasive breast cancer.
Make an appointment with your doctor or sign up online to get your cholesterol checked – even if you are only ten years old. Once you know your ‘score,’ you will then know which ‘diet’ is the best one for you. Don’t just guess and assume that by losing a few pounds, or becoming a long-distance runner or giving up sugar, you will have lowered your cholesterol enough to prevent (or reverse) atherosclerosis.
You can order a lipid panel (which includes your LDL and your total cholesterol) from Health Testing Centers for only $29. Once you order it, you will go to a lab in your town where they will draw your blood for the test. Results will then be sent to you via e-mail.
By finding out your numbers, you will be able to judge the effectiveness of any lifestyle change you make.
Don’t wait, it may be too late!