CAT | Solutions
Last week new guidelines for the treatment of cholesterol were published in the New England Journal of Medicine online. Though the guidelines were released in 2013 by the American College of Cardiology and the American Heart Association, researchers are just now beginning to look at what their impact would be on Americans—and the data is raising some concerns.
A team of analysts led by Michael J. Pencina, Ph.D. of the Duke Clinical Research Institute in North Carolina now estimates that nearly 13 million more U.S. adults may soon be taking statins to treat high cholesterol and prevent heart disease. Here is a quick (and eye-opening) breakdown of the numbers, based on information gathered from more than 3,700 U.S. adults between the ages of 40 and 75:
- The new guidelines could result in 49 percent of U.S. adults ages 40–75 being recommended for statin therapy, an increase from 38 percent.
- The increase is much more pronounced among adults free of cardiovascular disease who are over age 60, with 77 percent recommended for statin use under the new guidelines vs. 48 percent under the previous standards. This contrasts with a modest increase from 27 percent to 30 percent among U.S. adults between the ages of 40 and 60.
- Those most affected by the new recommendations are older men who are not on statins and do not have cardiovascular disease. Under the earlier guidelines, about 30.4 percent of this group of men between the ages of 60 and 75 were recommended for statin use. With the new guidelines, 87.4 percent of these men would be candidates for the therapy. Similarly for healthy women in this age group, those recommended for preventive statin use are projected to rise from 21.2 percent to 53.6 percent.i
The new guidelines focus more on risk factors such as smoking and obesity rather than specifically working to lower so-called “bad” cholesterol, but statins are not the only answer. Although beneficial for people who have already had a heart attack or stroke because they help reduce plaque buildup in the blood vessels, the cholesterol-lowering drugs have health risks that should not be ignored—and heart disease prevention should begin instead with important diet and lifestyle changes.
Simple changes such as getting more exercise, optimizing your Omega-3 intake, and eating a diet high in non-starchy vegetables, low-sugar fruits, healthy fats, lean proteins, nuts and seeds can go a long way toward improving your heart health now and in the future.
In response to the new guidelines, cardiologist Rita Redberg of the University of California-San Francisco said, “If our goal is to help people feel better, live longer and have less heart disease, putting millions more on statins is not going to do that.” She emphasized instead the importance of a healthy diet, exercise, and quitting smoking.
It seems the beautiful people in Hollywood are finally catching on to the concept of inner beauty. Beauty nutritionist and nutricosmetics formulator Paula Simpson recently talked to Access Hollywood about stars and their beauty secrets, and guess what? Pop icons like Kim Kardashian and Lady Gaga go nuts over nutrient-rich “beauty drinks” loaded with essential fatty acids, antioxidant plant compounds, and… prebiotics and probiotics!
Just what are Prebiotics?
While we hear a lot these days about probiotics (the friendly bacteria in the gut that support optimal digestion and immune health†), we don’t often hear too much about prebiotics—but the two go hand in hand. That’s because prebiotics are non-digestible food ingredients that promote the growth of probiotics in the gut.† They are essentially food for your beneficial gut bacteria and are often found in the form of soluble fibers, such as FOS (fructooligosaccharides) and acacia fiber.
If you think about it, soluble fibers escape digestion, arriving in the colon (large intestine) largely intact. Then, good bacteria use the soluble fibers like food. A fermentation process occurs, yielding beneficial compounds such as the short-chain fatty acid butyrate, which fuels intestinal lining cells, and lactic acid, which lowers the colon pH to a healthy level.† When found together, prebiotics and probiotics form what’s called a “synbiotic” relationship—pretty much a win-win for your gut!
Cleansing Greens for Inner Balance
And what would a beauty drink be without cleansing greens for good digestion and detox? Says Simpson, “Greens or ‘cleansing’ foods supercharge the body and support the eliminative organs such as the digestive system to support optimal nutrient absorption and remove byproducts or toxins before they can be absorbed into the bloodstream (and get to the skin). Spinach, kale, dandelion greens or concentrated greens, such as wheatgrass, barley grass, spirulina are great to add to smoothies for a detox beauty boost.”