Club NoMed

“Hello, long time no see!” I said.

I had not seen Eddie for a long time, not since the 25th reunion. He had changed, but had not all of them? He still had his hair, but he was a lot bigger than I remember him. There was a paunch, and he seemed laboured in his movements.

“How are things with you?” I asked.

“Well, I can’t complain. All the normal problems that you can expect when you get beyond 60. But it is all under control. I’m taking medication for it. But you’re looking good!”

“Well, I do my best to keep healthy.” I said.

“You know, it was easy to recognise you because you don’t look much different than when we started at work,” he said, catching his breath a little.

“Yes”, I replied, “I’m about the same weight as a was those days. So what medication are you taking?”

Statins for Cholesterol

Eddie replied, “Well, I take statins for my cholesterol.”

“What’s wrong with your cholesterol?”

“It’s too high, so the Doc recommended that I took them to prevent me getting a heart attack”.

“What do you mean it’s too high?” I asked.

“The doctor just says that it’s too high and I have to do something about it. He told me that having high cholesterol was a cause of heart attacks, and if I took these, I would reduce the risk.”

“I am not too sure about that.” I replied, “Cholesterol is produced naturally in the body, and you need it to function normally.”

Doctor’s Advice

Eddie continued, “The Doc says that if I take the statins, and stop eating fat, especially saturated fat, like in meat, then it would further reduce the risk.”.

“Have you noticed anything since you been taking these?”

“Funny you should say that. I have begun to wonder whether I’m getting Alzheimer’s, because of my brain feels a bit foggy. I also get some muscle pains,”

I thought to myself that it was shocking how people blindly follow authority. Patients believe every word the doctors say, and doctors believe everything they read in research papers and information from the drug companies, it seems.

“So, what do you eat these days?” I asked Eddie.

Keep taking the tablets

“While cutting down on fats was a problem, because I stopped having butter and cream and eating the fat off of the meat years ago when I switched to low-fat stuff like margarine. I like eating bread although I have to be careful it doesn’t give me acid indigestion. But that’s no problem either because taken some tablets to stop the reflux.”

“I’ve also started to put on weight in the last few years, but I guess that’s natural. I mean, it’s normal to put on about a pound a year, isn’t it?” Eddie asked.

“Well, you have to watch that weight gain, in my opinion. You may be heading for type II diabetes”.

“Funny you should say that. After a year or so taking statins, I went to the doctors and he told me that I have type II diabetes. So I am taking some tablets for that as well.”

“Aren’t you fed up with taking all these pills?”

When you age, you take pills

“Well, it’s a fact of life. When you get older, you to take a lot of pills to stay alive. Everyone around here takes lots pills. If we didn’t have the pills, will be dying earlier. So it stands to reason that we should keep taking the pills”.

“I’m a member of Club No Med.”

“Club no Med.? Is that a club for older swingers?”

“No!” I laughed. “It means that I am not on any medication.”

“So you live with your illnesses?”

“As far as I know, I don’t have any illnesses.”

“What you mean you have no illnesses? You are the same age as I am, so you must have some of these things. Is it all that healthy natural living in Scandinavia that keeps you away from the doctor’s?”

“I’m not sure about Scandinavia bit. There are quite a few people on medication there, too. There are obese people as well. But I do think people are better informed about their health choices.”

You pay your taxes, you take your medicine

Eddie said, “But I mean if you have a national health service which you’ve paid the tax for, and get pills or something to sort you out, isn’t it best just to go there and get the prescription?”

“Yes, that would be the easy way out. Not having to think about it, or do something actively about your health.” Just a touch of sarcasm in my voice.

“You can’t do anything about your health, can you? I mean, it’s all in your genes, isn’t it? If sickness and death come, you can’t do much about it. Your number is up.”

” I beg to differ on that point,” said I

I had not eaten breakfast that morning, but now it was approaching lunchtime, I felt like having something to eat. So I took out a bag of coconut pieces. I offered one to Eddie.

It’s full of fat!

“No thanks,! I’m not eating that. It’s full of fat!”.

Eddie reached for his backpack and took out some food.

He said, “I get very hungry if I don’t have a snack. But I’ve got some healthy stuff here.” He produced a banana, some orange juice, and one of those muesli bars. I must admit, I raised my eyebrows.

I could not help myself from commenting, “Full of sugar, that lot.”.

“No, it’s not. It’s full of fruit and fibre. Good stuff!”.

Whatever, I thought to myself. What a disaster it was for my fellow countrymen. Such a contrast to visiting a country like Sweden. Not that everybody is super thin and healthy in Sweden, but they do seem to be able to look after themselves better. Perhaps it’s because they have inverted the food pyramid a couple of years back. Or perhaps it’s because they have low carb sections in the supermarkets.

7 million on statins in the UK

In the UK, a nation where 7 million people are prescribed statins, out of a population of 60 million, looking around me, all I saw were obese, and unhealthy-looking people. It is appalling. Have statins reduced the risk of heart attacks in the UK? There is no doubt that there are fewer deaths from heart attacks.

Survival rates are better. There are fewer transfats in the diet, and people are smoking less.

I believe that better education to encourage people to change your lifestyle would be a far more effective way of preventing heart attacks. Along with the acceptance by health professionals that cholesterol is not the cause, but an indicator, and that they accept the latest research, which shows the real reason.

Are illness and sickness really an act of God? Philosophically, I suppose the answer is yes. But I would like to believe that by taking responsibility for my health and trying to understand the physiology according to the latest research, that I could do something about it.

Join Club NoMed today – it’s free!

I am very proud not to be taking medications. I’m sure that if I went to my doctor, she would find something or another for which I should be taking medications. But my blood pressure is normal; my pulse is low, my BMI is 22.5, I am physically active, I sleep well, I think clearly, Beyond the age of 45, the best benchmark one can have is to feel as if you are 45. But my benchmark is also to be a member of Club No Med after the age of 45.

Put statin your pipe and smoke it!

I want to tell you a story.

I went to a chemists some 2 years ago and on the way out, I was asked by a lady if I wanted a cholesterol blood test. I had no idea why I agreed to one, but I did. “Oh dear”, she said “Your cholesterol is awfully high – 7.5!”. I immediately felt concerned. Why should I have high cholesterol? I was a bit chunky (86 kg – 5´11″) but took regular exercise (dog walks, cycling and lots of swimming), but why was it “high” . What did it mean?

“You had better go and see your doctor!”

Off I went to the dooctor. Blood pressure – normal and “You are not diabetic!” , as if that was a big surprise (I was 59 at the time). I should have a proper blood test.

On returning to the doctor, she told me that, yes, my cholesterol numbers were high -6.5, but, hey, 50% of Danish adults were at this level anyway. (That should have given me a clue). My LDL was high and my HDL was low and my Triglycerides were- well- a concern. So was I about to have a heart attack?

What could be done? “I could give you statins”

“No thanks”, I said. “Well, at you age, you have a 20:1 chance of having a heart attack in the next 10 years”, the dosctor said, referring to a card calculator. Not a big betting man, but 20:1 are long odds, so I asked what else I could do

“Lay off of fats – especially saturated fats like eggs, butter, etc ”

So I left the surgery, feeling a bit sorry for myself. Hell, man, I was fit for my age – not overweight, and for a long time had avoided fats, because I was told that fats were the cause of my indegestion and reflux that I have had all my adult life.

In the next months, I took up baking bread and tried to avoid any more fats. I started eating skyr, a type of Icelandic yoghurt with very low fat. I started to put on weight……

Fast forward to the Raimundas story: I was fascinated as to how he had cured himself, so I asked. One of the disciplines was a ketogenic diet, which avoids carbohydrates. I pointed out that I had been diagnosed with high cholesterol, This was met by a lot of material with the simple message; There is no such thing as high cholesterol for the vast majority of people. There is no such thing as good cholesterol and bad cholesterol. The whole myth is based on forced feeding rabbits (herbavores) on animal fat in a test. Guess what? They died. Research results? Cholesterol is bad! When statins were invented, the drug company that invented them realised that the market was too small – only 5 million potential customers in the US, so they lobbied to have the “dangerous” limit reduced – succeeded – and got 35 million customers. Smart marketing!

This is still going on today. New recommendations make 56 million Americans eligible for statin treatment, up from the current 43 million!

This is the important part here: I stopped eating white bread, potatoes, rice and pasta. I started eating all manner of meat and dairy products. I stopped eating “free sugar”. I cut down dramatically on any form of processed food (ketchup, etc). I made all the food I eat from the basic raw organic materials. I started eating salds drenched with olive and flax oil.

The result? I weighed 87.8 kilos as of mid-June. It is now the end of August and I weigh 80.5 kilos.

I have not taken one single tablet (pantaloc) or gaviscon against heartburn or reflux. My athlete’s foot fungus, which has plagued me for years disappeared.

I have more energy: I used to have to take a 2 hour nap after swimming 2.5 km. Now I do not.

I have not had a new measurement for cholesterol, but according to this web site, I should have lower triglycerides (the nasty stuff).  Their check list says:

  • Lose weight – done that!
  • Cut the sugar – done that!
  • Stock up on fibre – yep, always done that
  • Limit fructose – okay, I still eat fruit, but I avoid the dreaded corn syrup in most processed foods
  • Eat moderately low fat diets. – No . I do not agree with this!
  • Watch what type of fats you eat – well, this is complex, which I will explain at some stage, but I will not EVER eat trans fats  or hydrogentaed fats – so no margarine, biscuits, industrially-baked cakes.
  • Add omega 3 acids – Do this and you will have your LDL and HDL out of balance. (I will explain later)
  • Exercise – do that!
  • Cut down on alcohol . done that
  • Take triglycerides lowering drugs – NOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!

Has my doctor failed me? Should I trust the health system in future? Is it morally right that drug companies should market their products by appearing to help people by giving free tests in chemists/drug store/apoteks? Should we all take responsibility for our health in our own hands? If you are on statins, tell me why?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Road to a Low-Carb Diet

I digress. I have said that the breathing was key, but in learning of the Ketogenic diet I expressed a concern that I had “high” cholesterol. Lots of material came my way and the message very clear that there is no such thing as “high” cholesterol. So I could go on a Ketogenic diet if I desired. Why would I want to do that? It’s complicated – but if you want a medical paper as a refernce as to why it is beneficial and how it contradicts previous thinking, see “Metabolic Effects of the Very-Low-Carbohydrate Diets: Misunderstood “Villains” of Human Metabolism“. This type of paper becomes a recurring theme, and opened my eyes to the fact that the medical profession may be parrotting what they learnt years ago instead of looking at new research OR the evidence is detrimental to the drug producers’ sales figures. Probably a combination of the two.

I will get back to the Ketogenic diet thing later.

Anyway,  after reading The Physicians Guide to the Cholesterol Myth (link to the PDF download) , I started to get upset, because it contradicted something I had been told by doctors. I realised that I had possibly been taken in by the medical industry.

Have you ever been tested for cholesterol in a chemist’s? A couple of years ago, I was buying something in the chemist’s, when I was asked if I wanted a free cholesterol test. “OK”, I said. A prick on the thumb and then: “Oh!, your cholesterol is terribly high – I advise that you go to see your GP”. It was 7.1. I duly went along to the doctor’s after having a full blood test at a lab.

It was 6.2, but apparently I had too much LDL and too little HDL, plus my Triglycerides were high. I was offered statins, a treatment that reduces cholesterol. Luckily, I had heard about this drug and its side effects. Such as lowering testosterone. You don’t really need that at 60! Well, my odds were 20:1 of having a heart attack in the next 20 years. I am not a big betting man, but I thought those odds were acceptable. If I had a horse come in at  20:1 I would be a very happy and lucky man.

I was advised not to eat fats, especially eggs, butter and other dairy products.

If you take the time to read the report and follow the references to medical research, you would learn that this advice is crap! Now, I had been advised since the age of thirty or so that I would get gall stones unless I cut down on eating fats and also, eating fats was a factor in getting reflux and an acid stomach. Therefore, I have always cut the fat off the steak, had no butter on bread and eaten no eggs.

But now I was going to change that. In mid June 2015, I started eating fats, mainly by putting olive and flax oil on salads, fish, meat and eggs. However, I stopped eating bread, potatoes, pasta and rice. That is, all starchy or grain-based carbohydrates. I still ate porridge oats for breakfast but in smaller amounts. I also vowed to avoid “free” sugar if at all possible. Up until the end of July 2015 (about 6 weeks) , this is what has transpired:

  • I have lost 6 kilos (about a stone) (87.8 kg. down to 81.8 kg.)
  • I have not had to have one single Pantoprazole or other indigestion tablet, because I have not had indigestion! (for the first time as an adult)
  • I have slept better (probably because of improved breathing)
  • I no longer suffer from athlete’s foot
  • I am never hungry – I do not feel the need to eat between meals

So what is going on? Is it just me or is this the same for everybody?

I might add that my Body Mass Index (BMI) was 27.4, which put me in the “overweight” class. It is now 25.5, which is slightly overweight. My Body Fat Index (BFI) has fallen correspondingly, to about 21. This is still over what is recommened (20), so I have 2 kilos to go.

This experience has caused me to put a question mark against the medical profession’s wisdom and the medical/drug/food industry’s motives. If eating a fatty diet has no connection with high cholesterol and avoiding carbs leads to weight loss, then why do we get medicated with statins and insulin to deal with heart problems and diabetes type 2?

We will go deeper into this.