The medical community has been largely undivided in their claims that elevated blood cholesterol is the main cause of heart disease.
For years the world’s most distinguished physicians insisted that low fat diets and medications for lowering cholesterol are the only accepted therapy for combating heart disease, with any deviations from these established practices considered a heresy or even malpractice.
This notion has now been openly challenged by a Dr Dwight Lundell, a world renowned heart surgeon who recently wrote an article in which he dismisses the abovementioned dietary recommendations and the cholesterol theory as ‘no longer scientifically or morally defensible’ and points to inflammation in the artery wall as the real cause of heart disease.
To support his claims, Dr Lundell points out the daunting statistics from the American Heart Association which found that despite the reduced fat content in their diets and the increased uptake of expensive statin medications, more Americans will succumb to heart disease this year than ever before.
In other words, Dr Lundell pinpoints these recommendations and the ‘cholesterol theory’ as part of the problem rather than the solution.
Low fat diet – which is high in polyunsaturated fats and carbohydrates – as well as foods containing omega-6 oils for long shelf life cause repeated injury to the blood vessels, leading to chronic inflammation in the artery wall and subsequently to heart disease, stroke, diabetes and obesity.
Inflammation occurs when the human body is being invaded by bacteria, viruses, toxins or foods that it cannot process. This in turn causes cholesterol to accumulate and clog the blood vessel, leading to heart disease and strokes. A healthy artery would not obstruct the cholesterol’s flow throughout the body and thus would not cause these potentially fatal diseases.
Dr Lundell offers a rather plastic example on how foods loaded with sugar can lead to a potentially fatal case of inflammation.
When a person consumes simple carbohydrates, the level of sugar in the blood rises rapidly, causing the pancreas to secrete insulin in order to force the sugar into each cell where it is ‘stored for energy’. A cell already full with glucose will reject the ‘extra dosage’ and cause blood sugar to rise, which in turn prompts the body to produce more insulin and to convert the glucose into stored fat.
But how does this link to inflammation? Because blood sugar is controlled in a very narrow range, extra sugar molecules attach to a number of different proteins that cause injuries to the blood vessel wall. Over time, these repeated injuries are likely to set off inflammation and subsequently heart disease or stroke. Dr Lundell compares the excessive intake of sugar to ‘taking sandpaper to the inside of your delicate blood vessels’.
Another major cause of chronic inflammation in the artery wall is the imbalance between the intake of omega-6’s – which are part of every cell membrane— and omega-3’s.
The excessive consumption of omega-6, commonly found in soybean, causes the cell membrane to produce a chemical called cytokine – a known agent that causes inflammation.
According to Dr Lundell, the modern day American diet produces an ‘extreme imbalance’ of these two fats in a ratio ranging from 15:1 to a whooping 30:1 in favor of omega-6. To illustrate the severity of the problem, it is worth mentioning that a 3:1 ratio is considered to be optimal and healthy.
What can we do to lessen the risk of inflammation? Dr Lundell strongly recommends that we avoid consuming sugar rich foods and processed foods ‘soaked’ in omega-6 oils (such as corn and soybean oil), and to increase the intake of proteins, animal fats and complex carbohydrates found in colorful fruits and vegetables.
In conclusion, it is clear that the now disputed cholesterol theory led to the creation of the very foods that cause an epidemic of arterial inflammation and heart disease.
All we can do is eliminate the consumption of inflammatory foods and get back to the foods our grandmothers used to serve. This, according to Dr Lundell, would reverse ‘years of damage’ in our arteries caused from consuming today’s mainstream American diet.
A professional writer with over a decade of incessant writing skills. Her topics of interest and expertise range from health, nutrition and psychology.