Does one have to take prescription meds to lower cholesterol or this health feat can be done completely naturally, just by moving about?
Not everyone agrees that lowering cholesterol naturally is possible. Conventionally trained doctors prefer writing prescriptions. By doing so, they get a predictable outcome. Drugs always slash cholesterol numbers, exercise isn’t that clear cut. Exercise is elusive and produces varied effects.
Is lowering cholesterol naturally even possible?
Would it then be better to stuff oneself with pills instead of getting a gym membership? There are at least three reasons why you should put prescriptions on the back burner:
- All drugs have side effects. Expect them, even if your doctor does not tell you so, even if you don’t feel anything
- Meds change lab numbers, but do not make your body any healthier
- Meds are one of the biggest environmental pollutants. Ingesting does not make them environment friendly.
Pill popping is popular. It is convenient. And it is the main reason why many people don’t bother looking beyond. Lifestyle changes may not be that convenient, but those who consider it can do a lot of good to themselves and others, simply because lowering cholesterol naturally has wide-ranging benefits.
It is not only cheaper and healthier but it is also much friendlier towards the environment. Lifestyle changes do not damage our already fragile planetary ecosystem, as drug metabolites do. With 70% of Americans taking and peeing out prescriptions meds daily we should not be surprised to learn that our balsamic-glazed salmon fillet becomes inedible, because it is stuffed with drugs.[i] It’s not the salmon’s fault. It is ours.
How many steps to lower cholesterol?
One of my patients, an elderly man was concerned about his high cholesterol. He was also a diabetic and had compromised kidneys. Dietary changes were difficult as he was not only set in his ways, but his unstable condition prevented any radical dietary interventions.
Luckily he was open to discussion and lifestyle modernization. I asked him to get a FitBit. He did and he actually liked it. Initially he wore it just so, to find out his activity baseline. It shortly became obvious that he is quite inactive, mostly sitting, seldom moving about.
I explained the problem to him and made a few calculations. We agreed that increase in activity is necessary. He was open to walking even though his gouty feet presented a problem. We decided that if his gout acts up he should aim for about 6,000 steps a day, and when his feet are fine he should aim for 15,000.
Three months later I got a new set of blood work from the fellow and a report that he was faithfully making 10,000 steps a day. The cholesterol results were so altered that I asked if he did not start prescription drugs. He didn`t. He was faithful.
Walking can lower cholesterol naturally better than pills
You can lower cholesterol naturally even if you don’t change your diet. Look carefully at the before and after numbers.
|Before mg/dl (mmol/l)||After 3 mo of 10,000 steps||Change|
|Total cholesterol||241.0 (6.2)||220.6 (5.7)||Lower by 9%|
|LDL (bad cholesterol)||161.3 (4.2)||122.0 (3.2)||Lower by 24%|
|HDL (good cholesterol)||39.7 (1.0)||57.7 (1.5)||Increased by 45%|
|Chol/HDL ratio||6.07||3.82||Lower by 37%|
|LDL/HDL ratio||4.06||2.12||Lower by 48%|
If you are not sure how to interpret these changes here is a prompt: they are outstanding. They should be the source of envy of every patient and doctor aspiring to see better cholesterol numbers. Now you have it: walking can do wonders for the heart and there is a good chance you can duplicate the results for yourself with 10,000 steps. Here are the prerequisites:
- You are not on prescription meds, these may skew the outcome
- Your current lifestyle is sedentary and you are mostly inactive
- You are capable of consistently making 10,000 steps a day
- You can walk outdoors, because walking on a treadmill indoor is not the same
Cholesterol studies simplified
Large studies agree that it is not the pills, but exercise that should be the first-line prescription for lowering cholesterol. Research suggests that both moderate and vigorous exercise is very beneficial for the heart.
One 6-year study that followed nearly 50 thousand people determined that walking reduces high cholesterol and high blood pressure similarly to running, provided that the expended calories are the same. They also noted that faster pace yielded better results than slower walking or running. This suggests that caloric expenditure is more important for the heart health than the choice of exercise.[ii]
10,000 steps is not for everyone
However, not everyone can benefit from 10,000 steps a day. I tried. Instead of improving, my health deteriorated and I started to put on weight. The reason for such failure is simple. I normally make about 12,000-20,000 steps a day and 10,000 represent a drastic reduction of my physical activity.
Here is a lesson for you. Before you aim for 10,000 steps you need to determine first your own activity baseline with FitBit or some other wearable gadget. Only then you can decide on your walking or running goal.
Choose to lower cholesterol naturally
Before reaching for a stack of convenient pills, consider that drugs don`t repair our bodies. They just temporary change lab parameters. Exercise, on the other hand improves health and in the process of doing so does not hurt the environment.
About 80-90% of ground and surface water in USA is contaminated with drug residue that is not indifferent to our ecosystem. Fish gets stuffed with chemicals, beneficial insects disappear and aggressive species appear.
Don’t contribute to our planetary demise if you have a choice. Be a better person. Make the effort. Walk. Get in shape. Get back to health, because you CAN lower cholesterol naturally without putting a dent on the planet Earth.
My upcoming book will give you details myths and truths about lowering cholesterol and the best and most eco-friendly ways to get your heart in peak shape. In the meantime enjoy “The Ultimate Guide to Low & Fluctuating Blood Pressure” to get you going in the right direction.