Cholesterol, Heart Disease, and Wheat Consumption

You've just left the doctor's office after discussing your wheat-free diet and now can't remember what the heck he told you. You recall something about needing to watch this number or that number and the possibility of needing a cholesterol-lowering statin drug in the future. “Come back next year for your checkup, and we'll see how you're doing,” he said.

All you have to show for your visit is a few pieces of paper with numbers that don't mean anything to you. All you can recognize is “high” or “low” next to some of the test results.

If this scenario sounds familiar, don't worry. You share the same feelings that most people have when they leave the doctor's office.

The bottom line is that your wheat- or grain-free diet brings fantastic changes to the blood markers that matter most, slowing and perhaps even reversing the negative effects of your old diet. Positive changes from year to year are great motivators to keep doing what you're doing.

Also, don't be surprised by the look on your doctor's face when he sees how good your test results are and finds out you've eliminated wheat/grains, added sugar, and vegetable oils from your diet!

For years, the world has looked at cholesterol as the enemy. But your body actually requires cholesterol to survive. Here is a partial list of what cholesterol does for you:

  • Allows cells to communicate with each other

  • Promotes strong mental acuity

  • Produces all the steroid hormones, which regulate metabolism; energy production; brain, muscle, and bone formation; emotions; and reproduction

  • Makes bile, which allows you to digest and absorb fats and fat-soluble vitamins (those that require fat to transport them through the blood stream)

  • Supports the immune system

  • Acts as an antioxidant

  • Makes stress hormones

As you can see, cholesterol is a lot more important than previously thought. Almost every cell in your body produces cholesterol throughout your lifetime. Actually, as much as 85 percent of the measured cholesterol in the blood is produced by the body, while only 15 percent comes from the food you eat.

And your body tightly regulates it by adjusting production based on how much cholesterol you're eating. Eat more cholesterol, and your body produces less, and vice versa. So much for the conventional wisdom that tells you not to eat certain foods because of the cholesterol content.

The movement to increase wheat/grain intake since the 1970s has also vilified fat and the cholesterol that those foods usually contain. For many years, the standard advice has been to avoid eggs, meat, poultry, and some fish along with butter because of the high fat/cholesterol in the food.

Sure, eating more grains reduces the intake of cholesterol; however, the increase in the rate of heart disease has proven the high-carbohydrate/high-grain diet to be unsound and misguided.

If your doctor has put you on a low-cholesterol diet for medical reasons, don't go off that diet without first consulting him.

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