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heart disease and degenerating DNA

[I'll come back to "Who You Gonna Call" blogging on the false gods of nutrition, tomorrow . . .]  

Dear GreenSmoothieGirl: I have 100 lbs. to lose, am on Lipitor for high cholesterol, and started drinking green smoothies a few weeks ago.   My cholesterol has begun to come way down, but my HDL [good cholesterol] count is going the wrong direction!   Should I stop drinking green smoothies?

Answer:   [Disclaimer: This is not medical advice, for which you should go to a GOOD cardiologist or knowledgeable naturopath.   A really good cardiologist, hard to come by, is doing more than offering you surgery and drug regimens: s/he's eating a healthy diet and advising you in that mission-critical area, too.]

I hope you don’t stop drinking green smoothies!   In the beginning, your HDL (a measure of the cholesterol leaving your arteries) goes up because you are throwing off extra cholesterol and eliminating it from your arteries.   It’s a good thing!   After a while, though, as you have less to eliminate, it will go down as well.   The biggest thing is to focus on your LDL (the bad cholesterol), and the fact that it’s coming down is wonderful news.

The ideal ratio of your total cholesterol to HDL should be less than 3: divide total cholesterol by your HDL.

My entire extended family was recruited to be in a national study of families with high cholesterol and bad heart-disease markers–and people at the other end of the spectrum, very low cholesterol and positive measurements for heart disease.   They fly out and take our blood and scratch their heads over why we have no known heart disease.We are a huge family, and we all–uncles, cousins, grandparents–have excellent cardiovascular markers.

My own cholesterol has always been below 100 (anything below 150 is considered “ideal” in the U.S.), and they  told me I have the cardiovascular markers of a triathlete.   Dr. Colin Campbell (The China Study) studied Chinese peasants eating a plant-based diet.   Their average is below 100, and 150 is very HIGH for them!  

My family has good heredity, you want to say to me—lucky you, you bragger!   Possibly, but I don’t think that tells the whole story.  My grandparents, and my grandfather’s five brothers, owned a produce dealership throughout the Southwest.   For many, many years, everyone was virtually vegetarian, because the diet strategy was “use up whatever we have in excess at the warehouses.”   My mom, though she got married and moved away, didn’t even know how to cook meat, and didn’t teach me.   (Thanks, Mom.   Seriously, I’m not being facetious, thanks!)  J

I believe that our family–those original produce dealers now have great grandchildren–will eventually look worse for cardiovascular disease.   Romney Produce, after all, is long defunct.   But for generations, we ate a diet very similar to what the Chinese ate in Campbell’s huge study.  We’re just a couple of generations behind the genetic deterioration that most families have experienced as a consequence of eating lots of animal protein, refined  foods,  and fat.

That’s right, your DNA actually deteriorates as you eat food that isn’t really food.  And you pass that along to your children.   Our grandparents lived with the typical American diet and were okay, but they had  better genetics, since their parents ate whole foods.   Our kids have much higher risk because we’ve been degenerating their DNA!   How’s that for a motivator for future parents to eat right?

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