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Is Your Cholesterol Too High?

Lean N Clean contains the following cholesterol-lowering ingredients:

Psyllium and Guar Gum

Viscous water-soluble fibers. A large number of clinical and animal studies have been conducted to test the cholesterol-lowering effects of various sources of dietary fiber. Several conclusions can be drawn from these studies. Wheat bran and cellulose, both sources of non-viscous, insoluble complex carbohydrates, do not lower plasma cholesterol level. In contrast, guar gum, psyllium husk, pectin, oat bran, beans (legumes), and fruits and vegetables have been reported to lower plasma cholesterol and especially LDL, which is considered the "bad" cholesterol. Several mechanisms have been proposed whereby sources of fiber affect cholesterol metabolism. These include increasing the fecal excretion of bile acids, slowing the rate of lipid absorption, and enhancing the production of short-chain fatty acids by complex carbohydrate fermentation in the large bowel.

Alfalfa leaf

Alfalfa leaf has been shown in animal studies to reduce blood cholesterol and plaque deposits on artery walls.

Irish Moss

Irish moss is a seaweed. Carrageenan, a constituent of Irish Moss, guards against fat and cholesterol buildup and thus inhibits arteriosclerosis.

Dandelion Root

Dandelion root is an herb with long history of safety profile. It increases the bile flow from the liver, thus increasing the metabolism of fat and cholesterol and making it one of the best IBS remedies.

Apple Pectin

Apple pectin is a soluble fiber, has been verified by recent scientific research to be effective in lowering cholesterol levels. These natural ingredients work together to help you lower your blood cholesterol level, decrease the plaque buildup on artery walls, and as a result, help reduce blood pressure as well as the chance of heart disease.

Read about why I created Lean N Clean®.

Understanding Cholesterol  in Simplified Terms

People often associate the word "cholesterol" with heart attack, yet cholesterol is an important steroid that makes up the structural basis of steroid hormones, vitamin D, plasma membranes and bile salts, which is needed in the digestion of fat. What is so wrong with high cholesterol level? Lets try to understand it in a simplified fashion.

About 15% of blood cholesterol comes from one's diet. The other 85% is made by the liver. Fats (lipids) and cholesterol are completely insoluble in water and therefore do not circulate free in the blood stream. They are transported to and from tissue cells in body fluids bound to small lipid-protein complexes called lipoproteins. Lipoproteins vary considerably in their fat-protein compositions. In general, the higher the percentage of lipids in the lipoprotein, the lower its density; and the greater the proportion of protein, the higher its density. On this basis, cholesterol is differentiated into high density lipoprotein (HDL's) and low density lipoproteins (LDL's).

The role of LDL's is to transport cholesterol to the peripheral tissues for hormone synthesis and for storage for later use. The major function of HDL's is to transport cholesterol from the peripheral tissues to the liver, where it is broken down and becomes part of the bile. It is not enough to simply measure total cholesterol. The manner in which the cholesterol is being transported in the blood is more important. As a rule of thumb, high levels of HDL's are considered as good because the transported cholesterol is destined for degradation. High LDL levels are considered bad, because when LDL’s are excessive, potentially lethal cholesterol deposits are laid down in the artery walls.

Animal products are usually high both in saturated fats and cholesterol. Based on the observation of the typical American diet, it is clear that the major cause of too much cholesterol in the body is the over consumption of high saturated fat, high cholesterol foods. Other contributing factors to increased LDL levels and coronary artery disease are cigarette smoking, coffee drinking, excessive alcohol intake, sugar, and stress. Regular aerobic exercise lowers LDL levels and increases the levels of HDL's. Chronically elevated blood cholesterol leads to arteriosclerosis (hardening and thickening of the arteries), high blood pressure and risk of excessive clotting. Heart disease is very rare when the blood cholesterol level is at 150 mg/dl. The majority of heart attacks occur in people with cholesterol levels in the range of 200-250 mg/dl.

The expert panel of National Cholesterol Education Program (NCEP) has recommended keeping total blood cholesterol level less than 200 mg/dl and LDL level less than 130 mg/dl.

Cholesterol-lowering drugs

Cholesterol-lowering drugs can be grouped into three classes:

--HMG-CoA Reductase Inhibitors (also called "statins")
--Bile Acid Sequestrants
--Others

HMG Co-A Reductase Inhibitors (Statins)

These are considered drugs of second choice, but are the most popular. Most new drugs for reducing high cholesterol levels are from this class.

Drug Names: Mevacor (lovastatin), Pravachol (pravastatin), Zocor (simvastatin), Lipitor (Atovastatin), Baycol (cerivastatin), Lescol (fluvastatin).

How do statins work? They inhibit the enzyme - HMG Co-A Reductase, which catalyzes cholesterol synthesis. They increase the HDLs and decrease the LDLs. However, the effects of these induced changes in lipoprotein levels on heart diseases and resulting death rate has not been established.

Bile Acid Sequestrants: (bile acid sequestering resins)

They are considered drugs of first choice.

Drug names: Questran (cholestyramine), Colestid (colestipol HCl).

During normal digestion, bile acids are secreted in the bile from the liver and gall bladder into the intestines to emulsify the fat materials in food, thus facilitating absorption. A major portion of the bile acids secreted is reabsorbed from the intestines and returned to the liver. Bile acid sequestering resins bind bile acids in the intestines to form insoluble complex which is excreted in the feces. The increased fecal loss of bile acids leads to an increased oxidation of cholesterol to bile acids and decrease in LDL's ( the bad cholesterol).

Precautions: The major drawback of these drugs is malabsorption. Because they tie up the bile acids which are responsible for normal fat digestion and absorption, they prevent absorption of fat-soluble vitamins such as A, D. E and K as well. Deficiency in Vitamin K will increase bleeding tendency. Reduction of folic acid in blood has been reported over long term use of cholestyramine. Folic acid is needed for the formation of new red blood cells. These drugs may produce or severely worsen preexisting constipation. Fecal impaction may occur and hemorrhoids may be aggravated.

Others

Lorelco (probucol), Choloxin (Dextrothyroxine Sodium) Atromid-S (clofibrate), Lopid (gemfibrozil)

All these drugs have various adverse effects involving different organs of our bodies. Impotence seems to be one of the common side effects of most drugs for reducing high cholesterol levels.

Warnings (Cholesterol-lowering Drugs)

Liver damage

Including hepatitis, liver cirrhosis and cholestatic jaundice, more severe when taken by people who consume substantial quantities of alcohol. Liver function tests are recommended every 4 to 6 weeks during the first 3 months of therapy, every 6 to 8 weeks during the next 12 months and periodically thereafter (approximately 6 month intervals).

Note: Liver function tests only tell you when you are starting to suffer detectable liver damage. They serve no purpose in correcting the problem created by these drugs. Usually our livers can suffer extensive damage before they will show abnormalities in tests.

Skeletal muscle effects

Destruction of skeletal muscle with abnormal kidney function has occurred to some patients taking the statins. A small percentage of patients may develop myopathy (i.e., myalgia - muscular pain or muscle weakness.)

Carcinogenesis/Fertility impairment

A study in mice has shown a statistically significant increase in liver cancer although the dosage was over 300 times the maximum recommended human dose.

Other warnings and adverse effects include, but are not limited to: Central nervous system vascular lesions, characterized by hemorrhage and edema, renal function impairment, impotence, loss of libido, and hair loss.