In 1988 after our fourth son Ian was born, I was diagnosed with high cholesterol. I was put on a slightly expensive, but traditional medication called Lipitor. While my counts came down, Lipitor is not a cure for high cholesterol. Then I began to read articles that made me nervous about taking it.
Those risky side effects included:
Memory loss, irritability, personality changes, muscle pain, muscle disease and severe liver problems. Since we only have one liver that we need for a lifetime, the risk of liver damage is what convinced me to stop taking Lipitor.
I didn’t discuss it with my physician because I knew he would simply want me to replace it with another statin drug. While I don’t recommend the action I took, still I felt justified in making it based on the fact my maternal grandfather died of liver disease.
That meant I had to get serious about a diet and exercise program. ‘Free of charge’ a diet group was meeting in my community once a week, a support group for people serious about changing their health habits. While we had weigh-ins each week, the main focus of the group was on how to change our diet, how to establish an exercise regime, and what dietary supplements might benefit serious dieters.
This I did discuss with my doctor. One lesson I passionately embraced from this group was, if it wasn’t a food grown naturally, it didn’t go in my mouth. That meant margarine was one of the first in my previous diet to go.
Skim milk also went when I understood there was more sugar in skim milk than there was in whole milk. Rather than use diet sweeteners with aspartame in them, I switched to Splenda, which is actually derived from sugar cane without being a source of high calories.
I know fad dieters who believe they know all the data will say, “Whoa, hold your horses right here,” but before you bail out, stop and think about how we ate as kids. We ate butter, drank whole milk, thrived on fresh fruits and vegetables, ate meat from the half a beef we got from the farm from Uncle Manford. We ate a big country breakfast at least on Saturdays and Sundays, and three meals a day from all the food groups, and we didn’t get fat.
Yes, I began to eat breakfast again. Eating within 30 minutes of waking up in the moment jump-starts your metabolism. If you don’t eat until brunch or lunch, that’s four or five hours your metabolism has been in a sluggish repose. Why do that to yourself when Mother Nature has wired your body differently than that?
Now, for the dietary supplement I used to replace Lipitor. Omega 3, or fish oil tablets were what my doctor recommended, two a day. I’ll confess, I was a little skeptical when I first began taking them. It seemed too simple.
However, after a year of these two little pills and a moderate exercise program, my cholesterol was only 3 points over the normal mark. It had, at one time, crept to the 276-326 mark. I was ecstatic, and my doctor simply said, “Continue to do what you’re doing.”
I still have a fatty liver. My doctor has advised me to abstain from alcohol, and to eat my spinach, but the important thing is, my cholesterol is under control, and I’m not taking risky statin drugs to do it.