September 2013: Statin Nation

The dish of the evening
looked something like this.

by Karen Voelkening-Behegan

Thanks to all who attended our September meeting and to all who brought dishes to share.  This time, one of the most memorable contributions was a sampling of a very traditional dish from Mexico, brought by our friend Gayle:  sautéed onions and grasshoppers; lovingly prepared to sprinkle as a condiment on a fresh rice salad wrapped in organic corn tortillas.  Apparently the critters came from a top gourmet restaurant in LA! Thank you, Gayle for taking the plunge, and kudos to all those who tried her dish!   If anyone took any photos, please let me know and I’ll post them here.  At first glance, if no one had told me about the grasshoppers, I would have thought the dish was some form of large, long-grain, wild rice!  It actually looked pretty appetizing.  Gayle said the grasshoppers would taste a bit citrusy.  As chapter leader of a traditional foods group, I felt obligated to try a sample … but truthfully, I had such a big mouthful of rice & tortilla wrapped around the smallest critter I could find that I could hardly tell it was there.  And believe me, I chewed and swallowed as fast as I could!  My utmost respect and awe goes out to all those who took more generous helpings.

Which reminds me, the other day, when one of my daughters began complaining about the texture of a soft avocado, I took out a small plastic cup with a sampling of the sautéed onions and grasshoppers, and said, “It’s the avocado or the grasshoppers!  Pick one!”  She ran from the table screaming.  (A gooey avocado never looked so good.)  On a more serious note, insects are a significant traditional food source for a large part of the world’s population, and a great source of protein.  But as my famous geography professor Dr. Karl Butzer of the University of Texas at Austin used to say, “Adopting foreign foods has always been the most difficult cultural adaptation for people to make.”  I would have to agree.

On to the subject of the evening, the story of cholesterol-lowering statin drugs, there has been a lot written about the film Statin Nation by producer/director Justin Smith, and I’ve included some links below for those who wish to learn more.  As a chapter leader, all I have to add is that in Nutritional Therapy school, we learned all about why it’s a bad idea to artificially lower cholesterol levels.  When I say “artificially,” I mean “‘with the aid of pharmaceutical drugs.”  In a nutshell, here’s why:  When your cholesterol levels go up, it is generally a sign that damage is happening to your body on a cellular level.  Even a paper cut will raise your cholesterol levels.  The question is, why?  The answer:  to protect us and help us heal from the damage.  

As Dr. Natasha Campbell McBride says, the firemen found at the scene of a fire did not set the fire.  Something else did.  So if you get rid of all the firemen, what happens?  The fire burns out of control!  So why would we want to lower our cholesterol levels artificially, and let all that damage burn out of control?  

Although statin drugs are truly very successful at lowering cholesterol, they are also very successful at letting the damage caused in the absence of cholesterol run wild.  That’s why people with “artificially” lowered cholesterol levels die sooner of all causes, including heart attacks.  The reason:  statin drugs can cut your cholesterol production in half, by inhibiting the very same pathway that builds your supply of Coenzyme Q10, effectively cutting your supply of Coenzyme Q10 in half too.  What does Coenzyme Q10 do?  It is the fuel that feeds your mitochondria, the powerhouses or batteries of all your cells.  With half the normal amount of Coenzyme Q10, you have half the normal amount of energy.  So which organ requires the most mitochondria and the most consistent flow of energy because it never gets to rest?  The heart.  The film explains this, and much more.  

I was also very moved by Justin Smith’s portrayal of the politics behind the drugs, but you’ll have to see the movie to find out more about that.

Ultimately, for truly better health, if you want to lower your cholesterol levels naturally, then find out what’s causing the damage and stop it.  Then your cholesterol levels will automatically go down without any pharmaceutical intervention or “side”-effects.  But you certainly would never want to keep your body from mobilizing its cholesterol defenses in response to a threat!   A body that mobilizes cholesterol well is a body that can defend itself well again damage, and rebuild itself efficiently when it needs new cells.

It is also important to keep in mind that cholesterol has many other jobs besides injury repair.  It is a major building block for every cell in your body, and it plays an important role in the building of hormones and the functioning of neurotransmitters.  Cholesterol is your friend!  Lower your cholesterol and you’re in big trouble.  You’ll simply start falling apart, both physically and mentally.  Just ask the people in the movie.   ‘Nuf said.  For more info about the film Statin Nation, check out the links below!

Chapter Leader Aaron Zober’s podcast with Statin Nation Producer and Director Justin Smith on the Appropriate Omnivore

Tim Boyd’s review of Statin Nation, published in the Weston A. Price Foundation’s quarterly magazine, Wise Traditions in Food, Farming, and the Healing Arts, Spring 2013

Review of Statin Nation by award-winning medical journalist Jerome Burne

Dr. Mercola on Statin Nation

Reviews of Statin Nation on Amazon

I hope to see you at our next meeting when we will be discussing some of the most nourishing and important foods in the traditional human diet:  organ meats!

Have a great October!

Your chapter leader, Karen

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