Q: I don’t want to take statin drugs for my cholesterol problem. What do you suggest?
A: The statin medications really are a marvel of modern medicine; however, as a physician I personally weigh the decision very carefully before starting a medication that a person may very well have to stay on for the rest of their life.
As you know, it is possible to lower your cholesterol with a combination of diet and exercise. When it comes to diet, you know to avoid processed foods and foods that are high in fat, but most people overlook the fact that adding whole grains and more fiber to the diet can also have significant impact.
If you are carrying a little extra weight, losing as little as 10 pounds can make a big difference in your cholesterol levels, and exercise is one of the best things you can do to elevate the levels of HDL–the good cholesterol.
Sometimes high cholesterol levels are a result of our genes and not just of our diet, and if this is the case, no matter how diligent you are, you may not be able to get your cholesterol numbers down to the recommended range. If this is the case, a medication may be necessary. If you prefer more natural alternatives, recent studies suggest that red rice yeast (found in most natural food stores) along with diet and exercise can be just as effective as a statin.
Dr. Brent Ridge is the health expert for Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia. You can call and ask him a question live every Tuesday at 2 p.m. Eastern on Sirius Satellite Radio, Channel 112 (1.866.675.6675). You can also follow along as he learns to grow his own food and raise goats on his farm in upstate New York by visiting www.beekman1802.com.
Got a health question for Dr. Brent? E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.