This past week I stumbled across a discussion online of a TV show that aired recently. The show told an interesting story that I’d love to share.
Many years ago, researchers and epidemiologists got together in attempt to reduce the number of fires in the United States. Fire, whether accidental or on purpose, can cause injury and even loss of life.
After sifting through all the data available, a common theme was discovered – firemen were almost always present at fires!
For this reason, the United States passed guidelines recommending that the general public avoid calling firemen in such situations. The association between firemen and fires was clear.
Sure – matches, flammable substances, and improperly wired electronics were also present in many fires. But firemen, with their brightly colored gear and fire truck sirens, were a much more apparent similarity in all incidents.
The public avoided calling firemen and even took measures to reduce the number of active firemen on duty. The number of fires grew in the U.S. every year, but since we had our culprits, we figured we just weren’t strict enough in our fight against firefighters.
For 50 years this continued, until enough people challenged the status quo. The initial studies were easily disproven. Anecdotally, people saw more reduction in fires after improving wiring in their homes and avoiding flammable materials. Enough scientists, researchers, and media sources shared alternative ideas.
Finally, in 2015, the “powers that be” have admitted, for the first time since 1957, that perhaps firemen are not the cause of fires!
Now clearly this is an analogy – but the simplicity of the message really struck home with me.
In this story, fires represent heart attacks and cardiovascular disease. Firemen represent cholesterol. Matches, flammable substances, and unsafe wiring represent man-made fats (such as canola and corn oil) and sugar.
When our nation was confronted with rising rates of cardiovascular disease, we looked at various blood markers in individuals that suffered heart attacks. The first thing we saw was high cholesterol levels. Immediately, our nation concluded that cholesterol was the cause of heart disease. For 50 years the medical community did everything possible to lower blood cholesterol levels.
However, it turns out that cholesterol in the blood, much like firemen at a fire scene, exist to protect us!
When there is inflammation within the blood, caused by overconsumption of carbs or vegetable oils, the body sends cholesterol to protect the artery walls from damage. In an ideal situation, the period of carb and unnatural fat overconsumption ends, and the cholesterol is carried away.
Atherosclerosis, or buildup of plaque within the arteries, occurs when inflammation does not end. This results in the oxidization and hardening of beneficial cholesterol.
This past week, new guidelines were set forth recommending that the public pay more attention to sugar consumption than cholesterol and fat. Keep in mind that all carbohydrates (besides fiber) are broken down into sugars eventually.
Start your day with plenty of whole eggs, don’t fear fatty grass-fed steak, and request more specifics (such as particle size and count) when your doctor tries to prescribe statins to lower blood cholesterol levels.
Just because firemen are the first to arrive at a fire doesn’t mean they are to blame!