After confirming the results with my doctor I was left to deal with the decision to either immediately begin taking a prescription statin or following more natural remedies, in this case red yeast rice extract. I took the recommended dosage of RYRE for one month and had my levels re-tested and found that my total cholesterol had dropped 50 points. This was very encouraging and I agreed to have more bloodwork done in three months.
I continued taking RYRE and began a rather challenging fitness routine in hopes that I could also lower my LDL levels in the process. After three months, my results read as follows: my total cholesterol had climbed 20 points. I was devastated. What was I doing wrong? I was doing everything right, for chrissakes! My doctor reminded me that we could continue trying natural options, but I needed to start considering taking a prescription drug to lower the numbers. As mentioned in my first post, my parents both take statins for their levels and my father has reported significant muscle pains as a side effect of one drug. I wasn’t done trying.
So I continued with my fitness routine, ate healthier meals, and increased the amount of RYRE I was taking by 50%. This was no easy task because, while it boasts a more natural interaction, RYRE is considerably more expensive than the popular $4 generic Rx drugs available. I hoped, hoped, hoped that this would cause my levels to plunge into a safe range.
Three months later: the levels hardly changed at all. My doctor warned me that if they did not change by the next time I had bloodwork he would seriously push for prescribing a statin. Part of me had resigned to that fate, yet another part wondered if there was more I could be doing. Because of course: vegan doesn’t automatically equate with the pinnacle of health. I felt pretty damn helpless.
So I continued to do more research on how to lower cholesterol levels, yet much of the information encouraged limiting or eliminating meat, egg, and dairy products from one’s diet (uh, duh). Well, shoot. What else is there to do? Originally my doctor had wanted to prescribe fish oil supplements, until I reminded him of my ethics. Are omega-3’s really that important in the fight to lower cholesterol?
Apparently, yes. These are touted as one of the top nutrients to assist in lowering cholesterol. I was not taking any supplements or paying much attention to my omega-3 intake during this time – so I kicked my ass into high gear. For the past few months I have been preparing a refreshing green smoothie in the morning at least 5 days a week containing a combination of the following:
- Good Karma Unsweetened Flax Milk
- Flax oil
- Chia seeds
- Don’t assume that your blood and nutrient levels are in the safe range, despite an overwhelmingly healthy lifestyle. Get a full work-up regularly.
- Educate yourself on your family history of diseases and health risks.
- Just like a diet change or exercising cannot, by themselves, change something as complex as cholesterol: neither can a pill. Not a fancy pharmaceutical. Not an overpriced natural remedy. Recovery and maintenance of a physical health condition extends to all areas of one’s health.