I have mentioned Cholesterol levels on more than one occasion so far and there is great debate amongst doctors and researchers, at least those not within the stranglehold of the drug companies, about the merits of cholesterol as a pure indicator or heart risk. I suspect it’s more a question of what condition your cholesterol is in as it courses around your arteries than how much there is. Oxidisation of LDL via inflammation is bad news for the endothelial wall of your arteries. A pro inflammatory diet is the root cause of Lipid oxidisation and boy do we in the western world have a pro inflammatory diet. Most people, me included, probably think that their diet is pretty good, after all I cannot recall the last time I ate in a fast food joint. Once you start to drill down into the western diet you quickly realise that even the more diet conscious amongst us have been sleepwalking into premature illness and disease.
The culprits are sugar, grains and all processed foods. With sugar it is more than just cutting down the tea and coffee sugar, it’s the elevation of blood sugar levels from all high glycemic sources. Simply Google ‘Glycemic Index’ and start checking foods above and below the fifty mark. Foods such as potatoes are ubiquitous within the Britsih diet and I suggest you switch to sweet potatoes if you do not wish to give them up.
Grains are a little more surprising after all are we not inundated with eat grains advice from the nice guys at N.I.C.E. To give them the benefit of the doubt maybe they were talking about the grains that used to be available a hundred years or more ago. The modern, human altered form of grains have wreaked havoc on our health and if it wasn’t for the havoc such an announcement would have on powerful grain barons, more people would be aware of this and perhaps there position would be rearranged on the N.I.C.E food pyramid. By the way it’s kind of ironic don’t you think, that pyramids were something the Egyptians used to bury people in and we use them to represent our food recommendations. For a complete account of how grain production had been altered and its consequences for our health read a copy of the book ‘Against the Grain’.
Whenever I have entered a doctor’s office and asked him his opinion of some of the dietary research out there I hope and expect some informed input of both agreement and scepticism. What I did not expect was ignorance and lack of interest. One doctor defended his lack of knowledge by stating that he was not a nutritionist. I suspect by nutritionist he means the people who oversee the pro inflammatory food served up in hospitals or maybe the people who defend the fact that hospitals have Coke dispensing machines on the entrance to every ward in a hospital I recently visited. Yes I do mean defend, a doctor I spoke to suggested that having coke machines allowed the consumer to exercise his or her free will and to withdraw them would be an infringement on this right. Now if that doesn’t sound like self preserving career speak then I don’t know what does. Surely a hospital’s stance should be ‘you can do what the hell you want to your bodies out there but in here we will show you the light’. During my four days in hospital a trolley came round on a daily basis. It was full of chocolates, crisps and just about every imaginable food product that had put you there in the first place. This was battery faming of arterial plaque.
Getting back to my personal experiences with the NHS things were about to take a bitter twist. My first appointment with my cardio was ‘challenging’, his words not mine. A positive outcome however was that he thought a visit to the Lipid clinic to help answer some of my questions and to have an MRI stress test would be useful. I duly received letters of appointment for both with a week’s gap in between. At the first appointment I was warned by a junior doctor that when the head honcho came in, a doctor Madeira, he would not be too pleased to know that I was not on my Statins. Not too pleased was a bit of an understatement. He proceeded to bully me with extensive arguments about getting LDL cholesterol down to half of what it was before the attack. Funnily enough that is about what it is now. I responded with the dietary arguments which were once again brushed aside. I was already to call it a draw when I failed to see what would come next. Doctor Madeira made it clear that if I got back on the Statins I would be kept in the fold, if I did not then he would discharge me there and then from the clinic. This sounded unethical to me but nevertheless I was booted out. I had no intention of pursuing the matter further, the last thing you need is stress, but what happened next shocked me. The discharge took place on Thursday, my second appointment was the following Thursday. Two days later and only five days before the second appointment I received a letter stating that my MRI stress test had been cancelled by Doctor MCcann. Apparently this close occurrence of two rejections was pure coincidence and in no way related to each other. Even if this is true, their explanation that the written confirmation was issued by a booking clerk and it’s only after scrutinization by Doctor MCcann, five days before the appointment, that the final go ahead is confirmed. Now the words piss up and brewery, don’t really do this justice and that’s assuming that the first dismissal is not related to the second. I don’t want to bore you with the details of this ongoing debacle but I had to get my MP involved to help sort it out.
What does this all tell me about the doctors I have met so far? Well they are well meaning I am sure but my impression is that they operate in a narrow funnel of information flow. That information is controlled by medical research and agencies such as N.I.C.E who govern what doctors do and don’t do. Who controls the research, well you don’t have to be a brain surgeon to figure that out although if you were a brain surgeon you probably wouldn’t be able to figure it out or at least not to acknowledge it.
If you called in an electrician because your washing machine kept giving you an electric shock every time you turned it on, and he handed you a pair of rubber gloves and promptly left, would you be very happy?.
In my next post I will talk about my visit to a group therapy session where some of my suggestions nearly invoked secondary heart attacks amongst the audience.