Statin drugs were recently shown to lead to a potential worsening of health behaviors for those that take them to battle high cholesterol levels. A study released April 24th in JAMA Internal medicine and reported in the news today detailed the findings. Using ten years of data, calorie and fat intake actually increased in those taking the medications. Remember, fat intake, especially saturated fat intake, can have a dramatic impact on cholesterol levels, as well as heart disease. What the researchers concluded was that those taking the medications may feel less obligated to follow any type of heart healthy nutrition guidelines because they believe that medications will protect them.
My question to the researchers would be, “Is this phenomena only seen with the statin drugs or would you expect to see the same thing from those using diabetes and blood pressure medications?”
From my observational studies, I would say, “Yes!” Many times when taking medications for a specific ailment, lifestyle changes are not adequately stressed or addressed. I have been told frequently in my practice by clients that they don’t follow any dietary guidelines because they are on a medicine to control their condition. I am not an anti-medication person. The drugs we have to control diabetes, blood pressure and cholesterol are very good, especially when taken correctly. However, I am a big believer in doing more through lifestyle change to help reduce the reliance on medicines. I teach a class on Food-Drug interactions and how what we eat can impact the effectiveness of the medicines that are prescribed. Many times, people focus on the major interactions seen with drugs like Coumadin (Warfarin) a medication designed to slow the clotting time of the blood to help defend against blood clots. There are certain foods that need to be monitored to allow the drug to work as intended. There are also interactions between many blood pressure medications, as well as statins, and grapefruit products. During the class, we discuss how any medication we take can be impacted by what we eat. For instance, if you are on a fluid pill, or diuretic such as Lasix which is designed to keep you from retaining fluid and yet you continue to eat a high sodium diet, then you are going to continue to retain fluid. As a result, your doctor may choose to increase your dose to achieve the wanted results. However, by simply reducing the sodium content in your food, you may be able to reduce or eliminate the need for that medicine! The same is true for cholesterol and diabetes medications. Remember, it was Hippocrates in 400 BC that said, “Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food”.
We hold the keys to better health in our own hands. We cannot rely solely on medications to make us better. The body has an innate ability to heal itself. We just have to be mindful of that and find ways to assist our bodies. This is called the mind-body connection! If you want a strong example of how the mind-body connection works, look at the so called, “Placebo Effect”. Many drug studies have to discuss this phenomena when people are given a placebo instead of the real medication and are able to achieve the same positive results that the true medicine provides. By believing they are receiving an active medication, those patients are often able to see a positive result!
Exploring the mind-body connection is central in the integrative health process and even more so with Integrative Health Coaches. Making positive behavioral changes are paramount to finding the healthy lifestyle that you want. You will not find that in a pill. You will find it within yourself! If you are interested in making changes that support a healthier lifestyle with a focus on mind, body and spirit, contact us today and Make That Change!
It’s Your Health. It’s Your Life. Make That Change!