Question: I've had high cholesterol for many years and had been treated with Lipitor until last year. My liver function tests were terribly out of whack, and I was quite ill. I was taken off all meds at that time. My liver functions returned to normal, but my cholesterol started climbing. I was tested again in December with cholesterol levels of 254, LDL 161, HDL 66. My doctor prescribed Niacin, along with aspirin and benadryl to decrease the side effects. My liver profile was good 2 weeks ago, but they couldn't check the cholesterol levels yet. I happened upon your book when I was checking out about Dr. Oz, and I started the Eat to Liveprogram last week. I love this way of eating and wonder if there is anything else that I can do besides exercise to help myself. I don't really want to stop the Niacin right now because I have been building up my levels and am now at 1500 mgs with only 500 more to increase in a few weeks. I forgot to mention I am 61 years old with family history of heart disease. Your website has been very informative. As a matter of fact, I just stopped taking fish oil capsules and replaced them with flaxseeds, (in your book you state that fish oil is not the way to go). Any help would be appreciated. Thank you.
Answer: Do my entire program for cholesterol lowering, and I assure you that you will get dramatic results. Take my LDL Protect, two pills twice daily, and the recommended adult serving of the DHA Purity. Also, take a tablespoon of ground flax seeds every day and 5 - 8 half walnuts too. Niacin is hard on your liver too, and I suggest that you need not incur that risk, since you will likely not need it. I can assure you that the need for the Niacin on top of this program would be very rare. You should only add it if we see that it's necessary after the 3rd month check-up following my advice. Keep me posted on your progress.
Reply: Dr. Fuhrman: I have followed your program for the past 8 weeks, but I did not go off the Niacin, because I was afraid at the time to stop taking it. I met with my doctor today and my total cholesterol, HDL's and LDL's have improved dramatically. However, my AST was 206 and ALT 145. My doctor has told me to discontinue all medications for the next 3 months and to continue to Eat to Live, which he seemed very impressed with. He told me not to even take any supplements until I am rechecked. Of course, I am hesitant to stop taking the LDL Protect (you told me to take 4 per day), but I'm very concerned about my liver and wanted to ask your advice first. Thank you for any help you can give me.
Dr. Fuhrman: It is the Niacin and the medication, not the LDL Protect, for it's all natural. I am sure it will clear once you stop that stuff and eat so healthfully.
Reply: I just got my blood test results and am so concerned. As you said, my AST and ALT are normal after stopping the Niacin. However, my total cholesterol is 328, HDL 60 and LDL 235. I have been about 90%Eat to Live since February and quite frankly don't know what to do now. My doctor told me to start my Zetia again and your LDL Protect. I know I can never take statin drugs again because of my liver and would like to know what your feelings are about my problems. I eat walnuts, take DHA and drink pomegranate juice everyday as you suggested.
Dr. Fuhrman: I agree with your doctor. Take LDL Protect, two twice daily, plus a Zetia 10 mg daily. If you can do the program 100%, you may not even need the Zetia eventually, but it might take a few years for your liver to reset its' cholesterol production.
Reply: Thank you so much for your quick reply. After hearing your reply I am feeling much better about things now. I was in the process of making an appointment with a cardiologist because I was so worried. I will stick with Eat to Live and try to follow it 100% from now on. My sister who has heart disease and has had multiple surgeries would like me to go to Dr. Oz for the new scan. Do you think I can wait for that until after my next blood work in three months?
Dr. Fuhrman: I usually do not recommend cardiologists and cardiac surgeons. When these patients come to me for a consultation I find that their problem is almost always reversible without the suggested intervention. The best thing she should do is set up a phone consultation or a visit with me, so I can go over the entire case and see what needs to be done to protect her from future problems.
NOTE: Visit the Vitamin Advisor for detailed recommendations on supplements.