Heart disease is the biggest killer in Ireland. And high cholesterol is one of the main risk factors. But you can help yourself says Cork GP Dr Cliona Murphy who has developed a heart health supplement that lowers cholesterol naturally.
Dr. Murphy, massive congratulations on the launch of your new heart health supplement Cholestero-Low, which lowers cholesterol naturally and helps users lead longer, healthier and best of all, prescription-free lives. Tell us please a little about how this new product works.
Cholestero-Low, which is independently tested and verified, contains all-natural ingredients and is proven to be a cholesterol lowering heart and gut healthy supplement. Co-enzyme Q10 is added for heart health and energy and inulin is a prebiotic, which is great for your gut and encourages the reduction of cholesterol.
What about the amazing oat fibre beta glucan which is approved by the European Food Safety Authority as a cholesterol lowering supplement, how does it functions and what does it do to the body?
Oat beta-glucan forms a viscous layer in the gut and prevents the uptake of cholesterol from the diet. It lowers total cholesterol and LDL or bad cholesterol. Furthermore, it stabilises blood sugars and results in a feeling of fullness that can lead to weight loss! It’s great for the gut as it’s a prebiotic feeding the good bacteria and can help you stay regular!
What prompted you to bring this product to market and how many years of research and development has it taken to get it to shelf?
Not everyone wants or needs to take medication. Irish people have always been interested in using our diet, or supplements to maintain our health and prevent illness. From practising as a GP and listening to patients, I realised there was a need to develop an effective prescription free solution for high cholesterol. It was developed with patients, myself included, in mind. I wanted the supplement to have a purpose. Therefore, to lower cholesterol and improve heart health. I started researching and developing Cholestero-Low at the commencement of a Masters in Public Health in 2017 and have been working on it since.
A new study published in medical journal The Lancet encourages earlier cholesterol screening to reduce the risk of developing cardiovascular issues including stroke and heart disease later in life. Would you agree?
I agree wholeheartedly. The earlier we know about these risk factors, the sooner we can make dietary or lifestyle changes. We all know our height and weight for example, but do we know our cholesterol and blood pressure? By reducing our cholesterol at a younger age, we are reducing the duration of time that we are exposed to risk factors that are detrimental to heart health. For example, someone who takes steps to lower their cholesterol at 25 years old, will have 10 years fewer of plaque formation in their arteries, versus somebody who takes these steps at 35 years old, thereby reducing their risk of heart attack and stroke.
But with so many supplements on the market nowadays it’s hard to know what to take…
I agree and that’s why I firmly believe that a person’s choice of supplement should be evidence-based (or have scientific merit). That’s the aim of ivitamins LTD, supplements with a purpose.
Coming from a family of pharmacists your family must be very proud seeing your hard work come to fruition?
Yes, I grew up working in the family pharmacy. It’s very humbling to see it on the shelves. But what I am most proud of is that Cholestero-Low is working and is effective. Peoples’ cholesterol has been coming down, their heart health is improving and that’s what makes me most proud.
How do you manage your own heart health Dr Murphy?
My own cholesterol was up so I started taking Cholestero-Low and made some dietary changes. I started taking Cholestero-Low which reduced my cholesterol by over 10% in 3 weeks, I was cutting corners diet-wise in the lead up to the launch of the product due to time pressure, but thankfully due to some dietary changes and taking Cholestero-low, my cholesterol returned to normal. My blood pressure is normal. I also practise yoga most days and try to follow a Mediterranean type diet as much as I can. I limit the amount of meat I eat, lots of fresh vegetables and fruit.
Cholesterol fact and fiction!
A type of fat that is essential in our body. It is used to make certain hormones and Vitamin D. It is produced in our liver, and we also get a certain amount (or large amount) from our diet. Cholesterol is transported around our body in a number of transporters. The main ones are the LDL and the HDL.
Cholesterol can increase your risk of heart disease, but why?
Too much cholesterol can build up on the arteries that supply blood to our organs especially the heart and brain. It can form plaques in these arteries. This can result in limiting the blocking of the arteries and lead to heart attacks and strokes. But we all need cholesterol in our blood, right? Yes, it is when the level is too high that we need to make changes to our diet, lifestyle, considering supplementing, or potentially take medication.
LDL is the bad one, why?
LDL, or Low Density Lipoproteins are known as the bad ones because they transport cholesterol to the peripheral tissues. LDL contains a large proportion of cholesterol. If our LDL is bringing too much cholesterol out to peripheral tissues, it can build up on artery walls, in particular in the arteries around the heart, the coronary arteries.
HDL is the good one, why also?
It helps remove cholesterol from your cells and returns it to the liver which removes it from the body.
How much of both should we have?
Total Cholesterol should be between 3.5-5 mmol/L Our LDL should be no more than 3 mmol/L HDL should be greater than 1 mmol/L.
Will Cholestero-Low help those with inherited high cholesterol?
Yes, but its important to take this question in context. For example, your parents might have had high cholesterol and now you do. And so there may be a certain genetic predisposition to having high cholesterol, that element of predisposition is out of your control. That doesn’t mean you can’t change your cholesterol. What you can control is your lifestyle, what you eat, your stress levels, and the amount of exercise you get. This can lower your cholesterol, despite the fact that you may be predisposed or that you may consider it genetic. These lifestyle and dietary changes may not work for everyone for a variety of reasons. The obvious one being that there are certain hereditary conditions such as Familial Hypercholesterolemia whereby medication is needed almost straight away.
What foods should we be steering away form for best heart health?
- Try and follow the skeleton of a Mediterranean diet – oats (CholesteroLow!!), fresh fruits, vegetables, fish, extra virgin olive oil, almonds etc
- Avoid saturated sats, hydrogenated fats.
- If weight is an issue, continue on a healthy weight loss journey (most of us have to keep trying at this!)
- Get as much exercise as you can, every bit of exercise helps.
- Try and manage stress levels, plenty of apps out there for mediations etc.
- Smoking is an obvious one to avoid.
- Frequent excessive alcohol will push up your cholesterol.