Statins are cholesterol-lowering drugs, designed for controlling cholesterol levels. If your LDL level is high, statins may be prescribed by doctors to reduce your long-term risk of heart disease, heart attack or stroke.
They are different types of statins that are fungal-derived or synthetically produced. The most common statins that are approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) including:
Pitavastatin (Livalo, Zypitamag)
Rosuvastatin (Crestor, Ezallor)
Statins may lower cholesterol, but this doesn’t mean that they are completely safe. They may be not good for your health or have side effects. The good news is, you don’t have to depend on statins life-long. Because there are different treatment options for high cholesterol, including natural statins (natural cholesterol-lowering alternatives) and healthy lifestyle changes.
First of all, you need to know your total cholesterol numbers to find out if you need to lower your cholesterol level through statins or any natural alternatives. Total cholesterol includes LDL(bad) and HDL(good) cholesterol. If your LDL is above 190 mg/dL, you should consider taking an action to lower your LDL levels.
How Do Statins Work?
Statins basically block the liver enzyme called HMG CoA Reductase that produces cholesterol. This way, the total cholesterol level in the blood gets reduced. So, your body reaches a healthy level of cholesterol and continues to absorb vitamin D, make testosterone and estrogen hormones and provide better digestion. Statins may reduce LDL cholesterol in the blood by around 30% to 50%.
Still, long-time statin usage is not recommended as they have side effects that vary from mild to strong.
Side Effects: Why Should You Stop Taking Statins?
Even though statins have benefits, they are limited and come with side effects. Mild side effects of statins (example: repatha, vascepa and lovastatin side effects) may disappear after the body adapts to these drugs. Common mild side effects include:
- Digestive problems such as constipation and diarrhea
- Skin problems such as acne and rash
- Muscle pain, weakness, soreness, cramps and stiffness
- Dizziness and tiredness
- Sleeping difficulty
- Nausea and vomiting
- Symptoms of the flu and common cold
- Runny nose and sore throat
Strong side effects are often associated with taking other medications with statins or having other health conditions. They can cause complications in the long term. Strong side effects of statins include:
- Loss of sensation in the nerve endings of the hands and feet
- Increase in blood sugar levels
- Severe stomach pain
- Loss of sex drive and sexual dysfunction
- Inflammation of muscles that may lead to permanent muscle damage
- Inflammation of the liver that may lead to permanent liver damage
- Inflammation of the pancreas that may lead to pancreatitis
Although statins are prescribed by doctors, there is no internationally accepted fact about which statin works the best, what is the ideal dosage, how long they should be taken or any type of statin that has no side effects. To avoid possible damages that long-time statin usage can bring, it is essential to find natural ways to reduce cholesterol levels without medication.
How to Reduce Cholesterol Without Medication?
To reduce cholesterol without taking medication, it is important to know what are the factors that can increase the risk of bad cholesterol. Except age and genetics, factors include being overweight, smoking, sedentary lifestyle, unhealthy eating habits and consuming alcohol.
Losing excess weight, optimizing eating habits with healthier ones, quitting smoking, living an active lifestyle and reducing alcohol consumption will help reduce bad cholesterol levels and the risk of cholesterol-based health complications.
Read: How to Increase HDL Cholesterol in 6 Steps
Natural Statins and Cholesterol-Lowering Alternatives
There are some ‘natural statins’ that might be helpful to lower cholesterol. They are natural, cholesterol-lowering alternatives that you can add to your diet or take as a supplement.
Food that is high in soluble fiber, antioxidants work and omega 3 works in the body as natural statins:
- Antioxidant vegetables such as garlic and onion
- Healthy fats such as olive oil, fish oil, avocado oil
- Fiber-rich grains such as oat and barley
- Fibers such as beta-sitosterol and blond psyllium,
- Tropical fruits such as mango, avocado and guava
Even if you take statins or cholesterol-lowering supplements, a healthy lifestyle is essential to maintain healthy cholesterol levels. Always ask your doctor before you quit statins or any cholesterol-lowering medication.