Cholesterol, Triglycerides and Meniere’s Disease

This post was written by Mike on June 23, 2017
Posted Under: Meniere's Disease and Nutrition

By Mike Spencer

Founder of Menieres Help

Researcher and author of Managing Meniere’s Disease – How to Live Symptom Free and The Need for Balance – Dealing with the Causes of Meniere’s

The article below was originally posted in October 2009. This has been updated in June 2017.

triglycerides, cholesterol and menieres diseaseIs there any connection or relevance between cholesterol, trigycerides and Meniere’s Disease?

If you eat a high fat, high carbohydrate and/or a sugary diet cholesterol could be depositing plaque on your blood vessel walls. If this is the case, then your blood flow could be restricted. Poor blood flow in and around the ear is the very opposite to what you want. The ear needs a smooth flow of blood in and out of the ear or complications can occur. If you suffer from Meniere’s, then high cholesterol could be making things a lot worse for you.

High triglyceride counts may be significant for the same reason. Large numbers of people suffering from Meniere’s are found to have elevated cholesterol and triglyceride levels.  The deeper significance of this as a causal factor may be misleading in that the average diet and lifestyle in most industrialized countries now produces a population that will often have these elevated levels but not everyone suffers from Meniere’s.

In addition to this, most Meniere’s patients will be on diuretics such as hydrochlorothiazide. One side effect of these drugs can be an increase in triglycerides and low density lipoprotein (LDL) or ‘bad’ cholesterol.

On the other hand, as you will read in the last section of this article, high triglycerides may be a sign of other dysfunctions within the body that can indeed impact on the condition of a Meniere’s sufferer.

Regardless, plaque buildup can affect blood flow. Blood flow is very important. While build up of cholesterol can also trigger the immune system into an inflammatory response. Inflammation is a major reason for Meniere’s symptoms. See more on why inflammation is an important factor here.

The right nutrition to help the immune system fight inflammation and promote blood flow has produced the best results in reducing symptoms of Meniere’s. We have constantly seen all the evidence of this for 13 years. While the two most recent drugs to be lauded as treatments for Meniere’s, OTO-104 and SPI-1005  are aimed at ‘reducing inflammation.’ In addition to this, researchers at the University of Colorado claim they may have discovered a plan to “disable” Meniere’s Disease through ‘improving blood flow’.

So you have the choice of reducing inflammation and increasing blood flow naturally or by using drugs. Either way, whether you have Meniere’s or not, it is acknowledged by almost everyone now that reducing ‘bad’ cholesterol is a wise choice for your general health.

Here is an article on the effects of cholesterol and how to eat to prevent it:

Is There a Diet to Lower Cholesterol?

Health experts recommend a low cholesterol diet in order to lower or maintain cholesterol levels. Such a diet emphasizes an eating plan low in saturated fat and cholesterol. In most cases, this diet should meet the following criteria:

A diet to lower cholesterol involves:

Eating only enough calories to maintain a healthy weight
Increasing the amount of soluble fiber in your diet from sources such as oatmeal, kidney beans, and apples
Adding cholesterol-lowering foods to your diet, such as margarines containing plant stanols or plant sterols.

Nutrition Strategies for a Low Cholesterol Diet Plan
When considering a low cholesterol diet plan, there are two important factors to keep in mind:

Cholesterol is only found in animal-based foods, such as meats and dairy products
Certain fats have also been shown to increase cholesterol, regardless of whether they came from an animal.

Given these factors, you can lower cholesterol in your diet by:

Eating more foods with no cholesterol (plant-based products)
Cutting back on foods from animals
Decreasing saturated fat and trans fat.

Increasing Plant-Based Foods in a Low Cholesterol Diet
High cholesterol foods can raise blood cholesterol. Therefore, you should increase the amount of foods you eat that have no cholesterol. Foods that contain no cholesterol include:

Whole grains and legumes.

You should be eating at least three to five servings of fruits and vegetables each day as part of a low cholesterol diet. They are low in saturated fat and total fat, and have no cholesterol.

Breads, cereals, rice, pasta, and other grains, as well as dry beans and peas, are generally high in starch and fiber, and low in saturated fat and calories. They also have no dietary cholesterol, except for some bakery breads and sweet bread products made with high-fat, high-cholesterol milk, butter, and eggs. Like fruits and vegetables, naturally low-fat, low-cholesterol breads and other foods in this group are also good choices as part of a low cholesterol diet. You should be eating 6 to 11 servings of foods from this group each day.

If you have high triglycerides and/or low HDL, you should keep your carbohydrate intake below the maximum of 60 percent of total calories. You can choose a diet containing up to 35 percent fat, substituting unsaturated fat for saturated fat.

The following are some suggestions for incorporating plant-based foods into a low cholesterol diet:

Buy fruits and vegetables to eat as snacks, desserts, salads, side dishes, and main dishes.

Add a variety of vegetables to meat stews or casseroles, or make a vegetarian (meatless) main dish.

Wash and cut up raw vegetables (carrot, broccoli, cauliflower, lettuce, etc.) and store in the refrigerator for quick and easy use in cooking or snacking.

Serve fresh fruit (bananas, berries, melons, grapes, etc.) for dessert or freeze it for a delicious frozen treat.

Display fresh fruit in a bowl in the kitchen to make it easier to grab as a snack.

To keep naturally low-fat vegetables low in fat and saturated fat, season with herbs, spices, lemon juice, vinegar, and fat-free or low-fat mayonnaise or salad dressing.

Choose whole-grain breads and rolls more frequently. They have more fiber than white breads.

Buy dry cereals, most of which are low in fat. Limit the high-fat granola, muesli, and oat bran varieties that are made with coconut or coconut oil and nuts, which increases the saturated fat content.

Buy pasta and rice to use as entrées. Hold the high-fat sauces (butter, cheese, cream, white, etc.).

Limit sweet baked goods that are made with lots of saturated fat — mostly from butter, eggs, and whole milk — such as croissants, pastries, muffins, biscuits, butter rolls, and doughnuts. These are also high in cholesterol.

Cutting Back on Animal Products While Maintaining Protein in a Low Cholesterol Diet
As part of a diet to lower cholesterol, be sure to decrease the amount of animal products you eat. A lot of animal products are both high in cholesterol and saturated fats. Saturated fats actually raise blood cholesterol more than cholesterol itself. Foods high in cholesterol or saturated fat include:

Visibly fatty red meat
Processed meat (such as salami and bologna)
Organ meat
Other high-fat meats (such as sausage and bacon)
Egg yolks
Ice cream.

The following are some suggestions for cutting back on animal products while maintaining proteins as part of a low cholesterol diet:

To keep your blood cholesterol level low, choose only the leanest meats, poultry, fish, and shellfish

Try substituting skim (fat-free) or low-fat (1 percent) milk and cheese and low-fat or nonfat yogurt

Instead of butter, use liquid or soft margarine or vegetable oils that are low in saturated fat and contain little or no trans fat

Use egg whites (which have no cholesterol) instead of egg yolks

Use high-protein plant-based foods, such as soy, tofu, and edamame.

Reducing Saturated and Trans Fats in a Low Cholesterol Diet
As mentioned earlier, saturated fats are the main cause of increased cholesterol in a diet. Another type of fat, called trans fatty acid (trans fat), has also been shown to increase the level of LDL (“bad” cholesterol), although not as much as saturated fats. Trans fats also decrease HDL (the “good” cholesterol).

Trans fat is found in:

Vegetable shortening
Salad dressing
Baked goods
Fried foods
Many processed foods.

You can tell if a food contains trans fat by looking at the ingredient list on the food label. If the ingredient list includes the words “shortening,” “partially hydrogenated vegetable oil,” or “hydrogenated vegetable oil,” the food contains trans fat. Because ingredients are listed in descending order of predominance, smaller amounts are present when the ingredient is close to the end of the list. You can also tell if a food contains trans fat by looking under “fat” on the food label. Trans fat is often listed just after saturated fat.

Some suggestions for decreasing saturated fats and trans fat as part of a low cholesterol diet include:

Learn to read food labels. Food labels provide valuable information. An informed consumer is able to make better, heart-healthy food choices.

Substitute other types of fats. In order to maintain a low cholesterol diet, choose “good” fats high in monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, such as olive oil, canola oil, soybean oil, corn oil, peanut oil, and avocados.

Buy margarine made with unsaturated liquid vegetable oils (such oils should be at the top of the ingredients list). Choose soft tub or liquid margarine or vegetable oil spreads.

Limit butter, lard, fatback, and solid shortenings. They are high in saturated fat and cholesterol.

Buy light or nonfat mayonnaise and salad dressing instead of the regular varieties, which are high in fat. For example, two tablespoons of regular Italian dressing can add as many as 14 grams of fat.

Maintaining or Losing Weight on a Low Cholesterol Diet

People who are overweight usually have higher blood cholesterol levels than people at a healthy weight. When you reduce the fat in your diet, you cut down on the richest source of calories, as well as on saturated fat and cholesterol. An eating pattern high in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, low-fat or nonfat dairy products and a moderate amount of lean meat, skinless poultry, and fish is a good way to lose weight and improve your blood cholesterol.

Many people find lifelong changes, such as adhering to a low cholesterol diet, difficult to manage. It is important to remember that because you may not always stick with your new diet or exercise plan, you are not a failure; you’re just human. The most important part of your new healthy lifestyle is learning how to overcome these challenges and quickly return to your goal.


Plaque is a collection of excess cholesterol covered by a scar that is deposited on artery walls. In most cases, this buildup results after years of having high cholesterol. The largest buildups are most likely to cause angina. Small buildups of this substance are thought to be unstable and more likely to rupture, releasing their contents into the bloodstream, possibly causing a blood clot that may trigger a heart attack.

What Is Plaque?
When talking about cholesterol, it is helpful to understand plaque. The effect of plaque buildup in the arteries is the main cause of heart disease, heart attacks in people with high cholesterol and many other ‘health’ conditions.

How Does It Develop?
Cholesterol is a major ingredient in the plaque that builds up in the arteries.

Excess cholesterol is deposited on the artery walls as it travels through the bloodstream. Then, special cells in the artery wall gobble up this excess cholesterol, creating a “bump” in the artery wall. This cholesterol-rich “bump” then is covered by a scar that produces a hard coat or shell over the cholesterol and cell mixture. It is this collection of cholesterol covered by a scar that is called plaque. The buildup of plaque is known as atherosclerosis

Impact of Plaque

The plaque buildup narrows the space in the coronary arteries through which blood can flow, decreasing the supply of oxygen and nutrients to the heart. If not enough oxygen-carrying blood can pass through the narrowed arteries to reach the heart muscle, the heart may respond with a pain called angina. The pain is often felt during exercise, when the heart needs more oxygen. It is typically felt in the chest or sometimes in other places, like the left arm and shoulder. This same inadequate blood supply, however, may cause no symptoms.

This plaque buildup does not occur over days, weeks, or months. Plaque buildup, in most cases, occurs over many years. If the heart is not receiving oxygen and nutrients, therefore not functioning as it should, then blood flow throughout the body will not be as it should. If there is a constriction in the veins and capillaries in and around the ear for some other reason then the added burden of plaque both in the coronary arteries and elsewhere will only compound the problem.

Reducing Plaque Buildup

Lowering cholesterol levels can slow, stop, or even reverse the buildup of plaque. This can reduce your risk of a heart attack by lowering the cholesterol content in unstable plaque, making it more stable and less prone to rupture. This is why lowering your LDL cholesterol is such an important part of reducing your risk of a heart attack. In the bigger picture, the same may go for reducing the risk of increased Menieres symptoms or even eliminating your symptoms, depending on your root cause.

To reduce your triglyceride levels, limit high starch foods, reduce or cut bad fats, reduce sugar intake, limit alcohol intake, limit fructose, eat omega 3 rich foods such as fish and nuts and limit refined carbohydrates such as white bread.

In fact one of the most commonly overlooked causes of high triglyceride levels is too many carbohydrates, especially in heavily refined foods. If your triglyceride levels are elevated, it can likely represents a severe abnormality of insulin balance in your body.

This is important in more ways than one. It is known that insulin in diabetics creates a sodium retaining effect. Insulin is involved in the regulation of both sodium and potassium. Both relevant to inner ear function.

So this takes us way beyond simply worrying about cholesterol. Now we are concerned with metabolism, glucose and insulin. A study published in The International Tinnitus Journal and PubMed in 2005 ‘Glucose and insulin profiles and their correlations in Ménière’s disease.’  highlighted this fact.


“This study investigated carbohydrate metabolism characteristics in 64 patients with typical Ménière’s disease. We demonstrated that 72% of them had some variable degree of hyperinsulinemia as shown by their plasma insulin curves, whereas alterations on the glucose curve (reactive hypoglycemia or hyperglycemia) were found for only 21%. More advanced hyperinsulinemic conditions (i.e., glucose intolerance or diabetes mellitus) were usually associated with changes in lipid profiles and with a central pattern of fat distribution and systemic hypertension.”

In an earlier study it was found that:

67.7% of our patients showed some abnormality in the relationship between the blood levels of glucose and insulin.”

You can read about Metabolism and Meniere’s here

Sugars not metabolized into energy within the body are stored as fats. Unused fats are stored as fats. Carbohydrates turn to sugars, the sugar not used is stored as fat. Highly refined carbohydrates give a sugar rush to the body and cause insulin irregularities. Insulin irregularities can cause sodium and potassium level irregularities.

You can see how everything is connected within the body and how seemingly unrelated issues can either result in Meniere’s symptoms or influence in some way what is happening within your ear.

Good blood flow is important to prevent Meniere’s symptoms. Anything affecting this is most likely affecting your Meniere’s condition. Anything that triggers inflammation is most likely affecting your Meniere’s condition and anything that is causing imbalances in the regulation of the electrolytes sodium and potassium and metabolism is most likely affecting your Meniere’s condition.

The root causes and triggers of any health condition can often be found elsewhere in the body.

What can you take away from this? Quite simply a good balanced diet, high in nutritious whole foods and very low on health damaging processed foods is not just some fanciful idea or a passing fad. It is essential for both overall health and to the Meniere’s sufferer specifically.

Related articles:

How to Overcome Meniere’s Disease

Is Autoimmunity the Cause of Meniere’s Disease?

Food Allergies and Meniere’s Disease



Overcoming Meniere's

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