Table of Contents
Cholesterol, Triglycerides and Meniere’s Disease
It is said that 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 disease, could high cholesterol be making things a lot worse for you?
It must be remembered that not all cholesterol is bad. The brain is the most cholesterol dense organ in the body. Your brain accounts for 2% of your body weight yet contains 20% of your body weight. Moreover, there is no conclusive evidence that proves dietary cholesterol through dairy products changes the amount of cholesterol in the blood stream.
High triglyceride counts may be significant for the same reason as cholesterol. 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 may 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.
For 50 years doctors have been telling patients that eggs increased cholesterol, but an extensive study published in JAMA ( Journal for the American medical association) in 2014 showed that it turns out that advice was wrong and that excess sugar in fact is much worse for cholesterol. The study highlighted soda as one of the biggest culprits.
Regardless, if there is plaque buildup, this 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.
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 that we have seen. 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 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. How we do that is the debate.
Is Cholesterol relevant in Meniere’s Disease?
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 represent 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 may either result in Meniere’s symptoms or at least 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 not in the actual organ affected but rather 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 can be life changing to the Meniere’s sufferer.
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By Mike Spencer
Founder of Menieres Help
Researcher and author of Managing Meniere’s Disease and The Need for Balance – Dealing with the Causes of Meniere’s
Help other Meniere’s sufferers. Tell us all about your experiences with cholesterol and Meniere’s. Use the comments boxes below or email Mike at firstname.lastname@example.org