Cork GP Dr Clióna Murphy developed her natural cholesterol-lowering supplement, Cholestero-Low, to help patients struggling to look after their health

In partnership with Cholestero-Low

 

Dr Clióna Murphy set up her health supplement company after working as GP and spotting a gap in her patients’ needs. Her first product, Cholestero-Low, is a natural cholesterol-lowering heart and gut supplement.

Background

Dr Clióna grew up in Macroom, Co Cork, where she lived above her parents’ business – her dad ran a pharmacy and her mum ran a jewellery shop, where she helped out during summers and at weekends. After school, she pursued medicine at NUI Galway before training as a GP.

While she was training a junior doctor, she recognised that her habits were not the healthiest – by trying to juggle long hours and training, a healthy diet and exercise fell down on her list of priorities, while working hard and socialising went up. Like many of us, as she got older she came to realise the benefits of a healthy diet and became interested in lifestyle as a means to maintain health. For Dr Clióna, having a regular sleeping pattern, practising yoga and mindfulness are paramount to the maintenance of her own health.

Checking in

From listening to her patients as a GP, Dr Clióna noticed one of the recurring questions she got was asking about how to lower cholesterol. When cholesterol is raised, moderating diet and lifestyle is the first line of treatment. So doctors ask people to come back and recheck cholesterol in three to six months, depending.

In the United States, cholesterol is checked from when you’re in your 20s onwards, whereas in Ireland and the UK, it is routinely checked from age 40 onwards. The issue then is that changing your lifestyle at a later age can be a bit more difficult. If high cholesterol is noted earlier we can change our habits and moderate our diet at an earlier age to prevent ourselves from being exposed to high cholesterol for longer periods of time.

Some people can get their cholesterol down with diet but others struggle, and they often ask is there anything that can be taken over the counter/off the shelf to lower cholesterol. It became obvious to Dr Clióna there was a need for something extra, in addition to diet, to lower cholesterol and improve heart health in a prescription-free manner.

Innovative new product

After completing a Masters in Public Health Dr Clióna decided to pursue this need and set up a company, ivitaminsTM Ltd, to develop ‘Supplements with a Purpose’.  Her company’s first supplement is Cholestero-Low, which is a cholesterol-lowering heart and gut supplement.

The main ingredient, oat beta-glucan, is approved by the EFSA to lower cholesterol and stabilise blood sugars which is beneficial in preventing diabetes. It also contains Co-enzyme Q10 for heart health and energy and inulin a prebiotic which is great for gut health.

Cholestero-LowTM comes in a box with 30 sachets (€49.99), which can be added to water to make a drink or added to cereal or smoothies. There are two flavours, strawberry and lemon. Available on cholesterolow.ie, McCauley’s Pharmacies nationwide, Meaghers Pharmacies, Healthwise
pharmacies and some independent pharmacies.

Healthy habits

In terms of lifestyle advice, Dr Murphy encourages decreasing certain foods and increasing others. Foods to be aware of and cut down on are processed meats and processed foods. Watch out for palm oil in processed biscuits, soups, etc, as they are heavily saturated fats. Trans fats or ‘partially hydrogenated’ fats in foods are ones to avoid, and alcohol and cigarettes also push up cholesterol.

The Mediterranean-style diet is not only delicious, but also the most scientifically sound in terms of heart health, brain health and long healthy living. Some good foods to include are:

  • Fresh fruits and vegetables – the more varied and coloured the better as these different colours contain varying phytochemicals and vitamins that are great for our body
  • Healthy fats, such as extra virgin olive oil, avocados and olives
  • Fibre in the form of grains, oats, legumes, herbs
  • Spices
  • Oily fish

As well as these great foods, Dr Murphy recommends developing cooking and meal times as a social, enjoyable activity with a glass of red wine, rather than cooking in a rush and eating in a rush whilst staring at our phones!

What are the indicators?

  • Normal cholesterol levels: Total cholesterol should be less than 5 mm/L
  • Bad cholesterol is known as LDL, and this should be less than 3 mmol/L
  • Triglycerides should be less than 2 mmol/L
  • Good cholesterol also known as HDL should be greater than 1 mmol/L