The Cholesterol Myth – Part One – Why your body needs cholesterol.

I often get emails from readers of my books about the basic key indicators that are essential to keep us alive and healthy – These are LDL Cholesterol levels – Blood Pressure and Blood Sugar Levels… So over the next few weeks I will be covering these three in more detail.

I respect and manage my cholesterol levels because without it there are certain vital functions in my body that would not happen. I am rather attached to my steroidal hormones including the sterol Vitamin D (thinks it’s a hormone) that keeps me happy in the winter and free of colds and flu and my bones strong by regulating calcium in my blood and others such as cortisol, there when I need it and DHEA, very important for my bone density now I am in my 60’s as well as helping keeping me young and remembering what happened yesterday.

I was grateful for my progesterone in my younger days that kept my periods more or less regular and for the oestrogens that developed me into the woman I was and remain today. I am also hoping that my cholesterol, which is very important for my eyesight will prevent me from developing cataracts in my 70’s and 80’s. Developing Dementia and keeping me active until a ripe old age.

elderly client

Sound flippant? A little yes, but not so flippant as the suggestion that everyone over the age of 50, whatever their current cholesterol readings should be given Statins or other cholesterol lowering drugs. My feeling is that the NHS has given up trying to educate its clients into adopting a healthier diet and exercising more and is going with the mass medication option because they say it will prevent cardiovascular disease and dementia down the line. Quite frankly, they are terrified – they have an aging population- who are going to be more likely to develop heart disease, cancer, and dementia simply because the natural process is deterioration. However, without the protection of healthy forms of cholesterol many functions in the body are compromised including brain health and our sex drive.

What is ‘flippantly’ ignored is that cholesterol is not some demon substance that has invaded our bodies and is rampaging out of control through our blood stream, but essential to our fundamental health and wellbeing. There are a number of people who are genetically prone to cholesterol health issues and of course then medication may be the right decision but it should never be something that is given to all.

There are some lifestyle and dietary changes that we can all make to make sure that the cholesterol in our bodies is getting on with its job and not causing us health problems but before I move onto the solutions, I would like to spend a little exploring the reasons for the interactions that are taking place and resulting in clogged arteries.

gnet.org

I admit that I do use the term lousy cholesterol for low density lipoprotein – because this is the one that can get contaminated and cause health problems. Although when talking about cholesterol we refer to high density lipoprotein and very low density lipoproteins (not usually in substantial amounts) as well, they are all the same molecularly but have different packaging to be transported in the blood stream.

HDL and LDL sub divide into different types of lipoproteins and at the moment more is still to be discovered about this. The LDL is associated with the plaque that forms in the arteries leading to blockages – the smaller the size of the LDL particles the more you are likely to develop coronary disease than if the particles are larger and less dense. There is a theory that if the walls of the arteries are damaged in any way, the smaller and denser particles of the LDL can push their way through that break in the tissue and start clumping together to form the plaque whilst the larger HDL particles would not gain purchase.

In essence then, whilst the LDL cholesterol does have a role in the body there are strong indications that if there is already weakness in the artery it will attract the smaller particles that will then clump forming the harmful plaque leading to coronary disease. There is another problem with LDL cholesterol which is oxidation – this is where the particles react with free radicals, produced through a number of activities including smoking and eating a diet high in white fat as found in processed foods, crisps, pastries and cookies.

In my next post I am going to focus on what happens when that oxidation of LDL takes place and why the HDL is accepted as the healthier cholesterol. For the rest of the series I will look at some strategies to get the LDL levels down, raise the HDL and make sure that all of us do not end up on Statins without a libido!

Photo by Gnet.org

©SallyCronin – Forget the Viagra Pass me a Carrot 2013

 

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21 thoughts on “The Cholesterol Myth – Part One – Why your body needs cholesterol.

  1. Pingback: The Cholesterol Myth – Part One – Why your body needs cholesterol. | Smorgasbord – Variety is the spice of life

  2. I’m so glad someone finally has the common sense to dispel the cholesterol myth – that it’s some sort of inherently evil monster that invades our bodies through eating meat. Both my mother and mother-in-law are on a dietary crusade to lower their cholesterol under 150. They have completely eliminated any fats, diary products, oil and meat from their diet. In my mind, that’s disastrous, but they just won’t listen to me…

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    • Glad you found interesting Nicholas – perhaps when I have finished the posts by next week you could steer them across…. In my research for my men’s health book it was clear to me that statins did have an impact on impotence due to the severe reduction in cholesterol with long term use. Certainly there is probaly a benefit in taking cholesterol lowerind drugs in extreme cases but some simple dietary changes can do that in six weeks. I put my clients on this six week programme and they eat healthy fats such as olive oil, avocados some good quality sunflower, seeds and nuts with lean protein and both their Blood Pressure and Cholesterol levels were much improved. Fats are essential to nearly all the major organ functions including the brain and certainly are vital for keeping age at bay.. unfortunately I have found that unless you have an MD after your name such claims are not taken seriously -but I do keep trying.

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      • That’s why I’m so frustrated with these two women. Influenced by the media, they have banned whole groups of foods from their diet. My argument that this can’t possibly be healthy falls on deaf ears… Thanks for doing something about it!

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  3. I couldn’t agree with you more. My husband takes, without question, anything his doctor throws at him. Has expensive tests for trivial reasons. The cholesterol thing has always bugged me. As a nurse, I fully understand how they work, but I also know they are prescribed indiscriminately. It’s refreshing to see another take. Cholesterol has a purpose. I don’t believe it’s the boogeyman people make it out to be.

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    • Glad you agree and thanks for taking the time to comment. The human body has been around in its various formats for hundreds of thousands of years. There is very little in the body that is not there for a purpose… somethings might have shrunk when no longer required like our tail bone but it is still there. It worries me when doctors say you can live without a certain part of your body but in my experience there is usually a knock on effect. Part of it is arrogance that we actually understand all there is to know about our mind and body.. I think the fact that new discoveries and changes in recommendations on such a frequent basis would disprove that. I am all for treatments when necessary and some of those are marvels indeed but the vast majority of disease is lifestyle related and often a matter of choice. Taking responsibility for ones health is essential and then when the worst happens you have a fighting chance of recovery.. removing cholesterol from the equation is not part of the formula for survival.. I will be working my way through the key indicators including BP and Blood Sugar in coming weeks… thanks again

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  4. Shock, Horror. No Warning of what was coming. I had to put my hands over my eyes to read about ‘ladies problems’ back there.
    I understand in Australia and I think somewhere like Hong Kong thy don’t prescribe statins unless they prescribe co-enzyme Q10 which is taken out of the body by statins. My Brother in Law’s doctor read the research and followed suit but despite printing the info off my doctor won’t prescribe it. I had to buy it myself and it isn’t cheap. I’m sure statins bring your cholesterol levels down to an acceptable figure but long term use can’t be healthy.
    As for it making you impotent, I bought a new suit to show how impotent I am.
    xxx Massive Hugs xxx

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    • Ah well the shock and horror gave you the opportunity for a little exercise. Yes Q10 is important when taking statins particularly long term but after six weeks of a change in diet including healthy fats neither the Statins nor the Q10 should be needed- although I take Q10 periodically as I find it helps maintain my energy levels and immune system… anyway will try not to shock too much next time and so pleased that your new suit fits well…..hugs XX

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  5. Sally, clear and concise read on a controversial subject. Some people have hereditary cholesterol problems linked with other medical illnesses. No matter, the overall health picture can be improved with as you say healthy food choices, and add moderate exercise. Many times hard for some to stick to a plan to see results. That’s where your lifestyle coaching comes in! I always think of the emotional component to “food” though! The emotional, social, TV food commercial triggers, eater has more trouble. Look forward to your next health related posts! Christine

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    • I have one or two friends who require statins due their liver function and it is marvellous that there is the medication available to deal with conditions that cannot be managed any other way. 20 years ago when I began to analyse why I was 330lbs it became apparent that I needed to manage the emotional, physical and mental aspects of obesity to lose the weight and keep it off… combined they are very strong. Hope you find the rest of the series follows that formula… thanks for the support Christine.. Sally

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