Cholesterol has received a bad rap, but it truly is our friend. Cholesterol aids in manufacturing many essential hormones such as:
*cortisol and cortisone — our natural steroid and anti-inflammatory hormones;
*progesterone, testosterone and estrogen — our sex hormones that are essential to the cycles of life;
*DHEA and Vitamin D — protect our bones and build our immune system; and
*Aldosterone — produces cholesterol — to regulate the salt and water content in our bodies.
Free Doesn’t Always Mean Free!+ Free radicals are molecules that have an unpaired electron and are highly reactive. This molecule becomes physically unstable and will attack the nearest stable molecule to steal back the electron it is missing. If left unchecked, this process sets into motion a chain reaction, and free radicals will damage all components of the cell, including proteins, lipids and DNA. As we age this process becomes more invasive.
The Mitochondria+ is the powerhouse of the cell; it is under constant attack from free radical damage (toxins, pollution, smoking, heavy exercise, substance abuse, and poor diets). Cholesterol is a powerful antioxidant and plays a critical role in reducing oxidative damage to the cells of our bodies. Antioxidants are molecules that can break the free radical chain reaction and curtail the damaging effects of free radical behavior and oxidative stress.
A good portion of bile is cholesterol, which contributes to our ability to digest fats properly and carry fat-soluble toxins out of the body. The fat (myelin) which surrounds the nerves is cholesterol.
It has been found that people with high cholesterol levels live longer. When the body has excessively low levels of cholesterol, the body gets damaged. A level of 272 is ideal for an elderly woman.
Some myths about cholesterol:
1) Cholesterol Causes Heart Disease FALSE. High cholesterol levels do not cause heart disease, heart attacks, or vascular disease. Just as many victims of heart attacks have total cholesterol levels below 200 as those with levels above 200.
2) Eating Fat and High Cholesterol Foods Increases Cholesterol Levels. FALSE. Your cholesterol level is mostly dictated by your body. The more fat you eat, the less cholesterol your liver makes. If you eat less fat, the more cholesterol your liver makes. A noticeable reduction in fat may interfere with your body’s ability to absorb fat-soluble vitamins, A, D, E, and K.
3) Statins Reduce the Risk of Heart Disease Because They Lower Cholesterol. FALSE. There is no benefit from lower cholesterol levels — there is harm at lower levels, so there is no reason to take medications that lower cholesterol levels. Statin drugs are manufactured and prescribed in epidemic proportions. They do nothing to help with cardiovascular disease, vascular disease, or inflammation. They are simply a multibillion-dollar business for pharmaceutical companies to keep endorsing statin drugs. Statin drugs are not helpful–they are harmful!
What Really is at the Core of Vascular Disease? Inflammation!
*Wear and tear on the interior of the blood vessel walls;
*Inflammatory triggers; and
*Blood flow stress.
Vascular disease is a direct result of our Western Industrialized Lifestyle of poor nutrition, exposure to toxins, and lack of exercise.
What to do to Prevent Vascular Disease?
1. Avoid inflammatory triggers — sugars, trans fatty acids and hydrogenated oils, caffeine, aspartame (avoid processed foods)
2. Eat at least 5 servings of vegetables daily to replace processed foods, such as, spinach, asparagus, broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, collard, kale, garlic, onions, and avocados. Vegetables will give you energy.
3. Eat 3 to 4 servings of fruit that are high in antioxidants, i.e. blueberries, raspberries, strawberries, boysenberries, limes, lemons, kiwi, and papaya.
4. Limit meat consumption; eat whole grains, legumes, beans, and eggs for protein and building muscles.
5. If you want to get the specifics for your conditions or concerns, contact us to arrange for a computerized evaluation.
6. Nutrition and exercise complement each other. Moderate exercise has an overall positive effect on the overall reduction of risk factors leading to vascular disease.
Excerpts for this post: Gardner, Stan M., M.D., “Cholesterol–Friend or Foe?”, Utah’s Senior Review, Utah County Edition: Volume 4 Number 2, February 2011.