CHOLESTEROL & THE HEART DISEASE MYTH
You’ve just received your blood test results and your doctor says “Looks like your cholesterol is above 200, we should start you on a statin medication right away.” That scenario plays out thousands of times each day in medical offices across the country. Doctors prescribe stains as a matter of course based on the “magic” number of 200 mg/dL, most of the time without considering the beneficial roles that cholesterol plays in the body with regard to normal biochemistry, metabolism, and physiology. Years ago, 300 mg/dL was the magic number. Anyone over 50 should have a cholesterol above 200 in my opinion, it is important for good brain, nervous system, immune system and cardiovascular health. I am ok with cholesterol levels between 180-240 for my patients as long as the inflammatory markers are low or normal. Cholesterol levels below 150 mg dL make me concerned about auto-immune conditions and cancer especially if someone is not taking a statin. In fact, I think most doctors have forgotten about biochemistry 101 when it comes to the “evil” cholesterol in the body.
WHAT IS CHOLESTEROL & WHY DO WE NEED IT?
Cholesterol is a waxy substance found as a component of most fats. 85% of the cholesterol measured on your blood test is actually produced by your liver, while the remaining 15% is from food sources. Statins work by making your liver sick so the production of cholesterol is significantly reduced. They do this by blocking an enzyme, HMG CoA reductase. Statins are also anti-inflammatory but have many side effects including muscle and joint aches, depression, anxiety and a reduction of CoQ10. However, cholesterol is a natural substance that is part of every cell membrane in the body that stops your cells from leaking. A leak anywhere is usually not a good thing, especially in the body. Your brain is approximately 80% fat and 25% of the 80% is cholesterol. Say thank you, if someone calls you a fat head, it means you should have good brain function.
Cholesterol is actually an anti-oxidant that protects and repairs the damage done from inflammation and oxidation especially to your arteries. Free radicals damage your blood vessels and cause microscopic tears and leaks, while the best substance to repair the damage is cholesterol. If your cholesterol level is rising and you are getting plaque in the blood vessels it essentially means that you have too much inflammation, not too much cholesterol. Stated plainly, cholesterol is NOT the cause of heart disease! The driving factors behind heart disease and inflammation are synthetic trans fats, polyunsaturated fats like canola, vegetable, corn oil, sugar, processed foods, processed grains and of course smoking.
There are blood tests that should be done to measure your level of inflammation in addition to just relying on the cholesterol level to determine cardiovascular health. These tests that we routinely run are homocysteine (a toxic amino acid), hs CRP, fibrinogen, ESR, and insulin. All of them are inflammatory markers that may also be indicators as risk factors for cardiovascular disease, Alzheimer’s Disease and dementia. Additionally, cholesterol is the precursor to hormone production in the body including the sex hormones. Yes, your sex drive is dependent on having adequate cholesterol levels as is your body’s production of Vitamin D.
Over the past 40+ years the government and doctors in general have mistakenly been promoting a no fat or low-fat diet as a way to prevent heart disease and promote cardiovascular health. This has been a huge mistake and was based on false information and seriously flawed fake research studies. Eating a no or low-fat diet actually damages the lining of your blood vessels. Picture taking a stiff brush and brushing your skin repeatedly over and over for many hours a day, every day. Soon your skin will become red, raw and bleeding. This is essentially what happens to your blood vessels by eating no or low-fat. People however, listened, bought the ticket and got on board to this no fat train, they got rid of the fats in their diet added lots of carbs and as a consequence we now have an epidemic of overweight, diabetic, heart disease patients and a huge increase in Alzheimer’s and dementia.
It is time to get off the no or low fat, cholesterol causes heart disease train. Taking it to the end station will not result in better health. Healthy fats such as omega 3 fats from wild caught salmon, mackerel, anchovies, herring, sardines (smash), extra virgin olive oil, coconut oil, avocado oil, macadamia nut oil and raw nuts and seeds are much better choices to use to help you body reduce inflammation, prevent plaquing and heal injuries caused by free radicals.
If you are concerned about cholesterol and do not want to take dangerous statin drugs give our office a call to discuss your particular health concerns.
Natural Medicine Institute
11834 CR 101
The Villages, FL