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The Real Story
Everyone "knows" that high cholesterol "causes" heart disease. TV ads warn us that "diet and exercise may not be enough and drugs are increasingly prescribed to reduce cholesterol levels. You may think you know what the problem of cholesterol is all about, but before you read any further, test your knowledge of the subject by taking this Short Cholesterol Quiz:
1. The lower your cholesterol, the healthier you will be.
2. A healthy range of cholesterol is 0-200.
3. Cholesterol helps protect against environmental toxins.
4. Cholesterol less than 150 significantly reduces your risk of heart disease.
5. The use of statin drugs has lowered the incidence of heart disease.
6. Oxidative stress and inflammation are the root cause of elevated LDL.
7. Your risk of death is two times higher with low cholesterol than it is with high cholesterol.
8. High insulin levels are a greater risk factor for cardiovascular disease than high cholesterol.
9. The optimal cholesterol level is 225.
10. Cholesterol is a stand alone test that can be used to determine health and disease. (Answers at the end)
Cholesterol belongs to a group of compounds called sterols. It is, by far, the most abundant sterol in the human body. While there is cholesterol present in some of the foods we eat, cholesterol is also manufactured in the liver. Dietary cholesterol is called exogenous cholesterol and the cholesterol made in the body is called endogenous cholesterol. Most of the cholesterol in the body is manufactured in the liver, but every cell is capable of making this substance.
Cholesterol has several important functions in the body. The most important function is in the formation of cholic acid which is used to make bile salts. Bile salts are used to emulsify and digest fat. At least 60% and as much as 80% of the body's cholesterol is used for this purpose. The second most important use of cholesterol is in the production of adrenal and reproductive hormones. Cholesterol is the basic building block for DHEA, pregnenalone, progesterone, testosterone, estrogen, aldosterone and cortisol.
An important use for cholesterol is in the skin. Along with other lipids, it helps to make the skin water tight and impervious to various substances that might otherwise penetrate the skin. It helps to prevent water loss from the body. Cholesterol is used in small amounts in all cell membranes. A final, but usually overlooked, function of cholesterol is to help the immune system. Cholesterol helps bind toxins, reducing inflammation and protecting nerve and brain tissue from chemical damage.
Cholesterol is an important substance in the body and necessary for our health. Excess cholesterol in the blood isn't good, excess cholesterol is not a cause of anything; it is a symptom that something is wrong with the body's metabolism. Trying to lower cholesterol without trying to correct the real causes is just another example of modern medicine's tendency to treat symptoms without addressing the real causes.
Cholesterol is important to several body functions, when levels of cholesterol get too low, it can be even more dangerous than having cholesterol levels that are too high.
Just because cholesterol is part of the plaque that clogs people's arteries and gives rise to heart disease, doesn't mean that cholesterol is the cause. Dr. Hugo Rodier, a holistically - minded medical doctor, compares having high cholesterol to dousing oneself with gasoline. He asks, "If I douse myself in gasoline, will I burst into flames?" The answer is, "No."
Covering yourself in gasoline, while dangerous, isn't enough to set yourself on fire. You need a source of fire, a match. Having high cholesterol, while not necessarily healthy, doesn't mean you're automatically going to have heart disease. It takes a "match" to start the problem and that is inflammation.
Inflammation is caused by toxins irritating tissues and results in free radical damage. Without inflammation and the resulting free radical damage, you aren't going to develop heart disease, even if you have high cholesterol.
It's part of something called the Mediterranean paradox. Mediterranean diets are high in fat and as a result, create higher cholesterol levels. These same people have lower rates of heart disease. Why? Because they eat more antioxidant foods like fruits and vegetables. The Eskimos, who traditionally lived on diets of almost nothing but saturated fat (seal blubber, etc.) had no incidence of heart disease.
The emphasis on reducing cholesterol levels and avoiding fats as a means of preventing heart disease is largely a misplaced effort. Here's what really happens.
When artery walls become inflamed and suffer from free radical damage, cholesterol comes along to form a "patch" over the afflicted area. This patch collects calcium and other minerals and may continue to grow over time causing arteriosclerosis. If we really want to stop heart disease at its roots, we need to prevent inflammation and free radical damage. This involves minimizing exposure to environmental toxins and obtaining adequate amounts of antioxidant nutrients to reduce inflammation and free radical damage.
High cholesterol may simply be a symptom of environmental toxicity. The body uses cholesterol to sequester and attempt to eliminate a variety of chemical toxins, especially mercury and chemical solvents. The chlorine that has been added to our drinking water is probably one of the biggest causes of hardening of the arteries because it causes arterial inflammation and changes high density lipoproteins (HDL) to low density lipoproteins (LDL).
Cholesterol can't be considered by itself. It has to be looked at with other blood tests and factors so that one can determine why the cholesterol is high and deal with the cause. Modern medicine's tendency to try to lower cholesterol without considering why the cholesterol is high is just another instance of treating a symptom without addressing the cause.
Basic Blood Chemistry
Lipoproteins are a mixture of triglycerides, phospholipids, cholesterol and protein. They are a by-product of protein metabolism. The body binds fats to proteins to form these compounds (lipid=fats, so these are literally fatty proteins). There are two basic types of lipoproteins - high density lipoproteins (HDL) and low density lipoproteins (LDL).
High density lipoproteins (HDL) are about 50% protein with the majority of the lipid portion being triglycerides. They are higher in protein. Triglycerides are neutral fats composed of three fatty acids and glycerol. They are needed by the body for fuel. HDL is the healthier form of lipoprotein.
Low density lipoproteins (LDL) have a lower triglyceride content and a higher cholesterol content. They are lower in protein. Having a high quantity of LDL and a low quantity of HDL is a good indicator of mercury and solvent toxicity. The higher the amount of LDL and the lower the amount of HDL the more unhealthy the body is.
These lipoproteins help engulf toxins, so the more toxins you have in your body, the higher the cholesterol and LDL lipoproteins. The body tries to break these toxins down gradually, but if it is unable to do so, it will simply create more cholesterol to engulf them. Lowering the cholesterol level without ridding the body of the environmental toxins only exposes the body to more inflammation and free radical damage because the body is unable to sequester (or bind) the toxins.
It is important to look at the ratio of triglycerides to HDL (TG/HDL ratio). This ratio is created by dividing the triglyceride level by the HDL level. After dividing these two numbers, the higher the result, the greater the risk of heart disease. A person with a TG/HDL ratio of 7.5 has about eight times the risk of a heart attack as a person with a TG/HDL ratio of 1.4. High triglycerides and low levels of low density lipoproteins (LDL) are a more important risk factor for heart disease than total cholesterol.
A high TG/HDL ratio is sign suggesting hyperinsulinemia (too much insulin in the blood). High insulin levels create an even greater risk for heart disease than high cholesterol or high triglycerides and low LDL. This is because high insulin levels not only increase fat disposition, they also increase inflammation.
Hyperinsulinemia is caused by eating too many simple carbohydrates. What is interesting is that 20 years ago, when it was believed that fats and dietary cholesterol contributed to heart disease, people were encouraged to eat more carbohydrates and less fat and meat. The result-no change in heart disease, but diabetes and obesity rates have doubled.
First, low fat diets increase cholesterol levels in the blood. Remember that 60-80% of the cholesterol in the body is used to make bile salts to digest fats. That's why eating healthy (monounsaturated) fats like olive oil can actually lower cholesterol levels. More cholesterol is turned into bile salts to digest the dietary fats lowering cholesterol.
Second, HDL cholesterol is higher in protein and lower in fat. Lack of protein in the diet, and/or poor protein metabolism may can tribute to imbalances in blood chemistry.
Third, the body turns excess carbohydrates into triglycerides (fats) for storage. That's why having a lot of triglycerides and low levels of HDL are a sign of hyperinsulinemia. There are too many carbohydrates in the diet, getting turned into fat but not enough protein to make more HDL.
What are Normal Cholesterol Levels?
High cholesterol is a "disease" that was created by the pharmaceutical industry in order to sell more cholesterol lowering drugs, i.e. statins. These drugs have a high profit margin, so the lab ranges for cholesterol have been altered over the last 7-10 years so that more people will show up as having "high" cholesterol and be persuaded to take medications. Normal (i.e., non-pathological) cholesterol ranges should be 175 to 275 with Blood Type 0 people running at the higher end of this spectrum because of the way their body utilizes protein.
Since, these are the pathological ranges, levels above or below these values mean the body is seriously imbalanced and probably diseased. For optimal health, one should be in the middle third of this range. So healthy cholesterol should be between 208 and 242. Oddly enough people with these perfectly normal and healthy cholesterol ranges are being encouraged to take drugs to reduce their cholesterol to unhealthy low levels. Contrary co popular belief, cholesterol levels can get too low. Cholesterol levels below 200 are not healthy. Low cholesterol readings are associated with increased risk of cancer, stroke, suicide and death from coronary heart disease. Low cholesterol is associated with infertility, erectile dysfunction, increased risk of infection and reduced protection from neurotoxins, mercury and heavy metals.
Balancing Cholesterol and Reducing
One's Risk of Cardiovascular Disease
First key is balancing cholesterol and reducing the risk of coronary heart disease is to remove toxins from the body and the environment and to increase antioxidants. Avoiding chemicals, including chlorine, solvents, heavy metals, pesticides and other environmental toxins is essential to preventing inflammation and coronary heart disease. Enviro-Detox and Milk Thistle Combination can help protect the body against these toxins.
Second key antioxidant nutrient is important in preventing coronary heart disease. Consume at least six or seven servings of fresh fruits and vegetables every day. To supplement one's intake of antioxidants. Thai-Go is an excellent blend of antioxidant fruits and herbs that is convenient and easy to take.
Third key to lowering cholesterol and reducing one's risk of coronary heart disease is to eat a balanced diet. It is important to eat quality fats to help reduce cholesterol levels. Flax seed oil is a good supplement to take to ensure one is getting the essential fatty acids the body needs. Super Omega-3 EPA has been shown to reduce inflammation and help prevent heart disease. Olive oil can be consumed in large quantities and will help to reduce cholesterol levels. (Remember that the primary use for cholesterol is to make bile to digest fats.)
For high cholesterol (over 250), start with a fiber supplement. Fiber absorbs the bile salts released by the gallbladder and carries them out of the body so they aren't recycled back to the liver to make more cholesterol. Any dietary fiber will help to reduce cholesterol levels, but for high cholesterol Fat Grabbers, LOCLO and Nature's Three fiber products are designed to reduce cholesterol.
Guggul Lipids is very effective in helping to reduce high cholesterol levels when combined with dietary fiber. Research has shown guggul to be one of the most powerful cholesterol lowering herbs known. This herb lowers unhealthy low density lipoproteins (LDLs) and raises the healthy high density lipoproteins (HDLs). Guggul lowers triglycerides, decreases the stickiness of blood platelets and improves thyroid function.
Liver Balance can help the liver cleanse itself reducing cholesterol levels. Cholester-Reg II is an alternative to statin drugs and can be used when cholesterol is extremely high. It works like statin drugs to block production of cholesterol in the liver. One still needs to examine and correct underlying causes of high cholesterol as described above.
Raising Low Cholesterol
When cholesterol levels are too low, there is a need to build, rather than cleanse the liver with Blood Stimulator. Fats need to be emulsified better and SF or Chickweed can help. The detoxification mechanisms of the liver need support, so MSM, SAM-e and N-Acetyl-Cysteine will be helpful.
Balancing High LDL and Low HDL
This is usually a sign of pesticide exposure. There is an increased risk of toxins. Constipation and a lack of exercise ate factors. The diet is usually too high in sugar and simple carbohydrates and too low in quality fats. Consider supplementation with essential fatty acids such as Flax Seed Oil or Super Omega-3 EPA. Liver cleansing herbs such as Enviro Detox or Liver Balance and Fat Grabbers will be helpful.
Lowering High Triglycerides
Triglycerides are usually high from pituitary problems, digestive imbalance or a problem with electrolyte imbalance. Super Algae can help because it balances the pituitary. Combination Potassium and Magnesium can help. Small Intestine Detox and Food Enzymes or Proactazyme between meals can help digestive problems. Finally, Cellular Energy can help the adrenals balance mineral electrolytes.
Contrary to the hype of the TV ads promoting cholesterol-lowering drugs-diet, exercise and appropriate supplementation can be enough. People need to be educated about the real story behind cholesterol, so please share this information with others. Since individual needs vary, you may wish to talk to the person who provided you with this information.
The Dangers of Low Cholesterol
Statin Drugs and Their Potential Side Effects
The common side effects of the statins include upset stomach, headache, fatigue, skin rash, memory loss, difficulty concentrating, erectile dysfunction, difficulty sleeping, nightmares, peripheral neuropathy and liver damage. Statins deplete CoQ10 an important co-enzyme for cardiac health
A very serious side effect of statins is their tendency to cause inflammation of the muscles and create muscle damage. The inflammation makes the muscles painful. If the inflammation is severe enough, the cells in the inflamed muscle tissue may disintegrate (a process called rhabdomyolysis). They then release myoglobin, a protein present in very large amounts within the muscle cells into the blood. The myoglobin reaches the kidneys, damages them and may even cause them to fail. In some cases, the kidneys may recover; the damage to the kidneys from the myoglobin may be permanent and necessitate lifelong kidney dialysis.
*Despite successful attempts to lower cholesterol with statin drugs, the rate of heart disease has not changed in 75 years and mortality from heart disease is more than double what it was in 1996. Uri Goldbourt, Arteriosclerosis Vol 10.4 July 1990
1. False (Cholesterol can also be too low)
2. False (The healthy rage is 175-275)
3. True (Cholesterol helps bind heavy metals and other chemicals)
4. False (Your risk of death from heart disease increases with cholesterol below 150)
5. False (Statin drugs have had no effect on rates of cardiovascular disease)
8. True (Hyperinsulinemia or high insulin levels are a greater risk factor than high cholesterol)
10. False (Cholesterol levels must be considered in light of other factors and blood test