The BIG Cholesterol Con
Find out why Cholesterol is essential for health and performance.
I am going to bust probably the greatest modern health myth of all right now.
The Cholesterol Myth!
This myth has been gathering quite some pace in the last few years and for good reason, it is HIGHLY profitable to certain companies who cast fear to the general populous and then provide a solution, conveniently forgetting to tell the whole story so as to line their pockets.
You could be under the impression that cholesterol is the dietary villain and a primary cause of heart disease? Well that is what we are led to believe.
But nothing could be further from the truth!
I am also gonna assume that you might have been told not to eat certain foods such as eggs because they are high in cholesterol or to avoid other healthy animal foods such as butter and grass fed beef? Or worse still that your cholesterol is too high and you need it lowered by using drugs?
Its time to put the record straight!
So what is Cholesterol Anyway?
Cholesterol is a fatty substance known as a lipid and is vital for the normal functioning of the body. It is mainly made by the liver but can also be found in some foods. It is what you call a pre cursor to steroid hormones, which means it is needed to create hormones that your body needs and 80-90% of cholesterol is made by the liver… yes your body makes cholesterol!
Every day your liver will make up the deficit of cholesterol your body needs that doesn’t come from your diet. So even if you avoid the foods you have been told to, you would still get the same level of Cholesterol in the body every day and for good reason, it is essential for life!
Why does Cholesterol get a bad rap?
For one thing, the pharmaceutical companies and the food industry have created trillions of pounds in revenue based on the fact that cholesterol is the main source of heart disease and have created drugs and “low fat/cholesterol” products to sell to the consumer.
Cholesterol is touted as the primary factor of Coronary Heart Disease or CHD.
That one fact is enough to keep doctors prescribing these drugs without an understanding as to why Cholesterol is labelled as bad.
It is true that Cholesterol is used to form plaque in arteries, but this is not due to eating excess cholesterol. In essence, this is down to that fact that it is used as a “sticking plaster” to repair poor arterial walls caused by vitamin deficiencies, smoking, stress and Environmental pollution. In effect the formation of plaque is the consequence of developing disease that is to blame not the primary cause.
Your body does the best it can to keep running, but poor diet choices in this modern world are putting our bodies through such stress and strain that your body has to do the best it can with the tools it has e.g. vitamins and minerals etc. If your body had the right tool for the job, arteries wouldn’t get “clogged” up in the first place and there would be no need for plaque to build up in the first place.
The only thing cholesterol is guilty of in this instance is to keep your arteries working.
So what is the advice that we get to “control” cholesterol? Yes that’s right, lets all take statins.
What they don’t tell you is that apart from the side effects, statins are dangerous and there has been more people that have died using statins that have been “saved”
What are statins and why are they not needed?
Statins are the drug industries way of halting high cholesterol, which have been touted as the saviour to heart disease. Unfortunately statins are flawed.
Because cholesterol is not the primary cause of heart disease, inflammation is. There are secondary risk factors for sure, but cholesterol in not the prime reason we suffer Coronary heart disease.
It is actually low levels of cholesterol that cause more serious health problems and has been linked to things such as violent behaviour and changes in brain chemistry, in particular serotonin activity. As you may know, serotonin is out happy neurotransmitter and low cholesterol has been shown to reduce serotonin in the brain.
The other major issue is that statins block the production of both cholesterol AND CoQ10. This is a potent anti-oxidant that helps prevent free radical damage, it is also the main nutrient to keeping our hearts healthy. So the drug that is supposed to help the heart blocks the absorption of the only nutrient that helps it beat and beat and beat.
It has been proved that when vitamin C levels are low, Cholesterol is high and when more vitamin c is consumed cholesterol levels decline. It has also been observed that vitamin C inhibits the same enzyme as statins do, concluding that vitamin C does the same job but without the side effects.
But unlike statins, vitamin C promotes the production of CoQ10, which statins block. Win / Win!
The majority of people taking statin drugs are doing so because they believe that lowering their cholesterol will prevent heart attacks and strokes. How many would continue to do so if they knew the very same drugs have been linked to decreased heart function and increased stroke risk?
Remember I stated Cholesterol is a secondary risk factor? That is because the Primary factor of determining your cardiovascular status is the weakness and instability of your blood vessel walls, which vitamin C helps to protect.
What is this HDL and LDL?
HDL stands for High density Lipoproteins and LDL stands for Low Density Lipoproteins.
You probably know them as good (HDL) and bad (LDL) cholesterol, however this statement is untrue. There is no such thing as good or bad cholesterol and in addition to that, HDL and LDL are not cholesterol at all! They are the carriers of cholesterol around the body.
Fat and cholesterol are not water soluble so they need to be carried around the body in something to do their vital work. The carriers of such substances are called lipoproteins. Imagine lipoproteins as tiny ‘taxi cabs’ travelling round the blood stream acting as transporters. Remember, lipoproteins are carriers of cholesterol – oh – and they also carry triglycerides and phospholipids and protein. All lipoproteins carry all of these substances – just in different proportions. LDL would more accurately be called the carrier of fresh cholesterol and HDL would more accurately be called the carrier of recycled cholesterol.
So there you have it, there is neither good nor bad cholesterol, but we are led to believe this so that we can be manipulated into taking drugs or eating certain foods. Remember, there is no money in healthy people, this is solely to line the pockets of the food and drug industry.
What are the health Benefits?
Cholesterol has many health benefits. As I already mentioned the liver makes up to 80-90% of our cholesterol. If cholesterol was so bad, why does your body make up to 1000mg per day depending on how much dietary cholesterol is consumed?
- Your brain cells need cholesterol to make connections with one another (called synapses) making it essential for learning and memory.
- It plays a role in the conversion of Vitamin D in the skin when exposed to sunlight.
- Many studies have demonstrated that cholesterol plays a key role in cell function. Your body contains trillions of cells that need to interact with each other. Cholesterol allows this to happen to provide each cell with the structural integrity to survive.
- Cholesterol is a key component of Bile. Bile is released by your gallbladder to help with food digestion, especially fats
- If this is the case, why do we take drugs to lower cholesterol, when it is vitally needed AND produced by the body?
There is something seriously wrong with the logic that cholesterol is bad.
What has this got to do with performance?
Having correct cholesterol levels allows the body to survive. It provides structural integrity for each and every cell in your body. That’s pretty bad ass. It also creates the synapses in our brain essential for learning and memory. To be proficient at martial arts for example we need to learn and practice, pretty fundamental right there.
Taking statins has the side effects of causing fatigue, muscle pain and muscle weakness, the exact opposite of what you want if you want to perform at a high level.
But before you go to your doctor demanding to be taken off, make sure your diet is adjusted accordingly. Eating crap food = crap performance. Not only that it also = crap health, even though it is not visual, doesn’t mean that you can ignore it.
As I have said in previous articles, improve your diet, look at one ingredient foods, eat, fresh meats and poultry, eggs, fruits, vegetables nuts and seeds. Essential fats are exactly that, the best being coconut oil and extra virgin olive oil and fish oils.
Cut down on the processed foods and foods with ingredients you cannot pronounce.
Include a general supplement program to cover all your vitamin and mineral bases and essential fats.
Even if you don’t take statins, getting the correct amount of cholesterol AND making sure your body has plenty of the nutrients necessary to keep you healthy and Cholesterol in check.
How to Make the Most of Cholesterol
- Make sure you eat Cholesterol rich foods including saturated fats, eggs and liver. Even though your liver makes it, if you have poor dietary habits your liver will be in poor health and will struggle to make up the deficit.
- Remember, Cholesterol is made in the liver every day, and any shortfall through your diet will be made up by your body.
- You do not need statins, they induce fatigue and a whole host of other side effects that you do not need.
- There is no good or bad cholesterol, HDL and LDL are simply carriers of cholesterol.
- Make sure your nutrition is addressed cut out the C.R.A.P foods
Refined Sugars (Sugar, Fructose, High Fructose Corn Syrup, agave nectar etc)
- Supplement with CoQ10 for a healthy Heart
- Supplement Vitamin C to maintain healthy blood vessel walls (preventing plaque build up) look at 3g per day
The word is out, Cholesterol isn’t bad, it is essential. Its time we stopped being fearful of this substance and start to embrace it.
It is essential for health and it is essential for you to know that it isn’t the devil everyone makes it out to be.
If you are on statin drugs to “control” it I would seriously think about talking to your doctor and making it your business to do further research and take your health into your hands, not into the hands of people who are just interested in their bottom line.
If you want further reading I recommend the book the great cholesterol con by Dr Malcolm Kendrick.
****If you are taking any prescribed medication or have any medical conditions ALWAYS consult your doctor or pharmacist BEFORE taking vitamins or supplements. Food supplements must not be used as a substitute for a varied and balanced diet and a healthy lifestyle. If pregnant or lactating, ALWAYS consult your doctor before use. Or if you have any queries about any supplement ALWAYS consult a QUALIFIED medical professional.****
To your strength and Health