The Cholesterol Myth
There are so many great books and papers out there to read regarding cholesterol and dietary fat. I would encourage you to read the following, and make up your own mind. The first is The Great Cholesterol Myth. It goes someway to explain how cholesterol has been blamed for heart disease, and how this is just so wrong. Jimmy Moore has also written a fabulous book called Cholesterol Clarity. And Nina Teicholz, Investigative Journalist for The New Yorker, The Economist and The New York Times, has spent the last few years researching the unthinkable: that everything we knew about dietary fat is wrong. The Big Fat Surprise – Why Butter, Meat and Cheese Belong In A Healthy Diet.
The Cholesterol Myth
There are many points raised in these books which are imperative to understand, I’ve written some important take home messages. But please, read for yourself as I cannot do the above books justice in a few bullet points.
“We must be our own health advocate. Take control of your health. Find what works for you”
- Cholesterol is required by almost every cell in our bodies. It is so vital we are able to manufacture it. Cholesterol is made by your liver, brain and almost every cell in your body.
- Cholesterol is the structure which is the base of all our sex hormones, bile acid and Vitamin D are made from. Cholesterol maintains cell walls, allows cellular communication and transportation of substances.
- Cholesterol is a poor predictor of heart disease. Half of those with heart disease have ‘normal’ cholesterol levels. Half of those with ‘high’ cholesterol levels have healthy hearts. Most heart attack victims have cholesterol within the “normal” range.
- It is the carrier of cholesterol (the lipoproteins LDL and HDL) which give a clearer picture of heart health. The concept of “Good” cholesterol HDL and “Bad” cholesterol LDL are outdated. We need to look at our particle sizes and patterns. Type A LDL are large fluffy particles that “looks like a cotton ball and does as much damage”. Type B is small, hard, dense one which becomes oxidised and angry, sticking to the endothelium and creating inflammation. So you really need to know your particle size and how many of Type A or Type B you have. Knowing your total LDL is not very helpful, to say the least.
- Eating more good fat raises your level of Type A fluffy particles, eating more sugar raises the Type B angry little particles, which really causes the damage.
- How do you get higher levels of angry, sticky, heavy, dense LDL particles? Glycation. This occurs when there is too much glucose in the blood, yet again pointing to sugar being the ‘bad boy’. Sugar and carbs are far more detrimental to our health than fat.
- Sugar causes inflammation. Sugar raises insulin which raises blood pressure, appetite, triglycerides and Type B LDL. Sugar in the blood attaches to proteins and causes AGE’s (advanced glycation end products). Insulin resistance causes high blood pressure by narrowing artery walls and communicating with the kidneys to hold on to more water to dilute the high sugar levels in the bloodstream.
- Sugar causes high triglycerides, which is by far the biggest danger sign for heart disease. Lower your sugar, lowers insulin, lowers triglycerides, lowers your risk.
- Cholesterol is only a problem when it is oxidised (damaged). Once it is damaged, it sticks to the lining (endothelium) of our blood vessels and starts the process of inflammation. “Cholesterol cannot accumulate in arteries without inflammation.”
- Inflammation is the true cause of heart disease. And what causes inflammation? You guessed it, high carb diet, high insulin levels, processed foods, stress, smoking, alcohol.
- Low cholesterol is not healthy. Low cholesterol is linked with depression, aggression, Alzheimer’s, suicidal thoughts to name a few. Cholesterol is required to make brain cells. You need cholesterol for memory and cognitive function. Read Lipitor – Thief of a Memory, written by a former astronaut who lost his memory after taking a statin to lower his cholesterol.
- Cholesterol aids the body in fighting infection. When there is an infection present in the body, HDL goes down because it is used to fight the toxins, and this may be one of the reasons why cholesterol is found at the site of inflammation. But this is not to say that cholesterol is to blame for the inflammation, in fact it could be the opposite, it is present to calm the inflammation.
- Omega 3 fats are anti-inflammatory, Omega 6 fats cause inflammation. It’s the balance we must get right. Avoid Omega 6 fats ( vegetable oils such as canola oil, soy oil), and increase our Omega 3 fats – walnuts, flaxseeds, macadamia nuts, wild fish, grass fed meat.
- The benefits of statins have been grossly exaggerated, the side effects have been underreported. There is great debate going on with the statin lobbyists, and pharmaceutical companies to release their figures. There are class actions taking place in America against the statin drug companies, stating they knowingly have underreported side effects such as muscle damage, memory loss and diabetes. There is also research into the fact that statins reduce Co-enzyme Q10, an enzyme required by every mitochondria for energy transfer, causing muscle pain and damage (and what is the most important muscle in your body – ah that would be your heart), may actually contribute to heart disease!!!
- Statins should never be prescribed for the elderly, most women and only in middle aged men with a history of proven coronary heart disease. Statins are a multi billion dollar industry, who are now encouraging treating patents with lower “normal” ranges, so to include more of the population. They lobby the notion that reducing cholesterol promotes good health, especially to Health Insurance Companies.
- The biggest side effects of statins are memory loss, muscle damage, diabetes, loss of energy and low immunity. Statins reduce hormone production, bile production and Vitamin D.
- Don’t go low fat and wholegrain. You will not be doing your heart any favours. Eat low cab, high fat, unprocessed, real food.
- The bad science that got us into this mess of believing that fat causes heart disease, have all been proven to be inaccurate and flawed. The main two are Ancel Keys Seven Countries Study, and the China Study.
- A low fat diet has been shown to be worse for our health in almost every way. Going low carb high fat leads to better health outcomes and disease prevention.
- Well meaning researchers wanted to cure the population of heart disease, only they jumped in too fast. They started writing food guidelines before all the research had been done, and done well. They jumped the gun. And now the notion that fat makes you fat, eating cholesterol raises your cholesterol are ingrained in our beliefs and seem logical and true. But nothing could be further from the truth. It is this simple concept of “fat makes you fat, and eating cholesterol raises your cholesterol” actually requires a lot of science and understanding to de-bunk it, and therein lies the problem. To prove a simple theory wrong, you have to have a great understanding to truly believe what is counterintuitive.
“Dietary factors and therapeutic lifestyle changes have no side effects.They should be considered the first line of defence in preventative cardiology”
- Is your cholesterol actually high? What are your LDL particle size and pattern? What about your triglycerides?
- Does the risk of taking a statin outweigh the risk of having a heart attack.
- Eat low carb, high fat and see your weight drop, insulin resistance reversed, HDL and Type A LDL improve and triglycerides fall.
- Cholesterol treatment and advice has not changed over the past few decades, whereas science has. The message is not getting out there because of the strong statin lobbyists, huge financial gains and rewards but the pharmaceutical industry, and research grants still available. Research is showing that cholesterol is not what we once thought it was, but it is not appearing in the clinical setting.
- What is your CRP reading (C-Reactive Protein is a marker for inflammation, which we know is the true cause of heart disease and all other major disease).
5 Healthy Heart Factors
- Don’t smoke. Don’t drink alcohol to excess.
- Exercise moderately.
- Maintain a healthy weight.
- Eat whole, unprocessed foods, with plenty of omega 3 fats and fibre.
- Manage stress.
But where is cholesterol mentioned here? It’s not, because it is of little real value. The best indicators for long life are high HDL, low triglycerides and low fasting insulin levels.
Stress contributes to almost every disease know. It affects our ability to recover, our immunity, inflammation, blood pressure, overproduction of platelets (which start blood clots which block arteries) and adrenal depletion. How you deal with stress and cope with stress is vital to your health and well being.
“Food is the most powerful medicine”
Further reading ::
- Cholesterol Testing – Gary Fettke No Fructose
- The Straight Dope On Cholesterol – Dr Peter Attia, MD
- YouTube Channel Low Carb Playlist
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