The Truth About Cholesterol

cholesterol
Ali Holden

by Ali Holden

We delve into many topics, but the discussion on cholesterol proves to be the slipperiest. A layer of lies and deceit obscures the truth about it, deliberately kept from public knowledge. The motive for this secrecy mainly stems from prioritising ‘money over health.’

A vast amount of information exists that strongly and convincingly refutes the prevalent myths surrounding this topic.

For a comprehensive understanding of cholesterol, I recommend consulting experts who have dedicated years to researching this subject.

The Great Cholesterol Myth: Why Lowering Your Cholesterol Won’t Prevent Heart Disease-and the Statin-free Plan by Jonny Bowden and Stephen T. Sinatra

The Great Cholesterol Con: The Truth about What Really Causes Heart Disease and How to Avoid It by Dr Malcolm Kendrick

Make friends with cholesterol

The cholesterol campaign is built on a myth that benefits researchers, doctors, drug companies, and the food and diet industries, but not us. Our next task is debunking these cholesterol myths.

It’s time to embrace the ‘C’ word.

First, let’s clarify something. ‘High-Density Lipoprotein’ (HDL) and ‘Low-Density Lipoprotein’ (LDL) often label cholesterol as ‘good’ or ‘bad.’ However, they’re not actually cholesterol but proteins that transport it, like taxis. Thus, HDL and LDL levels are not reliable heart disease indicators.

But, there’s a catch. LDL proteins vary in size: small, dense LDLs can penetrate arterial walls, leading to heart disease, while large LDLs cannot. Having mostly small LDL particles triples your heart disease risk compared to having mostly large ones.

All cholesterol is beneficial. Contrary to past beliefs, not all body cholesterol comes from diet; about 75% is produced by your liver. Your body needs cholesterol for cell membranes, hormone production, and artery repair, making it essential for survival. Even without dietary cholesterol, your body would still produce it, which is fortunate given its critical role.

Problems begin to occur when unnatural, damaged or trans fats, such as hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated oils and processed foods enter our food chain. As the LDL carries cholesterol through the blood, damaged cells begin to pull off cholesterol molecules to help them repair, akin to cementing a wall. In some instances, unnatural fats and other cellular debris in the blood will stick to the sticky cholesterol and when this happens a lot, a blockage might result. It’s not the cholesterol’s fault there’s so much debris inside you. 

The important point here is this: that cholesterol molecule is exactly the same whether it is being carried through the body by a LDL or HDL lipoprotein. Yes, they differ in size, but the LDL is just bigger and takes the cholesterol to the problem area like the fire engine carrying the fireman. HDL is smaller and carries waste residue and cholesterol away from the problem area. Both are important, but they are the SOLUTION, not the ACTUAL CAUSE of the problem. 

Why is cholesterol called to the scene? 

If you ‘light a fire’ in your body by eating too much sugar or bad fats, by smoking or drinking alcohol, then you can damage or irritate the delicate lining of your arteries. When you fall over and scrape your knee, your body scabs over the damaged area. Who ya’ gonna call? The cholesterol fire brigade. 

The scab has been formed to create a seal, a short-term solution to stop things getting inside your blood. Once the new skin has formed underneath the scab, it falls off. This is fine when the scab is on your knee, but not so good if the scab falls off an artery. This would leave a hulking great chunk floating in your blood that would soon block capillaries and cause a thrombosis. It just can’t happen. But the repair to the arteries still needs to happen. So, how can the artery or vein scab safely? The answer is very clever, it uses cholesterol like a bandage, covering the ‘scab’ until the damage is repaired. Said scab is then safely broken down, reabsorbed into the body and the hero of the hour – cholesterol – can toddle off. Not sounding like a deadly demon so far is it? 

What about a stroke or heart attack?   

Continuing to harm your arteries through lifestyle choices might lead to a stroke or heart attack. It may appear that cholesterol blocking your artery is the problem, but that’s incorrect. It acts as a protector and healer, giving you time. Its presence is beneficial; it’s supposed to be there, offering a solution to the issue of a harmful lifestyle. The real issue is why your body produces cholesterol, not the chemical compound itself. Using medication to stop cholesterol production is not a wise solution. It not only hampers repair processes but also affects other vital functions of cholesterol, such as producing cortisone, your body’s natural anti-inflammatory. This can lead to uncontrolled inflammation and hinder blood vessel repair.

In 2012, renowned heart surgeon Dr. Dwight Lundell stated that advice to lower cholesterol and restrict fat intake is no longer supportable by science or ethics. He argues that the real culprit behind heart disease is inflammation in the arterial walls, a direct result of the low-fat diets long recommended by mainstream medicine. Lundell goes further, saying this advice has fueled obesity and diabetes crises and predicts consequences surpassing any historical plague in terms of death, suffering, and economic impact. His book, “The Cure for Heart Disease,” emphasizes inflammation as the key factor.

“without inflammation being present in the body, there is no way that cholesterol would accumulate in the wall of the blood vessel.”  (Dwight Lundell, 2012)

Constant, repeated inflammation due to poor diet and lifestyle choices can lead to a health-threatening build-up of plaque (cholesterol, calcium and other waste products) on the interior of our artery walls. The usual suspects are trans fats, hydrogenated cooking or salad oils; a proliferation of Omega 6 instead of Omega 3 fatty acids; smoking and sugar. The problem here is our way of living, not cholesterol, even though it may appear this way at first glance. Our body makes cholesterol because it is so utterly vital. It is a fundamental part of every cell in the body. Not only does it look after our arteries, it is widely used in ways we can ill afford to do without. 

For cellular health, Cholesterol gives our cells much-needed stability and structure. Diets that are too high in polyunsaturated fats cause the saturated fats in the cell membrane to be replaced leaving the cell ‘slack’ and lacking in structural integrity. When this occurs, cholesterol is powered into the tissues to give them more solidity.

For hormones, Cholesterol acts as a precursor to hormones which are fantastic at helping us to manage stress and protect the body against illnesses such as heart disease and cancer. It is also a forerunner to the production of vitamin D, deficient in many people today, but absolutely essential for many functions including bone health, nervous and immune system function as well as the production of minerals and insulin. 

For digestive function, Cholesterol plays a part in the digestion and metabolising of fats by helping to produce bile salts. It is also able to act in an antioxidant capacity, protecting us from free radical damage, which can cause heart disease and cancer. 

For emotional health, Low levels of cholesterol have been linked to aggressive behaviour, depression, and suicidal tendencies. We need it to produce serotonin to balance mood. 

For the future (our kids) Breast milk contains cholesterol plus special enzymes that allow the infant to use it. Nature wants children to access these fats from the start to optimise brain and nervous system development. 

The truth about statins

Doctors’ ban on statins: Medics at war over drug advice.

DOCTORS are in open revolt over plans to issue statins to millions of healthy people. (The Express, June 2014)

It’s about time. For far too long, mainstream medicine has invested a lot of time and money keeping us terrified about high cholesterol. Driven by this fear, millions of people have unquestionably taken their prescribed statins without much thought to the consequences. Apart from the fact that most people don’t work, there are also some severe repercussions to limiting the production of cholesterol. 

How do they get away with it? 

A number of years back I got chatting to a doctor friend at a heart health conference.  The conversation turned to statins and I was surprised to hear him say that he’d give them “a few more years on the shelf before people found out the truth”! Of course I couldn’t resist asking him what he thought the truth was, to which he shrugged his reply as he walked away, “they don’t work”. Statistics claiming that statins have not been proven to help women or anyone over age 65, and only possibly benefit middle-aged men who have had a previous heart attack (Dwight Lundell, 201213), appear to support his belief. 

I went home after our little chat and did some digging. More disgusted than surprised, I realised that they do, in fact, work for some, but only as a cash cow and not as a ‘cure’ for high cholesterol. Even back then, some 10 years ago, statins had a worldwide market of over $32 billion annually, plus millions more to have the tests and all the peripheral road-show that must take place to sustain the cholesterol myth. 

We all know that it’s lifestyle change that’s required to address the issue of inflammation and cholesterol but there’s little profit to be had from telling people to eat real food, drink water, increase Omega 3 oils and exercise is there? Whilst drug companies laugh all the way to the bank, we are left to deal with the effects – the side effects, ranging from a ‘slight risk’ of the onset of diabetes, cataracts, constipation, sexual dysfunction, memory loss, headaches and loss of appetite, to depression, loss of feeling in hands and feet and myopathy. 

Profit over consequences

If we followed the current guideline to routinely prescribe statins to every person over the age of 50 in the UK, purely as a ‘just in case’ measure, there would be over 20 million people taking them at a profit of over £320 million. That’s over 20 million people in the UK alone, just as an added extra. Imagine the global profit for a drug taken unnecessarily, which has a host of side effects, ranging from a ‘slight risk’ of the onset of diabetes, cataracts, constipation, sexual dysfunction, memory loss, headaches and loss of appetite, to depression, loss of feeling in hands and feet and myopathy. 

Something else the doctors don’t tell you is that statins make you tired. Our body needs coenzyme (CoQ10) to make energy, the heart in particular. It’s commonly known that statins lower your CoQ10 levels as they block the pathway involved in cholesterol production, and it is this exact same chemical pathway that is used for the production of CoQ10. This action effectively reduces your energy supply to muscles and your heart is one huge muscle. Also, by virtue of reducing blood cholesterol, statins not only limit the transportation of CoQ10, but also of other fat-soluble antioxidants around the body. Encouraged to take statins for life, the long-term effects of chronic CoQ10 depletion will be experienced as general fatigue and muscle weakness, if not heart failure. If you really feel that your statin drugs are the preferred health solution for you, then at least consider taking a good quality CoQ10 supplement. 

Conclusion 

The statin con has made a massive profit on the back of the cholesterol myth. Not bad work if you can get it! Time to take our power back, beginning with learning to love cholesterol. Be glad you can make it and sleep soundly knowing that how much you make is entirely in your own hands. 

Continue reading about ‘The Truth’ on our blog.

The Truth About Cholesterol

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