The Real Goods on Cholesterol
Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride :
"In our modern world, cholesterol has become almost a swear word. Thanks to the promoters of the diet-heart hypothesis, everybody "knows" that cholesterol is "evil" and has to be fought at every turn. If you believe the popular media, you would think that there is simply no level of cholesterol low enough. If you are over a certain age, you are likely to be tested for how much cholesterol you have in your blood. If it is higher than about 200 mg/100ml (5.1 mol/l), you may be prescribed a "cholesterol pill." Millions of people around the world take these pills, thinking that this way they are taking good care of their health. What these people don’t realize is just how far from the truth they are. The truth is that we humans cannot live without cholesterol."
Your cholesterol tells very little about your future health
Cholesterol is a peculiar molecule. It is often called a lipid or a fat.
However, the chemical term for a molecule such as cholesterol is alcohol, although it doesn't behave like alcohol.
Its numerous carbon and hydrogen atoms are put together in an intricate three dimensional network, impossible to dissolve in water. All living creatures use this indissolvability cleverly, incorporating cholesterol into their cell walls to make cells waterproof. This means that cells of living creatures can regulate their internal environment undisturbed by changes in their surroundings, a mechanism vital for proper function. The fact that cells are waterproof is especially critical for the normal functioning of nerves and nerve cells. Thus, the highest concentration of cholesterol in the body is found in the brain and other parts of the nervous system.
Because cholesterol is insoluble in water and thus also in blood, it is transported in our blood inside spherical particles composed of fats (lipids) and proteins, the so-called lipoproteins.
Consider these "spherical particles" to be like submarines that contain the cholesterol.
Lipoproteins are easily dissolved in water because their outside is composed mainly of water-soluble proteins. The inside of the lipoproteins is composed of lipids, and here are room for water-insoluble molecules such as cholesterol. Like submarines, lipoproteins carry cholesterol from one place in the body to another.
The submarines, or lipoproteins, have various names according to their density.
The best known are HDL (High Density Lipoprotein), and LDL (Low Density Lipoprotein).
The main task of HDL is to carry cholesterol from the peripheral tissues, including the artery walls, to the liver. Here it is excreted with the bile, or used for other purposes, for instance as a starting point for the manufacture of important hormones.
The LDL submarines mainly transport cholesterol in the opposite direction. They carry it from the liver, where most of our body's cholesterol is produced, to the peripheral tissues, including the vascular walls.
When cells need cholesterol, they call for the LDL submarines, which then deliver cholesterol into the interior of the cells. Most of the cholesterol in the blood, between 60 and 80 per cent, is transported by LDL and is called ”bad” cholesterol, for reasons that I shall explain soon.
Only 15-20 percent is transported by HDL and called ”good” cholesterol.
A small part of the circulating cholesterol is transported by other lipoproteins.
You may ask why a natural substance in our blood, with important biologic functions, is called ”bad” when it is transported from the liver to the peripheral tissues by LDL, but ”good” when it is transported the other way by HDL.
The reason is that a number of follow-up studies have shown that a lower-than-normal level of HDL-cholesterol and a higher than-normal level of LDL-cholesterol are associated with a greater risk of having a heart attack, and conversely, that a higher-than-normal level of HDL-cholesterol and a lower-than normal LDL-cholesterol are associated with a smaller risk. Or, said in another way, a low HDL/LDL ratio is a risk factor for coronary heart disease.
However, a risk factor is not necessarily the same as the cause. Something may provoke a heart attack and at the same time lower the HDL/LDL ratio. Many factors are known to influence this ratio.
But this is where things get very confusing and whatever follows is quite often not very good science and more than likely a commercially induced decision making process.
What is good and what is bad?
People who reduce their body weight also reduce their cholesterol.
In a review of 70 studies Dr. Anne Dattilo and Dr. P.M. Kris-Etherton concluded that, on average, weight reduction lowers cholesterol by about 10 per cent, depending on the degree of the reduction. Interestingly, it is only cholesterol transported by LDL that goes down; the small part transported by HDL goes up. In other words, weight reduction increases the ratio between HDL- and LDL-cholesterol .
An increase of the HDL/LDL ratio is called ”favourable” by the diet-heart supporters; cholesterol is changed from ”bad” to ”good”. But is it the ratio or the weight reduction that is favourable?
When we become fat, other harmful things occur to us. One is that our cells become less sensitive to insulin, so that some of us develop diabetes. And people with diabetes are much more likely to have a heart attack than people without diabetes, because atherosclerosis and other vascular damage occur very early in diabetics, even in those without lipid abnormalities. In other words, overweight may increase the risk of a heart attack by mechanisms other than an unfavourable lipid pattern, while at the same time overweight lowers the HDL/LDL ratio.
Also smoking increases cholesterol a little.
Again, it is LDL-cholesterol that increases, while HDL-cholesterol goes down, resulting in an ”unfavourable” HDL/LDL ratio .
What is certainly unfavourable is the chronic exposure to the fumes from burning paper and tobacco leaves.
Instead of considering the low HDL/LDL ratio as bad it could simply be smoking itself that is bad. Smoking may provoke a heart attack and, at the same time, lower the HDL/LDL ratio.
Exercise decreases the bad LDL-cholesterol and increases the ”good” HDL-cholesterol .
In well-trained individuals the ”good” HDL is increased considerably. In a comparison between distance runners and sedentary individuals, Dr. Paul D. Thompson and his colleagues found that the athletes on average had a 41 per cent higher HDL-cholesterol level..
Most population studies have shown that physical exercise is associated with a lower risk of coronary heart disease, and a sedentary life with a higher risk. It also seems plausible that a well-trained heart is better guarded against obstruction of the coronary vessels than a heart always working at low speed.
A sedentary life may predispose people to a heart attack and, at the same time, lower the HDL/LDL ratio.
A low ratio is also associated with high blood pressure . Most probably, the hypertensive effect is created by the sympathetic nerve system, which is often overstimulated in hypertensive patients. Hypertension (or too much adrenalin) may provoke a heart attack, for instance by inducing spasm of the coronary arteries or by stimulating the arterial muscle cells to proliferate, and, at the same time, lower the HDL/LDL ratio.
Well, you know now that the only difference between HDL and LDL is the DIRECTION IN WHICH THE STUFF IS MOVING! I'll bet you've never seen that explanation before?
But!! Did anyone notice anything peculiar??
When does the "bad" cholesterol go up? and where is that headed? Not on the way out like the "good" cholesterol.
Could it maybe, just maybe on the way to do damage control somewhere?
Could the higher level of LDL be a sign that something is amiss somewhere?
One thing we know for sure......Activity is important and secondly ........ Don't worry, be happy... stress is not very healthy, and you know what? Worrying does not have any effect on the outcome, except that all the time it makes you feel not too good and it appears to do some really bad things to your health too.... and in order to defend you against yourself, your LDL level goes up. And they are the bad guys????
And there is a lot more information on cholesterol that the medical establishment either is not aware of or is not prepared to deal with when prescribing a pill is so much easier. Check here to find out what Dr.Campbel-McBride says about cholesterol. She is recognized as one of the world’s leading experts in treating children and adults using nutritional approaches as a treatment for learning disabilities and other mental disorders and who wrote the book:
Put Your Heart in Your Mouth! What Really is Heart Disease and What We Can Do to Prevent and Even Reverse It