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Understanding Cholesterol & Why We Need It To Be Healthy

Written by: Nick Jack
Category: 2014
on 21 September 2017
Hits: 602

Along with saturated fat, cholesterol would be the word that is only ever talked about in a bad way. I don't know when and where it started, but cholesterol has became a household word and something that you must keep as low as possible, or suffer the consequences.
As part of our Lift For Life program where we regularly see clients with diabetes, cancer and heart disease, questions about cholesterol like "what is the best foods to lower my cholesterol" or "I have been told I cannot eat eggs for breakfast anymore as my cholesterol is too high, what other foods can I eat" are a common occurrence. I think most of us are aware now that saturated fats are not as bad as we were once led to believe. Well the same confusion we see with saturated fats, also exists with cholesterol. Not only is cholesterol not going to destroy your health (as you have been led to believe), but it is not the cause of heart disease. Anyone dealing with injury, health problems, weight gain or feels they have too much stress in their life, will find this article very enlightening as it explains the role of inflammation, and how it relates to cholesterol.

Cholesterol Is Actually Good For You!

No I have not gone crazy, you did read that right - Cholesterol is good for you!

We all have been told what happens with cholesterol, and the picture above of our arteries being clogged up with plaque from too high cholesterol is imprinted in our minds. It is natural to think well if I lower my cholesterol I should be right. We like to think about chronic disease and illness like a car or a machine that if something goes wrong you can just replace it. But the human body is very smart and complex, with many systems running simultaneously all feeding off each other and nothing is quite a simple as that. When you understand that you actually need cholesterol, and why it is not a good idea to just lower your levels without first asking the question WHY is it not a normal level, you will make significant progress to normalizing your levels and achieving great health. And you won't need medication to do this either.

This soft, waxy substance is found not only in your bloodstream, but also in every cell in your body, where it helps to produce cell membranes, hormones, vitamin D and bile acids that help you to digest fat. Cholesterol also helps in the formation of your memories and is vital for neurological function. Your liver makes about 75 percent of your body's cholesterol, and there are two types:

  1. High-density lipoprotein, or HDL: This is the "good" cholesterol that helps to keep cholesterol away from your arteriesand removeany excess from arterial plaque, whichmay help to prevent heart disease.
  2. Low-density lipoprotein, or LDL: This "bad" cholesterol circulates in your blood and, according toconventional thinking, may build up in your arteries, forming plaque that makes your arteries narrow and less flexible. If a clot forms in one of these narrowed arteries leading to your heart or brain, a heart attack or stroke may result.

Also making up your total cholesterol count are:

  1. Triglycerides: Elevated levels of this dangerous fat have been linked to heart disease and diabetes. Triglyceride levels are known to rise from eating too many grains and sugars, being physically inactive, smoking cigarettes, drinking alcohol excessively and being overweight or obese.
  2. Lipoprotein is a substance that is made up of an LDL "bad cholesterol" part plus a protein. Elevated levels are a very strong risk factor for heart disease. This has been well established, yet it is not always checked for it.

Okay so now that you understand what good and bad cholesterol is, there are many people that believe that there is actually only one type of cholesterol.

In Dr Mercola's report on Cholesterol there is a good quote by Ron Rosedale, MD, who is widely considered to be the leading anti-aging doctor in the United States, does an excellent job of explaining this concept:

“Notice please that LDL and HDL are lipoproteins -- fats combined with proteins. There is only one cholesterol. There is no such thing as “good” or “bad” cholesterol. Cholesterol is just cholesterol. It combines with other fats and proteins to be carried through the bloodstream, since fat and our watery blood do not mix very well. Fatty substances therefore must be shuttled to and from our tissues and cells using proteins. LDL and HDL are forms of proteins and are far from being just cholesterol. In fact we now know there are many types of these fat and protein particles. LDL particles come in many sizes and large LDL particles are not a problem. Only the so-called small dense LDL particles can potentially be a problem, because they can squeeze through the lining of the arteries and if they oxidize, otherwise known as turning rancid, they can cause damage and inflammation."

Before moving on if you are really confused and want more information, or you think I have no idea what I am talking about because I am not a doctor, I encourage you to look up Dr Mercola's website www.mercola.com and search through the plethora of information he has about this topic, with special reports you can download for free. Most of the information in this article I source from his website and have found his information very helpful for the past 12 years of working with many clients of various diseases and illnesses. He is definitely against the grain of mainstream medicine at times but his stuff makes so much sense, and in nearly every case it really comes back to making simple changes to your lifestyle with food, exercise and reducing stress, instead of prescribing medications and pills.

Cholesterol Is Vital To Life

Cholesterol is a vital component of every cell in your body. Did you know that there is no life on Earth that can live without cholesterol? We would not be here without it. No wonder lowering cholesterol too much increases one's risk of dying. Cholesterol is also a vital component to how we create and utilize all of the steroid hormones. You cannot make estrogen, testosterone, cortisone, and a host of other vital hormones without cholesterol. That is why a person on a low fat diet commonly has little to no sex drive.

The role of HDL is to take cholesterol from your body's tissues and arteries, and bring it back to your liver, where most of your cholesterol is produced. If the purpose of this was to eliminate cholesterol from your body, it would make sense that the cholesterol would be shuttled back to your kidneys or intestines so your body could remove it. Instead, it goes back to your liver.

Why?

Because your liver is going to reuse it. Your liver is like the body's storeroom of essential vitamins and minerals to supply all of our essential organs and tissues with what they need to continue working 24/7. By taking the cholesterol back to your liver, your liver can use it again; put it back into other particles to be taken to tissues and cells that need it. Your body is trying to make and conserve the cholesterol for the precise reason that it is so important, indeed vital, for health.

Reducing Inflammation Is The Key To Good Cholesterol Levels

At the beginning I mentioned that anyone suffering with an injury, health problem, too much stress or even weight gain will more than likely have elevated cholesterol levels. Why? Because these are all various forms of inflammation. When you understand how the body deals with inflammation in order to heal itself you will begin to understand the purpose of cholesterol better. The best way to explain this is that really hit home for me is using the example of what happens when you cut yourself.

If you cut your finger as pictured above what happens? The cut bleeds and then eventually it clots to form a scab, right. After a week or two the scab comes off and leaves a scar. Now what would have happened if you could not form a scab? Sure you could put a band-aid on as pictured above but that does not stop the bleeding if you cannot form a clot and form a scab.

"The process of inflammation is what allows you to heal"

During inflammation, your blood vessels constrict to keep you from bleeding to death, your blood becomes thicker so it can clot, your immune system sends cells and chemicals to fight viruses, bacteria and other bad guys that could infect the area, cells multiply to repair the damage. So if you have a bunch of damaged cells that need to be replaced, your liver will be notified to make more cholesterol and release it into your bloodstream. This is a deliberate process that takes place in order for your body to produce new, healthy cells. Without cholesterol you will not be able to make new cells!

You might be thinking how does this relate to me if I don't have any cuts? Inflammation is more than just a cut on your finger. The following health problems listed below all develop inflammation in the body that requires the release of cholesterol to aid in the repair process.

  • Injuries
  • sleep problems
  • mental stress
  • poor nutrition
  • lack of exercise
  • too much exercise
  • overweight or underweight

Just as inflammation from a cut on the finger is essential to repair, so too is inflammation to repair damage caused from the factors just mentioned. Remember cholesterol is there to do a job: help your body heal and repair.

You must always address the root cause of the problem and not just treat the symptoms.

It's also possible, and quite common, for damage to occur in your body on a regular basis. In this case, you will be in a dangerous state of chronic inflammation. This is what happens to people with chronic pain and chronic health conditions and people exposed to poor lifestyle choices. If you have increased levels of cholesterol, it is at least in part because of increased inflammation in your body. Staying in this constant state of inflammation is where diseases are created.

Can you see why it is not wise to recommend lowering cholesterol if you do not have a plan in place to remove the actual cause of the problem. This is the equivalent to not letting your cut finger form a scab, but instead of just a cut on your finger you have multiple cuts all over your body. Remember you actually need the cholesterol to address whatever is causing your body the damage and pain.

If you remove the cause of the damage and inflammation, you can ultimately control the levels of cholesterol. And you do this through good nutrition and exercise.

What Can You Do To Ensure Your Cholesterol Is Maintained At Healthy Levels

As we have mentioned briefly already, it is going to come down to identifying areas of your lifestyle that are causing your inflammation and need addressing.

Some questions to ask yourself are:

  1. Do I eat enough vegetables, in particular greens?
  2. Do I drink enough water?
  3. Do I skip meals?
  4. Do I eat too much sugar?
  5. Do I drink too much coffee or alcohol?
  6. Do I eat take away meals?
  7. How much stress do I have and do I need to have a way of reducing this?
  8. Do I walk at least 10,000 steps per day?
  9. Do I do resistance training 3 times per week?
  10. Do I complete cardio training exercise 2 times per week?

Once you identify your area or areas of concern causing inflammation in your body you need to put a plan in place to improve the lifestyle habits. By reducing the inflammation you improve the cholesterol. Eating green vegetables and drinking good amounts of water is one of the fastest ways to reduce inflammation. Green vegetables contain an array of antioxidants and other disease-fighting compounds that are very difficult to get anywhere else. Plant chemicals called phyto-chemicals can reduce inflammation and eliminate carcinogens, while others regulate the rate at which your cells reproduce, get rid of old cells and maintain DNA.

Below is a great video I encourage you to watch that gives you some great ideas on how to do this. You will also find the article 16 Ways To Improve Your Health a great read with more detail on all of these factors and with stacks of free reports and cheat sheets to download instantly to help you.

Notice I have not mentioned much about losing weight? People assume that if you lose weight you are automatically healthy, when this is not true. It is easy to lose weight and remain extremely unhealthy. Some of the fittest endurance athletes in the world are very unhealthy people who exercise too much and create enormous damage and inflammation to their body. Too much is just as bad as not enough, you need to have a balance. Losing weight is all about becoming healthy first and restoring your hormones to optimal levels. When hormones are out of balance, inflammation is present and losing weight will be difficult.

Below is a Free Report you can download by CLICKING HERE with some great ideas about how to do this.

What About Eggs & Saturated Fats?

It is amazing that you will still see advertising on TV for margarine and all sorts of rubbish processed foods with their sales pitch all about how it reduces your cholesterol. Well we now know that this is not even a good thing to start with, but even worse than that is these foods actually contribute to more inflammation instead of helping it. The more processed the foods are for you the worse they are for your body. Butter is a much healthier choice than margarine. For a start it is loaded with Vitamin A, one of our essential vitamins, whereas margarine is one molecule away from being listed as plastic. Now I know which food my body is going to prefer to utilize and which one is going to cause my body lots of inflammation!

Make sure you read our article Why Saturated Fat Is Good For You to see more about this.

But what about eggs?

Again this is just another misconception. In the 1980’s eggs were demonized by health authorities because the yolk had a high cholesterol content. So we were told to watch our consumption, which saw the advent of egg white omelettes and other bizarre ideas to avoid eating high cholesterol. (Most people don’t know that crabs, prawns and other crustaceans have almost the same cholesterol content!) But by 1999 studies were completed that suggested that while eggs contained high cholesterol, there was absolutely no correlation with eggs and heart disease. There have been several trials since that prove you were no more likely to have heart disease if you ate more than an egg a day than if you ate an egg a week! Yet form some reason we still read and hear all sorts of stuff saying not to eat eggs. Even more interesting is that a 2003 recommendation in the Australian Dietary Guidelines says “ To eat an egg a day to keep the doctor away”.

Eating foods high in Cholesterol and eating foods high in fat seem to be on the same page. It seems that it is hard to get your head around the fact you need to eat a food high in cholesterol to lower cholesterol just like recommending eating fat to lose fat.

All you have to do is look at history. Prior to World War 2 the percentage of heart disease, obesity, cholesterol were significantly less than today. And they were eating these foods all the time. In fact cooked breakfasts involving eggs, bacon cooked in butter were the standard breakfast back then. So if you are avoiding eating eggs for breakfast because of cholesterol, you can take ease in the fact that you are most likely improving your current state. Eggs are a great form of protein and assist in building muscle and controlling hormones like testosterone and estrogen. A much better food choice than a breakfast cereal loaded with sugar.

Great article to read on protein is Everything You Need To Know About Protein For Great Health & Fitness

It is not the fats or the eggs that create the inflammation it is SUGAR!

Sugar will ruin your health faster than any other food, and can cause everything from weight gain to arthritis problems in your joints. If you have high cholesterol levels you MUST reduce and eliminate this as much as you can. Great articles to read on this are below

It must also be noted that saturated fats are essential for us to absorb the essential vitamins like A, B, C, D, E & K. It is low levels in these essential vitamins that leads to poor health and inflammation and consequently high cholesterol. And you must get these from food and not synthetic capsules too. Read our article Supplements versus real food for details on why.

You Must Reduce Your Stress

This article would not be complete without mentioning the damage the stress causes the body. This is a massive topic all by itself and is easier said than done but we all know the dangers of stress and how it can derail the best exercise and nutrition plan. Make no mistake too much stress will initiate the inflammation process and raise cholesterol levels dangerously high. We have provided many tips on this before but you will find our best strategies and simple methods in this article - How To Reduce Stress

Below is some videos to help you as well.

Summary

I hope this article sheds some light on what is a very confusing subject for many people. It is a shame to see so many people put on medication, and being treated for symptoms with drugs that have side affects causing other health problems, instead of addressing the root cause of their problems and giving them the hard word that they need to clean up their lifestyle. They need to start exercising correctly and eating good healthy nutritious foods. It is our mission to help people see the light and introduce them to these concepts. Our Lift For Life program and Personal Training programs are health programs that we have proven for over 12 years to work.

If you would like to know more about these programs fill in the form below to schedule a free consultation and I will be in touch within 24 hours to book a time.