I hope I can simplify this subject it a bit in this article. References available as usual if you want more details!
Today many are concerned about cholesterol. However, cholesterol is necessary for brain function, hormone production, mineral assimilation, bone function, metabolism, energy production and a healthy immune system. The body uses cholesterol to heal wounds, and calm inflammation. It is the building block of fat soluble vitamins A, D, E and K. Every cell membrane is made up of cholesterol, (and saturated fats), which protects the cell. 20% of the myelin sheathing, (which protects our nerve endings), is made up of cholesterol. (1)
It is important to understand the real purpose of cholesterol and how we can help our bodies so it naturally has good cholesterol levels.
HDL (high density lipids) are ‘good’ cholesterol and are like big fluffy beach balls floating through our system. Think of LDL (low density lipids) as little pellets. LDL’s can journey into the lining of vessels or into cells to heal wounds, inactivate toxins, or deliver needed supplies. However, once they do their job, they are like dead soldiers and become oxidized. Anything that is oxidized can start a chain reaction of oxidation in our bodies (like metal when it rusts).
HDL’s offset the used up LDL’s and deliver them back to the liver for disposal. The trouble is many of us don’t eat enough healthy fats (like Omega 3 oils), to have high HDL levels, and our liver is overwhelmed from the chemicals and toxins we are exposed to today. So the oxidized LDL’s keep circulating in the blood causing damage.
Considered the “cleanup crew,” HDLs greatly lower risk factors, even if the LDL levels are high. A good cholesterol test measures not only the total, HDL and LDL, but the ratio between HDL and LDL. (2)
If your HDL (good) is high, it can cause your total cholesterol number to be high, so a better test would be a LDL to HDL ratio. The ratio is derived by dividing the LDL number by the HDL number.
Factors found to increase bad cholesterol include emotional stress, trauma, injuries, toxins, chemicals in our food, sugars, and refined oils. This is because they all cause inflammation. A great explanation of inflammation would be to take a hair brush and rub it on your hand. If you continue to rub that coarse brush on your skin, it will get red and start to hurt. Eventually it may even bleed. Cholesterol is like a healing salve that soothes the irritation and helps repair the damaged cells.
The body produces LDLs (the little pellets) to ‘put out the fire,’ heal wounds, and reduce inflammation. (3) So they have a very important purpose.
From the early 1900’s, America’s butter intake went down 75%, refined fats and oils, like hydrogenated oils, went up 400%, and sugar intake went up more than 90%. If a high fat diet really caused high cholesterol, one would think we’d have the lowest levels in the world.
The diet in Japan is rich in oily fish and chicken fat. In Sweden diets include lots of whole milk, cream and cheese. So both countries have diets very high in saturated fat, yet both countries’ cholesterol levels are normal.
Saturated fats make up 50% of the cell’s membranes and give them the integrity to protect the cell from toxins and foreign invaders. Even the fat around the heart is saturated because the heart draws from it in times of stress! The best saturated fats are organic raw dairy, and grass fed meats and organs. The Brain is 60% fat and 40% of that is cholesterol!
One of the best ways to help lower the bad cholesterol naturally (and help the good cholesterol do its job!) is to start with a liver detoxification. Cut back on packaged foods and the chemicals they all contain. Avoid all hydrogenated oils and eat real butter, more coconut oil, and omega 3 oils from flax seeds, walnuts, and fish. Add more raw organic produce with every meal, and stop smoking. (4) Reduce stress through exercise, meditation and embracing a healthier lifestyle with real, whole foods and a positive attitude.
Cholesterol is not necessarily the problem, more often, it is a symptom of an underlying issue that the body is trying to resolve. If we bypass the body’s amazing healing mechanisms by suppressing symptoms, we are only sacrificing health for a quick fix, and not giving the body what it really needs — whole nutrition and a healthy stress level, so our body can rebuild, repair, and maintain optimum health.
Lowering cholesterol with drugs is like putting out fires in a house caused by an electrical short. One may be putting out the fire but the cause of the problem is being ignored. Then, if you don’t replace the damaged drywall and wood, the house will eventually collapse. Not unlike our body!
Jill Coleman has been a registered nurse for over 21 years working at over 15 of Southern California hospitals including UCLA’s Heart Transplant Step-down Unit and LAUSC County Hospital’s Trauma Unit. She has studied holistic natural medicine since the late 1990’s. In her practice, she tests the body for underlying problems and helps the body resolve them with medicinal grade, whole food, organic remedies.
References:1) http://www.livestrong.com/article/69148-purpose-cholesterol/ 2) http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/cholesterol-ratio/AN01761; 3) http://www.westonaprice.org/know-your-fats/skinny-on-fats#evidence; 4) http://www.cabothealth.com.au/health-topics/heart-health/cholesterol.Additional resources: http://cholesterol.emedtv.com/hdl/hdl-ldl-ratio.html; http://www.cholesterol-and-health.com./;http://www.westonaprice.org/know-your-fats/cholesterol-friend-or-foe
Chavarro JI and others. A prospective study of dairy foods intake and anovulatory infertility. Human Reproduction, Issue 28, Feb 2007.; http://www.westonaprice.org/know-your-fats/skinny-on-fats#lipid