By Michael Biamonte, C.C.N.
Cholesterol, by the mere mention of the word, is enough to instill fear in the hearts of every American. However, cholesterol is an extremely misunderstood item. First off, cholesterol is made by the liver. It is released in the blood stream, and is converted into hormones needed by various glands and organs in your system, like the thyroid, adrenal, and the reproductive system. Recent evidence also shows that cholesterol deficiencies play a part in immune system deficiency.
Cholesterol is found in many foods, mainly of animal nature such as meat, fish, chicken or milk-derived products like cheeses, yogurt, etc.
It has been fairly common knowledge that there are different types of cholesterol found in the body. Most blood tests mention the total cholesterol and then special sections of the blood test will break down the total cholesterol into specific types. The two types that are the most interesting are the HDL (which stands for high density cholesterol) and the LDL (which stands for low density cholesterol). HDL cholesterol can be likened to an oil of very high grade which doesn’t break down easily under adverse situations (like extreme friction or high temperature), and which continues to keep things running smoothly in an engine. LDL cholesterol is something that is bad–a cheap oil which actually can break down, not do its job, and actually gums up the works. The HDL is referred to as the good cholesterol, while the LDL is referred to as the bad cholesterol.
Regardless of the person’s total cholesterol level, it is very important that we understand the balance between good and bad cholesterol. Someone may have a total cholesterol above 200, which is considered medically unacceptable, yet have a very high level of HDL cholesterol and it could be then said that this person’s high cholesterol is really not a danger. As a matter of fact, someone could have a cholesterol over 200, but if they have high levels of the good cholesterol they may be actually in better shape than someone that has a lower cholesterol level without protective levels of the good cholesterol.
Cholesterol is something that has been linked to cardiovascular disease. In fact, those people who have high cholesterol without a lot of good cholesterol are much more prone to heart attacks and arteriosclerosis. However, there is some interesting information that most people don’t know. Having too low a cholesterol is very harmful. People who have cholesterol levels generally below 135 are at a much higher risk for strokes than those who have cholesterol above 200. The research was actually done well over ten years ago, and statistically has proven to be correct. Why is this? Well, when cholesterol is below 135, much of the cholesterol can be found to be sludging in the liver, creating deposits and plaques. And also, a lot of the cholesterol is found coating the arteries or building up in the circulatory system. At some point, if some cholesterol then breaks loose, floating through the system, and hits a narrow area where they may be other cholesterol built up there, an occlusion can occur where the cholesterol is now blocking the circulatory system, and a stroke may result.
What Good Is Cholesterol Anyway
Cholesterol is not just bad! Many people think the less Cholesterol you have the better. This is insane! Cholesterol has many important functions in the body. Cholesterol serves as the raw material for the production of all homones. Hormones produce energy, sex drive, muscle growth, help us to tolerate stress and support the immune system. Cholesterol is also used by the body in order to transport fat soluble vitamins A, D, E and K throughout our systems. Cholesterol is used as a transporter of many different toxins in the body. Without Cholesterol your body couldn’t detoxify any environmental toxins that your exposed. Cholesterol is important and you do need to have the correct amount. If we didn’t have any we get very weak, toxic, sick and die!
In actual clinical practice, we have seen that there are some other very interesting mysterious phenomena that occur with cholesterol. A well-known chiropractor had been battling his cholesterol for some time. His cholesterol levels had now approached somewhere about 500, which was astonishing because the man had been on a vegetarian diet, consuming almost no cholesterol. This chiropractor decided to change his diet and try to follow a popular diet researched by Dr. Robert Atkins, a New York cardiologist. This diet consisted of very low sugar, low amounts of starches or carbohydrates, and high amounts of meat protein and fat. After several weeks on this diet, this man’s cholesterol had dropped from over 500 to down to 185. Amazing, impossible, but true! Why? There are some types of metabolism that are very different from others. This is not the norm. But in about two out of ten people, a particular type of metabolism exists that if the person eats cholesterol foods, his blood levels of cholesterol will drop.
The reason for this is that these people have what we would call a fat-burning metabolism. Their bodies need fats in order to produce energy and to keep the system running correctly. When deprived of fats, these people appear to synthesize more cholesterol. Therefore, the body makes more on its own, causing cholesterol levels to rise. Once the body gets cholesterol from the diet, signals are sent throughout the system that tell it to stop producing excess cholesterol. This is an amazing discovery we’ve made. It explains why you find an occasional person who has his cholesterol levels drop when he eats cholesterol foods, and yet when he avoid them, it will go up.
Also, new research has shown that cholesterol can be highly influenced by stress. One study was done several years ago, which clearly showed that accountants and CPAs had higher cholesterol levels in March, April and May, and much lower throughout the rest of the year. Why? Tax time. The stress caused the cholesterol levels to rise.
Why would this be? Why would stress cause your cholesterol to rise? Well, it’s very interesting that in your body, cholesterol is produced in response to stress. Because the body needs that cholesterol in order to make hormones which keep the body running normally during stressful times.
Diet has been much talked about in regards to cholesterol. However, our research has shown that cholesterol levels are only influenced by a maximum of about 20% by diet. It has been a rare individual who went on a strict diet who had outstanding results in lowering his cholesterol.
The Cholesterol Solution
The solution to handling cholesterol is first to identify what kind of metabolism you have. Does your body require fats–as in these rare cases–to lower your cholesterol, or do you have the more common kind of metabolism which should avoid fat of all kinds in order to help the body be able to burn the cholesterol?
Next, identify what vitamin or mineral deficiencies you might have that could be causing a cholesterol problem. It has been well documented that many nutrients affect cholesterol. There are many different vitamin and mineral substances that the body uses to regulate its own cholesterol levels. We have found far greater results in supplying the body with correct amounts of these nutrients to lower cholesterol as opposed to doing it by diet.
Some of the nutrients that have ben found to affect and regulate cholesterol are the following: lecithin, which contains choline and inositol, substances that work in the liver to regulate cholesterol; copper, which is used in the liver to produce bile, a substance which emulsifies cholesterol; chromium, a mineral which helps to burn cholesterol in the arteries; carnitine, an amino acid that helps the body ignite cholesterol and other fats; and Vitamin E, another substance which protects the body from excess cholesterol. Certain herbs have been newly discovered that have a profound effect on cholesterol. The most interesting comes from India, called guggalipids. It comes from the guggalo plant. This herb has been found in chemical studies to reduce cholesterol levels sometimes more than the cholesterol-lowering drugs. Many glands and organs in the system have a profound effect on cholesterol. Many times excess cholesterol will build up into the system, due to a deficiency of the functioning of the pituitary gland, the adrenal glands, the thyroid gland, or the reproductive glands. This is because these glands may not be properly using the cholesterol to convert to hormones. In that case the cholesterol is not used, therefore found in excess. Some people, when they go on the proper nutritional program for cholesterol, actually find their cholesterol levels soaring very high for several months, then dropping dramatically. This is another outstanding discovery we’ve made. The reason this occurs is many times cholesterol becomes congested in the liver. When special vitamins and herbs are taken (which help to emulsify or break down the cholesterol) it is released from the liver into the blood, therefore showing high for maybe even several months. Once all the cholesterol is “dissolved” from the liver, and is no longer being released, cholesterol levels in the blood will then drop to normal or ideal levels.
Fiber plays a very important role in managing cholesterol. Our studies have shown that those people who consume a high fiber diet, particularly a diet that is high in certain types of fibers, will have less cholesterol absorption from their intestines. This fiber appears to block the body’s ability to absorb cholesterol into the blood. also, the fiber speeds up the transit time through the system, which allows less cholesterol to be absorbed, because it’s moving through the system and then out of the body faster.
A major discovery of late has been certain nutrients, highly specialized, which can actually help dissolve cholesterol buildups in the arteries, thereby increasing the circulation. These nutrients must be carefully used by a trained nutritionist, but has actually been shown over the past few years to be able to reverse plaque buildup in the arteries. We hope that some day the medical profession will learn about such things, thereby reducing the use of harmful drugs and the use of operations such as bypass operations, which are very expensive, risky, and can totally be avoided with the use of these vitamins and minerals.
Recently at a medical convention, I was speaking to several doctors about this very subject. After the lecture, one doctor came up to me and said this all sounded very interesting, and wanted to know what substance he could try in his practice that might benefit some of his patients. So I asked him if he’d ever heard of lecithin and he said,”No, I’m not familiar with Mr. Lecithin. Who is he?”
No article on cholesterol could be considered complete without mentioning margarine. Margarine and hydrogenated fats have been used for many years as substitutes for butter or other foods high in cholesterol. Many studies have shown the use of these unsaturated fats (such as margarine) have actually helped lower cholesterol levels in people over several years, However, what most of the margarine manufacturers fail to mention is the fact that over long periods of time, the use of margarine and hydrogenated fats actually increased heart disease and cancer. They may produce a lower cholesterol level, but they are much more deadly than cholesterol. Why? Margarine and other hydrogenated fats are very dangerous and unstable in the body. A hydrogenated fat is a type of oil which has been force fed hydrogen ions, making it solid at room temperature. It is so unstable that when consumed into the body,it actually creates damage to the cells. This has been found to perpetuate cardiovascular disease, damage to the arteries, and cancer.
Margarine is the great American myth. It is actually quite harmful. In shopping, always read labels and make sure that you consume as little hydrogenated fats and margarine as possible. Butter is definitely a healthier alternative to margarine in the long run.
Exercise is something which is important in keeping cholesterol levels under control. Proper amounts of exercise stimulate the metabolism and allow the body to burn up and use cholesterol correctly, so that is doesn’t build up in the system.
I hope this article has given you some information regarding cholesterol and its controversy, and I hope it’s given you some food for thought in order to sort out some of the myths, legends and mysteries regarding cholesterol.