• Our Friend Cholesterol

    Our Friend Cholesterol

    There has a lot of information on cholesterol over the last 30 years. Some has been good but certainly not all. Patients that I see are often afraid of Cholesterol because of all the information that is out there.  It is simply misinformation that they have heard. People think that their diet is the culprit. Though it can be at times only 25 percent of it comes from the food we eat. 75 percent is manufactured by the Liver.

    First let’s look at what Cholesterol is. In order to do that we must realize that it is not bad as we have been taught. Every cell needs cholesterol. It is a vital component of every cell on earth. If you have a lot of cells that are damaged and need to be replaced it will come to the rescue. Your Liver will manufacture more cholesterol and put it in the blood stream to be used. Not only does it produce cell membranes but it is needed by the bile to digest the food we eat. Every hormone that is a steroid hormone such as estrogen, progesterone, testosterone or DHEA starts with Cholesterol. Many patients I see with hormonal challenges have Cholesterol that is far too low. Vitamin D comes from Cholesterol also. The Cholesterol is converted to Vitamin D as it is converted by skin exposure to the sun. Cholesterol is even vital for proper neurological function and helps to form a person’s memories.

    Cholesterol is neither good nor bad. The fact is that we need it all. The “Bad Cholesterol” as it is called is LDL. But the only bad LDL are the small particles that get through the artery lining and cause inflammation and damage. So there is actually good LDL and bad LDL (the small ones.)   To determine particle size when needed there is a specialized test from Houston that I order. I have seen normal Cholesterol but abnormal particle size. With the proper nutritional support this can be reversed.

    Triglycerides when high are actually an indicator of heart disease. Triglycerides are increased by smoking, alcohol, obesity, too many grains and sugars in the diet, and inactivity.

    HDL  actually carries cholesterol from your arteries and tissues back to the Liver so that you can use it. It is the Liver that manufactures Cholesterol. If the body wanted to get rid of it then it would take it to the kidneys or intestines to eliminate it. But when needed, like in a case of too much inflammation in the body it will be recycled so the body can use it.

    If Cholesterol is too low it can cause many problems. Depression is one. The cells of the brain need Cholesterol. If there is not enough it will affect the brain. One large study showed that men with low Cholesterol levels long term had a much higher risk of depression. Also there have been many studies that have shown that low Cholesterol can cause violent behavior.

    When Cholesterol is too high dietary changes are needed. Sometimes I will have a patient on one of our weight loss programs to accomplish this. The commercials always like to say when diet and exercise do not work that you are doomed and need to go on a statin drug.  But it is the proper diet that works. High quality fats from good animal products to get Omega 3 fats, the proper fish oil, eliminating grains, some raw foods, and healthy fats.  Also with these patients we give clinical nutrition support with whole food supplements. We are not treating the high cholesterol but simply giving the body what it needs so that the it can lower. Also some exercise is essential.

    Statin drugs are another option but do have a list of problems. If you are on a statin drug you should never get off without medical supervision. Most patients I see want to get off their statins. Statins work by inhibiting a Liver enzyme that is required to manufacture Cholesterol. The problem is when you do this something else in the body will be thrown off. The reason is that the body is designed to work a certain way. So everything else can go off track causing one or multiple problems. The first is depletion of Co-enzyme Q10. This is beneficial to the heart. It is also needed by the muscles and one reason why the use of Stains can cause muscle pain and weakness. This is caused Rhabdomyolysis which is a common side effect of a statin drug. Muscle pain is a sign that the muscles are breaking down and this can cause damage to the kidneys.

    Not enough Co-enzyme Q10 can eventually cause heart failure. In addition a deficiency can cause fatigue. If taking Co-enzyme Q10 there are differences in quality as with any supplements. Often I can switch someone from an over the counter supplement to one of high quality and see a significant change. In addition to these problems there can be an increased chance of cancer, depression, liver problems, dizziness, nerve damage in the hands and feet and memory loss.

    If your Cholesterol is high it is at least partly because of the increased inflammation in your body. It is important to actually look at what is causing the problem and not just simply treating a symptom.

    If your Cholesterol is actually high nutritional support can help in almost all cases. If you have any questions you can call me at 314-843-9355.

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