Cholesterol has been demonized and VERY misunderstood. Our doctors throw numbers at us and if that number is over 200 then they want to shove medications down our throats. Have you been there? But what if our “good cholesterol” is high like it should be and that contributes to a higher total score? Then what? The use of statin drugs actually has a higher correlation with death than simply having “high cholesterol”. There is a lot more to heart health then some total cholesterol score. In fact, measuring your health by your total cholesterol can actually be dangerous if you start taking inappropriate steps to change those numbers or don’t understand what the real impactors of heart health are.
What is cholesterol and what are the top six reasons you NEED it?
INFLAMMATION. Cholesterol is our bodies main repair mechanism. It is actually so important that we couldn’t live a day without cholesterol in our body. It snaps into action whenever there is inflammation to repair what is causing that inflammation. Cholesterol can be thought of as one tough firefighter, so saying you need to lower cholesterol is like turning the hose on the firefighter instead of the fire. You end up harming the one entity that is there to do good. It won’t help put out the fire or what caused the fire, it will only make that fire rage on.
HORMONES. Do you want to have kids, grow muscle, have energy, be able to regulate mood, enjoy a sex life and sleep well? Those things are all pretty important to me and I assume they would be for you as well. Many of the hormones in our body are made from cholesterol (testosterone, progesterone, pregnenolone, androsterone, estrone, estradiol, corticosterone, aldosterone and others). In our stressful modern lives, we use up a lot of these hormones which can lead to Adrenal Fatigue and infertility. Our body makes about 75% of the cholesterol we need in our liver and the rest we should be aiming to get from a diet of healthy fats like grass-fed butter, eggs, grass-fed meats, shellfish and full-fat dairy.That is why a well-formulated high fat, lower carb diet (Like what you get on “F…The Diet”) is critical for not only heart health but hormonal health as well. Cholesterol is so important to the human body that nature has devised a backup plan in the event your diet falls short. When that happens, your liver steps in to make cholesterol to give your body a baseline level. The high levels of insulin that are released in a low-fat, high-carb diet also trigger the body to send leftover blood sugar into the liver to make cholesterol and triglycerides which are used for energy and fat storage. If you deprive yourself of dietary cholesterol, your liver overproduces cholesterol to make up the difference and stocks up. This overdrive state can’t shut off until you start eating cholesterol again. So, a low-cholesterol, high-carbohydrate diet can actually lead to heart disease and a high cholesterol score.
DIGESTION. Our livers make bile out of cholesterol, so even digestion and our ability to absorb fats and fat-soluble vitamins is dependent upon cholesterol in our body.
IMMUNITY. Cholesterol also plays a vital role in our immune health. And most importantly and back to my original point), the liver sends cholesterol to the site of an injury or inflammation.
REMOVES TOXINS & BOOSTS HEALING. Cholesterol and fats are essential for removing toxins and for healing. This is why blood cholesterol levels go up after surgery or major injury. The liver is sending out lots of LDL cholesterol to clean and heal cuts and damage from the trauma. LDL will also go up when dealing with an infection, bacteria or viral attack.
BRAIN HEALTH. According to Psychology Today, “… cholesterol is vital for a well functioning brain. Cholesterol functions as a brain protective antioxidant. It is the raw material from which our bodies make vitamin D, a fundamental player in preserving brain function. In addition, cholesterol is the precursor for the sex hormones estrogen, progesterone and testosterone– all of which contribute to healthy brain function. While the brain constitutes about 2-3% of our total body weight, an impressive 25% of the body’s cholesterol is found in the brain. So when the FDA last year began requiring consumer warnings on certain cholesterol lowering medications related to memory decline and other cognitive issues, it wasn’t surprising. Indeed, it has now been shown that in the elderly, those folks whose cholesterol levels are the highest may have as much as a 70% risk reduction for dementia.”
So, what does contribute to heart disease?
The biggest contributor to heart disease risk is inflammation. That can be inflammation from a poor diet (high sugar, high carbs, a diet high in the wrong kinds of fats like trans fats and vegetable oil), carrying excess belly fat, smoking, lack of exercise, stress, chronic disease, medications and so on. A well formulated high fat, low carb nutrition program, like F…The Diet is very low in inflammatory factors. Sugar and carbs are the big culprits when it comes to increased inflammation. When you learn to cut these items out and replace them with foods that are more nutrient dense and less inflammatory, then your entire body begins to heal. You can also learn simple actionable lifestyle steps that can start reversing some of the damage and lowering inflammation. Learn more about F…The Diet here.