Ee 030 Cholesterol Is Your Enemy

EE 030: “Cholesterol Is Your Enemy”…And Other Nutritional Nonsense You Should Ignore

The First E in the EXECUpreneur’s EDGE acronym is for Energy.  Because without boundless energy you are practicing hope-and-pray success.  And that is something successful EXECUpreneurs do not do.  

Successful EXECUpreneurs seek guidance from those who have their best interest in mind, not the best interests of stockholders.  They also know that their mental, emotional AND physical energy must be available 100% of the time so they can focus on the business at hand, not what’s for lunch!  

One major distinguishing factor of EXECUpreneurs is their ability to think for themselves and they are in the habit of making decisions based upon fact, not fallacy.  Unfortunately fallacy has been in the driver’s seat for far too long…and greed was riding shotgun. 

Not a pretty combo, especially when it comes to nutritional “advice” handed down to the American public for the past 60 years, give or take.  

In this (rather long blog post, I have lovingly titled, ”Cholesterol Is Your Enemy”…and other Nutritional Nonsense You Should Ignore”, I will shine light on the cholesterol controversy with the intent to help you make your best and most informed decision. 

When it comes to Energy, what you do and what you don’t do can play equally important roles when it comes to fueling our incredible bodies and brains…don’t leave out the brain for it is our most important business asset.  And cholesterol is critical to its health…and the health of pretty much every cell in us. 

Cholesterol is your enemy.  Or so you’ve been led to believe.

Cholesterol does more than just wander around in our blood trying to kill us!  (It doesn’t do that at all, but if you bought in to Conventional Wisdom’s brainwashing, you’d think it showed up with its hooded cape and sickle determined to wreak havoc at every bend in the vessel road!)

If you have a liver and a pulse, you are making your own cholesterol.  And be thankful you are.

Cholesterol is critical to life.

The human body uses cholesterol to make a wide assortment of substances needed to sustain life.  Cholesterol is the backbone for steroid hormones such as estrogen, progesterone and testosterone, cortisol too.  Cholesterol is also at work when it comes to digestion, healing damaged tissue, and forming the cellular membranes discussed when exposing the “Eating Fat Makes You Fat” lie.  To add to cholesterol’s resumé, the ever-coveted Vitamin D is made from it.

Cholesterol is not a menace, nor an enemy.  It’s the furthest thing from it.  In fact, it sounds like it’s a pretty important substance to have in the body, would you agree?

So, why is something your body makes all day, every day deemed Public Enemy #1?

The long and the short of it…there’s MONEY in the war on cholesterol.  Lots of it!

Big Pharma makes Big Moola from statins and all the other mayhem in their wake.  I’m talking Big Money; in the neighborhood of $10 Billion yearly on statins in the US alone.  Triple that worldwide.  Many of the tried and true statins are coming off patent (meaning they’re going generic), so Big Pharma is pumping out newer, shinier versions to fatten up the coffers. 

FYI:  A drug remains patent-protected for 20 years (on average).  It costs more than we mere mortals can imagine along with a decent amount of time to get a drug from patent to approval for sale.  So to reward the formulating company, the FDA allows them ample time to sop up all the money their greedy little hands can hold.  All while some patients choose between food and medicine.  A reality all too many face, needlessly.

If only they understood how food can BE their medicine.

This is fuel to my fire for illuminating the truth that your body can heal itself when the choices you make with your fork favor your health.

Approximately 80% of the cholesterol in your body is made by you in your liver, with a small amount added through resorption by the small intestines along with a tiny contribution from individual cells.  The rest comes from your food.  The body is constantly regulating the amount it makes based upon need as well as supply.

Statins block an enzyme your liver produces to make cholesterol.  In addition to monkeying with the liver, statins have seriously damaging side effects.  In addition to muscle cramps, GI problems, headaches and trouble sleeping, statins carry warnings that mental confusion, memory loss, high blood sugar, and type 2 diabetes are possible side effects.  Excuse me?  I think not!

Especially since 95% of those taking statins have no valid reason for doing so!  (More on this to come.)

Let me lay out some basics so we are on the same page.

It is important to understand the specifics of cholesterol.  Cholesterol is waxy and fatty, and like oil in water, doesn’t mix well with blood.  This fact dictates the necessity for the protective carriers LDL, HDL and all the other “DL”s known to man.

Two types of ‘cholesterol’ get the most air time.  They are LDL and HDL.  But neither are cholesterol, by the way.  They are actually proteins, lipoproteins to be exact.  LDL stands for low-density lipoprotein.  And it certainly is NOT “bad” like you have been led to believe.  HDL is also a lipoprotein, though one with high density.  Lipoproteins function to transport cholesterol to and from various parts of the body through the bloodstream.

I like to use the analogy of fighting a fire.  The LDL is the firetruck full of cholesterol fresh from the liver (AKA: the handsome firemen… I know, “Sexist!”  But let me have this one, please?).  The fresh cholesterol is on its way to do good deeds in the community or to the scene of the fire (injury, inflammation, etc.).  And HDL is the firetruck with the exhausted cholesterol (firemen) returning to the liver for recycling (reinforcements).

To sum it up…LDL delivers cholesterol to the site of need and HDL brings it back to your liver for recycling.

One very important distinction to make is that LDL is not just a free ride for cholesterol. LDL also distributes the energy produced from the breakdown of fats to cells throughout the body, more specifically triglycerides.  Triglycerides are used for energy by your heart, skeletal muscles, and your adipose tissue (body fat).  This here my friend, this is like jet fuel for the human.  Along with cholesterol and triglycerides you’ll find the fat soluble vitamins (A, D, E, K) doing some ride-sharing on the LDL truck.

Sounds like LDL is more helper than menace.  And while were throwing love its way, it is a multi-tasker extraordinaire.  Some would argue that LDL’s primary role in the body is that of triglyceride distributor, especially when fat fueled.  Being fat fueled is what I am all about!

Labeling LDL the “Bad Cholesterol” is like blaming the firefighter for the fire.

Just because he is there doesn’t mean he’s responsible for it.  Nobody in their right mind would think that anyway.  So why do we blame cholesterol for the clot when it is just trying to put out the flames of inflammation and tend to the damage?

Makes no sense to me either.

LDL gets a bad rap, although it is just reporting for duty.  To complicate things further, there are different types of LDL…a fluffy kind (Pattern A) and a dense kind (Pattern B).  It is at this level of differentiation that LDL gets its reputation as friend or foe.  I argue that both are on our side, they’re just doing their job.

The smaller, more compact version of LDL is blamed for being at the site of vessel injury and ultimately the clot.  I urge you to look deeper…why is this dense, more compact version of LDL there in the first place?  I’ll tell you.  It’s present because there is endothelial damage (more on this in a moment).

And the smaller version of LDL (Pattern B) is the only particle that can wedge its way into the damaged tissue to try to stabilize the area so the vessel won’t burst with the very next heartbeat.

The fluffy LDL simply won’t fit and due to its fluffiness won’t plug up much in the way of damage.

(I bet you’ve never heard this information before…)

Let’s review some history.  A well-known and often referenced study started in the 1950s called the Framingham Heart Study.  Approximately 5200 people have been followed for decades to make conclusions about influences on their heart health.  When the evaluators saw instances of heart disease, increased levels of LDL were also noted.  Therefore LDL was guilty by association.  Never once was the underlying cause of said relationship studied.  It was assumed that LDL was the culprit.  Ergo, war was waged and the only true beneficiaries have been Big Pharma and its minions.  It is well established that inflammation is an underlying cause.  That along with glycation are primary drivers for disease.  ALL chronic disease for that matter.

And I infer to you that it is the inflammation causing the rise in LDL present at the site, not some sinister move on LDL’s part.  LDL is merely meeting the demand.  

Cholesterol becomes rather sticky in certain scenarios, most notably in the presence of inflammation.  When we talk inflammation of the blood vessels (more specifically the arteries) the terms arterio– and athero– sclerosis are used.  Often interchangeably.  Though incorrectly.

Arteriosclerosis is hardening of the arteries.  The vessels lose their suppleness over time resulting in lessened resilience or bounce back when the powerful heart contracts.  Remember how fats help make cells supple?  That is a major player here.

A more specific type of arteriosclerosis is atherosclerosis, AKA clogged arteries.  The distinction is a very important one.  Atherosclerosis is a big problem in the US…and one of Big Pharma’s Ca$h Cows.  When there is damage to the inner lining of a blood vessel, the body calls in the cavalry to fix it.  Dependent upon the level of damage, it can be a small production or an all-out act of heroism!

Cholesterol is one of the key players in damage control.

How does the damage occur?  That is a whole discussion I could spend hours breaking down.

But for our purposes here…it starts and ends with endothelial damage.

This is damage to the inner lining of our blood vessels.  The tissue gets irritated, the irritation causes damage, and just as on the outside of the body when you get a cut, the body rushes the area with materials to go to work cleaning up the damage.  When the damage is on the surface of our body we call the patch job a scab.  When it is inside, essentially the same thing occurs, but in the vessels we call it a clot.  The overall process is called inflammation.  Inflammation is critical to our survival.  Without it we would be defenseless.  Inflammation on the inside and outside are essentially the same with small differentiations when it comes to the insides of our vessels.  We’ll call it close enough for this discussion.

It is such a complicated process…and one I cover at length in my discussions on my blog and in my programs.  The “he said, she said” around the topic of the causes of said damage could dizzy a bobble head doll at Wimbledon.  Seriously, the amount of conflicting information circulating around the topic is ridiculous.

Cholesterol is easily oxidized (think rust) in the presence of inflammation since inflammation has a plethora of chemical reactions at work…and this is where the problems arise.  When this damage is inside the blood vessels…it is bad news to say the least.

Not only are we dealing with the narrowing of available space for blood to flow at the clot site (atherosclerosis), we have more rigid vessels to boot (arteriosclerosis).

Therefore they do not dilate as well as healthy ones when pressure comes their way from the powerful heartbeat.

So what is cholesterol doing there in the first place?  Cholesterol acts as damage control.  It covers the clot (internal scab) in an attempt to smooth it over and bind to the inflammatory proteins being utilized in the damage control.  LDL is present in higher concentrations when tissue damage is present.  Remember LDL is the carrier for cholesterol.  When you have levels of LDL that are higher than deemed normal, your medical team focuses on the cholesterol.

Not the reason behind the increase.

LDL levels (cholesterol’s ride to the scene of the carnage) SHOULD increase when there is damage because it has been called to action, AKA an increased demand.  This is the design of the body, the internal intelligence at work.  After all cholesterol is a major antioxidant and free radical scavenger.  Meaning it helps bind things in the blood that do damage and cleans up the mess by sticking to the gunk we don’t want around, transporting it to the liver for disposal.

Mistakenly LDL has been vilified for simply doing its job.

It is present because mayhem is present.  Cholesterol is part of the damage control team of the body and therefore should not be blamed for the mess it is merely cleaning up.  Plain and simple.

The “Cholesterol is your enemy” lie has been disseminated for so long it’s now held as fact even in medical circles.  In addition to the Framingham study, Conventional Wisdom’s flawed conclusions are based off a review of governmental agency provided data (not research, mind you) from 1948-1949, on middle-aged men (no mention of women).  This review concluded that eating fat increased serum cholesterol and should therefore be replaced with corn oil or *gulp*…my nemesis (and yours) margarine.  Sacrilege!!

This lie fueled millions in advertising dollars by Big Food (low-fat) and Big Pharma (statins) and contributed to the brainwashing of a nation…”Cholesterol is your enemy!”

Cholesterol is not a menace, and certainly not a foe.

Remember that cellular membrane I mentioned when exposing the “Eating fat makes you fat” lie? (Find it here.)  Every cell’s membrane is peppered with receptors specific to all sorts of chemicals we need for survival, happiness, immunity, and a whole host of other necessities.  Of critical importance in the formation of these receptors is cholesterol. 

Above all else, there is research proving that people with higher cholesterol levels live longer.  And isn’t living longer what it’s all about?  I think so.

When war is waged on cholesterol, the gauntlet of choice is a statin drug.  Some are better known than others.  All in all they work by interrupting your liver’s ability to produce cholesterol by blocking a critical enzyme in its production.

What they don’t do is help you live any longer…yes, you read that right.

There are some conclusions that should you have “established” heart disease (previous heart attack, angina, etc.) you may benefit from statin use.  This number is estimated to represent 5% of those who currently use statins.  But other than that, in 11 peer reviewed studies, there is zero evidence of statins making for a longer life.

Yes, that means 95% of those taking statins to save their life are being hoodwinked

and your local Big Pharma CEO thanks you for the sweet ride parked in

one of his many garage bays.

Statins have become more and more capable of lowering cholesterol over time…ever notice how the “acceptable levels” get lower and lower when the guidelines are updated?  This falls under the “just because you can doesn’t mean you should” category in my book.  Messing with the enzyme cascade of the liver should not be an action taken lightly.  Especially since the enzyme involved (HMG-CoA reductase) aids in other processes like ketone production…something I am very fond of and will show you exactly why you should be too!  HMG-CoA reductase is also responsible for synthesis of Vitamin D and the super-antioxidant Coenzyme Q10.  NOTE:  if you are on a statin, or know someone who is, please take CoQ10.  If you’re (they’re) over 40, use the ubiquinol form.

Something to ponder…could the mass Vitamin D deficiencies be linked to the war on cholesterol too? 

When cholesterol levels are too low…the body and mind suffer.  There are links to hormone imbalances when cholesterol levels are “too low”.  A 1999 study reported low cholesterol leads to increased incidences of depression or anxiety in young otherwise healthy women.  And if these women became pregnant, low birth weight or premature delivery are an increased risk.  Both are on the rise in America…any correlation?  I think so. 

Making your own cholesterol does not equate to a suicide mission as the Big 3 would have you think…but not making enough just may.  When the cell membrane is devoid of adequate cholesterol, the number of serotonin receptors is inadequate.  This directly affects the brain’s serotonin level.  Serotonin is one of your happy chemicals.  Violent behavior towards oneself and others is directly related to a lowered number of serotonin receptors.

Another growing concern amongst those of us in the 40 plus age group is memory problems.  We’ve all had those moments…from the ever-popular ”why did I come in this room?” to “ah geez, what is his name” when referring to your neighbor whom you’ve known for years, but all of a sudden you draw a blank.  It’s not an all of a sudden event.  Too little cholesterol is an unrefuted risk factor for mental deficit and decline of memory in midlife.

I propose this is a direct result of a lifetime of following Conventional Wisdom’s advice of “Eat Low-Fat”.  More fallout from the “fat makes you fat” and “cholesterol is your enemy” lies!

RECAP:  LIE:  Cholesterol is your enemy.

Cholesterol is the building block for steroid hormones like your sex hormones and cortisol.  Remember, eighty-percent of the cholesterol in your body is made in your liver.  A mere 20%-ish comes from your food.  Your body uses cholesterol for many different critical functions. 

Cholesterol is Public Enemy #1 in the so-called “Healthcare System”.  Since it is at the location of a clot, it is being thrown under the bus by those who do not clearly understand its worth.  Just because it is present, does not mean it is the cause of said blockage. 

There is big money in the War on Cholesterol…statins are Big Pharma’s Cash Cow!  It is estimated that 95% of those who take a statin will not live longer by taking them.  Yet they stand the exact same chance for suffering from the side effects as the 5% who may benefit from the drug itself. 

­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­ I leave you with this to ponder…why would your intelligent body be so stupid to make something and use it in every cell if it was our enemy?  Food for thought.

This wraps up this rather long post on cholesterol!  You are now more informed than the masses.  Go forward and spread the knowledge.  And please share this blog post with anyone you know who has been advised they have high cholesterol and are in “need” of drugs to treat it.