by Judith G. Cobb, MH, CI, NCP
This article is not meant to diagnose or prescribe. It is meant for educational purposes only. Judith Cobb, Cobblestone Health, and Nature’s Sunshine Products accept no responsibility for results you get, whether good or bad, from using this information. Always seek the guidance of a qualified health professional.
Cholesterol is not a dirty word! It is, however, misunderstood.
What is cholesterol?
Cholesterol is “a fatlike material (a sterol) present in the blood and most tissues, especially nervous tissue. Cholesterol and its esters are important constituents of cell membranes and are precursors of many steroid hormones and bile salts.”1 These hormones are important to reproduction, growth, repair of body tissues, stress coping ability, immune functions and the proper balance of fluid and sodium, just to name a few. Cholesterol is also critical to the absorption of the fat-soluble vitamins (A, D, E, K). Clearly, we need cholesterol in our bodies to be well, but we need it in balance. The belief among holistic practitioners is that medical science, driven by pharmaceutical companies, is pushing to have cholesterol numbers lower and lower to the point where no human will be able to achieve the numbers without medication.
The human liver manufactures most (60% – 80%) of the cholesterol found in the body, with lesser amounts being made by the intestines. Research conducted in the 1980s revealed that cholesterol is easily manufactured from refined carbohydrates and fructose (including fruit sugar and high fructose corn syrup).
The body can only absorb between 300 and 500 mg of dietary cholesterol per day. Dietary sources are animal based (meat, cheese, butter, eggs, etc.) This does not mean we should exclude these foods from our diets. On the contrary, they may be eaten in moderation depending on individual nutritional requirements. It is much more significant to severely reduce the white flour, refined sugars, and high-sugar fruits. There is no cholesterol in vegetables, legumes, or grains.
Cholesterol is moved through the blood on lipoproteins which are manufactured by the liver. Very low-density lipoproteins (VLDLs) move fats and cholesterol from the liver to adipose tissue in the body. When the fats have been dropped off, the VLDLs are converted to low-density lipoproteins (LDLs). LDLs mainly carry cholesterol to peripheral areas for hormone synthesis or storage. Cholesterol which is attached to LDLs easily adheres to damaged artery walls and can lead to arterial congestion.
The high-density lipoproteins (HDLs) carry cholesterol back to the liver to be broken down and excreted as bile in the feces. It is for this reason that HDLs are often known as the good guys.
The total cholesterol count is not nearly as important as the ratio of HDLs to LDLs. The Canadian standards for cholesterol are 3.8 – 5.2 mmol/L. Specifically, healthy HDL cholesterol levels are thought to be .75 – 1.58 mmol/L for men and .98 – 1.93 mmol/L for women. LDL levels should be less than 3.36 mmol/L for both men and women. American standards indicate a level under 200mg/dL is desirable. LDL readings should be less than 130 mg/dL with HDL being greater than 35 mg/dL. Overall, the comparative ratio of LDL to HDL should be less than 4:1 to reduce the risk of heart attack.
Effects of lifestyle on cholesterol
Several lifestyle factors can be used to lower the LDL levels while raising the HDL levels. Regular aerobic exercise and maintaining a healthy body weight reduce the amount of fat circulating in the body. Stress reduction techniques like meditation, prayer, and laughter will reduce the amount of stress on the adrenal glands. Recommendations from medical science tell us to reduce the total fat intake to 30% of daily calories (but not lower than 20% of calories), using olive oil and flaxseed oil which are high in monounsaturated fats, eating salmon or trout which are high in EPA (an omega 3 fatty acid known specifically as eicosapentaenoic acid), avoiding deep fried and oil fried foods, and severely reducing the intake of hydrogenated vegetable oils, shortenings, and margarines. Modifying the diet in these ways will help to ensure the availability of the right kinds of fats for assimilation through the intestinal wall.2
I have to say that I beg to differ. We know that polyunsaturated fatty acids (such as flaxseed and sunflower oils) are very unstable. Without getting highly technical, each polyunsaturated fat molecule has at least one bit in the middle where the carbon molecules are double-bonded to each other rather than to hydrogen molecules. Once they are ingested, and especially if they have been heated, they form free radicals very easily. Those free radicals damage our tissues, including DNA and blood vessels. Monounsaturated fats (such as olive and sesame oils) are somewhat better. They are slightly unstable and do less damage to DNA and artery walls than polyunsaturated fats, but they still do damage. All of these oils are fluid at room temperature.
From this perspective, saturated fats (fats that are solid at room temperature), in moderation, appear to be safer. They are very stable except under high heat and will not do DNA or vascular damage.
Beyond paying attention to the quality and quantity of fat in the diet, severely reducing the intake of refined and hidden sugars, quitting smoking, severely limiting alcohol intake, increasing fibre in the diet through the use of whole grains, beans, peas, lentils, and fresh vegetables, eliminating coffee, and drinking at least ½ ounce of water per pound of body weight each day will also contribute to the lowering of cholesterol.
The medical world is quick to prescribe cholesterol-lowering medications, most notably in the statin class. Lipitor and other statins are replete with side effects. Common ones as listed on webmd.com are headache; difficulty sleeping; flushing of the skin; muscle aches, tenderness, inflammation or weakness (myalgia); drowsiness; dizziness; nausea or vomiting; abdominal cramping or pain; bloating or gas; diarrhea; constipation; rash; memory loss; mental confusion; high blood sugar; and type 2 diabetes. Statins are also associated with elevated creatine kinase (which can lead to muscle problems that take a long time to resolve) and rhabdomyolysis (extreme muscle inflammation and damage), which can lead to kidney failure and death.3
There are naturally-derived supplements which can be used in addition to lifestyle and dietary measures to help moderate cholesterol levels. The following chart gives basic information about which supplements may be helpful in correcting individual cholesterol issues.4
|raises HDLs||lowers LDLs||reduces overall cholesterol||recommended source, from Nature's Sunshine Products CANADA||recommended source, from Nature's Sunshine Products USA|
|vitamin C||*||*||Vitamin C||Vitamin C Citrus Bioflavonoids|
|omega 6 fatty acids||*||Evening Primrose Oil||Evening Primrose Oil|
|omega 3 fatty acids||*||Super Omega 3||Super Omega-3|
|GTF chromium||*||*||GTF Chromium||Chromium-GTF|
|oat bran, guar gum||*||LOCLO||LOCLO|
|hawthorn berries||*||Hawthorn||Hawthorn Berries|
|garlic||*||*||Garlic, High Potency||Garlic, High Potency, SynerPro|
Other perspectives on cholesterol
There are yet other perspectives on the cause of elevated cholesterol. In Exposing The Cholesterol Myth, Dr Ron Rosedale, MD, says, “Cholesterol is important for cardiovascular health. Cholesterol is a necessary ingredient in any sort of cellular repair.”5 German New Medicine agrees that cholesterol is critical for cardiovascular health and even vascular repair. GNM also teaches that territorial losses (loss of job, home, spouse, etc.) trigger a part of the brain that causes the artery lining to ulcerate. This ulceration is meant to widen the artery to increase blood flow. When this ulceration happens in a cardiac artery it creates the symptoms of angina pectoris and heart attack pain. This pain is the body’s call for help. Cholesterol is the body’s natural way of ‘band-aiding’ the ulcerations to protect the artery wall and allow it to heal. If the territorial conflict is never truly resolved, the arteries will continue to ulcerate, and cholesterol will continue to be elevated to protect the damaged areas.
While it is always a good idea to eat an optimally healthy diet and get regular exercise, I believe when elevated cholesterol ‘runs’ in the family, the energy of past territorial conflicts has been passed down, also. Correcting this family energy may be the most important thing that is needed to correct elevated cholesterol for generations to come.
If you have concerns about your health, or just don’t know where to begin making improvements, please contact me, Judith Cobb, to book an appointment. Skype, phone, webinar, and face-to-face appointments are available.
1“cholesterol,” Concise Medical Dictionary, 2nd edition, Oxford University Press, 1989, p. 113.
2Mark Johnson, “The Cholesterol Controversy,” http://www.suscom-maine.net/~jon2nd/choles.html
4Encyclopedia of Nutritional Supplements, Michael T. Murray (Rocklin, California: Prima Publishing, 1996) p. 437.
5westby, dir. “Dr Rosedale Exposing the Cholesterol Myth: Cholesterol is not the major culprit in heart disease” [Video]. Retrieved 9 August 2014 from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KnLZSv4zePU.
Copyright © 2015 by Judith Cobb, Cobblestone Health Ltd. All rights reserved. Please respect the time it takes to write and publish articles. If you will link to this article and give proper attribution, you are encouraged to quote sections (though not the entire article).