What's The Real Story Of Cholesterol?
We hear a lot about cholesterol and how it's bad for us. Lots of us even know how much we have in our blood. But what do we really know about it? It is an important part in cell membranes throughout the body, is used to form the hormones estrogen, progesterone, testosterone, cortisol, and aldosterone. Vitamin D is created with the help of direct sunlight, and bile is formed to digest fats and fat soluble vitamins. So, what's so bad about that?
Cholesterol has been linked to heart disease. Actually, the problem is when it's oxidized and forms "plaque" or atherosclerosis on the inside of the blood vessels. It can build up and narrow the blood vessel and contribute to high blood pressure. Or it may break away and be caught up in the blood flow until it may lodge in a narrow blood vessel. When you give it some thought, you may ask why has it oxidized and why has it collected against the wall of the blood vessel? Well, we eat oxidized fats in the form of polyunsaturated fats and trans fats. And it collects on the walls of the blood vessels in response to inflammation and irritation. The plaque is like putting extra shingles on a leaking roof.
So, we've been told that our cholesterol needs to be lower to prevent heart attacks and strokes. However, that hasn't happened despite lots of people using statin drugs. And people taking statins may experience mysterious muscle aches and pain (the heart is also a muscle). They may also experience nerve damage and memory problems. It has not conclusively been shown that lowering cholesterol saves lives.
Checking LDL and HDL levels seems to be a better indicator of heart disease. LDLs carry cholesterol around the body and HDLs clean it up and bring it back to the liver. So, a lower LDL number and higher HDL number seem to be better. However, that's still not the whole story. Apparently, only some of the LDLs are "bad guys", so what should we do?
What about diet? First, eat fresh food instead of packaged, processed, and pre-cooked foods. Get local, organic foods if possible. Meats and dairy from grass-fed animals that have not been supplemented with hormone-laced grains are what keep people in other countries lean and healthy. Meats that cause disease come from animals living in crowded unhealthy conditions so that they become diseased.
Eat fewer grains and cut out refined sugar and flour. These foods are responsible for the alarming incidence of insulin and leptin resistance that lead to type II diabetes. The large amounts of these hormones in the bloodstream are one of the main reasons for inflammation of the blood vessels. The diet should be mainly vegetables (about 2/3 raw with the rest lightly steamed), meat, eggs, and cheese from grass-fed animals, and a smaller amount of fresh fruits. When you cut out refined sugar and flour, the body becomes more sensitive to the natural sugar in the fruit, so it can raise the insulin and leptin levels.
Eat Wild--find local farms that raise food responsibly
Artificially lowering cholesterol is a band-aid approach to an underlying problem. If you can change your lifestyle and lower the insulin and leptin levels, you will reduce your risk of heart disease and getting type II diabetes.
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