Owen Davis | 12 Dec '21
There’s this idea that cholesterol is our enemy - that we must lower it at all costs - the lower, the
better. We see it on product packaging everywhere - low cholesterol, cholesterol free, cholesterol lowering - the list goes on.
We see it differently, though - cholesterol is our friend, not our enemy. You might be surprised to know that low cholesterol is associated with increased death due to suicide, heart attack, multiple sclerosis, infectious disease and cancer. There’s this idea that high cholesterol in males over 40 causes heart attacks; however, by looking at the same data, we can see that older women with high cholesterol live longer than those without. This happens when we look at correlations instead of cause and effect research - we assume that cholesterol is the cause, when in fact, it is not.
To understand this, we need to understand what cholesterol does. Cholesterol is what we call a ‘lipid’ or lipoprotein (fat-protein). Lipids are fats found in the blood, and they’re essential components of cell membranes, brain cells, nerve cells and bile. It also helps the body absorb fats and vitamins. The body also needs cholesterol to produce hormones such as oestrogen, testosterone, vitamin D and cortisol. The body can produce cholesterol; however, it also needs to obtain it through lipoproteins and albumin, which we can get through diet.
The truth is, cholesterol performs many vital roles in the body. Here are some of its functions you may not have heard about before.
When the body is exposed to toxins, like mercury, this results in chronic inflammation. One of the ways the body deals with chronic inflammation is a lipid response - meaning a rise in LDL cholesterol.
Why does cholesterol rise? Because it carries with it antioxidants that are designed to protect the body from chronic
The same goes for alcohol. Alcohol is a solvent. And what do solvents do? They’re neurotoxins - meaning they
affect the brain. So when we drink alcohol, we trigger a lipid response - a rise in cholesterol to keep the
neurotoxins away from sensitive neurological tissue.
In both alcohol and toxins (like mercury), the function of cholesterol is to escort them out of the body via the bowel (after they have been bound to your red blood cells). This is the safest way to escort toxins from the body. When you take this into account, it becomes clear that elevated cholesterol is a natural bodily response designed to protect the body. The actual science - based on studies as opposed to marketing hype - show that those most at risk to environmental toxins and health issues are those with low total cholesterol, poor protein status and low triglyceride levels. A pattern that is most concerning with Multiple Sclerosis (M.S), Motor Neurone Disease (MND), Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) and Parkinson’s disease.
The unfortunate truth is that modern medicine takes a very narrow, one-dimensional view of cholesterol. The prescribing of cholesterol-lowering medications fails to consider why cholesterol is elevated and thereby fails to consider the consequences of lowering it. To this end, an article by Sally Fallon Morrell of the Weston A Price Foundation cites the research of Dr Fred Kummerow, and she says, “He points out that by taking drugs to lower cholesterol, the capacity to make new cells needed by our bodies is diminished”.
She refutes the notion that cholesterol is inherently bad. Instead, She says that “normal cholesterol in our food and bodies is not
the culprit, but oxidized cholesterol - created by polyunsaturated oils and encouraged
in diets low in protein, natural fat, vitamin D, B vitamins and magnesium, is the villain in the process that leads to hardened arteries
and heart disease”.
Ultimately, the war on cholesterol is a misleading one that is fuelled more by the interests of Big Pharma than science. You can read more about the role big Pharma plays in demonizing cholesterol by reading this article. To bookend this article, we will leave you with an excerpt from the 2012 book, The Great Cholesterol Myth (which we have edited slightly according to our own beliefs), that looks to separate fact from fiction when it comes to cholesterol.
Myth – High cholesterol is the cause of heart disease.
Fact – Cholesterol is only a minor player in the cascade of inflammation pathways, which is only one cause of heart disease.
Myth – High cholesterol is a predictor of heart attack.
Fact – There is no correlation between cholesterol and heart attack.
Myth – Lowering cholesterol with statin drugs will prolong your life.
Fact – There is no data to show that statins have a significant impact on longevity.
Myth – Statin drugs are safe.
Fact – Statin drugs can be extremely toxic including causing death if not managed appropriately.
Myth – Saturated fat is dangerous.
Fact – Saturated fats are not dangerous. The killer fats are the transfats from partially hydrogenated oils.
Myth – The higher the cholesterol, the shorter the lifespan.
Fact – Higher cholesterol protects you from gastrointestinal disease, pulmonary disease, heavy metals like mercury and hemorrhagic stroke.
Myth – A high carbohydrate diet protects you from heart disease.
Fact – Simple processed carbs and sugars predispose you to heart disease. A prolonged high carbohydrate diet will typically suppress important HDL cholesterol.
Myth – Fat is bad for your health.
Fact – Monounsaturated and saturated fats protect you from metabolic syndrome. Sugar is the foe in cardiovascular disease.
Myth – There is good (HDL) cholesterol and bad (LDL) cholesterol.
Fact – This is over-simplistic. You must fractionate LDL and HDL to assess the components and they do not always add up to the total cholesterol reported by a pathology lab.
Myth – Cholesterol causes heart disease.
Fact – Cholesterol is only an epidemiological theory in heart disease and not causal.
The reality is, that low cholesterol does not equal good health. Too many health professionals and people are hell-bent on lowering cholesterol without paying attention to the consequences or understanding the function cholesterol serves in the body.