Dr. Kathleen Jones
Cholesterol – High or Low, Good or Bad
For nearly two decades, the topic of cholesterol was rarely discussed. Now, cholesterol is the scapegoat for nearly every case dealing with heart disease. It’s plastered on billboards; it’s on commercials and on signs in your doctor’s offices. Each display piece is trying to persuade you for the need of medications to lower cholesterol and listing the consequences if it goes too high. But what if high cholesterol was really just your body’s attempt to heal and repair? Cholesterol is needed for fat digestion, the utilization of Vitamin D, hormone production, and repair and growth of every cell in the body. The notion that cholesterol is the cause of heart disease is very much engrained in most people’s minds.
Fortunately, it is a myth that is slowly being put to rest. Cholesterol is a vital component of every cell membrane on Earth. Lowering cholesterol too much actually increases mortality risk. People with low cholesterol do not fight off infections as readily. Cholesterol is also a precursor to all of the steroid hormones. You cannot make estrogen, testosterone, cortisone, and a host of other vital hormones without cholesterol. Do you have arthritis? For those with inflammatory diseases, cholesterol is necessary to heal the damaged cells. Remember, cholesterol is a vital component of every cell membrane…you cannot repair or make new healthy cells without it. When someone is in a healing phase or if there are toxic elements and infection to deal with, the cholesterol will go higher but that’s a normal response to healing. So, in short…we’re not so worried about cholesterol. We want to investigate why the cholesterol is high.
What can high and low cholesterol do to the body?
• Is associated with longevity among the elderly • Protects the body against infections • Reduces the risk of death from heart failure/attacks • Protects the heart from stress/injury
• Greater risk for infection/diseases • Linked to malabsorption/malnutrition • Decreases Vitamin D production • Reduces the metabolism of fat soluble vitamins (including: Vitamin A, D, E, K)
The American Heart Association has “bad” and “good” classifications of parts of the cholesterol. LDL cholesterol is typically classified as “bad” cholesterol because it is thought to contribute to plaque. Plaque is a thick and hard deposit that can clog arteries and make them less flexible. HDL is considered to be “good” type of cholesterol. HDL is important for the synthesis of steroid hormones and transports cholesterol away from the arteries and into the liver for excretion or re-utilization.
First, we must address that there is no such thing as “good” or “bad” cholesterol. Cholesterol is just… cholesterol. HDL and LDL are lipoproteins, which means they are fats combined with proteins. These lipoproteins combine with other fats and proteins to be carried through the bloodstream. Since fats have a hard time traveling in the bloodstream, proteins are needed to shuttle the fat into tissues or cells making cholesterol the most vital component of every cell membrane on this Earth. By lowering the cholesterol, the body doesn’t have that tool to shuttle fat into tissues or repair cell members. When you have faulty cells because of low cholesterol, it increases mortality risk. Cholesterol has the ability to spike if there is a need for healing or repairing of the body’s tissues.
Instead of relying on the medication group called “statins” to help regulate your cholesterol levels. Why not figure out WHY your cholesterol is high? As stated earlier, cholesterol is typically high because the body is trying to heal something. Why not support that process? Supporting that process will result in normalizing cholesterol levels when the cholesterol has done it job. Here are a few things to consider to support healing and repair and optimize cholesterol levels (5):
• Make sure to take a high quality, animal based omega 3-fat…AKA: Fish Oil. • Reduce grains and sugars in your daily diet. • Add in more vegetables and healthy fats. • Monitor your Vitamin D levels. Vitamin D levels should be between 50-90 ng/mL. • Exercise Daily • Avoid smoking and/or drinking alcohol • Take a daily multiple vitamin. Refer to our previous newsletter “How to Choose a Multiple Vitamin”. • Consume ginger, turmeric and Vitamin C to help reduce inflammation. You can consume these ingredients in foods or concentrated in supplement form.
What can you do to truly monitor your heart health? Have a comprehensive blood test done. It is important the blood test include the following tests which can give you a good picture of your overall heart health and tendency toward disease:
• C-Reactive Protein • Creatine Kinase • Complete Cholesterol Panel: HDL, VLDL, LDL, and Total Cholesterol/HDL Ratio • Triglycerides • Hemoglobin A1C/Glucose • Platelets • B-Type Natriuretic Peptide (BNP): This is a blood test that checks a substance secreted by the ventricles of the heart during response to excessive stretching (stress) of heart muscle cells in the ventricles. If there is an elevation of BNP, it can show left ventricular dysfunction and can correlate with severity of symptoms and prognosis of congestive heart failure. BNP is a great test to check cardiovascular risk.
In our clinic, our job is not to have you stop your medication. Our job is to work with you to get you healthy enough so you no longer need the medication. One can only do this with proper testing and monitoring. By completing a comprehensive blood panel and tissue mineral analysis, we will be able to determine your starting point and exactly what changes need to be made and then retesting to document progress.
By optimizing the body’s foundation with the correct supplements and dietary guidelines specifically designed for you based on your test results, you can see drastic changes in just weeks. Prevention is key. So even if you feel like you don’t have heart disease symptoms, it is never too early to start monitoring. Set up your consultation today to get started on a healthier lifestyle!
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Stone NJ, Robinson JG, Lichtenstein AH, et al. 2013 ACC/AHA Guideline on the Treatment of Blood Cholesterol to Reduce Atherosclerotic Cardiovascular Risk in Adults: A Report of the American College of Cardiology/American Heart Association Task Force on Practice Guidelines. J Am Coll Cardiol. 2014;63(25_PA):2889-2934. doi:10.1016/j.jacc.2013.11.002.