The Myth of Cholesterol

By Dr. Michael Roth

 

It seems common knowledge in this day and age that a high cholesterol count is bad for your health. Cholesterol is blamed for heart attacks and arterial disease. As a holistic chiropractor, I see patients who are stressed because they have been told they have high cholesterol. Yet, remembering that our bodies are innately programmed for wellness and wholeness, let’s take a look at just what cholesterol is and why we need it.

Cholesterol is a soft, waxy substance that occurs naturally in all parts of the body. Your body needs some cholesterol to work properly. Cholesterol is found not only in your bloodstream, but also in every cell in your body, where it helps to produce cell membranes, hormones, vitamin D and bile acids that help you to digest fat. Cholesterol also helps in the formation of your memories and is vital for neurological function.

 

Cholesterol comes from two sources: your body and food. Your liver and other cells in your body make about 75 percent of blood cholesterol. The other 25 percent comes from the foods you eat.

 

Cholesterol has received plenty of negative media over the last decade as the reason behind heart attacks and arterial disease. Yet, several pivotal studies have shown that cholesterol is not the cause behind problems of the heart as once thought.

 

Cholesterol has been blamed for heart disease, however inflammation is actually the true culprit. When the body experiences an inflammatory response due to an injury, the system responds by constricting blood vessels, thickening the blood, and triggering cells to multiply in order to repair the damage.

 

Cholesterol is produced because cells need it to form. It helps create plaque in our blood vessels when a damaged artery needs to be repaired. When an individual is in a chronic state of inflammation, the risk of high blood pressure and heart attack greatly increases. It is the chronic inflammation, not the cholesterol that increases the risk of heart attack and high blood pressure.

 

The Great Cholesterol Myth authors Jonny Bowden, Ph.D. and cardiologist Stephen Sinatra reviewed the data of numerous studies and found that cholesterol levels are not a good predictor of heart attacks:

• Half of the people who have heart attacks have normal cholesterol

• Half of the people with high cholesterol have healthy hearts

• Keeping cholesterol levels low has few benefits

The Framingham Heart Study, which began in 1948 and continues to this day, distinctly shows that those who lived the longest were inclined to be in the highest cholesterol category.

 

In another study in the 1990s, researchers in France decided to observe the effect of different diets on heart disease. One group was asked to eat the American Heart Association diet that is low in fat and cholesterol. The second group ate a Mediterranean diet, rich in fish, omega-3 fatty acids, vegetables, and olive oil.

 

The study ended early because the results of the Mediterranean diet were so striking. Those in this group had a 70 percent reduction in fatal heart attacks, yet their high cholesterol levels remained the same throughout the study!

Flickr photo credit Kelly Sue Deconnick

So, what does this all mean to you? Turn your attention away from your cholesterol level number and the pharmaceuticals that you may be using to “control” it and put your attention on the things that you can control that will make a difference. Eat healthy foods, take nutritional supplements and reduce your stress to improve your heart health.

 

Please call Amber in our Ventura office at (805) 644-0461 and make an appointment with me for an office visit to discuss the health of your heart and body. Your choices do affect your health and your health is more than just a number!