You know the scene…your doctor tells you your cholesterol is too high. Panic sets in. Unknown what to do. Medication for life? Change in lifestyle? Diet? Life is over as you’ve known it…..
Not so fast. Yes, the diagnosis of too high cholesterol does dictate that you will need to change some things, but gaining the understanding of what is happening in your body makes it all so much easier to fix. If nothing less, watch the short video by Professor Sikaris to understand exactly what cholesterol’s role is in your overall feeling of health.
What Cholesterol Does in Our Body
Cholesterol is necessary for so many functions in our body and health. Way more than I knew before my research began. Let me try to make it easier to understand the basic ways we need it:
- 85% of the cholesterol in our body is made in the liver.
- Bile salts are made out of cholesterol
- Bile salts are needed for us to digest fats from our foods
- Cholesterol gives solidity to all our cell walls
- Cholesterol gives us the ability to absorb vitamin D (energy) from the sun
- Cholesterol is needed to produce all our steroid hormones: testosterone, estrogen, progesterone, etc.
In other words, cholesterol is not bad – its the life force that helps us function at our peak and have the energy to make it through every day.
Now lets think about cholesterol lowering medications – they are taking away our ability to process the fats out of your diet, make hormones and you create energy. Our goal is not to have you stop taking them yet, just to encourage you to research and learn more about what’s happening and what you can do to improve it.
How Did Cholesterol Get a Bad Reputation?
It all started with a study conducted in 1913 by Professor Nikolaj Nikolajewitsch Anitschkow. He fed rabbits cholesterol and determined that it led to atherosclerotic changes (plaque in the arteries). Two major errors with the experiment were later admitted by he and many other researchers but this did not stop the whirlwind of dietary changes came about from the results.
What were the errors with the experiment?
– rabbits are herbivores and thus do not eat the diet of saturated fats and meats that he gave them in the experiment
– no other animals that he tested had any similar plaque building reactions when tested in the same manner
This started the erroneous notion that eating high fat meals leads to plaque formations in our arteries.
This crazy swirl was further accelerated into action by the study, led by Ancel Keys and his research team determining that dietary fat created coronary artery disease through promoting plaque in the arteries.
See where this is leading?…
The American Heart Association began their recommendations to eat a low fat, high carbohydrate diet with use of only “vegetable” and canola oils – (read more about these below). Sadly our rates of increasing coronary heart disease just kept on rising because their recommendations were actually causing the body to store excess fats rather than getting rid of them.
Which Cholesterol is Good? Bad?
Is it good to bad to have high cholesterol? Our research could not be conclusive due to conflicting evidence between having more or less.
What it did (finally) clear up was what type of cholesterol was harmful and why. This was accomplished by a highly recommended expert in the field, Professor Ken Sikaris.
Basically, to summarize his findings:
- We eat foods and they are sent to our liver to be broken down.
- Our liver uses the food to makes VLDL (triglycerides or very low density lipoproteins).
- VLDL are sent out to our blood. They are used as cholesterol by the body until they are reduced in size to form LDL (low density lipoproteins).
- These LDL are transported back to the liver along with any extra cholesterol by HDL (high density lipoproteins) to be formed back into VLDL.
- Note here: high HDL levels measure the amount of cholesterol in the HD: not how many HDL carriers you have. Since cholesterol is helpful, higher levels of HDL are most often not harmful to us.
Here’s where the problem starts….
5. Too much sugars and too many harmful fats (see below) in a diet cause the liver to get too full of excess LDL. This wears out the HDL (carriers) and the liver. They both cannot deal with the excess LDL stores.
6. The LDL gets pushed out to the blood stream and…
-the LDL hangs around in the blood for too long and begins to shrink and turn into small, dense lipoproteins (sdLDL) – this is the bad stuff!
– the sdLDL it gets changed by glycation (sugars in the blood) and then taken up by macrophages (garbage collectors) to form plaque.
7. Plaque forms – blood flow lessens – heart needs to work harder – organs begin to wear out …and you feel tired and run down.
5 Steps To Eliminate Harmful sdLDL Cholesterol
Before I list the top five recommendations I want to answer the question we get about how to get correct cholesterol testing. Your overall cholesterol levels are unimportant. These just share that you have all forms of cholesterol working in your body to keep it functioning optimally.
The only level that matters is your sdLDL cholesterol levels (these are those small, dense excess LDL formations in your blood). Your doctor needs to test the size of your triglycerides/ cholesterol molecules with the amount so that you can determine how much sdLDL you have in your blood. A quick way to know is if your triglycerides are over 1.2 you have some sdLDL and if over 1.5 you have too much sdLDL.
Important: Our understanding of cholesterol has recently gone thru some major changes due to improvements in gene research. On that note, some doctors may not be aware of the newest information. We encourage you to find an educated doctor and/or bring your research with you to encourage the correct diagnosis and treatment options.
Here’s what the 5 Steps recommended by the newest experts in the field to lower your sdLDL cholesterol levels:
- Eating fewer carbohydrates – Reducing carbs has several cardio-protective effects. It reduces levels of small, dense LDL, reduces triglycerides, and increases HDL levels. A triple whammy. Our bodies do not need any carbs to be healthy and survive. Eat less breads, pastas, refined foods, processed foods and fast foods.
- Exercise and losing weight also reduce small, dense LDL. In fact, weight loss has been shown to reverse the sdLDL levels all by itself. Exercise speeds your metabolism, burns up the fats in your bloodstream and rids your body of toxins – all things that reduce the amount of sdLDL in your arteries. Think of it as a “good cleaning” of your body through sweating.
- Increase the healthy fats and eliminate the unhealthy ones. Stop using all vegetable, canola and soy oils today! These are very harmful transfats that will increase not only the plaque on your arteries, your heart and your liver, but also increase the inflammation in your body.
- Reduce the sugars and fructose in your diet. According to the Mayo Clinic, you’re likely to have higher triglyceride levels if you eat more sugars calories than you burn. Adding to this is the fact that excess glycogen (sugar and fructose) in your system creates the opportunity for more sdLDL formation (plaque – “bad” form of cholesterol).
- Take Statin drugs if you have a dangerous level or an inherited genetic disorder that predisposes you to form excess LDL. Statin drugs are not miracle pills, and have a large range of health-harming side effects…but they are the safest of the current drugs used for acute cases of high sdLDL cholesterol levels.
Our Recommendation….Test your sdLDL level….
if lower: Keep up the healthy lifestyle
if higher: Eat butter. Eat avocados. Eat grass fed animal fats. Reduce your intake of carbs, vegetable oils, sugars and processed foods, and stay active and within a healthy weight range.
In other words, if you want to reduce your risk of heart disease, do the opposite of the American Heart Association (and probably your doctor) tells you to do.