- Good vs Bad? Why the cholesterol cliché isn’t quite true
- Unfairly maligned, the truth about this so-called killer
- The real reason your cholesterol is high
I’m in the doghouse.
The other day, I forgot to put out the recycling for the bin collectors.
We keep the recycling in the garage to stop it being blown away in the winds or being searched through by desperate foxes.
Now, me forgetting to take out the bins is hardly a big drama. But I forgot the week before… and, er, the week before that.
It’s one of my jobs in the household, so I cannot blame Lara, otherwise she’ll start making me do the laundry, heaven forbid! (Pink clothes, shrunken tops, and t-shirts speckled with tissue from pockets is what happens when I am in control of the washing machine.)
Which means it’s my fault there’s now a big pile of cardboard, paper, glass and plastic outside the garage door.
Two things struck me about the pile…
One – that even though we try and minimise our use of packaging in the Collins household, we still end up with a lot of unwanted material.
Shudder to think what some people might build up if they didn’t try and put the brakes on it!
And the other thing that struck me about this pile was…
I know, I know, that sounds odd. But that’s the way my obsessive brain works. Writing this newsletter does this to me – I have health matters on the brain at all times, even when I am standing in the garage looking at rubbish.
But my analogy might help you understand the problems with cholesterol, and why the medical establishment’s approach isn’t always necessarily the best.
Good vs Bad? Why the cholesterol cliché isn’t quite true
As you might know, cholesterol is a kind of fatty deposit. Which immediately makes you think of something unhealthy, but it isn’t actually harmful.
Cholesterol forms a crucial part of all the cellular membranes in your body. You need it for metabolism, hormone production, and good cell health, particularly in your brain and nerves.
The way cholesterol moves through your blood is by binding to proteins called lipoproteins.
However, like my recycling pile in the garage, cholesterol lipoproteins can build up in your bloodstream.
Fortunately, there is a recycling team in your body.
See, your liver makes high-density lipoproteins (HDL) that go out and grab that excess cholesterol, then ship it back to the liver where it is broken down into bile acids, used to help digest food, then excreted from your body.
This is why HDL is considered ‘good cholesterol’.
It’s the friendly neighbourhood recycling team doing something good with unwanted and unnecessary items in your home.
There is another type of lipoprotein known as Low Density Lipoprotein (LDL).
This does the opposite to the HDL.
It carries cholesterol out of your liver, using it to repair damaged blood vessels, then on to your heart.
When a lot of LDL starts to build up, your GP will consider you at a higher risk of heart attack and may prescribe statins, depending on the levels of LDL found.
But it’s not the cholesterol that’s the problem.
The real reason your cholesterol is high
The LDL cholesterol is being used to fix or patch up problems that come from other underlying problems. These could include high blood pressure, or chronic inﬂammation, for instance.
It’s THOSE problems that you need to address, not simply lowering cholesterol as if that is the enemy.
In fact, many studies have shown that simply lowering LDL cholesterol does not prevent heart attacks in healthy people.
Which brings us to the problem of the old cliché of ‘bad cholesterol’.
Yes, it does help the public understand that too much build up is a bad thing, but it ends up with LDL cholesterol being on a BRITAIN’S MOST WANTED CRIMINAL poster when it’s just the messenger.
Really, when the GP spots high cholesterol in our blood, what we need to focus on are things like stress, poor sleep, bad diet, too much sugary food and inflammation problems.
Just take stress as one example…
- Stressful life events, as well as depression, anxiety, and anger issues have been linked to higher heart attack risk.
- Stress increases homocysteine, which is linked with an increased risk of heart attack and stroke.
- Stress causes abdominal fat deposits that can lead to type 2 diabetes, hypertension and heart attacks.
- Stress can constrict your coronary arteries and also lead to the formation of clots.
But instead of helping you focus on underlying problem like stress, GPs tend to have a blanket approach to high cholesterol, prescribing statins to anyone with a 20% risk or more of developing heart disease, as if it’s just a case of getting rid of LDL and everything will be fine.
And of course, this attitude perfectly suits the makers of cholesterol drugs, as well as the manufacturers of low fat packaged foods and other cholesterol friendly diet products.
Which is why the truth struggles to be heard.
So while you should listen when your GP talks of raised cholesterol levels, you should also think about how your lifestyle could be affecting them, rather than blindly resorting to pills.
As I’ve written about in previous letters, the jury is out on the long-term health risks of statins, which is why I’d recommend you try an alternative based on Bergamot, a fruit with a high concentration of polyphenols and flavonoids, plus special compounds that block one of the key enzymes in the production of ‘bad’ cholesterol.
Taken long term, you could see a 30% reduction in total cholesterol as well as improved blood pressure.
To learn more about BergaMet, check out our page here.
That’s it from me. I’ll be back on Sunday with something very exciting that you might not know about mushrooms and their extraordinary benefits.
No, I don’t mean the magic ones…
And no, I don’t mean the deliciousness of a pizza ai funghi either.
You’ll see what I mean on Sunday – this is something I’ve never shown you before!
Yours, as always,