by Dr. David Minkoff February 07, 2023 4 min read
You’ve probably heard of the Cholesterol Hypothesis.
This is a hypothesis that higher levels of cholesterol, particularly LDL Cholesterol, are associated with higher rates of Heart Disease.
To prevent heart disease then, we take drugs known as statins that lower our liver’s ability to produce cholesterol.
This hypothesis has been so deeply ingrained in our understanding of how the body works, that the idea of challenging it is almost laughable. (Even though it’s still just a hypothesis after all these decades.)
However, over the last decade, more and more scientists and doctors have been doing just that, and for one very glaring reason: there is no evidence to support the hypothesis.
In fact, the only studies we have on the matter not only refute it, but actually show that more often than not, the situation is the opposite.
Mortality from Cardiovascular Disease among those 60 and above actually increases as cholesterol is lowered and decreases as cholesterol levels are raised. The same was seen in all-cause mortality rates. (1)
In fact, in astudy of 12.8 million adults, it was found that the lowest risk of heart disease and highest potential of survival, was in the 200 to 240 levels of total cholesterol. (2)
So let’s see what’s happening here.
Cholesterol is one of the most important chemicals in your body.
It’s necessary in building the membrane of your cells, producing vitamin d, and supporting your metabolism.
Key hormones such as estrogen and testosterone are made from it, and levels of these hormones will be very low if cholesterol production is low.
It’s vital to your cell’s ability to produce energy.
And it’s part of your body’s solution for injured blood vessels, which we’ll get to.
So what’s the problem?
Have you heard of good and bad cholesterol? Good is HDL and bad is LDL?
Actually, there aren’t two different kinds of cholesterol, only one: Cholesterol.
Here’s how it works:
Cholesterol is first made by the liver.
The liver then packages the cholesterol in a protein called a Low Density Lipo-Protein (LDL) and sends it to the cells where it's needed.
Then, when the cell is finished with the cholesterol, it packages it in another protein called a High Density Lipo-Protein (HDL) which sends it back to the liver to be broken down and gotten rid of.
The proteins HDL and LDL are just transportation proteins, nothing more.
Both are needed equally.
But heart disease...
Now we get to the crux of the matter.
The rationale behind cholesterol being the cause of heart disease has to do with cholesterol building up in your arteries, clogging them, and making it harder for blood cells to pass through.
This causes your heart to have to beat harder to try to shove the blood cells through this narrowed passage.
This is true. But... the cholesterol isn't there because you ate cholesterol.
And this is important, because if we don’t spot this, then we won’t see what’s actually causing the problem here. And it is a very real problem.
This is a case of the cart coming before the horse.
When toxins are in your blood stream: trans fats, herbicides, high levels of processed sugars — these things injure the walls of your blood vessels.
This is a real injury, much like a scraped knee.
And when you scrape your knee your body puts a sort of bandage on it, right? A scab made of blood cells.
Well, your blood vessels have a bandage the body puts on them when they become injured. And that bandage is made of cholesterol.
So maybe you’re consuming high levels of sugar. Sugar causes inflammation to blood vessels, which is why it needs to be cleared out fast.
But you’re eating so much sugar that your body has trouble clearing it out and it stays in your blood vessels longer than it should.
Over the years, along with trans fats and other toxins, this causes injuries to our blood vessels.
Obviously you can’t have holes in an artery. So your body needs to put bandages on these points.
So it sends cholesterol to cover them up.
But do you see this? The cholesterol is put there because something injured the blood vessel, not just because you ate cholesterol-rich food or had high levels of cholesterol in your blood.
Even if you removed all cholesterol-rich food from your diet, your liver would still produce cholesterol to put on an injured blood vessel.
It has to.
The real solution to prevent high blood pressure is to lower toxins in your body, lower sugar levels, especially processed sugars — not lower the cholesterol that your body needs to survive.
During this program you may find that your cholesterol levels rise… and that you are feeling better and better.
This is fine. This is good.
Your blood flow is better, your cells are healthier, your body is able to make the hormones it needs to properly function.
However, if you have any real worry, ask to have your inflammation markers tested.
If those are high, then yes, there is a problem that needs to be addressed, because the high inflammation means there is injury to blood vessels to one degree or another.
But it won’t be prevented by lowering cholesterol. It will be prevented by removing from your body those things causing the inflammation.
And the raising of cholesterol levels on their own, without a rise in inflammation, is healthy and actually necessary when we seek to improve muscle mass and balance hormones.
Of course, always check with your primary care physician and follow their advice.
We want you the healthiest you can possibly be.
I hope this helps.
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by Dr. David Minkoff
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