Cholesterol, Health & Lifespan

July 09, 2024 6 min read

Cholesterol, Health & Lifespan

Disclaimer: This article is purely informational and makes no claims as to treatment or cure by or from any supplement or program BodyHealth may offer. If you or someone you know has any heart condition, we recommend you see a doctor trained in functional medicine to help you locate the cause of the condition and recommend a solution for it.

Did you know cholesterol is actually good for us? And not only that, but necessary for our survival?

In fact, without it, our energy levels would be low, our cells would function sub-optimally, we could have hormone deficiencies, and our longevity would... decrease.

I know that probably flies in the teeth of what you've been told, but bear with me. 

You've probably heard of the Cholesterol Hypothesis.

It states that higher levels of cholesterol, particularly LDL Cholesterol, are associated with higher rates of Heart Disease.

And so, to prevent heart disease, we must 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 this time.)

However, over the last decade, more and more scientists and doctors have been challenging it, and for one very important reason: there is no evidence to back it up.

In fact, the only studies that exist on the matter (of which there are many) not only refute it, but show that more often than not, the situation is the opposite.

And that Mortality from Cardiovascular Disease among those 60 and above actually increases as cholesterol is lowered, and decreases as cholesterol levels are raised... (1)

The same was seen in all-cause mortality rates.

In a study 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)

That's right.

So what's happening here?

Let's see.


WHAT IS CHOLESTEROL? (LDL & HDL)


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 also 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.

But most people have heard that there’s good and bad cholesterol. Good being HDL and bad being LDL.

Actually, there aren’t two different kinds of cholesterol, only one: Cholesterol.

Here’s how it works:

Cholesterol is 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, but cholesterol is just cholesterol.

So where does heart disease come in?


HOW IS CHOLESTEROL LINKED TO 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 so they are narrower, and making it harder for blood cells to pass through.

About 25% of our blood vessels are actually smaller in diameter than the blood cells trying to pass through them. So these blood cells have to squish down and elongate to make it through.

If something like cholesterol is added, the passageway becomes more narrow, so it’s harder for them to get through.

This causes your heart to have to beat harder to try to shove the blood cells through this narrowed passage.

So this is true, cholesterol added here does clog these blood vessels.

But... the cholesterol isn't there because you ate cholesterol. (Cholesterol you eat, if unneeded, is just broken down and gotten rid of by the liver. It’s the liver that makes almost all of the cholesterol that is actually used in our body.)

And this is important, because if we don’t spot this, then we won’t see what’s actually causing the problem here. And there 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.

So your body needs to put bandages on these points.

So it sends cholesterol to cover them up.

But look at this now. The cholesterol is put there because something injured the blood vessel, not just because you ate cholesterol-rich food.

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.

And that’s what the statins block. They poison your liver’s ability to produce as much cholesterol so less is going to bandage these injuries.

But then the injuries aren’t bandaged and get worse, and they can still lead to a heart attack. Because high blood pressure is only one of the things that can contribute to that, there are much more.

But we’ll cover that in the next article.

Now, these injuries may have gotten so bad that on an immediate basis, while we work to heal them, we need to take statins. Maybe.

But we need to know the actual cause here or we’ll fixing something that isn’t broken and not fixing what is.

The real solution to prevent high blood pressure is to lower toxins in our body, lower sugar levels, especially processed sugars, remove harmful bacteria in our blood stream (yes, it gets in there), raise omega 3 levels (makes the blood cells squishier so it’s easier for them to pass through) — but not to lower the cholesterol that your body needs to survive.

During the Fat Loss 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.

But 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, balance hormones, increase testosterone levels, increase overall health and energy (cholesterol is necessary for energy production too), and increase longevity.

Of course, always check with your primary care physician and follow their advice. 

But we want you the healthiest you can possibly be.

In the next article we’ll dive into the actual causes of heart disease, and how to prevent and reverse those causes over time.

I hope this helps.


REFERENCES:


1. Lack of an association or an inverse association between low-density-lipoprotein cholesterol and mortality in the elderly: a systematic review

2. Total cholesterol and all-cause mortality by sex and age: a prospective cohort study among 12.8 million adults

    Read the next article in the series

    *These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.