What you need to know about cholesterol

What is cholesterol?

Cholesterol is a fat-like, soft, waxy substance found not only in the bloodstream, but also in every cell of the body. Cholesterol is essential for all animal life.
  • Cholesterol is an essential component of all cell membranes, for structural integrity, fluidity and viability.
  • It plays an important role in brain health, memory formation and is vital for neurological function.
  • Cholesterol is a precursor for the biosynthesis of bile acid that help you to digest fat and all steroid hormones; estrogen, progesterone, testosterone, cortisone, and many other vital hormones. The body can’t make hormones without cholesterol!
  • UVB rays of the sun interact with the cholesterol on the skin and convert it to vitamin D.
  • Cholesterol is also important for the metabolism of fat soluble vitamins, including vitamins A, D, E, and K.
You need cholesterol!

Who decided what is healthy or harmful?

The theory of “Lipid Hypothesis,” developed in the 1950s, linked dietary fat to coronary heart disease. It made headline news! The demonization of butter, red meat, animal fats, eggs, whole milk, butter, cheese and other fat containing foods began, because science blamed animal fats for and labeled them as “artery clogging” due to cholesterol. The unsuspecting general public, who had never heard anything like this before, was encouraged to limit or eliminate saturated fats from their diets. This was a radical change from hundreds of previous generations who ate pasture-raised beef, whole eggs, cooked with lard and butter, and consumed all their foods without fear or consequence, living well and enjoying optimal health into their 80’s and 90’s. Cholesterol wasn’t identified until 1769 A.D., so I wonder, how did humans not only survive, but thrive and subdue the earth, create great civilizations and achieve amazing things over thousands of years without monitoring their cholesterol?

Dead scientists are speaking up! The prominent and influential nutritional researchers of the mid-20th century, who contributed to the low-fat recommendations adopted by public health organizations, did some follow-up research from 1968 to1973 on participants who were residents of state mental hospitals and nursing homes, ages 20-97. Their unpublished clinical trials were found, which disproved their original 'harmful cholesterol' hypotheses and revealed that while replacing saturated fat with vegetable oil lowered total cholesterol, for every 30 point drop there was a 22% increase in mortality. Vegetable oil consumption also did not result in fewer cases of atherosclerosis or heart attacks. These researchers had been funded by the industries who profited from their favorable findings and suppressed the damning studies that surfaced later, because they didn’t serve their purposes. More recent studies proved the 'Lipid Hypothesis' wrong and that saturated fats are healthy.

Total cholesterol is the sum total of HDL (High Density Lipoprotein), LDL (Low-Density-Lipoprotein), IDL (Intermediate-Density-Lipoprotein) and VLDL (Very-Low-Density-Lipoprotein), but who ever hears about IDL and VLDL? Some cholesterol is labeled good (HDL) and some bad (LDL), but there is no such thing as “good” or “bad” cholesterol. There is only one type of cholesterol, which is fats of different densities combined with proteins. Fat and watery blood don’t mix well, so dietary fats must be combined with proteins to form lipoproteins for the purpose of transporting dietary fats to tissues. Cholesterol is just cholesterol; lipoproteins.

If cholesterol was “bad” your body would remove it via the kidneys or intestines, instead of recycling it back to the liver where it is produced. The liver reuses cholesterol, putting it back into circulation, to conserve the cholesterol because it is vital for health.

People with high cholesterol live longer!

More than 90% of people who die from a heart attack or stroke have passed the age of 65, yet old people with low cholesterol die twice as often from heart attack as old people with high cholesterol. So, this means it is actually much better to have high, rather than low cholesterol if you want to live longer. This is not a rare exception, but the findings of studies conducted on old people showing that high cholesterol is not a risk factor for coronary heart disease, which contradicts the lipid hypothesis. High cholesterol is a terrible predictor for heart attacks. In fact, high cholesterol does not predict all-cause mortality either.

America ranks highest in a lot of areas with regard to poor health, but surprisingly, we are in the middle in terms of average total cholesterol worldwide. Americans average unmedicated total cholesterol is 197, just below the line for high risk, while other countries average 232-244.

Infants born with high cholesterol are protected against infection, while those with Smith-Lemli-Opitz syndrome have very low cholesterol because the enzyme that is necessary for the last step in the body’s synthesis of cholesterol does not function properly. Most children with this syndrome are stillborn or they die early due to serious malformations of the brain. Those who survive are mentally retarded, have extremely low cholesterol levels, and suffer from frequent and severe infections. However, when their cholesterol levels are increase, they enjoy fewer and less severe infections.

People with low cholesterol are admitted to the hospital more often due to infections. The infections didn’t cause cholesterol to go down, because the cholesterol level was recorded prior to the onset of infection. Low cholesterol made them more susceptible to infection. Bacteria and other microorganisms play an important role in chronic heart failure and so the risk of heart failure is greater among people with Systemic Candidiasis, Leaky Gut and low cholesterol.

Low cholesterol (under 200) is associated with
  • depression, anxiety, impulsive behaviors, and violent mood swings. Cholesterol affects serotonin metabolism, which regulates mood. There is a connection between lowered brain serotonin activity caused by lowered cholesterol levels and insomnia, suicide, violent behavior and aggression.
  • hemorrhagic stroke (below 180)
  • hyperthyroidism or overactive thyroid
  • liver disease
  • mitral valve prolapse (MVP)
  • inadequate absorption of nutrients from the intestines; malabsorption, malnutrition, vitamin and mineral deficiencies
  • bleeding tendencies
  • higher risk of cancer and Parkinson’s disease
  • lowering cholesterol too much increases one’s risk of dying

In my 20's, I ate fast food for lunch when I could afford it and processed food I made at home. My diet consisted of processed meats, refined carbohydrates, hydrogenated oils and a lot of sugar. A doctor told me I was overweight and my cholesterol was elevated. He recommended a low-fat diet. Then I got very, very sick, and was unable to eat much of anything. I was thin and the doctor praised me for my consistently low (140's) cholesterol levels, but these were false positives. I had numerous nutritional deficiencies and chronic infections that were developing into disease conditions. When my leaky gut was completely healed, I could consume and digest saturated fats again. My weight stabilized at a healthy size 6, my cholesterol increased to 192, and I could think, sleep, breathe, smile and laugh again.

The Standard American Diet (SAD)

When Americans cut nutritious animal fats from their diet, they were left hungry, so the food industry happily filled that void. Science came to the rescue with new “heart healthy” fat substitutes, consisting of hydrogenated and partially hydrogenated vegetable oils, whose chemical structure had been altered to prevent rancidity and extend the shelf life of processed foods. Americans were also introduced to refined, processed carbohydrates and high-fructose corn syrup, which were later linked to metabolic catastrophes; epidemics of diabetes and obesity. Humans all over the planet have seen more changes in their diet in a lifetime than their ancestors did over thousands of years. All of these new food ingredients were incorrectly viewed by an unsuspecting public as a healthier option, thanks to misinformation created and aggressively promoted by the industries who profit from increased sales.

Sugar Consumption : Obesity Prevalence
There is a direct link between the increased amount of sugar consumed and obesity prevalence.

Americans are consuming massive amounts of refined sugars, reaching about 150 lbs (67 kg) per person per year. This amounts to over 500 calories per day of hidden sugars in processed and fast foods and beverages. The consequences are evident everywhere; insulin resistance/diabetes, elevated cholesterol and triglycerides, cardiovascular disease, cancer, systemic candidiasis and leaky gut, kidney disease, hypertension, obesity and metabolic syndrome. Generally speaking, Americans are consuming about 20% more calories per day as compared to 40 years ago, so it makes sense that Americans are weighing about 20% more.

Obesity by age group

Low fat - obesity chart
Low-fat dietary guidelines were published around the same time the obesity epidemic began.

The first dietary guidelines were published in 1977. The media told Americans that saturated fat and cholesterol were bad and blessed refined carbohydrates, which occupied a very large portion of the ‘4 food groups’ pyramid. Akin to this bad advice was the idea 'fat makes you fat'. The truth is, fat and protein switch the body’s metabolism from fat storing to fat burning. Since these guidelines were published, numerous studies revealed that a low-fat diet is completely ineffective at preventing heart disease, obesity or cancer and that it may increase the incidence of these disease conditions.

Food Pyramid

Fat substitutes

Saturated fat has been thought of as the worst kind of fat, but trans-fatty acids are the ultimate enemy of health. Hydrogenated and partially hydrogenated fats became widely produced industrially for use in margarine, snack food, baked goods, and frying fast food since the 1950’s and have displaced natural solid fats and liquid oils in foods. Hydrogenation converts polyunsaturated, liquid vegetable fats into saturated trans fats that stay solid at room temperature, have a higher melting point, tolerate much higher cooking temperatures, makes it less prone to rancidity (so it can be used by restaurants in deep-friers for a longer period of time than most conventional oils before becoming spoiled) and extends the shelf life of the products that contain it, like cookies, crackers, and ready-made meals. The process of partial hydrogenation produces a product that contains about 40% trans fatty acids by weight. Science has revealed that the trans fats in hydrogenated and partially hydrogenated vegetable oils are artery-inflaming.

Artificial trans fats are chemically different from naturally occurring trans fats that are present in many animal foods in trace amounts. Shortenings contain around 30% synthetic trans fats compared to their total fats. Margarines, not reformulated to contain less than 1% trans fat, may contain up to 15% trans fat by weight. Full-fat dairy products, such as butter, contain about 4% natural trans fats. The FDA distinguishes non-conjugated synthetic trans fats from naturally occurring fatty acids with conjugated trans double bonds, such as conjugated linoleic acid. Animal based trans fats like conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) are known for having anticancer properties, helps fight inflammation and can reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease.

In 2003, the FDA regulations required manufacturers to list trans fats on the nutrition facts panel of foods, though some companies petitioned for extensions in 2008. The FDA did not approve claims such as “trans fat free” or “low trans fat”. However, based on current U.S. labeling requirements, a manufacturer could claim the product is "free of trans fats" if it contains less than 6% trans fat. Nutrition labels are not only confusing but deceptive, particularly when it comes to trans fats. Many foods advertised as “zero grams of trans fats” do, in fact, contain up to 0.5 grams of trans fats per serving, and their health claims are a smoke screen for hiding other less healthy ingredients. The average American consumes 5.8 grams of trans fats per day, which far exceeds the FDA suggested daily limit of 1 to 2 grams per day. They are eating several servings of multiple products in the course of a day, so it adds up. Trans fats are hiding behind other names that appear harmless on the nutrient label.

Poisonous even in the smallest amounts, the consumption of synthetic trans fats has been consistently associated with increased risk of coronary heart disease, because it raises LDL while lowering HDL, and increases triglycerides in the blood stream. Trans fats promote systemic inflammation and immune system overactivity, are implicated in the development of obesity, high blood pressure, Alzheimers, liver dysfunction, infertility, mood changes, diminished memory, stroke, neurological disorders, Type 2 diabetes and greater risk for heart disease. Trans fats are more deleterious to health than saturated fatty acids were ever thought to be. Their effects are much worse when the oil is heated, which creates a carcinogen called '
acrylamide'. No amount of artificial trans fats is safe!

In 2013, the FDA determined that partially hydrogenated oils (which contain artificial trans fats) are not “generally recognized as safe” (GRAS). In 2015 the FDA set a three-year time limit requiring that all food prepared in the United States must not include trans fats, unless approved by the FDA. Life and health insurance companies own more than $1.9 billion worth of stocks in the five largest fast-food corporations, because their products are loaded with dangerous additives like trans fats, addictive high-fructose corn syrup, sodium chloride, MSG, GMO ingredients, and are known to have a negative effect on public health because they lack the nutrients needed to maintain health. They make money by directly investing in fast food, and they make money by charging higher premiums to people who are obese, have diabetes, cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure, etc. as a direct consequence of eating fast food. Fast food chains are not going to hurt their investors by taking trans fats and other harmful ingredients off the menu.

digestion food combining

Palm oil is increasingly being used by food manufacturers as an alternative to partially hydrogenated oils. A 2006 study supported by the NIH and USDA concluded that palm oil is not a safe substitute, because it results in adverse changes in blood concentrations of LDL and apolipoprotein B, just as trans fat does. However, palm oil is once again an accepted replacement for hydrogenated and partially hydrogenated vegetable oils.

Oxidized omega-6 fats are the problem, not saturated fats.

Omega-6 polyunsaturated fats are essential for human health because the body cannot manufacture them, but the body needs some Omega-6 in correct 1:1 proportion to Omega-3, and both from whole food sources. The diet of many individuals today is at a ratio of about 16:1, mainly from vegetable oils in processed foods and changes in how beef cattle are raised. Simple changes, such as feeding cattle grain instead of pasture grasses, has simultaneously decreased the omega-3 and increased the omega-6 content of their meat. Excess Omega-6 polyunsaturated fats cannot be burned as fuel, so they are incorporated into cellular and mitochondrial membrane structures. There, they alter enzymatic pathways that subsequently induce cardiac arrhythmias, and the fats are highly susceptible to oxidative damage. Mitochondria in cells are unable to deliver ample amounts of energy to the brain, organs and extremities. Trans fatty acids cause the same damage on a cellular level.

% Linoleic acid in US body fat
The increased vegetable oil consumption has changed the fatty acid composition of our bodies

Omega-6 (linoleic acid) gets incorporated into our cell membranes and body fat stores. These fats are prone to oxidation, which damages molecules (like DNA) in the body, causing harmful structural changes in the body, and may increase the risk of cancer.

Traditional Fats Abandon for Processed Vegetable Oils
People have abandoned traditional fats in favor of processed vegetable oils

Excessive consumption of Omega-6 fatty acids can contribute to inflammation and increased risk of heart disease when they aren’t hydrogenated. Hydrogenation makes them high in trans fats, increasing the risk of heart disease even more. The misguided advice to avoid saturated fats and choose vegetable oils has fueled the heart disease epidemic.

Other problems with vegetable oils

  • Trans fats increase LDL and decrease HDL. Promoted as “heart healthy,” these fat substitutes are guilty of the very thing cholesterol-rich foods are being blamed for.
  • Trans fats do not occur in nature. They are man-made. Bugs won’t touch it and it barely decomposes at all.
  • Vegetable oils are made from genetically engineered (GMO) crops, loaded with toxic herbicide residues, which presents additional health risks.
  • The body has an electrical system. All cell membranes are made of fats that are insulators and connected through a conductor, which sets up a biological capacitor to store electrons. This only works with the right kind of fat. If damaged fats (heated and hydrogenated oils) are consumed, the fatty acids in the cell membrane can’t function and are unable to store body voltage, thus increasing the risk of disease.
  • Trans fatty acids have a much higher melting point, so they are able to stay solid at room temperature. It becomes more liquid when cooked and then hardens again when it cools, inside you; clogging arteries, keeping oxygen and nutrients from reaching the brain, muscles and major organs, and leading to chronic diseases that kill humans slowly and miserably. Reduced oxygen in the body creates an environment hospitable to the growth of Candida yeast and cancer. There is no pill for this, so dietary and lifestyle changes are the only answer.
  • Trans fats are acidifying to the body.
  • Trans fats block the production of chemicals that combat inflammation and benefit the hormonal and nervous systems, while allowing chemicals that increase inflammation. Vegetable oils promote gut inflammation, leaky gut and heartburn / indigestion / acid reflux / GERD.
  • Vegetable oils turn your immune system against the body by affecting white blood cells.
  • Trans fatty acids are linked to cancer and heart attacks
  • Vegetable oils are at work in autism and other childhood neurologic disorders, by disturbing blood flow through the brain, depleting the brain of antioxidants, and overloading brain cells causing oxidative stress (when the level of toxic reactive oxygen intermediates overcomes the endogenous antioxidant defenses of the body). Antioxidants can only help to reverse this process if diet and lifestyle changes are made and practiced indefinitely. When this affects the paler tissue of the brain and spinal cord, consisting mainly of nerve fibers with their myelin sheaths (white matter), it affects mobility. When it affects the darker tissue of the brain and spinal cord, consisting mainly of nerve cell bodies and branching dendrites (gray matter), it affects personality and the ability to connect with the world.
  • Vegetable oil has mutagenic effects on DNA and alters epigenetic (gene) expression.

All fats are not created equal.

The fats from wild animals and wild caught fish are rich in Omega-3’s and therefore different from the fats in todays farm-animals, which are cooped up and stuffed with agricultural grains (carbohydrates), instead of pasture raised. Omega-3 fats help raise HDL cholesterol, lower triglycerides, and are known for anti-clotting effects in arteries and put a damper on runaway inflammatory processes, which play a part in atherosclerosis, arthritis, diabetes, and other diseases of civilization. Earlier civilizations had much higher proportions of palmitic acid (saturated fat), stearic acid (saturated fat), palmitoleic acid (omega-7), and eicosapentaenoic acid (omega-3) and a significantly lower proportion of linoleic acid (omega-6), with almost no heart disease due to diets consisting of high levels of saturated and Omega-3 fats, and very low levels of Omega-6 fats. I want to emphasized that a diet rich in high quality whole food proteins, saturated fats, and omega-3 fats that are not over cooked or cooked at high temperatures appears to dramatically reduce the risk of heart disease.

The general public doesn’t know about the dangers of “hydrogenated” and “partially-hydrogenated” oils. Processed food on supermarket shelves is poisoned with reengineered Omega-6 vegetable oils and shortenings. Avoiding fast food and eating at better restaurants or preparing processed food ingredients at home doesn’t reduce this threat.

The USDA continues to demonize cholesterol, saying we need to eat as little dietary cholesterol as possible and keep cholesterol levels below 200 mg/dL, or suffer horrible consequences. “High cholesterol” is an invented disease that emerged when scientists learned how to measure cholesterol levels in the blood. What they don’t tell you is 'total cholesterol level' is worthless as an indicator for heart disease risk. Someone with a total cholesterol level of 250 can have a low risk for heart disease due to their HDL levels. Saturated fat does increase LDL, but it also increases HDL. Conversely, cholesterol level below 200 could be at very high risk for heart disease based on the Triglyceride/HDL ratio. If you divide your triglyceride level by your HDL, ideally it should be 2 or less. A ratio of 4 is considered high, with increased risk. But these are just guidelines and even knowing your LDL and HDL levels doesn’t tell you very much. There is more to heart disease than these numbers.

Since I've mentioned Triglycerides, let's look at that. Triglycerides and Cholesterol both fall in to the category of LIPIDs (fat), but though triglycerides are related to cholesterol, they are considered different types of fats. Tri glyceride is an ester formed by glycerol and three fatty acids. Triglycerides are the main constituents of body fat in humans and other animals, as well as vegetable fat. Your body makes some triglycerides in the liver. Triglycerides also come from the food you eat. Your liver uses triglycerides as fuel to make cholesterol. Triglycerides are essential for life ---- they provide fuel needed for body cells to function. Extra calories are turned into triglycerides and stored in fat cells for later use, so if you eat more calories than your body needs, your triglyceride level may be high. In between meals TGLs are broken down to release energy. Triglycerides are also present in the blood to enable the bidirectional transference of stored fat and blood glucose from the liver, and are a major component of human skin oils. Cholesterol is different in structure from triglycerides. Both are absorbed from diet and synthesized by the liver. Triglycerides are measured just like LDL and HDL cholesterol

Normal is less than 150. Borderline-high is 150 to 199. High is 200 to 499. Very high is 500 or higher.

High triglycerides are usually caused by other conditions, such as: obesity, cirrhosis or liver damage, diet low in protein and high in carbohydrates, hypothyroidism (underactive thyroid), Nephrotic syndrome (a kidney disorder), poorly controlled diabetes, regularly eating more calories than you burn, drinking alcohol.

Certain medicines may also raise triglycerides. These medicines include:
Tamoxifen - breast cancer drug.
Beta-blockers are medicines that slow the heart rate and decrease how forcefully the heart contracts, reducing the amount of oxygen the heart needs to work. Beta-blockers are often used to treat heart conditions, including high blood pressure, heart failure, and fast or irregular heart rates.
Diuretics - A diuretic is a substance that removes water from the body by promoting urine formation and the loss of salt (sodium). These medicines may be used as part of treatment for conditions that cause swelling from water retention (edema), such as heart failure, hypertension, or liver or kidney disease. Caffeine and alcohol are common diuretics.
Birth control pills

Where Americans Eat 1900-2000
Where are Americans eating their meals?

On the surface it may look like Americans are eating about 50% of their meals at home and packing away about 20% of their meals for work, school, etc., but most of these meals prepared from processed ingredients at home are really not necessarily any healthier than restaurant or fast foods.

family-Mother feed kids-iStock_000010848477XSmall

People used to eat at home or pack away. People with the financial means began to “eat out” considerably more during the 1920’s, just before the Great Depression. As women entered the work force during and after WWII and more convenient, less expensive meal options became available during the 1950's, people with longer work days and less time to shop for groceries and prepare meals started availing themselves of convenience foods. People use limited time and financial resources as an excuse for existing on fast food, but they exchange convenience for a life of chronic symptoms, decreased energy and productivity, increased doctor visits and prescriptions, a hospital bed at some point and an early ticket out of here. I have many time and money saving tips if you want to improve your health by eating foods your body was designed for.

Dietary restrictions

Your liver, intestines, adrenal glands and reproductive organs make about 75% of your body’s cholesterol. That’s 3-4 times more than you eat. Most of the cholesterol in the bloodstream is created by the body, not from foods. Most ingested cholesterol is esterified, which is poorly absorbed. Cholesterol production increases to compensate when dietary cholesterol is reduced and decreases to accommodate when you eat more healthy fats. Diet can’t lower cholesterol more than 1%, just for this reason alone. Fasting and non-fasting tests comparing blood lipid panels found they gave the same results for total cholesterol. Numerous studies have shown that people who have had a heart attack didn’t eat more fat of any kind than other people and autopsies revealed no link between the degree of atherosclerosis and diet.

When diet doesn't get the numbers down, cholesterol-lowering medications are prescribed. Despite the lack of scientific evidence showing that lowering LDL cholesterol has any benefits or is even a good idea, the American Heart Association (AHA) updated the cholesterol guidelines in 2006 by lowering LDL levels from 130 to below 100, putting even more people in the ‘medication range’. To achieve such unrealistic and dangerously low numbers, you would need to take multiple cholesterol-lowering drugs. The new guidelines increased the market for these drugs in the United States and profits for the pharmaceutical companies, obviously. The doctors who developed the new guidelines were being paid by the manufacturers of statin cholesterol-lowering drugs. Now they are testing children’s cholesterol levels, increasing their market even more.

Modern medical practice revolves around finding ways to use drugs to manage symptoms and make people more comfortable, so they don't have to change their unhealthy diets, habits and lifestyles. People, my husband being one of them, generally have the attitude that they don’t have to change the way they eat or their lifestyle because the medication they take compensates for it. I’ve heard it said, “I can eat this because I am taking medication to counteract it.” The idea that statin drugs lower cholesterol gives people a false sense of wellbeing and security. The thing is that, unless someone has rare genetic challenges in their family that causes the liver to make too much cholesterol, the chances are greater than 100 to 1 that there is no need to lower your cholesterol.

Cholesterol lowering medication dangers

Statin drugs inhibit an enzyme that the liver needs to manufacture cholesterol. When you manipulate the delicate working of the human body, you risk throwing it out of balance. As a result, statin drugs also inhibit the production of intermediary substances which are needed for important biochemical functions. Statin’s and other cholesterol-lowering drugs
  • deplete CoQ10, which is needed for heart muscle function and health. CoQ10 deficiency leads to fatigue, muscle weakness, soreness and eventually heart failure. (Ubiquinol is the most bioavailable CoQ10 supplement.) This powerful antioxidant protects LDL cholesterol from oxidation and reenergizes the mitochondria, which is where energy metabolism occurs. Antioxidants reduce the oxidation of other compounds. In theory, consuming antioxidants will help the body fight the harmful effects of oxidation, but wouldn’t it be wise to prevent oxidation in the first place?
  • activate the atropin-1 gene, which plays a key role in muscle atrophy and explains why the most common side effect of statin drugs is muscle pain and weakness (rhabdomyolysis). This may be an indication that the body tissues are breaking down — a condition that can cause kidney damage.
  • increase the risk of polyneuropathy (nerve damage that causes pain in the hands and feet).
  • cause dizziness.
  • cause cognitive impairment, including memory loss.
  • increase the risk of cancer and stimulate cancer growth.
  • decrease immune function.
  • cause liver problems, including increased liver enzymes.
  • cause depression.
  • increase the risk of Lou Gehrig’s disease.
  • birth defects more severe than those resulting from thalidomide (a cancer treatment drug).
  • patients will take the drug instead of focusing on diet and lifestyle changes that are more effective in reducing their risk of heart disease, and ignore other aspects of their health, like inflammation, oxidative damage, stress and sugar consumption.

Cholesterol drugs are not effective

Effectively lowering cholesterol numbers doesn’t make you healthier or prevent heart disease. High cholesterol doesn’t cause a heart attack and low cholesterol doesn’t reduce the risk of heart attack. In more than 40 clinical trials, there was no significant statistical difference between treated groups and the untreated control group. Neither heart mortality nor total mortality have been improved with cholesterol-lowering drugs.

For pharmaceutical companies, the problem lies in NNT (numbers needed to treat). NNT answers the question, “How many people have to take a particular drug to avoid one incidence of a medical issue, such as heart attack?” So if NNT is 100 for a particular condition, then 100 people have to take the drug to prevent one occurrence of that condition. Drug companies don’t want to be bothered with NNT, because if they focus on that, the reputation of their “miracle” drugs change entirely. The website for Lipitor says, “Clinically proven to lower bad cholesterol 39-60%”. Advertisements boast that Lipitor reduces heart attacks by 36%, with an asterisk, which directs you to a much smaller font, “That means in a large clinical study, 3% of patients taking a sugar pill or placebo had a heart attack compared to 2% of patients taking Lipitor.” In other words, for every 100 people who took Lipitor over 3.3 years, 3 people on placebos and 2 people on Lipitor had heart attacks. This means that taking Lipitor resulted in just one less heart attack per 100 people, or an NNT of 100. The other 99 people increased their risk of multiple side effects for nothing. This is how they hide the truth.

Drugs that inhibit the absorption of cholesterol from foods in the intestine — may lower cholesterol by 15-20%, but don’t reduce plaques in arteries that lead to heart problems, or reduce heart attacks and strokes. There is no relationship between blood cholesterol level and the degree of atherosclerosis in the vessels. In fact, studies have shown that people with low blood cholesterol become just as atherosclerotic as those who’s cholesterol is high. Clinical trials revealed that plaques grew nearly twice as fast in patients taking Zetia, which blocks the absorption of cholesterol from the stomach.

The medical community and media promote the use of statin drugs as a way to reduce the risk of death, while downplaying or ignoring the dangerous side effects and complications. Overwhelming evidence debunks dietary guidelines based on outdated misinformation about saturated fat raising LDL and its contribution to heart disease, because the basic premise was wrong on so many levels.

Cholesterol IS NOT the cause of heart disease.

Inflammation is a symptom that points to the primary cause of heart disease. Small injuries in the lining of the arteries become inflamed. What is the role of inflammation?

The role of inflammation in the body is a natural response -
• Blood vessels constrict to prevent blood loss
• Blood becomes thicker so it can clot and keep you from bleeding to death
• Immune cells and chemicals fight viruses, bacteria and other pathogens that could cause infection
• Healing nutrients are rushed to the area while dead cells and other harmful thins are removed quickly
• Cells multiply to repair the damage, producing a scab and then a scar
These are all good things, but people fight against inflammation by trying to reduce swelling and heat, which goes against body wisdom. Inflammation is a symptom, not the problem.

If arteries are damaged, a very similar process occurs, except the scab is called “plaque” or atherosclerosis. Along with thickening the blood and constricting blood vessels, a normal inflammatory process for healing, can increase blood pressure and the risk of heart attack. Cholesterol has yet to enter the picture. For healing to occur, the liver is notified to make more cholesterol and release it into the bloodstream to help replace damaged cells, because it is a vital component of every cell membrane. The presence of chronic inflammation in the body is an indication that damage is occurring on a regular basis. What causes systemic inflammation?

Chronic inflammation has many causes
  • Damage caused by oxidation
  • Emotional stress is a big one
  • Consuming foods that are not biocompatible with your blood type antigen causes cells to agglutinate (clump together).
  • Consuming water or beverages that don't hydrate cells, but instead pool between cells, causing bloating and cellular dehydration at the same time.
  • Eating processed carbs; sugar and grains
  • Eating foods that are cooked at high temperatures
  • Eating processed oils and trans fats
  • A sedentary lifestyle
  • Smoking

A C-reactive protein (CRP) blood test is used as a marker of inflammation in the arteries. Generally speaking, a CRP level under 1 mg per liter of blood = low risk, 1-3 mg = intermediate, 3+ = high risk for cardiovascular disease. The focus of conventional medicine is on cholesterol circulating in the blood stream and the development of arterial plaque, not the underlying cause of arterial damage. Doctors lowering cholesterol with drugs and removing plaque from arteries is like little kids who can’t stop picking at a scab.

Blood cholesterol levels increase in proportion to increased inflammation in the body, to help your body heal and repair. The focus should be on finding out what is causing the damage that leads to increased inflammation, resulting in increased cholesterol. When you correct what is causing the damage, chronic inflammation goes away and the need for cholesterol is reduced.

So, instead of trying to reduce inflammation, a symptom, consider what is causing damage to the lining of arteries?
  • high blood pressure
  • an infection within the artery wall
  • free-radicals

Free-radicals and oxidation

A free radical is any molecular species capable of independent existence that contains an unpaired electron in an atomic orbital. The presence of an unpaired electron makes it unstable and highly reactive, and capable of attacking biologically relevant molecules such as DNA, proteins, nucleic acids and lipids, causing cell damage.

When a compound is oxidized, its properties change because electrons are lost. Example: When cut fruit browns, it’s because oxygen steals electrons from atoms in the fruit, so the apples oxidized form turns brown, spoils. Oxidation may or may not include oxygen, but any substance that steals electrons from another substance, from metal to living tissue. This slow burning process weakens or damages the substance.

Free radical sources include
  • a number of drugs; antibiotics, cancer drugs, immunosuppressants, arthritis and Ulcerative colitis meds, non-steroidal anti-inflammatories, anaesthetics, NSAID’s
  • radiation, microwave use, electromagnetic radiation from man-made technology
  • tobacco smoke
  • the inhalation of inorganic particles (asbestos), exhaust fumes and the general class of aromatic hydrocarbons
  • ozone
  • pesticides
  • solvents
Free radical formation occurs continuously in the cells as a consequence of both enzymatic and non-enzymatic reactions. When there are insufficient antioxidants to neutralize the amount of free radicals in the body, damage occurs.

In the body, lipids are the most susceptible biomolecule to free-radical attack. Cholesterol is oxidized when free-radicals steal electrons from lipids. Polyunsaturated fatty acids from seed, nut, vegetable and fish oils are a major dietary source of low density lipoproteins (LDL). Oxidation of these lipid components in LDL can occur during cooking with high heat or inside the body when fats are attacked by free-radicals. When foods are prepared without damaging the cholesterol, they are fine. When the fats in foods are cooked with high heat, the cholesterol is damaged. When anaerobic bacteria digest processed carbohydrates and fats, they contribute to oxidative stress also. The continued high level of oxidized lipids (LDL) can directly damage endothelial cells. Small, dense, oxidized (damaged) LDL-B cholesterol particles (among other things) get trapped at the injury sites. Oxidized, small-particle LDL cholesterol and inflammation combine to create a patch over the injuries called plaque; the symptoms of atherosclerosis. This is only a problem when oxidized LDL gets together with inflammation.

Medications that adversely affect lipid levels and raise cholesterol
  • Prednisone is a glucocorticoid. Despite the relief they may give to reduce the swelling, warmth, and tenderness associated with many inflammatory conditions, they can raise triglycerides, LDL cholesterol levels, and HDL cholesterol levels.
  • Beta blockers are normally prescribed to treat high blood pressure and several forms of heart disease, but they may decrease HDL levels and elevate triglyceride levels.
  • Amiodarone is used to treat a variety of heart arrhythmias and is associated with a wide range of side effects, including raising LDL cholesterol.
  • Estrogen is a female sex hormone found in birth control and other forms of hormone replacement therapy. Estrogens have ability to raise HDL levels, but may also increase triglyceride levels.
  • Progestin is a form of progesterone, another female sex hormone, which is used in oral contraceptives and hormone replacement therapy alone or in combination with estrogen. Higher levels of progestin have been associated with lower HDL levels. In combination with estrogen, progestin may cancel out the healthy effect estrogen has in raising HDL levels.
  • Anabolic steroids contain the male sex hormone (testosterone) and raise LDL levels and lower HDL levels.
  • Cyclosporine is used to suppress the immune system after an organ transplant in order to prevent rejection, and to treat rheumatoid arthritis and psoriasis. Studies have shown that cyclosporine raises LDL cholesterol levels.
  • Protease inhibitors are used to treat HIV. They raise triglyceride levels and lower HDL cholesterol levels. Fibrates and statins are sometimes used to lower triglycerides and increase HDL levels in individuals taking these medications.
  • Thiazide and Loop Diuretics are used to treat high blood pressure and water retention. They increase triglyceride and LDL cholesterol levels.

Contradicting Information

Much has been learned about the causes of heart disease over the past decade, but modern medicine is still operating in the dark ages and heart disease continues to be the biggest killer, because although many of these facts have been published in scientific journals and books, they are rarely revealed to the public by the advocates of the previous era. Attributed to poor lifestyle habits, heart disease is considered the top preventable disease in the United States.

The media report headlines read, “Decline in deaths due to stroke,” and “The percentage of American adults with high LDL has dropped 2%”. What you don’t hear are headlines stating, “Higher cholesterol is associated with longer life”.
  • The NIH (National Institute of Health) boasts about the decline in deaths due to heart disease and stroke, while at the same time stating that cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of morbidity and mortality in the United States.
  • Coronary Artery Disease (CAD) is presently the leading cause of death worldwide, and has held that position in the US since 1921, but the CDC documents in their report “Achievements in Public Health 1900-1999,” state that death rates from cardiovascular disease have declined 60% since 1950. Stroke has been the third leading cause of death since 1938, but the CDC reports that stroke rates have declined 70% since 1996. Then they say, “Despite remarkable progress, heart disease and stroke remain leading causes of disability and death.” Have the other causes of death declined proportionately? No. They ‘talk out of both sides of their mouths'.
  • The CDC says, “Prevention efforts and improvements in early detection, treatment, and care have resulted in a number of beneficial trends, which may have contributed to declines in heart disease and stroke.” The only trend I can identify that has anything to do with prevention is a decline in cigarette smoking among adults, from 42% in 1965 to 25% in 1995. Every other trend has to do with medical intervention, treatment, medication and disease management.
  • They say in the media and in these reports that people are living longer, but I am hearing about my fellow high school classmates, friends and people on Facebook dying of heart attacks in their mid-50’s. After my great-grandmothers died of old age in their 90’s, the next generation died in their 70’s and were sick the last 30 years of their life. My mother had triple bypass at 55 and isn’t doing well at 70. My husband is on medication for his heart, so it is up-close and personal for me.
  • The National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey evaluates trends in prescription cholesterol-lowering medication among U.S. adults over the age of 40. During the years between 2003-2012 the use of all cholesterol-lowering drugs increased steadily at 30%, while the use of statins alone rose by as much as 23%. Cholesterol-lowing medication use increased with age, from 17.4% of adults aged 40-59, to 43.3% aged 60-74, to 47.6% aged 75+. So many Americans are taking these drugs that researchers jokingly suggested the medications be put in the water supply.

My grandfather-in-law had all the medication, surgical and technical interventions for his heart and arteries which prolonged his life. He fell asleep and died in his recliner at 82. The pace-maker kept going off, but he was gone. The cause of death - his heart stopped, but it was not recorded as heart disease, CAD, or CVD, even though that’s what he’d been treated for the last 30 years of his life. Is the cause of death of people who have developed CVD been attributed to something else because they are medicated for the condition, and therefore it can’t be the cause of death and it is given a different name? Has anyone who hears these positive statistics in media reports thought to factor in the amount of pharmaceutical interventions and advanced technology employed to keep an ever increasing number of sick people alive longer?

The ability of doctors to perform surgery on the heart, repair blocked carotid arteries and transplant organs began in the 1950’s. Coronary Artery Bypass Graft (CABG), and Coronary Angioplasty represent the two major forms of revascularization procedures. Implanted cardiac defibrillators significantly reduce cardiac death in those who survive a heart attack. In Japan, the number of operations for adult heart disease increased three fold from 1986 to 2014. Presently, about 3 million angioplasty procedures are performed each year worldwide, with the US alone accounting for almost a million of these procedures. A comprehensive market research
report, talks about products, markets, trends, growth drivers, industry activity, niche market participants, geographic markets, and projected growth. In 2011, the global Percutaneous Transluminal Coronary Angioplasty (PTCA) products market was predicted to reach $1.84 billion in the US by 2017. From a purely business, marketing and projected profit perspective, the total number of deaths from CAD is expected to increase 15% by the year 2030. This is BIG business.

The stats you hear from the roof tops talk about reduced deaths, as if it is a direct result of better health and decreased incidence of coronary artery, heart and cardiovascular diseases. What gets swept under the rug is the increase in prescription drugs and medical procedures to keep an ever increasing number of people with these conditions - alive. The risk factors for heart attack and stroke are still there, it’s just that drugs are keeping people from dying today and surgical intervention is opening blocked blood vessels.

It is interesting to note that post-operative dietary instructions say, “During the post-operative period there should be
no restrictions in terms of calories, fat and cholesterol intake. Please note that long-term, these restrictions are extraordinarily important to provide the most durable post-operative results.”

Even though eggs are high in cholesterol, they increase HDL without raising LDL cholesterol in the blood. Researchers at Yale University found that even those with coronary heart disease could safely eat two whole eggs per day with no adverse effects of cholesterol levels.

There is no evidence "the incredible, edible egg" contributes to heart disease, but since 1950 the health authorities have recommended that we cut back on our consumption of eggs. Since the year 1950, Americans have decreased their consumption of this highly nutritious food by 33%, from about 7.2 to 4.8 eggs per person, per week.

Eggs used to be called ‘brain food’ because they are among the most nutritious foods on the planet. However, decreased egg consumption has contributed to nutritional deficiencies, like Choline. Choline is found in foods such as liver, muscle meats, fish, nuts, and eggs. Choline is an essential micronutrient important for liver function, normal brain development, neurotransmitter functioning - helps nerves communication to produce muscle movement, reproductive, digestive and endocrine system functions, helps in the process of methylation (which is used to create DNA, for nerve signaling and for detoxification), support energy levels and maintain a healthy metabolism. About 90% of Americans aren’t getting enough Choline. Symptoms of deficiency include low energy levels of fatigue, memory loss, cognitive decline, learning disabilities, muscle aches, nerve damage, mood changes or disorders. Eggs are back on the menu, because they are an excellent protein source and contain essential nutrients, including beneficial fat!

Seventy year old science is hurting your health, especially your heart.

They vigorously promote the myth that saturated fat and high cholesterol cause heart disease and tell us to stop eating red meat, eggs, and dairy because they are purported to contain cholesterol and thus raise cholesterol levels, while opposing and disagreeing information is systematically ignored or misquoted in the scientific press. I want you to be well informed, so you can make the best decisions for your health. No-one can make you take care of you, but a lot of people will suffer if you don't.

I live every day with this issue. My husband has had four heart attacks (spasm of the coronary artery) caused by a parasitic infection in his heart and severe magnesium deficiency, because he's body wastes magnesium. We corrected those two things and there was zero heart damage, but he is afraid to stop taking heart medication. He will take his prescriptions faithfully, but the supplements I buy for him expire. When I try to talk to him about him his health and taking the more recent addition of cholesterol-lowering medication, even though his arteries are "clean as a babies" (quoting the doctor), he doesn't want to hear it. He just does what the doctor tells him and figures what he doesn't know won't hurt him. I want him to understand, it is not financially in his doctors best interest for 'my husband' to be well, but I have everything to lose if his health fails or he dies. Who would you trust, if it was you? As each year passes, I am aware of the increasing possibility that my husband and I may not celebrate another anniversary. All I can do is feed him the highest quality food prepared at home, trust him to make wise choices when he is away from my care and pray.

Achieving healthy cholesterol levels

Lower cholesterol naturally and achieve the cholesterol levels you were meant to have, plus experience the very welcome “side effects” of increased vitality, positive mood and mental clarity.
  1. Increase the quality of animal-based Omega-3 fats. This may lower your total cholesterol and triglycerides, and increase HDL.
  2. Increase the quality of your plant foods by choosing actual whole grains (not processed foods made with whole grains), whole fruits, real sugars like molasses and maple sugar. Use SweetLeaf Stevia in beverages and baking. Avoid high-fructose corn sugar and corn syrup. Organic is best if you can obtain it.
  3. Eat foods that are biocompatible with your nutritional type. There are no essential foods—only essential nutrients, and humans can get those nutrients from a variety of whole food sources.
  4. Eat a good portion of raw food every day.
  5. Consume healthy fats - olive oil, dairy products (goat milk, butter, cheese, kefir, yogurt, etc), raw or sprouted nuts and seeds, whole eggs, avocados and organic meats.
  6. Participate in regular movement (exercise) that is appropriate for your biochemistry. This will increase blood flow thought your body and circulate the components of your immune system, which gives you a better chance of fighting an illness faster.
  7. Avoid smoking and alcohol
  8. Don’t “manage” stress. Stress is something to move through and let go of. Learn how to stop chronic stress and address emotional challenges in a healthy way.
  9. Heal leaky gut and resolve systemic infections, like Candida, which are major producers of chronic, systemic inflammation.
  10. Reduce to a natural, healthy weight. Easier said than done, I know, but I can help you succeed with that.

Generally speaking, doctors diagnose and treat disease. Helping people stay healthy and avoid diseases is very different. Prevention is preferred, but not always easy in practice. Helping people restore their health is time consuming, results are hard to measure, and it deserves patience and persistence on the part of the practitioner and patient. Therefore, it’s not surprising that doctors prefer treating over curing, because prevention pays less and pales in comparison to miraculous interventions. For example, Cardio myopathy (literally "heart muscle disease") is the result of life long selenium deficiency. Supplementation for prevention of this condition costs about $20 a month. Optimum nutrition is the most affordable health and life insurance, because the cost of a heart transplant is $750,000, even though the donor heart and blood are free. Then factor in reduced income, decreased quality of health, medication risks, etc.
  • Doctors get kickbacks from pharmaceutical companies and when they refer patients for medical tests like ct-scans, but if lawyers, stock brokers or insurance people accepted kickbacks, they’d go to jail.
  • 300,000 people are killed every year by medical negligence. Compare that to the 56,000 people who died during 10 years in the Vietnam War or 5,600 per year, in an environment where people were trying to kill each other, not 'save lives'.
  • If you study the obituaries of medical professionals, you will notice that many doctors die of whatever medical condition they specialize in.
  • I found it interesting that 36% of doctors are medicated for high cholesterol.
  • The average life expectancy for most people is 75.5 years, but 58 for doctors.

I'm not picking on doctors, but I do my due diligence and research every aspect of a subject, because I believe having all available and accurate information gives you a broader perspective, the knowledge to apply logic and creativity, and the ability to make wise decisions with confidence.

Humans and animals who die of natural causes (not accidents), die of nutritional deficiencies. You can’t live to the length of your genetic potential by doing nothing. It requires effort. You need 16 vitamins, 60 minerals, 12 essential amino acids, 3 essential fatty acids = 90 nutrients in optimal amounts from high quality whole food sources, or you will develop nutritional deficiency diseases. If you put poisons in and on your body, they will kill you — slowly and miserably. It's just that simple.

Hypertension is the topic of my next article. Doctors will tell you to give up salt, but high blood pressure is caused by sodium chloride poisoning (table salt) and deficiencies of real salt (is gray and wet because it contains minerals), dairy calcium and fat.

The way I see it, if you want to live a long life and healthy life, avoid doing stupid things that kill you. Extensive past experience has taught me not to abuse my body or expose my body to things that harm it, and prevent disease so I can avoid going to doctors and hospitals. If your life is as valuable to you as mine is to me, you will make sure you take care of your health. Optimum self-care is the highest form of self-respect.

Love yourself-iStock_000079634777_Double-1

If someone you love or care for is contemplating or taking cholesterol-lowering drugs, please share the URL for this article with them.

To schedule your free introductory consultation email johnna@wholefamilyhealthandnutrition.com
I look forward to serving you!

I wish you optimal health, safe travels and many blessings.

Johnna Wheeler
Certified Eating Psychology Coach who specializes in Systemic Candidiasis and Leaky Gut
Whole Family Health and Nutrition, LLC
47 E. All Saints Street Frederick, Maryland 21701
Monday-Thursday 11 am - 4 pm Eastern Time
Evening hours as needed.