Guard the Temple

The Good and Bad About Cholesterol

Cholesterol has gotten a bad rap over the last couple of decades. There has been much misleading information leading to a great deal of confusion in the general public. Most of us have heard all the bad things about cholesterol and many don’t realize that the body makes its own cholesterol. Believe it or not your own body (mostly the liver) makes about 1500 mg of cholesterol per day. The average person only takes in from their diet anywhere from 200-800 mg of cholesterol per day.

Studies have demonstrated over and over that the cholesterol we take in from diet has very little effect on blood cholesterol. In one study 437 men and 475 women were observed for up to 10 years and there was no correlation between the cholesterol in their diet and their blood serum cholesterol levels. In fact, what often happens is that the less cholesterol we take in the more the body produces. When the amount we take in rises, the body lowers its production.

WHAT DOES IT DO? Cholesterol is essential for many functions in the body. It is one of the building blocks of steroid hormones produced by the adrenals, ovaries and testes. It coats every cell and provides a barrier so things won’t enter or leave the cell that shouldn’t. It provides a protective shield for the skin. Without the cholesterol protection the body would lose 5 to 10 times the amount of water through the skin than it does usually.

Most of the cholesterol is used by the liver to produce bile that is stored in the gallbladder and used to digest fats in the body.

CHOLESTEROL IS NOT THE PROBLEM: Most health professionals know that cholesterol is not the problem. The real problem is bad FATS. Cholesterol rides on fats in the blood stream. Now we know that there are high-density fats and low-density fats. To simplify, we can describe it like this. The low-density fats (LDL) tend to drop off the cholesterol and cause it to stick to the arteries or blood vessels. The high-density fats (HDL) hold the cholesterol in suspension until the body utilizes it or gets rid of it through the liver bile duct.

When people eat a great deal of saturated fats and man-made trans-fats like meat fats and margarine (cool whip, dream whip, nondairy creamers, etc) they increase their consumption of low-density fats!

We now find that factors like age and heredity play an important role as to how soon the blood vessels will plaque up.

SOME FACTUAL CONTRADICTIONS: On a personal level, my wife and I have never had cholesterol levels as low as 200. Always our cholesterol levels have been around 250 to 300. In the 1960’s, my wife’s cholesterol levels were around 325! Most would say a heart attack waiting to happen! But, artery scans have shown that my wife’s arteries are wonderfully clean with virtually NO clogging whatever! Since the discovery of HDL and LDL we now find that she has a magnificently good ratio (better than mine) even though her total cholesterol is high. This is due to her very high HDL levels.

On the other hand, a very dear friend who is a decade younger never had total cholesterol levels as high as 200. His blood pressure was the normal 120 over 80. He exercised and ate well. Nevertheless, a stress test and scan show that his heart artery was clogged. Heredity was a factor in this case.

For an experiment, my wife and I went off eggs, cut down on red meats, ate high fiber foods, and exercised. We did this in between blood tests. At the next blood test our cholesterol levels rose! My sister did the same thing. She went off all “cholesterol” foods for many months with the result that her blood cholesterol levels actually went up not down!

Another example was that of my brother-in-law. He began to suffer angina pains in his left arm and chest upon exertion. He went to his doctor and had a stress test done. They concluded that he had a heart artery blocked or partially blocked and that he should have a by-pass operation. As a result of the stress test, he lost his private pilot’s license.

He decided that he would postpone any operation but instead go on a very strict diet (probably more strict than he had to do) where he eliminated all eggs, red meats, salt, butter, margarine, sweets, beer, wine, and all alcoholic drinks, soft drinks and desserts of any kind. He had oatmeal for breakfast with skim milk. He ate high fiber foods with fish at least once per day. He had lots of salads and fruits and supplemented his diet with EPA capsules (fish oil) and lecithin capsules.

In addition, he walked each morning as far and as fast as he could up to the point where he began to have pains in his left arm. At that point he slowed down to let the pain subside.

He continued this regime for more than 2 years. At the end of that time, he retook the stress test and passed with flying colors and was able to get his private pilot’s license back. He went hiking in the mountains of Colorado at the 9,000 ft. elevation carrying a 60 lb backpack! He never again had angina pains or any symptoms of blocked arteries in the heart. His own body was able to clean out the blocked passage with no operation!

HOW TO CREATE A DISEASE: Doctors are told that any cholesterol count over 200 needs to be treated as a disease with a prescription of medicine. Now, one of the biggest selling drugs on the market are the statin drugs with atorvastatin (LIPITOR) outselling them all. Several of the statin drugs have proven to be disasters for the public. One that should not be used is the drug rosuvastatin (CRESTOR). Several countries have warned against the use of this drug including Sweden and the British journal Lancet. In this country, two major insurers - WellPoint and Health Cooperative of Puget Sound have refused to reimburse for rosuvastatin (CRESTOR).

Few consumers pay attention to the fact that these cholesterol-lowering drugs are to be used ONLY AFTER diet and exercise have failed to lower cholesterol.

THINGS THAT CAN LOWER CHOLESTEROL: One of the most important things in the diet that has been shown to reduce cholesterol levels is FIBER. Eliminate white bread and all white flour products and especially those combined with sugar and fats! Add oats and oat bran, and whole grain wheat with the bran in it. Beans are a wonderful high fiber food especially brown beans or chickpeas. Fruit fibers are also excellent in reducing cholesterol. You can even buy apple pectin and grapefruit pectin.

Another high fiber product is Metamucil! It contains psyllium and has been shown to lower cholesterol levels by 20% after just 8 weeks.

OMEGA-3 OIL is an essential fatty acid found in the oils of bluefin fish. It is sold as a supplement known as EPA (eicosapentoic acid). Another wonderful food that contains omega-3 oil and fiber tool is FLAX SEED. It must be ground to be effective and has a pleasant nutty flavor. It can be used on cereals, in yogurt, or sprinkled on a variety of foods. Zinc and B6 should be added to the diet when taking flax seed.

EXERCISE is valuable in lowering cholesterol and can lower the LDL levels and raise the HDL levels.

LECITHIN has long been known as a cholesterol antagonist causing the body to release cholesterol and lower blood fats.

Other natural foods are AVOCADOS, GARLIC and ONIONS - all of which help lower cholesterol levels and improve the ratio of good cholesterol to total cholesterol.

Note that raw, wholesome, and natural foods can do much to lower cholesterol. Other researchers have pointed out that HIBISCUS TEA can also lower cholesterol levels.

THERE IS MORE TO CHOLESTEROL THAN NUMBERS: When someone hears a cholesterol number, it is important to understand that there is much more to it than just the number for total cholesterol. The more important factors are the ratios of the HDL to the total cholesterol. Other important factors are age, heredity, frequency and amount of exercise, and the diet!

It behooves everyone to be informed about this phase of GUARDING THE TEMPLE!