The Truth About Lowering Cholesterol

By Luella May on 09/07/2011

Lowering cholesterol levels has been a major focus of the medical profession for the last three decades. A routine doctor’s visit entails checking cholesterol levels, and much too often the patient leaves the doctor’s office with a prescription for some type of cholesterol lowering drug.

We are taught to fear cholesterol and told that high levels can lead to serious health problems, such as heart disease. However, the truth of the matter is that our bodies need cholesterol, and it is highly unlikely that cholesterol will cause heart disease or otherwise harm our health.

While it is true that high cholesterol has been associated with heart attacks and other problems, no cause and effect relationship has ever been established. There has been no proof that high cholesterol itself causes heart attacks or other problems, nor has there been any proof that merely lowering cholesterol with drugs prevents such problems. The medical myth of cholesterol being evil sells lots and lots of drugs, but those drugs do not promote better health. In many instances such drugs actually lead to health problems.

The body needs cholesterol. Cholesterol is a vital component of every cell. Without cholesterol the body cannot make vital hormones such as estrogen, testosterone and cortisol. Cholesterol is a precursor to the hormone known as Vitamin D, which is vital for good health. In fact, too low a cholesterol level can increase a person’s risk of death.

Cholesterol is a soft, waxy, fatty substance produced by the liver and found in the bloodstream and every cell in the body. Cholesterol performs vital bodily functions such as maintaining healthy cell walls and the production of bile acids. It is instrumental in the formation of memories and is necessary for neurological function.

According to the simplistic and self-serving explanations of conventional medicine and the pharmaceutical companies that make cholesterol-lowering drugs, there are two types of cholesterol:

High-density lipoprotein(HDL) is considered to be “good” cholesterol. This type of cholesterol is said to keep arteries clear and remove arterial plaque.

Low-density lipoprotein (LDL) is considered “bad” cholesterol. This type of cholesterol is said to build up in arteries causing plaque to form, thus narrowing the arteries and making them less flexible. This is the condition called atherosclerosis. A blood clot forming in one of these narrowed arteries could result in a heart attack or stroke.

Additionally, triglycerides and lipoprotein are considered to be factors, which also determine the cholesterol count. Elevated triglycerides have been linked to heart disease and diabetes.

Lipoprotein is said to be made by “bad” cholesterol (LDL) and a protein called apoprotein. Elevated lipoprotein levels pose a high risk of heart disease. Interestingly, although lipoprotein has been well established as a high risk factor in heart disease, very few physicians check for high levels of it in their patients.

Through the years, the American Heart Association’s recommendation has been that total cholesterol levels be less than 200 mg/dl. It is interesting to note that cholesterol levels cannot determine heart disease risk unless they are above 330. However in 2004, the American Heart Association updated their guidelines, lowering the recommended LDL level from 130 to less than 100 for healthy patients, and to less than 70 for patients they consider at high risk for heart disease. There is no way to reach these ridiculously low levels other than by taking cholesterol-lowering drugs.

In 2006, a review in the Annals of Internal Medicine found that there is insufficient evidence to support these numbers and further found that studies attempting to provide evidence that achieving specific LDL numbers improved health were flawed.

Beyond simplistic explanations and pharmaceutical company hype, Ron Rosedale, M.D., one of the leading anti-aging doctors in the United States, takes the cholesterol story beyond the simplistic explanation of conventional doctors and pharmaceutical company ads. He states that there is only one type of cholesterol and it is neither good nor bad, an explanation that fits with the common sense notion that Nature does not make mistakes.

Additionally, all LDL is not bad. LDL consists of different sized particles, ranging from large to small. The only LDL hat can be perceived as being a threat would be the small particle LDL, as it has the potential to squeeze through the lining of arteries, possibly oxidizing and thereby causing inflammation. Conversely, some HDL particles are also better than others, so keeping track of LDL and HDL levels really does not achieve much.

The president of the Weston A. Price Foundation, Sally Fallon, goes so far as to say that high cholesterol is an invented disease. She states that if your cholesterol is high, it is because of increased inflammation in the body. This inflammation is not caused by cholesterol.

The purpose of the extra cholesterol manufactured by the liver during the inflammation process is to repair the inflammation. Therefore, if excess cholesterol is being distributed throughout the body due to chronic inflammation, it makes more sense to treat the chronic inflammation, instead of lowering cholesterol, especially through artificial means.

Lowering cholesterol can actually be dangerous. Despite what the medical profession says, any cholesterol under 150 is too low. An optimum level is 200. Lowering cholesterol can adversely affect the body as follows:

Cholesterol affects the metabolism of serotonin. A study conducted by Dutch researchers found that men with chronically low levels of cholesterol were at risk for depressive symptoms. Low cholesterol has also been linked to aggressive and violent behavior, two other results of low serotonin levels.

Studies performed at the Mayo Clinic have found that cancer patients with too low a cholesterol level are at a higher risk of dying. Too low a cholesterol level may impede the body’s ability to make healthy cells, thus making it difficult or even impossible for a person to recover from this disease.

Other reports indicate that cholesterol levels below 180 or 160 mg/dl are associated with a high risk of death due to hemorrhagic stroke, respiratory infections and infectious disease. It is interesting that cases of serious lung disease are on the rise along with the use of cholesterol lowering drugs.

Dangers of cholesterol medications

Cholesterol-lowering medications, besides bringing cholesterol levels dangerously low, also come with their own added dangers. Statin drugs work by inhibiting a liver enzyme that is necessary for the production of cholesterol. In the process, they deplete the body of Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10) that is necessary for heart health, energy and muscle function.

Depletion of CoQ10 leads to fatigue, sore and weak muscles, and eventually to heart failure or cancer. The sore and weak muscles that characterize statin use are a very serious sign and can be life threatening. This condition is called rhabdomyolysis, and it can lead to muscle atrophy including atrophy of the heart muscle. Weak and sore muscles can also be a sign that body tissues are breaking down, a condition that can lead to kidney damage.

Statin drugs have been associated with a weakened immune system, liver disease, and increased risk of Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (Lou Gehrig’s Disease).

If you are intent on lowering cholesterol, do it naturally by focusing on a healthy diet and lifestyle, coupled with the following suggestions:

  • Animal-based omega 3 fats should be taken, an excellent source of which is fish oil.
  • Eliminate grains and sugar from your daily diet. Read the label on everything you buy and make sure it does not include dangerous sugars such as isolated fructose.
  • Eat as many raw fruits and vegetables as possible.
  • Eat healthy raw fats, including olive oil, coconut oil, organic raw full-fat dairy products (butter, cream, yogurt and cheese), avocados, raw nuts, seeds, eggs, and organic grass-fed meats.
  • Eliminate smoking.
  • Exercise daily. Exercise does not have to be strenuous. Do something you enjoy, such as walking or bike riding.
  • Work on resolving emotional issues and reducing stress. Implement methods such as meditation, relaxation, exercises, and the Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT).

Be aware of the cholesterol myth. Our bodies need cholesterol, and too low a cholesterol level can actually endanger health. Eating the proper foods, together with following a healthy lifestyle, is the safest method of lowering cholesterol.

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