Last week we concluded that the real culprit behind heart disease was NOT cholesterol but small, dense LDL particles. So, “good” and “bad” cholesterol is not what is true or relevant, but “good” and “bad” lipoproteins are what we should be concerned about.
Before going on, I’d like to correct a mistake I, apparently, made in the April 15, 2016 post “ Some Important Points on Disease and Insulin”.
I always thought that in the below total cholesterol formula:
Total Cholesterol = LDL + HDL + Triglycerides / 5
the LDL number and the HDL number were the number of LDL and HDL particles. Well they’re not. They are the amount of cholesterol contained in the LDL and HDL particles.
But again, measuring the LDL-C and HDL-C and making potentially life changing health decisions based on this number is like counting the number of people riding in vehicles on a freeway to determine the severity of traffic.
A reading of 100 could mean you’re dealing with a hundred compact cars, each carrying a single driver, or it could mean you’ve got 4 buses carrying 25 passengers each. You simply do not know how bad (or good) traffic is until you get a direct measurement of LDL and HDL particle numbers.
As stated in the previous cholesterol post, the culprit is the small, dense LDL particles AND THERE IS A WAY TO MEASURE THIS. It’s called the NMR LipoProfile, which gives you the breakdown of your LDL particles. Obviously, you don’t want a high number of small, dense LDL particles.
So what do these little fellows do? Large LDL particles are not harmful. Only small dense particles can be a potential problem, as they can squeeze through the lining of your arteries, where they can get stuck and potentially oxidize. If there is such an inflammatory situation, the body uses cholesterol as a “band-aid” to temporarily cover the lesions in the arterial wall. In the event that the inflammation is resolved, the “band-aid” goes away and repair has been done. Unfortunately, in most cases, the inflammation persists and the cholesterol plaque is eventually acted upon by macrophages and is oxidized to the point at which it takes up more space in the artery, slows blood flow and can eventually break loose from the plaque. Result: High blood pressure, possibility of strokes; the list goes on and on.
As explained above, cholesterol is initially transported to the tissue as part of an inflammatory response to repair the damage. IT’S NOT THE BAD GUY.
The thing to keep in mind is that inflammation is part of the body’s defense mechanism and we could not survive without it. When it becomes chronic (doesn’t go away after completing its job) then WE HAVE A PROBLEM.
I think that chronic inflammation is even more to blame for heart disease than the little culprits, small dense LDL particles.
Consuming simple carbs, sugars such as glucose and fructose play a major role in chronic inflammation.
Poor eating habits not only lead to chronic inflammation but also to insulin and leptin resistance. AND, insulin and leptin resistance also leads to more small and dense LDL particles.
One should read the previous articles on leptin and insulin to help shine a light on what the implications are on today’s topic.
GUIDELINES FOR HEALTHY HDL, LDL, TOTAL CHOLESTEROL AND TRIGYCERIDE LEVELS
- Ideally, it is best to have a total cholesterol level over 150 mg/dL. Low cholesterol, in the long run, may lead to depression, increased risk of a stroke, and numerous problems related to hormonal imbalances.
- Ideally, your HDL/total cholesterol ratio should be above 25 %.
- Ideally, your triglyceride/HDL ratio should be below 2 %.
- If the ratios given above are in the “safe” range and you are eating mainly UNDAMAGED CHOLESTEROL, having total cholesterol of more than 200 mg/dL most probably isn’t a cause for worry.
- Cholesterol becomes DAMAGED by exposure to high levels of heat and/or harsh processing techniques. Barbecues??
- If you consume foods containing cholesterol together with foods containing fructose, again you damage the cholesterol. Yogurt with fruit or honey, butter and jam, etc.
- If you regularly consume damaged cholesterol and foods rich in free radicals, significant amounts of damaged cholesterol will be floating through your circulatory system this will result in higher levels of LDL.
SO, WHAT DO WE DO ABOUT ALL THIS?
- Eat properly; no processed foods, sugar, grains, etc. You know all this from previous posts.
- Target your fasted insulin and leptin to be at optimal levels. Intermittent fasting will do wonders.
- Keep in mind that chronic inflammation is also caused by what you eat.
- Regularly consume good fats such as avocados, olives, coconuts, organic eggs and cold-water fish.
- Balance your life with adequate rest, physical activity, exposure to fresh air and sunshine and peace of mind.
A SHORT NOTE ON CHOLESTEROL LOWERING DRUGS
I hope that it’s pretty clear by now that it is not cholesterol that causes heart disease. If this is the case than why take these drugs?
Here is a short list that summarizes some of the documented side effects of taking statin drugs:
- Cognitive loss
- Sexual dysfunction
- Immune system suppression
- Frequent fevers
- An increase in cancer risk
- Muscle problems
- Pancreatic dysfunction
- Hepatic dysfunction
I checked with three friends who were put on satin drugs by their doctors, to see if the good doctors had suggested that they supplement with CoQ10 and Vitamin D. No they hadn’t. So you are treating “a meaningless number” to prevent heart disease, blocking the body’s production of CoQ10, which prevents a congestive heart failure, among other very important functions and not suggesting that they supplement with Vitamin D, also crucial for good health. Does this make sense to you?
One last note: If your total cholesterol is above 330, then you might have what is called “familial hypercholesterolemia” or hereditary high blood cholesterol. Although a very small percentage of the population has this condition, cholesterol-lowering medication might be advised. If this is the case, don’t forget to supplement with CoQ10 and Vitamin D. I have no suggestions for compensating for the loss of other vital cholesterol functions.
I think I’ve said enough.
I strongly recommend that you read about the cholesterol story as it unfolded in Turkey. Please click on the following website and get the whole story. You have to know Turkish, of course.
See you all next week.