One of my chief goals is to help others achieve radiant health by exposing erroneous, and often times intentionally misleading, information. There are many areas of our lives where these errors adversely impact our health and one of them is cholesterol. I must admit that prior to becoming a certified holistic health practitioner (holistic health coach) I would see the commercials for cholesterol lowering medications and agree wholeheartedly with its use. After all, one of the main ways to prevent heart disease and heart attacks was to ensure cholesterol levels were kept in check by lowering the amount in the bloodstream, right? I was convinced of this "fact" and all it took was a series of 30 second commercials to convince me and millions of others. Now the alarms are being sounded as more and more evidence would suggest that cholesterol is not what we think it is.
The Story of Cholesterol: The Beginning is the first article in what will be a continuing series on the cholesterol story and how it affects each and everyone of us. Whether you are taking a cholesterol lowering medication now or you pay insurance premiums to help cover the cost of those who do we are all paying a hefty price only to decrease what we hope to increase: our health.
The history of cholesterol as the boogie man!
Like most pharmaceutical success stories ours starts in the lab with a guy in a white coat who promises to save your life if you buy what they are selling. Enter Ansel Keys, Ph.D. He was one of the first to begin making the extraordinary and revolutionary claim that cholesterol was at the heart of cardiovascular disease (also known as the lipid hypothesis) and lowering it would reduce heart attacks and other adverse cardiovascular events. And so the myth was born and from that point in the 1950's until this very day many millions continue to believe this unsubstantiated myth (more on this in another article). The commercials haven't stopped and the myth is continuously perpetuated because statins and other cholesterol lowering drugs are a $31 billion a year industry all by itself!
What is cholesterol?
Have you ever wondered what cholesterol is and why we have it. I know personally I never stopped to consider it. The truth about cholesterol and what it does for our bodies is astounding. Here are a few things about cholesterol that you may not know:
- The brain is approximately 60% cholesterol (one of the listed side effects of statin drugs is reduced cognitive function!)
- Cholesterol is so important that it is manufactured in almost every cell in the body
- Cholesterol is an important structural molecule that is the basis of how many other molecules get built
- Cholesterol is the body's natural inflammation fighter
- Cholesterol helps to synthesize Vitamin D
- Without cholesterol we would be unable to produce bile affecting our ability to digest dietary fats
- Without cholesterol sex hormones like testosterone, estrogen and progesterone cannot be made (one of the listed side effects of statin drugs is reduced testicular and ovary size!)
- If we were able to remove all the cholesterol from our bodies we would die very quickly
As you can see cholesterol plays an important part in our health and well being. So the question becomes: How and why has cholesterol been so vilified and who profits from our media/doctor induced manic hatred for such an essential element in our lives? There is more to come shortly. Stay tuned!