Cholesterol – The “monumental” gyp

Have you always been blaming cholesterol and saturated fats for all your heart related issues? Probably yes! Because that is exactly what your doctor and the society is telling you all this while. You are often reminded that eating fatty foods that are high in cholesterol got you to the point you are at now. You are randomly suggested to get onto a low fat diet in order to cut cholesterol. But how would you react if the same authorities take U-turn on their dietary cholesterol recommendations, saying it all was a lie, it was flawed science ?

Stupefied??

Yes, they (Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee, the group that provides the scientific basis for the “Dietary Guidelines.”) have taken a U-turn on their recommendations for cholesterol.

US government Lifts restriction on dietary cholesterol

The US government has dropped fatty foods containing cholesterol – long thought to cause heart disease and strokes – from its list of ‘nutrients of concern’, following the publication of a new report that clearly stated that saturated fats are not the culprit and should not be avoided.

How did this Scam not come to Light?

This all started as Ancel Keys hypothesised in his “Seven Countries Study” that saturated fat in the diet is unhealthy and should be avoided. Some researchers and scientists at that time knew that this was not right. He was challenged at that time too, but the news spread like wildfire and the rebellion voices were lost in the chaos. The word also has that pharmaceutical mafia kept common man from knowing the real truth so that statin and cholesterol-lowering drugs could be sold which created a lot of revenue for pharmaceutical industry. As the patent for such drugs expired few years back, the truth is coming out and common man is now getting aware of the real truth.

It is time to look at what the real truth is

Firstly, what is Cholesterol?

Without getting into technicalities, cholesterol can be described as the most powerful antioxidant. It is essential and important for the functioning of every cell in the human body and thus every cell produces it. The Smart Human Body does not rely on your food to complete the requirements of cholesterol. It produces on its own.

Yes, it is that essential.

Cholesterol that everyone dreads so much has so many roles in the human body. HOW CAN IT HARM YOU?? Think about it.

 

Where did it go wrong?

Ever wondered why cholesterol is considered as the culprit behind heart conditions such as Ischemia & Atherosclerosis. In cases of arterial blockages and atherosclerosis, cholesterol was found to be the substance that formed plaque in the arteries and clogged them. So the obvious conclusion was made and the cholesterol was sentenced as the root culprit. Like they say, correlation isn’t causation. Same way the cholesterol is not really the culprit but it is the oxidized carriers of the cholesterol. The famous terms HDL, LDL, VLDL, TGL and chylomicrons that are the carriers for cholesterol, carry the cholesterol to various places in the body where it is needed such as organs (brain, heart etc.).  This cholesterol leaks into the blood as the carriers are damaged due to oxidization. Being insoluble in the blood it keeps floating around until it is cleared from the blood in the liver. Before getting cleared in the liver, if it forms plaque then that becomes a problem. So ultimate solution – Do not try to lower the cholesterol but lower the oxidizing factors. The oxidation factors could be Smoking, drinking, free radicals – Stress, pollution, Glycation – constant high blood sugar level.

Role in the Human body:

  1. Fundamental component of every cell membrane in the human body including brain cells, nerves.
  2. Raw material from which your body is able to manufacture vitamin D in the sunshine.
  3. Brain antioxidant – protecting brain cells against the ravages of free radicals.
  4. Raw material to manufacture the sex hormones estrogen, progesterone, testosterone.
  5. Essential for production of hormones released by adrenal glands (cortisol, corticosterone, aldosterone etc.)
  6. Aids in production of bile, aids in digestion of fats.
  7. Important in metabolism of fat soluble vitamins (A, D, E, K).
  8. Prevents ion leaks in membranes
  9. Essential for Insulin release

 

How to identify your cholesterol (Lipid) profile

The test that we do for reviewing the cholesterol is actually a count of carriers. Let us understand what these terms stand for

HDL (High Density Lipoprotein) particles remove fat molecules from cells which need to export fat molecules. The fats carried include cholesterol, phospholipids, and triglycerides.

LDL (Low Density Lipoprotein) delivers cholesterol to cells (most important brain), where it is used in membranes, as antioxidant or for the synthesis of steroid hormones. LDL is our friend. One should try not to decrease LDL.

VLDL (Very Low Density Lipoprotein) transports endogenous triglycerides, phospholipids, cholesterol, and cholesteryl esters. In addition it serves for long-range transport of hydrophobic intercellular messengers, like the morphogen Indian hedgehog (protein).

TGL (Triglycerides) are stored in your fat cells. Later, hormones release triglycerides for energy between meals.

Chylomicrons serve to transport fat from its port of entry in the intestine to the liver and to adipose (fat) tissue.

MYTH BUSTERS:

  • Myth: Heart attacks are caused by blocked artery and eating fatty foods induces plaque build‐up in the artery.
  • Fact: Heart attack is actually caused by thrombus formation (blood clot) that often occurs in a region of the artery where plaque is not obstructive.
  • Myth: Eating high cholesterol and saturated fats leads plaque build-up in the arteries.
  • Fact: Cardiovascular plaque develops as an alternative mechanism to produce cholesterol sulfate from damaged LDL and homocysteine. It’s a defensive mechanism in an attempt to supply cholesterol to heart.

 

Thus, you don’t need to worry about the high cholesterol count in your lipid profile test results any more. All you need to check is which one of the above carriers is exceeding limits. If the count is high due to HDL and/or LDL, you need not worry. But if the TGL count is high, a proper Nutrition plan and a workout regime will come to your rescue.

In people with high cholesterol count due to TGL, a high fat diet actually works wonders. Also, all the fat food sources need to be saturated fats. This allows us to have the most loved butter, cream, ghee, whole eggs, red meat, lard in the diet. Most beneficial here is ‘coconut oil’. It has medium chain triglycerides (MCTs) and saturated fatty acids such as Lauric acid (48%), Myristic acid (16%), Palmitic acid, Decanoic acid, Caprylic acid and MUFA and PUFA less than 12%. That makes it the most powerful source of saturated fats.

References

[1] http://www.drperlmutter.com/cholesterol-fundamental-life/#sthash.2pC90SQO.dpuf

[2] Anahad O’Connor, NY Times, Aug. 16, 2013

[3] Xia et al., Endocrinology 149:10, 5136–5145, 2008

[4] S. Seneff, A. Lauritzen, R. Davidson, and L. Lentz–Marino. Entropy 2012, 14, 2492–2530.

-Nilesh Shende