A reason I have decided to research and write about cholesterol was a shocking information from sister of my Alex. Gemma texted me that her daughter who was 5 years old at the time had had a blood test and her results of cholesterol level came back above norm and her paediatrician suggested to put her on lower fat diet!!??? I could not believe what she has told me!!! And let’s put that into the right context that her 5 year old slim and healthy daughter Juliet with no chronic or other conditions had a level of cholesterol of 204 when a current norm is 200!!! I was shocked and my first thought was that this world is going crazy! Second thought more substantive was is there such a thing as levels of cholesterol in kids??!! So to start, I think the best is to answer the question what is cholesterol?
Cholesterol is a molecule produced by our liver which is essential to many processes in our body, like production of steroid and sexual hormones. It is also a precursor of Vitamin D and it is responsible for transport of different elements on the cellular level as well as between organs. There are many other functions and roles like supports the bile in digestion and absorption of fat soluble vitamins and helps our brain as a part of cell membranes.
Cholesterol is a broad term under which hides a few different lipoproteins and it is often divided into “bad” and “good” cholesterol. In this blog I am not going to analysing cholesterol from this perspective. I think this classification is simplifying the extend information about cholesterol however it often causes all sorts of misunderstanding what we really need to worry when it comes to cholesterol in our life.
One of the aspects I would like to highlight is physiological level of total cholesterol. Physiological level of total cholesterol has been changing since the 60’s (going down) for not really clear reasons. Neither there have been done any significant long term studies which could definitely and without doubt support those changes. The most significant reduction was introduced in the 90’s where the physiological level of total cholesterol dropped from 220 to 200 “overnight” during American Cardiological Congress making many millions of people, first in the US then in other countries, potential patient to be treated with cholesterol-lowering medicines…The physiological level of total cholesterol depending on the source is around 220 – 240 however variations is something normal depending on our origins and other factors. Also has anyone wondered why all other blood markers on a laboratory test are shown as a range but cholesterol level is a single figure? That is another evidence that there has never been a good quality long-term studies on the general population to determine what physiological level of cholesterol should be.
Question now arises why knowing how physiological cholesterol works and not really clear what level of it should be we are told at every possible opportunity that cholesterol is bad for us and we need to keep it low?! It may sound controversial but many analysis of the mainstream theory that cholesterol forms atherosclerotic plaque or levels of blood circulating cholesterol has anything to do with atherosclerotic plaque formation appeared to be not proved in any reliable studies. On the other hand low-fat or even zero-fat foods has been a new trend. Over the years “experiments” like trans-fats known as for example margarine have done more harm than good…Trans-fats supposedly reduce consumption of butter however they are not recognised or tolerated by our body and there are links between them and possible some types of cancer… By the way trans-fats has been banned in the USA with deadline June 2018. Great example of changing diet trends is consumption of eggs. Variety of recommendations over the years have been going from 1 egg a day, then twice a week and then once a week. Eventually I believe theory of “harmful” egg somehow dropped all together. All those information cause more and more confusion in regards to how to keep healthy balance with food…
But again why do we try to lower down cholesterol so much if our body needs it for so many reasons? When we analyse source of cholesterol it turns out that we have endogenous and exogenous cholesterol, more simply internal and external one. So logically thinking we should check what is the ratio of internal cholesterol versus external. Depending on the source internally produced cholesterol varies between 70-80% and only 20-30% comes from our diet. So knowing that most of our cholesterol is produced by our body it would be interesting to look in what circumstances our body starts increasing production of it isn’t it?
As I have mentioned at the beginning of this blog cholesterol among other functions is a precursor of vitamin D and steroid hormones (cortisol, aldosterone and adrenal androgens). Steroid hormones are core part of our nervous system responds to stressful situations from waking us up throughout variety of situations during the day. Long-term stress stimulates increased production of steroid hormones. The same time receptors which are stimulated by them stop responding in the same way since the stimulation is continuous. That is why after initial kick of stressed hormones after few days if we still having that stress we feel tired and our response changes. In consequence increased demand on steroids (stressed) hormones gives signal to our liver to produce more cholesterol which is precursor of them. So one of the factors which is essential to consider if somehow the level of cholesterol is significantly increasing are levels of stress in our lives. Let’s talk about stress a bit.
Stress is a modern and a broad word which ecompases so many things in our life. It is essential for our survival, for example when our life is in danger. But a long term stress negatively affects our mood and possibility of relaxation including sleep. Affected sleep in addition modifies production of steroid hormones and their ability to work in our body. Lack of balance in steroid hormones release causes a change of our desires for foods because our body receives a constant signal of survival mode so we crave fast energy sources, mostly carbohydrates like pasta, potatoes, bread or sugary foods. A consequence of increased consumption of processed sugars, in particular synthetic fructose (do not confuse with natural fructose occurring in fruits), gives a substrate to produce more fat in our body causing imbalance for liver and its processes including cholesterol production. So how can we break this vesicle cycle?
First of all is to assess levels of stress in our life including quality of sleep. There are many tools which can be useful to reduce stress in our life, just to mention a few like exercises of any kind, meditation or any other form of artistic or non artistic expression. There are certain vegetables and fruits which have natural properties of lowering stress and at the same time cholesterol like oats and barley, avocados, nuts (except peanuts), pistachios, beans, eggplant and berries. Combination of more than one approach is advisable for at least 8-12 weeks to notice a change in general feeling.
I just would like to add a bit more about the quality and need of sleep which varies for everyone. Quality not only means how long we sleep or if our sleep is undisturbed but also time of the day or more importantly hours during the night we sleep. According to Chinese Body Clock, for example between 1 am to 3 am energy in our body flows through the liver and if do not sleep during those hours our liver does not have a chance for regeneration. That may cause many different physical symptoms including lower blood detoxification, elevated blood pressure, which is closely related to our steroid (stress) hormones which brings us back to cholesterol levels again.
In Chinese medicine, energy of certain organs like adrenals (production of steroid- stress hormones which cholesterol is precursor for ), is considered as inherited. In the course of our life we either preserve or exhaust energy of adrenals which in consequence appears in not only in our physical or emotional symptoms but also in the next generations. According to Chinese medicine, the process of taking care of energy of essential organs is a crucial element of our general well-being but also a part of preservation process for future generations. The better we preserve energy of our adrenals the better our general well-being since long term state of stress exhaust them. Just as curiosity I add that adrenals and kidneys are responsible for the condition of our hair and nails so exhaustion of adrenals like emotional event of prolonged stress can manifest as a hair loss. Exhausted adrenals is also one of the factors which weakness our hair from generation to generation. It is just one of the examples how emotions play a great if not the main role in our physical well-being.
Going back to cholesterol since I feel I am drifting away from the main subject. I have mentioned some foods earlier in the post which can help bring cholesterol into balance. There are also certain supplements to support it that process. Surprisingly or not magnesium is one of the crucial elements which our body might be deficient on. The most efficient way of absorbing magnesium is through the skin, for example as a bath, the best one is natural in the sea. Also using magnesium flakes or other salts like Epsom salt at home to bath or at least soak our feet allows to absorb magnesium. By the way magnesium next to Vitamin D3 is one of the most deficient elements in people and it is needed for so many processes! If I am not mistaken there are around 300 conditions which can be caused among others by magnesium deficiency. Anyhow second and just mentioned is vitamin D which cholesterol is precursor for. Deficiency of vitamin D can contribute to imbalanced level of cholesterol … And in our climate (north hemisphere) I would just estimate that between 80-90% of people has vitamin D3 deficiency which affects so many processes in our body. Vitamin D is responsible for e.g. readiness of immune system to fight infections and abnormal growths of cells and also something we learn even from commercial on TV, like bones strength. Bones are governed by energy of the kidneys and here we in the cycle.. Kidneys and adrenals then cause bone weakness when they are affected by stress and they can cause an imbalance of cholesterol level produced by the liver…
What I am just trying to describe here in quite simple way are relations between states in our body because everything is somehow connected in it! And often we lose ability to see those connections however our body is not a machine and two plus two is not always four… So many other factors like genetic and environmental come into play. Especially within environmental factors which not only can activate certain genes we have so many possibilities like heavy metal toxicity, air, water and food pollution… Even our mouth can be a source of toxicity but do not let me start on that! And let’s not forget about our emotions! That is a biggy with which homeopathy can make a difference 🙂 Our thoughts and emotions, real or just imagery, can stir our physical state all together…. And homeopathy is a gentle way of stimulating our inner force to go back to emotional balance which then restores physical one. Like one of my teachers in homeopathic college used to keep saying that the best food and supplements are not much help if your emotions are in pieces… Anyhow I better stop here before drift away from the main subject again…
In conclusion I want to say that I am not trying to make any health recommendations and for those I reserve rights during individual consultations. Why? Because each person is a bit different and its important to look at the causation of the state for this particular patient. What I try to do here is to make you curious and see that there is no black or white answer about cholesterol and there is so much grey in between. So let me just look at my initial question at the beginning of this post – Do we need to worry about the level of cholesterol in children ? At the moment of writing this post I could not find any reliable research showing that early control of cholesterol in children proofs to give benefits in adult life. Real and variety of food and balance with everything including emotional stimulation with children is the best remedy to prevent problems in the future so I just finish this subject on this note…
And yes toxicity will be next one…
Cholesterol, physiology – Trevor Huff; Ishwarlal Jialal. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK470561/
Diet and Cholesterol Guidelines and Coronary Heart Disease* Antonio M. Gotto, JR., MD, DPHIL
The role of dietary cholesterol in lipoprotein metabolism and related metabolic abnormalities: a mini review. Kapourchali FR, Surendiran G, Goulet A, Moghadasian MH
“Hidden therapies- What your doctor won’t tell you” Jerzy Zieba
“Treatment essentials: practising natural allopathic medicine” Dr Mark Sircus