CHOLESTEROL IS ESSENTIAL TO SURVIVE

Cholesterol Meter High Showing Unhealthy Fatty Diet

For most people, the word cholesterol is synonymous with danger and bad health. This is NOT true. It has received so much attention in the media and our doctor’s offices, we have lost perspective understanding its relevance and necessity for HEALTHY LIVING.

An article entitled, “Benefits of Cholesterol: What Is It Good For?” by Marc Lallanilla provided a simple explanation of cholesterol and its ESSENTIAL ROLE for healthy living.

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“Cholesterol performs several important functions in the body. Perhaps the most important of these is its role in forming and maintaining cell walls and structures. Cells also need cholesterol to help them adjust to changes in temperature, and it’s used by nerve cells for insulation.ย  Additionally, cholesterol is essential for synthesizing a number of critical hormones, including the sex hormones testosterone, progesterone and estrogen. Bile, a fluid produced by the liver, plays a vital role in the processing and digestion of fats. To make bile, the liver uses cholesterol. Your body also needs cholesterol to make vitamin D; in the presence of sunlight, cholesterol is converted into vitamin D.”

ย As you can see, cholesterol ISN’T THE ENEMY!

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Interestingly, when doctors are asked what the total cholesterol level should be, the most common answer is <200mg/dL. The reason this answer concerns me is that it lacks any RANGE. Can cholesterol be too low? The answer is YES, but the controversy over defining “too low” continues to be argued.

When doctor’s can’t agree based on the science, what is the consumer supposed to do and who should he or she believe?

To answer this question, we MUST first realize that “high cholesterol” is NOT A DISEASE.

It is a RESPONSE!

If the body begins destroying cells as a result of (ex. infections, inflammation, toxicity, EXERCISE, etc…) new cells must be produced REQUIRING CHOLESTEROL. If we medicate this condition with cholesterol lowering drugs without uncovering the ROOT CAUSE of its elevation, the blood cholesterol levels will chemically be forced to reduce. This, in turn, limits vital new cell production making the person more susceptible to additional health problems. This is why we must begin to understand

THE UNDERLYING CAUSES OF HEALTH PROBLEMS RATHER THAN SIMPLY MEDICATING THEIR SYMPTOMS.

If the CAUSE of elevated cholesterol is illness, inflammation or exercise, cholesterol lowering medication INTERFERES with the healing process. Cellular repair could be prevented by lowering cholesterol levels. If the cause is LIFESTYLE (poor eating habits and lack of exercise) an increase in cholesterol would be the bodies PROTECTIVE RESPONSE early on. In this case it would be a SIGNAL of internal disruption in the body and require a

CHANGE IN BEHAVIOR

TO FIX THE PROBLEM.

Ignoring the bodies message to CHANGE BEHAVIOR would result in other harmful events (plaquing of arteries causing heart attacks or strokes, gall badder disease, fatty liver disease, etc…). It is under this scenario that medication becomes beneficial WHILE the individual works to make the NECESSARY LIFESTYLE CHANGES.

Using medication IN PLACE OF exercise and healthier eating is like getting a Mercedes car loan when you’re already in debt. Just because we can, doesn’t mean we should.

If the body is so broken that it loses the ability to regulate the amount of cholesterol needed, natural alternatives and/or pharmaceuticals would be indicated. Viewing medications in this light provides a safer and more beneficial use while providing the individual a better understanding of their role in health maintenance and health restoration. We need to make better decisions first before introducing pharmaceutical drugs into our bodies. There are no free rides in life and pharmaceutical drugs AND THEIR SIDE EFFECTS should

NOT be the FIRST LINE OF DEFENSE.

Finally, how LOW is TOO LOW for cholesterol levels to remain safe and healthy? With the answer STILL unclear I would offer (based on my research) a RANGE between 75-120mg/dL. There are more detailed factors that need to be taken into account deciding optimal ranges, but a range between 140-200mg/dL (slightly higher if the “good cholesterol” is high) will provide adequate cholesterol levels to allow the body to function in a healthy manner.

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47 comments

  1. Interesting post. I have always maintained a “healthy” level. I am concerned about my curent sendentary state. I take breaks from the blog to pace and stretch a little. And after I started following you, I have changed my diet. Is that enough (for now)?

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Changes need to fit within each persons comfort zone to be a lifelong benefit. I am a HUGE believer in small incremental changes to avoid disrupting lives to the point where motivation is lost. The brain is where change must FIRST occur. It sounds like you have decided to make a personal commitment to yourself. I admire your decision and your efforts. As far as the question asked, “is that enough (for now?), it is best answered by you. If the changes feel right and feel good, it is enough. As your brain and body tell you additional changes are needed, I advise you listen. Congratulations on beginning the process. It’s challenging, but absolutely worth it. I promise!

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Thanks so much. Incremental changes appear to be easier than crash diets and major changes that most people fail to stick to. Have a good one.

        Like

        1. I have found the very best answer to the question, “which approach works best to achieve “XYZ” in life” is the one each individual is consistently able to stick with. The beauty is, it works for everyone!
          Now, go and create some happiness. ๐Ÿ™‚

          Liked by 2 people

          1. Thanks, I will. have a good one.

            Liked by 1 person

  2. Great information Jonathan. I know a few people who are on medication for their cholesterol. High cholesterol is always perceived as highly dangerous! It’s good to know the facts that the doctors forget to share.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. You are both kind and diplomatic when using the phrase, “when doctors forget to share.” As I mentioned in another comment, they are creating new cholesterol drugs that will generate an estimated 23 billion dollars annually. That’s 23 billion reasons to “forget to share.” If people just understood the real benefits that better lifestyle choices created they would also benefit from the 23 billion dollars in savings that could be spent on possessions or life experiences rather than prescription drugs! I wonder how most people would weigh those choices?

      Liked by 2 people

      1. I think also, more importantly is the need to ask more questions. I am always saying this to my in-laws, who continually say yes to the drugs that their Doctor suggests without understanding the consequences or side affects or the alternate life choices they can make. It’s frustrating to hear.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Absolutely. I think sometimes people are afraid to ask questions. They fear their doctors will feel challenged and be offended. Hopefully the more exposure people experience through various sources, the better educated and willing they’ll become to speak their minds. Our parents were raised in a generation that followed doctors “orders” without any questions. I can relate to your frustration.

          Liked by 1 person

  3. Great post, Jonathan! Thank you for sharing such valuable and important information here ๐Ÿ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you Kelly. This condition generates a good deal of controversy. There are many dollars at stake. A recent article in the Wall Street Journal (June 9th, 2015 online) was entitled, “How Much?! Those New Cholesterol Drugs Could Cost $23 Billion a Year” People need to begin to understand the reality of this condition before they find their retirement savings spent on pharmaceuticals rather than VACATIONS and HOBBIES.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I’m like the canary in the coal mine, an early warning system for the toxicity of prescription drugs. Every cholesterol lowering medication that I was prescribed made me violently ill. Then I tried a natural supplement that is supposed to lower cholesterol. I believe it was a red rice extract. But that, too, made every muscle in my body ache like I was being murdered.

    I eat a mostly vegan diet now, due to my high iron as well as high cholesterol. I also get quite a bit of exercise. The last time my cholesterol was checked it had gone way down.

    Speaking of “underlying causes” — people with iron overload also typically have very high cholesterol levels.

    It’s all about balance. Not enough iron can be deadly, too much iron can be deadly. For too many years people believed that if you were easily fatigued, you had “iron poor blood” and needed an iron supplement.

    It’s all about balance.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Well said. Red yeast rice is one of many products that can affect high cholesterol. Just because its natural, however, DOESN’T make it appropriate. Remember, the object is NOT to treat high cholesterol; it is to DISCOVER the underlying CAUSE of this state of imbalance. Notice how your diet and exercise dramatically affected cholesterol levels. This point emphasizes the importance of providing your body with what it needs as you did. High cholesterol is NOT the result of our population being deficient in pharmaceutical drugs or red yeast rice. If proper lifestyle changes were not enough to regulate this imbalance, it would make sense to reach into our arsenal of natural products FIRST. If this was not enough, pharmaceuticals would become a viable option. This approach will benefit individuals as well as reduce the pressure of cost on our health care system.
      Thank you for sharing your detailed comments. The points you make are important for others to see. It will likely influence people “sitting on the fence” of indecision.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. So the occasional burger and fries DOES have some benefit. Thanks for posting it… now I don’t feel so bad on my cheat days. lol
    -Brantley

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Absolutely. Life is about BALANCE. True moderation helps people achieve well rounded happiness without the well rounded belly! ๐Ÿ˜€ Depriving people creates rebellion, depression and loss of motivation. People need to learn how to incorporate lesser quality foods within a healthy nutrition plan.

      Thank you for taking the time to visit. Feel free to comment on any article that interests you.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. One good thing I have going for me is low cholesterol….yay…..another informative post….thanks

    Liked by 1 person

  7. One of the points I was attempting to convey was low cholesterol does NOT equate with good heart health. The chart showing the Australian Aboriginals having the lowest levels of cholesterol and the highest incidence of heart disease was supposed to emphasize this. Cholesterol levels should fluctuate based on their need. If the body was vigorously exercised, if Vitamin D levels are low, if gender hormones need to be synthesized, etc… our levels need to increase to perform the tasks the body needs. We have to learn to be less concerned with the number and more concerned with our lifestyle. The body is inherently healthy (under normal conditions.) Intervening because lab values reflect numbers outside of “normal” parameters does NOT necessarily mean the body needs help. It may mean the body has compensated to correct an imbalance. It is wiser to perform serial testing to get a clearer picture. If we choose, however, to live an unhealthy lifestyle we may do so much damage that the body will not function without some type of intervention. Unfortunately, many have chosen this path in life.

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  8. My gram had high cholesterol, and my mom uses red yeast rice to help lower hers. They both had type 2 diabetes. Is there a connection, other than a need to live a more balanced and healthy lifestyle.

    Like

    1. Children have a tendency to follow in their parents footsteps. This is why I believe the “cure” to health maladies must start with new healthy childhood patterns. If we are raised as Christians, Jews, Muslims, etc… we are likely to become the next generation of Christians, Jews, and Muslims respectively. Familial patterns are much more common causes to ill health than genetic predisposition. How different were the patterns of life for mom and grandmother? How different were the diets? How different were the levels of active living? These are some questions that help gain better perspective whether a weakness in genetic structure predisposed an individual to health problems or not.

      As far as cholesterol is concerned, it is SO MUCH MORE IMPORTANT to understand the reason for elevated cholesterol than simply lowering it to fit lab values we doctors seem to live by. When is the last time you EVER heard a doctor suggest to their patient the need to uncover the CAUSE of elevated cholesterol? If it’s “high” they medicate! End of story. We, as patients, need to be asking more relevant questions and DEMANDING better answers before following recommendations. Can you imagine a gas company employee coming to your residence because of a complaint of a “gas smell” and providing a clothing pin for your nose to address this problem? This is the bigger picture. This is our model for health today. Make the symptoms disappear and create a false belief that health has been restored. People are beginning to wake up to this reality.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Yes, indeed. Using drugs just to paper over symptoms is as pointless (and as common!) as blaming the messenger for bad news.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Well said. Consumers must begin asking the question, WHY? Answers we receive from this question offer great insight into the decision making process for various treatments. Matching a drug to a symptom doesn’t answer the question, WHY. If the question can’t be answered one must be skeptical with the proposed solution.

          Liked by 1 person

  9. With medical innovation and advancement, it seems we are so interested in treating symptoms that we forget the body sends messages in the form of symptoms as an early warning system. I know the Drs. should dig deeper to find root causes, but the onus is on the patient (us) to ask why we have developed issues in the first place. Maybe if we start asking questions, the Drs. will begin to think outside the box as well.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Agreed. I hope my blog site helps open people’s minds to understanding their personal obligations to themselves in achieving a healthier and happier life. Part of the solution requires self empowerment to provide the confidence each person needs to respectfully question authority (such as doctors.) This first step will hopefully open the doors of communication and awaken the doctor to recognize their responsibility in providing better explanations to their patients for BOTH diagnosis and treatment recommendations. It should be seen as a TEAM EFFORT. The goal should not simply be compliance, but rather exceptional outcomes. This would be a health care system I would be proud to participate in as a doctor.

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  10. Fascinating! I learn something every time I visit you. More fried chicken!! YES! Just kidding… kind of. ๐Ÿ™‚

    Seriously, I never knew or conceived the notion of how cholesterol can be good for the body or that it can actually be too low. Thank you for all this valuable info, Dr. J.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s interesting how writers and doctors have a common goal. We put “stuff” out in the world for others to think about and interpret using their own perspective. The value we gain comes from LISTENING to others share their views. This helps all of us navigate the various paths in life in a manner we choose. How cool is that?!

      Liked by 1 person

  11. This is awesome, there are so many pre-concieved notions out there about health. Such as cholesterols is bad, carbs are bad, fat is bad, etc, etc… Its great to share new information with the world and elevate the common mind! Thank You ๐Ÿ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for taking your time to visit and add you feelings. As a doctor with a less than traditional view on health and life, I try to offer a perspective that helps the individual question current policies and approaches to health. Accepting a model that promulgates chronic disease is not a model I am willing to stand by. There is so much value in learning the various approaches to maintaining and restoring health. To believe that our medical system in the United States offers the best quality considering the costs and results would be naive.
      I hope you find my site offers a new perspective worth considering. Thanks again for stopping by.

      Liked by 1 person

  12. My first question when I hear a doctor wants to prescribe a medicine is why? I don’t even take an aspirin if I have a headache. If I have a headache, I ask myself why? Is it from stress, too hard of a workout, did I strain my neck muscles somehow??? Finding out the why, helps me to fix it without taking a pill. I associate taking meds as a way to cover up something and I don’t want to “cover up” anything. I want to know why so I can fix it. My mom has been on thyroid medications for as long as I can remember. Perhaps in the beginning, had she asked why, and perhaps could fix it through diet, exercise, foods, and supplements, she could have fixed the thyroid issue without having to be on a “drug”. Because it’s been so many years, it would be difficult for her to get off the drugs at all. I don’t know the whole story but the point is, is to ask why, and if it’s possible to fix it through diet, exercise, better choices in life, and maybe never having to take a prescription at all. I wish I had more free time to read your articles as they come out. Take care of yourself, Kokoโ€

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You have asked the magic question, WHY? If that simple question was asked, people would gain great value in understanding their problems. How they choose to address them becomes another subject, but at least they would know what is wrong. Most people don’t really care. They basically place their lives in the hands of their doctors and blindly follow their recommendations often to their own detriment. Are we not supposed to be the Masters of our own destiny? Is Health not our most precious commodity? People must become more informed and more involved if they want to live a life of quality. You have clearly made that choice and will likely reap the benefits.
      Stay healthy and happy and BUSY!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. The people around you must enjoy conversing with you! It definitely is a delight to know there are others out there… Have a happy day!

        Liked by 1 person

  13. This is very interesting. I am a type 1 diabetic and told I have high cholesterol and was recommended medication. I agree that finding the underlying cause is better than immediately resorting to medication. Thank you for this insight!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I understand a medical doctor making this recommendation, however, don’t understand why they don’t include ALL viable options. In addition, why doesn’t the physician perform testing to evaluate if this elevated level is simply a healthy RESPONSE to another underlying problem. Just because you have Diabetes doesn’t mean it is appropriate to place “blinders” on and blame all health maladies on this one condition. Is it possible that medication is appropriate in your case? Yes. Is it just as possible that it might cause additional problems? Yes. Better explanations are needed and should be provided. I hope this helps motivate you to research all your options before making any decisions. Wishing you ONLY the best!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Well said! Thank you so much!

        Liked by 1 person

  14. Most enlightening article,I do appreciate your holistic approach to Cholesterol.I come from a “doctor family” lol,actually,four all of them,and they never stop bombard me with all these details and new researches.Anyhow,thank you for your detailed analysis!All the best,Doda ~

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It was my pleasure. I promise not to bombard you or impose any personal opinions. My intent, always, is to provide information that typically is left out of circulation. I want people to be able to decide for themselves the best course of action in life when it comes to making decisions about their health. How can we as consumers make “good informed decisions” if we are only exposed to partial information with a biased view?

      Coming from a family of doctors, your views and comments are greatly welcomed. They will help those viewing my blog to gain better insight from a “real person” perspective. Thank you for your contribution.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Such a thoughtful and so true reply to my humble comment.You do exactly what you describe,you enlighten your readership with info which is purposely left out for the sake of commercialism and profit.Unfortunately,there is so much hidden that if applied,colossal medicine companies would collapse.Seemingly,doctors have forgotten the Hippocratic Oath they took.Thank you for your generous response and sorry for my typo (never stop bombard -ing me ),I ate the ing,and don’t forget that English is not my mother tongue,I use it as a lingua franca to communicate with other blogger worldwide.Please overlook any inaccuracy.Thank you.

        Like

        1. I share much of your sentiments. Thank you for SKILLFULLY expressing your views. Your English is better than any second language I am capable of speaking!

          Liked by 1 person

          1. Thanks kindly!

            Liked by 1 person

  15. Another very informative post, thank you! It’s an interesting twist you discuss about the body needing cholesterol. I mean I know it’s needed but never thought about why, so your outlining the cell repair process was particularly helpful.

    Question, how does this figure in to the HD being portrayed as the “good” cholesterol and LD being the “bad” type? We strive to naturally reduce the LD type but can even that go too far? Or is it all about keeping the HD at a good elevated number?

    I hope I”m making sense…;)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I now understand why 3 and 4 year olds are walking around asking, “why?”, “why?”, “why?” They WANT TO LEARN. At what point in our lives do we lose this motivation? We need to return to our childhood patterns of thinking if we want to live healthier and happier lives.

      HDL helps “package” blood fats and transports them from the blood to the Liver for processing and storage. This is why they are known as the “good cholesterol.” This is also why we want these levels higher. We want to be able to clear the blood of unneeded LDL. LDL are the fats created by the Liver and released into the bloodstream to be distributed to the cells of the body. Similar to sugar and the process of sugar uptake by cells, LDL also has cell mediators that “catch” needed LDL as it circulates through the blood. When we produce excessive amounts of LDL, the “sensitivity” to “catching” these structures are impaired leading to increased levels of circulating LDL. This is why they are known as the “bad cholesterol.” In addition, the Liver never receives “messages” to turn down production, so the blood levels continue to elevate. I hope this abbreviated explanation is clear enough to understand.

      I have never seen LDL levels severely reduced in practice. Our diets and lifestyles seem to provide our bodies ample supplies to keep them adequate (although more often than not they remain elevated in most people without lifestyle changes.)

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Wow, thank you for all the details! It’s the best explanation I’ve ever heard in simple layman’s terms on the cholesterol process and HDL/LDL definitions. In fact I’ve copied and pasted what you wrote for future reference. If you have not considered writing a book already, you really should, I’d buy it. ๐Ÿ™‚

        Like

        1. Thanks so much Tricia. I’m glad I was able to answer your question. In place of writing a book, I am considering establishing speaking engagements to share my information in person. I have a lot of energy and believe this might be a good forum to engage the public in a meaningful manner. I also answer many questions generated from my articles on wordpress. My retirement has fewer personal hours in the day than my past career. I intentionally created this situation because it adds purpose and fulfillment to my life. As you may have guessed, Health is truly my passion in life (behind my wife and Tucker, my Beagle.) The quality I have experienced as a result of my lifestyle has afforded me blessings I wish to pass on to others. It’s hard work, but everything in life worthwhile seems to require a good deal of effort. If it didn’t, everyone would enjoy it.
          Thank you for all your comments. Wishing you all the best.

          Liked by 1 person

          1. That’s so wonderful to hear Jonathan and I look forward to learning more from your posts. Best to you as well.

            Liked by 1 person

  16. We’ve gotten our causes and effects mixed up in a very big way. Many of the prescription drugs on the market now cause worse side effects than the original condition they were designed to alleviate. โ€œHigh cholesterol is NOT A DISEASE. It is a RESPONSE!” This is the basic negative feedback loop in action. Unfortunately, most people would rather continue to pay indefinitely for a “cure” that only masks the symptoms rather than addressing the underlying issues. When I tell my clients that exercise is the best remedy for high blood pressure they seem amazed at this basic information. When will we stop trying to take a pill to fix everything and start taking responsibility for our own actions?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The answer is quite simple. When we can provide physical, emotional, financial and spiritual stability for our children they will likely grow up accepting responsibility for taking care of their lives. The PROBLEM becomes how do we provide these needs for our children?

      Liked by 1 person

  17. I agree that some medications should be a temporary crutch when making the necessary lifestyle changes that are required. My mom is on cholesterol medication and she’s already been told by her doctor that if she loses weight and gets healthier, she will be able to stop taking them. However, she hasn’t made any of the changes that she needs to (which, of course, concerns me) so she is still taking them.

    The body is so versatile that it will sometimes even reverse the damage that we’ve caused (such as with some cases of fatty liver). We just have to be willing to put in the hard work to make it happen and a lot of people just aren’t there yet mentally.

    From my own perspective, my only medication is for my thyroid and I’m scared to stop taking it because then my levels will drop again. I don’t know how to manage my condition in any other way, so I keep taking the pills. I guess I’m not better than my mom!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Don’t worry about judging yourself. Rather, focus on deciding what your goals are. Some people need to take medications; some need to take less, some do not need to take any at all. The answer starts with answering the question, “what you truly want?” and “how badly you want it?”

      Even if you stayed on traditional thyroid medication, what makes you think that levels will remain within normal limits? What makes you think the quantity won’t need adjusting? What makes you think the brands won’t be switched in the future even if the current ones are maintaining normal levels?

      This is all part of the dynamic lives we live. Our bodies are constantly adapting to change and when the challenges become too great our doctors (even ones we consider good) tend to limit their assistance to establishing normal lab panel levels. Do you have any idea how many people are walking around feeling horrible while their doctors respond by saying “everything looks good?”

      Type “A” people have a tenacity to dig deeper and uncover greater truths while expanding their knowledge. You strike me as this type of person.

      Decide what you want for your life. Then pursue it relentlessly. Options can always be found.

      Like

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