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Dr. Marge Hartwig, M.H., N. D.
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Cholesterol for Health
That’s really an interesting thought. Is there really a good cholesterol as opposed to the bad stuff that heart disease is made from? It’s all the same, good and bad in the same package. It depends on a number of other factors in your body’s chemistry and how you, as an individual differ from your neighbor. What you eat and how active you are plays an important role in the quantity of cholesterol in your body, where it is located and how dangerous it is. Contrary to popular advertising, reducing cholesterol by itself is not the total answer to cardiovascular health and a deficiency of it can lead to cancer.
This isn’t a very popular idea to the people who are making huge profit from the cholesterol scare. It’s very big business for doctors, laboratories and drug companies as well as a powerful marketing tool for vegetable oil and margarine manufacturers. They can advertise their product as being cholesterol free and it’s economically attractive to keep us scared and confused.
Cholesterol is a hard, waxy substance which can be dissolved in certain fats, but not in water. It’s melting point is near 300 degrees Fahrenheit. It is the precursor (a building block for) many hormones essential to normal body functions, including the male and female sex hormones (steroids). The best known are estrogen and progesterone for the girls and testosterone for the guys. It doesn’t stop there. Our body also uses cholesterol to make a lot of other hormones; some of which regulate water balance through our kidneys; others prepare our body for fight or flight in response to stress (adrenals) and also suppress inflammation (corticosteroid).
Remember the sunshine vitamin D? A dairy in St. Louis used to advertise their milk as being rich in vitamin D with the slogan “white in the bottle and pink on your cheeks.” According to that, now we can say that cholesterol will put pink in your cheeks because your body uses it to make vitamin D. Without vitamin D, calcium and phosphorus are unusable.
Dry skin? Cholesterol can help there too. It is secreted by glands in your skin to keep it supple and protect it from dehydration, cracking and the damage caused by the sun, wind and water. It also helps heal skin abrasions and protects against foreign organisms bent on infecting your body.
Antioxidant? It could be, if body conditions become threatened by too little antioxidant minerals and vitamins. Even better, there’s a kind of self control mechanism involved in this building of vitamins and minerals. Some of the antioxidants, vitamins C, E, B3 and carotene, plus elements of selenium, sulfur and zinc/copper can lower cholesterol when serum cholesterol counts are high.
To understand another vital, somewhat awesome, function of cholesterol, let’s take a short trip through a very small part of your body called a cell. They’re everywhere, bone, muscle, tissue, blood—everywhere! When you understand that your body is mostly water you’ll realize that your cells must be, to a large degree, liquid regardless of where that cell is located—even bone cells are mostly liquid.
The substance that separates each cell is a membrane and without that membrane your body would be a “shape changer” like those found in science fiction stories. For all practical purposes, you’d have to be carried around in a bucket.
But those membranes need to change in relation to the kind of food you put into your body. Some foods act upon these cell membranes making them too hard and others increase the fluidity making them less able to form the separation between each cell.
In order to keep the balance just right, cholesterol is made on demand by the cells which need it. For example, when you take a drink of alcohol, it begins dissolving, making more fluid, those separating membranes. The cell makes Cholesterol and adds it to restore the rigidity that is lost. As the effect of the drink wear off, the stiffness is decreased by removing cholesterol and dumping it as fatty acid bile to aid in digestion and improve the absorption of fats, oils and fat soluble vitamins.
By now, you’ve discovered that cholesterol is homemade in your body, frequently on an as needed basis. It also comes as no surprise to you that certain foods contain various amounts of it and that’s where the margarine ads, medical scare talk come from.
These foods however, relate to cholesterol in two different ways. Eating high cholesterol foods in all their greasy glory is dumping a whole bunch of cholesterol into your system in a very big way. Other foods don’t really add cholesterol in themselves, but push greater cholesterol production. What foods? Those that are rich in refined carbohydrates—all white flour products, refined white sugar and processed foods. Also, all foods from animal products contain cholesterol with eggs and pork heading the list and fish being the least offensive.
If you’re one of the 70% of our population whose body regulates the production of cholesterol properly, eating foods high in cholesterol decreases the production of the same within your body. This makes it less likely to be a problem, and since there is no cholesterol in plant foods, vegetarians are the least likely to have a problem with it. However, many who call themselves vegetarians are in fact carbo-junkies, eating large amount of flour products and meat substitute processed food. In this way, they continue at risk because, you’ll recall, those are the foods that punch the body’s cholesterol producing mechanism into action.
Surprisingly, although your body can make cholesterol, it has no method of breaking it down. To get rid of the excess it dumps it into your bowels. That’s another reason why cleansing your elimination organs regularly is beneficial and a high fiber content in the food you eat is so important. The fiber acts like a broom, sweeping the internal walls of your intestines.
You’re well aware of the dark side of cholesterol, cardiovascular illness which is very real indeed. There are several theories about the causes of cardiovascular problems. One very believable theory is that arterial walls are first damaged by free radicals in our bloodstream and the cholesterol deposits are being used by the body to repair that damage. This gives rise to a second, related theory. If your body is deficient in micronutrient minerals and vitamins, you may not have enough ammunition to wage an effective war against free radicals. Yet another theory blames oxidized cholesterol and triglycerides which are produced when antioxidant levels in our blood are low. This causing arterial damage and thickening. Still another is the growing concern that increased consumption of refined, nutrient-poor sugars are adding to the problem. Please note the importance of antioxidants and the role nutrition plays in all of these theories.
Then, there’s Dr. Linus Pauling and his landmark work with vitamin C. He and his co-researcher, Dr. Rath, bring it all together with research to back their theory that a deficiency of Vitamin C helps increase the thickening of arteries and cardiovascular disease. Vitamin C is the strongest antioxidant normally present in the body. It reduces the effect of free radicals. It also recharges other helpful vitamins such as vitamins E and B, allowing them to be reused many times.
It appears from this research that before the dark side of cholesterol can create heart disease, it needs a lot of help from other factors of nutrition which are missing in American diets. It doesn’t sneak up on you in the night, it means you have to help yourself into the problem through lack of knowledge or apathy. Your life style, your eating habits are important in the prevention of cholesterol induced heart attacks. That’s why nutrition is so vital to your health.
Before starting a cholesterol lowering program through the medical channels, it may be wise to first supplement with antioxidants nutrients and increase the sources of vitamin C—largely dark green leafy vegetables and fruit. Nutrition through natural means is always superior to supplementation, especially when those supplements are not from organic sources. Remember, most vitamins that are sold are based on petrochemicals; plain, ordinary crude oil. You’re not your car and synthetic vitamins and minerals introduce other problems in your body, apart from those you wish to handle with supplementation.
It just doesn’t make a lot of sense to do a program that reduces the risk of heart disease and at the same time feed your body to cancer.
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