We have seen that cholesterol is a primordial component of our cells and is necessary to reach an optimum health (1). And in some cases, especially the elderly, the consumption of cholesterol is necessary, as the body struggles to produce the daily requirement, therefore making it a necessity to eat animal proteins. In addition, there is tremendous amount of evidence to support a protective role of this fat in the development of Alzheimer’s disease. But what about if you have too much cholesterol? Is it really that bad for our health?
Why do we need cholesterol?
As we know, the human body produces a large amount of cholesterol every day and it is one of the most potent antioxidant available to all our cells and tissues (2). Antioxidants neutralize free radicals in our cells. Free radicals are very unstable and react quickly with other compounds in our body. Generally, free radicals attack the nearest stable molecule. When “attacked” this compound becomes a free radical itself, beginning a chain reaction. Once the process is started, it can cascade, finally resulting in the disruption of a living cell. It has become clear that free radicals damage our tissues leading to aging and the development of a variety of illnesses. Environmental factors such as pollution, radiation, cigarette smoke, herbicides, heavy metals, among others can also spawn free radicals. Normally, the body can handle free radicals, but if antioxidants are unavailable, or if the free-radical production becomes excessive, damage can occur. Therefore, cholesterol is one of the molecules that the body uses to neutralize those dangerous free radicals.
In addition, LDL particles (as known as bad cholesterol) is the main carrier of cholesterol molecules to sites of injury in the body (3). In other words, LDL transports cholesterol where tissues are damaged in the body and assist in the repair of the injury. Cholesterol acts as a band aid and is a necessary component of the healing process that occurs in those sites of injury. Without it, healing is very difficult if not impossible. And we dare calling LDL a bad cholesterol!
High blood cholesterol: what does that mean?
Knowing that cholesterol is a potent antioxidant and a required component of the healing process in the body, a high blood cholesterol takes has a completely different meaning. Indeed, a high cholesterol is advantageous, i-e. the body has a large reservoir of cholesterol available in case there is damage done to the various tissues of the body. That may explain why blood cholesterol tends to increase with age. In addition, LDL/cholesterol particles have the ability to absorb and neutralize toxins in the blood (toxins that are from food and water) therefore preventing the trigger of an inflammatory reaction which leads to atherosclerosis for example (4, 5, 6). We can clearly see that a high blood cholesterol is not necessary bad at all!
I have to admit that my clinical experience concurs with these evidence. I repeatedly observe an increase in blood cholesterol when we start people on a healing protocol. It makes total sense as the cholesterol is one of the key components of the healing reaction in the body. Dr. Williams Davis has observed a similar phenomenon when he puts people on a weight loss program (7). Cholesterol is used to heal tissues and restore homeostasis among the various organs and systems in the body. When this process is accomplished, the blood cholesterol goes back to normal. In conclusion, high cholesterol is an indication that the body is being injured and needs more of this molecule to repair the damaged tissues. It is therefore counterproductive to lower his blood concentration with statins for example, as you would expect side effects. Addressing the root cause of high cholesterol is primordial in order to prevent the development of health issues.
- Sacchetti, P., Sousa, K.M., Hall, A.C., Liste, I., Steffensen, K.R., Theofilopoulos, S., Parish, C.L., Hazenberg, C., Richter, L.A., Hovatta, O., Gustafsson, J.A., and Arenas, E. 2009. Liver X receptors and oxysterols promote ventral midbrain neurogenesis in vivo and in human embryonic stem cells. Cell Stem Cell 5(4): 409-419.
- Know Your Fats : The Complete Primer for Understanding the Nutrition of Fats, Oils and Cholesterol by Mary G. Enig, 2000
- Flegel, W.A., Wolpl, A., Mannel, D.N., and Northoff, H. 1989. Inhibition of endotoxin-induced activation of human monocytes by human lipoproteins. Infect Immun 57(7): 2237-2245.
- Muldoon, M.F., Marsland, A., Flory, J.D., Rabin, B.S., Whiteside, T.L., and Manuck, S.B. 1997b. Immune system differences in men with hypo- or hypercholesterolemia. Clin Immunol Immunopathol 84(2): 145-149.
- Weinstock, C., Ullrich, H., Hohe, R., Berg, A., Baumstark, M.W., Frey, I., Northoff, H., and Flegel, W.A. 1992. Low density lipoproteins inhibit endotoxin activation of monocytes. Arterioscler Thromb 12(3): 341-347.