Let’s open a can of healthy worms. What is the truth about cholesterol and its role in the body? With such dominance as a health topic how far have we actually come to understanding why it is important and how we can be preventative in our drive for health and well-being? In staying true to the series, we will see the success of the holistic approach.
A positive note for Cholesterol
To start with, a brief look at cholesterol:
:: Cholesterol is an integral part of the 1 Trillion cells in the body.
:: Without cholesterol cells cannot function.
:: Involved in making Vitamin D.
:: Also the starting point for many hormones and bile salts for our digestion.
:: Supports the brain and nervous system.
:: It even has tissue repair qualities (save for later).
The Current ‘Inflamed’ Situation
Popular belief in society appears to be that high cholesterol levels are a major risk factor in causing heart disease and that these levels are due to eating foods high in saturated fat. So, two villains (cholesterol and saturated fat) have already been identified and aggressively attacked from many sides; media, medical and health.
A counter-argument to this would be to look at the scientific research and educate ourselves as to what cholesterol and saturated fat do in the body and to even look at the dietary intake of the population and its relationship to disease. After all, ignorance is bliss until you suffer the consequences.
What Causes High Cholesterol Levels?
Is conventional ‘wisdom’ taking us in the wrong direction? If we look at the research (National Diet and Nutrition Survey) and the facts we see that the number of people in the UK with heart disease is going up and the amount of saturated fat in the diet is actually going down. You can make your own conclusions from this information, but one thing it does show is that the public are following the low-fat, high-carbohydrate dietary recommendations. So far the problems with heart disease do not seem to be due to high fat dietary intake.
So what does cause high cholesterol? We have been told that it was a diet high in fat, but that’s not what we appear to be consuming. It might even be worth momentarily taking a step backwards, putting aside the thought that cholesterol is a villain and is ‘bad’ in this scenario and considering what it is doing in the person who does have heart disease. Just because it is present doesn’t mean that it is the cause of the problem. In view of all the known positive functions of the cholesterol molecule, it might be interesting to turn this conventional story upside down; what if the cholesterol was there, present in the arteries, trying to help. Remember the ‘tissue repair qualities’? Let’s say the arteries were damaged due to, for example, smoking, high blood sugar, toxicity or stress. The body’s response might be to try to protect and repair the damage, which could require more cholesterol. To quote an authority on the subject “this would be like blaming the traffic police at the scene of an motor vehicle accident”.
Cholesterol-Lowering Drugs at 50?
There have been incredible developments in the medical and pharmaceutical industry, which have had a major impact on health and disease. In terms of the cholesterol debate the most significant recent development has been the widespread use of cholesterol-lowering drugs. A decision to introduce a drug for your health and well-being should be made personally and alongside a medical practitioner. What can help in this process is being fully aware of all the implications. In terms of good-health we should be acutely aware of anything we put in our body, be it food or a drug.
Putting this in context, what is a little disconcerting are the stories from clients and friends of the application of these drugs. Whatever the proposed benefits of the drug are, it is surprising to hear one GP state that ‘ideally everyone over 55yrs would be on Statins’ and for a client of only 48 to be encouraged to begin taking the drug.
There have also been questions raised about the scientific evidence behind such drug use, which is worth getting educated up on. But even if the drug is safe and efficient, what is our health telling us about the way we are treating our body? If health is our priority what then can we be doing to enhance it?
Holistic Approach to Cholesterol Health
The following article in this Holistic Health Series will expand on the holistic approach to cholesterol health. The key is to look at the body and person as a whole and use the best out of conventional and complementary methods, looking at the cause as well as the symptoms. Work alongside your medical and other health professionals to make the correct and safe decisions for your health, whether that is a drug, a change in diet or exercise routine.
Functional Trainer’ provides Corrective Exercise Coaching, The Bowen Technique and Metabolic Typing ® Nutrition. firstname.lastname@example.org.