What actually is cholesterol? Well if we believe the propaganda perpetuated by public health and medical bodies over the last 50 years you would think it is a highly dangerous sticky fat that clings to the walls of our arteries forming plaques, creating arthrosclerosis and causing heart disease, stroke and death!!!
In fact every cell of our body is made from it – cholesterol is one of the most vitally important bodily substances. ALL of our steroid hormones are manufactured from cholesterol, including our sex and adrenal hormones!
Why on earth are we told to lower it then? Good question and I will attempt to explain this later! I say attempt because I find it difficult to understand how the combined brain power of all of the researchers on this subject over the past 50 years have actually concluded that cholesterol is dangerous and the major cause of heart disease, despite the fact their studies have found no such link!
First though let me tell you all of the wonderful things that cholesterol does for us.
The six steroid hormones our bodies need to function are all synthesized from cholesterol and they include :
- Glucocorticoids which are vitally important for the metabolism of carbohydrates. In particular cortisol, a powerful adrenal hormone that has multiple functions in the body including blood glucose control and anti-inflammatory actions that oppose the hyper reactions of our immune system.
- Mineralcorticoide hormones, in particular aldosterone which is in charge of electrolyte balance. In lay man’s term keeping sodium and potassium in balance with each other. (Remember that awful feeling of dehydration that comes with a hangover – that comes from an electrolyte imbalance!)
- Adrogenic hormones such as DHEA and testosterone are critical for libido, bone density, memory and anti-aging, (if you are sick of using the ol’ headache as an excuse get your man on some cholesterol lowering statins – they will take care of his libido! Yes it is one of the most common side effects of statin drugs).
- Progestagens such as progesterone are vital in regulating women’s menstrual cycles and maintaining a healthy pregnancy.
- Estrogens such as estradiol are critical for sexual development and bone and brain health.
- Vitamin D, actually a sterol but don’t worry about that, as it behaves as a steroidal hormone which is converted in the liver and has hundreds of vital immune supporting functions along with calcium regulation in the blood.
As you can see cholesterol is vital for survival!
In fact I am living proof that we need good levels of cholesterol to function. During my acute phase of anorexia when I was living on lettuce leaves, low fat yoghurt and black tea my total cholesterol plummeted to 3.2mmol/L. Along with a multitude of other issues this created, I regressed back to my pre-pubescent years (I was 17 and built like a 9 year old!) everything shrank to the size of a lentil!!!! And I mean everything!!! I was surviving, just, but my clever body knew that I was not fit to bring life into this world and reacted accordingly.