Can we all get over our fixation on cholesterol? I mean, now that it’s clear that cholesterol isn’t what’s causing heart disease?
But, but, but, if cholesterol is building up in my arteries, doesn’t that mean cholesterol’s the problem?
Actually, no. Your cholesterol is simply trying to patch up raw spots in your arteries that were caused by inflammation–which is the problem. Cholesterol is the overworked, underappreciated good guy in the scenario.
Get rid of inflammation, and you get rid of a lot of problems–including cardiovascular “events.” But that’s another article for another day.
While the medical community makes its slow transition from cholesterol to inflammation as the villain of the piece, here are some facts you should know.
The brain needs plenty of cholesterol to function. A brain is a terrible thing to waste, especially for a mistake.
The endocrine system–the thyroid, adrenals, pancreas, gonads, etc–needs cholesterol to keep us awake, alert and ready to make life happen.
Consider the thyroid: Most doctors prescribe Synthroid, or an equivalent T4 medication, to patients with an underactive thyroid. The fact is, however, that T4 doesn’t do much; our bodies have to convert the T4 to T3 to get thyroid function off the mat. The conversion can’t be done without cholesterol, so hypothyroid patients can faithfully take their meds and still feel like death struck by a brick. The conversion isn’t guaranteed in any case (and don’t get me started about T4 medications), but it absolutely can’t happen without enough cholesterol.
The adrenals, which provide general energy and the ability to cope with stress, also need cholesterol to avoid dragging bottom. And it’s not a case of a little dab’ll do ya, either.
Low cholesterol means low libido, too. Not to mention an increased risk of stroke and cancer.
So cholesterol is a good thing.
Let’s go a little farther. The mistaken cholesterol hysteria included a sub-myth that meat, especially red meat, leads us to destruction with every bite.
Not so fast here, Chester. Red meat, mostly beef, provides excellent nutrition we can’t get otherwise. For one major thing, it gives us an array of minerals–in a form we can use, in a balance that works well and in the wide variety we need.
And minerals keep the wheels turning. You can chug vitamins until you’re blue in the face, but without minerals, they can’t do so much.
It’s the minerals that allow the vitamins to do their thing. Without minerals, we open the door to degenerative disease.
Even if cholesterol actually did dastardly things, we’re still good. Eating meat–even well marbled meat–doesn’t raise cholesterol levels–as proved by study after study going back a couple hundred years.
I could go on, but why? Everybody needs cholesterol, a good healthy level of 200–or more–to keep the brain and the endocrine system working. Pretty much nobody, especially people with any sort of endocrine problem, should take drugs to lower cholesterol. Or eat a low-fat diet. Wrong and wrong.
People who think a working brain is a good idea should definitely look askance at cholesterol-lowering drugs. A functioning liver and muscle strength are good reasons to avoid these drugs, too. Simply put, we need cholesterol.
And we need the life-enhancing, life-saving minerals that meat gives us. Plant sources can’t do what meat does.
Fire up the barby.
About the author: Bette Dowdell is not a doctor, nor does she purport to be one. She’s a patient who’s been studying and successfully handling her own endocrine problems for more than 30 years. She offers a free health e-zine, introductory teleseminars and an in-depth, 12-month subscription program, “Moving to Health,” about living well with endocrine issues. She explains how the endocrine system works–or doesn’t, discusses what things to avoid as well as the things that help, and she provides a lot of well-researched nutritional information. Subscribe to her free weekly emails about health at http://TooPoopedToParticipate.com. Information is power.