Understanding Your Cholesterol Number
Everyone who has a blood test ordered by their physician will have their blood checked for cholesterol levels. In most cases your doctor indicates to you that your cholesterol level is too high and they usually want to prescribe a drug to lower your cholesterol. If you really push them, they may even give you the number but it can be confusing and for many reasons.
Your cholesterol number is really made up of two components, your HDL (high density lipoprotein) which is known as your good cholesterol and your LDL (low density lipoprotein) known as your bad cholesterol. When you have your blood tested they also measure your triglycerides which are made out of cholesterol but should not be added on to your total number because they have nothing to do with the function of cholesterol in your body.
A normal amount of LDL for the average person is a reading of 3.9. A normal amount of HDL for the average person is 1.1 and these two numbers when added together are 5.0. Before the cholesterol-lowering drugs were introduced, a total cholesterol range of 5.2 to 5.4 was accepted as normal and healthy. Your triglyceride number is usually about 1.0. It will be high if you are a Type 2 diabetic, a borderline diabetic or just a person who eats a lot of sweets. Many physicians will ad this number to the LDL/HDL combination and tell you that your cholesterol is high and that you are at risk for a heart attack or stroke. Nothing could be further from the truth.
Cholesterol’s Function in the Body
As human beings we depend on oxygen that we breathe to keep us alive. The function of hemoglobin which is the main portion of your red blood cells is to carry this oxygen to every cell of your body. In order to have a sufficient supply we breathe in an excess of oxygen and the left over causes oxidative damage to the arteries of our body. Cholesterol is the healing substance that repairs all those oxidative damages.
When you fall asleep at night, your liver starts to produce LDL cholesterol. This is a gooey substance and it is delivered to all the areas where oxidative damage has taken place. At the same time your liver is also busy making HDL cholesterol, the so-called good cholesterol because it dissolves all the excess gooey HDL and washes it out of your body. If you have enough HDL your arteries will not accumulate cholesterol deposits. Your triglycerides are not involved in any of these functions and therefore should not be part of the number that indicates your cholesterol level.
The majority of the oxygen we breathe in goes to our brain. Twenty minutes without oxygen and we are brain-dead and may never recover. That is why it is so important to have sufficient cholesterol levels to repair all the oxidative damage that takes place in the brain. If these damages are not repaired then the risk of dementia and Alzheimer’s is much greater.
Your brain represents about 2% of your body weight but contains twenty per cent of all the cholesterol in your body. Artificially reducing your natural cholesterol levels could result in oxidative damages left unrepaired and an interruption in signals that travel from synapse to synapse in your brain. The latest research has found a protein in your brain that is responsible for carrying cholesterol. It is called apolipoprotein E and it moves both cholesterols to the needed places. If cholesterol levels are too low, then there is a reduced amount of apolipoprotein E and this is exactly what physicians have discovered when they perform an autopsy on the brain of an Alzheimer patient.
People Who Exercise
When I do a consultation with one of my clients, I ask them to bring in their blood tests and I interpret the results for them. I can look at their numbers and know immediately if they exercise on a regular basis. The clue is the HDL or good cholesterol number. A reading of 1.0 to 1.1 is an average person who does very little exercise. When I see 1.6 to 1.9 I see a person who exercises strenuously on a regular basis. I had a person come into my store wanting to get a product to lower her cholesterol because her good cholesterol, her HDL was 3.7. She was a long distance runner and ran 15 to 20 kilometers a day. Unfortunately her doctor had no understanding of the physiology of cholesterol in the human body and wanted her to take a drug to lower her cholesterol.
Because she ran for such a long distance and long period of time each day, the amount of oxygen she breathed in on a daily basis was probably one hundred times more than the average person. This caused a very large amount of oxidative damage and her body produced large amounts of both LDL and HDL to repair the damages and wash away the excess. If she had taken a drug to lower her cholesterol, many of her oxidative damages would not be healed and her health would deteriorate. When physicians insist on prescribing drugs to lower cholesterol, no matter what the case, the only word to describe their actions is “stupid”
These drugs have been on the market since 1990 and if they really did what they claimed, to reduce heart attacks and strokes by 50 per cent, then heart disease would be way down the list of causes of death for Canadians. But more than 20 years later heart disease is still the number one killer in this country and is only down a few points from 1990 because of the reduced number of smokers. What has increased substantially since 1990 is the diagnosis and deaths from Alzheimer’s disease.
These drugs known as statins reduce the liver’s ability to produce both kinds of cholesterol. Physicians are told by drug companies that they only reduce LDL (bad cholesterol) and increase HDL (good cholesterol). This is one huge lie. They interfere with both. Not only that, they reduce the liver’s natural output of coenzyme Q10 by 50 per cent. This is a natural antioxidant and reducing the levels of this enzyme can be very dangerous to your health.
The principle side-effect is muscle pain, but this is no ordinary muscle pain. It is pain caused by the disintegration of your muscles. Since your heart is also a muscle, it seems to me that this is a very serious side-effect and yet most physicians will insist their patients take the drug in spite of the pain it causes.
If your physician took the time to read the monograph of any of these cholesterol-lowering drugs, they would see an indication that says they are ONLY to be prescribed to people at risk. Someone at risk is a person who has an imminent risk of heart attack or stroke or has a hereditary condition that puts them in danger of suffering a heart attack or a stroke.. Yet the majority of people who take these drugs have no risk factors at all.
Cholesterol-lowering drugs should not be taken because the benefits do not outweigh the risks. They do almost nothing to prevent heart attacks or strokes but cause a lot of serious side-effects and may even cause dementia or Alzheimer’s disease. Always ask your doctor for a printout of your blood tests and use this article to interpret the results or bring them into me. If your cholesterol numbers are high, moderate exercise such as walking 30 minutes a day will reduce those numbers by 15 per cent. A good diet helps but only 5 per cent of your cholesterol comes from your food; the other 95 per cent is produced in your liver while you are sleeping.
Eat as healthy as you can and try and do about 30 minutes of aerobic exercise a day and you will never have to worry about your cholesterol number.