Thursday, February 16, 2012

Is Getting Your Cholesterol Tested Even Necessary?

See below for an article by Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride on cholesterol testing and the negatives of doing it. Enjoy :)

Many people ask me this question:


My answer is:



I will explain, why.

Your blood levels of cholesterol are maintained by your liver: when we eat more cholesterol, the liver produces less; when we eat less cholesterol - the liver produces more. That is why low-fat and cholesterol-free diets have no effect on blood cholesterol: your liver will maintain a particular amount of cholesterol in your blood, depending on what your body is doing at the time.

Why does your body need cholesterol?
Our bodies are made out of cholesterol and fats to quite a large degree, and cholesterol is essential for many functions. Cholesterol is such an essential part of our human physiology that the body has very efficient mechanisms to keep blood cholesterol at a certain level at any given moment of your life. However, cholesterol - lowering drugs (statins) are a completely different matter! They interfere with the body's ability to produce cholesterol and hence they do reduce the amount of cholesterol available for the body to use. Let us see just how dangerous that is.

Human brain is hungry for cholesterol!
Every structure in the brain needs cholesterol and saturated fats not only to build itself but also to accomplish its many functions. If you start interfering with the body's ability to produce cholesterol you put the very structure of the brain and the rest of the nervous system under threat. Memory loss and cognitive decline are very common results of statin therapy. In fact it is possible that a considerable part of dementia epidemic in our ageing population is due to our ubiquitous statin prescriptions. Eating fresh eggs and butter daily has been shown to improve memory and cognitive ability in the elderly. Any person with memory loss or learning problems needs to have plenty of these foods every single day in order to recover.

More recently statins have been linked to development of Parkinson's disease. The leading researcher Dr Xuemei Huang from North Carolina University stated: "A surge in Parkinson's disease could be imminent because of the widespread use of statins."

There are people whose bodies are unable to produce enough cholesterol; these people do need to have plenty of foods rich in cholesterol in order to provide their organs with this essential-to-life substance. Low blood cholesterol has been routinely recorded in criminals who committed murder and other violent crimes, people with aggressive and violent personalities, people prone to suicide and people with aggressive social behaviour and low self-control. From the beginning of cholesterol-lowering drug trials increased numbers of deaths from violence and suicide have been recorded. The late Oxford Professor David Horrobin warned us: "reducing cholesterol in the population on a large scale could lead to a general shift to more violent patterns of behaviour. Most of this increased violence would not result in death but in more aggression at work and in the family, more child abuse, more wife-beating and generally more unhappiness." Indeed, one of the fist side effects of statins is the change in mood and personality towards being intolerant, aggressive and short-tempered - a warning sign that the brain is starving for cholesterol.

Cholesterol protects us from infections!
Cholesterol is essential for our immune system to function properly. People with low blood cholesterol are more prone to infections and when they get an infection they are more likely to die from it, compared to people with high cholesterol. Before the discovery of antibiotics mixture of raw egg yolks and cream, very rich in cholesterol, was used as a cure for tuberculosis and other infections for centuries.

Every steroid hormone in the body is made out of cholesterol!
After the brain, the organs which are very hungry for cholesterol are our endocrine glands: adrenals and sex glands. They produce steroid hormones, which accomplish a myriad of functions in the body. Without cholesterol we will not be able to cope with stress or to have children.

Cholesterol is essential for babies and children!
The proponents of the diet-heart hypothesis and the public policy makers tell us that our children from the age of two should follow a programme for reducing their blood cholesterol by avoiding natural fats and replacing them with margarine. The pharmaceutical giants are working hard on creating cholesterol-lowering drugs for children. These dangerous guidelines are given out "just in case", without any scientific data to support them. The consequences of this policy can be very serious indeed for our children: aggressive behaviour, learning difficulties, poor memory, poor immunity, poor physical health combined with the future risk of developing cancer, heart disease, stroke and infertility. Children's bodies are generally not able to produce enough cholesterol for growth and development, so eating cholesterol-rich foods is essential for children! That is why human breast milk is very rich in cholesterol!

Cholesterol is essential for the elderly!
Many studies have shown that old people with high cholesterol are healthier and live longer than people with low cholesterol. In fact it is dangerous to reduce cholesterol in old people. And yet that is exactly what our doctors are doing! The older the person is the more their low blood cholesterol poses a risk of stroke, while it has been clearly demonstrated that high blood cholesterol protects older people from strokes, heart disease, infections, cancer and many other health problems.

Vitamin D is made out of cholesterol in the body!
Our recent misguided fear of sun and avoidance of cholesterol have created an epidemic of vitamin D deficiency in the Western world leading to cancer, diabetes, heart disease, mental illness, autoimmune illness, obesity, bone and muscle disease, high blood pressure, chronic pain, poor immunity and susceptibility to infections. As many people are unable to produce enough of their own cholesterol, eating cholesterol-rich foods is essential for them to produce vitamin D.

Cholesterol and saturated fats are essential for healing!
No damage in the body, no wound or scratch can be healed without cholesterol and saturated fats. That is why large-scale studies have found that people who have low levels of cholesterol are prone to cancer, because their bodies cannot heal damaged tissues.

It is this function of healing that brings us back to the testing for cholesterol: all your blood level reflects is how much damage there is in your body at any particular moment, that has to be healed. If you had a cold, an infection, a dental treatment or a surgical procedure, then there is a lot of damage in your body to heal, so your blood cholesterol level will be high until the healing has taken place. If you are tired and under stress, your adrenals have a high demand for cholesterol, as they make their hormones from it. So, your liver has to produce more cholesterol than usual and send it to your adrenals, making blood levels of cholesterol high. In winter cholesterol goes high and in the summer it is generally lower, because cold weather and lack of the sunshine vitamin D places high demands on your immune system, which is very hungry for cholesterol. These are just a few scenarios when your blood cholesterol has to be high to serve your body's needs.

Every day, depending on what your body is doing, your blood cholesterol levels go up and down quite a lot. A blood test for cholesterol will give you a snippet of this activity, completely out of context of your body's needs at the time. If this snippet happens to find it high, then two harmful things can happen to you:

1. You are likely to be put under pressure to start a statin therapy, depriving your body from one of the most essential nutrients;
2. You will have to live with a new anxiety - a fear of heart disease! And for no good reason at all, because cholesterol levels in your blood have nothing to do with heart disease.

If you really want to know about your risk of heart disease, then these are the tests to do:
1. C-reactive protein, which is a marker for inflammation in the body. Heart disease is an inflammatory condition.
2. Insulin levels in your blood. The insulin profile will show if you suffer from a metabolic syndrome, which is the underlying condition for heart disease.

To learn more about this whole issue (and see all the scientific references to back this up), please read her book "Put Your Heart In Your Mouth". You'll be happy you did :)

Helping you get healthy and lean in 2012,


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Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Bootcamp in North Vancouver Discusses that Cholesterol is Good - Part 3

Yummm butter! And to think not only does it taste good, but it's good for you too!

Many of you have had blood tests but most of you probably don't really understand what these tests are telling you about your health. That's a shame because regular blood testing can be very helpful in determining what effects your diet and lifestyle is having on your physiology. In this post I'll go through cholesterol, HDL, LDL, lipoprotein (a) and triglycerides. In future posts I'll go through albumin, globulin, TSH, homocysteine, c reactive protein, creatine kinase, ferritin, white blood cell count, haemoglobin A1C and 25 hydroxy vitamin D.

Cholesterol measurements get all the headlines but really are not all that helpful. The results needs to be put in context with HDL, LDL, triglycerides and inflammatory markers like lipoprotein (a), homocysteine, c reactive protein (highly sensitive version). The other thing that needs to be understood is that the "normal" levels for cholesterol have been revised downwards over the years so that nowadays many healthy individuals are advised to start using statins if their total cholesterol is over 200mg/dL REGARDLESS of what their other test results look like. Much of this is due to the fact that many MDs get their ongoing education from drug company sales reps, which can lead to problems in and of itself. For a good review of this problem read "Good Calories, Bad Calories" by Gary Taubes, "The Cholesterol Myths" by Uffe Ravnskov and "Put Your Heart In Your Mouth" by Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride. Three really good books that will definitely change the way you look at fats, oils and cholesterol and that they are not evil.

Another problem is that we are all led to believe that if we increase our consumption of eggs, bacon and red meat this will result in higher cholesterol levels. This is not necessarily the case. There are some individuals who experience a drop in cholesterol when they make such a dietary change and others who see no change at all. If you wish to try such an experiment on yourself, make sure you are eating high quality/"clean" eggs, bacon and read meat. If you load up on these foods from cheap, non-organic, non-free range, non-grass fed sources then you are prejudicing the results of your own experiment. The goal is not to see what effect the growth hormones, flavourings, preservatives and antibiotic residues have on your blood chemistry!

Do you feel this way?

HDL is a sub fraction of your total cholesterol and it's main function is to transport cholesterol to the liver, adrenals, testes and/or ovaries. It is actively involved in the removal of cholesterol from arterial walls. In this regard it is antagonistic to LDL (but that doesn't mean that LDL is bad as we've been led to believe). Cholesterol is an absolute necessity for the production of the following hormones:







In other words, if you deliberately cut fat from your diet, or if you are taking a statin, it's just a matter of time before you develop a hormonal problem. You cannot possibly make optimal amounts of these hormones unless you eat fat. Could this be one of the reason why people aren't losing weight because they aren't producing adequate amounts of these fat burning hormones?  Could this also be one of the reasons that so many people have a hard time getting pregnant? What about all those males getting diagnosed with testosterone deficiencies? Generally speaking it is good to have high HDL. High HDL levels indicate that plenty of cholesterol is being transported to areas in the body where hormones are made. The ratio of total cholesterol to HDL can be useful in this regard. If this ratio is under 3.5 you are doing well and lower is even better.

LDL is also a subfraction of your total cholesterol. It has become increasingly obvious recently that the oxidized form of LDL is much more relevant in terms of cardiovascular health and in particular arterial wall health (that's what you want to stay away from oxidized LDL which comes in the form of damaged fats, i.e. powdered, processed eggs for instance). The problem is that this test is not readily available and many MDs do not know about it. For more information go to:

If you are able to get this test done, lower numbers are better.

Lipoprotein (a) is a sub fraction of LDL and is an inherited risk factor for cardiovascular disease. Lower numbers are better. High levels often go hand in hand with infections like h. pylori. H. pylori is a bacterial infection that causes damage to the parietal cells in your stomach, thus reducing the production of hydrochloric acid. This might sound like a good thing but it's not! You need hydrochloric acid to kill pathogens in the food you eat and to break down high protein foods especially red meat. If you have noticed that your ability to digest red meat has deteriorated as you got older, or if you seem to have less of an urge to eat red meat than when you were younger, you should get tested for h. pylori. It's a nasty infection that many of us have for years and do not know it. Left untreated it sets the stage for peptic ulcers and even stomach cancer. Barry Marshall and Robin Warren, two Australian researchers, received a Nobel Prize in 2005 for demonstrating the unpleasant effects of h. pylori in human beings. All of this is relatively new information so don't be surprised if your MD knows nothing about it. It's up to you to figure this stuff out - after all it's YOUR health.

Triglyceride levels generally reflect the amount of carbohydrate in your diet. The more carbohydrate you eat the higher your triglycerides are likely to be. Carbohydrate rich foods include grains, vegetables and fruits and anything made with grains, vegetables and fruits. Over consumption of carbohydrates is probably the single biggest mistake that most Westerners make. Most of us eat carbohydrates in the kind of quantities that competitive marathon runners require. Unless you are running 50+ miles a week you should not be eating like this! If your triglycerides are over 80mg/dL, forget about grains and fruit. Get your carbohydrates from fresh, locally produced, organic vegetables. Contrary to popular belief fruit is not good for everybody at all times. Most of the carbohydrate in fruit comes in the form of fructose (fruit sugar). The only major metabolic pathway for frucotose is conversion to triglycerides by the liver. This is one reason why anything containing fructose should be eliminated if you have high triglycerides. You should see major changes in your triglyceride count if you make these dietary changes AND exercise for at least one hour every day.

We know this is a lot of information but these are some health related issues that you ought to get familiar with.

Helping you get lean and healthy in 2012,

PS. If you haven't had a chance to check out our new boot camp/training facility click the link below to see video of the class in action!

PPS. Thanks to my friends Chris Maund and Janet Alexander for what was shared in this blog.

Janet Alexander
A 25-year veteran of the Health and Fitness Industry and commited endurance athlete, Janet draws her experience from a varied career base, including teaching, sales and marketing, advertising and design as well as working with clients requiring sports performance and orthopedic rehabilitation. Janet is one of the Senior Faculty at the C.H.E.K Institute, co-owner of The CHEK Studio, Inc. in Encinitas, CA where she works predominantly with golfing athletes and their coaches including PGA and LPGA professionals.

Chris Maund
Chris Maund is a member of the C.H.E.K Faculty and has been teaching for the C.H.E.K Institute since 1998. Chris has a bachelor's degree in Physical Education and Sports Science from Loughborough University in England. He has written a thesis to satisfy part of the requirements for C.H.E.K Practitioner Program entitled "Sleep, Biological Rhythms and Electromagnetic Fields". Chris is a strong believer in the value of massage therapy and studied Paul St John's Neuro Muscular Therapy program. An experienced triathlete, he was a member of the British National Squad from 1989-1992 before emigrating to New Zealand in 1993. Chris has a wealth of experience working in a wide variety of rehabilitation and sports conditioning scenarios.
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