We hear it time and time again. We need to keep our cholesterol levels down.
But is low cholesterol a good thing?
Despite the hype that it’s a bad thing, it’s actually needed for:
-optimal brain function
-the synthesis of vitamin D
-the formation or structural component of every cell membrane in our body
-the production of steroid (sex and stress) hormones
Sex hormones include estrogen, progesterone and testosterone. Low progesterone can elevate feelings of anxiety (😳🤯) whilst another hormone, DHEA, acts as a precursor to these hormones, and also relies on cholesterol to function.
Whilst cortisol is a stress hormone, it’s also an anti-inflammatory and only regarded as problematic when too much or too little of it is produced at the wrong times.
Sadly cholesterol has been demonized for many years as the leading cause of heart disease (ie; heart attack or stroke) despite there being any credible research to back up such claims. Interestingly, cholesterol-lowering drugs happen to be the top 2 selling prescription medications in Australia.
Hormones are chemical messengers which travel in the blood to the cells, tissues and organs telling the body to act in a certain way. They are vital for the body to function optimally.
Despite a massive focus on dietary association, the liver and intestines produce most of the cholesterol in our bodies (~80%), so if liver or gut function is not optimal then this is going to have an impact on cholesterol function.
As a side note, fat-dissolving bile acids are also made from cholesterol, and low-stomach acid is often treated using medications such as PPI’s or protein-pump inhibitors, which, like most synthetic medications, often come with side effects.
So is it time to start questioning some of the scientific literature along with the continued pressure to have our cholesterol levels reduced? As a starting point I recommend reading a great book published by leading UK Cardiologist Dr Aseem Malhotra ‘A Statin Free Life’.
It’s a very insightful read.