Cholesterol gets a lot of bad publicity but the truth is that it is an essential part of all cells and so it is no real surprise that it is abundant in the human body. The prevailing theory is that cholesterol is the cause of modern diseases but how strong is the evidence to support this theory? and what, if anything could be the alternative explanation?
What is Cholesterol?
Cholesterol is a chemical that is abundant in the membrane of every cell in your body. It is a type of fat with the structure of a steroid.
read more at cholesterol and cell membranes.
What does it do for us?
Cholesterol essentially keeps the cell membrane from turning to mush. Which means it keeps the cells in your body intact because it is a structural component of the cell membrane.
Why do we worry about it?
So cholesterol is prevalent in all cells and does useful things for us so why should we be worrying about it? The general evidence is that a correlation between high levels of a certain types of particle (LDL) that transports fats like cholesterol and high levels of heart and vascular problems like heart disease and stroke. It is also clear that high levels of LDLs containing cholesterol also often occur in people with fatty streaks and plaques in their arteries which are related to heart problems aswell
What I think really causes high cholesterol
The idea that cholesterol is the culprit only makes sense when you are looking for a scape goat to blame or something to fix with drugs because it doesn’t answer the question of why cholesterol is increasing or what makes it dangerous.
You see LDL cholesterol levels also have a correlation with lack of activity and general lack of fitness and one important aspect of being fit is the ability to recover quickly. For example fit people recover heart rate, blood pressure, glucose and fat blood levels faster than unfit people. Those are just a few of the measures but most if not all measures of health are improved in fit people
So when you consider the role of cholesterol as a support for both the cell structure and processes that the cell membrane performs then the story becomes clearer. As our populations have become less active and better fed they have become less fit. Being less fit means their bodies are much worse at both repairing the daily damage that occurs to cells throughout the body and managing the excess energy that is being consumed,
If cells are not repaired properly then their contents would start to leak out and be found around the body and cholesterol would obviously start to form cell membranes in the wrong place. Given that cholesterol is a core part of cells it is also a core part of the cell recovery process. So where repairs are occurring you would expect to find a lot of cholesterol just like there are lots of bricks and mortar in a building site.
The excess energy becomes a problem because all energy is dangerous when it is not stored properly. We know this from energy sources we use like electricity, wind and fossil fuels which in the right place are safe, but very unsafe in the wrong place. Fuels in the body are the same and can start to cause big problems. Carbohydrate, fats and proteins are also dangerous if they are not properly handled. So the body of an unfit individual will not handle energy properly which will lead to even more damage.
This explanation shows why ldls with high cholesterol would be more prevalent than hdls that have low cholesterol but gives a practice explanation about how the situation occurred and how to fix it that is also backed up by research. The ratio of hdl to ldl simply reflects your bodies ability to repair existing damage to cells and reduce further damage from rogue energy.
I have deliberately kept this explanation short and punchy instead of going in depth into the science because I feel it is more important that you understand the story. If you want to know more then please ask and I would be more than happy to share but for now it’s more important that you understand on a cellular level just why your body needs to move throughout the day just as much as it needs to breath. Breathing provides oxygen and remove carbon dioxide but movement gets nutrients to where they are needed and makes your body keeping everything working as it should and in line with what you need for your life.
If you want to know more then check out a different view on cholesterol, what factors make us kick the bucket? and Can you manage Coronary Heart Disease through physical activity?