We never want to hear it…We never want to hear our Doctor say, “Your cholesterol levels are way too high”.
Many known, life threatening diseases have high cholesterol at its roots, thus we have all become extremely terrified of this fat molecule, and rightfully so!
From the perspective of a Holistic Nutritionist, I will say that we don’t have as much to fear about cholesterol, as this molecule plays many vital roles in the body, some of which are essential in human existence! While we will expand on this slightly in this blog, this is a topic for another blog, however.
What We’ve Been Told About Cholesterol
Whether from our parents, teachers, peers, or Doctors, we’ve all been taught to fear cholesterol, as it’s a molecule that could lead to death!
We’ve been taught to avoid high cholesterol foods, manage our blood sugar, watch our weight, and take care of our stress levels to avoid the grips of high cholesterol!
While all of these can play a specific role in your cholesterol levels, many of us still don’t truly understand how this all works, and why, even regardless of us avoiding cholesterol in the diet, exercising, and avoiding sugar, our cholesterol continues to remain high!
The Real Reasons Why Your Cholesterol Continues to Remain High…
There are two major reasons why this may be the case, however these are things that our Doctors either don’t tell us, or don’t educate us enough on!
Yes, while it is true that your Doctor may advise you to avoid stress after explaining to you that your cholesterol levels are high, he or she unfortunately tends to stop at that!
They don’t explain to you why this may be a correlation or teach us any strategies in order to reduce our stress!
Here’s something you likely haven’t heard before…Your body uses cholesterol to synthesize your stress hormones!
What does this mean? Well, any time you’re stressed, your body will increase its production and release of stress hormones, one of those being cortisol. When the body senses it’s need for higher production of stress hormones, it will increase its production and output of cholesterol also.
Your body will then use this cholesterol to help facilitate the production of these stress hormones!
Are we getting the picture here? A rise in stress hormones = a rise in cholesterol!
And often, a decrease in stress hormones = a decrease in cholesterol levels!
Another side to stress and cholesterol is how stress influences our eating patterns and weight.
When we’re stressed, we don’t want to reach for a carrot do we!? NO, we want to reach for sugary, carb heavy foods like ice cream, cake, cookies, pop etc! Why? Because consuming these foods feels easier and provides a massive sense of comfort! Aside to this, consuming these foods increases the release of dopamine in the brain, which makes us feel much better than when we’re stuck in the stress!
While this can be very enjoyable, it also increases our caloric intake, spikes our insulin levels, and increases inflammation in the body, all of which could lead to weight gain! There are now numerous studies exploring how weight gain correlates with high cholesterol levels!
This may be due to the strain that excess weight places on the body, the high inflammation/insulin levels that result from weight gain, or the disturbance of hormones that can also result from increased weight.
Regardless, much of this process begins with the stress response!
Another point you may not have known about cholesterol is that it’s a healing molecule! Yes, this demonic substance we’ve trashed on for decades helps keep us alive by healing us when we’re injured!
When the body goes through any type of physical trauma; let’s say for example, a gash in your arm, or even as simple as a cut on your finger, your body will use cholesterol to help patch up the damage!
This is because cholesterol is an integral part of human tissue, making up all cell membranes (the outer surface of cells).
If your Doctor explains to you that your cholesterol is high, consider whether you’ve sustained an injury in the past few months, including large cuts, muscle strains/traumas, bone injuries, concussions or other brain related injuries etc.
Besides the injuries we know of, we need to consider the injuries we cannot see or feel also!
What I’m referring to here is the role of chronic inflammation and internal, low-grade tissue damage.
When the body is in a chronic inflammatory state, potentially produced by high levels of stress, an inflammatory diet, hormone imbalance, poor detoxification, high acidity etc., this could cause the constant degradation of tissue in the body. I would think that this could also trigger high cholesterol levels, due to the need for cholesterol in healing the body!
There is also the question of the role of leaky gut, a condition in which your small intestine becomes abnormally porous, due to many factors that effect the integrity of the small intestine. Being that this could be considered a form of injury to the body, I would think this could also cause an increase in cholesterol levels!
We know that there are some aspects of cholesterol that can be life threatening! I hope after reading this blog you also understand that there are some beneficial roles that cholesterol plays in the body, and that there are many factors involved in high cholesterol that we may be missing!
All in all, make your best attempt to live and lead a healthy life in all aspects including your stress levels, your dietary practices, your emotional and mental wellbeing, and your environmental health, to hopefully support healthy cholesterol levels!
To share your thoughts about this blog post, visit my Facebook page at facebook.com/holisticlivingnutrition, I would love to hear from you!
Also, visit my Instagram page @holisticlivingnutrition
Keep on living holistic,
Michael Sharp, CNP, NNCP.
DISCLAIMER: The information listed above is for educational purposes and discussion of general health information only. The information, opinions, ideas, and suggestions listed above are in no way intended to diagnose disease/health issues or act as a treatment for disease/health issues and is not to act as a substitute for medical advice from your doctor. Before taking part in any natural or alternative approach to health, these approaches should be reviewed by your doctor for approval especially if there are existing health conditions and if prescribed and or pharmaceutical medication is being taken due to the potential for interactions between medications and any natural approaches to health.