Cholesterol is a type of waxy lipid, or waxy fat, also known as a sterol. We produce most of our cholesterol in the liver (approx 75%) and the rest we gain from our diet.
Cholesterol is found in all animal cells because it is an important part of a cell membrane.. cholesterol helps maintain the integrity of the cell wall and its fluidity which helps the cell function properly.. cell walls are the real brains of the cell, (not the nucleus) and are extremely important.
Cholesterol also enables our cells to dispense with a tough outer membrane such as you find in plants, which gives us the ability to move, change shape and to be mobile. Adding to this, cholesterol serves as a precursor to vitamin D and other hormones such as testosterone, progesterone and oestrogen, it is also needed to produce bile! So as you can see, this waxy lipid with such a bad reputation is in fact our very best friend.
The problem today and for the past several years is not just cholesterol .. its the additional cholesterol in our diet along with the additional fat coupled with the additional sugar, our arteries start to resemble the blocked pipe under the sink, you've probably all seen that before. Further to this you can add lack of purposeful exercise and lack of healthy protective nutrients in our diet. This whole process just tends to be labelled 'high cholesterol' to keep things simple.
Just like the pipe under the sink, arteries also become blocked and restricted, though instead of stopping the water from draining out, a blocked artery increases pressure in the system, damages artery walls, restricts or completely blocks blood flow to vital organs, and then causes embolisms, strokes and heart attacks. The 'plumber' to help fix this situation is a heart surgeon if you're lucky.
Medication such as statins, blood pressure tablets, aspirin and anticoagulants (blood thinners) all have their place, and of course are needed by so many people around the world. Tackling the problem before we get to that stage should be the big drive now. But this can only be done through education and changing our bad habits... Knowing what to do, and more importantly... why!.
Nobody is asking you to never eat chocolate again.. (Phew!), or quit drinking. You can it cake, you can indulge sugary foods.. but not too much and not too often, especially if you are not counterbalancing it with good nutrients and deliberate exercise.. there will be a cost!
Be honest with yourself, identify bad habits, improve on your good habits, educate yourself on any issues affecting you or you find interesting. Keep active, try different foods and remember YOU are responsible for YOU! ...
More next time...
For more info on other topics see the blog on: www.understandingnutrition.co.uk