Let’s clear up the confusion over cholesterol

A forum to discuss cholesterol and the meaning of blood cholesterol levels.

Let’s clear up the confusion over cholesterol

Postby David Staup » Fri Sep 16, 2011 1:10 pm

I found the following on my hard drive as a word doc
the author is one Shawn Russell
that's all I know

"Let’s clear up the confusion over cholesterol

Cholesterol is essential to many life processes.
Cholesterol is so important that it is produced in your body in 2 specific ways.

First, cholesterol is made in the liver and from there is sent into the blood stream where, ideally, it is absorbed into the cells where it is used. Cholesterol that is not absorbed by the cells is transported back to the liver where it is recycled or simply eliminated.
In addition to being made in the liver, every cell in your body can and frequently does make the cholesterol it needs internally, PLUS every cell in your body has the ability to grab cholesterol circulating in the blood and bring it into the cell for use.
Your total blood cholesterol level is determined in large part by whether your cells make cholesterol internally, or instead gather the cholesterol they need directly out of your blood.

Dietary cholesterol consumption has nothing whatsoever to do with determining whether your cells produce cholesterol internally or whether they gather cholesterol directly from the blood.
Numerous, excellent, doctor-directed studies have repeatedly demonstrated that even massive changes in the dietary cholesterol consumption, up or down, have only a minor effect on total cholesterol levels.

There are 2 primary ways your cells get the cholesterol they need

Either the cells manufacture the needed cholesterol internally and/or . .
the cells send messengers from deep inside the cell to the cell's surface to grab the needed cholesterol out of the blood and bring it back inside the cell for use.

Keep in mind that the reason there is cholesterol circulating in your blood in the first place is because cholesterol is made in your liver and sent cycling through your bloodstream so it’s available for the cells to use when and if they need it.

If your cells primarily manufacture the cholesterol they need internally, then no cellular messengers are sent to gather cholesterol from the blood and blood cholesterol levels tend to rise.
If instead of manufacturing new cholesterol inside the cell, the cellular messengers are routinely sent to gather cholesterol out of the blood for use in the cell, then blood cholesterol levels typically remain low.

The cells don’t care which method is used to get the needed cholesterol BUT YOU SHOULD because there is a correlation between certain types of elevated cholesterol levels and heart problems.

Much of the confusion over cholesterol has to do with the fact that the dietary consumption of cholesterol has only a very small effect on determining total blood cholesterol levels.
This means that trying to control cholesterol by rigorously avoiding all forms of dietary fat and consuming only low cholesterol foods is a misdirected and highly inefficient approach to solving the problem.

The key to lowering cholesterol is to shift your cells’ preference from manufacturing new cholesterol internally to using cell receptors to gather cholesterol out of the blood.

By gathering cholesterol out of the blood to meet the cells ongoing cholesterol needs, blood cholesterol typically stays well within healthy levels and the important HDL to LDL ratios stay in the healthy range.
A specific enzyme with a long, complicated name controls the manufacture of cholesterol inside the cells.
If that enzyme is active, cholesterol is made inside the cell and little or no cholesterol is scavenged from the blood.
If the enzyme is NOT ACTIVE, then little if any cholesterol is made inside the cell and cholesterol is actively harvested directly out of the blood, which of course lowers the blood cholesterol levels.
Better yet, low density lipoprotein, often considered the "bad cholesterol" is exactly what the cell is looking for when it gathers cholesterol from the blood stream, so only does total cholesterol lower, but the "bad" cholesterol lowers the most.

Popular cholesterol lowering drug works exactly the same way.
Cholesterol lowering drugs inhibit the enzyme that activates cholesterol production inside the cell. If the cholesterol making enzyme is inhibited, the cell receptors gather the needed cholesterol directly from the blood, which of course lowers blood cholesterol levels.

When you understand how easy it is to activate the cells that sweep cholesterol out of the blood, you’ll know the secret of easily establishing and maintaining normal, healthy blood cholesterol levels.

The "secret" is really no secret at all; in fact any medical biochemistry textbook clearly explains that insulin and glucagon are the two hormones that regulate the rate of cholesterol synthesis inside the cells.
Insulin activates the enzyme that causes your cells to make cholesterol internally, which means high levels of insulin stimulate the continuous production of cholesterol.
Glucagon does exactly the opposite, glucagon inhibits the enzyme that causes cholesterol production inside your cells, which results in the cell sending messengers to gather the needed cholesterol directly out of the blood, thereby reducing blood cholesterol levels.

This is not new information; it is well known cellular biochemistry, in fact it is the EXACT biochemistry that expensive, cholesterol reducing drugs are based on.

The message is simple . . .

when you begin eating in a way that avoids the production of excess insulin and puts glucagon in the metabolic driver's seat, your blood cholesterol level will fall effortlessly and you will realize that in the bigger picture, dietary cholesterol consumption is essentially a non-issue.

There are two more pieces to the cholesterol puzzle, the first piece has to do with understanding the ratio between the "good cholesterol" and the "bad cholesterol" and the second piece of the puzzle has to do with fully understanding the effect diet has on cholesterol levels.

First the ratios.

Cholesterol ratios are simple. As soon as you understand the difference between LDL and HDL cholesterol, you will understand practically everything.

Low density lipoproteins, or LDL, are proteins that transport cholesterol from the liver into the blood, making it available for absorption into the cells.
Low-density lipoproteins are like trucks, loaded with cholesterol, bringing it into the blood stream just in case it’s needed.
Unfortunately, if you eat in a way that causes the constant presence of excess insulin in your system, these LDL truckloads of cholesterol are not needed because the cells are making all the cholesterol they need internally.

If the cells make all the cholesterol they need internally, that means low-density lipoproteins are carrying unnecessary, EXCESS cholesterol into your blood, and this excess cholesterol builds up in the blood, tissues, and arteries setting the stage for serious health problems.

High density lipoprotein, or HDL, help eliminate this excess cholesterol by collecting it from the tissues and arteries and transporting it out of the blood and back to the liver where it is recycled or disposed of.
HDL particles are like the cholesterol clean-up crew.
HDL particles are the empty trucks sent into the blood stream to load up all the excess cholesterol that has spilled out and collected in the tissues and arteries and then transport that excess cholesterol out of the blood. Clearly, cleaning up excess cholesterol lowers cholesterol levels.

LDL is recognized as the "bad" cholesterol because LDL transports cholesterol into the blood. HDL is considered the "good" cholesterol because HDL gathers up excess cholesterol and transports it out of the blood.

With this in mind, it’s easy to understand the importance of having the proper ratio of HDL to LDL. If the ratio of LDL to HDL is too high that means your blood is being loaded with cholesterol faster than the HDL cholesterol clean-up crew is removing it, which means excess cholesterol is building up inside the tissues and arteries and that’s bad.

Doctors have determined that having the proper ratio between HDL and LDL is a more important predictor of health than the level of total cholesterol

This means that someone with a total cholesterol level of 220 mg/dl and a good HDL to LDL ratio is in better shape health-wise than someone with a 175 mg/dl cholesterol reading whose LDL level is too high compared to their HDL level.

The two cholesterol ratio standards accepted by most doctors & researchers today are:
1. Total cholesterol divided by HDL should be below 4; and,
2. LDL divided by HDL should be below 3.

There is almost universal agreement in the medical and scientific community that the further away your cholesterol ratios are from these standards the greater the risk of developing heart disease.

It is INCORRECT to assume that lower and lower cholesterol levels somehow translate into better health.
Research has clearly demonstrated that the "ideal healthy range" for cholesterol is in the 180 to 200 mg/dl range, and most importantly, with the proper HDL to LDL ratios.
Historically, cholesterol levels over 200 correlate positively with increased risk of heart disease, and cholesterol levels lower than 180 correlate positively with almost every serious disease known except heart disease.

So far we’ve discovered that insulin stimulates the production of cholesterol inside the cell thereby eliminating the need for the cell to gather cholesterol from the blood.
Given this, we now know that the key to maintaining normal, healthy cholesterol levels is to eat in a way that does not result in excess insulin and in a way that puts glucagon in the metabolic driver's seat in your body.
We’ve also learned that LDL carries cholesterol into the blood and tissues and that HDL carries cholesterol out of the blood and tissues and that is why HDL is known as the "good" cholesterol.

Now for the final piece of the cholesterol puzzle – the effect of food on cholesterol levels.

While it is true that rigidly enforced, low fat, low cholesterol diets result in lower total cholesterol and lower LDL, it’s also true that these diets result in a disproportionate drop in HDL levels. In other words, total cholesterol drops but HDL drops too much in relationship to LDL.
Research has verified time and time again that higher cholesterol with good HDL to LDL ratios is overall much healthier than lower total cholesterol with poor HDL to LDL ratios.
This means that while low fat, low cholesterol diets may result in lower total cholesterol, following these diets frequently INCREASES the risk of heart disease.
Even though total cholesterol lowers, disease risk increases because the level of the "good" HDLs that transport cholesterol OUT of the blood drops too low compared to the drop in LDLs.
When HDL is too low and LDL is too high it’s virtually certain that the blood is flowing thick with the extra sticky LDL cholesterol and that cholesterol is building up inside the tissues and arteries.
We already know that a diet high in carbohydrates stimulates excess insulin and that insulin causes cholesterol synthesis within the cell and that means high carbohydrate diets are out as a practical means of trying to control cholesterol and get optimum, healthy results.

We also know that glucagon inhibits the production of cholesterol inside that cell and stimulates the cell to gather the cholesterol it needs directly from the blood, which, lowers blood cholesterol and improves the important HDL/LDL ratio.
Now we know that low fat, low cholesterol diets result in lower overall cholesterol but low fat diets also cause the good HDL cholesterol to drop too low, and when HDL is too low the risk of disease increases.

At this point, the two remaining questions are:
1.What dietary factors put glucagon in the metabolic driver's seat, and
2.What causes HDL to increase?

Let’s answer the second question first.
Several highly controlled research studies have conclusively determined that a diet low in carbohydrates and higher in naturally occurring fats, like the fat in milk, cheese, butter, and meat, not only lower total cholesterol, but result in much healthier HDL to LDL ratios than are attained with diets low in fat and cholesterol.
Reducing carbohydrates is vitally important because carbohydrates cause excess insulin and excess insulin causes most of the problems.
If you reduce the carbs, you reduce the insulin;
if you reduce the insulin, you INCREASE the glucagon; and
if you increase the glucagon you are going to effortlessly burn fat, lower triglycerides, lower your total cholesterol, and improve your HDL to LDL ratio. In other words, pull this off and you will literally improve your health in practically every way measurable.

This is quite a turn of events

For years we’ve been told eat low fat diets and pile on the carbs because they are low in fat and provide lots of energy.
Clearly the ever-worsening tragedy of serious obesity, diabetes, and increasing heart disease has proven this advice to be wrong and it’s wrong regardless of who gives it.
The new advice is not based on "popular wisdom," "common knowledge," or "opinion."

The new advice is based on a more complete understanding of medical physiology, cellular biology, and the human endocrine system

The new advice has been proven repeatedly in highly controlled, doctor-directed, scientific studies that have produced real results with real people.
These studies have consistently demonstrated the insulin/glucagon relationship and proven beyond all doubt that consuming dietary cholesterol has practically no meaningful effect on blood chemistry when compared to the issue of getting your cells to harvest cholesterol directly from your blood instead of making it internally.

The new advice is based entirely on how your body works.

We already know that reducing carbohydrates, especially processed carbohydrates, will result in lower insulin levels.

Now for the final question concerning metabolism - How do you put glucagon securely in the metabolic driver's seat and begin to enjoy the wonderful health benefits gained from establishing the proper insulin/glucagon balance in your body.

The answer in a word is PROTEIN

Protein provides significant nutrition without causing a rise in blood sugar but the key is not just getting protein, the key is getting protein WITHOUT excess carbohydrates.
With or without protein, excess carbohydrates cause a sharp rise in blood sugar and that produces an insulin response which leads to fat production and storage, high triglycerides, and increased cholesterol.
When you enjoy a delicious protein meal with only minimal carbohydrates coming primarily from fresh green vegetables or fresh seasonal fruit, you set up the IDEAL conditions to establish a perfect metabolic relationship between insulin and glucagon in your system and that is VERY, VERY GOOD!

To help clarify the effect food has on the insulin-glucagon relationship, consider the following facts .

A normal healthy person has slightly less than one single teaspoon of glucose circulating in their entire blood stream at any single time.
Molecularly, carbohydrates are nothing more than several different kinds of sugar linked together. Once eaten, these sugars are quickly broken down into glucose which instantly enters your blood and causes blood sugar to rise rapidly, just like eating candy does.
Since insulin production is the natural, healthy response to lower rapidly rising blood sugar, it’s easy to understand that consuming sugar, or carbohydrates that quickly break down into sugar, will always result in a quick rise in insulin.

How many carbohydrates does it take to produce an insulin response?

To answer this, keep in mind that 5 grams of carbohydrate equals approximately 1 teaspoon of sugar, which is close to the normal amount of sugar found in the blood.
Now, a single can of one of the more well-known brands of soft drinks lists 39 grams of carbohydrates in the nutrition information panel printed on the can.
Divide 39 total carbohydrate grams by 5 grams per teaspoon and you quickly discover that this single can of soda water contains nearly 8 teaspoons of sugar that will actually enter your blood stream.
Since 1 teaspoon of sugar is the normal healthy amount contained in the blood, 8 times that amount is clearly too much, which means if you drink that soft drink a quick rise in blood sugar and a quick insulin response to lower the rising blood sugar is absolutely guaranteed.

How high do insulin levels climb in order to reduce rising blood sugar?

According to the Textbook of Medical Physiology, insulin secreted to bring down rising blood sugar rises dramatically within 15 minutes and peaks 2-3 hours later in ranges that are from 10 to 25 times above normal, and insulin levels remain elevated for hours.

Now that you understand that once stimulated, insulin levels stay elevated for several hours, it’s easy to understand how eating sugary foods or high carbohydrate meals and snacks throughout the day essentially insures that insulin stays abnormally high all day long and that glucagon is left entirely out of the metabolic picture.

The key to activating glucagon and putting it in the metabolic driver's seat is to eat meals with plenty of protein and, ideally, carbohydrates that come almost entirely from fresh vegetables. Like cholesterol, as long as you avoid the chemically altered fats that produce dangerous transfatty acids, dietary fat consumption is essentially a non issue because, much like protein, natural fat is turned into structural raw material needed for cell growth and maintenance.

Keep in mind that your body contains something on the order of a hundred trillion cells and each and every one of them is made from and contains both protein and fat.

Not one single cell in your body is made from carbohydrates. Protein and fat consumption is essential to life, carbohydrate consumption is not.

There is not a single disease state associated with a lack of carbohydrates in the diet. The reason for this is that dietary consumption of carbohydrates is simply not that important because your body can make all the glucose it needs directly from protein and fat.

The important point is that in order to keep excess insulin to a minimum and insure you have enough glucagon in your system, you need meals that contain protein and that are pointedly low in processed and starchy carbohydrates like bread, pasta, rice, potatoes, corn and so on.

Eating in a way that avoids the production of excess insulin is, without question, the single most important thing you can do to lose weight easily, keep it off permanently and improve your health literally in every way measurable.
Excess insulin is a serious threat to your health.
Excess insulin is your enemy and excess insulin is produced in your body primarily as a direct result of your food choices.
Excess insulin leads to higher triglycerides, higher cholesterol, poor HDL to LDL ratios, higher blood pressure, excess fat production and storage, obesity, insulin resistance, and dramatically increased risk for diabetes, heart disease, and stroke.
Glucagon is your friend and enjoying protein meals with a minimum of processed carbohydrates activates glucagon in your system.

Glucagon is the hormone that causes you to burn stored body fat for energy. When glucagon is in the metabolic driver's seat it is amazingly easy to establish and maintain your ideal healthy body weight ESPECIALLY when you are getting the essential nutrients.

There is an increasing awareness in the medical community that total cholesterol levels are not as significant a predictor of heart disease as they once believed to be as long as HDL and LDL are in proper relationship.
There is a significant and growing amount of research that shows that cholesterol does not cause heart disease and the dietary consumption of foods containing cholesterol has only a minor effect in determining total cholesterol levels."
David Staup
Posts: 546
Joined: Wed Nov 28, 2007 1:13 pm
Location: granbury, texas

Great, great article! Everyone should read it!

Postby Nancy W » Sat Sep 24, 2011 8:43 am


Bravo for finding and posting this article here!! Brilliant article...first of all, I am going to print it out and have a copy in my hand when I go to my doctor, which isn't very frequently any more, but it is time for my annual physical. Last year I chose a new medical doc, one who will happily work with my naturopath. She clearly understands where I am coming from and will welcome this succinct article.

It all comes down to food in the end...our adulterated food system and the baloney we are fed by Big Agra that gets us to buy the meat that is full of drugs, the vegetables that are full of pesticides, and the manufactured "fast food" that they have made irresistible to gullible Americans. Then there are the FDA and the USDA...what a load of baloney they have fed us all, as well!
And the food pyramids! Don't get me started!

Death by grocery store.

We are fortunate to live in a valley that has embraced organic farming and animal raising. We purchase a CSA every year and for 6 months a year get our food right out of the organic ground...we get beef from a humane, organic rancher. Same for chicken and pork. Only wild fish. The food costs are so much cheaper in the long run. We avoid the grocery store. We are healthier.

This article makes complete sense to me. My naturopath has been encouraging the increased proteins. Discouraging carbs that raise the glucose levels and call out the insulin troops.

Changing what one eats takes time. Repairing what has been done to the body takes time, too. I am on that journey. No more Bid Agra/Big Pharma baloney!

If you get any further source info on this article, let us know!

How are you doing? Has it cooled down there yet? Hot summer for you. We had no summer until a few weeks ago, but we have yet to put the A/C on. We are "winterizing" our house and the RV now...the snows are not far off.

Best to you! Thanks again! Nancy
Nancy W
Posts: 139
Joined: Thu Sep 03, 2009 11:22 pm
Location: Bonney Lake, Washington

Postby David Staup » Sat Sep 24, 2011 11:47 am

Hi Nancy,

see my reply to your post on the 80mg zocor thread

whew yes it has finally cooled here in Texas.
David Staup
Posts: 546
Joined: Wed Nov 28, 2007 1:13 pm
Location: granbury, texas

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