What exactly is cholesterol and why am I talking about it when most of my posts are about personal development? It is most definitely related … see the last post … we touched on it and I’d like to expand on the topic just a bit because it hits close to home. When I was in my 20’s I was shocked when my doctor fussed at me about my borderline high cholesterol. Why? Because for one I was in my early twenties, second I already ate mostly raw vegetables and very little meat, walked a minimum of two miles daily, and I never cooked with the bad stuff — lard, butter, etc. It had to be genetics she decided so we would continue to check my numbers.
So, let’s talk about cholesterol for a minute. Cholesterol is a fat used by every cell in your body to function. Did you know that? Did you also know that studies show that your liver will produce this fat even if you abstained from eating any fat? Oh yeah, it does. Did you know your BRAIN literally needs cholesterol to function, your body needs cholesterol to make hormones, synthesize vitamin D, fight inflammation, and other bodily functions? In other words, we need it to live.
So what causes high levels of cholesterol? The most common reason is a poor diet. Now wait a minute … I was eating mostly “healthy” … right? No, not really. You see I was eating margarine instead of butter. I was a college student so I wasn’t buying olive oil but a generic vegetable oil which was heavily processed, AND I wasn’t consuming enough healthy fats or protein. So my liver was in overdrive producing cholesterol to keep my cells functioning properly.
Most articles you find are quick to state that eating fat causes high cholesterol, but did you know that sugar and carbohydrates are also converted into cholesterol and triglycerides by your liver? Ah, the liver our body’s filter and maker of fat … And most people go on a low fat, high carbohydrate diet to lower their cholesterol (hmmm remember my diet when I was in my twenties?) My liver was taking all those carbs (vegetables and whole grains) and turning them into cholesterol and triglycerides.
Alright then, how can you keep your numbers under control? And what numbers are important? What most doctors look at is the overall number, not all but most. The important numbers to look at are the individual numbers of HDL (good cholesterol), LDL (bad cholesterol), and triglycerides. If you’re triglycerides are over 100, you’re eating too many carbs.
A lot of the research is pointing to what’s called the triglyceride to HDL ratio. You take your triglycerides number and you divide it by your HDL number and if that number is under 1.0, hello, you are rocking it with lowering your cardiovascular risks no matter what your LDL and total cholesterol is. So make sure you ask your doctor for these numbers.
You see, we’ve been duped into believing that all fat is bad and that isn’t true. When we stop eating good fats, even animal fats, your liver will produce even more in an effort to keep you alive. It’s okay, you can have that butter and whole fat sour cream with your potato. The key is to eat a diet that is based on whole foods and healthy fats. Find what works for your body. For me it’s a low carb, high fat, and moderate protein diet.
See your doctor, find out what your numbers are and if your triglycerides are under 70, your HDL is over 70, and your triglyceride/HDL ratio is under 1.0, your rocking it! Remember everybody is different. Find what works for you. Be in control of your own health, find a doctor who will be your partner in health, educate yourself, exercise, and learn what works for you.