The Simple Truths about Cholestrol - 03/11/2013
More often than not, when discussing nutrition protocols with clients, eggs are suggested as a regular breakfast option, often met by the response ‘what about high cholesterol’?
Right, first things first:
Cholesterol is vital to life and the building of new cells - without it we wouldn’t be! The body produces cholesterol on its own; as a matter of fact very little cholesterol consumed from food is actually absorbed as the body regulates how much we need and produces more or less as required.
Cholesterol is needed in order to produce many important hormones, including testosterone. As you probably know, testosterone is vital for optimal health, maintaining lean mass, losing fat and generally maintaining a strong and healthy body. No cholesterol, no health, no results.
Cholesterol is not a bad thing. More a dated idea of misinformation, blown way out of proportion and played upon by companies in order to generate sales of products (food and medication), perceived in the media and even by doctors and health professionals as the root of a problem, when it couldn’t be further from the truth. The many times I’ve seen ads for low fat cooking oil with the promise of lowering cholesterol is countless… Denatured products, foreign to our bodies, offering no health benefits whatsoever.
So then, the reason people have high cholesterol readings...
As previously mentioned, cholesterol is fundamental on a cellular level. When you are suffering internal damage or Inflammation, your body produces more cholesterol and releases it into the bloodstream, getting rid of old damaged cells and building new ones. People who suffer from chronic inflammation are going to have cholesterol levels, due to the constant demand of having to repair and build new cells. The liver is constantly producing the stuff to make sure that the body has an adequate supply.
With this is mind, you can see that cholesterol is simply serving a purpose; it’s an effect of a cause produced by the body to deal with the real problem: chronic inflammation. So to purposely try to lower cholesterol though damaging drugs and avoiding saturated fat etc. (which had nothing to do with the amount of cholesterol in your body) is absurd and detrimental to your health.
What we should be focusing on is restoring our body back to optimal health, reducing inflammation and maintaining a healthy lifestyle in order to keep it that way. This can be achieved by:
Eliminating sugar, trans fats, processed and fake foods from the diet completely (this includes at least limiting fruits as the fructose within them can contribute to wreaking internal havoc, and consequently increasing inflammation. Berries are best, all the goodness with minimal insulin spikes).
Limiting starchy carbohydrates – any carbs to be eaten should be gluten (wheat) free, as gluten leads to inflammation of the gut, big time! Quinoa, buckwheat, rice and potatoes are my favourites. They should be eaten only following a hard training session, when your body will put them to good use.
De-stressing and getting enough sleep. Stress and lack of sleep pretty much pose the same problem: raising the stress hormone cortisol. When cortisol is constantly peaking, it causes a lot of internal stress.
There’s a lot that could be mentioned on the topic of reducing inflammation and achieving optimal health that go beyond the scope of this article. The message here is simple:
Don’t be scared of dietary cholesterol! Eat eggs for breakfast, have beef or fish for dinner. If your breakfast is consisting of anything that includes cereals (any cereals: porridge, special K, whatever!), toast, waffles or any other starchy, sugar-spiking carb bomb, over whole foods: meat, fish, eggs etc. in a bid to deliberately avoid cholesterol, you are most certainly doing your body much more damage than you are good. Not to mention severely hindering any progress you may be hoping to make in terms of body composition.
Keep it simple! Every meal should contain protein, fat and vegetables. Limit fruit and starchy carbohydrates. Drink at least 3 litres of water, get at least 7 hours sleep. Be consistent and enjoy all of the benefits that a healthy lifestyle can bring.