Good Or Bad? Cholestrol
There so much information out there about cholesterol but what actually do we need to know and is it really as bad as it all sounds. Let me explain to you what cholesterol is, what is does and what increases it. Enjoy.
So, what is cholesterol?
Cholesterol for most people has a very negative meaning however this is far from the case.
Cholesterol is a type of fat found in your blood and is in every cell of the body making it essential for life.
Your liver makes cholesterol for your body. You also can get cholesterol from the foods you eat. Meat, fish, eggs, butter, cheese, and whole or low-fat milk all have cholesterol in them.
There are two main types of cholesterol: HDL and LDL. Most cholesterol is LDL (low-density lipoprotein) cholesterol. LDL cholesterol is more likely to clog blood vessels because it carries the cholesterol away from the liver into the bloodstream, where it can stick to the blood vessels.
HDL (high-density lipoprotein) cholesterol, on the other hand, carries the cholesterol back to the liver where it is broken down. This is the type of cholesterol we want to focus on increasing and recently has been proven. However the method is not fully understood, but the only way to increase your HDL is with exercise. So get moving and keep moving.
Cholesterol is in every single cell of the body, but what do they do?
Saturated fat and cholesterol make the walls of the cells firm, in many cells almost half of the membrane is cholesterol. We need to be constantly supplying the cells with cholesterol otherwise they will weaken and deteriorate.
Cholesterol is also essential for cell communication. All cells have to communicate with each other and to do that they use proteins embedded into the cell wall. The cholesterol and fats in the membrane create lipid rafts to which the protein attaches. Without enough cholesterol cells cannot communicate effectively with one another causing problems.
Your brain needs cholesterol! About 25% of the cholesterol in the body is found in the brain and plays many important roles including membrane function, can act as an antioxidant, serves as a raw material to create hormones and even vitamin D. In fact a recent study showed that in the elders those with the best memories had high cholesterol levels, with low cholesterol levels associated with increased depression and even death.
Cholesterol is essential for creating memories. To create a memory brain cells establish connections between each other, called a synapses. The healthier synapses connection a brain can make the more they can take in and remember. Recently it has been discovered that synapses formation is almost totally dependant on cholesterol, which is produced in the brain cells. Without cholesterol we can not form synapses, without synapses we cannot create a memory. A side effect of cholesterol lowering drugs is memory loss.
Does food affect cholesterol? Yes and no.
It has actually been proved that the choleaterol in food has no effect on blood cholesterol! The body produces cholesterol as needed. If we eat more cholesterol the body produces less, if we eat less cholesterol the body produces more. About 85% of our blood cholesterol in the body is produced by the body and only 15% in food.
However, contrary to popular belief elevated cholesterol is not down to eating too many high cholesterol foods like eggs and butter, instead something completely different, sugar!
The number one cause of elevated cholesterol is due to too much sugar in the diet. Elevatedinsulin levels, due to having too much sugar, promote an inflammatory environment in the body. Sugar increases inflamation, inflamation increases cholesterol (bad cholesterol).
When looking at cholesterol levels it is much better to ask what is causing it to go high or what is causing it to go low. Too high cholesterol levels increase the chance of heart attacks, whereas too low cholesterol increases the chance of dementia and Alzheimer's. It's much more about finding the balance than trying to go super low cholesterol.
Other factors that increase your cholesterol levels include lack of sleep and stress. These two things often come hand in hand, if you are highly stressed your sleep will suffer. If you do not get enough sleep you are far more likely to have increased stressed levels. Along with this infections have been shown to increase cholesterol along with elevated insulin levels (high sugar) mainly due to the inflammatory environment they produce in the body.
To summarise when looking at your cholesterol levels focus much more on what type of environment your own body is in. Is the fuel you eat bringing and enforcing positive outcomes or is it doing the opposite. Whatever we put in our body will directly shape us. A balanced and healthy diet full of vegetables with a good balance of carbohydrates, protein and fat along with regular exercise is the key for sustained health and fitness.