I was listening to an interview awhile back about brain health and the doctor being interviewed (Dr. Daniel Amen, MD) was saying how low cholesterol levels in the body are detrimental to brain health. He went on to say that low cholesterol and other brain nutritional deficiencies could be the cause of why some people are so violent and maybe why we have so many people incarcerated in this country. I found that interesting since the mainstream thinking is the lower your cholesterol, the better. So, I did a little more reading about cholesterol and here's some of what I've found. Just like the theory that a fatty diet increases your risk for heart disease, (which has been proven untrue) "high" cholesterol levels do not automatically equal a risk for heart disease or atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries caused by buildup of fatty substances.)
Purpose of Cholesterol in the Body
Let's first discuss what cholesterol is and what it's function is in the body.
"This soft, waxy substance is found not only in your bloodstream, but also in every cell in your body, where it helps to produce cell membranes, hormones, vitamin D and bile acids that help you to digest fat. Cholesterol also helps in the formation of your memories and is vital for neurological function." (1)
So basically, without adequate cholesterol, we wouldn't survive. Extremely low amounts of cholesterol have been linked to poor memory, depression and suicidal tendencies as "25% of the cholesterol in your body is found in your brain." (2). Without the ability to generate vitamin D, the immune system is suppressed, so you're more likely to get sick and have a difficult time healing. Cholesterol helps you digest fat which composes 60% of the brain. Sounds like a pretty important thing to have in high numbers to me, so what do those numbers mean?
Understanding Cholesterol Numbers
Elevated total cholesterol could be the sign of inflammation in the body as cholesterol is being formed to help combat and heal. But your total cholesterol level or even the LDL or HDL numbers don't always paint a quick and easy picture of your health. What is more important to look at is these ratios:
- HDL/Total Cholesterol ratio being greater than 24%
- Triglyceride/HDL ratio being lower than 2%
Also, typically you are fine if your total cholesterol levels (LDL + HDL) are between 200 and 300. Anything lower is probably affecting your brain in a bad way.
So why do doctors still check cholesterol levels and prescribe statin drugs to bring cholesterol levels down when they are in an okay range? Is your doctor looking at your triglyceride levels and ratios as well? If not, maybe your doctor isn't informed of the latest research. The drug companies that profit from those drugs sure aren't going to tell their salesmen err prescribing doctors. Nor is that evening commercial selling Lipitor going to go away. (If you are on a statin drug and reading this, please read the link I reference from Dr. Mercola's website about the dangers of these drugs.) People need to take their health into their own hands as the person who cares most about you and your health is you. That includes me, your health coach. Of course I want everyone I work with to be their healthiest most vibrant self, but at the end of the day, only you can determine if your diet and lifestyle are meeting your goals. I can just help you get there.
Back to the topic of cholesterol...
What Does All This Have To Do With Kid's Health?
Well, as the saying goes "an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure." By knowing how to eat and exercise to avoid inflammation and high cholesterol, one can avoid the chances of atherosclerosis (and other diseases caused by inflammation.) Also, by knowing how to eat to avoid cholesterol levels that are too low, one can avoid brain and mood ailments such as violence, anger, depression and forgetfulness. If you have been eating a low cholesterol diet and feeding it to your children, do they have any brain symptoms listed above? Perhaps a change of diet is all they need which I address next. And, maybe it's you that have been experiencing anger or depression and a few simple diet changes can help you feel better and improve your quality of life. Like I've said before, I hope I can teach and inspire others to take charge of their health and the health of their children so we can all live happier, more productive lives for the benefit of ourselves, our family and our communities.
5 Quick Tips For Maintaining Healthy Cholesterol Levels
- Eat plenty of healthy dietary fats: avocado, salmon, coconut oil, olives, olive oil, butter, eggs, grass-fed beef, and pastured pork.
- Keep your sugar intake low - this includes refined white sugar, high fructose corn syrup, agave nectar, honey, fruit and fruit juices. These should just be treats and not consumed with every meal and snack. Aim for 1-2 servings per day, max.
- When eating carbohydrates, stick to complex as they digest more slowly, have more fiber and nutrients and don't cause the large blood sugar spike like simple carbohydrates.
- Complex carbs include: sweet potato, pumpkin, beans, peas, oatmeal
- Simple carbs include: bread, pasta, sugar, fruit juice
- Make sure you are consuming omega-3 fatty acids to keep the omega-3 to omega-6 fatty acids in balance (1 to 1 ratio). Take a fish oil or krill oil supplement if you don't eat a lot of wild-caught salmon or other fish.
- Eat a lot of vegetables. Eat raw vegetables. Eat fermented vegetables. Eat steamed vegetables topped with grass-fed butter. I can't think of any way to go wrong by adding more vegetables to your diet, unless you cook them to death.
Until next time...
With love, hugs and smiles,