There are a myriad of myths and of lies that are being spread and perpetuated (wittingly or not) by so-called health experts and this makes it difficult to decide where to begin. However, since (in my previous post) I have already mentioned blood vessel plaques, let us begin with that.
Conventional/mainstream healthcare professionals tell us that we have to watch our blood cholesterol because it could form plaques in our blood vessels which will lead to an MI (myocardial infarction) or a heart attack. Also, we have to watch what we eat and avoid foods that are oily and fat-laden because it will drive up our blood cholesterol. And, we need to take cholesterol-lowering pharmaceuticals to “guard” against heart disease and circulatory problems.
But wait. Why is it that the traditional diet of the Inuit people (Eskimos) is made up of 60-70% fat (blubber) and yet they do not suffer high blood cholesterol? Also, why do elder people on cholesterol-lowering pharmaceuticals have die sooner than those who are not (see: http://www.thincs.org/pressrelease82004.htm#top).
In answer to the first question, even with an almost pure-fat diet, the Inuit people (on their traditional diet) eat their fat raw! They could not (notice I used “could not” instead of “cannot” because modern appliances are now available for them to cook their food) heat up their food because there is only snow all around and so there is no kindling. Moreover, their high-fat diet is a necessity due to the extreme cold weather. The only food that can provide them with enough calories to stay alive is fat. Their bodies burn the fat to maintain a constant core body temperature – people are warm-blooded so we need to maintain a certain core body temperature otherwise we die.
But why don’t their blood cholesterol go up, the way ours do when we eat fat. The reason has to do with enzymes in raw food – digestive enzymes, to be more specific. All living things, especially animals, have or produce some kind of digestive enzymes. As the name suggest, its job is to digest things. One of the things these enzymes digest is food – “one of the things” because there are others.
Digestive enzymes, like many organic substances, are sensitive to heat. Subjected to temperatures above 40 degrees C, they begin to degrade and break down. Raw food contains digestive enzymes. Raw foods digest themselves because of the inherent digestive enzymes they contain. When we eat raw foods, these enzymes digest the food – notice how raw foods spoil faster than heated ones? It is the same way in our stomachs; when we eat raw foods, these foods digest themselves.
However, if we heat the food, the digestive enzymes are lost. In our stomachs, since the digestive enzymes have been destroyed, our pancreas (where digestive enzymes are manufactured) have to churn out its own digestive enzymes. To do this, it will need cholesterol (as one of the “ingredients”). The pancreas will signal the liver (where up to 90% of all the cholesterol in our body is produced) to supply cholesterol. And, this is where much of our blood cholesterol comes from – not from our diet, as many so-called experts want us to believe. (According to the late Dr Conrado Dayrit, in one of his research works, our digestive system is poorly designed to absorb dietary cholesterol. He intimates that even if we were to eat nothing but cholesterol all day long, the maximum proportion that our stomachs and intestines can absorb is only 10% of the total cholesterol present in our body.)
This is why the Inuit (on their traditional high-fat diet) has normal blood cholesterol but we, even if we trim away all the visible fat from our food, still have “elevated” blood cholesterol. They eat their fat raw while we eat ours heated – devoid of the digestive enzymes. (FYI: A large segment of our brain – of our nervous system – is fat. People on cholesterol-lowering pharmaceuticals usually end up depressed and plagued with mental problems, like poor cognitive skills.)
As for the second question (do you still remember it?), elder people on cholesterol-lowering pharmaceuticals have generally shorter life spans because cholesterol is a very vital substance in our bodies. Without cholesterol, WE DIE!
Cholesterol is one of the “raw materials” of our body. It is a vital “ingredient” in many essential body components and functions. Our body uses cholesterol to repair tissues, to transport fats, and to produce: hormones (testosterone and estrogen), immune system killer cells, white blood cells, sperm and egg cells, enzymes (digestive et al) and bile, cortisol (to support blood sugar regulation), and vitamin D, among others.
People with low blood cholesterol have many medical and physiological problems. Because it is vital to the immune system, our immune response becomes compromised. Because it is vital to sex hormones, our fertility becomes compromised. Because it is vital to vitamin D production, our skeletal and bone structure becomes compromised. Because it is vital to… you get the picture.
But why does it form arterial plaques and blood major arteries near and around the heart (which, eventually, leads to heart attacks)? Have you ever wondered why we hear so much about blockages in the major arteries but none from the veins and the capillaries? Wouldn’t it make sense that if any blockage should occur, it should happen first in the smaller, narrower blood vessels?
Arteries carry blood away from the heart. Arteries bear the initial brunt of the pumping force of the heart. Because of these, its walls must be thick and strong and its diameter opening must be wide. As it gets farther from the heart, the blood vessel walls become thinner and the diameter narrower – because the force of the pump will have dissipated. Because of the constant force from the heart, the arterial walls must be kept supple, elastic but strong.
Over time (and mainly due to poor diet), the arterial walls begin to become less elastic. Collagen is a component of the arterial wall that keeps it elastic. The collagen component wears out and replacing it is slower than its deterioration rate. As a result, the arterial walls begin to sustain minute cracks. Since these small cracks pose a danger to bursting, they have either to be repaired or reinforced. To repair and replace the collagen requires a lot of vitamin C. If our diet is severely deficient in vitamin C, replacing the collagen would not be possible, forcing the body to resort to reinforcing the cracks. This is where cholesterol comes in.
Since one of the jobs of cholesterol is tissue repair, the liver sends out cholesterol to stick to and patch up the tiny cracks, shoring it up so it can withstand the heart’s pressure. If the body is kept deficient of vitamin C, the patches of cholesterol will develop cracks of their own. The liver has to send out more and more cholesterol, to cover the new cracks. As the cholesterol piles up on the previous layer, the arterial passage narrows more and more. This is why cholesterol plaque builds up in the major arteries.
The veins and the capillaries do not have such blockages because no cracks develop in them. No cracks because by the time the blood gets to them, the force of the heart has all but dissipated.
Taking cholesterol-lowering pharmaceuticals raises the risk of arterial aneurysms because there will not be enough cholesterol to prevent the arteries from bursting. On the other hand, leaving the cholesterol production at the current rate will eventually block the entire artery, resulting in heart attacks.
The proper solution is not to take cholesterol-lowering pharmaceuticals but to increase the vitamin C intake, so the body can produce collagen, in order that the cholesterol plaques may be removed (because the arterial walls have been repaired and back in proper working order). (Important: Make sure your vitamin C is the organic bio-available type, not those that come from chemical inorganic sources mass produced in pharmaceutical laboratories. We will take this up in a later post, but if you want to have a head start, look up stereo chemistry, mirror molecules, and chiral molecules.)
In my next post, let us take up the myth of calcium, of milk, and of osteoporosis.