Cholesterol, a vital component of our body but falsely perceived! Have you always believed the common idea of “the lower, the healthier” in regards to cholesterol numbers? Well, the next time your physician says that and wants to put you on statins, tell him that he is wrong! It is time to overcome this cholesterol myth!
The cholesterol lowering hysteria started in the mid 80s when it has been identified as a risk factor for heart disease, and drugs companies to profit from the huge market of statins, amplified that hysteria with national awareness campaign spreading the mantra of “lower your cholesterol to avoid heart attack and stroke”. Of course millions of people fell in that scheme – nobody wants to die of sudden death.
Is cholesterol really dangerous? The answer is NO! It is produced by the liver, then travels in the circulatory system performing a variety of essential functions. It contributes greatly in the manufacture of primary human hormones, for instance, testosterone and estrogen, the synthesis of vitamin D, the creation and maintenance of cell membranes. All these functions are definitely vital for overall health.
Can high cholesterol cause heart attack? The answer is not a straight YES! Excessive LDL cholesterol levels in addition to calcium and other particles can build up in plaque that may obstruct arteries inhibiting the blood flow that may result in heart attack. But, cholesterol is only one of the many factors that can contribute to heart disease. These are some of the other culprits: hypertension, smoking, diabetic issues, alcohol, caffeine or drug abuse, stress, some OTC and prescription medications. In fact, many people die of heart attack while having cholesterol levels within the ideal limits.
Should you take medication to lower your cholesterol levels? The answer is NO, NO and NO. Even though these cholesterol lowering drugs “could possibly reduce” heart attacks or strokes risks, this obsession with cholesterol reduction absolutely disregards the negative effects that can arise with low cholesterol on our health, especially mental health.
Research studies have established a link between low cholesterol and depression along with many impulsive actions such as brutality and suicide.
– In 1993, a scientific study on men of 70 years old and more, unconditionally revealed that depression was 3 times more prevalent in men with low total serum cholesterol compared with the group with high levels.
– Another study on men of 40 to 70 years old revealed that the group with low total cholesterol in long term have an increased occurrence of depressive symptoms than men with higher levels of cholesterol.
– Women also are not spared from depression when they have low cholesterol levels. This has been proved by a Swedish research including 300 women of 31 to 65 years old, all in good health. The study determined that women that have the lowest cholesterol experienced considerably more depressive symptoms compared to the others.
Why do I believe in the exactness of these studies? Because I have personally experienced the impacts of low cholesterol on mental health.
Alicia’s sad story in few words
Last year, Alicia, happy wife, and mother of two girls, went to her old doctor for her annual physical exam (“old doctor” because after what happened to her, she would be a fool to keep him). When she got her lipid panel results, the doctor said her total cholesterol is 225 mg/dl over the recommended level of 200. He put her on statins as prevention to heart disease he said. A few weeks later, her levels started to get down and the doctor was happy! “Keep on taking your medication and let get your cholesterol low”, he said. But, while she was following the treatment, her mood was declining. Anxiety, depression and violent behaviors follow. Her work was affected, so was her marriage and her relationship with her kids. Thankfully, her husband was patient, strong and lovely enough to support her during that awful period. For the first time in her life, Alicia went to a psychologist. Fortunately, he was clever enough, after evaluating many aspects of her life, to ask if she was taking any sort of medication and especially a cholesterol lowering medication! “YES! What’s wrong with that? She said. Alicia was totally shocked to hear the truth. Today, she is recovering slowly and feeling better since she has stopped taking these poisons.
In conclusion, what to do when you have high cholesterol? How to get it back to normal levels? First of all, don’t be obsessed with that! Simply, follow a healthier diet like this heart-healthy eating plan to lower cholesterol, avoiding processed foods loaded with trans fats and eating more fruits, veggies, omega 3 rich fish and whole grains. Exercise more on a regular basis, limit alcohol and stop smoking.