Many of us have been ingrained with the notion that cholesterol is unequivocally "bad." However, it's essential to recognize that cholesterol is a vital component of our body, playing crucial roles in synthesizing hormones such as testosterone, estrogen, and cortisol. Additionally, cholesterol stabilizes our cells and acts as a transportation system, delivering important fat molecules throughout our body to be stored as energy. Despite these fundamental functions, when individuals consult their healthcare providers, they often receive the message that cholesterol is inherently harmful.
The negative reputation surrounding cholesterol stems from its association with the plaques lining arteries, particularly 'LDL cholesterol,' which can rupture and lead to heart attacks. The prevailing belief in conventional medicine is that lowering cholesterol can prevent the buildup of these plaques, reducing the risk of heart attacks and strokes. Consequently, 'statins' have become one of the most prescribed drugs.
However, an alternative theory posits that inflammation, not cholesterol, is the primary driver behind these plaques. According to this perspective, when blood vessels sustain damage from inflammation, often caused by excess glucose, cholesterol is mobilized as a protective measure, forming plaques. If inflammation persists, these cholesterol plaques can become weakened and eventually rupture, resulting in a heart attack.
While I acknowledge the potential benefits of statins for many individuals, I am inclined to believe that cholesterol is not the root cause of the problem. Instead, I attribute the issue to unhealthy dietary choices, sedentary lifestyles, and inadequate self-care practices, all of which contribute to the inflammation damaging our blood vessels and increasing the risk of heart attacks and strokes.
Therefore, when confronted with high cholesterol levels, it is crucial to view it as just one piece of the puzzle and consider your overall health. While statins may be a helpful intervention, addressing the root causes involves adopting healthier dietary habits, incorporating regular exercise, and embracing a holistic approach to well-being. Ultimately, the most effective strategy for disease prevention lies in fostering a lifestyle that prioritizes comprehensive health.
Dr. Jesse Abend