Traditional breakfast lovers rejoice! It turns out that dietary cholesterol is NOT the cause of plaque build-up and related heart disease. For many years, it was believed that cholesterol intake from food was to blame for the deposits that clog our blood vessels and lead to angina, stroke and heart attack. However, about 80-90 percent of the cholesterol in your body is produced by your liver and does not come from your meals. Your liver is able to adjust how much is produced based on your dietary intake. This ensures a steady level of cholesterol in the blood stream. However, much to the dismay of egg consumers everywhere, a low-cholesterol diet has often been implemented in addition to many prescription drugs to manage this condition. Ironically, it is not a matter of nutritional excess but a deficiency that has led to the astonishing rates of coronary heart disease in America and over one million heart attacks per year.
Cholesterol: The Good Guy with a Bad Reputation
Cholesterol is actually used in a wide range of important bodily functions such as Vitamin D conversion, sex hormone synthesis and maintaining cell membrane integrity. Cholesterol must be carried through the body to reach its destination and LDL & HDL are its carriers. HDL’s job is to bring cholesterol away from the body and to the liver in order to be metabolized and eliminated. LDL brings cholesterol to sites in the body that need it for repair, protection or synthesis of vital compounds. It can also transport twice as much cholesterol as HDL. In this regard, cholesterol is actually used to keep the body healthy. It is only when we do not give our body the tools it needs that this cholesterol is forced to be used in a way that is detrimental to our health. Dr. Bohemier explains in his article “Heart Disease: Our Modern Plague Resolved” that the cholesterol deposits in arteries are simply a backup mechanism by the body to heal itself from damage. The damage in our tissues is mainly a result of free radicals, elevated homocysteine and blood sugar levels which generally translates into poor nutrition, over exposure to toxins and sedentary lifestyle. Dr. Bohemier writes:
“…all plaque in the arteries is laid down as temporary repair material for damaged blood vessels. This sticky cholesterol plaque, which the body uses to seal up the cracks and fissures, is a “special” kind of cholesterol made in our livers and not the cholesterol we ingest from fatty foods. LP(a) cholesterol plaque is produced as a necessary emergency “secondary response tissue” to deal with the damaged blood vessels. This happens only when the body is malnourished.”
Plan “C” for heart health
So if cholesterol is simply a “Plan B” used to patch up damaged tissues, what do we need so our bodies can use “Plan A”? It turns out, we could re-name this “Plan C”. Ideally, the body needs a certain combination of nutrients to repair itself in order to spare cholesterol and allow it to be used for other important functions. In his paper, Dr. Bohemier explains the Linus Pauling and Matthias Rath “Unified Theory” of Heart Disease and their association of free-circulating Vitamin C levels to prevention/improvement of heart disease risk.
“The most important healing tissue for blood vessels is collagen. Collagen needs high levels of vitamin C and amino acids such as lysine and proline to be properly and adequately made. It’s quite simply about nutrition. It starts with the scientific fact that cardiovascular disease is predominantly caused by a vitamin C deficiency. Also lacking are a couple of key natural amino acids (parts of protein) called L-lysine and L-proline. Add to these the supportive vitamins folic acid, B-12, D and E, minerals including magnesium and selenium, the antioxidant Co-Q10 (ubiquinol) and plenty of omega-3 essential fats and you have a perfect formula for optimal heart health. These nutrients when taken therapeutically, can stop, reverse, and help the body heal the majority of cases of cardiovascular disease.”
Dr. Bohemier explains that this combination of nutrients has a key role in improving blood vessel function (flow) and reducing cholesterol plaque (blockages). Vitamin C has been referred to as “nature’s perfect statin” and is also a powerful antioxidant, fighting off free radicals that cause arterial damage! It is important to note that as humans, we cannot produce Vitamin C within our bodies so we must rely on dietary intake to get adequate amounts.
Choosing Natural Nutrients
While there is a time and a place for pharmaceutical drugs, Dr. Bohemier adds that they are not always the answer to the heart disease epidemic we are facing today. With drugs, we can make less cholesterol available to block our blood vessels, but at the same time, we artificially lower cholesterol so we will make less of it available to perform vital functions. Adding a nutrition component to your treatment regime may enhance your efforts to heal. Instead of focusing on cutting down dietary cholesterol, consider providing your body with basic nutrients it requires to repair itself, most importantly, Vitamin C, L-lysine and L-Proline.
For more information and an in-depth scientific explanation of how these nutrients are used to promote optimal heart health, I suggest reading Mike Ciell, Registered Pharmacist’s paper entitled “One Pharmacist’s View of Coronary Heart Disease: Comparing the “Lipid Theory” With the “Unified Theory”.
This column is sponsored by Good 'n' Natural in Steinbach.