To Hell With Cholesterol.
Explanations and interpretations regarding blood cholesterol levels and their significance in relation to metabolic health can be extremely confusing and misleading, and sugars’ part in this is very often misrepresented and misunderstood.
It is far from unusual to hear it said that sugar causes ‘high cholesterol’, and the implication here is that sugar is bad because high cholesterol it is then claimed, causes disease.
Unfortunately that is only partly correct, and most likely not the part many are imagining.
The physiological importance of cholesterol is not in dispute.
Cholesterol is one of the building blocks – in combination with thyroid hormone and vitamin A – for many important and highly protective substances including pregnenolone, progesterone, dhea, and testosterone. The production of cholesterol is thereby fundamental to the maintenance of optimal health.
Cholesterol is a precurser to bile – as well as vitamin D – and many studies have shown that it plays an important role in the protection against infection, numerous kinds of toxins as well as radiation damage. It is also generally anti-inflammatory and plays a role in the prevention of oxidative damage. Cholesterol production tends to rise in response to stress in general.
Fruit sugar – or sucrose – helps to promote cholesterol production when more is needed for protection against stress of any kind. Sugar also helps to increase the rate at which cholesterol is converted into the protective substances mentioned above.
A healthy thyroid metabolism is a central factor enabling cholesterol to carry out many of its more specialised, highly protective anti-aging functions. Sugar consumption supports thyroid activity and energy metabolism in general.
Thus sugar helps to encourage the efficient use of cholesterol and as a result, lowers levels detectable in the blood.
When thyroid and energy metabolism is suppressed – on the other hand – as a result of stress and aging, blood cholesterol levels often increase.
High cholesterol levels have been demonstrated in a number of studies – especially in aging populations – to protect against mortality from all causes (but particularly from cancer). This makes a lot of sense because cancer (as well as probably every other disease state) has been demonstrated to be fueled by stress, and cholesterol is one of the basic anti-stress materials.
The breakdown products of the polyunsaturated fats – which are increasingly released into the blood under conditions of stress or insufficient sugar – interfere with the production of cholesterol, with thyroid function generally, and with cholesterol turnover.
When cholesterol turnover is slow – and when exposed to greater amounts of the polyunsaturated free fatty acids – it can be degraded and damaged, thereby interfering with its protective functions. Under such circumstances high cholesterol can be seen as something which is in and of itself problematic. Experimental evidence suggests however, that in the absence of the polyunsaturated fats (and other related promoters of oxidative damage) this is less likely to be the case.
Interference with the livers production of cholesterol – as a result of cholesterol lowering drugs or interaction with the polyunsaturated fats – can lead to a situation where the production of cholesterol is too low. Low cholesterol has been shown to be directly connected to increased mortality from many causes including cancer, suicide, infection and heart failure.
Sugar consumption, once seen from this perspective, can more easily be understood as protective, both by increasing and by decreasing blood cholesterol levels.
Interference with the production of cholesterol on the other hand – or greater exposure of circulating cholesterol to factors promoting it’s degradation – is what can more obviously be viewed as harmful. Context is important.
Thus it is physiologically rational to suggest that sugar consumption can help to provide sufficient quantities of cholesterol necessary for the proper functioning of the organism, as well as for protection against many forms of stress and disease. On top of this sugar can be seen to play an important role in the optimal conversion of cholesterol into the highly protective anti-aging hormones and other related substances promoting metabolic health.
Any discussion relating to ideal cholesterol levels is far more diagnostically relevant after consideration of the particular history and circumstances of the individual, taking into account numerous other informative measures of metabolic function.
A diet restricting the polyunsaturated fats and providing sufficient protein – from milk, cheese and gelatin – as well as increased consumption of sugar – from sweet ripe juicy fruits, fruit juice, white sugar and honey – is one of a variety of rational approaches to enabling sufficient production of cholesterol, as well as promoting its steady turnover into the specialised and protective hormones (and other important substances) for greater protection against aging and prevention of degeneration and disease.
See more here
Associations of egg and cholesterol intakes with carotid intima-media thickness and risk of incident coronary artery disease according to apolipoprotein E phenotype in men: the Kuopio Ischaemic Heart Disease Risk Factor Study
Image: “A recent Milk and Cheese pin-up where they do what they do.” by Evan Dorkin