Ohh No, My Cholesterol Is Too Low!
Although it’s true that sugar promotes cholesterol production, and the polyunsaturated fats interfere with it, restricting sugar consumption and increasing fat intake loses it’s appeal when you learn about some of the problems associated with low cholesterol.
“We noted a clear relationship between low cholesterol and increased mortality…we observed that low cholesterol was associated with increased risks of cancer, hemorrhagic stroke, and heart failure excluding myocardial infarction.”
“During an average of 17 years of follow-up after the last examination, 747 subjects died from cancer…The group with the highest decline in cholesterol displayed an excess risk for most cancer sites.”
It’s probably surprising to hear about the connection between low cholesterol levels and things like cancer, stroke and infection. It’s more surprising when you see the scientific literature showing evidence of a possibly causal relationship with suicide, violence and even accidents.
“…studies show that low total cholesterol concentrations appear to be associated with an increased risk of death from suicide and injuries…finding of this study is that the risk of acute suicidality decreases with increasing total cholesterol levels irrespective of age, gender and nutritional status…”
“The present study revealed that the serum TC [total cholesterol] and serum LDL-C levels were significantly lower in suicidal patients than in both nonsuicidal patients and healthy controls…compared with the highest serum TC level category, a lower serum TC level was associated a 112% higher risk of suicidality, including a 123% higher risk of suicide attempt and an 85% higher risk of suicide completion.”
“The results of our study add to a growing body of evidence showing the association between suicidal behavior and low levels of total cholesterol in people with schizophrenia. In addition, we found that this association may also apply to low total lipids, and, in most cases, to low LDL cholesterol and triglycerides.”
Regardless, for many it would seem crazy to even suggest the idea that reducing fat intake and increasing sugar consumption, could somehow be preventative.
Cholesterol however, is one of the body’s primary anti-stress substances. It is produced largely by the liver, but a big amount is also made in the brain. Cholesterol gets converted into the highly protective hormones, such as pregnenolone, progesterone, and dhea.
Proper thyroid metabolism is crucial for both the production of cholesterol and it’s subsequent conversion into the more specialised hormones. Under stress, when thyroid is suppressed, cholesterol continues to have a safeguarding role. In fact, during times of stress a reasonably healthy person will make more cholesterol as a basic defense.
So high cholesterol is usually a sign that metabolism is suppressed, which often means less of the highly brain-protective hormones – such as pregnenolone and progesterone – are produced. There are many reason why this can be problematic.
It can then seem like a contradiction, when low cholesterol is said to be associated with disease, or with the disorders of the mind. It’s only when you begin to understand the metabolic issues behind high and low cholesterol, that things start to get a little clearer.
Reality is, the combination of suppressed thyroid function and low cholesterol production is likely to be an indicator of even more serious metabolic problems, and thus, far more dangerous. Chances are, this is the time when protection against stress is at its lowest level, and there is a higher risk of disease progression, and an increased likelihood of violent suicidal thought and behaviour.
Having low cholesterol because your body is unable to produce it in sufficient amounts – due to interfering drugs or dietary and metabolic factors – is not at all the same as lowering cholesterol to reasonably ‘normal’ levels by improving metabolism and health, producing enough and converting enough.
Very few health authorities seem to be aware of this basic physiological distinction.
In any case, even though rising cholesterol is generally not a sign of optimal health, in an aging population, high cholesterol has been demonstrated to be an accurate predictor of longevity.
Apart from assisting in the production of cholesterol, sugar consumption is important for the promotion of good thyroid metabolism. When sugar is restricted – particularly in the presence of stress – glycogen stores are depleted, increasing levels of cortisol and adrenalin, as well as encouraging the release of fat out of storage.
“Previous studies have shown an association between low concentration of serum cholesterol, as well as high concentration of serum cortisol, in suicide behavior…Patients with a violent suicidal attempt were found to have significantly lower cholesterol levels and significantly higher cortisol level than patients with non-violent attempts and the control subjects.”
When free fatty acids are polyunsaturated, the impact of stress – combined with sugar restriction – upon cholesterol metabolism and thyroid function, can be serious.
Ongoing exposure to excessive amounts of polyunsaturated fats can play a big part in the promotion of conditions where thyroid function is low and cholesterol availability is low, and the substances of stress and inflammation are rising. Metabolically speaking, this is not a good condition to be in.
Polyunsaturated fats (PUFA) directly interfere with digestion, promoting bacterial overgrowth and increasing endotoxin (as well as serotonin, estrogen and nitric oxide) levels. Endotoxin – and the substances of stress – further suppress thyroid metabolism and interfere with cholesterol production. All of these factors have been shown to promote the disorders of mood.
“It has been found that metabolic deregulation, especially altered lipid profile including low total cholesterol…may underlie higher suicide risk in patients with schizophrenia…affective disorders…schizoaffective disorder…anorexia nervous…panic disorder…obsessive-compulsive disorder…dissociative disorder…patients with epilepsy…and mixed groups of patients with various psychiatric disorders…”
“…correlation between plasma levels of nitric oxide metabolites (NO(x)) and suicide attempt…Among the patients with a diagnosis of major depression, suicidal depressive patients had significantly higher plasma NO(x) levels than non-suicidal depressive patients.”
As cholesterol plays an important role in the detoxification of endotoxin (and other bowel toxins), low cholesterol can increase the likelihood of the liver becoming overloaded. Interfering with the liver interferes with the production of cholesterol and this can create a vicious cycle or downward spiral of worsening metabolic performance, inflammation and worsening mood issues.
“Of the various reasons offered for the hypocholesterolemia seen in critically ill and injured patients…one that seems especially important is related to the ability of lipids and lipoproteins to bind to and neutralize bacterial endotoxin…It has been noted that LPS [endotoxin]…stimulates the release of a cascade of proinflammatory cytokines…If LPS binds to lipoproteins (e.g. cholesterol)…then cytokine release is decreased…”
“…there is a growing body of evidence that inflammation, as manifested by increased levels of pro‐inflammatory cytokines and inflammatory metabolites, is present in patients with suicidal behaviour and ideation.”
The relationship between low cholesterol, endotoxin, rising levels of inflammation, increasing stress, and violence and suicide, seem to be logical when observed from a genuinely biological perspective.
“We have examined if abnormalities of the innate immune receptors, known as Toll-like receptors (TLRs), in the brain are associated with depression and suicide…The observed abnormalities of proinflammatory cytokines in the brain of suicide victims may be related to an abnormality of TLR3 and TLR4 over-expression.”
Ironically, the inflammatory byproducts of bacteria – including endotoxin – rather than cholesterol (which can be protective here) are being demonstrated to be responsible for atherosclerosis.
“Atherosclerosis is initiated by inflammation in arterial endothelial and subendothelial cells, and inflammatory processes are implicated in its progression to clinical heart disease. Endotoxin and TLR4 play a central role in the inflammatory process…”
This is especially true in combination with PUFA – a fundamental promoter of inflammation – which can have a damaging effect on cholesterol, possibly reducing its protective capability, potentially making it harmful in some circumstances.
Contrary to popular opinion, levels of endotoxin, cortisol, serotonin, estrogen and nitric oxide rise as a result of stress, inhibited thyroid performance, and low cholesterol availability. All of these stress substances promote inflammation and most can be connected to violent behavior and suicidal ideation and completion.
“Compared with nonpsychiatric control cases, suicides had four times as much total 5-HT [serotonin]…The difference in 5-HT between controls and suicides was present throughout the rostrocaudal extent of the brainstem samples…5-HT synthesis in suicides is greater…”
“…significant difference of cholesterol concentration between groups, with lowest concentration in depressed patients with attempted suicide…serotonin was significantly lower in the group of depressed patients with no suicide attempt…compared to the same diagnosis in the group of depressed patients with suicide attempt.”
“…authors have noted an increased incidence in mortality due to murder, accidents and suicide in subjects who have had their cholesterol levels reduced…Following cholesterol-lowering drug treatment…a trend toward an increase in serotonin levels was observed.”
Sugar consumption can help lower stress in general, reducing exposure to the stress hormones and related things.
Bacterial endotoxin promotes serotonin and estrogen, and PUFA makes all three more inflammatory and metabolically harmful. Thyroid and cholesterol combine to make the anti-inflammatory pro-metabolism hormones and it would be illogical to think that this is not informative when it comes to disease and abnormal behaviour.
Pregnenolone has been shown to protect against the symptoms of mental illness, including schizophrenia.
“…exogenous administration of…pregnenolone…in humans may help alleviate loneliness. Congruent with our hypothesis, exogenous administration…in humans has been shown to improve various stress-related disorders…”
Avoiding PUFA (including the fish oils) and restricting difficult to digest starches and fibrous materials, can help to reduce exposure to bacteria and endotoxin, as well as the inflammatory stress substances.
This can eventually allow for an improvement in thyroid function and cholesterol production, and for improved conversion of cholesterol into the protective brain function enhancing anti-stress substances.
A diet with sufficient protein from milk cheese and gelatin and plenty of simple sugars from sweet ripe juicy fruits, fruit juice, white sugar and honey, is a logical approach to lowering cortisol and restricting the release of PUFA from storage, thereby improving overall metabolic function, and helping with the prevention of depression (and other mood disorders) and suicidality.
It is common for a person with high cholesterol to be told to consume more of the ‘heart healthy’ PUFAs, to avoid sugar at all costs, and to take cholesterol lowering drugs. Biological texts and experiments have suggested that this combination can be highly stressful and anti-metabolic.
Sugar restriction, PUFA consumption and popular cholesterol lowering medications can all be seen to interfere with thyroid performance and with the production of cholesterol, thereby damaging cellular function, promoting degenerative disease (most commonly cancer), and significantly interfering with brain function.
“Behavioral and psychiatric changes in the cases presented range from violent nightmares to aggression, mood/personality change, violent or homicidal ideation (in some instances culminating in suicide), each in apparent association with statin use.”
If you take a step beyond the propaganda and look directly at the actual physiology, it is easy to see how things that promote stress – whilst interfering with the natural ability of the body to effectively defend itself – will encourage degeneration and disease as well as possibly lead to dysfunctional, suicidal and violent behaviour.
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Image: Healthagy: “How to Keep Your Cholesterol in Check During Thanksgiving”