It’s funny how things can get a bad press. Take cholesterol, for example. The word itself has negative connotations and the mere mention of it can make people gasp and shudder. Pretty unfair really, as without cholesterol we would, in fact, die. Once again, the key is balance. Having high cholesterol has been linked to cardiovascular disease, however there is a body of research that questions this. One example is a paper written by Uffe Ravnskov et al. in the Expert Review of Clinical Pharmacology (2018), which is titled LDL-C Does Not Cause Cardiovascular Disease: a comprehensive review of current literature.
Nevertheless, when we think of health (as opposed to just disease) any cholesterol levels that are not ideal are an indicator of underlying problems. In natural medicine we usually see a stressed liver and gallbladder when there are cholesterol issues. While low cholesterol diets may help, they often ignore any potential underlying problems around the liver. Often we see high cholesterol levels reduce when the liver is supported. It’s a rather important organ, the liver – the first four letters in its name is a pretty good clue as to why.
So how do we support the liver? There are a number of ways such as:
• Intermittent fasting
• Avoiding huge liver stressors such as coffee and tea
• Minimising alcohol to once or twice a week
• Reducing or removing toxic food additives
• Using supplements and herbs to help the liver
• Eating a balanced diet with plenty of green veggies and moderate meat, and wholegrain carbohydrates like kumara, brown rice and buckwheat.
As the liver and gallbladder function better, they are better equipped to keep cholesterol levels in balance. Other considerations for cholesterol levels involve keeping a balance between zinc and copper levels. When zinc levels dominate over copper levels (measured by hair tissue mineral analysis) the outcome can be an increase in the formation of cholesterol for the individual. Natural remedies that can aid cholesterol reduction include:
• Daily use of good quality fish oils
• Lecithin powder sprinkled on food (one tbsp per day)
• Red yeast rice extract
• Regular moderate exercise
What about eggs, don’t they raise cholesterol? While there is a partial truth here, the full story reveals a different story. When eggs are cooked at high temperatures quickly the naturally occurring lecithin is damaged. Lecithin is the part that helps to break down the cholesterol in eggs, so cooking eggs this way can result in an increase in cholesterol. But if the eggs are cooked in water (soft, hard boiled and poached) the lecithin remains intact and can do its job in helping to reduce cholesterol build up.
For people who are using statins to manage cholesterol it can help to supplement with Coenzyme Q10 as this is the enzyme that the statins can inhibit. Doing this can reduce the side effects of statins. So look after your liver and see what it can do for you.
Eugene Sims, Warkworth Natural Therapies