LDL: truthfully NOT the “bad” cholesterol

As savvy practitioners, we need always to question what the medical media promotes.  Our ability to simply AND accurately educate and inspire our patients depends on it!  When they better understand the biochemical dynamics that are at play within their body, the people we serve are much more likely to take ownership for optimizing them those dynamics with their lifestyle choices.

In today’s Clinical Tip I will bust a myth what the common medical media calls the “bad’ cholesterol.  LDL is not the end-all-be-all indicator of “cardio badness” that the medical media has played it out to be.  Perhaps to your surprise, LDL is a critical player in more ways than one.  For instance, LDL is responsible for repairing cell membranes and damaged tissues. Without LDL our tissues also wouldn’t get the cholesterol they need to synthesize steroid hormone – which means no progesterone, no fertility, no testosterone, no libido, no sex.  Don’t get me wrong: LDL can wreak havoc, but solely blaming it as the #1 cause for cardiovascular disease is misleading.  It’s like blaming the presence of many policemen in an area of high crime.  Would that help address the true root cause of crime?

It’s not that LDL doesn’t matter; it does!  But the beneficial vs. dangerous properties of LDL is highly dependent on other factors.  In our effort to make medical concepts simple, we sometimes distill them down to the point where the truth is lost amidst the simplicity.  Our LDL will be directed toward beneficial vs. dangerous behavior based on the extent of inflammation and oxidative stress present in our arteries – which is dependent on other factors such as blood sugar control, antioxidant status, immune system strength, detoxification capability, gut health, nutrient sufficiency, and activity level.  Studies show that over half the people in the hospital having had a heart attack had “optimal” LDL levels prior to the event.  Effective healthcare support toward the goal of prevention needs to be more comprehensive and more thorough in assessing upstream drivers.  

Myth-busting and Truth-clarifying are things we do every day here are SAFM.   Want to learn what savvy practitioners know and use with confidence?  Join us for our next SAFM Core 101 Semester.   You might even choose to include our Deep Dive Clinical Course on Cardiovascular Myths and Truths as part of your customized curriculum.

Thank you so much for being a part of this movement!




5 Questions for “LDL: truthfully NOT the “bad” cholesterol”

  1. 3
    SAFM Team says:

    A question was asked about the powerful role of bile as a recirculating ‘carrier’ of cholesterol. This is indeed a powerful concept to consider, as the gut is the primary place where cholesterol is absorbed (from food) and reabsorbed (from bile). Here’s an excellent article for diving into this detail that I find is poorly understood by most practitioners: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2390860/ . Enjoy!

  2. 2
    Heidi says:

    Hi Tracy,
    I’m very interested in learning more about the whole cholesterol/HDL/LDL picture, but I didn’t see any of the courses that cover this. Is this information possibly rolled into one of the other courses? (Referring to the courses that we choose when we sign up for Core 101).

  3. 1
    Diana says:

    Thank you for this concise and powerful information. As far as I know statins can drive insiline resistance, quite ironic, not to mention the potential side effects. Can you speak on triglycerides too please (what drives them up and how to lower them without medication). Thank you.

    • 1.1
      SAFM Team says:

      Triglycerides are how most of our fats are transported throughout the body. We absorb them from our foods, and the liver also makes triglycerides. The most common reason they are elevated in the modern western world is due to Metabolic Syndrome – that is, the downstream complications of sustained hyperlgycemia due to insulin resistance. With blood sugar too high, the liver can only store a small amount of excess sugar and must convert the remainder to fats for purposes of storage. High insulin levels in the early-to-mid stages of this disease development further stimulate the body’s storage of fat. Excessive stress (and secretion of stress hormones) also promotes high blood sugar. Intake of transfats and/or excessive pro-inflammatory, refined vegetable oils can also exacerbate this dynamic. Dietary removal of all refined carbohydrates (e.g. sweeteners, all grain flours, all excessive intake of grains, and (at least for a time) all fruit juice) can be extremely effective. Other dynamics can be involved too e.g. insufficient magnesium, smoking, toxic exposure – anything that increases oxidative stress and impairs cell membrane function. In our Reversing Diabetes clinical course, we get into the specifics of this as well as targeted supplementation that can help to reverse the insulin resistance dynamic that created the problem upstream.

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