Cholesterol is a lipid organic molecule manufactured in the body but can also be found in foods we eat. It is part of the lipid family and they are the greatest energy producers of the three macronutrients, the others being protein and carbohydrate. It is synthesized within the body of all human beings. It is very important because of its role in cellular structure and integrity.
Before the myth let me introduce you to the etymology of the word “Cholesterol”. The word stems from the Greek vocabulary, CHOLE, STEREOS and it ends with OL. Starting with the prefix CHOLE- which means bile, coming after it is STEREOS, in this word it doesn’t denote musical appliances or sound systems, here, it means a solid substance while the suffix -OL as you may have guessed rightly stands for alcohol.
It is believed to have been first discovered in its solid state by the French Doctor and Chemist, Francois Poulletier de la Salle in the 17th Century. However, it wasn’t until the year 1815 that it was given the name Cholesterine by a fellow French Doctor, Michel Eugene Chevreul, who is not only renowned for his studies on fatty acid but also one of the few elites privileged to have their names written on the Eiffel tower.
Our body system balances the internal production of this lipid substance with the additional ones consumed. But the main challenge the lipid molecule poses to our gastrointestinal system is that it finds it hard to break it down for digestion. From another angle, cholesterol provides a lot of energy for digestion.
Although the level of cholesterol in our system increases with time as the body reabsorbs it again from the bile being excreted by the liver.
Function of Cholesterol
Just picture a stadium and imagine the physical structures holding it in shape, making it withstand all the weight seated within it, all the people passing through the narrow entrances to get in and out of the main arena. Let’s say that stadium is a cell and 30% of what makes it stand in shape and keep it secure like so, is cholesterol.
From the information given already, we expect it to be part of Bile acid but we should remember it is also a very vital component of estrogens and progesterone, these hormones are the major hormones involved in the regulation of ovulation and fertilization in females. It is the precursor to vitamin D, which is crucial for the absorption of calcium in the digestive system.
Food which Contains Cholesterol
I’ve interacted with guys in the gym that share the belief that adding eggs to their diet gives a faster result, while some even go as far as drinking it raw but they leave the egg yolk out saying it’s bad, that yolk they’re excluding is rich in Cholesterol.
When you order pizza in your favorite restaurant and you request for extra cheese, yummy right, that’s cholesterol entering your body deliciously.
People gathered around campfires, having a barbecue party, grilling marinated pork, steaks, chicken and fish with side dishes of shrimps at the riverside or lake shores are also consuming cholesterol together with other nutrients. Babies get a lot of it from their mother’s breast milk that way they don’t miss out on what the adults are enjoying.
The Myth that Surrounds Cholesterol
High concentration of cholesterol within the body is a huge risk factor for Atherosclerosis, which is narrowing of the vessels owing to plaque depositions. It may further result in a Heart attack, stroke and other vascular problems.
Although there are arguments that cholesterol has been the notorious culprit in discussions concerning atherosclerosis and heart-related diseases, there are other factors that contribute to those conditions. But, due to the fact that the calculation of cholesterol level in our body system is easily calculated the association to the vascular issues is effortlessly made.
Most authorities generally support a side of the argument and provide enormous facts to back it up. A few years back, Dr. A. F. Sigurdsson wrote an article on this subject and it was really a mature analysis and an objective perspective. It was based on his review of the book, “The Great Cholesterol Myth”, co-authored by Johnny Bowden, PhD., a nutritionist and Stephen Sinatra, MD., a Cardiologist.
Permit me to quote, Dr. Sigurdsson from his blog, Exploring “The Great Cholesterol Myth”: “In my opinion, the recent book by Bowden and Sinatra is a good example of the preacher’s approach. Somehow the authors believe they’ve managed to unlock the hidden truth. In fact, you may admire how fearlessly they expose, what they call the misinformation fed by the scientific community”.
In the world where pharmaceutical giants are just working on increasing their revenue annually, and competitors engaging in massive power tussle while competing against themselves. It is not unusual to hear about a company sponsoring an experiment to discover factors that will make their medicine relevant to people’s needs even when it is not entirely consistent.
An example is a notion among a group of surgeons in Ukraine that H. Pylori is not the cause of ulcer in patients since it’s naturally part of the normal flora in the stomach. Hence, treatment with pharmaceutical drugs is unnecessary and it’s only a fabrication to benefit certain establishments commercially. Although, Medical students in all universities are being taught that H. Pylori is responsible so that they can adhere to the international guidelines and recommendations.
Another example was brought to light in the book, “The Great Cholesterol Myth”. Let me quote how they expressed it quite frantically, “When the National Cholesterol Education Program lowered the optimal cholesterol levels in 2004, eight of the nine people on the panel had financial ties to the pharmaceutical industry, most of them to the manufacturers of cholesterol-lowering drugs who would subsequently reap immediate benefits from these same recommendations”.
Watch Out For Your Cholesterol Levels
Sometimes, when cholesterol becomes too concentrated it becomes crystallized, forming a large part of gallstones, that gives rise to pain and discomfort in individuals.
It is still a good thing to get tested in order to keep a close eye on the level of cholesterol in the body. Because the excess accumulation of anything can cause problems. We all know water is good but if taken too much can cause water poisoning creating imbalances in our system. It is advisable to go for a checkup and test for cholesterol once every 4 to 6 years as soon as you’re no longer a teenager. But, Cholesterol by itself is not a bad thing, it’s an essential part of our body’s metabolism and operation.
Bowden, J., Sinatra, S., and Rawlings, D. (2015). The great cholesterol myth. Beverly, MA: Fair Winds Press.
Heart.org. (2018). How To Get Your Cholesterol Tested. [online] Available at: http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/Conditions/Cholesterol/SymptomsDiagnosisMonitoringofHighCholesterol/How-To-Get-Your-Cholesterol-Tested_UCM_305595_Article.jsp#.WlaQk3aWa00 [Accessed 11 Jan. 2018].
MD, A. (2018). Exploring “The Great Cholesterol Myth”. [online] Docsopinion.com. Available at: https://www.docsopinion.com/2013/01/28/the-great-cholesterol-myth/ [Accessed 11 Jan. 2018].
Medlineplus.gov. (2018). Cholesterol | MedlinePlus. [online] Available at: https://medlineplus.gov/cholesterol.html [Accessed 11 Jan. 2018].