Cholesterol is NOT all Bad

cellular cholesterolIn my first level of MELT Instructor Training I talk about how the protective cell wall can adapt to resist the uptake of toxicity or virus’ by building a cholesterol layer around the cell that resists the uptake of fluid and molecules. This struck a cord with a few folks in the training. One woman said, “Well I don’t eat any saturated fat. I don’t want to have a heart attack. So will my cells still produce cholesterol?” I realize this may be difficult for people without cellular science in their brain to grasp but our cells produce cholesterol – and in fact, it’s a good thing they do. Although some cholesterol is required for absorption of molecular components that sustain a cells life, too much can also cause issues of course. But the idea that cholesterol is all bad is wrong. The idea that you should take it out of your diet entirely is also not going to make you live a longer life per se.

Our bodies are made of billions of cells and most of our cells produce cholesterol. Cholesterol isn’t just found in our food, it’s a vital part of acholesterol 2 cell’s structure. The membrane or lining that encloses each cell as well as the surrounding of all the organelles inside of cells is supported by the infrastructure of cholesterol. Cholesterol is in fact an important element that provides a number of roles in cell sustainability and proliferation.

As much as we think saturated fats and cholesterol is a bad thing (granted too much certainly is), this is what makes the membranes of the cell firm and sustain integrity. Without it, a cell would be unstable, too fluid, or too flabby and collapse. This would be cholesterol 2bad. On a macro level, we would look more like a gelly-fish or a slug as even our bones would be too squishy and unable to sustain the spaces that they provide. You might be surprised when I tell you that nearly half of the cell membrane is made from cholesterol.  The reinforcement of the cell with cholesterol allows things like blood vessels that have to withstand high pressure and force of blood flow. The actual flow of blood spinning through the arteries forces the cells to incorporate a layer of cholesterol and saturated fat in the membranous tissue making it stronger and more rigid. Scientifically these layers of cholesterol are called fatty streaks and are completely normal and formed from birth on out. These fatty streaks and general production of cholesterol are not indicative of the disease called atherosclerosis by the way. And eating saturated fat doesn’t necessarily lead to atherosclerosis. Having this issue has more to do with the overall health of a body and how a body absorbs, transports, and breaks down nutrients and waste material. 

In fact, all cells have to communicate with each other and do so through the protein molecules on the cell wall that is held there by none other than cholesterol. Without a moderate amount of cholesterol, our cells couldn’t transport the vital molecules into and out of cells thus the human body wouldn’t be able to efficiently function from day to day.

Your brain is also reliant on cholesterol – approximately 25% of all body cholesterol is found in the brain and our nervous system needs it to accomplish the thousands of jobs it has to regulate efficiency. If a pregnant mom doesn’t have adequate cholesterol, neither will her unborn baby thus the baby will have a higher tendency for eye and brain disorders. Even mom’s breast milk has a specific enzyme in it to allow the baby’s digestive track to absorb almost 100% of the cholesterol to continue to develop the right molecular stability required for good brain and eye development. Baby formula doesn’t have this enzyme or cholesterol in it thus one more reason to breastfeed your baby.

cholesterol 3So before you think of cholesterol as a bad thing, think of it as a good element of cellular function. The department of medical and biochemistry and biophysics at Karolinska Institute are researching stem cells to gain new understanding of cholesterol and its vital roles in our overall heath. There’s much to learn but hopefully you can now understand that cholesterol isn’t all bad.

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