The more I study about cholesterol and listen to the physicians acquainted on this, it seems clearer that one of the big misleading studies in the 1950s and ’60s was about oxidized cholesterol and not the cholesterol itself. As I wrote in my previous blog post, back in the ’70s we had two competing theories in the western world about the cause of heart disease: cholesterol and fat or sugar in the diet. You’ll find a video below where Dr Jonny Bowden talks about this and how there was a huge pressure to decide the real culprit for the increasing numbers of heart disease. Looking back now, it seems like the wrong theory won.
The sick brain seems to have a severe lack of cholesterol. Evidence shows that elderly people actually benefit from high cholesterol and the high cholesterol are scientifically connected to a long lifespan and memory functioning while low cholesterol has been associated with poorer memory, lower scores on abstract reasoning, attention and concentration, verbal fluency and executive function.
“Feed your head: Fatty acids make up to 60% of the brain’s solid matter. DHA and cholesterol are two key players. About a third of the brain’s fat consist of the omega-3 fatty acids (DHA). Although the brain has only 2% of the body’s weight, it has 25% of it’s cholesterol.” – “The neurogenesis diet & lifestyle, Update your brain, Upgrade your life” by Brant Cortright PH.D.
Science has also managed to prove that the new synapses in the brain require cholesterol, that sleeks the cell membranes together and by doing so enables the signals easily go through the synapses. Cholesterol also helps the fast information transfer in the brain. In other words, cholesterol enhances the right function and communication in the brain. Cholesterol also functions as an antioxidant in the brain and is a precursor of vitamin D, which is also a very strong tame for inflammation.
So cholesterol is indeed an important nutrient for brain health. According to Kelly Brogan, a Manhattan-based psychiatrist, mood problems often occur when the fasting cholesterol is below 160 (160 mg/dl = 4.1376 mmol/l). People tend to concentrate on the problems of high cholesterol, but actually low levels of cholesterol in the blood = hypocholesterolemia can be a huge stress for the body. Symptoms of low cholesterol can perform as neurological problems, depression or dementia:
- Low cholesterol is linked to depression, suicide and other neurological disorders: Annals of General Psychiatry.
- Among those patients hospitalized because of affective disorders such as depression, bipolar disorder and anxiety disorder, significantly more patients than controls have been documented to have low plasma cholesterol. PubMed.
- When a team at Duke University assessed the correlation between depressive and anxious personality traits and low cholesterol, they found an undeniable connection. Semantic Scholar.
- The Melbourne Women’s Midlife Health Project suggested that memory improvement was achieved with increased total cholesterol among healthy middle age women. Academia. (Kelly Brogan, MD, book: A mind fo your own, 2016)
- The Framingham Heart Study shows that low cholesterol is associated with poorer performance on cognitive measures. PubMed.
The problems occur when the cholesterol is oxidised. This can happen for example when vegetable oils are used for cooking and produce oxidized cholesterol. The body treats oxidized cholesterol and other oxidized fatlike invading bacteria. Also, extra glucose (from sugar, carbohydrates or excess protein) that can’t access into the cells because of the insulin resistance, can oxidize the LDL-cholesterol making it a “bad LDL” through LDL glycation (hence it’s a protein!). According to Dr David Perlmutter, the LDL cholesterol is not actually “bad cholesterol” at all like told, but a very important carrier protein that carries vital cholesterol into the brain and states an important role for example in Alzheimer’s disease. LDLs can turn dangerous when under oxidative stress.
Dr David Perlmutter, an author of Grain Brain, explains the truth behind cholesterol, and why it isn’t the cholesterol, but grains and the inflammation they can cause, that are the true culprits.
“The fact is: cholesterol isn’t the harbinger of nutritional doom that many would have you believe. In fact, study after study has linked cholesterol to improved attention/concentration, learning, memory and abstract reasoning. All this has a great impact for our brain health.” -Dr. David Perlmutter in his book “Grain Brain, 2013”.
Dr Jonny Bowden explains that there are actually 5 different LDLs, in two patterns, and not all of them are bad. He says that this can all be measured.
Dr Berg talks about cholesterol and different types of LDLs:
Type A (large buoyant) *normal, not involved in damage repair. *last 2 days in the body
Type B (small dense) *because these are small, they can enter the damaged wall of the artery and are involved in the clotting and plaquing. *last 5 days
Next blog post 3/3 about cholesterol.
Previous blog post 1/3 about cholesterol.
Note! I’m a Nutritional Therapist, not a doctor or a nutritionist, and I have learned my way through the hard way: by studying, experimenting, reading and investigating. All material on this website is provided for your information only and may not be construed as medical advice or instruction. No action or inaction should be taken based solely on the contents of this information; instead, readers should consult appropriate health professionals on any matter relating to their health and well-being. The Healing Foodie is not responsible for errors or omissions.