cholesterol

Produced by the liver, Cholesterol is essential for many body functions that include

  • Manufacture of sex hormones, fighting infection and repairing arterial damage
  • Managing inflammation and healing tissue damage
  • Delivering fat soluble vitamins.
  • Providing the chemical base for the manufacture of steroid hormones, namely:
  1. Mineralcortericoids – such as Aldosterone
  2. Glucocorticoids – such as Cortisol
  3. DHEA

Nutritional support through various pathways in the body is thus needed to ensure adequate supply of cholesterol with regard to these requirements

Cholesterol synthesis and transport from liver:

  • Formed from fat and protein
  • Carried from the liver on LDL (Low Density Lipids)
    • Carried back to the liver (to be broken down) on HDL (High Density Lipids)
    • Type of fat used in manufacture and carrying of cholesterol from liver important in determining healthy functional role of cholesterol
    • Saturated fat in the diet is viewed as increasing production of total serum cholesterol
    • Lipid peroxides or trans fatty acids will cause impaired cellular function of molecules formed due to “smearing” effect of these fats as they form phospholipid cell membrane layer
    • Nutritional support:
  1. Eliminate intake of lipid peroxides and trans fatty acids.
  2. Manganese needed for cholesterol synthesis
  3. Amino acid nutritional support from Leucine sourced from high protein foods; red meat, poultry, dairy, wheat germ, oats, grains and their germs, fish

Cholesterol is a marker of body requirements to heal tissue damage, especially arterial damage or dietary imbalances

  • Raised levels of LDL indicate upregulated production of Cholesterol carrying lipids from the liver itself indicating upregulated production of Cholesterol by the liver
  • Upregulated Cholesterol production indicates enhanced requirements of it to perform vital body functions
  • Increased Cholesterol is needed for healing processes and inflammatory processes at work in the body, such as arterial damage and plaque buildup (itself possibly due to excess levels of insulin or homocysteine in the blood).

Other causes of high cholesterol are:

  • Deficiencies in amino acids, anti-oxidants, fruits and vegetables, dietary fiber or hormones in the body
  • Existence of food allergies / intolerances, infection, hypothyroid
  • Excess dietary intake of trans fats, saturated animal fats, starch or sugar.

Liver function and support:

Fat in liver will impair liver function, detoxification and production of healthy cholesterol

– Individual fatty acids are grouped for storing after digestion into triglycerides by the liver

– That the liver is producing these storage form lipids

  • Indicates excessive dietary intake (symptomatic of obesity and diabetes) of either fat or sugar
  • Symptomatic of a sedentary lifestyle
  • Symptomatic of excess alcohol consumption (as alcohol damages the liver where these fats are produced as well as prompting production and accumulation of fat in the liver).

– Nutritional and lifestyle support for fat metabolism, preventing fat accumulation and exporting fat from liver:

  • Eliminate excessive alcohol intake and dietary intake of fat and sugar
  • Take regular exercise
  • Choline needed to export fat from liver (without it, fat becomes trapped in liver, blocking metabolism): Best sources egg yolk, beef, orange and cauliflower; can be manufactured in body (from methionine and serine)
  • Betaine helps liver process fat and prevent chemical damage, as well assisting in metabolism of homocysteine to methionine: best sources are beets, fish, legumes

Toxic load in the liver will impair cholesterol production as well as breakdown of hormones. Support for liver detoxification includes:

Eliminate / reduce: sources of endogenous and exogenous toxins that increase toxic load and production of Oxygen Free Radicals (ROS)

  • Food additives and colorings
  • Solvents such as cleaning products
  • Pesticides, herbicides and naturally occurring toxins in foods and herbs
  • Air pollution and smoke (eg tobacco)
  • Drugs (illegal, over-the-counter, prescription)
  • Alcohol

Anti-oxidant support for ROS neutralization in detoxification reactions

  • Carotenes: in red and yellow fruits, green leafy vegetables, grains and seeds
  • Flavonoids: in darker fruits, vegetables
  • Lignans: in flaxseed, whole grains, nuts, seeds
  • Polyphenols: in green tea, chocolate, red wine
  • Vitamins C and E

Botanical – Silymarin / Milk Thistle seed:

  • Enhances detoxification reactions and acts as an anti-oxidant to protect the liver from toxic chemicals and free-radicals

Glutathione conjugation:

  • Used for heavy metals especially
  • Changes fat-soluble toxin to water soluble form
  • Glutathione is a protein made from amino acids methionine and cysteine
  • Glutathione also an anti-oxidant – important as liver functions produce many free-radicals
  • Glutathione is found especially in asparagus, avocados, walnuts, Brassica family plants (eg cabbage, broccoli and Brussel sprouts), and fresh fruits, fish and meat
  • Limonene found in citrus fruits, dill and caraway seed all boost the body’s production of Glutathion

Methylation:

  • Used for estrogen and other steroid hormones using methyl group (carbon atom and 3 hydrogen atoms) usually made from same chemical: S-adenosylmethionine (SAMe)
  • SAMe made from amino acid methionine, and needs: Choline, Vit B12, Folic acid.

Sulfation:

  • Main pathway for environmental toxins, microbial products, drugs and food additives
  • Attaches sulfur to make toxin water soluble
  • Used for stress hormones – so the more stress experienced, the harder this system has to work
  • Increased sulfation inhibits glutathione pathway leading to increased risk of free-radical damage
  • Symptoms of overload to sulfation system are nervous system problems such as pins and needles in hands and feet
  • Needs: amino acids methionine and cysteine. Inhibited by excess molybdenum or Vit B6. Nutritional support: sulfur containing foods such as egg yolks, red peppers, garlic, onions, broccoli, Brussel sprouts

Nutrient support can help convert Homocysteine to: Glutathione and Methionine

Glutathione

  • Using vitamin B6 in transulfuration pathway

Methionine, methyl donor in liver methylation reactions

  • Using phyto-nutrient Betaine (from beets, fish and legumes) in methionine cycle
  • Using vitamin B12 (especially methyl cobalmine form) in methionine cycle with required use of folic acid (nb not folate) in the folate cycle (folate cycle requires amino acid Glycine)
  • Methylation reactions needed to break down steroid hormones

Adapted from:

Murray, M. (2005).Encyclopedia of Healing Food. New York, N.Y.: Atria Books

Murray, M. (2001). Total body tune-up. New York, N.Y.: Bantam Press

Bland, J., Costarella, L., Levin, B., Liska, D., Lukaczer, D., Schlitz, B., Schmidt, M., Lerman, R., Quinn, S., Jones, D. (2004). Clinical Nutrition: A Functional Approach, Second Edition. Gig Harbor, WA: The Institute for Functional Medicine.

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