According to both the pharmaceutical industry and conventional medical wisdom, 80% of the population is in danger because it suffers from high cholesterol. Medication is used to fight ‘bad’ cholesterol, and we are advised to eat low-fat, ‘light’ foods. But this does much less good for our health than it does for the profits of powerful interest groups. Find out why cholesterol is essential for our well-being, and why measuring cholesterol levels is almost meaningless.
Mainstream medicine divides the cholesterol in the human body into ‘good’ and ‘bad’. The ‘good’ can stay, but the ‘bad’ has to be dealt with, its levels reduced using pharmaceuticals. There is, however, something pretty important here that they’re neglecting to tell us: There’s no such thing as bad cholesterol! There is absolutely no need to worry about having high cholesterol levels, to change your diet, or even take cholesterollowering medication. Luckily, more and more doctors are coming to accept this simple truth. One of them is the German professor Walter Hartenbach, who has treated over 6,000 patients and come to some astonishing conclusions. He never tires of refuting the myth of ‘good’ and ‘bad’ cholesterol. There are just two ways in which cholesterol can combine in the body (cholesterol is a non-water-soluble lipid). It can only be transported when joined with one of the two special proteins capable of binding with it: high-density lipoprotein (HDL), and low-density lipoprotein (LDL). These can combine with cholesterol to form complexes known as LDL and HDL cholesterol. The way these are named might give the erroneous impression that there are two types of cholesterol in the body – in fact, there is only one ‘cholesterol’.
However, the powers that be have used these two cholesterol complexes to create a ‘good’ and ‘bad’ cholesterol dichotomy, purely with the aim of making money. The two different compounds simply have different tasks within the body. Therefore, it makes absolutely no sense whatsoever to try to ‘fight’ one of them. In fact, it would be dangerously stupid.
The HDL complex (aka ‘good’ HDL cholesterol) is responsible for collecting the cholesterol we consume through food, and the cholesterol used by the body, and transporting it to the liver. It also gathers up excess deposits and cholesterol from the organs and takes them to be broken down and resynthesised in the liver. Of this cholesterol, around 80% is converted into bile acids, and 20% into ‘free’ cholesterol.
The LDL complex (aka ‘bad’ LDL cholesterol) does, of course, the opposite. It fetches ‘free’ cholesterol from the liver, and delivers it to all the cells that have a cholesterol receptor and are capable of using it.
According to Professor Hartenbach, around a quarter of the cholesterol compounds in the blood are HDL, with the remaining 75% being LDL.
Cholesterol doesn’t just bind with HDL and LDL lipoproteins; it is also immensely important for other processes in the body. According to Hartenbach, only around 8% of cholesterol circulates in the blood, the remainder being retained within the cells. There, cholesterol helps to keep them functioning, strengthening the mitochondria (the cells’ ‘power stations’) and the cell walls, thus contributing to orderly cell growth.
Cholesterol has another function – it is the base substance of the stress hormone cortisol. Cortisol activates the body’s stores of glucose and potassium, which govern all physical and mental activity. It also mobilises glucose from protein storage. This glucose is our fuel. The longer and more strenuous the physical or mental activity, the more glucose – and therefore cortisol – is used up. According to Hartenbach, the fact that raised cortisol levels cause an increase in cholesterol production is lost on the majority of doctors and research scientists.
Cortisol also regulates the balance of potassium and sodium in the blood and in the cells (osmotic pressure), which keeps the cardiac and circulatory systems running.
Hartenbach has been able to show how cortisol levels double or even quadruple during surgery or sporting activity. At the elite sport level, or during extreme (e.g. abdominal) surgery, they can even reach ten times the normal level.
Cortisol promotes blood clotting by boosting platelet numbers, making it useful for controlling bleeding; other effects include euphoria, raised blood pressure, improved heart and circulatory system function, and curbed cell proliferation. Hartenbach noted in his book that many observers had noticed an increase in cancerous growths after medication was used to lower cholesterol levels.1 And Professor Walli remarked how he had noted a reduced cholesterol level accompanying many forms of cancer.
Cholesterol is also the basis for male and female sex hormones.
Sex hormones are responsible for male potency and female fertility. According to Hartenbach, using medication to lower cholesterol levels can cause impotence in men.
Sex hormones also play an important role in protein building in the muscles. Here, the male hormone testosterone and its synthetic variants, anabolic steroids (a common means of doping in sports), come into play. Sex hormones also regulate the incorporation of protein and calcium into the skeleton, and can thus help prevent osteoporosis.2 In addition, they regulate sleep, and are consequently used in the production of narcotics.
As we can see, sex hormones are crucial for our vitality. Taking pills to lower cholesterol levels may sooner or later lead to side effects including loss of potency, infertility, skeletal damage caused by loss of calcium, reduced energy levels, and disturbed sleep.
The body needs most of the cholesterol produced in the liver for the production of bile acids. These are secreted into the intestines along with bile, where they regulate digestion and the resorption of fats. They also ensure regularity, as intestinal bacteria convert cholesterol into coprostanol, which eases the formation of stools. Hence another consequence of low cholesterol: impaired digestion and constipation.
Cholesterol is equally important for vitamins – and vice versa. Vitamin D, for example, consists of cholesterol and is responsible for the construction and strengthening of the bones.3 Vitamin C, in contrast, induces the production of cortisol, which takes place in the adrenal glands.
So: cholesterol is present at a great many different ‘building sites’ in the body. Yet it is supposedly so dangerous that we need pills to lower our cholesterol levels.
In 1908, Russian scientist Alexander Ignatovski decided to investigate the causes of arteriosclerosis. Over the course of his research, he mixed human brains and egg – both very high in cholesterol – into a paste, and fed it to some rabbits. Of course, the animals died soon afterwards. When Ignatovski examined the dead rabbits, he discovered heavy cholesterol deposits in their blood vessels: ergo, those consuming large amounts of cholesterol through their food will end up with deposits in their blood vessels.
In the 1950s, the American scientist Ancel Keys returned to this hypothesis. He analysed the nutritional data from six randomly chosen countries, and was able to demonstrate a link between fat-rich food and death due to heart complications. The fact that he ignored data from 16 other countries rightfully attracted plenty of criticism. He was accused of only selecting countries where the data backed up his hypothesis. Later on, Keys was to produce the so-called Seven Countries Study, where he once again ‘proved’ that fats and cholesterol are responsible for coronary heart disease (CHD)4 . However, if Keys had used seven different countries for this new study, the results would have been the exact opposite: to wit, a fat-rich diet is actually healthy, and can lower the risk of CHD. You know what they say – never trust a statistic that you didn’t make up yourself.
Here are a few examples that Keys rather sensibly kept quiet: if you were to compare West Germany (as it then was), whose population ate about as much fat as the Finns, with the Swiss and Dutch, who consumed rather more fat, it would be apparent that CHD mortality was three times higher in Finland than in the other three countries. If you compared the figures for Canada, Australia and America with those for Norway and Sweden, it would be clear that the risk of CHD in the English-speaking countries was three times higher than in the Scandinavian ones – four times higher for the Americans. And if you compared the data for all 22 countries, it would be impos-sible to find a link between fat, cholesterol, and heart disease.
Professor John Yudkin from the University of London even proved that animal fats have a lesser effect on cholesterol levels than other fats. Along with the nutritional aspect, Yudkin also investigated the link between CHD and affluence. Decades ago, he discovered that owners of TVs and radios run the greatest risk of CHD mortality, closely followed by car owners.
It isn’t the devices themselves that leave us liable to heart disease, though – it’s all the ‘couch potatoing’ that they promote. We now know that physical inactivity leads to the degeneration of the cardiovascular system, and thus to an increase in heart disease. So CHD has less to do with nutrition than it does with lifestyle.
In 1978, the results of a 40-year study into CHD death rates in England and Wales were published. Mortality rates in the lower classes had greatly risen relative to the middle and upper classes. This increase reflected a higher number of smokers amongst the lower classes, along with an elevated consumption of refined carbohydrates (i.e. higher sugar consumption). In this study too, no direct link was found between fats and cholesterol.
From a further 18 countries with a high per capita consumption of animal fats, CHD mortality rates fell in eleven of them between 1972 and 1984.
Nevertheless, this ‘bad fat hysteria’ gave rise to numerous ‘cholesterol diets’. It was at this point that the healthy Mediterranean diet entered the discussion as well, although people tend to forget that the Italians, for example, are inclined to enjoy a lot of hearty, fatty food. In France too, the consumption of saturated fats is almost twice as high as in the USA – yet when it comes to CHD death rates in the two countries, that ratio is reversed.
The African Maasai tribe gets its calories almost exclusively from fatty sheep’s milk (around three litres a day) and lots of meat. A Maasai warrior consumes 300g of animal fat per day. Yet despite all this, the Maasai have very low levels of cholesterol – around 160mg/dl. Coronary heart disease is practically unheard of. Professor Georg Mann, who conducted tests on Kenyan Maasai, called the fat hysteria “the public health deception of the century,” and “the greatest scam in the history of medicine.”
Proponents of the fat hypothesis might object that the Maasai are so healthy because of the amount of exercise they get. Proof that this can’t be the only reason comes from the Mid-Atlantic island of Saint Helena. In the 1960s, there were practically no cars on the island and the population went nearly everywhere on foot.
Nevertheless, the mortality rate from CHD remained relatively high, even though the islanders’ diet wasn’t particularly high-fat. Instead, they tended to eat a lot of sugar. Nearly all convenience foods contain a lot of sugar that we don’t even notice. The French consume 8% less sugar on average than Americans, because they eat fresh food often cooked from scratch – and they are correspondingly healthier.
Once again: diet cannot be the cause of raised cholesterol levels. How could it be, when the liver is perfectly capable of reducing its own cholesterol production if too much is being consumed? The body is able to balance its own cholesterol levels within a matter of hours. Additionally, many of the internal organs require cholesterol. Did you know that the adrenal glands contain up to 50% cholesterol? Even the oh-so-vulnerable heart itself is 10% cholesterol. The memory too can only function properly if enough cholesterol is available.