Cholesterol and Hypothyroidism

We have known for over a hundred years that hypothyroidism causes heart disease, not cholesterol.

Cholesterol is simply an innocent bystander.

In fact, cholesterol is just trying to do what it is intended to do, protect you!

Our goal here today is not to dwell on all the fear-based tactics the medical and pharmaceutical industry take to lead you down the path of destruction.

The goal is to help you understand what cholesterol is, its function in the body and how thyroid affects cholesterol levels.

After all, the more we understand, the less we have to fear.

What is Cholesterol?

According to the cholesterol hypothesis the fat we eat is directly responsible for the amount of cholesterol in the blood. Not true.

Cholesterol is a steroid lipid found in large concentrations in the liver, spinal cord and brain. Your liver, other organs and other cells in the body produce about 75-80% of the cholesterol in the body while the other 20% comes from foods high in dietary cholesterol such as butter, cream, eggs and red meat.

The liver manufactures only the amount needed to maintain homeostasis and when the diet is low in dietary cholesterol, the liver will produce it from other dietary sources like fat and sugars.

According to Diana Schwarzbein MD, When you do not eat cholesterol, your body sees this deprivation as a time of “crisis” or “famine.” During this “famine,” insulin activates an enzyme in your liver called HMG Co-A Reductase that begins to overproduce cholesterol from the carbohydrates you eat.

Cholesterol is present in every single cell in your body and provides stability to the mitochondria, preventing their destruction by stress.

Cholesterol is an important antioxidant, which the body uses to repair damaged blood vessels. It also aids in the manufacturing of bile, which is necessary for the metabolism of fat -soluble vitamins D, E A and K.

Last and certainly not least, cholesterol is a precursor to all the protective steroidal hormones. Meaning, without it, your body could not produce cortisol, aldosterone in the adrenal glands and the sex hormones progesterone, estrogen, testosterone, and all the other steroidal hormones.

Cholesterols role in the manufacturing of the steroidal hormones is the first stage in handling the stress reaction. The increased production of cholesterol itself is primitive defense, anti-stress system.

So while you don’t want cholesterol to be too high, you also don’t want it to be too low.

When cholesterol levels are elevated the question should be, why is it not being converted?

Research has proven time and time again that cholesterol is a marker for hypothyroidism.

When thyroid hormone levels are low and TSH levels increase, cholesterol levels are increased.

The more hypothyroid you become, the higher your cholesterol rises.

There are a couple reasons this can happen:

1. The body is unable to convert T4 to T3.

T3 and vitamin A are essential to the conversion of cholesterol into all your protective steroidal hormones.

Here is the problem.

Standard thyroid testing only tests TSH levels.

This means a larger percentage of people with high cholesterol have low thyroid function that is not detectable by the standard TSH test due to the wide range of normal (.35-5.50).

They have low activity of thyroid hormone in their body. Either they are not converting T4, the inactive form of the hormone, secreted by the gland, to T3, the active form (conversion occurs inside cells.) Or their cells are resistant to taking in T4, a condition similar to insulin resistance.

If you have elevated cholesterol and your doctor has not tested your thyroid or only tested TSH, you will want to be sure to follow this up with additional testing to include: TSH, free T3, free T4, anti-thyroid antibodies and reverse T3.

Correcting the conversion issues using our food strategy or with the proper thyroid support can easily restore cholesterol levels to normal.

2. Thyroid hormone improves the clearance of LDL (a.k.a. bad cholesterol) from the circulation by increasing the production of the LDL receptor, which binds LDL cholesterol. The more efficient the liver is at producing this receptor the faster the LDL us cleared from the blood.

3. Thyroid hormone also effects the production of an enzymes called the HMG-CoA reductase, an important factor in the synthesis of cholesterol. This is the same enzyme Statin drugs are designed to target.

Low thyroid leads to a reduction in the activity of this enzyme as a result of the decreased LDL-receptors activity resulting in a decreased breakdown of LDL. This is why people with hypothyroidism and Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis will commonly have an elevated total cholesterol on a lipid panel, and increasing the thyroid hormone levels will help to decrease the total cholesterol, along with the LDL.

What about low cholesterol?

When the body is lacking the nutrients necessary to convert energy to cholesterol, levels will be low. Too much starch and unsaturated fat coupled with deficiencies in certain nutrients are all factors altering the body’s ability to produce cholesterol. Low levels of cholesterol are just as harmful as high levels.

A Hungarian study found when serum cholesterol was chemically lowered the mortality rate increased from accidents, homicides, suicides and cancer increased. The inability to produce protective steroidal hormones was the reason associated with the mortality.

Studies of older people in rest homes showed that those who lived the longest had cholesterol levels of over 200. In the Framingham study people over age 50 who did not have cholesterol levels over 200 were more likely to develop dementia.

Statins and other cholesterol lowering drugs cause depression, rotting bones, muscle wasting and dying (rhabdomyolysis).

Ray Peat PhD: Around 1985, a big study in Hungary showed that lowering cholesterol with drugs caused a huge increase in the cancer death rate. Hundreds of publications appeared in the U.S. saying that wasn’t possible, because low cholesterol is good, the lower the better. The extreme increase in cancer mortality in the Hungarian study was probably the result of the drug that was commonly used at that time to lower cholesterol, but the pattern of mortality in that study was approximately the same pattern seen in any group with very low cholesterol. In the last 20 years, there have been many studies showing that lowering cholesterol increases mortality, especially from cancer and suicide, and that people with naturally low cholesterol are more likely to die from cancer, suicide, trauma, and infections than people with normal or higher than average cholesterol.

Tips on Optimizing Cholesterol Levels Naturally

Optimizing cellular energy production will always be at the core of any healing process.

There are several tools below you may find helpful in support of lowering your cholesterol however, to begin you must learn to regulate your blood sugar. Without blood sugar regulation and proper energy production, all the extras won’t do you much good.

Second most important step would be to begin substituting out the unstable polyunsaturated fats (PUFAs) and begin subbing in the stable saturated fats from foods like dairy, eggs (eggs contain cholesterol and lecithin, which helps use cholesterol), coconut oil and butter.

Here a few more tricks of the trade you can use in support of achieving optimal cholesterol levels:

  1. Coconut oil, added regularly to a balanced diet, lowers cholesterol to normal by promoting its conversion into pregnenolone.
  2. A daily raw carrot may lower cortisol and estrogen, support thyroid and accelerate the conversion of cholesterol to steroid hormones.
  3. Vitamin C is known to reduce blood levels of cholesterol.
  4. Vitamin E has been shown to help regulate cholesterol levels.
  5. DHEA has been shown to decrease LDL cholesterol.
  6. Use of light therapy.

The more optimal the metabolism, the more optimal cholesterol levels.

To learn more or talk one to one with Josh or Jeanne, please contact us here.

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