Cholesterol, for as long as I can remember, has been villainized. It has been indicted to such a degree that it has been recommended by the medical establishment that all Seniors, even without excessive cholesterol, should be drugged with Statins to guard against the potential of cholesterol complications! The ramifications of such a recommendation are mind-boggling; but hold that thought.
The reality is that cholesterol is a critical component of numerous important functions in the body. But its role in brain chemistry is particularly vital to appreciate, especially in light of this pervasive Statin controversy.
Function in the Brain
“Cholesterol is a critical brain nutrient essential for the function of neurons and it plays a fundamental role as a building block of the cell membrane.”
“Cholesterol is looked upon as an essential fuel for the neurons.”
Another misunderstood, yet indispensable element in brain health function, is commonly referred to as ‘bad cholesterol’. It is not actually a cholesterol molecule, however. The role of this low density lipoprotein is to transport cholesterol to the neurons. “When cholesterol levels are low, the brain simply doesn’t work well.”
The Cholesterol Component
“The brain holds only two percent of the body’s mass, but contains twenty five percent of the total cholesterol, which supports brain function and development. One fifth of the brain, by weight, is cholesterol.”
“We’ve actually determined that the ability to grow new synapses in the brain depends on the availability of cholesterol.”
“Cholesterol in the brain serves as a powerful antioxidant.” Because deterioration of the brain is, in part, a function of inflammation–an oxidative process– this antioxidant characteristic adds to its importance in brain health!
The Heart Disease Connection
You’re wondering, now, about its role in coronary artery disease, right? This quote summarizes the data and studies presented in the book–a fascinating historical look, as well, regarding how we came to accept dietary guidelines so popular today.
“Reviews of multiple large studies have routinely failed to find correlation between cholesterol levels and heart disease.”
According to Dr. Perlmutter, this phenomenon has more to do with oxidized LDL; a result of sugar molecules attaching themselves to and changing the shape of these life-giving transporters. Consumption of carbohydrates is directly related to the levels of sugar in the blood. Get the connection?
Back to Statins
This point will be briefly made, but it is a monumental one: Statins work by decreasing the output of cholesterol formed by the liver. Evidence suggests that Statins also effect the functioning of cholesterol in the brain, as well.
If you are taking Statins, I urge you to become as educated as possible about the issue. I am not qualified to dispute or corroborate the evidence presented by Dr. Perlmutter. My hope is that the scientific community, without bias, will move us forward to find the answers that truly are in our best interests.
To Your Health and Wellness,
The Senior Health and Fitness Blog by Steven Siemons is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.