Why low cholesterol is not always a good thing

I know that in the media there is a lot of emphasis placed on the dangers of high cholesterol, however what many people fail to realise is that cholesterol is essential for your health. It’s present in every single cell in your body where it helps to produce cell membranes, hormones, vitamin D and bile acids to help you digest fat.

Cholesterol also helps in the formation of your memories and is vital for neurological function, and now scientists have discovered that there is one specific area where having low levels of one type of cholesterol has been linked to memory loss and Alzheimer’s disease.

Scientists studied more than 3,500 civil servants to investigate how levels of HDL or “good” cholesterol were associated with memory. HDL cholesterol can influence the formation of the beta-amyloid “plaques” that are a distinctive feature in the brains of Alzheimer’s patients. Higher levels of HDL are also believed to protect against damage to blood supply caused by the narrowing of the arteries.

After the five-year study period, the researchers found that people with low levels of HDL were 53% more likely to suffer memory loss than people with the highest levels of HDL. Those with impaired memory are at an increased risk of developing dementia later in life, and that is not the only area where low cholesterol levels can cause you health problems.

The Risks of Low Cholesterol

Other risks related to neurological function are depression, suicidal tendencies and may lead to violent behaviour and aggression. Cholesterol levels that are too low can also increase your risk of cancer and Parkinson’s disease so trying to reduce your cholesterol to unreasonably low levels is doing your long-term health no favours.

Why do cholesterol levels rise?

High cholesterol has become such a hot topic that many people don’t realise that it is not a disease in itself. It is actually a perfectly normal response when something has gone wrong and your body needs to make new, healthy cells. Because cholesterol is produced whenever your cells become damaged, it will show as high cholesterol levels, but if you have a lot of damaged cells, you’re also going to have a lot of cholesterol in your bloodstream. This is a good thing, because it means your cells are being repaired.

Instead of just trying to reduce the high cholesterol, it makes more sense to search for what’s causing the damage in the first place, rather than moving straight on to cholesterol-lowering drugs.

One of the most common causes of high cholesterol is inflammation, and that can be brought on by a number of factors, including:

** Too many processed foods
** Smoking
** Not enough exercise
** Emotional stress

Healthy cholesterol levels are essential to keep your cells functioning at their best, and all of those risk factors above are within your control so that might be the place to start. If stress is the issue, have a look at the website for my book on How To Cope Successfully With Stress at www.sortingstressout.com