Basic Understanding of Cholesterol

Basic Understanding of Cholesterol

There are many misunderstandings about cholesterol.

A lot of people think cholesterol is bad, should be avoided, and holds only a negative role in the human body; cholesterol is actually a vital component to our good health.

Here are some common questions I receive about cholesterol:

What is Cholesterol?  

When you do a “Google search” for cholesterol, this is the answer that is provided– “cholesterol is a waxy substance found in your blood. Your body needs cholesterol to build healthy cells, but high levels of cholesterol can increase your risk of heart disease. With high cholesterol, you can develop fatty deposits in your blood vessels.”

Now, let’s compare that to the definition in my Human Anatomy & Physiology book from college.  

Cholesterol- “a lipid produced by body cells used to synthesize steroid hormones and excreted into the bile.” [P 698, Hole’s Human Anatomy & Physiology, 10th edition]

When we compare these two sources, we learn that the Human Anatomy & Physiology book is giving an unbiased definition of what cholesterol actually is.  The definition that a Google search provides is an excerpt from the Mayo Clinic; this is not a definition but is an interpretation, which includes the negative impact cholesterol might have on the human body.  It leads us to believe that cholesterol is bad, and we lack understanding of the purpose or functional role that cholesterol has in the human body. 

Now that we know the Human Anatomy & Physiology definition of cholesterol, I recognize that there may be some words that not everyone knows the meaning of within that definition.  So, let’s define those words before we move on.

  • Lipid: a fat, oil, or fat like compound that usually has fatty acids in its molecular structure.
  • Cells: the structural functional unit of an organism
  • Steroid Hormones: fat soluble hormones, formed from cholesterol (some examples include estrogens, testosterone, aldosterone, cortisol)
  • Bile: a fluid secreted by the liver and stored in the gallbladder. 

Isn’t it better if we had zero cholesterol? My conventional doctor said the lower the better?

No, humans cannot live with zero cholesterol and the “lower the better” is a misunderstanding.  Cholesterol plays an important role in our health, cellular function, tissue repair, and hormone production. 

If I stop eating high cholesterol foods won’t my cholesterol go down?

Let’s look back at the definition– “cholesterol is a lipid produced by body cells used to synthesize steroid hormones…”. Cholesterol doesn’t only come from your food, it is also produced in your liver. Yes, in fact approximately 80% of cholesterol is produced by your body and only about 20% is directly derived from the food we eat.  This is why it is important to understand, diet can impact cholesterol levels, but your body needs cholesterol and will continue to create it as fuel, when more fuel is needed.

My conventional medicine doctor said my total cholesterol number and my LDL are high.  What about VLDL, HDL and triglycerides? I’ve heard these matter too?

The total cholesterol is truly a number that is somewhat useless without knowledge of the individual numbers for LDL, HDL and triglycerides.  Here is what each of these mean:

  • Total cholesterol: this is a sum of the LDL, HDL plus 20% of the triglycerides.  The HDL is commonly referred to as good and LDL is commonly referred to as bad because the LDL type of cholesterol is the kind that is found in blocked arteries.
  • HDL or high-density lipoprotein: this is the type of cholesterol that cleans up the “bad” cholesterol in the blood and takes it back to the liver.  Because of this function, this is the cholesterol that is known to protect us from cardiovascular diseases such as a heart attack and stroke.  For both men and women, HDL should be over 60mg/dL.  When I get my cholesterol labs done, mine is 90-100! The higher the better!  Foods like wild caught salmon and other fish, walnuts, and flaxseed oil can increase your HDL count!
  • LDL or low-density lipoprotein: this is the type of cholesterol that can increase with a poor diet, lack of exercise, and increase in stress.  The American Heart Association reports that studies show a link to higher LDL and lower HDL that directly correlates to the level of a person’s stress at work.  Stress encourages the body to produce more metabolic fuels for energy, this causes the liver to make more LDL aka “bad cholesterol”.  A healthy diet and stress reducing lifestyle habits – including exercise and sleep – are important for correcting these numbers.  It is well understood that because cholesterol is the primary fuel required for stress hormones, such as cortisol, that the body will increase its cholesterol when more cortisol is being made in response to stress.  A normal LDL for conventional medicine labs is widely referred to as less than 100mg/dL.  However, it is important to understand VLDL, especially when LDL is high.
  • VLDL or very low-density lipoprotein:  this is primarily composed of triglycerides.  It is important to know your LDL number in relation to the mathematical equation that provides VLDL for us.  VLDL should be less than 19 for a very healthy individual.  
  • Triglycerides: created when we do not fully utilize the food we eat as immediate energy. This “unused” fuel gets stored in adipose/fat tissue as triglycerides.  When we are not eating, a hormone called HSL (hormone sensitive lipase) gets activated and helps us mobilize energy from the stored triglycerides- insulin can block that process. Insulin is a hormone that is triggered based on our blood glucose levels.  For someone who has a diet high in sugar, snacks often, or eats late at night, the body may begin storing too many of these unused energy particles as triglycerides.  Intermittent fasting, low carbohydrate diets, elimination and reduction of processed foods and sugars all help reduce unwanted high triglyceride numbers.

My cholesterol is high, what do I do?

If you have been told that your cholesterol is “high”, find out each of the numbers for your HDL, LDL, Triglycerides and VLDL and let your practitioner or myself know.  If you don’t have your VLDL, we can calculate it for you at your next visit.  We will review each of these individual numbers with you in order to help you determine next steps for your diet, supplements, and lifestyle to help correct any unwanted low or high cholesterol numbers. Another missed step by many doctors, both conventional and alternative, is looking at the trend of labs.  It is always important to determine if your labs are in an overall improving trend or not.  For example- if you haven’t had your labs drawn in 5 years, we should establish at least 3 follow up labs to determine the trend.  If you don’t have a primary care doctor that will run your cholesterol labs, let us know and we can help get that done for you. 

The least meaningful cholesterol number in our health practice is the “total cholesterol” because you cannot take proper action with diet, lifestyle or supplements based on that calculated number alone.

Yours in health and longevity, 

Kristen Clore, OTRL

I-MD & PhD student in Integrative Medicine & Quantum Physics

Holistic Occupational Therapist, Master Nutrition Response Practitioner

Why I Love Helping Kids

Why I Love Helping Kids

1. Kids are incredible humans.

The young people that I see in the office have magnificent minds. I see it in the way they thoughtfully answer questions. They are curious about everything. They listen to what is being said around them and notice even the smallest details. They are willing and able to do what is asked of them.

2. The idea that I can change healthcare for future generations.

As a child, I didn’t go to the medical doctor very much. There were some check ups that involved him listening to my heart, looking in my throat and ears, getting a few shots, and antibiotics when I was sick. When I got older (in my 20’s and 30’s) and started experiencing some symptoms, my visits to the medical doctor weren’t much different. But, I noticed I didn’t have much benefit from those visits. It was at age 36 that I found Dr. Schmidt and learned nutrition would actually help get to the cause of my concerns and the reason why I had symptoms.

I want kids to experience this benefit at a much earlier age than I did. I want muscle testing to be normal to them. I want supplements to be what they reach for when they need support for their body. I want them to know there are natural solutions to health. 

3. Children give me hope for a brighter future.

Young people are the future. Their ideas will shape the world, our nation, and all of our existence going forward. We have to treat them well and encourage their creativity, leadership, kindness, and strength so that they can lead us. I am counting on them to make this planet a better place.

I want to help give children the knowledge to be healthy, productive, and responsible far into the future. Maybe in this way I can change the world for the better.

P.S. Adults can have these traits and I’d love to help you, too.

Yours in health,

Kerry Cradit BS, Nutrition & Food Science

Giving Thanks For Some Of My Favorite Things

Giving Thanks For Some Of My Favorite Things

Every once in a while I like to assess where I have been, what I have learned, where I am, and what I hope to accomplish in the future. This seems to be an appropriate time to do that.

I am incredibly thankful to have been raised by two loving parents who gave my brothers and I a very strong foundation to grow. My extended family (cousins, aunts, uncles) is an important part of my life and learning. I am married and I am thankful for the support of my husband. We will celebrate our 30th anniversary this summer.  My adult daughters have brought me so much opportunity to learn and grow. Raising them was the hardest and best job I have ever had. Now, I am trying to do all I can to make my grandson’s future the best it can be.

I am grateful for being able to seek the truth and learning new things every day. What I learned in school (the science) was good. The application was skewed. I learned in school that I should tell a diabetic patient to use artificial sweetener. But, at the same time I was writing research papers that showed the toxic effects of aspartame. So, I learned the value of seeking knowledge and the truth for myself.  I am very happy that I learned biology, physiology, chemistry, and food science. It gives me the ability to research now and look for true answers instead of just following a headline.

My health before The NHCAA was good for the most part. I was a Dance and Pilates instructor. My life was busy with kids and family.  But, I had headaches almost daily, frequent sinus problems, and back pain that brought me to The NHCAA to see Dr. Schmidt. I also had a fearful outlook of the future. I made decisions based on fear (rather than hope and a positive outlook of the future). If I was scared something wouldn’t turn out right, I would avoid it or do something different. The positive changes in my health (too many to mention here) and outlook on life are a product of strengthening my body and mind with nutrition and learning new things. My focus now and going forward is “how can I help more people?”.

Dr. Schmidt has taught me more in the 15 years I have known him than I could ever have imagined. He researches constantly, which improves the quality of life of every person around him. His patients and staff all get to benefit from the things he says every single day. He is knowledgeable about so much more than nutrition which makes every day a learning opportunity. To say I appreciate the opportunities to learn from him is an understatement.

I am so appreciative of my patients and what I learn from them each day. I learn about new foods, recipes, products, and what is helping them. I listen to their experiences and discover more about how to help others. Connections between people are so valuable. Thank you for making me better, stronger, and more capable as a Practitioner.

Finally, I am grateful for the tools we use in this office. We use supplements to help the body with nutritional deficiencies, toxicity, and immune challenges. And, we recommend other devices for healing. 

Some of my favorites supplements for this time of year: 

  • Vitamin C (example: Camu Camu Vitamin C) to keep your immune system healthy and adrenals (one of our stress handling organs) and heart strong. 
  • Vitamin D (example: Solray D) for immune system, heart, bone, and brain health.
  • Quercetin (example: D Hist  or Quercetin Phytosome) to help with the immune system, inflammation, allergy symptoms, and more.
  • Zinc (Zinc Chelate) to help the immune system, hormone balance, and healing.

Recently, we have been recommending a Nebulizer for many people. This is a tool that can be used with distilled water and hydrogen peroxide (or Hydroxygen from CellCore Biosciences) to help with breathing problems, sinus congestion, and headaches. Here is a link to a nebulizer: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07K7P7FYD/

I have more people and things in my life to be grateful for that I didn’t list in this article. I appreciate all of you for your support and inspiration. I am going to continue my thankfulness journey. I hope today and every day you can find something to be thankful for that gives you hope for a brighter, healthier future. I am here to help any way I can.

Gratefully Yours in health,

Kerry Cradit, B.S. Nutrition and Food Science

Kerry Cradit, B.S. Nutrition & Food Science Bio