After reading Catherine Shanahan’s wonderful book “Deep Nutrition“, I decided to talk a little about Cholesterol and share some of the information that Catherine provided. I definitely recommend this book. Something that is largely misunderstood by most, and feared by others. I’m sure everyone has heard of LDL and HDL. These lipoproteins have a coating (called apoproteins) that enables the lipoproteins to circulate throughout your body without getting the insides (made of fat, called the lipid core) all over your arterial walls.
If your diet is healthy, your lipoproteins are full of essential fats, vitamins, and other good stuff. If you eat bad fat, your lipoproteins will be carrying bad fat as well and can cause the whole fat circulation system to break down. When the fat circulation system breaks down, people’s cholesterol numbers get out of whack. Lipoproteins contain some cholesterol, but mostly they contain triglycerides, other fatty nutrients (such as lecithin, choline, phospholipids), different amounts of fat-solube vitamins, and retinoids, all within a protein coat.
Nutrients that occur after your food is broken down by enzymes in the intestine, are absorbed into intestinal cells, which are called enterocytes. This is where the fat and fat-soluble nutrients are prepared for circulation through the bloodstream. Because fat particles will not dissolve in the blood, the intestinal cells wrap these balls of fatty nutrients in a protein coat. Lipoproteins that are made in the intestine are called chylomicrons. The protein coating that is made of apoproteins also serves as a type of barcode describing the particle’s origin and contents.
Once the packaged lipoprotein leaves an intestinal cell, it will travel through the bloodstream for several hours, completing many circuits. As it floats along, it deposits its fatty nutrients into the tissues that need them most. The lipid cycle can take many different routes. Fats can enter the circulation by way of the intestine or by way of the liver, even the skin. Fats can exit the cycle by being transported into a hungry cell, or by being exported out of the body through the liver’s bile.
The liver is like a transfer station. It separates the good fats from the bad. Once the liver has collected enough good fats, it will fashion its own lipoproteins (called VLDL), complete with new ID labels, and sends them back into the bloodstream.
Sugar seems to damage these lipoprotein labels. Over time, the process of glycation, stiffens cell membranes, leading to prediabetes and consistently elevated blood sugar levels. When the blood sugar levels are high, it will create an opportunity for sugar to gum up the protein labels on the lipoprotein particles.