Episode 31: Using Cholesterol To Empower Your Health

PYP 31 | Autoimmune Disorder


Cholesterol has been widely considered bad for the body, but it is actually the other way around. By metabolizing cholesterol and not letting it simply circulate bloodstreams, you can have balanced hormones and avoid severe diseases. Haylie Pomroy dives deep on how to put this fat into good use through the right nutritional diet. She stresses not to be entirely dependent on statin drugs that mostly cause side effects, highlighting the importance of eating healthy food. Haylie also explains why a low cholesterol count is not necessarily good and how to work closely with your physician in managing it.  


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Using Cholesterol To Empower Your Health


I want to talk to you about cholesterol. My goal here is to break down the myth that cholesterol is bad, and to build up the belief system that cholesterol is a good thing, an amazing thing in your body. Maybe you're under the impression that fat and cholesterol are bad things. Fat is good and cholesterol is biochemical gold. What do I mean by that? The body takes the cholesterol molecule and manufactures it through the liver to a very important hormone. We call it the master hormone, pregnanolone.

Our body uses this hormone to make all kinds of things. Did you know that estrogen was manufactured from the cholesterol molecule? Many times, when we talk about estrogen, we think of things like the ovaries or breast tissue or even fat tissue. Our body's ability to metabolize cholesterol determines whether we have a healthy balance of estrogen. It also determines whether our body efficiently detoxifies estrogens that potentially cause a problem.

Did you know that cholesterol use that molecule as the building blocks to create progesterone, things that helped hair and sleep? Progesterone is important for individuals that are struggling with crepey skin or cellulite. It's also important in men. Many times, we think of cholesterol as bad, but now as we're starting to say, “It's the building blocks for estrogen and progesterone. Maybe this cholesterol thing is not such a bad thing.”

Did you also know that cholesterol is used to manufacture a class of hormones that we call glucocorticoids? Glucocorticoids regulate hormones that I'm sure you might have heard about. Things like cortisol, epinephrine, all of our natural anti-pain, anti-inflammatory hormones, are made from the cholesterol molecule. It's starting to sound important that we maybe metabolized that molecule, and we don't halt its production.

The other thing that glucocorticoids do is regulate the blood sugar in the body, making sure that as we consume sugar, our body quickly burns it so that it stays at a nice adequate level in the bloodstream. Our bodies are smart in creating these hormones that help to regulate, monitor and equalize the body. The other thing that cholesterol manufactures, and maybe you're not aware of it, is a class of hormones called mineralocorticoid. Mineralocorticoids regulate all kinds of things in the body.

The electrolyte is important for individuals that are athletes or if you get dehydrated. They also regulate blood pressure. Many times, when individuals have high cholesterol, we worry about the cholesterol creating plaque in the bloodstream, and that's the risk for heart disease. It could be that you're not metabolizing cholesterol to create healthy mineralocorticoids, therefore having healthy blood pressure.

The other thing that's important with cholesterol and very important in our time now is that cholesterol is responsible for manufacturing and the proper storage of Vitamin D. Study after study show us that Vitamin D is important in preventing every cancer from the breast to prostate to blood cancers. It's vital in our immune systems. It's important for memory, cognition, brain and brain function. Yet, if we're not metabolizing cholesterol, how are we supposed to have a healthy level of Vitamin D?

We've talked about estrogens, progesterones, mineralocorticoids, glucocorticoids, but also it is important in the production and the manufacturing of testosterone. Testosterone is not a hormone that's just important in men. In women, it helps to regulate hair follicle cycles and determine how we lay down lean muscle. It's critical in all of us for our bone density. That upstream molecule of cholesterol, that's why I call it that biochemical gold, as you can see, is important in our body's entire overall health. Yet, why do we have this myth that cholesterol is a bad thing in our bodies?

PYP 31 | Autoimmune Disorder


It's not that cholesterol is bad in our bodies. It's when we can't metabolize cholesterol that it becomes bad in our body. We leave cholesterol circulating in our bloodstream. We don't break it down, and the liver is important for that one. We don't break it down to create those building blocks of all the things that we can have within our bodies. It’s the other thing that's so important about cholesterol. Fortunately, science and studies are supporting that cholesterol is critical for our brain, memory and cognitive functions.

Whether it's forgetfulness or individuals that are dealing with depression, or maybe processing issues, the ability to manufacture, produce cholesterol, metabolize it, break it down into those building blocks and deliver it to the right tissues are vital in the health of our mental, physical, hormonal body and the body structure itself. Without cholesterol circulating in our bloodstream, we would lose our minds and then we would die.

Statin Drugs

Our body gets cholesterol in two ways. One, it manufactures cholesterol. It manufactures a couple of different kinds. The LDLs are the Low-down Dirty Lipoproteins, that's how I always remembered it in school, are the bad cholesterol. The HDLs, the Handy-Dandy Lipoproteins, those that go in and help your body to break down the cholesterol molecule so that you can make it into this biochemical gold. Thousands of doctors are prescribing statin drugs, which simply mask the underlying problem.

If it fixed the problem, we would be able to go off of the drug, and our body would have healthy cholesterol, but we're seeing physicians prescribed this medication. It's a very powerful medication with levels of total cholesterol as low as 190. When we use a medication to inhibit cholesterol production, as opposed to using a food prescription to stimulate cholesterol metabolism, you can only imagine what can go wrong.

This is why so many people that receive that prescription, that utilizes statin drugs to ace their exams, meaning improve their blood levels in a lab, but not improve their overall health, have all kinds of side effects. We have individuals that have body aches in their joints. They have total body pain. This makes sense if we go back to what I said earlier, which is cholesterol is the building block for our glucocorticoids, which remember those are the ones that produce our own natural inflammatory hormones.

If we inhibit that production, we're inhibiting the building blocks, and yet the building still needs to be built. It’s another common side effect of statin medications. I'm not against them. I understand that they're used and used very well for crisis intervention. At some point, we need to repair the why and fix what's going on in the body, or we'll have this deficiency in all of those amazing things that I shared with you help our bodies to manufacture the structure, hormones, mind and body that we desire.

We see a lot of individuals that go on statin drugs or any type of medication that inhibits cholesterol production. We see those individuals have a lot of memory and cognitive issues. We've seen individuals as low as 10 to 20 milligrams of statin drugs. Especially in the short-term memory, they're noticing a deficiency there.

We also see many people have the need for cholesterol, or the labs start to become irregular as they're going through some hormone transition. If it's pre-menopause, menopause or perimenopause, that's in women when we see the cholesterol starting to creep up. Why is that? That's because the demand for the end product, hormones, estrogens, progesterones, testosterones have changed. Therefore, the body starts to pool the cholesterol instead of breaking it down.

The thing is even if you're peri-menopausal and you have less estrogen circulating through the bloodstream, your body still has significant demand, not even more of a demand to feed the brain, nourish the structure. Remember, those mineralocorticoids are responsible for bone density and blood pressure regulation. Even though you don't maybe have as much estrogen circulating through the bloodstream, those building blocks are still crucial to build the body structure.

Many times, when individuals go on statin drugs, we start to see osteopenia or bone density shift, even osteoporosis. If we keep going back to the fact that our paradigm shift, that you and I agree that what science says is true, that the cholesterol molecule is truly that biochemical gold, those building blocks that make all those hormones, you're going to have osteopenia or osteoporosis.

If you inhibit the production of the very thing that determines whether you put calcium into the bone and not let it free into the bloodstream, which brings up another side effect that a lot of my clients have with long-term statin uses, and that's kidney stones. Again, if we go back, that's because the body isn't putting the calcium up into the bloodstream. Oftentimes, it can pool in the blood, leaving disharmony in the equilibrium of the electrolytes, allowing for stones to form in the kidneys.

There are a lot of other things that individuals have a tendency to have as a side effect from those statin drugs. I'm not here to bash that protocol. I'm here simply for us to ask, “Why are we choosing something that doesn't fix the why our body is having a problem in the first place?” It's not good to have lipid levels, cholesterol circulating in the blood in numbers of 270, 300, 310, which is what I see a lot in my practice when they first come in the door.

It's not okay to leave it there, circulating and potentially causing a problem. We have to prescribe the right diet, which is found in the Fast Metabolism Food Rx that hundreds of my clients have used to lower their cholesterol levels. Many of them have eliminated the need for statin drugs. How do we know if this prescription is effective for you if we're not using some protocol for progress, if we're not determining some type or some way or some data collection that lets us know that this powerful prescription is right for you?

Fast Metabolism Food Prescription

I'm a nutritionist, not a medical doctor. I have a script pad. I call it a grocery list. I don't prescribe pharmaceuticals. Instead, I prescribe the Fast Metabolism Food Rx. It's specific for the cholesterol meal plan designed to heal why your body is pooling cholesterol instead of breaking it down into that metabolically biochemical gold.

Let's look at what we're going to do in order to see if this is a successful protocol for you. One of the things we're going to do is we're going to check your body's total cholesterol levels. That's why I've included a home kit so that you can do this at home. You can see and use markers frequently to determine whether this is a successful protocol for you. When you go into your doctor's office, and you go for an annual physical, in our practice, we like to check the total cholesterol, the LDLs, which I said are the bad lipoproteins. The HDLs are the good ones.

We definitely like to look at triglycerides also, which is a combination of three fats and a sugar. It's the total cholesterol that we monitor super frequently to determine if we're making progress in our protocol. Elevated cholesterol is not a sign that you're eating too much cholesterol or fat. It's a sign that you're having a problem metabolizing cholesterol. It also shortchanges you from realizing all of the incredible health benefits you get when you convert that biochemical gold.

PYP 31 | Metabolizing Cholesterol 


As we’ve talked about, our body naturally produces cholesterol. We also consume cholesterol in both plant and animal-based foods. Cholesterol is found in nuts and seeds. It's found in most of your probably familiar eggs and bacon, but those can be nutrients if your body can access them, especially if we look at the whole egg. We find this even to be in higher concentration with the organic egg, there's a unique nutrient that's called lecithin. Lecithin is also fat and helps the body convert that cholesterol into all of those amazing hormones.

One of the things that we do in our practice as we're starting to create a health prescription, a food prescription for getting your body to metabolize that cholesterol, from those building blocks, creating and building the health that you wish and deserve as we prepare for those annual physicals. We use that book, The Fast Metabolism Food Rx, like a winning playbook so that you can have a successful health journey. Part of that is creating a very successful health dream team.

You are the captain of the team. Your healthcare practitioner is a partner in the journey. It's you that's going to reap all the benefits and therefore, has all of the responsibility and all of the important job of going through and preparing yourself for this physical. What I'd like to do is first get together, and on your workbook, we create your health wish list. I tell my clients to dream big, tell me everything it is that you want for your health.

Maybe you're waking up and you’re fatigued all day long. Maybe you're having memory and cognition issues. Maybe you feel like your hormones are out of balance. Your body has changed shape. Your skin doesn't look as radiant as it used to. I want to go through and make sure that we get all of that aligned. We try to establish what we want from our doctor long before we walk in the door. We create and work on this Designed Alliance Worksheet.

It's a worksheet to say, “Doctor,” whomever you are, whether you're my chiropractor or my osteopath or my physical therapist or my primary care doctor, “I want to make sure that we're on the same page here.” I want to ask you questions like, “Doc, what do you want from me so that I can be the healthiest patient you've ever seen?” We're going to say, “Doc, what I'd like from you is for you to run these labs.” That's what we do when we create that request for care.

Protocol For Progress

We're going to then create a protocol for progress. What that means is let's talk about cholesterol specifically. Maybe you've gone in for your physical, you've had your labs and your doctor says, “Your cholesterol is 232 or 219, and we want to start a statin drug.” You might want to say, “What is it that you want from me in order to not have to go on that medication?” or maybe you're already on a medication.

We need to be asking your doctor, “Doctor, I understand why I needed to be on this medication, but what is it going to take for me to be able to get off of it?” That's what I mean by a protocol for progress. What we need to do is create a protocol so that we can be healthier tomorrow than we are now, and that every day it builds on that health.

As part of that protocol for progress, we might be determining that, and in my opinion, if an individual is on statin drugs, that we are minimally checking your cholesterol levels every six months. There are many people on statin drugs that say, “I can hardly get my doctor to check it every three years.” That's why we have those home cholesterol kits.

If your cholesterol is too high and as much if your cholesterol is too low, your body can have all kinds of total body, not just symptoms, but manifest some of the dangerous diseases like diabetes and auto-immunity. The thing that I want to make sure that we do is to create that protocol for progress is that we develop definite benchmarks. I'm going to take you all through that.

PYP 31 | Metabolizing Cholesterol 


When it's especially talking about cholesterol and we're making a decision whether to medicate or not to medicate, or whether to work with our doctors to come off of our medication, we need some real answers and numbers, so that we can make sure that we're making the decisions that are right for our body. As we determine that we're going to use a food prescription in this case, and we're going to use our body's ability to metabolize cholesterol to create an abundance of health, we need to make sure we're checking that cholesterol.

I can’t tell you how many times we're in a very lucky situation that we have in-house labs, but how many times do individuals come in, they've been on a statin drug sometimes for 7, 17, 20 years. They come in and their cholesterol is maybe ranging around 180 or 170. They feel like it's been a successful therapy because they're keeping those levels low. We go in and do a cardio scan. We find out that there's plaque still formed because the body is not metabolizing cholesterol efficiently. It’s simply making the labs better.

In any of those cases, whether you're not on medication, you've been on medication, we've got to apply a food prescription so that the body can metabolize those. The thing that can happen sometimes and why we want the home kits to be accessible is individuals that are on a statin drug. We apply the food prescription and the body starts to metabolize cholesterol efficiently. Now, that 180 or 170 starts to become 150, 140 or even lower. We've got to make sure we're partnering with a doctor to ensure that the medications are right based on what the body is doing metabolically.

That's why I always include a medication check sheet. I want to know what medication you're on, why you're on it, and what aspects in your protocol for progress are going to determine whether your dosage stays the same, changes, or the medication goes away altogether. Many times, individuals come in, they're on 20, 30. I even have clients that walk through the door on 80 milligrams of Lipitor. Their cholesterol is in the 170s. We start applying a food prescription.

They start metabolizing cholesterol, supporting their glucocorticoids, blood sugar levels, immune system, stress hormones. They start supporting their mineral corticoids, ability to lay down muscle, to regulate the blood pressure, ability to create structure, bone, hair, skin, nails, and total serum cholesterol because now they're metabolizing, it starts to lower and lower. We've got to partner with the doctor, which is why we've got to make sure that our medication guide is filled out to know at what milestones do we alter that medication. It can be the same for supplements too.

There are many phenomenal supplements out there that individuals use as a replacement for statin drugs to lower the total serum cholesterol. If you're using the food prescription and you're repairing the why, it's critical that we know why we're taking a supplement, what it's supposed to evoke. As our body heals, we're making sure that we're on the appropriate amount of given support.

The last thing that I love that we use in our workbook, and that is so important from a cholesterol perspective, is that we're going to use our home kits to measure and be careful as we're using this effective food prescription, that if we're using any supplements or any medications, that we're also making sure that our data, our numbers make sure that original approach to treatment is still relevant to our health status.

One thing that I’ll add is a laboratory definition guide, a super simple one. Many times, I get clients that come in, and I say, “How is your physical? How are your labs?” They say, “I got a call from the doctor and everything was good. Everything was great.” I said, “Do you have a copy of them?” and they don't. It is your right to have a copy of those. You want to make sure that you have all of your health data with you at all times, especially when we're looking at cholesterol levels.

I have an individual in her 70s, and she started on statin drugs. She was given it during a doctor’s visit because she disclosed that her family had significant health history of cholesterol issues. She started at 10 milligrams. She was a fairly small-framed woman, but the doctor felt, given her family history, that she had a genetic predisposition to having elevated cholesterol. We were about eight weeks into that visit. She had eight weeks into taking Lipitor, and I said, “We should look at those labs.”

We called. We had the labs faxed to us. Her total cholesterol was 162. She had started on a statin drug before even getting data that said she needed a statin drug. Because she received the doctor's note that said, “Your labs look great,” the two had never connected and realized she was on a medication that she didn't even need. It's so important that, in my opinion, we want to use food as our first line of defense, as our most important prescription to optimize the body in every way that we can, especially when we're talking about cholesterol.

PYP 31 | Autoimmune Disorder


Remember, we no longer think of cholesterol as a bad thing. Cholesterol is now our biochemical gold. If you're an individual who needs medication, what we want to do is have your body in optimal health. Instead of maybe 80 milligrams, you can do 10. Maybe you won't need it altogether. Either way, it's important that you have the data and the information to make the best health choice for yourself.

You see my book as a playbook, that takes you to step by step, how to heal the body's ability to burn cholesterol and manufacture all those incredible things, the estrogens, progesterone, testosterone, those glucocorticoids, the mineralocorticoids and Vitamin D. There's so much health benefit that you can gain from metabolizing cholesterol efficiently. There's so much health benefit that you're missing out on when we inhibit the production of cholesterol with medications.

They're there for us in a crisis situation, to use with the value they have as carefully and strategically as they were designed to play the role in our health. If you don't need them, we don't want you to use them. If you need them, we want you to have the healthiest body so that you can reap the benefits of those medications. Many medications in the cholesterol world only have to be effective 35% of the time to be approved for use.

If you need them, I want to make sure you're one of that 35% of people that are going to get any benefit. A cardiovascular study in the National Institute of Health is now coming out saying that using cholesterol medications to lower cholesterol does not reduce the risk factor of heart disease. It's only when you metabolize cholesterol that you reduce those risk factors.

If we take a step back and look again at what our body does with that amazing cholesterol molecule, we can see why metabolizing reduces our stress levels, improves our hormones, increases and balances our immune system, our brain chemistry, regulates our blood sugar, manages inflammation, and improves the hormones that allow your bodies to adapt to stress. One thing I'm going to tell you is we've all made that shift together. We love cholesterol. Because we use a food prescription, we love what our body is doing with cholesterol. It's creating the health we deserve.


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