The Cholesterol-Cortisol Connection

Posted on June 6th, 2014

What do we know about cholesterol?

First of all, Wikipedia defines the source of the word for cholesterol from the ancient Greek meaning chole-(bile)-stereos (solid) followed by the chemical suffix-ol. Cholesterol is an actual steroid or modified steroid molecule. 

One of its main functions in the body is to build and maintain various membranes in many different systems. It is the precursor for the synthesis of many other steroid hormones including cortisol and aldosterone from the cortex of the adrenal gland.

In 1767, Francois Poulletier de la Salle identified cholesterol in a solid form in the gall bladder. However, it was not until 1815 that a chemist by the name of Michel Eugene Chevreul, renamed this compound cholesterine. NOTE: This all happened because they had no TVs, video games and cell phones. Just kidding!

Cholesterol is recycled in the liver into bile, which then can be excreted into the digestive tract and resorbed back into the blood stream for further use. Nearly 50% of the excreted bile is resorbed through the intestines, back into the bloodstream.

Cholesterol is the precursor for many different biochemical pathways. The cholesterol that is converted in the liver to bile is stored in the gall bladder. The bile contains bile salts that enhance the intestinal absorption of fatty acids, while helping increase the activity of the fat soluble vitamins, A, D, E and K. Cholesterol is also the precursor for the synthesis vitamin D and several major hormones that the body needs in order to function normally.

It has been reported that the majority of cholesterol containing foods that are ingested, go through an esterification process in the intestines that helps reduce their absorption. The majority of other researches are concerned about the ingestion of high cholesterol containing foods and the fact they will be absorbed.

Foods especially high in cholesterol are listed by Mayo Clinic. They list the following foods to try to avoid which contain significant amounts of cholesterol:

  1. Cheese
  2. Egg yolk
  3. Beef
  4. Pork
  5. Poultry
  6. Fish
  7. Shrimp

Mayo Clinic also has a list of foods that help reduce cholesterol, including low density lipids (LDL), which are thought to be the “bad cholesterol”. Their list is as follows:

  1. Oat meal
  2. Oat bran
  3. High fiber foods like kidney beans and apples
  4. Pears
  5. Prunes
  6. Barley

Also many nuts help reduce cholesterol but should be ingested in only small amounts because they contain many calories and can cause weight gain:

  1. Almonds
  2. Hazel nuts
  3. Peanuts
  4. Pecans
  5. Pine nuts
  6. Pistachio nuts
  7. Walnuts

Certain plants produce small amounts of plant cholesterol, referred to as phytosterols. These plant sterols compete for absorption with the normal cholesterol in the intestines and can lower blood cholesterol. Many articles on the internet list the following:

  1. Coconut oil
  2. Cottonseed oil
  3. Soy oil
  4. Corn oil
  5. Peanut oil
  6. Sunflower seed oil
  7. Canola oil
  8. Avocado oil
  9. Olive oil

Please remember that some of these plant products come from GMO seeds and some of these oils can be allergenic for both you and your pet. Let your common sense be your best guide.

Did you realize that cholesterol is the precursor for cortisol?

Also did you realize that cholesterol is also involved in the production of the sex hormones, including testosterone?

What I find of interest, is that the body needs five specific enzyme cycles to convert cholesterol to pregnenolone, to progesterone, to prednisolone and used as cortisol. For more information on these enzyme cycles please go to Dr. Plechner’s Corner and read the article entitled “The Discovery of An Animal Model That is Similar to Congenital Adrenal Hyperplasia. This is one reason why certain hormones work in certain humans and animals, while others do not, based upon either a missing or damaged enzyme converting cycle.

Since cholesterol is the precursor for cortisol and other adrenal hormones, including the sex hormones, before a cholesterol lowering medication is included in your daily regimen, it might be best to have your health care professional check some of your significant hormones that use cholesterol as a precursor. Because lowering your cholesterol might also be lowering other significant hormones in your body that are necessary for normal, daily function.

You may not want to lower cholesterol if it is going to reduce another vital hormone your body needs. This will hopefully avoid a deficiency and avoid possibly causing a disease.

These are just some of my thoughts.