Connecting The Dots: Cholesterol And Your Brain
So what does all this mean for you?
Well, it means if you want to maintain a healthy brain and prevent diseases like Alzheimers and Parkinsons you need to provide your brain with a steady supply of cholesterol. To keep cholesterol levels healthy in your body and brain, you should follow the advice of Dr. Mark Wiley and focus on eating plenty of foods that increase your good cholesterol, like:
- Olive oil
- Fatty fish like salmon, mackerel, albacore tuna, sardines, and rainbow trout.
- Flax and chia seeds
- Nuts like Brazil nuts, almonds, pistachios and walnuts
- High-fiber fruits like apples, blackberries, raspberries and pears
- Red, blue and purple produce like plums, grapes, cherries, raspberries, pomegranates, beets and eggplant.
And if youre looking for another way to boost your brain health and protect yourself from diseases like Parkinsons and Alzheimers, dont forget to take your B-vitamins.Editors note: Scientists discovered that glial cells in your brain actually make cholesterol to help your neurons create connections with one another. Your ability to think, form memories and learn and yes, ALL of your mental functions are dependent on this process happening smoothly. However, statin drugs harm your glial cells and hinder cholesterol production. To learn more about the statin danger to your brain,
Cholesterol Is Key To Learning And Memory
The brain has a higher cholesterol content than any other organ. In fact, about 25% of the bodys cholesterol resides within the brain. The brain is highly dependent on cholesterol, but its cholesterol metabolism is unique. Because the blood-brain barrier prevents brain cells from taking up cholesterol from the blood, the brain must produce its own cholesterol. The brains cholesterol is much more stable than the cholesterol in other organs, but when it breaks down, it is recycled into new cholesterol right in the brain.
Brain Activity Can Power A Small Light Bulb
When you are awake, your brain generates about 12-25 watts of electricity which is enough to power a small light bulb. The brain also works fast. The information going from your arms/legs to your brain travels at a speed of 150-260 miles per hour. The brain consumes glucose from the body to produce this amount of the energy.
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How Can I Prevent High Cholesterol
Here are a few things you can do to keep your cholesterol under control:
- Eat a healthy diet that includes lots of fruit, vegetables and whole grains.
- Limit drinks and foods that have a lot of fat or sugar, like sugary drinks, treats, and fried foods.
- Get plenty of exercise. Experts recommend at least 60 minutes every day!
Percent Of Your Brain Matter Consists Of Fats
Posted September 22, 2011
Fats are vital to a healthy diet. Fats help carry, absorb, and store the fat-soluble vitamins in your bloodstream. Fats also help regulate your body temperature. Having some body fat cushions your organs and protects them from injury. However, as your probably already know, there are good fats and bad fats for your body . . . and your brain.
The good fats, or lipids, that work so beautifully in your body-and your brain-are called fatty acids. Essential fatty acids cannot be manufactured in your body so must come from the foods you eat . As far as your body, fatty acids are primarily used to produce hormone-like substances that regulate a wide range of functions, including blood pressure, blood clotting, blood lipid levels, the immune response, and the inflammation response to injury or infection.
Approximately 60 percent of your brain matter consists of fats that create all the cell membranes in your body. Let’s review: The good fat in your brain matter creates all the cell membranes in your body! If your diet is loaded with bad fats, your brain can only make low-quality nerve cell membranes that don’t function well if your diet provides the essential, good fats, your brain cells can manufacture higher-quality nerve cell membranes and influence positively your nerve cells’ ability to function at their peak capacity.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids Are Good for Your Brain
- Certain cold-water fish
- Olive oil
- Peanut oil
- Canola oil
They’re Good for Your Heart
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Sphingolipids And Neurodegenerative Diseases
It is important to safeguard the proper metabolism, composition, and integrity of sphingolipids for the maintenance of physiological functions the brain. Not surprisingly, defects in the metabolism of SP have been associated with numerous neurological diseases like PD, AD, and HD.
Exercise Is Just As Good For Your Brain As It Is For Your Body
Aerobic exercise raises your heart rate and increases blood flow to your brain. As your increased breathing pumps more oxygen into your bloodstream, more oxygen is delivered to your brain. This leads to neurogenesisor the production of neuronsin certain parts of your brain that control memory and thinking. Neurogenesis increases brain volume, and this cognitive reserve is believed to help buffer against the effects of dementia.
It has been noted that exercise promotes the production of neurotrophins, leading to greater brain plasticity, and therefore, better memory and learning. In addition to neurotrophins, exercise also results in an increase in neurotransmitters in the brain, specifically serotonin and norepinephrine, which boost information processing and mood.
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Dietary Tips To Avoid Cholesterol
The most important thing you can do to reduce your cholesterol level is to maintain a healthy lifestyle. You should try to:
- Increase the amount and variety of fresh fruit, vegetables and wholegrain foods you have each day.
- Choose low or reduced-fat milk, yoghurt and other dairy products or have added calcium soy drinks.
- Choose lean meat .
- Limit fatty meats, including sausages and salami, and choose leaner sandwich meats like turkey breast or cooked lean chicken.
- Have fish at least twice a week.
- Replace butter and dairy blends with polyunsaturated margarines.
- Include foods in your diet that are rich in soluble fibre and healthy fats, such as nuts, legumes and seeds.
- Limit cheese and ice cream to twice a week.
Other storage fats that are transported in blood lipoproteins include triglycerides. When present in high concentrations in the blood, this fat is also a risk for heart attack. Some foods will affect the cholesterol level or the triglyceride level and some will affect both.
Do I Need To Cut Down On Dietary Cholesterol
Most people dont need to cut down on the cholesterol thats found in foods- so you can still enjoy eggs and shellfish.
Its much more important to cut down on foods which contain saturated fats. Thats because saturated fats affect how the liver handles cholesterol. So, eating saturated fats can raise your blood cholesterol. Try to replace saturated fats with unsaturated fats which are better for your heart.
For some people those with familial hypercholesterolaemia , those who have high cholesterol, and those who are at high risk of or have cardiovascular disease the recommendation is to limit cholesterol in food to no more than 300mg a day. In the case of FH, ideally less than 200 mg a day.
Even though dietary cholesterol only has a small effect on blood cholesterol, people with high cholesterol and FH already have high levels of blood cholesterol, so it seems sensible not to eat too much cholesterol in food.
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What Causes High Cholesterol
The most common cause of high cholesterol is an unhealthy lifestyle. This can include:
- Unhealthy eating habits, such as eating lots of bad fats. One type, saturated fat, is found in some meats, dairy products, chocolate, baked goods, and deep-fried and processed foods. Another type, trans fat, is in some fried and processed foods. Eating these fats can raise your LDL cholesterol.
- Lack of physical activity, with lots of sitting and little exercise. This lowers your HDL cholesterol.
- Smoking, which lowers HDL cholesterol, especially in women. It also raises your LDL cholesterol.
Genetics may also cause people to have high cholesterol. For example, familial hypercholesterolemia is an inherited form of high cholesterol. Other medical conditions and certain medicines may also cause high cholesterol.
Medications To Treat High Cholesterol
For most people who need medication to manage high cholesterol, doctors will prescribe statins. Statins, also known as HMG CoA reductase inhibitors, are a class of drugs that prevent cholesterol from forming in the liver, where both LDL and HDL cholesterol are made. This lowers the amount of cholesterol circulating in the blood. They are most effective at lowering LDL cholesterol but can also lower triglycerides and HDL cholesterol.
If you have certain conditions, or if statins arent working to decrease your high cholesterol sufficiently, your doctor may prescribe one of these other cholesterol-lowering medications:
- PCSK9 Inhibitors A newer type of medicine, PCSK9 inhibitors bind to and inactivate a protein on certain liver cells, which then lowers LDL cholesterol. Administered by injection, they are often used in patients with high cholesterol that doesnt respond to statins or people with familial hypercholesterolemia.
- Selective Cholesterol Absorption Inhibitors The most commonly used nonstatin agent, according to the AHA, selective cholesterol absorption inhibitors prevent cholesterol from being absorbed in the intestine. This means less cholesterol is delivered to the liver and, ultimately, the blood.
- Bile Acid Sequestrants Also known as bile-acid-binding agents, these drugs work by removing bile acids from the liver. Since LDL cholesterol is needed to make bile acids, the body then breaks down more LDL cholesterol particles.
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How Can I Lower My Cholesterol
If the lifestyle changes alone do not lower your cholesterol enough, you may also need to take medicines. There are several types of cholesterol-lowering drugs available, including statins. If you take medicines to lower your cholesterol, you still should continue with the lifestyle changes.
Some people with familial hypercholesterolemia may receive a treatment called lipoprotein apheresis. This treatment uses a filtering machine to remove LDL cholesterol from the blood. Then the machine returns the rest of the blood back to the person.
NIH: National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute
Solving The Mystery Of Cholesterol And Memory Loss
How does cholesterol affect memory and cognitive function? The precise answer to that question remains a mystery. Researchers speculate that HDL may improve memory in a number of ways. HDL has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, which may improve brain function. HDL may also prevent the formation of beta-amyloid, associated with the plaques that form in the brain tissue of Alzheimers patients.
Other researchers, like William Connor, M.D., professor of medicine at Oregon Health and Science University in Portland, Oregon, believe that cholesterol affects brain functioning primarily through the link between LDL and strokes, which are caused by plaque formation in the blood vessels of the brain.
High cholesterol levels in the blood can predispose the deposition of plaque in the blood vessels, says Connor, a specialist in atherosclerosis . And, he adds, stroke can result in memory loss.
A review of studies in 2011 noted that cholesterol seems to be intimately linked with the generation of amyloid plaques, which develop in Alzheimers disease. The majority of the studies they looked at found an association between cholesterol and Alzheimers disease.
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Cholesterol And Alzheimers Disease
Alzheimers disease is a neurodegenerative disorder characterized by progressive and irreversible memory impairment and cognitive decline. The pathological hallmarks of AD are extracellular amyloid plaques of amyloid peptide and intracellular neurofibrillary tangles. Cholesterol is found to be enriched in the brain plasma membranes of AD patients. The cholesterol level increases throughout the course of clinical disease, and more increase was observed when the disease progresses . In vitro study indicated that overload of cholesterol at plasma membrane in primary cultured neurons leads to an increase of A production through increasing BACE1-mediated APP cleavage . APP intracellular domain release increases during this process, which down-regulates low density lipoprotein-related protein 1 transcription that is responsible for exogenous cholesterol capture at the plasma membrane , this ultimately results in a decrease of cellular cholesterol levels.
Understanding The Highs And Lows Of Cholesterol
You know that too much is dangerous. But what is cholesterol, anyway? Where does it come from? And is it all bad?
Cholesterol is a waxy substance that is found in every cell in the body. Its either made by the body or absorbed from food. Your body needs cholesterol to make important steroid hormones such as estrogen, progesterone and vitamin D. Its also used to make bile acids in the liver these absorb fat during digestion.
So some cholesterol is necessary but bad cholesterol is something you can do without. Excess bad cholesterol in the bloodstream can deposit into the bodys arteries. These deposits are called plaques and result in atherosclerosis, or hardening of the arteries. This is the major cause of heart attacks, strokes and other vascular problems.
Your total cholesterol level is a measure of the total amount of cholesterol circulating in your bloodstream, which includes several components:
- LDL cholesterol: LDL stands for low-density lipoprotein. This is known as the bad cholesterol, which directly contributes to plaque buildup in the arteries. Very low density lipoprotein, or VLDL cholesterol, is another type, which is a precursor to LDL.
- Total cholesterol is VLDL cholesterol plus LDL cholesterol plus HDL cholesterol.
- HDL cholesterol: HDL stands for high-density lipoprotein. Experts think at optimal levels it might help the body get rid of LDL cholesterol.
And guess what? This buildup can start as early as your 20s.
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High Cholesterol In The United States
- In 20152018, nearly 12% of adults age 20 and older had total cholesterol higher than 240 mg/dL, and about 17% had high-density lipoprotein cholesterol levels less than 40 mg/dL.1
- Slightly more than half of U.S. adults who could benefit from cholesterol medicine are currently taking it.2
- Nearly 94 million U.S. adults age 20 or older have total cholesterol levels higher than 200 mg/dL. Twenty-eight million adults in the United States have total cholesterol levels higher than 240 mg/dL.1
- 7% of U.S. children and adolescents ages 6 to 19 have high total cholesterol.3
- High cholesterol has no symptoms, so many people dont know that their cholesterol is too high. A simple blood test can check cholesterol levels.
- Having high blood cholesterol raises the risk for heart disease, the leading cause of death, and for stroke, the fifth leading cause of death.
Cholesterol Synthesis In Neurons And Astrocytes
Cholesterol synthesis and metabolism in the brain. Cholesterol in neurons is primarily biosynthesized through Kandutsch-Russell pathway, whereas in astrocytes through Bloch pathway. Adult neurons essentially rely on astrocyte for cholesterol providing. Cholesterol uptake is via LRP1/LDLR receptors as apoE-containing cholesterol form. It is then converted to free cholesterol in endosome/lysosome in assistance of NPC1 and NPC2. Excess of cholesterol is prevented by intracellular esterification and storage in lipid droplets, or released as a complex with apolipoprotein-containing lipoprotein via ATP-binding cassette transporter, or converting to oxysterols then passing through BBB
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Five Measures Of Total Cholesterol Over Time
For their analysis, the researchers examined data on 1,897 participants from the Framingham Heart Study, all of whom had healthy cognitive function when they entered the study.
They investigated associations between total cholesterol levels and incidences of marked cognitive decline that emerged during the decades of follow-up as the participants progressed through their middle and later years of life.
The researchers used five time-dependent measures of total cholesterol. These were:
- average at age 40
- average at age 77
- average since age 40
- whether the level went up or down
- whether any change in level slowed down or sped up
The results showed that some of the measures were predictive of a higher risk of marked cognitive decline.
However, the study authors also found that ome associations of cholesterol with cognition diminish as outcome age increases, and that n the oldest-old, some relationships reverse from younger elderly samples.
More specifically, they found that among the cognitively healthy members of the group aged 8594, having had a high total cholesterol level in midlife was linked to a reduced risk of marked cognitive decline.
The Visual Areas Of The Brain Are In The Back
The part of your brain responsible for vision, the occipital lobe, is located in the back. This is why if you get banged in the back of your head, you will see stars. The left side of your brain controls the vision on your right side, and vise versa. Your brain also processes sound on the opposite sides of the head.
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Where Does Cholesterol Come From
Cholesterol in your body comes from two main sources: your liver and your diet.
Your liver, other organs, and other cells in your body produce about 80 percent of the cholesterol in your blood.
The other 20 percent of cholesterol in your body is affected by the foods you eat. Foods high in trans and saturated fats can contribute to unhealthy cholesterol levels.
As you take in more of these fats, your liver compensates by reducing its own production of cholesterol and removing excess cholesterol. However, not everyone makes and removes cholesterol with the same efficiency.
Some people have genes that tell their liver to make extra cholesterol or to slow their bodys cholesterol removal process. If youve inherited these genes, you may have high cholesterol even if you dont eat foods that are rich in fat or cholesterol.