The chapter "All about cholesterol" describes how fat is made into cholesterol, and how it is broken down by the liver. Cholesterol is a waxy kind of fat.
How the liver deals with cholesterol
How the body digests fat in food
How to reduce the absorption of fat from food 1. fibre
How to reduce the absorption of cholesterol from food: 2. Plant sterols
How the liver deals with cholesterol.
The liver breaks down cholesterol by oxidizing it. It dissolves the oxidized cholesterol in bile and sends it down to the gallbladder, a bag that hangs below the liver. The bile ducts join the small bowel to the gallbladder and liver. The small bowel is where fat is absorbed.
How the body digest fat in our food.
When you eat a meal containing fat the food is mixed in the stomach. If the stomach wall detects fat it sends a chemical message to the gallbladder. The gallbladder contracts and squeezes some bile into the small bowel, just as the stomach empties the food into the small bowel. Fat is not soluble in water. The bile salts break up the fat into tiny globules. It "emulsifies" the fat. These tiny globules are absorbed into the body through the bowel wall. They are taken up by a transport mechanism which carries them from the bowel lumen, the inside of the bowel, to the outside wall of the bowel where veins are waiting to take them to the liver for processing.
If there is not enough bile or too much fat then the fat is not emulsified, cannot be absorbed by the transport mechanism and passes on, causing flatulence and cramping.
We need fat. It carries calories and fatty acids which the body needs. Fat soluble vitamins in our food are essential for health. IT IS THE EXCESS OF FAT THAT MAKES EXCESS CHOLESTEROL.
How to reduce the absorption of cholesterol.
When the cholesterol in your diet reaches the small bowel it is mixed with and dissolved in bile. Bile is a dye. It stains. If your diet has the right kind of fibre in it, the bile will stain the fibre, and this stain will carry the cholesterol with it. If the fibre is soluble it will not be digested and will pass on to the large intestine for excretion carrying the cholesterol with it. SOLUBLE FIBRE HELPS STOP CHOLESTEROL FROM BEING ABSORBED
Good sources of fibre:
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- oats, oatmeal, porridge
- vegetables including squash such as zucchini, eggplant.
- fibre supplements
- Grapefruit, carrots, and apples: pectin.
2. Plant sterols
Imagine that the trasport mechanism in the bowel wall is a subway train system. The fat gets on a train from a station on the bowel interior. It gets off at a station on the outer wall of the bowel where there are lots of blood vessels like taxis in a taxi ramp ready to carry it away to the rest of the body.
If you can fill up the train with other molecules, cholesterol cannot get on and passes on through the bowels. Plant sterols do this. Plant sterols are chemicals similar to cholesterol. They are contained in varying quantities in fruits, vegetables and nuts.
Not only do plant sterols get on the train faster than cholesterol, they refuse to get off! The metabolim and transport of plant sterols is slower than that of cholesterol. Once in the transport mechanism they stay there for longer than cholesterol does. Plant sterols effectively block the cholesterol transport mechanism. Do what Mother says, "Eat your veggies!" And as this will not provide quite enough sterols, take a supplement.
Turmeric (Curcumin) is a spice that prevents absorption of cholesterol from the bowel. It also is an antioxidant that helps with brain power: it may even encourage the growth of new brain cells as we age.
Cinnamon (see "Stop Making Cholesterol") may reduce LDL-cholesterol. Adding spices to your diet seems to be a good idea.