Cholesterol and Inflammation: Does Inflammation Affect Cholesterol?
Published by Dr. Venn-Watson
Dr. Eric Venn-Watson’s Highlights
There’s good cholesterol and bad cholesterol, and there’s good inflammation and bad inflammation.
High levels of bad cholesterol have been shown to be a predicting marker for bad inflammation.
Quitting smoking, eating a healthy diet, getting regular exercise, and incorporating the right essential fats into your routine can help support healthy cholesterol levels.
We’ve known for decades that our cholesterol numbers are important, but what about inflammation? Only recently has the study of inflammation in our bodies begun to divulge clues about how our immune response can warn us of negative health conditions.
If you can understand the role of inflammation in the body, you can learn how to reduce your cardiovascular risk and help lower your reliance on statins for cholesterol management.
Tackling the correlation between cholesterol and inflammation involves new research, which we’ll cover in this article. We’ll also talk about how to support healthy cholesterol levels, what people mean when they talk about an anti-inflammatory lifestyle, and incorporate a missing link that science shows can help support cholesterol homeostasis.
Cholesterol is necessary for a healthy, functioning body. Cholesterol helps create hormones and new cells. It’s also an important component of cell membranes. However, not all cholesterol is “good” cholesterol.
There are two different types of cholesterol:
- LDL. Low-density lipoprotein is referred to as “bad” cholesterol. This is the main source of cholesterol in your body.
- HDL. High-density lipoprotein is referred to as “good” cholesterol. This type of cholesterol absorbs LDL molecules and carries them back to the liver.
Another measurement taken when you check your cholesterol is your triglyceride levels — this level measures fatty lipids in your blood.
Any calories you consume that aren’t immediately burned for energy are stored as triglycerides. Higher levels of triglycerides are consistent with an increased risk of atherosclerosis, a condition of fatty buildup in the blood vessels that causes them to harden and thicken.
Inflammation is your body’s response to a cut, an injury, or an illness. Inflammation helps your body heal by sending immune cells to the site of the irritant to heal it.
There are two different types of inflammation:
- Acute inflammation. This is healthy inflammation that causes redness and swelling at the site of a cut or broken bone, or causes you to feel under the weather when you are sick. Immune cells are sent to the location of the injury or illness to help it heal, and when the healing is done, the inflammation goes away.
- Chronic inflammation. Sometimes, due to underlying health conditions or autoimmune diseases like rheumatoid arthritis, the body continues sending inflammatory cells even after the initial injury is healed. This leads to chronic inflammation or chronic low-level inflammation. This type of inflammation is associated with a higher risk of diseases.
Both cholesterol and inflammation are necessary for our bodies, but supporting healthy levels of each is key to maintaining total wellness.
How Inflammation Affects Cholesterol
For many years, the consensus was that high cholesterol levels promoted inflammation in the body. However, new studies suggest that higher levels of chronic, low-level inflammation precede high levels of bad cholesterol in our bodies. Understanding the role of inflammation as it pertains to cholesterol is important in learning how to support healthy cholesterol better.
Studies of inflammation regulating molecules like interleukin-1 show that they appear in higher levels in patients who later develop unhealthy cholesterol levels. This protein is both a biomarker and mediator of inflammation within the confines of the cardiovascular system.
While research is ongoing, there are two actions we can take now: supporting healthy cholesterol levels and leading an anti-inflammatory lifestyle.
Supporting Cholesterol and Lowering Inflammatory Markers
Increasing healthy cholesterol and avoiding inflammation can start with making a few lifestyle adjustments to support both.
Tobacco has a very damaging effect on arterial walls. It can cause them to change, making bad LDL cholesterol stick to them more easily. This makes it harder for your heart to pump blood and can increase your risk of developing coronary artery disease, which can lead to heart failure.
Smoking is also a cause of inflammation in your body. Smoking can increase your C-reactive protein and white blood cell count, both pro-inflammatory markers.
A sedentary lifestyle is associated with unhealthy cholesterol levels. Exercise releases endorphins, supports your cardiovascular health, and helps boost good HDL cholesterol levels. Exercise also helps support healthy blood pressure and can prevent weight gain and obesity.
The American Heart Association recommends at least 150 minutes of heart-pumping, moderate exercise per week to reduce your risk factors for cardiovascular disease.
Your body relies on the food you eat for fuel, but not all the dietary options available to us are necessarily healthful.
Fast food and snacks are a treat for many, but they’re generally void of essential nutrients that help your body perform better. To help support healthy cholesterol, you need to eat a variety of foods that contain antioxidants.
Antioxidants help prevent free radical damage, which is one thing that can perpetually trigger your body’s immune system to produce an inflammatory response.
Fruits and vegetables are packed with antioxidants to help support your vascular health and fight inflammation.
Get the Skinny on Fat
Heart disease has been the leading cause of death in the United States for decades. Although dietary guidelines issued in the 1970s told us to avoid fat to reduce our risk of cardiovascular events and diseases, heart disease is still wiping us out. We have also seen an increase in unhealthy metabolic conditions, like type 2 diabetes.
The fact is, we got it wrong. As it turns out, not all fat is bad as we once thought. In fact, some fat is necessary for a healthy, functioning body — essential fatty acids, anyone?
As we switched to low-fat diets, we significantly reduced our intake of some of these essential fats.
One such fat is pentadecanoic acid, or C15:0 for short. C15:0 is an odd-chain, saturated fatty acid that a growing body of research supports is critical for keeping us healthy.
C15:0: Supporting Cholesterol Homeostasis at the Cellular Level
C15:0 has a backstory that didn’t begin with humans. While researching ways to improve the health and welfare of older dolphins, a veterinary epidemiologist noted that higher levels of this micronutrient were associated with better health and a lower risk of age-related diseases.
Three years and eight studies later, she found that C15:0 was not only associated with better health, but a big contributor to better health. C15:0 has since been proposed as an essential fatty acid, the first to be discovered in over 90 years.
These studies also showed that daily supplementation with C15:0 promoted healthy glucose and cholesterol levels, as well as healthy liver and red blood cell function in relevant models.*
Further, higher levels of C15:0 is associated with healthy cholesterol and triglyceride levels and supported heart health.*
How To Increase Your C15:0 Intake
Because of our low-fat diets, most of us don’t have a high level of circulating C15:0 in our bodies. Combined with a trend toward plant-based milk, which are void of C15:0, some of us aren’t getting what we need. Plus, as we age, our levels of C15:0 naturally decline.
A solution? C15:0 supplementation via fatty15.
Fatty15 is the first and only C15:0 supplement available in a small, once-daily capsule. C15:0 is the single ingredient in fatty15, and is >99% pure, vegan-friendly, bioavailable, stable, and sustainable, without the cows or calories.
In addition to supporting healthy cholesterol homeostasis, C15:0 has additional benefits for your cells:*
- It helps maintain mitochondrial function, which aids cells in generating energy more efficiently.
- It helps support cell membranes, helping keep your cells protected and sturdy by integrating into the cell membranes themselves.
- It helps cells communicate with each other more efficiently. By activating PPARs which regulate homeostatic functions like sleep, appetite, mood, and metabolism, C15:0 helps balance many areas of your body.
Our health and wellness starts in our cells. C15:0 helps support your cellular health, and it’s a better, broader and safer solution than omega-3s, especially when it comes to supporting cardiometabolic health.
Support Your Cholesterol, With No Fishy Side Effects
Cholesterol is essential, just like inflammation. Science says the two of them are linked, and understanding this link can help us maintain healthy levels of both.
C15:0 is an essential fatty acid that can help support your healthy lifestyle, promote your cardiometabolic health, and help give your cells a fighting chance as you age.*
Unlike omega fatty acids (typically derived from fish), fatty15 will not leave you with a fishy aftertaste or gastric upset. Fatty15 is the C15:0 supplement that can help you support both your cellular and overall health and wellness.
Looking for more info on the science behind the world’s new favorite fatty acid? Learn more about C15:0 here.
Looking to dive right in and try it for yourself? Order your fatty15 Starter Kit here!
Eric Venn-Watson M.D.
Senior Scientist, Co-Founder
Eric is a physician, U.S. Navy veteran, and Co-founder and COO of Seraphina Therapeutics. Eric served over 25 years as a Navy and Marine Corps physician, working with the special forces community to improve their health and fitness. Seraphina Therapeutics is a health and wellness company dedicated to advancing global health through the discovery of essential fatty acids and micronutrient therapeutics.
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