Atherosclerosis: Dismantle the Cholesterol Myth

It is estimated one out of 5 teenagers today in America may carry the risk of Atherosclerosis which is considered as a progressive lifestyle disease and the number one cause of death in the United States. It has represented an economic burden for the national healthcare system diminishing the life expectancy of that society.

Hypothesizing to the potential cause of atherosclerosis, the leading underlying cause of cardiovascular disease, once had led to believe in the strict allopathic philosophy that excess of cholesterol has been and remained the culprit. Let’s understand the pathophysiology of that condition. Cholesterol is undisputedly vital for life as 80% of this molecule is produced by the body. As a non-soluble molecule it is being packaged in the form of lipoprotein for its circulation. Four types of this molecule is known in the form of chylomicron, VLDL, LDL, and HDL, the LDL being the atherogenic one. When the biosynthesis of cholesterol is being altered, via inhibitions of the reverse cholesterol transport and bile biosynthesis pathway, the physiological way of elimination of excess of cholesterol, once evidenced of the accumulations of excess cholesterol in the vessel lining ,that later on become oxidized which activate the endothelial cell leading to a cascade reactions such as the foaming of the plaque ,obstructing the vessel ,therefore ischemia of dependent organs mainly the heart ,the brain and the kidney. It has been estimated that we have 19 billion capillaries around our internal organs; they are the vessels of life, When blocked they can become the vessels of death.

Is the excess of cholesterol really the culprit of atherosclerosis? The TMAO (Trimethylamine N-oxide) hypothesis appears to be a valid answer. We selectively colonized in our gut some species of bacteria producing TMA (Trimethylamine) when our diet is rich in carnitine and choline both chemical found in red meat, egg yolks, and dairy products. It is known to believe that there are 75 trillion of cells constituting our human body, but there is more than 10 times of bacteria living in symbiosis within us. Those tiny forms of life represent the homeostasis factor between health and disease. They thrive on a high fiber diet, not to say they are vegetarian. When properly fed, those forms of life, via fermentations a short chain of fatty acid substrate is created with multiple functions mainly enhancing our metabolism, making our immune system strong and energizing our colonic cells. They are essential to our existence. However, they could be also an element of disease, producing the TMAO, inhibiting the reverse cholesterol transport and the bile acid synthesis pathway leading to the accumulations of excessive cholesterol obstructing our vessel of life. Atherosclerosis can be prevented by having a high fiber diet feeding our gut bacteria that could further stabilize our internal environment called, the Milieu Interieur de Claude Bernard. Is it also the reason why FDA, a government agency has recommended that we all need to have 5 servings of fruits and vegetables every day in order to maintain our health.

Today the bio marker of atherosclerosis TMAO, has been identified and according to all research if one knows how to block the production of this toxic molecule by having a plant based diet more than 80% of atherosclerosis can be prevented. Prevention is better than cure as clearly stated by Desidirius Erasmus 500 years ago. 


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[Mayo Clinic]. (2013, July 8). Microbiome Research at Mayo Clinic

[ThelHMC]. (2017, February 13). Claire Fraser – The Human Gut Microbiome in Health and disease

Young, R. O., & Young, S. R. (2001). Sick and tired?: Reclaim your inner terrain. Pleasant Grove, UT: Woodland Pub.

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