You’ve heard so much about it by now. You know that it’s one thing you don’t want to have in your body – too much cholesterol. Although your body needs cholesterol, an excess of it (hypercholesterolemia) causes blockage of arteries, which leads to poor blood circulation. Hypercholesterolemia is a leading cause of coronary heart disease and associated fatalities.
Cholesterol is a sterol, a type of fat found in tissues of animals and plants. It is a fatlike, waxy substance. Your body manufactures cholesterol for its needs. You get additional amounts of it from your diet, especially from animal sources such as chicken, eggs, beef or dairy products.
Uses of Cholesterol in the Body
Since the body manufactures its own cholesterol, it is a crucial requirement for some functions.
- The liver uses it to manufacture bile which is essential in digestion of fats
- It is used in formation and maintenance of cell membranes and structures
- It is used to make Vitamin D. If sunlight is present, cholesterol is turned into vitamin D
- It is used in the manufacture of hormones such as cortisol and sex hormones such as estrogen, testosterone, and progesterone
- It creates insulation for nerve cells
- It controls impotence and enhances libido
There are 3 different classifications: HDL, triglycerides, and LDL. The good cholesterol, known as HDL or high-density lipoprotein, is the type you should try to increase as it also lowers the bad type. Low-density lipoprotein, LDL, is the harmful cholesterol. The two lipoproteins, LDL and HDL, transport cholesterol around the body.
A triglyceride is a fat existing in your blood that the body uses to generate energy. When you have excess alcohol, sugar, and calories in your body, your body stores them in fat cells.
The Lipid Profile Test
About one out of every six adults has a total of 240mg/dL or higher. A blood test is done to measure cholesterol levels and triglycerides levels. It also lets you know your risk. If you take the lipid profile test, the following interpretation of cholesterol levels should help you to understand your test results:
- Levels less than 150 are normal
- 150 to 199 is borderline- high
- 200 to 499 is high
- 500 or more is dangerously high
Ideally, adults over the age of twenty should take the test every five years. Total cholesterol is the total LDL, HDL and other lipids comprising your total blood cholesterol. However, this test is not sufficient in giving a full profile on the level of risk for heart disease.
Symptoms of High Cholesterol
Even as you go for medical tests to ascertain your cholesterol and triglycerides levels, you should take time to observe your body for metabolic syndrome. Unfortunately, high cholesterol manifests no symptoms. Significantly high levels could be a symptom of metabolic syndrome whose characteristics include:
- High triglycerides
- Low HDL levels
- Too much fat around the waist
- High blood sugar
Causes of High Triglycerides and LDL Levels
Some conditions that could predispose you to high LDL and triglycerides levels include:
- Kidney disease
- Mismanaged diabetes
- Excess consumption of alcohol
- Burning fewer calories than you consume
- Medications such as oral contraceptives, steroids, estrogen, tamoxifen and diuretics
- A hereditary genetic condition
Complications That May Arise
When cholesterol levels are high, it can lead to stroke due to the reduction of blood supply to the brain. Poor blood supply occurs when cholesterol deposits plaque in the arteries. The plaque causes the arteries to harden; a condition called atherosclerosis. This obstructs blood circulation.
- Coronary heart disease will arise due to the slowing down of blood supply to the heart owing to atherosclerosis. This leads to heart attacks and angina or chest pain.
- Type 2 diabetes occurs because diabetics usually have low HDL cholesterol and high triglycerides and LDL cholesterol that contribute to the narrowing of arteries.
- Peripheral vascular disease occurs. Peripheral vascular disease is a term used to describe diseases of blood vessels outside the brain and heart. It mostly affects those in the legs and feet.
- Limiting the amount of animal fats in your diet and using good fats in moderation
- Eating a low-salt or low-sodium diet
- Avoiding smoking
- Taking little or no alcohol
- Losing weight (if you are overweight)
- Ordering low-fat meals when eating out
Tips on How to Lower Cholesterol
- Review your diet. Eliminate foods with high saturated and trans fats. Opt for high-fiber foods like walnuts, arrow roots, oatmeal, whole wheat bread, and some fruits. BECOME EDUCATED!
- Consult a qualified professional. Your doctor can help you organize a health plan for exercise and eating.
- Give up smoking as smoking lowers your HDL cholesterol.
- Take your medication. If you get prescription medicine or statins to control your cholesterol levels, take the medication as directed.
- Get off the couch. Perform regular physical exercise such as taking a brisk walk, aerobics, and any other type you fancy to reduce the risk of heart disease and diabetes.
- Supplements can help. Consider supplements such as soy protein krill oil and fish oil which help cut back triglycerides and cholesterol. I have noticed a great reduction in my personal cholesterol AND joint pain by taking large amounts of Essential Fatty Acids.
- Add Niacin to statin drugs
Manage Your Cholesterol
Problems with high cholesterol tend to be sudden since the condition has no symptoms. To be on the safe side, take regular lipoprotein tests to monitor your cholesterol levels. Additionally, work with a professional trainer or physician to come up with a diet and exercise plan for a healthier life. Do not let this silent killer catch you unaware.
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Author: Esateys Stuchiner
Esateys (pronounced Ee sáh teez) is an International Life Transformational Speaker, Author, Master Facilitator, Life Coach and Expert in the Human condition. She is a Nationally and Board Certified Nurse Practitioner. For over 30 years, she has practiced, taught and lectured extensively in the allopathic and alternative medicine field.
Esateys is known for her groundbreaking work in the areas of personal empowerment and health restoration using mindset and inner connection as the catalyst for all change.
Esateys describes herself as the ‘Architect of the New You’ and has dedicated her life and professional career to helping her clients create “New Beginnings” by facilitating self empowerment, economic freedom and restored health.
For more information, go to esateys.com.