Overcome Cholesterol through LifeStyle Methods
Hypercholesterolemia, hyperlipidemia, hyperlipoproteinemia
Many people in our society suffer from high cholesterol levels and are not aware that simple lifestyle changes can make a difference. In this article we discuss simple things like a plant-based diet, exercise, and sunlight are some of the things we can incorporate in our daily living to help lower and even reverse cholesterol issues. According to the book Health Power by Aileen Ludington, MD & Hans Diehl DRHSc, MPH states cholesterol is the single most important factor in determining a person’s risk for heart disease.
What is Cholesterol? Cholesterol is a fat-like substance manufactured by the liver and is stored by the gallbladder as bile. It is responsible for building healthy cell membranes, manufacturing of sex hormones, bile, and vitamin D production. There are two main types of cholesterol, high-density lipoprotein, and low-density lipoprotein.
High-density lipoprotein also known as HDL can be described as the good cholesterol and low-density lipoprotein is what is described as the bad cholesterol. HDL cleans the arteries and removes bad cholesterol to the liver where it is broken down and discarded as waste product. LDL cholesterol is deposited in the arteries, and causes plaque to form. When arteries are clogged up by plaque, blood flow is reduced causing decrease nutrients and oxygen to vital cells and therefore increases a person’s risk for a heart attack or stroke. Every ten percent rise in cholesterol will result in a 30 percent rise in a heart attack or stroke.(Ludington & Diehl 2005).
While genetic factors can play a role in high cholesterol, a large amount of the problem is related to dietary and lifestyle factors. Some risk factors are smoking, low fiber consumption, high fat diet, animal products, and their by-products, lack of exercise, and diabetes.
Cholesterol Values in mg (%)
Ideal is under 150mg%
Elevated is between 161-180mg%
High is 181-220mg %
Very high is 221-260mg%
Dangerous is above 260mg%
We should aim for an ideal cholesterol level range of under 150 mg percent. One practical way you can lower cholesterol is if you are a smoker, smoking cessation is vital. Smoking increases catecholamine release causing an increase in the circulation of free fatty acids which may increase VLDL, LDL concentrations, and reduce HDL-C concentrations (Gepner & Piper 2012). Daily exercise has shown to increase HDL cholesterol while maintaining, and theoretically offsetting increases in LDL cholesterol and triglycerides according to a study published in the U.S National Library of Medicine at the National Institute of Health. Sunlight is also important in lowering cholesterol levels, when the skin is exposed to sunlight, cholesterol is used to synthesize vitamin D which is important for bone and immune health.
In continuation, it is essential to avoid Trans Fat/hydrogenated oil, saturated fats can contribute to raising your cholesterol levels. Foods such as animal protein and their by-products are high in fat which increases the viscosity of the blood, hinders circulation, and raises cholesterol levels. Remember cholesterol is manufactured in the liver, therefore anything that has a liver or comes from something that has a liver will have cholesterol. Plant foods do not have a liver and therefore contains no cholesterol with the exception of mushrooms because of their part animal characteristic. Increasing plants is also an excellent way to reduce cholesterol levels due to its high fiber content, foods such as fruits, vegetables, oats, and beans will reduce cholesterol levels by preventing its reabsorption into the bloodstream.
According to Dr. Ludington and Hans Diehl in the book health power, a high fiber diet can lower cholesterol levels as much as ten percent. Other foods include onion, garlic, psyllium, celery juice, fenugreek, spirulina, and lemongrass can be helpful in improving cholesterol levels.
In summary, cholesterol is manufactured in the liver and stored in the gallbladder as bile and plays an important role in our over all health, the problem occurs from excess fat in the diet or dietary cholesterol primarily from animal products and their by products. Foods that are composed of cholesterol are animal products, plant foods contain no cholesterol. Avoiding saturated fats, hydrogenated oils, and trans-fat, increasing high fiber foods such as fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. Reducing animal products, stop smoking and incorporating foods that can decrease cholesterol levels such as onions, garlic, spirulina, grapefruit can be helpful in reducing cholesterol levels. The key is removing animal products, and increasing a variety of plant foods, exercising, and sunlight exposure are the simple ways you can manage and even reverse high cholesterol levels.
Gepner, A.D., Piper, M & Stein. (2012, Jan 1.) Effects of Smoking and Smoking Cessation on Lipids and Lipoproteins: Outcomes from a Randomized Clinical Trial.
Mann, S., Beedie.C & Jimenez, A. (2013, October 31). Regular physical activity has been shown to increase HDL cholesterol while maintaining, and theoretically offsetting increases in, LDL cholesterol and triglycerides. The Journal of Sports Medicine 44(2): 211–221.
Ludington, A. & Diehl, H. (2005). Health Power. Review Herald.