It’s always surprising to hear someone say “Yeah, I have high cholesterol, but I am taking medication for it” and not realizing it’s a little (a lot) more serious than just taking medicine.
Having high (LDL) cholesterol increases the risk for heart disease and it is fifth leading cause of death by way of stroke or heart attack.
Between the natural levels of cholesterol produced by your body and the amount that comes from what you eat, and a few other lifestyle factors, it can accumulate in your blood and turn into fat (plaque) deposits that build up in your arteries, putting you at serious risk of cardiovascular disease.
Unlike other chronic ailments, there aren’t any obvious signs or symptoms of having high (LDL) cholesterol. By the time you feel it, it’s usually a heart attack or stroke and by then, it’s possibly too late.
But the more you know, the better prepared you will be to take it down with a proper cholesterol management plan.
WHAT IS CHOLESTEROL?
Cholesterol makes its way through our bodies in the bloodstream. And since fat doesn’t dissolve in blood, our bodies create small packages called lipoproteins to act as carriers. The human body naturally makes all the cholesterol it needs, but it’s also included in foods high in saturated and trans fats which will increase the natural amount of LDL Cholesterol in the blood.
THERE ARE GOOD AND BAD CHOLESTEROL
There are two important types of lipoproteins responsible for moving fats to and from liver: low-density lipoprotein (LDL) and high-density lipoprotein (HDL).
LDL-C: Low Density Lipoprotein is considered “bad” Cholesterol. If there is a high level of LDL it can lead to plaque buildup in the arteries, leading to cardiovascular disease like heart attack and stroke.
HDL-C: Hugh Density Lipoprotein cholesterol is considered “good” Cholesterol. It helps carry LDL-C away from the arteries and other parts of the body, back to the liver to be broken down and used by the liver.
TRIGLYCERIDES: This is a different type of fat that is predominantly elevated when you are overweight/obese due to the increased level of visceral fat (VAT). High levels of VAT are a risk factor for cardiovascular disease as well as other diseases, diabetes and hypertension.
As LDL-C levels rise, so do your risks for cardiovascular disease. This risk may also be caused or increased by having other chronic health ailments like diabetes and hypertension.
Having diabetes is synonymous with high levels of LDL Cholesterol, and when both are present, it increases your risk of cardiovascular disease.
Additionally, hypertension is also linked to premature heart disease and stroke. Together, high LDL cholesterol and hypertension are two of the most common conditions that lead to cardiovascular disease.
WHAT CAUSES HIGH (LDL) CHOLESTEROL: GENETICS OR LIFESTYLE OR BOTH?
If you have a family history (parents) of high cholesterol, you statistically have a higher chance of developing high cholesterol yourself. That can be thru the habits you indirectly learned from your parents or from a genetic condition called familial hypercholesterolemia (FH).
Familial Hypercholesterolemia (FH) is a gene mutation that prevent HDL-C from removing the excess LDL Cholesterol from your body. The FH gene can cause your LDL-C levels to sit above 190 in adults and 160 for children. Thus, increasing your chance of a heart attack or stroke.
If your lifestyle consists of smoking, high fat foods, no exercise and you are overweight or obese, these habits can have a negative impact on your overall levels, specific to LDL (Bad) Cholesterol.
Smoking: Smoking has a direct impact on your heart because it decreases the “good” cholesterol (HDL) levels which increases the threat of a heart attack or stroke.
Overweight/Obese: Being overweight/obese increases “bad” LDL cholesterol thus increases the risk of cardiovascular disease.
Nutrition: The consumption of foods high in fats are the number one contributor to high (LDL) cholesterol. Trans fats are found in baked treats and fried food as well as red meats, milk and other dairy products. Making up the dominant components of the American diet. All of which increase LDL Cholesterol.
It is very important to maintain an active role in managing your LDL cholesterol.
So, if you smoke, stop smoking NOW. Then improve your cholesterol nutrition.
Making changes in what you eat can reduce the levels of bad cholesterol in your body and improve your overall heart health. Different foods can help lower cholesterol in different ways.
Eliminating the processed foods and replacing them with whole foods will help reduce the bad cholesterol while consuming more foods with the good fats (fish, nuts, etc) will increase the good cholesterol.
Ideally, trans fats should make up 0% of your diet. Monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats have numerous health benefits, and these should make up a significant portion of your fat consumption.
Additionally, an increase in physical activity by starting with daily walks of 20-30 minutes and gradually including some resistance training will help to raise your LDL-C levels and lower your cardiovascular risks.
Although it’s important to quit smoking, increasing your physical activity and making changes in your nutrition, it may only be part of the solution. If your LDL levels are borderline high or above, then taking cholesterol-lowering medication will give you time to reduce your LDL naturally as you make the lifestyle changes.
Lowering your bad (LDL) cholesterol is important in reducing your risk of heart attack, stroke and other cardiovascular diseases. Millions of people living with high cholesterol are left untreated or relying on medication to fix the problem. So, creating a cholesterol management plan is very important.
Before you can do that, you must know your current cholesterol levels. Remember, there are no noticeable signs of high cholesterol, so the only way to be aware of your cholesterol levels is through a blood test.
Once you’ve been diagnosed with high levels of LDL-C, you and your primary care physician will set an individual goal and Body Refined can help build a cholesterol management plan with you to help lower your LDL-C.
The Body Refined Lifestyle Management program
The Lifestyle Management program can help you manage your cholesterol and various other aspects of your lifestyle.
Take the integrative approach to self-care and banish the traditional approach of putting all your focus solely on exercise and nutrition. Lifestyle management is a form of integrative medicine that puts the client-patient at the center and addresses the full range of physical, emotional, mental, social and environmental influences that affect a person’s health.
Want to learn more, schedule an exploratory call to get a no-obligation screening of how lifestyle management program can help you by clicking here.