Cholesterol is the current bad guy of the health world. The common belief is that high cholesterol levels equals high blood pressure, which leads to heart attacks and strokes. But it is not that simple. A number of theories abound. These include: the presence of good cholesterol as well as bad cholesterol, the role of inflammation and infection in cholesterol production, and the body’s ability to deal with this much maligned substance.
Medical theory says that high amounts of some kinds of cholesterol in the body clogs up the arteries. This causes plaque build up and arteries to become blocked (atherosclerosis). This in turn will lead to heart attack and stroke if not dealt with. Other experts point out that it is inflammation in the body that causes the body to produce excessive amounts of cholesterol. Some others say that the body is unable to use cholesterol effectively.RELATED: RECOMMENDED PLANS FOR YOU
My theory is that too much cholesterol production is the result of inflammation. This article will focus on how to reduce both inflammation and cholesterol.
What is cholesterol?
Cholesterol is important for all the cells in your body. Not only does your body need it to make new cells, it is also needed for other functions such as the creation of important hormones like oestrogen, testosterone, and cortisol. Cholesterol is essential for life and without it you, and just about every other living thing on the planet, would cease to exist.
Cholesterol cannot move freely around the body on its own, so it must be packed in things called lipoproteins. In simple terms these come in two main types. Low density lipoproteins and high density lipoproteins, and to make things easier we’ll call them HDL’s and LDL’s.
The function of HDL packs is to ‘mop up’ excess cholesterol in the body and return it to the liver. The function of LDL packs is to help in the creation of hormones, regenerate new cells, synthesise vitamin D and other important things. HDL’s are often known as the ‘good’ type because of it’s ‘mopping up’ role . LDL’s are often referred to as the ‘bad’ type. This is because conventional theory shows that particularly small LDL particles can oxidise (turn rancid) if they manage to squeeze between the cells of arteries and leave fatty deposits. This in turn leads to atherosclerosis.
The body as a regulator
Your body’s cholesterol production is intuitive. It makes approximately 80% of cholesterol on its own with the remainder coming from the diet. If you consume more in the diet the body will reduce its own production and vice versa. This is the reason that numerous studies have shown that decreasing foods containing cholesterol doesn’t have any significant impact on cholesterol levels in the body. If you eat less your body will just make more to get what it needs! What to do?
If you have high cholesterol then the most likely reason is inflammation. If your body is producing large amount of cholesterol then it is doing it for a reason. In the case of inflammation, it is having to produce more cholesterol so damaged cells can be replaced. This is all part of the healing process. It’s too long to get into here, but suffice to say that whenever your body gets injured it will produce an inflammatory response. This is a normal part of healing. Old damaged cells need to be replaced with new ones. As cholesterol is needed for new cells, logic tells us that a body that is suffering chronic inflammation is going to be a body that produces much more cholesterol. If you want to reduce high cholesterol, or not have it in the first place, then you need to reduce inflammation.
Here are the best ways to go about doing it.
1. Perform intense exercise 3-5 times per week. This is the best way to increase your body’s HDL count and comes with a host of other benefits!
2. Maintain a healthy weight. People who are more overweight typically produce more cholesterol. If you are struggling with this seek professional advice from a nutrition and exercise pro.
3. Eat quality foods. Eating poor food puts the body under more stress than most people realise. Damage to the body via poor food choices and or refined and processed products leads to increased cholesterol production.
4. Get sufficient quality fats, especially omega 3 fats such as fatty fish, krill, seeds and nuts, flax, or even a quality fish oil supplement. Omega 3 fats are a natural anti-inflammatory and most people do not get a sufficient amount as part of their dietary fat profile.
5. Get a minimum of 7 hours sleep a night and hit the bed early. Your body repairs and recovers during sleep so you can guess what’s going to happen if you don’t get enough of it.
6. Stop smoking. The damage this does to your body can not be overestimated.
7. Cut down your alcohol intake. People don’t like it when I say this but alcohol is poison to your body. No ifs, no buts, no debate, it just is. If you must drink some then the less the better.
8. Manage stress levels. We live in a stressful world and too many of us are stressed to very high levels. This inhibits our body’s ability to recover and repair.
Your body has a natural affinity toward good health. If you treat it well and give it the right materials (food) you can enjoy a long and healthy life.
(images: drmastersblog, mediband)