Cholesterol levels

Cholesterol. It is a word we encounter with seemingly ever greater frequency. It’s in the papers, magazines, TV adverts go on about yoghurt products that vow to reduce it. But what’s it all about?

After I ran in a family 5K run event, I took a free cholesterol test and was informed that I had a total cholesterol count of 5.5 mmol/l, which I was told was slightly above safe levels.

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Not great to hear, particularly when you are fundamentally a fit person who has given over most of a lifetime to sport and fitness!

So what can you do to reduce this figure?

Most of us think that all cholesterol is bad for us – in fact it’s not.

Although high levels can lead to coronary heart disease, cholesterol actually performs important positive bodily functions, such as assisting with the production of numerous hormones.

LDL (low density lipoprotein) cholesterol gets singled out as the bad guy, whilst HDL (high density lipoprotein) cholesterol is seen as the good one. So right there you can see that there is not just one insidious, nasty cholesterol!

Increased levels of LDL

LDL can become detrimental to your health when its levels in the body are increased by smoking, high blood pressure, lack of exercise, kidney disease, obesity and too much saturated (hard fat) consumption. With these in the immediate vicinity, LDL cholesterol does indeed do you damage.

For good heart and cholesterol health, the recommended total cholesterol count should be less that 5 mmol/l.

Changing your diet and lifestyle

I suggest that you take your readings to your doctor and have a full consultation to put your mind at rest. You will probably be told to improve your diet for example, by eating the right fats, like monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats.

These can reduce LDL levels and are found variously in vegetable oils, oily fish and nuts and seeds.

It’s almost inevitable that you’ll also be told to continue with your running, as regular exercise keeps cholesterol levels in check. I suffer from aching knee joints and have been running for more than 12 years.

Finding a way to continue running

The need to lower my cholesterol balanced against my aching knee joints – there seemed to be no winning solution.

This was before I heard about a natural supplement called Glucosamine Sulphate that is said to reduce joint pain. As a naturally occurring substance found in the human body, it is a key component in supporting our joints.

Does it work?

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Glucosamine is derived from cow trachea, shark cartilage and crab shells.

Based on that it doesn’t sound too pleasant.

But research indicates that it can act as a building block for connective tissue and reduce joint and soft tissue pain.

In one survey US military personnel (SEALS) indicated 29% less knee pain after 16 weeks of supplementation, whilst a major clinical trial in China showed supplementation reduced inflammation and the pain associated with arthritis.

Although it’s highly unlikely that glucosamine will return your knees to pristine condition, there’s a good chance that supplementing with it, will ease your pain and reduce further soft tissue and joint deterioration.

Glucosamine is no aspirin and won’t offer immediate pain relief, it takes time to work – allow at least six weeks. 

Connect with Expert John Shepherd

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