You’ve surely heard it before, but it remains as true as ever: Elevated blood cholesterol is one of the most common medical conditions that play a major role in atherosclerosis, myocardial infarctions, strokes (haemorrhage or ischaemic), gallstones, mental impairment, hypertension, impotence, colon polyps and is also linked to prostate- and breast cancer.
You may have no idea that you’re levels of blood fats are high due to the fact that you can’t “feel” the levels and they can change slowly over a period of time.
Cholesterol is a crystalline substance (technically a steroid) but soluble in fats rather in water and thus also classified as a lipid. It occurs naturally in the brain, liver, bile, blood and nerves of humans and vertebrate animals. Interesting fact: persons trying to decrease their cholesterol levels should stay away from meat and other foods derived from animals and containing animal products.
It is imperative to realize that
- 25% of your cholesterol supply comes from your diet;
- 75% is manufactured in your liver;
- An optimal functioning body burns dietary fat for energy and uses cholesterol to manufacture hormones (oestrogen and cortisone) and nutrients such as Vitamin D;
- Excessive Cholesterol / Triglycerides or an inefficient system for disposing of the excess causes the blood fats to build up along with calcium deposits resulting in clogging and hardening of the blood vessels;
- It is not about the amount of cholesterol but rather the ratios of total cholesterol to HDL (“good” cholesterol) (ratio less than 5) and Triglycerides to HDL (ratio: controversial but recommendation of less than 3). HDL reduces heart-disease risk by removing fats from the bloodstream;
- Certain drugs can cause unfavourable changes / ratios in cholesterol levels : Oral contraceptives, Furosemide (diuretic), Levodopa (Parkinson’s disease), Steroids and certain Beta-blockers to name but a few…
- Hypercholesterolaemia may be caused by an inherited abnormality (familial). If suspected – dietary modification (low fat diet) should be implemented from infancy and children should be tested latest at 10years of age;
- Hyperlipidaemia may result from other diseases such as Diabetes and Hypothyroidism;
- Hypertriglyceridaemia predisposes to Pancreatitis and Diabetes.
Risk assessment includes blood tests, gender, weight and height (BMI), personal medical history (diabetes, hypertension, previous heart attack, angina), family history (CVD / hypercholesterolaemia), smoking habits, alcohol intake, diet and exercise patterns and blood pressure measurements.
Changing your lifestyle can reduce your risk of CVD:
- Stopping smoking with a reduction of 50-70% within 5 years
- Losing excess weight – 35-55%
- Exercise for at least 20 minutes 3 times a week – 45%
- Keeping alcohol within healthy limits – 25 – 45%
- Not adding salt during cooking or at the table -15%
General principles of cholesterol lowering diet (high fibre):
- Plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables – at least 5 portions a day
- Include wholemeal bread, cereals, pasta and rice
- Use Skimmed milk
- Avoid lard and all animal fats (saturated fatty acids) – use olive oil or oils high in polyunsaturated fats for cooking (corn, sunflower or soya)
- Eat more chicken and fish – limit red meat
- Apples, Bananas, Carrots, Garlic and Avocados are good for you – include them. Carrot juice helps to flush out fat from the bile in the liver and helps lowering cholesterol (Add celery and beet). Stay away from nuts except walnuts (in moderation).
Botanical Medicine is remarkable (and a front- runner) for the treatment of hypercholesterolaemia. Due to drug interactions, potency of herbal extracts being used and contra indications it is best to consult a Registered Phytotherapist / Medical Herbalist. Botanical medicine include: Cynara scolymus, Commiphora mukul, Plantago ovate, Allium sativum and Trigonella Foenum-graecum.
My product of choice (as a starting point) : Neutra-Chol (Nutrissentials) as it contains Policasanol, Omega-3 fish oils, Lycopene and L-Aginine. My Vitamin of choice: Inositol hexaniacinate (Niacin bound to Inositol). It appears to avoid niacin’s side effects on the liver. This is indicated as an adjunct to dietary and lifestyle recommendations to assist in reducing elevated LDL-C and total cholesterol levels. Always consult your physician.
Ensure a healthy lifestyle in the new millennium. Every action has a reaction! Let’s prevent Cardiovascular Disease. After all – Prevention is better than cure.