Cholesterol is common and may be a necessary component of a healthy body. It is a fat-like substance called Lipid that can be found in a variety of foods. Although cholesterol is a vital component, High Cholesterol levels raise the risk of coronary heart disease or stroke. It can be deadly if left untreated, but at the same time can also be managed with changes in lifestyle and dietary adjustments.
Cholesterol is a fatty component secreted by the liver naturally. It’s the building block for hormones like vitamin D and libido hormones, and it plays a critical function in the development of cell membranes. Because cholesterol does not dissolve, it cannot pass through the bloodstream on its own. The liver also produces lipoproteins, which contribute to the transport of cholesterol through the bloodstream. LDL (low-density lipoprotein) and HDL (high-density lipoprotein) are the two major types of lipoproteins.
What do you know about LDL and HDL?
LDL cholesterol, when oxidized, transfers and lodges cholesterol in your arteries, earning it the moniker “bad cholesterol.” An elevated level of LDL can lead to cholesterol build-up on the arterial walls referred to as Cholesterol Plaque, which can constrict the arteries, increase the likelihood of blood clotting, and reduce blood circulation, leading to high blood pressure. A cardiac arrest or stroke can occur when a blood clot clogs an artery in the brain or heart.
HDL cholesterol, commonly known as ‘good cholesterol,’ transports cholesterol back to the liver for disposal, including cholesterol plaque, which should be reduced if any is present in the system. It’s termed ‘good cholesterol’ because it minimizes the risk of having blood clots, cardiovascular diseases, and strokes by decreasing plaque accumulation, especially in the arteries. A regular check-up must be done to understand the cholesterol levels before it develops into a serious health concern.
A person is said to have High cholesterol when the body carries too much LDL cholesterol. If left untreated, it can lead to severe health problems including a heart attack or stroke. The serious challenge regarding cholesterol is that there is no such thing as a High Cholesterol Symptom.
Causes of High Cholesterol
The primary cause of High cholesterol can be linked to the consumption of too many refined carbohydrate-rich and sugary meals. Diets rich in high fat were assumed to be the major contributor to elevated cholesterol levels as well as heart diseases for a great many years. However, research has proven otherwise. Although trans fats are detrimental to your health, there are other fats, such as Omega 3 fatty acids, that may be beneficial for your health.
What more is there to it? Eating habits have a huge impact; what else could it be?
Elevated cholesterol levels can be caused by a variety of factors, including smoking and inactivity, as well as hereditary. High cholesterol is more likely to develop in someone who has a family history of it. People with Type 1 & type 2 diabetes, and hypothyroidism also stand at the risk of developing elevated levels of cholesterol.
How to keep Cholesterol in check?
- Determine the underlying cause of your elevated cholesterol level. Keep in mind that cholesterol is a by-product, and something else is causing it to rise.
- Focuses on improving Lipoprotein health and functioning with proper diet and supplementation.
- The most prevalent cause of elevated cholesterol is inflammation. That’s why, to keep cholesterol in check, functional medicine emphasizes reducing inflammation. Abnormal cholesterol levels, according to functional medicine, could be the body’s way of alerting us to an inherent sickness or inflammation.
- Changes in diet and lifestyle – consume a low-glycemic, high-fiber, phytonutrient-rich, omega-3-rich diet. Plant-based foods rich in good protein, such as beans, nuts, etc. should make up the majority of the diet.
- Getting proper exercise and keeping your weight in check
- Inflammation and oxidative stress are both triggered by stress. Improved stress management skills will minimize swelling and oxidation by improving how your body’s response to stress.
How does Functional Medicine treatment address High Cholesterol?
Most of the time, lowering cholesterol levels refers to the level represented by LDL cholesterol, or bad cholesterol. However, just as high-sugar and processed-carbohydrate meals can raise your risk of having high cholesterol, there is a diverse range of foods that can help counteract cholesterol, either naturally or as a supplement without seeking the assistance of any Cholesterol Medicine.
- Maintain a diet that is rich in healthy fats like Omega 3 fatty acids. Walnuts, flax seeds, and soybeans are all good sources of omega-3, but fatty fish is by far the finest. Lowering your saturated fat intake lowers cholesterol, but it also lowers HDL, which is counterintuitive. Include healthy fats in your meals such as Avocados, coconut, extra virgin olive oil, almonds, pumpkins, etc.
- Garlic is one such component that, according to studies, can help lower blood cholesterol levels and avoid artery constriction caused by high cholesterol. It can be consumed either cooked or raw.
- For more than a decade, vitamin B3, often known as niacin, is being broadly utilized as a therapy for people with excessive cholesterol. However, it should only be administered under the guidance of an Internal Medicine Doctor, as it is only effective in high dosages.
- Ensure that you are getting an adequate amount of sleep.
Working closely with Dr.Bindu Alexander, who can design a nutritional regimen for your specific health goals, particularly decreasing cholesterol via dietary and lifestyle modifications, is the best way to go.
To learn more about how Functional Medicine Center Atlanta can help you, schedule a consultation today.