Too high cholesterol is one of the most serious threats to our health today. It is because of it that various cardiovascular diseases develop, including those that are a major cause of death or a very significant deterioration in quality of life. Where does this problem come from and how can it be remedied?
Why is high cholesterol dangerous to health?
When cholesterol is abundant, it begins to build up in the veins, forming clots, also often called atherosclerotic plaques. Even when such plaques are small, they already begin to block blood flow. Over time, as more cholesterol molecules attach themselves to the walls of the blood vessels, the lumen of the artery narrows severely and circulatory failure occurs. Read about capsules Corsanum helping to maintain normal cholesterol and blood pressure levels.
Through high cholesterol develops a very dangerous disease - atherosclerosis. If left untreated, it will cause a series of serious complications that can even directly threaten life. Obstruction of veins, caused by fatty deposits, ends in stroke or heart attack, among others, another complication of atherosclerosis can be kidney failure or liver ailments. Atherosclerosis very often goes hand in hand with another disease of civilization: diabetes.
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What should the cholesterol results be?
However, it is not the case that cholesterol should be completely gotten rid of from the body. This would only generate new problems, because without cholesterol, cell membranes will not be able to be made, the body will not be able to synthesize vitamin D from the sun, and there will also be disorders in the endocrine and immune systems. The goal is to bring cholesterol to the right level, which can be checked by examining the body's lipid profile.
Lipidogram determines not only the total concentration of cholesterol in the blood, but also the concentration for specific fractions, namely LDL and HDL, as well as the level of triglycerides. The Polish Society of Cardiology recognizes that in healthy individuals, LDL cholesterol does not exceed 115 mg/dl, and as for the HDL fraction, a level above 46 mg/dl in women and above 40 mg/dl in men is normal. Total cholesterol should not be higher than 200 mg/dl, the norm for triglycerides is 150 mg/dl.
Elevated cholesterol, which already requires treatment but is not yet a very serious health risk, is in the range of 200-2500 mg/dl. Above this value, there is already said to be a high risk of complications and premature death if no remedial measures are taken.
Bad and good cholesterol - what is the difference?
In defining cholesterol, there is often a division between good and bad cholesterol. This refers to the HDL and LDL fractions mentioned. HDL is the good fraction, which plays important roles in the human body, and once it reaches the liver, it is converted into bile acids with an anti-atherosclerotic function. The LDL fraction is the bad cholesterol. It is responsible for the transport of HDL particles and very easily penetrates the bloodstream when there is too much of it. Once it reaches the vein, it attaches to the walls of the vessel, giving rise to atherosclerotic plaques.
What are the symptoms of high cholesterol?
Unfortunately, high cholesterol does not immediately make itself known, so the development of atherosclerosis can occur unnoticed and is only discovered when it is already really serious. It is not uncommon for symptoms to be given not so much by cholesterol itself, but by conditions caused by excess cholesterol, such as coronary artery disease - the patient then experiences severe chest pain, choking, throbbing, this pain can also radiate to the neck and shoulder, in addition to numbness in the hands, nausea, palpitations, dizziness, feelings of anxiety.
With very high cholesterol, nodules can form on the joints and yellowish thickening in the corners of the eyes. Impaired circulation affects the legs most severely, which usually have inadequate blood supply and thus get tired very quickly, even when no major effort is made. A fairly common symptom with high cholesterol is also poor concentration, general lassitude, lethargy, difficulty remembering. For this reason, it is extremely important to regularly examine oneself for cholesterol and triglycerides, because this is primarily how the risk of atherosclerosis can be detected at an early enough stage.
Who is at risk for high cholesterol?
High cholesterol is usually the result of poor eating habits - this includes high amounts of trans fats, animal fats and saturated fats. In addition, factors that increase the likelihood of increased LDL cholesterol are:
- obesity (BMI of more than 30)
- wide waist circumference, with women over 80 cm, with men over 90 cm
- alcohol abuse
- low physical activity
It is also advisable to regularly perform a lipid profile in diseases such as hypothyroidism or hyperthyroidism, ischemic heart disease, cerebrovascular disease and peripheral circulatory disorders, since they are very often associated with high cholesterol or facilitate its accumulation in blood vessels.
Getting a lipidogram is not complicated - it's a simple blood test, and you usually wait one day for the results. The test is taken on an empty stomach - the last meal should be eaten no later than 12 hours before the blood test. You can drink small amounts of water during this time, but no other drinks, especially coffee and alcohol. Importantly, a few days before the scheduled tests you should not change your culinary habits, so that the results reflect the actual state of lipid metabolism.
How can high cholesterol be lowered?
If the results are not good, the doctor's recommendation is, of course, to lower cholesterol to normal. A healthier diet with limited amounts of harmful fats, more exercise, quitting cigarettes and at least a significant reduction in alcohol consumption, losing weight helps, Ensuring regular rest and good quality sleep, avoidance of stress. Follow-up examinations are performed after a few weeks, and if there has been no improvement, drug treatment will most likely be necessary.
What to eat with high cholesterol?
The main goal is to eliminate unhealthy fats and highly processed foods. Instead The diet must include a lot of fiber, which improves metabolism and efficiently cleanses the body of lingering toxins. The advantage of fiber is also the following. facilitates weight loss, because it fills the stomach quickly and prevents sugar spikes, through which the temptation to reach for fattening snacks increases. However, fiber requires constant hydration of the body - without water, fiber will not swell and pass smoothly through the intestines, but will start to harden and thicken, causing abdominal pain, constipation and bloating.
Fiber can be found in vegetables, whole-grain cereals, legumes. Vegetables should form the basis of a cholesterol-lowering diet, but they should be eaten mainly raw or lightly cooked, or baked, light soups and salads are also a good idea. Fried and high-fat foods should be avoided. You don't have to give up meat altogether, but it must be lean, non-fried meat, served with a salad, not gravy or greasy fries. Cured meats, sausages and offal should be discarded, as should dairy products with a high fat content, i.e. mainly cream cheese, sour cream, fatty yogurts, sweetened dairy desserts.
By all means, you can eat eggs - for a long time they were regarded as a major supplier of cholesterol, but it is now known that they are not dangerous to health, you just need to consume them in reasonable quantities and properly cooked, that is, for example, soft boiled, not fried in butter and with bacon.
It is still worth using spices that stimulate digestion and lower cholesterol. Chia seeds, cumin, flaxseed, cinnamon, ginger, garlic, onion, thistle, plantain are considered particularly valuable in this regard.
Fat is not put off completely, as it too is essential for health. What is important, however, is the source of fats, and with high cholesterol it is mainly about consuming vegetable fats, such as olive oil, flaxseed oil, sunflower oil, grape seed oil. Avocados, various nuts and seeds, sea fish are also valuable sources of fat. Fats are caloric, so eat them every day, but in moderate amounts.
How to lose weight with high cholesterol?
Weight reduction is very important because This not only lowers cholesterol, but also sugar, and on top of that the risk of developing many other diseases decreases. Physical activity not only burns calories - its purpose is to heart strengthening, increasing the efficiency of the respiratory system, better blood circulation and thus adequate oxygenation of cells. Movement simply strengthens the entire body and improves the condition of blood vessels, so they can better recover from the damage caused by high cholesterol.
Exercises that engage the whole body, such as cardio exercises, swimming, Nordic walking, cycling, are considered the best. People who have hardly moved at all so far can start with long walks. You also need to be careful not to overdo very demanding workouts if you are overweight and have a sedentary lifestyle, as this tends to have the opposite effect - it will harm your joints and muscles, and may even cause problems with your heart, which is not accustomed to such intense exertion. It's a good idea to consult your doctor beforehand about the type of activity that suits your weight, age and health.
What to keep in mind with home methods for lowering cholesterol?
Diet and exercise are supposed to help lower cholesterol and support health in the long run. These changes should be long-lasting, not just temporary, so avoid solutions that are too strenuous and simply unpleasant, as maintaining them is unlikely to be successful. A new diet is necessary, but it doesn't have to be a drastic change overnight, and healthy meals should be tasty by the way, so that you don't have to force yourself to eat them. The same is true of physical activity - it's awfully hard to maintain training discipline when you choose a sport you don't like. On top of that, patience is still necessary - the change will not appear immediately, but only after a few weeks or even months. It is also advisable to avoid stress - special relaxation techniques, meditation, practicing yoga can help with this.
What is the treatment for high cholesterol?
A healthy lifestyle should bring the expected results. However, it happens that despite diet, exercise and quitting stimulants cholesterol still remains too high. In such cases, the doctor may prescribe pharmacological support. Treatment is carried out under the supervision of a doctor, and it is not allowed to either discontinue the medication before time or change the dosage on your own. Cholesterol medication is most often taken for the rest of one's life.
In milder cases, you can support yourself with dietary supplements. However, they absolutely cannot be used as a substitute for medications prescribed by a doctor - supplements are only a support and are usually recommended to be taken when cholesterol is elevated, when drug treatment is not yet required. Supplements should be of natural, safe ingredients such as artichoke extract, garlic, omega 3 acids, chromium, B vitamins, folic acid, thistle, ginger, fenugreek.