Tips to Lower the Cholesterol Level in the Body?

Cholesterol is a fat content found in body cells. Cholesterol is useful in the manufacture of vitamin D, hormones and other products used in the digestion process. The body/the liver has the capacity to make the cholesterol it requires. Cholesterol is also found in animal proteins: eggs, cheese and meat. High levels of cholesterol in the body is dangerous as it combines with other substances to form plague which sticks to the walls of blood vessels- a condition called atherosclerosis. Plague accumulates over time, thinning blood vessels leading to coronary artery disease. 

Different types of Lipoproteins/Cholesterol:

Cholesterol is a combination of lipids (fats) and protein. Lipids have to combine with proteins for it to move through the blood vessels. These different lipoproteins have different purposes in the body:

HDL:

It is known as high density lipoproteins, and they carry cholesterol from other body parts to the liver where it is broken down. This type of cholesterol is termed as the “good cholesterol” as it helps in reducing the cholesterol levels in the body.

LDL:

These are low density lipoproteins and are known as bad cholesterol as they build up as plague in arteries. 

VLDL:

Unlike the above that are made up of cholesterol, these very low density lipoproteins carry triglycerides. It is termed as a former of cholesterol because it also contributes to the formation of plague in arteries. 

Cholesterol problems:

There is good and bad cholesterol. Bad cholesterol clogs blood vessels resulting in health problems. Whenever plague forms within blood vessels, it makes it difficult for blood to flow through. As the plague build up increases, the blood vessels rapture resulting in bleeding. Blood clots form as platelets move towards the point of injury to close prevent bleeding. When this happens within the heart, it becomes life-threatening as it may lead to heart attack or sudden cardiac arrest. The clots can also occur in other parts of the body leading to complications such as the brain. High levels of cholesterol in the body can also lead to: atherosclerosis, stroke, peripheral arterial disease(PAD) and transient ischaemic attack(TIA) or mini stroke. 

Tips for cholesterol level maintenance:

Choice of diet:

We can regulate the levels of cholesterol in the blood through a change of diet. Here are some healthy eating habits:

Reduce the intake of saturated fats:

These fats are made of glyceride and fatty acids, and are solid at room temperature. Saturated fats increase the levels of low lipid proteins (bad cholesterol) in the body. According to the American Heart Association, a daily intake of saturated fats should be 13grams or 2000calories per day. Foods containing saturated fats are dairy products and red meat such as lamb, pork and beef. Protein foods with lower levels of cholesterol include fish, chicken and plant proteins. You should also aim at increasing unsaturated fats in your diet. Unsaturated fats are good as they are critical in maintaining good heart health by fighting cholesterol. An example is omega 3 fatty acids found in fish which helps in different body functions.

Increase the intake of foods high fiber:

These include foods such as fruits, vegetables and wholegrains. There are two types of fiber; soluble and insoluble fiber. Fiber helps in reducing cholesterol levels in the body by binding with the bad cholesterol preventing it’s absorption into the body. When absorbed into the body, soluble fiber helps preventing the formation of plague within blood vessels. 

Reducing on the intake of processed foods:

Processed foods are high in cholesterol and should be avoided.  These include foods such as sausages, bacon and hotdogs. 

Reducing on trans fats:

Trans fats are hydrogenated fats such as margarine. The use of partially hydrogenated oils has been banned by the food and drugs administration due to their cholesterol levels. 

Physical exercise:

Physical activity helps in enhancing the cholesterol levels in the body. It is recommended for one to exercise for 30minutes five times a week. Studies done by AHA also show that physical exercise increases the levels of good cholesterol. Physical exercise also helps in maintaining a healthy body weight, improving on mental health and staying fit. Everyone has their own work out techniques. 

Tracking your heart rate while working out will help you meet your work out goals. The heart rate tells how much energy is going into the activity, and the values are depended on the age of the individual. Persons with health conditions should consult their doctors on the type of activity that would work best for them. There are different physical activities one can engage in such as walking, swimming, jogging and running. The choice of physical activity is dependent on the individual’s hobbies and physical abilities. 

Reducing alcohol:

Excessive intake of alcohol is has a negative effect on the human body. In the liver, alcohol is broken down into cholesterol and triglycerides. When taken regularly in large amounts, alcohol increases the levels of cholesterol in the blood. Increased levels of triglycerides in the liver leads to a condition known as fatty liver disease. The condition affects the functioning of the liver reducing it’s ability to remove cholesterol from the blood. Other effects of the liver are linked to the he cholesterol levels and they include increased risk of heart disease, high blood pressure, pancreatic diseases and other cancers. 

How much alcohol is safe? The recommended levels of alcohol per week are 14 units. The 14 units should be spread throughout the week with some days being alcohol free. For safety, an individual should not exceed six units in six hours as this could overwork your liver. The body can only process 10ml of pure alcohol per hour. 

These recommendation are also safe for persons with high cholesterol levels. There are, however, some health conditions which should bar the individual completely from alcohol. If you have a health condition, it is crucial to consult with your doctor whether or not you should take alcohol.

Tips to help limit alcohol intake:

  • Always check the alcohol percentages in your drink
  • Let alcohol accompany a meal
  • Too up your drink with ice or water to make it last longer
  • Drink slowly by taking small sips

Alcoholism is a disease. If you are having trouble controlling your drinking seek help from a specialist or support group.

Reducing smoking:

Smoking has adverse effects on health. The best healthy advice for anyone is to quit smoking. Smoke from cigarettes contains thousands of harmful substances. Apart from raising the levels of cholesterol, smoking increases the risk of heart disease and stroke. The blood of a smoker is also thicker and carries lower levels of oxygen. The risk of having blood clots is also higher. 

Studies show that smoking worsens the type of cholesterol by making it thicker and easier to stick to the blood vessels. It also lowers the levels of good cholesterol (High density lipoproteins). The good cholesterol helps ferry away the bad cholesterol and prevent it from clinging onto blood vessels. 

Smoke from cigarettes damages blood arteries. As cholesterol moves along the vessels, it sticks to the damaged parts leading to coronary artery disease. For smokers, blood vessels clog up faster, lessening the flow of blood. The thinning and hardening of blood vessels makes it more difficult for blood to flow through. The individual starts experiencing a faster heart rate as the heart gets overworked.

Your health starts to improve once you stop smoking. Your ability to exercise also improves, your breathing gets better and the stress levels fall. You should consult your doctor if you are having trouble quitting. It’s not easy, but the long-term effects on your health are worth the effort.

Getting enough sleep:

Too much or too little sleep can have a negative effect on your cholesterol. Sleeping less than five hours a night or more than  eight hours will raise the levels of triglycerides and lower the levels of good cholesterol. It is critical to establish healthy sleeping patterns. An adult should sleep for eight hours a night. Younger children sleep longer and the effects are different. If you have trouble sleeping, your doctor might recommend some medications. The following tips will help you improve the quality of your sleep:

  • Avoid taking alcohol and caffeine before going to bed
  • Create some sleeping routines by going to bed at a specific time
  • Avoid certain habits that will keep you up such as using the phone before going to bed, reading and watching movies.

Manage stress:

Stress increases the levels of cholesterol in the body. The hormone (cortisol) produced under stress are said to increase the levels of bad cholesterol in the blood. Adrenaline is also produced that raises the levels of triglycerides in the blood. There are different ways to manage stress. Long-term stress will not only affect your cholesterol but also the quality of life. Stress leads to depression and other mental disorders which can result in suicide. It is best to talk to someone or seek specialized help whenever we feel overwhelmed. 

Conclusion:

Cholesterol problems are diverse. If you want to lead a healthy life it’s best to watch the above habits. The less health problems you deal with the better your quality of life and that of your loved ones. The health problems linked to high levels of cholesterol are long-term and chronic. Cholesterol levels maintenance takes commitment and self discipline. You can always start small by setting smaller targets if you find it difficult to commit to a fixed schedule or changing your diet.

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