What is Cholesterol?
Cholesterol is a kind of fat found naturally in your body. While the liver produces most of the cholesterol you need, foods such as meat, eggs, butter, fish, cheese, and milk also contain it. Your body requires cholesterol to build healthy cells, produce certain hormones, and synthesize vitamins. However, high levels of cholesterol can be dangerous and severely affect your health, perhaps even causing life-threatening conditions such as strokes and heart attacks. As such, one needs to regulate the amount of cholesterol for a healthy body. Let’s explore some of the best ways to do so.
How to Know You Have High Cholesterol
High cholesterol does not have any symptoms. To determine the levels, you should visit your primary care physician and get a cholesterol blood test. In most cases, children and young adults with zero risk factors for heart disease can take the test once in a while. Those with risk factors may have regular assessments. If the doctor determines an increase in your cholesterol levels, they may suggest more regular examinations. They will then recommend some great ways to manage the condition.
High Cholesterol Risk Factors
Here are some factors that contribute to high cholesterol in the body.
- Poor diet: Eating saturated and trans fats are among the leading causes of high cholesterol. Other foods with high cholesterol include dairy products and red meat.
- Physical inactivity: Leading a sedentary life comes with a lot of problems. It causes the accumulation of bad cholesterol (LDL), which can be harmful to the body.
- Obesity and overweight: Those with a BMI (Body Mass Index) of 30 and above are at a higher risk of high cholesterol.
- Smoking: Cigarette smoking potentially damages your blood vessels’ walls, hence making them more vulnerable to fatty deposits.
- Too much alcohol: Taking alcohol in excess contributes to high cholesterol.
- Diabetes: High blood sugar influences increased LDL levels. In extreme cases, this can damage the lining of your arteries.
- Age: Your body changes as you age. By the age of fifty, your liver may become less effective, especially in eliminating LDL cholesterol from your body.
- Family history: If your parents suffer from heart disease, you are at a greater risk of developing the illness too.
Ways to Reduce Cholesterol Levels in Your Body
Most of the strategies used to manage cholesterol levels involve lifestyle changes in conjunction with any medication recommended by your doctor. Let’s explore the most effective high cholesterol treatment methods.
Exercising is an effective way to keep your body healthy. By exercising a few days of the week, you can raise high-density lipoprotein levels (the good cholesterol) and reduce levels of the bad type (LDL). Try to do at least 150 minutes of moderate exercise every week, as recommended by the NHS. The typical tasks include bike riding, walking, running, or simple sit-ups in the home. In order to stay motivated and psyched up, you should team up with other-likeminded people. Additionally, you may talk to your fitness coach and develop a personalized exercise plan.
Lose Extra Weight
Overweight and obesity is often linked to high cholesterol. As such, you should try to shed some weight, achieve a healthy heart, and a healthy body. You may begin by making adjustments to your diets, such as avoiding sugary beverages, candies, and other high-calorie products. Additionally, you can incorporate more physical activity into your daily routine so that your body stays in great shape, on the inside and outside. You can also talk to your dietician and develop a plan to help you know what to eat and what to avoid. During the consultation, they will consider all the allergies that you may have. While most people lead sedentary lives, you can improvise situations such as standing when cooking, walking to the grocery store instead of driving, or taking the stairs more often than the elevator.
Avoid Too Much Alcohol and Smoking
Drinking too much alcohol has been linked to high cholesterol. You can begin by reducing the intake of alcoholic products. This, in turn, increases the amount of HDL (or “good”) cholesterol in the body, promoting a healthy body. If you must drink alcohol, you should do so in moderation. According to a 2013 study, quitting smoking is associated with an increase in HDL levels, so you should definitely consider quitting. While it is tough, you can seek support or assistance from your doctor and try nicotine patches.
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Maintain a Healthy Diet
Eating healthy will reduce cholesterol and enhance your heart’s health. Some of the adjustments to make in your diet are the reduction of saturated fats. Saturated fats are typically found in red meat and dairy products and activities to raise your cholesterol levels. You can reduce the intake of red meat and these dairy products by eating plant proteins instead. Trans fats (hydrogenated vegetable oil) are also a significant contributor to high cholesterol. They may be present in store-purchased cookies, cakes, and other pastries.
They are harmful to the body when consumed in excess and cause a spike in cholesterol levels. The best alternative for these foods is taking foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids, soluble fibers, and whey proteins. Just like exercising, it may take some time before you get the hang of it. However, be consistent and watch your health improve.
After performing all these tasks or activities, you can also use supplements to manage cholesterol levels. Fish oil is one of the best supplements that you can take. The recommended dosage for an adult is 4 grams of fish oil daily. However, the dosage may differ depending on your health, pre-existing conditions, and cholesterol levels. Coenzyme Q10 is another supplement that your doctor may recommend. The chemical plays a vital role in helping the cells produce energy, so the body functions optimally. Other supplements such as psyllium regulate cholesterol levels and reduce the risk of heart disease.
High cholesterol treatment does not have to be a strenuous activity. With assistance from the right people (physician, fitness specialist, dietician, and family), you can achieve the desired levels.