High cholesterol already affects one in two adult Poles. Bad results are often the result of an unhealthy lifestyle, and if the recommended treatment is not started in time, it can have truly disastrous consequences. How do you know if your cholesterol is above the norm, and what to do to get it back to normal levels?
What is high cholesterol?
Cholesterol is an enemy of our health, but only when it is in excess. Completely eliminating cholesterol from the body is no good, because it is from cholesterol that cell membranes are built, vitamin D synthesis takes place, and hormones are produced. These functions are performed by one of the fractions of cholesterol - HDL, commonly called "good". LDL is the fraction responsible for delivering HDL to cells. It is LDL that is usually in excess, which is why it is referred to as "bad cholesterol."
How much is the cholesterol standard?
As long as cholesterol is at the right level, there is nothing to worry about. The body produces most of the cholesterol on its own, and the rest is supplied with food, so a proper diet has a huge impact on the final results. Cholesterol in the norm is a maximum of 200 mg/dl, with HDL should be higher than 40-46 mg/dl, and LDL should not exceed 115 mg/dl. Elevated cholesterol is 200-250 mg/dl, while when the value exceeds 250 mg/dl and the LDL fraction is above 160 mg/dl, it is already a dangerous condition for health. The lipid profile also determines the concentration of triglycerides - dangerous for health is their level above 200 mg/dl, a level below 150 mg/dl is considered normal.
Cholesterol and triglycerides can be checked through a blood test. It is recommended that a lipid profile be performed at least once a year as part of routine checkups, those at risk need to check their lipid profile more often, as recommended by their doctor.
An effective way to lowering bad cholesterol is the dietary supplement we recommend.
Why is high cholesterol dangerous?
In simple terms, cholesterol in excess clogs blood vessels. LDL particles, which are unnecessary for the body, are deposited on the walls of veins and arteries in the form of atherosclerotic plaques. These plaques disrupt circulation, and this can lead to ischemic disease, atherosclerosis, abdominal aortic aneurysm, heart attack, and stroke.
People who have diabetes should be especially wary of high cholesterol - atherosclerosis is a common comorbidity. People with thyroid and cardiovascular problems are also at risk for high cholesterol.
What symptoms does high cholesterol give?
High cholesterol is so insidious that it may not give any significant symptoms for a very long time, even though cardiovascular disease is already developing. Usually, these clear signals are only noticeable when cholesterol is well above the norm, which is why it is so important to have regular blood tests for lipid metabolism. The first symptoms indicative of high cholesterol are usually leg pain, calf cramps, skin lesions on the feet - clogged arteries cause circulation problems in the lower extremities. In addition, nodules can form at the ankles and on the wrists from deposited cholesterol.
High cholesterol negatively affects the heart, so many of the symptoms are specifically related to the cardiovascular system - this can include pain and squishing in the chest, pressure in the heart area, palpitations, dizziness, numbness in the limbs.
Where does high cholesterol come from?
The main cause of high cholesterol is a poor diet. The lipid profile is disturbed by the consumption of excessive amounts of red, fatty meat, cured meats, offal, fats of animal origin such as lard or butter, fried fish and breaded cutlets, in addition, fast food, sweets, white bread, fatty sauces, fatty cheese, sweetened drinks are also harmful. Along with a poor diet, it is also common to be overweight, which further exacerbates health risks.
Another factor affecting cholesterol levels is age and gender. As studies show, cholesterol naturally increases in older people, and in terms of gender, in younger age groups, cholesterol problems are mostly in men, but after menopause, women become more prone to fat disorders. A weakened liver also contributes to higher cholesterol - one of the liver's main tasks is to cleanse the body of toxins and produce cholesterol, and the use of stimulants like alcohol impairs the work of this organ.
It is worth bearing in mind that although overweight and obesity, especially abdominal obesity, are very strongly linked to high cholesterol, slim and fit people can also have bad results - the cause could be poor eating habits or genetic predisposition.
How to lower cholesterol through diet?
Diet causes cholesterol to rise dangerously, so cholesterol levels can be restored to normal with diet as well. The most important thing is to exclude harmful fats and highly processed foods from the menu. Instead, large amounts of vegetables, raw and cooked, legumes, whole-grain cereals, dairy products, fish, and moderate amounts of lean meat and fruit can also be eaten into the daily menu. Vegetables should be in every meal, but it is important not to subject them to too much cooking or frying.
In place of cold cuts and sausages, it's worth introducing plant-based substitutes, while dairy products should be reduced in fat and preferably no added sugar. Fruits are just as best in the raw version - juices have fewer vitamins and fiber, and jams or preserves are usually artificially sweetened. Fiber is a very valuable ally in the fight against high cholesterol, also helps lower sugar by the way, but importantly, it is essential to drink larger amounts of water when consuming high-fiber foods - with poor hydration, fiber will cause constipation and bloating.
In general, it is worth reaching for products with a low glycemic index, so that the meal will provide satiety for a longer period of time, which effectively helps in weight control. Instead of frying products, it is better to boil or bake without fat, but this does not mean that any fat is a threat - your diet should not lack olive oil and other vegetable fats, nuts, grains, sea fish, among others.
Movement is very important for the cardiovascular system. Firstly, because it facilitates weight loss, and secondly, activity stimulates circulation, improves oxygenation of cells, increases the efficiency of the entire body. Physical activity also has a salutary effect on the condition of blood vessels. Movement does not have to be very intense, especially at the beginning, but regularity is important - even simple walking contributes to better health and have a beneficial effect on heart function.
Activity in tandem with a proper diet contributes to weight loss, which is key in the prevention of atherosclerosis and diabetes. It should be remembered, however, that weight loss must be carried out in a rational manner - it is about changing eating habits, rather than following drastic, exhausting diets that allow you to lose a large number of pounds very quickly, but almost always end with a yo-yo effect. Besides, losing weight too fast is not a good thing - in the long run, the healthiest thing is to gradual reduction in excess weight.
What else affects high cholesterol?
An underestimated risk factor for cholesterol is stress. It causes cortisol output, and this hormone increases blood sugar levels and LDL cholesterol production. Stress has a negative impact on metabolism and cardiovascular function, so that not only lipid metabolism itself is disturbed, but also other processes important for health and life. So it is worthwhile for your health to reduce - as much as possible - stressors.
Smoking cigarettes is also harmful to health. Nicotine increases the proportion of the LDL fraction and at the same time lowers the concentration of good HDL - smoking interferes with the work of enzymes in the liver, the very ones responsible for the proper production of cholesterol. In addition, cigarette smoking greatly increases blood pressure and can lead to premature death from cardiovascular failure.
What natural remedies can lower cholesterol?
Lowering cholesterol takes time, so you can still add to diet and physical activity Natural preparations to help regulate fat metabolism. There are a lot of herbs and spices, thanks to which cholesterol will go down faster - They can be added to everyday dishes and healthy vegetable and fruit smoothies. Ginger, cinnamon, flaxseed, plantain, milk thistle, chia seeds, garlic, onion, and cumin are considered the most valuable.
These natural ingredients can also be found in dietary supplements for lowering cholesterol. Supplements should not, of course, replace a healthy diet or exercise, but they greatly support the healing process. However, before buying such a supplement, check its composition carefully - it must be made entirely of plant-based ingredients, with added vitamins and minerals, without any chemicals. The content of active substances is also important. Supplements are not prescription, but you need to use them carefully according to the instructions on the leaflet.
High cholesterol - drug treatment
In the most difficult cases, when cholesterol significantly exceeds safe standards, drug treatment is indicated. Medications should not be selected on their own, but must be adjusted by a doctor, based on detailed examinations and individual diagnosis. When selecting medications, other diseases that the patient may have are also taken into account. All treatment must take place under the constant supervision of a doctor, and prescribed medications must not be substituted with other preparations.
Drugs for high cholesterol regulate the production of this component and keep both fractions at the desired concentration. Unfortunately, many such drugs already have to be taken for the rest of one's life, otherwise cholesterol will rise again, and on top of that, serious complications can occur. This shows the importance of prevention and prompt treatment as soon as something worrisome comes out in the blood results.