High Cholesterol? Fat Isn’t The Problem
So you went to your doctor and they told you your cholesterol is elevated, and that “we’ll monitor it”. Maybe they prescribed you statins, a low-fat diet, told you to get tested again in 6 months and sent you on your way. I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but that low fat diet isn’t going to do you much good. Why?
Cholesterol Isn’t the Problem…
“But my cholesterol is high, how can you say that cholesterol isn’t the problem?” Cholesterol isn’t the bad guy, it’s actually just trying to save the day! Let me explain.
When we eat a diet high in processed foods, sugars and refined carbohydrates over long periods of time, this significantly raises blood sugar and insulin levels. When blood sugar is elevated, it’s like tiny shards of glass running through our system causing damage to our cells and arteries. It creates something called free radical damage and oxidative stress.
What happens in response to this damage? Inflammation is triggered and cholesterol comes to the rescue to patch up the problem area. Yes, cholesterol is in fact being triggered to fix the problem! Overtime, without diet and lifestyle changes, this causes more cholesterol build up, resulting in the narrowing of arteries and eventually, if not addressed, a cardiovascular event. This is due to the fact that we still haven’t addressed the root of the problem: why cholesterol is building up in the first place. But beyond that, at the heart of the issue is oxidized cholesterol because of this free radical damage (think rusting on a car, that’s what’s happening internally.)
What is Cholesterol & Why Do We Need it?
Now that we know cholesterol is a defence mechanism your body uses to protect itself against insults, such as poor diet or smoking, we know it can’t all be bad. Cholesterol is a fatty substance produced by the liver, that is key for a variety of functions in the body. Some uses include making our hormones, building cell membranes and keeping our brain and nervous system healthy. Getting enough fat and cholesterol is absolutely essential for mental health because of this. It’s also necessary for the production of vitamin D in the skin when we’re exposed to the sun, as well as many other processes.
The Type of Cholesterol Matters
There are 2 main types of cholesterol: LDL and HDL (technically these are transporters of cholesterol, not cholesterol itself). LDL is often thought of as the “bad” cholesterol, and HDL the “good” cholesterol, but we need both in the right amounts. There are also 2 types of LDL cholesterol. The bigger, fluffy LDL particles aren’t problematic, but the small, dense cholesterol particles are associated with cardiovascular disease.
What You Can Do for High Cholesterol
- Start with diet. Remove refined sugars, refined carbs and processed foods and focus on eating real, whole foods. Consume plenty of organic, fresh vegetables, fruits, unprocessed grass-fed meats, good fats and whole food carbohydrates and grains.
- Focus on the RIGHT type of fats and eliminate the wrong type. Trans, hydrogenated and rancid fats need to be replaced with cold-pressed, minimally processed fats. You do NOT want to just eliminate fats altogether. (More on this next time)
- Start an exercise routine, even if it’s 10 minutes a day.
- Use nutritional supplements to support normal cholesterol levels. We don’t want to just lower cholesterol, as you’ve learned, it’s quite essential for our health in many ways.
- Find healthy ways of coping with and reducing stress.
Send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org to inquire about the next steps to take for gaining control of your cholesterol.
Registered Holistic Nutritionist™