When it comes to heart health, not a day goes by without the mention of high cholesterol.
For decades, cholesterol has been labeled a major risk factor for heart disease risk.
Many individuals have been scared into medication use by their doctors simply because they have what is deemed to be “high” cholesterol.
Do High Cholesterol Numbers Always Mean Higher Heart Disease Risk?
This is a nuanced situation and many times there’s a combination of factors leading to high cholesterol numbers that aren’t necessarily associated with increased heart disease risk.
Roles of Cholesterol in the Body.
Cholesterol is an essential and protective substance that the liver and intestines produce on their own outside of what we eat. All of our cells depend on cholesterol for their regular function and maintenance.
Hormone synthesis, particularly sex hormones like testosterone and estrogen.
Inflammation control and injury repair.
Nutrient absorption and tissue growth/maintenance.
Protecting and regenerating the fatty insulation layer on nerves known as myelin.
Poor cholesterol metabolism is a contributor to the development of nonalcoholic fatty liver disease as well as heart disease. The creation of bile acids is one of the main ways your body breaks down cholesterol and eliminates it from your body.
Bile is the yellow-orange substance produced by the liver to assist fat digestion and alkalinizing stomach contents in the intestines.
If the liver isn’t effectively creating bile, cholesterol won’t be broken down and can become elevated.
Why Are My Numbers High?
If cholesterol is “high” on a blood test, it usually means one of two things. Total cholesterol [TC] is elevated, or LDL [low-density lipoprotein and so-called “bad cholesterol”] is elevated.
Elevated cholesterol numbers are not always cause for concern and can be regulated with diet and lifestyle.
This is essential knowledge because, we can begin medication to lower cholesterol numbers without ever discovering the root cause of why our numbers are ‘high’?
Many statin medications can have serious and long-term side effects, so starting them is not a decision to be taken lightly and if you could use supplements and lifestyle changes instead to get similar benefits as medication, wouldn’t that be important information to consider?
Lifestyle Factors That Can Increase Cholesterol.
Poor Blood Sugar Control
High Inflammatory Oil Consumption [processed & packaged foods]
Begin At The Beginning.
Controlling our blood sugar is one of the essential elements to improve metabolic health and lower our risk of disease. This is also true with cholesterol because chronically elevated sugar levels can cause inflammation which requires cholesterol to help repair.
Cholesterol is a healing molecule so it will be elevated where there is high inflammation or injury. Studies have shown that eating a whole foods, nutrient-rich diet that is anti-inflammatory and high in fiber and polyphenols supports balanced blood sugar levels, improves cholesterol markers and supports the lowering or even elimination of problematic Type ll Diabetes medications.
We do have control through improving what we eat with simple dietary changes to see real results in both our blood sugar and cholesterol numbers.
When our blood sugar isn’t kept in the healthy range, this can elevate our cholesterol number too.
Cardiovascular risk factors are many and varied and go far beyond simple cholesterol numbers. Cholesterol doesn’t itself cause heart disease, yet high cholesterol correlates with many situations that are linked to higher heart disease risk.Therefore, it’s important to know these risk factors.
Poor cardio-respiratory fitness
Chronic low-grade infection
Magnesium and other nutrient deficiency
Move your body every day.
Eat whole, real foods rich in fiber and include fatty fish.
Limit trans fats and oxidized oils found in processed, packaged foods.
Consider adding some targeted supplements like magnesium, berberine, and fish oil.
Prioritize your sleep.
Avoid exposure to pesticides, heavy metals, and other toxins that can cause injury to your blood vessels and burden your liver.
Limit alcohol intake
Include mono and polyunsaturated fats regularly from food and cold-pressed oils.
Become Informed. Elevated cholesterol has many causes and contributors. As in everything, finding out the ‘why’ gives you a wiser way to support your best health. Know your numbers and risk factors so that you can choose a lifestyle/diet to support your best health. Addressing climbing blood sugar levels, lowering inflammation, supporting hormones can make a huge impact on how you feel.
Live Strong & Vital.
This is NOT about deprivation or avoiding all of your favorite foods and activities in pursuit of ‘perfect’. Be informed, choose wisely and find someone to help you move forward.
I Can Help.
There’s a lot of noise in this health and wellness space and I’d love to help you navigate these confusing messages. My goal is to help you find a way to live well by becoming empowered so that you can feel confident in making choices that truly benefit you!
You can find me here. https://www.janlindquistntp.com Instagram - janlindquist_ntp
Thanks for reading,