What is Cholesterol?
Due to the ongoing poor reputation for its role in the cause and promotion of heart disease, the word “cholesterol” is often seen as a negative term among those who are at risk for developing cardiovascular problems. Realistically, our bodies need cholesterol for it to work correctly. The American Heart Association describes cholesterol as “a waxy substance” that is a necessity for cell, vitamin, hormone, and bile fluid creation¹. Approximately 80% of this substance is naturally produced from the liver while 20% of it comes from certain foods that we consume. If cholesterol levels are properly controlled, the body should function as normal. Foods that contain dietary cholesterol are normally saturated in trans fats such as poultry, meat and dairy products. These fats can gradually lead to an overproduction of cholesterol, and if too much of it makes its way into the bloodstream, this is when it has a potential of becoming dangerous.
There are two types of cholesterol: low-density lipoproteins (LDL) and high-density lipoproteins (HDL). LDL is described as the “bad” cholesterol that is known for delivering particles to tissues and contributing to the buildup of fatty plaque within the artery walls. If too much of this is accumulated this can lead to Coronary Artery Disease and Atherosclerosis. HDL is the “good” cholesterol that actually assists in combating the LDL to prevent heart disease, heart attacks and strokes from progressing. HDL also carries one-third of the LDL back to the liver for the substances to be broken down and flushed out of the body through the urine, however this does not completely eliminate the amount of bad cholesterol in the body.
Understanding Cholesterol Levels
There are millions of people throughout the world that understand cholesterol and its purpose within the body, however that doesn’t mean that they have knowledge of what defines normal cholesterol levels. A normal cholesterol level is usually determined based on someone’s age, sex, and weight. The numbers are measured in milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL). Meanwhile, a lipid panel (fasting blood test) is normally required to gain access to these figures. Below are average cholesterol level numbers by age and gender provided by MedlinePlus². Please note that these ranges may vary depending on the lab running the test.
Naturally Controlling Cholesterol
Cholesterol levels fluctuate based on a few obvious factors: diet, physical activity, smoking and weight. All of these factors also play a role in increasing one’s risks in developing cardiovascular disease, stroke or hypertension. Therefore, controlling cholesterol levels is a great step towards prevention. LifeWorks Wellness Center believes in using natural treatment, supplementation and dietary methods to achieve this goal. Below are a few things that we recommend to patients:
- Ketogenic Diet: Medical physicians have speculated the effectiveness of the Keto diet since it requires the consumption of fats over the consumption of carbs for energy, however recent studies show that this diet is very useful for improving overall heart health. Everyday Health interviewed Dr. Daniel Soffer, Associate Professor and Medical Director of Endovascular Cardiology at the University of Florida, who reported that “the impact that keto has on lipids is modest”². Soffer also explained that the “low-carb nature of keto has the potential to decrease insulin resistance and improve triglycerides”³.
- Exercise: Physical activity assists those in losing weight. People who are overweight tend to have higher amounts of LDL in their bloodstream, which ultimately leads to heart disease or cardiac arrest. Exercise can also stimulate enzymes to return LDL back to liver to be flushed out of the body. Exercise doesn’t necessarily mean one has to perform a complete workout. A simple walk around the neighborhood, swim in the pool, or 30 minute bike ride every day would suffice and benefit your cholesterol levels.
- Treatments: At LifeWorks, some of the treatments offered to patients with cardiovascular issues include Enhanced External Counterpulsation (EECP), Plaquex IV Therapy, Chezone, and Chelation. Prior to receiving these, we recommend scheduling an appointment with a LifeWorks practitioner to best determine which one is needed for you.
- Supplements: For those with cardiovascular issues, Dr. Minkoff highly recommends supplements to reduce cholesterol levels and decrease heart disease risks. Common supplements include magnesium, omega 3 fatty acids, vitamin D, B vitamins and potassium.
For those with high cholesterol or are at high risk of developing heart disease, LifeWorks Wellness Center has the proper resources to help prevent them. If you wish to schedule an appointment or learn more about our treatments, please call 727-466-6789 or contact us online.