Unfortunately many stories about fat and clogged arteries are plain fabrications. Cholesterol is not a disease promoting substance, but a vital component of a healthy body. Your brain, nerves, and hormones depend on it. All your cells must have it or they die.
If cholesterol is necessary for health, why are we all obsessed with lowering it?
Perfect cholesterol numbers reflect good health and vice versa. Poor health is reflected in poor cholesterol numbers. Everyone gets that, but where people disagree is whether the numbers contribute to heart attacks.
Let me demystify something: cholesterol does not cause heart disease. Poor health causes heart disease. Poor health also changes lab values and that’s how you end up with high cholesterol. Unfortunately forcing high lab numbers down, because your doctor frets about them, does not translate into good health.
Should you then watch your lab results? Yes, you should, because they are the reflection of your health. When health improves, so do the lab results, but not the other way around. Replacing bad health with good is the best way to lower cholesterol. Yes, self-care is magical.
1. Lower cholesterol with diet
Poor health is frequently associated with poor nutrition. It is common that people who end up with poor health eat wrong foods. Many are actually health seekers that are fooled by highly advertised improvement such as “no cholesterol diet” or “low fat menu”.
Your body manufacture cholesterol according to your needs, not according to what your doctor wants, neither the number of eggs you have eaten for breakfast. Know that your low-fat efforts may not translate to better lab profile.
To lower cholesterol with diet you need to start eating real food and remove junk or junk that disguises itself as health food. Real food means: carrots, grass-fed beef, fresh apples, unsprayed broccoli, unprocessed artichokes, organic cherries, organic butter, farm-fed pork, organic eggs, etc. You get the point.
Now comes the hard part: what foods or food-like products will not help you in your noble goal of lowering cholesterol? Simple: these are the same foods that do not promote health. Although the list is long here are just some obvious examples: pastries, cakes, fish and chips, sodas, fast food, fried foods, and anything popularly called junk.
Here comes the catch. There are many foods on the market that are believed to be healthy, but in fact they are not. These are foods are heavily advertised as good for you. Beware of the deception. Among the frankenfoods are:
- commercial low fat yogurt,
- breakfast cereals,
- vegetable oils,
- fruit juices,
- granola bars,
- store-bought condiments,
- soy milk,
- almond milk,
- commercial salad dressings, as well as very many others.
Health does not do well on convenience foods regardless of the claim on the label.
2. Lower cholesterol with exercise
People who do not exercise are generally in poorer health than those who do. Since high cholesterol is a reflection of poor health those who do not exercise should expect poorer lab results. However, not all exercise create the same effects.
Endurance and conditioning exercises as well as vigorous and high intensity training are shown to promote better cholesterol numbers. Other exercise types have different effects. Do not get disappointed with bad lab numbers if your exercise regimen involves just walking or yoga. These activities are not intense enough to make a significant change to your blood chemistry.
3. Lower cholesterol with supplements
There are many supplements on the market that promise to lower cholesterol. But don’t spend your money as yet unless you are sure that the supplement also improves health. This is what you should know before letting go of your hard earned cash.
Increase in LDL (bad) cholesterol numbers is associated with high oxidative stress. You need to have oxidative stress before any plaque forms. Without oxidative stress LDL cannot attach itself to a blood vessel. It simply cannot do it by itself. It must get oxidized first. It is precisely the oxidative process, not cholesterol itself, that causes fat deposit and hardening of the arteries.
To keep your arteries clean you need to have enough antioxidants to counteract oxidative stress, but do not run to the store just yet. The supplementation with bottled antioxidants should be considered only after you make proper dietary and exercise changes. Too many people try to remedy their bad lifestyle habits with fashionable pills, but this approach does not lead to long-term health improvement, only to foolish spending and excess garbage.
I have seen many patients that discovered with surprise that real food and real exercise can change lab numbers better than prescription medication. And that’s due to health improvement.
If you are still a believer that artificially changed lab numbers will prevent a heart disease you have an option of lowering the cholesterol with meds, but then do not be surprised that these doctor-approved cholesterol numbers will be accompanied by declining health.