Why Is Cholesterol Important?
“Annual blood work tests are important. But how is my lifestyle between those tests?” – Adam, Life Grip Founder
Your cholesterol levels can be seen to be linked with lifestyle. But I always wondered how some super fit people could still die young or have unhealthy cholesterol levels. Why is it that even triathletes can have heart problems, blood pressure issues and issues with cholesterol. I found this to be very random as I was of the belief that as long as you ate clean whole foods, lived active and got plenty of hydration, that you would more than likely be doing great on the cholesterol front.
Managing stress levels by spending more time in the present moment, living in the now and having a daily meditation practise can help with Cholesterol. Short bursts of stress can promote growth, but long term stress may negatively affect your blood pressure and cholesterol levels.
There is more to it, but don’t want you to now think it is complicated. I’ll cover some points below about cholesterol and what you need to know and better yet what you can do to lower yours if need be but also give you the best chance to keep yours in check.
What is Cholesterol?
Cholesterol is a waxy lipid inside every wall of your cells and without it you would literally fall apart. It assists your body to make cell membranes, Vitamin D and loads of hormones. The cholesterol in your blood comes from two sources: the foods you eat and your liver. Your liver makes all the cholesterol your body needs.
Cholesterol isn’t bad, your body needs it. But you need it in healthy amounts in the right ratios as I’ll explain more below.
Did You Know Your Body Creates Cholesterol?
Your liver creates it everyday and creates all the cholesterol your body needs. So you get your cholesterol in 2 ways, from the food you eat and also what is created by the liver. Pretty amazing right?
It is important to eat a healthy diet of clean whole foods but just as important to keep your portion sizes appropriate for you. You do not want to be spiking Insulin from eating too much food. There are 2 ways to spike insulin and that is from too many carbohydrates in the one meal or just plain and simple too many calories in the one meal.
Overeating can cause many health issues and accelerate aging and disease. It puts too much pressure and stress on body systems and eating more calories than what you need has been linked to a shorter lifespan.
Your pancreas releases Insulin when a meal is eaten but too many carbs or too many calories can cause a spike in insulin. In response to this a couple of things happen. Your liver takes up a lot of blood sugar in order to lower blood sugar levels, but it also releases a larger amount of cholesterol.
So although we think we can just eat lots of healthy food, too much of it can also cause the creation and release of too much cholesterol.
What Controls How Much Cholesterol Is Made?
There is an enzyme called HMG CoA Reductase that regulates cholesterol synthesis. This was discovered in 1985 and won the Nobel Prize for Medicine by understanding how this enzyme controls the rate at which the liver produces cholesterol.
What’s amazing is that Big Pharma create cholesterol lowering drugs (statins) that all inhibit HMG CoA Reductase which is why they are able to lower cholesterol levels. But in doing so put people in a higher risk category for diabetes but that is another topic for a later discussion. The fact is that these drugs are doing things that your body can do naturally without the negative side effects. You just need to understand how to control Insulin and Glucagon.
I want you to understand that enzymes are usually triggered by hormonal activity. The 2 hormones that control HMG CoA Reductase are Insulin and Glucagon which are both released from your Pancreas in response to food eaten. Insulin is released when you eat carbohydrates and glucagon is released when you eat protein.
As you can imagine the amount of carbs you eat, determine the amount of insulin your pancreas will release and vice-versa for protein.
Insulin activates HMG CoA reductase, triggering the liver to make more cholesterol. Glucagon inhibits this enzyme, so your liver makes less cholesterol.
There is huge benefits to eating the right clean whole foods yes, but absolutely a priority needs to be placed on how much you eat in the one meal. But as Insulin is what triggers the production of cholesterol and Glucagon inhibits the production of cholesterol, a priority needs to be placed on how much Carbohydrates and Protein are eaten in your meals.
Your Protein to Carbohydrate Ratio is what we are talking about here. An easy way to make sure is to have a piece of protein as big as your palm and thickness of your palm. Your carbohydrates need to be 2 x the size of your protein when eating vegetables. But when eating potato, rice, pasta or bread this needs to be the same size portion of your protein.
The 2 Big Names In The Cholesterol Space: HDL & LDL
HDL: High Density Lipoproteins
One of the jobs of HDL is to get any excess Cholesterol you have back to the lover to be processed and excreted from your body. This is why HDL is looked as as the good stuff.
LDL: Low Density Lipoproteins
This one is what carries the cholesterol to different parts of the body. So LDL isn’t all bad as if we didn’t have this one, cholesterol couldn’t be carried to parts of the body and do its job.
Is LDL Cholesterol Bad?
There are 2 types of LDL Cholesterol and thus why it is so important to get a full Lipid Profile Test done so you know it all. It has always been said that HDL is the good stuff and LDL is the bad stuff. LDL has both large and small particles and it’s the ratio of these large and smaller particles that matter.
Could you imagine if you had a Cholesterol test done and your LDL was high and you were put on medication? But what if your higher level of total LDL actually had a healthy ratio of large and small particles? Unfortunately this has happened to many people across the globe and have been taking statins and medication that in many cases put people at risk of other diseases and even diabetes.
It is now known that if someone has more of the larger LDL particles and fewer smaller LDL particles this is a good thing. It is the smaller LDL particles that are causing the issue.
So don’t just take your basic total result of HDL and LDL, but look further and get your breakdown of the LDL Large and Small Particles.
A Healthy Lifestyle Helps Your Cholesterol
Implement an Eat, Think & Live Clean strategy into your life. It ensures you are eating right for your genetic type, you are living an Active Lifestyle and keeping your mindset in a state of presence, happiness, gratitude and growth.
Nutrition: Eat lots of Green Vegetables and Green Leafy Vegetables as they contain lots of vitamins and minerals giving your body what it needs to stay healthy. Vegetables in general contain healthy amounts of fibre which is whats going to get the scrubbing done and carry excess cholesterol where it needs to go for excretion. Fiber binds to cholesterol to eliminate it from your body. There are 2 types of Fiber, Soluble and Insoluble. Soluble Fiber is great for cholesterol and Insoluble is great for GUT Health so getting a balance of both is important. Your gall bladder holds bile which is used in digestion to help breakdown fats consumed in your meals in the digestion process.
Eat healthy fats and eliminate Trans Fats from your diet. Trans fats are hidden in things like margarine, confectionary and many processed foods, so make sure you read your labels. Trans fats lower HDL and raise your LDL. So many people purchase the cholesterol lowering margarine from the supermarket as that is what it says on the label, but it is actually doing the opposite. If you must have something to spread on your food, then go buy full fat products rather than fat reduced, you’ll only get yourself into trouble.
Although I believe doing as much as you can for your health with whole foods first and foremost, the benefits of high dose quality fish oil cannot be overlooked. It is important to purchase high quality fish oil free from impurities. Rich in Omega 3, EPA and DHA. You will want to be reading your label on this one and ensure you are getting the highest levels of EPA and DHA per 1,000mg. If your fish oil says there is only 250mg per 1,000mg, all this is saying is that 750mg is not really doing anything.
Olive Oil, Nuts and Avocado are great healthy fats to consume daily. Don’t be scared to have a teaspoon or half a shot of olive as part of your morning routine. You can tell a quality olive oil when you get a pepper taste in the back of your throat when you drink a teaspoon of half shot.
Active Lifestyle: Living an Active Lifestyle daily keeps your body and mind in check, energised and allows your lymphatic system to do its things and get rid of toxins from your body naturally. It promotes blood flow and a healthy level of cholesterol and blood pressure. Find something that promotes daily movement without the need to rely on motivation and do it daily.
Yoga, Swimming, Cycling, Skateboarding, Surfing, Group Fitness, Hiking, Bush Running or anything that makes you feel a sense of wanting to get out there and do it, is the thing you need to do more of. Think of Daily Movement that’s FUN, don’t think of it as exercise.
Meditation & Relaxation: Spending more time in the present moment, living in the now and having a daily meditation practise is hugely beneficial to a better quality of life, your mindset and your own personal development. Having a regular meditation practise is priceless, not only does it calm you, it’s also a counselling, life coaching and personal development session all in one. Breathing exercises are a great way to move you quickly over to the parasympathetic side of the nervous system. You can learn meditation here by following this link.
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Eat, Think & Live Clean
Adam Phillips – Founder of Life Grip