The Role & Importance of a Basic Necessity: CHOLESTEROL
There has been a lot of debate and discussion on the topic of Cholesterol in the past few years. But too much information can also result in the mix up of facts and opinions; hence it is important to get the facts straight. The moment we hear the word ‘Cholesterol’ we assume it is bad for the human body as the media has always focussed on its adverse effects. However, it is surprising that cholesterol is a necessary component in good health. Cholesterol, a soft and waxy substance is often referred to its relationship with the bloodstream, but excess amounts of it can lead to clogging of the arteries which can aggravate to cause heart disease and strokes.
Not only is cholesterol found in the bloodstream, it is also present in every cell in the human body. It has a myriad of important uses that are crucial for its continued good health. These include producing vitamin D, cell membranes and hormones. Cholesterol also helps produce bile acids that aid in the digestion of fats. Creating memories and smooth neurological functioning is also an important function of cholesterol in the body. Our blood vessels become damaged in a variety of ways, through irritations caused by free radicals or viruses, or because they are structurally weak. When this weakness occurs, the body’s natural defences kick in and release a healing substance known as cholesterol. It plays many vital roles in maintaining good health.
The liver makes up nearly all of the cholesterol that a body needs, this is about 75% of it. The additional cholesterol is obtained by the diet, and that is where the problems often begin. Of this cholesterol, there are two types, each with its own specific characteristics. High-density lipoprotein, also known as HDL or ‘good’ cholesterol, actually helps to keep the cholesterol out of the arteries where it can often cause problems. In addition, HDL helps to reduce cholesterol from arterial plaque which can cause heart disease.
The other type of cholesterol that is often spoken of in the media is low-density lipoprotein. Also known as LDL or ‘bad’ cholesterol, this is the type that can build up in the arteries, making them less flexible. Apart from being less flexible, the arteries can also become much narrower, making the possibility of blood clots very dangerous, or even fatal.
Because cholesterol is actually made up of two separate components, the total cholesterol figures often obtained at the doctor’s office can be misleading. Instead, it is important to ensure that the two different cholesterol levels are at acceptable levels. This means keeping LDL at levels under 100 mg/dl for people who have low risk while people with high risk factors should have levels under about 70 mg/dl.
Like many other things related to our health, we have been misled on the marketing efforts of certain fractions in the health industry. We have been conditioned to believe saturated fats are deadly, low fat products with artificial sweeteners are good for us, and GMOs pose no harm to the human physiology. Although many of these myths are starting to be cleared up by those on the forefront of the natural health movement, one that has lagged behind is the truth about cholesterol and its role and effects on the human body.
Four changes to lifestyle are recommended for all people with high cholesterol levels – including those receiving drug treatments – in order to reduce the risk of coronary heart disease and heart attack:
Exercise is one lifestyle measure that can reduce cholesterol levels.
- Eat a ‘heart-healthy diet’ (for example, use low-fat toppings and sauces, and avoid foods high in saturated fat; eat vegetables, fruits and fiber-rich whole grains)
- Regular exercise
- Avoid smoking
- Achieve and maintain a healthy weight.
Maintaining balanced cholesterol levels can be challenging as it is not very convenient to distinguish the presence of HDL & LDL in our food intake. www.watifhealth.com brings to you an innovative and ground-breaking medical tool to assess, analyse and diagnose your health condition, with the help of your android phone/desktop. This application not only measures the cholesterol intake in your body based on the type of food consumed but also suggests food and lifestyle that will keep your cholesterol levels under constant check. With the world evolving towards finding convenient ways of living each day, we at WatifHealth aim to do the same in a ‘healthy’ way.