Cholesterol refers to organic compounds, lipids that enter the body with food, as well as synthesized liver. One of the types of natural fatty alcohols, cholesterol is needed to ensure the normal life of a person.
Excess cholesterol in the blood – the primary link in the process of atherosclerotic, or cholesterol, plaques in the blood vessels. Normally, the level of total cholesterol found in the blood as an element of lipoprotein is in the range of 3.6-5.2 mmol / l, and with age due to physiological processes the upper limit of the norm increases depending on the age and the sex of the patient. With more indicators exceeding the upper limit, the risk of atherosclerosis increases, significantly increasing when the index reaches 6.2 mmol / l and more.
Circulating in the blood, cholesterol, with its excess, has the property of sticking together and accumulating in the arteries. Clumps or plaques obstruct the movement of blood, creating obstacles to blood flow and narrowing the lumen of the vessels, which causes oxygen starvation and insufficient blood supply to tissues and organs. With the disintegration of some of the plaques contribute to the formation of a thrombus, which provokes thromboembolism, heart attacks, strokes and can lead to death.
However, also, as an excess, the lack of cholesterol is dangerous. This compound, for example, is one of the important advantages of breastfeeding: cholesterol is important for the development of the brain of infants, affects the production of essential hormones, bone-muscle, immune, reproductive systems, and in substitute compounds, its content is significantly inferior to mother’s milk. Other important functions of cholesterol include:
- ensuring the strength and elasticity of cell membranes;
- the necessary component of the synthesis of cortisone, vitamin D, the regulation of the balance of phosphorus and calcium in the body;
- participation in the functioning of the nervous and immune system;
- protection of blood cells (erythrocytes) from the effects of various types of hemolytic poisons;
- the necessary component for the production of hormones of the reproductive system, etc.
A lowered level of “good” cholesterol leads to sexual and reproductive disorders, inability to conceive, loss of libido, as well as to depressive states with a high probability of suicidal outcome, digestive disorders, development of osteoporosis, diabetes, hemorrhagic stroke. Because of the danger of lowering the level of total cholesterol in the blood when taking statins, experts recommend changing the diet, lifestyle and trying to lower the level of cholesterol without medications. To do this, you need to know the techniques that help reduce cholesterol without drugs, and what foods reduce cholesterol in the blood, and which, on the contrary, increase.
How to reduce cholesterol without medication?
Cholesterol in the blood is contained as a combination of lipid and protein, lipoprotein. Depending on the type of complex compound in cholesterol, high molecular weight lipoproteins (“good” cholesterol) and low molecular weight (“bad”) are distinguished in the total, determined by blood analysis. The ratio of good and bad lipoproteins is called the coefficient of atherogenicity, calculating it by the formula: the difference between total and high-molecular cholesterol is divided by the index of low-molecular lipoprotein. The optimal ratio is 3 or less. With a score of 5, there is a high risk or development of atherosclerosis.
The practice of lowering cholesterol with medicines showed that when taking one of the most effective substances – statins – the level of total cholesterol decreases, and “good” (by 30%) and “bad” (by 50%), which negatively affects the body. In pharmacological practice, two groups of drugs are used for therapy – fibrates and statins. Fibrates are considered effective in combination with statins.
Drug administration is prescribed for a strictly defined group of patients: with a heart attack, stroke, acute coronary syndrome or a heart surgery in history, and with a hereditary risk of developing diseases associated with high cholesterol. The course of treatment is long, and at low risks, the use of medications that directly affect the concentration of lipoproteins is considered inexpedient.
To reduce cholesterol in the blood, use also drugs of bile acids, nicotinic acid, cholesterol absorption inhibitors and other medicines. At the moment, to reduce cholesterol to a certain level, non-drug therapies are recommended.
Physical activity for the regulation of cholesterol
This factor affects all people with elevated blood cholesterol levels, but especially those who lead a sedentary lifestyle, combining sedentary work with low activity on rest. Hypodinamy is also one of the main reasons for the formation of excessive body weight, which also increases the cholesterol growth probability.
Any physical activity – walking, running, swimming, sports games, gymnastic exercises – activates the metabolism in the body and helps to eliminate stagnation of bile in the biliary tract, which helps independent withdrawal of excess cholesterol.
Especially recommended for walking and running: these sports, according to the research, best help maintain the circulatory system in a tone and cleanse the blood of excess cholesterol.
Harmful habits and general health of the body
There is a pronounced correlation between excess body weight and elevated cholesterol in the blood. Weight normalization helps lower cholesterol. If the achievement of a normal body mass index corresponding to the sex-age characteristics and growth parameters is not feasible by diet and physical activity, specialist consultation is necessary.
Tobacco smoking is not just a bad habit. The constant intake of nicotine, tobacco smoke and carcinogens in the body adversely affects the entire body, including increases the risk of atherosclerosis: a slowing of the metabolism leads to the accumulation of cholesterol and a decrease in the rate of its withdrawal from the circulatory system.
Alcohol is a factor that has a negative impact on health. There is an unconfirmed theory, according to which moderate consumption of alcoholic beverages (no more than 200 ml of dry wines per day) can positively influence the process of lowering cholesterol. Unequivocal opinion on this issue is not developed due to the lack of large-scale studies, but the damage from daily intake of even such alcohol doses exceeds the possible benefits.
Harmful eating habits also affect the level of cholesterol in the blood. The habit of food production and the excessive sugar content in food and beverages are also a negative factor contributing to the formation of cholesterol plaques and the development of atherosclerosis. Exclusion from the diet of products with hydrogenated fats (margarine, products with a substitute for milk fat, most confectionery, half-finished products, fast food, fried foods, etc.) helps reduce cholesterol in the blood by reducing the intake of low-molecular lipoproteins contained in this group . Limiting the consumption of sugar in any form (in drinks, dishes, sweets, etc.) provides a reduction in the glycemic index of blood and contributes to the development of “good” low-molecular cholesterol.
Thus, a healthy lifestyle, motor activity and rejection of bad habits help reduce cholesterol without drugs.
Diseases, conditions and medications that promote increased cholesterol levels
In the body, cholesterol can accumulate due to the presence of diseases or when taking certain medications. Cholesterol levels are increased by violations of the kidneys, liver, pancreas, type 1 and type 2 diabetes, hypertension, hypothyroidism.
The increase in cholesterol levels can also be a side effect of some medications. The most common is this effect with long courses of immunosuppressants, hormonal steroid drugs, female oral contraceptives. With prolonged therapy with medications of these groups, regular monitoring of cholesterol level is necessary.
To the physiological conditions, under which there is a natural increase in the concentration of cholesterol without harmful consequences, refer to the gestational period. Changes in the hormonal background during pregnancy contribute to increased production of lipoproteins, and a blood test can show an excess of the norms of total cholesterol almost twice. It is the physiological norm that helps the development of the fetus and the preservation of the health of the mother. Without the attendant risk factors (pregnant diseases, pathologies, dysfunctions that may increase with a high concentration of lipoproteins), this condition does not require correction and medical intervention, cholesterol does not harm the body and its parameters independently come back to normal after delivery.
Elevated cholesterol: principles of dietary nutrition
Proper nutrition is referred to as the main non-drug way of lowering cholesterol. However, before asking what products reduce cholesterol in the blood, it is necessary to find out what kinds of food and drinks contribute to its increase: it is impossible to achieve a positive effect by eating “cholesterol-burning” foods in combination with harmful food.
The main substance that affects the growth of cholesterol is fat, so the diet for this disease is based on a significant decrease in foods rich in this substance. It is necessary to limit or completely exclude from the daily diet such products as:
- meat and poultry of fatty varieties;
- sauces with a high fat content (including mayonnaise and salad dressings based on it);
- strong meat, fish broths and soups;
- baking, sweets, confectionery, chocolate;
- by-products of any type;
- milk and dairy products, including butter, high fat content (more than 5%).
It is also not recommended to use strong tea, coffee, cocoa and sweet carbonated drinks.
Categorically excluded products with refractory and hydrogenated fats: these substances simultaneously increase the level of low molecular weight cholesterol and reduce the amount of “good”, high molecular weight.
Eat regularly, fully, preferring gentle treatment of foods: cooking, baking, stewing, steaming or grilling, minimizing the frying and use of oil or fat. During the day must be observed 3 basic meals (breakfast, lunch, dinner) and one or two additional (lunch).
The drinking regime is also important: for a day you need to drink 2 liters (8 glasses) of liquid, preferably pure water, herbal teas, compotes, fruit drinks, freshly squeezed juices.
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