Simply popping a pill to keep your cholesterol in control is like skimming the surface and avoiding a much deep rooted problem. Such a misinformed use of drugs not only impairs our body’s natural healing process but is also known to have harmful side effects by reducing the level of ‘Coenzyme Q10,’ leading to fatigue, tiredness and ultimately to a heart attack. That person you crossed this morning on the pavement could be having an elevated level of cholesterol but like many others his regular physician calls this normal. Due to such negligence there are many individuals who suffer from accentuated cholesterol levels and are blissfully unaware of its pending repercussions. Since the level at which concerns are based is taken from patients who are much advanced in their cholesterol problems, there is a large gap that exists between average and healthy levels of cholesterol.
Though this poses a health risk, the alarm bells sound today from across the other end of the spectrum – low level of cholesterol. Lower levels of cholesterol are being recommended to the benefit of the pharmaceutical industry that is driven more to record a profit on the balance sheet rather than uphold the common cause and keep the common man medically informed. According to latest estimates, the industry registers a profit in billions by the indiscriminate use of cholesterol reducing drugs also known as ‘Statins.’
Abetting them in this ploy are imminent medical personalities who make the relevant recommendations on panels and governing bodies that are universally incorporated by the medical community.
When considered that nine out of the eight panelists on the U.S. National Cholesterol Education Program,’ had ties with pharmaceutical industries that manufacture cholesterol lowering drugs the situation turns dismal. The subsequent result of this was to revise national health guidelines and further reduce the ‘normal’ levels for LDL (bad) cholesterol.
Prior to 2004, LDL cholesterol level of 130 was considered normal. Today that has been revised to less than 100 and for those at risk, to an outrageous level of less than 70. Since these revised levels brought a large bracket of previously considered healthy individuals in the risk zone, the demand for cholesterol lowering drugs became imminent and that translates into hefty profits for the drug industry.
It is important to understand that Cholesterol is not the enemy that physicians make us believe. It serves many useful bodily functions and also has a prominent level to play at the basic cellular structure. Besides being a primary ingredient of cell membranes and providing the fodder for the body to produce steroid hormones, its presence in the skin transforms into vitamin D when exposed to UVB rays from the sun.
When Cholesterol levels are depleted in the body it leads to neurological problems like memory loss, increased risk of depression leading to suicide, aggressive behavior and a substantial increase in risk of cancer and Parkinson’s disease.
Though a level of 330 would be considered very high by any given standard, a recommended way to keep a health check is to monitor the ratio between HDL (good) cholesterol with your total cholesterol. A simple division of your HDL cholesterol by the total cholesterol brings us to the figure that should be of primary concern. The ideal percentage should be above 25. Since there are no known adverse side effects to good cholesterol present in the system a higher ratio is most welcome.
A percentage between 15 -20 should be considered at risk and that below 10 should call for a reality check. A few basic do’s and don’ts should help keep your cholesterol levels in check but do note that lowering intake of cholesterol rich foods as the first step is nothing but an urban legend. Since 75% of cholesterol is produced by the liver, it is more important to maintain a healthy insulin level and avoid food that decreases insulin level in the body.
While exercise remains the first step, here are a few DOs and DONTs that could lower your cholesterol naturally.
- Exercise daily. If not, then an element of physical activity should be part of the daily routine.
- Reduce the intake of grains and sugar and eat that which is suitable for your body type.
- Increase your intake of raw food
- Maintain a good proportion of animal based omega3 fats in your diet.
- Avoid cigarettes and excessive alcohol
Besides the above, a poor emotional state should be avoided. An extreme disorder that affects those under cholesterol lowering medicines is ‘Hypercholesterolemia.’ It is typically due to a combination of environmental and genetic factors. Environmental factors include: obesity and dietary choices. Genetic contributions are usually due to the additive effects of multiple genes however occasionally may be due to a single gene defect such as in the case of familial hypercholesterolemia.
Those suffering from this condition could benefit by Statin medication. However this comes with a note of caution since there have been many cases where a wrong prescription of Statin medication has led to noticeable reduction of vigour and stamina among individuals. Those who have been living active lives gradually begin to feel lethargic and inertia creeps into their lifestyle.
For those under such medication it becomes important to understand how Statin medication works. These drugs reduce an enzyme in the liver that is responsible for producing cholesterol. However, they also act on production of ‘Coenzyme Q10’ (CoQ10) that leads to various health ailments, chief among them being premature ageing. Since reduction in this enzyme also increases the rate of DNA damage it becomes important to balance Statin medication with an intake of CoQ10 supplements. Many of our family physicians forget to make a mention of that.
A recommendation for those above 40 should be to take a reduced form of CoQ10 called ubiquinol since it is more readily absorbed by the body. The antioxidant action of ubiquinol is now considered to be one of the most important functions in cellular systems. After all it’s about our health and making the right informed choices today could decide how we live our tomorrow.