October 14th-20th is National Cholesterol week, to promote self awareness about cholesterol, as recent studies have shown that 3 in 5 people in Britain suffer from cholesterol related diseases.
What is it?
Cholesterol is a fatty, yet vital substance we have in each and every one of our cells and is made in our liver. Some foods that we eat contain cholesterol, and too much of them can cause serious heart problems.
Cholesterol is made of two types of ‘lipoproteins’; low density lipoproteins (LDL) and high density lipoproteins (HDL).
LDLs carry cholesterol from the liver to the cells, if there is too much cholesterol to carry and hold in the cells, it builds up along the arteries. Excess cholesterol and blockages in the arteries cause the heart to work harder to pump blood to the rest of the body and brain, which could cause heart problems such as coronary heart disease, hence why LDLs are knows as ‘bad’ cholesterol.
HDLs carry cholesterol from the cells back to the liver, where it can be broken down and released as a waste product from the body, which is why it is known as ‘good’ cholesterol.
Our bodies need more HDLs than LDLs, yet some foods increase the level of LDLs inside us.
How does it affect me?
Individuals with high cholesterol have a higher risk of serious health problems such as atherosclerosis; the narrowing of the arteries, of having a heart attack, stroke and cardiovascular diseases. In the UK, coronary heart disease is the biggest killer, not cancer.
As there are no initial symptoms of having high cholesterol it is hard to know whether you have it, unless you are made aware of it. Blood tests can measure the amount of good and bad cholesterol is in your body. Anyone is at risk and if you need another reason to have a cautionary blood test then here’s a few;
– If you’re over the age of 40
– If you are overweight
– If you’ve been diagnosed with any heart related problems
– If you are diabetic
– If you have a high blood pressure
– If you have an underactive thyroid
– If there is any family history of cardiovascular diseases
– If any close family relatives have a cholesterol related disease
Causes of high cholesterol include eating, smoking, drinking and staying on your sofa. Dammit.
Foods to avoid if you suffer from heart related diseases;
Saturated fats are mainly found animal products such as; lard, sausages, bacon, fatty beef, chicken skin and other red meats.
High fat dairy products; cream, butter, cheese and whole milk (so basically all the good stuff)
Cakes, pies, pastries, crisps and chocolate (more yummy stuff)
Trans fats are produced when vegetable and animal fats are made into solid fat, which make them ‘hydrogenated fat’ such as cooking margarine and elements of fast food. These fats raise LDLs and lower HDLs.
Sugar causes the build up of plaque in arteries which directed increase your risk of having a heart attack. Simple sugars are in all those naughty but nice treats we like to indulge in, but the weight gain raises the cholesterol.
Foods high in cholesterol as a waxy substance in the finer things in life such as egg yolks, prawns, shellfish and caviar, but they have little effect on levels of cholesterol unless you already have high cholesterol.
Even though basically most foods have been named in the naughty list, it’s important to remember that they are all ‘allowed’ in moderation.
Foods you CAN eat:
Monosaturated fats, so fats with only one element such as; olive, rapeseed, peanut, walnut, avocado, almonds and brazil nuts which all contain essential oils for the body.
Polysaturated fats; soya, sunflower oil and sesame oils
Omega-3 fatty acids; found in dark and oily fish like sardines, herrings, tuna, salmon, mackerel, anchovies and crab, all which help lower the production of bad cholesterol
Fibre; found in all the truly good foods; fruit and vegetables, wholegrain cereals, bread, wholemeal products and pulses.
Garlic: reduce the risk of blood clots
Citrus fruits: vitamin C and Limonine which reduces LDLs
Turmeric: has curcuminoid have a strong effect against LDLs.
Also be aware of..
- Smoking excessively (or at all); as it has a chemical called ‘acrolein’ which leads to the narrowing of arteries.
- A glass of red wine is good for your heart, but the whole bottle isn’t. If you have a cholesterol related health issue then the best intake is 1-2 units a day. Excessive drinking also leads to weight gain, putting a strain on your heart.
- A family history of heart related diseases; genetics are a strong contributing factor to those who have high cholesterol. Even if you eat healthily, if there a hereditary link of high cholesterol it can still affect you.
- If you already suffer from diabetes and or high blood pressure. Too much strain on your heart can contribute to the risk of coronary heart diseases.
- Excess stress levels, emotional and physical stress can have an affect on your heart’s activity and blood pressure.
- And last the amount of exercise you do. It is common sense the more active you are; the more you can stop the build up of bad cholesterol in your important arteries. Brisk walks to work when you’re running late to work counts as exercise, just try and do it at least 3 times a week.
For information on Bowen therapy, and to see how we can help, call 0844 561 7173, or send an email to ask@BowenTherapy.org.uk. Alternatively, you can visit the website here.