I often get emails from readers of my books about the basic key indicators that are essential to keep us alive and healthy – These are LDL Cholesterol levels – Blood Pressure and Blood Sugar Levels… So over the next few weeks I will be covering these three in more detail.
I respect and manage my cholesterol levels because without it there are certain vital functions in my body that would not happen. I am rather attached to my steroidal hormones including the sterol Vitamin D (thinks it’s a hormone) that keeps me happy in the winter and free of colds and flu and my bones strong by regulating calcium in my blood and others such as cortisol, there when I need it and DHEA, very important for my bone density now I am in my 60’s as well as helping keeping me young and remembering what happened yesterday.
I was grateful for my progesterone in my younger days that kept my periods more or less regular and for the oestrogens that developed me into the woman I was and remain today. I am also hoping that my cholesterol, which is very important for my eyesight will prevent me from developing cataracts in my 70’s and 80’s. Developing Dementia and keeping me active until a ripe old age.
Sound flippant? A little yes, but not so flippant as the suggestion that everyone over the age of 50, whatever their current cholesterol readings should be given Statins or other cholesterol lowering drugs. My feeling is that the NHS has given up trying to educate its clients into adopting a healthier diet and exercising more and is going with the mass medication option because they say it will prevent cardiovascular disease and dementia down the line. Quite frankly, they are terrified – they have an aging population- who are going to be more likely to develop heart disease, cancer, and dementia simply because the natural process is deterioration. However, without the protection of healthy forms of cholesterol many functions in the body are compromised including brain health and our sex drive.
What is ‘flippantly’ ignored is that cholesterol is not some demon substance that has invaded our bodies and is rampaging out of control through our blood stream, but essential to our fundamental health and wellbeing. There are a number of people who are genetically prone to cholesterol health issues and of course then medication may be the right decision but it should never be something that is given to all.
There are some lifestyle and dietary changes that we can all make to make sure that the cholesterol in our bodies is getting on with its job and not causing us health problems but before I move onto the solutions, I would like to spend a little exploring the reasons for the interactions that are taking place and resulting in clogged arteries.
I admit that I do use the term lousy cholesterol for low density lipoprotein – because this is the one that can get contaminated and cause health problems. Although when talking about cholesterol we refer to high density lipoprotein and very low density lipoproteins (not usually in substantial amounts) as well, they are all the same molecularly but have different packaging to be transported in the blood stream.
HDL and LDL sub divide into different types of lipoproteins and at the moment more is still to be discovered about this. The LDL is associated with the plaque that forms in the arteries leading to blockages – the smaller the size of the LDL particles the more you are likely to develop coronary disease than if the particles are larger and less dense. There is a theory that if the walls of the arteries are damaged in any way, the smaller and denser particles of the LDL can push their way through that break in the tissue and start clumping together to form the plaque whilst the larger HDL particles would not gain purchase.
In essence then, whilst the LDL cholesterol does have a role in the body there are strong indications that if there is already weakness in the artery it will attract the smaller particles that will then clump forming the harmful plaque leading to coronary disease. There is another problem with LDL cholesterol which is oxidation – this is where the particles react with free radicals, produced through a number of activities including smoking and eating a diet high in white fat as found in processed foods, crisps, pastries and cookies.
In my next post I am going to focus on what happens when that oxidation of LDL takes place and why the HDL is accepted as the healthier cholesterol. For the rest of the series I will look at some strategies to get the LDL levels down, raise the HDL and make sure that all of us do not end up on Statins without a libido!
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©SallyCronin – Forget the Viagra Pass me a Carrot 2013