Lifestyle tips to reduce bad cholesterol
First a disclaimer: Cholesterol has gotten a bad name and many people do not understand what is good cholesterol and bad cholesterol. My attempt with this piece is to give a little education on understanding cholesterol and reducing bad cholesterol.
Step 1: Tune into mindfulness
A quick Q&A to understand cholesterol:
Q: Is cholesterol bad?
A: Cholesterol is essential for life and primarily produced in liver but other cells in the body also make cholesterol. It is a major building block for molecule and wards off toxins inside and outside our skin as well as holds the precious water in.
Q: Does cholesterol help with detoxification?
A: 80% of the cholesterol gets converted into cholic acid, which forms bile. Bile gobbles up the toxic fats in liver and intestines as well as helps to break down and deliver good fats to the blood and lymph.
Q: So what is bad cholesterol?
A: The cholesterol that doesn’t get converted to cholic acid forms good cholesterol (HDL) and bad cholesterol (LDL). The problem arises when this cholesterol gets oxidized or damaged. This happens due to environmental toxins, smoking, stress, bad diet and lifestyle.
Q: What’s the best measurement that will tell us cholesterol is getting damaged?
A: The triglyceride number. If we divide our triglyceride with HDL and the ratio is over 3 that means the chances of oxidization is high. Number should be under 2.
Q: Do medication help with getting cholesterol in control?
A: Sure, you will see the number reduce but it doesn’t solve the root issues that cause cholesterol to begin with. So one needs to still work on that.
Please note: Never reduce medication without consulting your doctor.
Q: What are many causes of bad cholesterol?
A: The biggest oxidizer is sugar and processed food. Therefore, diabetes and obesity naturally are the creators for cholesterol.
Q. How do we reduce bad cholesterol with lifestyle changes?
A: That is our next part.
Reducing bad cholesterol with lifestyle tips:
The way to measure if bad cholesterol is under control is by keeping the triglycerides, HDL and LDL in check. Once we make all these changes, we can test to see if the results have improved post 3 months.
- Good sleep: When we get 7-8 hours of sleep, our body primes previous days’ experiences, releases toxins from the brain and repairs our tissues that make us feel fresh the next day. Great sleep is a powerful healer for the body. If sleep is an issue then consuming lavender tea, having a few walnuts at night (good source of tryptophan – a sleep enhancing amino acid) and night meditation can help to improve it.
Stress: Nothing is bound to work if stress is not under control. We can eat everything correctly but if stress is not dealt with, it is bound to impact your health. Moving daily, talking to a professional coach and using tools, breathing and regular yoga and meditation are some of the best remedies for stress.
Avoiding the following foods:
- Sugar and processed foods: Indulgence once in a while is okay but otherwise excess sugar gets stored as fat, affects the arteries walls and turns into belly fat – all of which is a sign of deteriorating heart health.
- Alcohol: Again, we all enjoy a few drinks and it makes our life fun. However, moderation is very important here and it is an obvious one!
- Trans fats: Often found in processed food and if this is a huge part of your regular food, then it will reduce HDL, increase LDL and boost the risk of coronary heart disease.
Eating the following foods:
- Garlic: As per one research study, consuming raw garlic for just 2 months daily can bring significant improvement in cholesterol levels. If having raw is an issue, then blend it in the olive oil or make a little snack of hummus, olive oil and garlic, which is tasty as well.
- Vegetables: It is a no brainer that consuming more vegetables will increase fibre intake, keep the body alkaline and automatically change overall health.
- Bhindi (Okra): Yes! Bhindi is packed with fibre, antioxidants and potassium that is great for heart health. One animal study showed that okra extract decreases blood sugar levels and cholesterol in obese mice.
- Nuts and seeds: This is one of my favourite snacks that is packed with good fats. It is also directly co-related with cholesterol health.
- Turmeric: It’s powerful component curcumin has been considered a great healer for years now. Ayurveda swears by it and so do I. You can blend it with pepper and have it in hot water daily.
- Amalaki or Amala: It is a potent source of full spectrum vitamin C that takes care of the inner skin and long been known to support intestinal health. It is proven now that intestinal health is co-related to cholesterol.
- Olive Oil: Healthy for the heart and known to help reduce LDL, the right brand of extra virgin olive oil can be consumed daily raw in the morning – just one teaspoon can do wonders!
- Fish oil: 1000-2000 mg daily, this is a great source of omega 3 fatty acid, especially if organic fish isn’t a part of your daily meals.
- CoQ10: It is a co-enzyme that is shown to lower bad cholesterol levels. This enzyme in our body also tends to reduce once we have cholesterol, so a holistic supplement can be really useful. 200-300 mg daily is the suggested dose.
- Garlic: If you find daily consumption of garlic difficult, then you can aid it with a garlic extract supplement of 500 mg daily. It is definitely more concentrated and in fact I recommend this to my clients along with daily garlic consumption in food.
We do not need to agonize over a high cholesterol diagnosis and it can be brought under control with all these lifestyle tips. Our body is more powerful than we know and resilient to good habits. So one step at a time, inculcate these tips into your daily life and show bad cholesterol its way out.
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