There are certain words in the medical field that induce worry for sometimes nonsensical reasons. One of these words is definitely “cholesterol”. Most people are vaguely aware that cholesterol is a bad thing and can be managed by eating fewer animal products. However, not many patients have a well-rounded understanding of what cholesterol is and how to manage it.
A truly comprehensive look at cholesterol is far beyond the scope of a simple blog article. However, a quick overview of this surprisingly important substance will certainly place you on the path to excellent health. Let’s take a brief look at cholesterol and how you can manage it.
What is Cholesterol?
Cholesterol is a substance in every cell in your body, necessary for healthy digestion, vitamin D production, and hormone production. In other words, your body does need cholesterol in small doses. However, too much cholesterol can lead to health problems. Excess cholesterol in the bloodstream can combine with other substances and form plaque along bloodvessel walls, restricting blood flow and forcing your body to struggle to spread essential nutrients. This can lead to coronary artery disease or other consequences of poor circulation.
Pro Tip: Dairy, eggs, and meat can all contribute to high cholesterol numbers. Enjoy these foods enough to benefit from their nutrients without overwhelming your body with cholesterol.
Different Types of Cholesterol
You may be familiar with the terms “good cholesterol” and “bad cholesterol”. The differences between the two are as follows:
- Good cholesterol: HDL (high-density lipoprotein) draws cholesterol from around your body to the liver, where it is filtered and removed.
- Bad cholesterol: LDL (low-density lipoprotein) and VLDL (very low-density lipoprotein) in high enough concentrations can cause plaque buildup in your bloodstream.
Unsafe levels of bad cholesterol are usually the result of an unhealthy lifestyle. Poor diet, lack of exercise, and smoking are all known to contribute to high cholesterol readings. Certain medical conditions, genetic problems, or medications can also factor in, though they are less common causes.
Treating High Cholesterol
For most patients, the best way to lower cholesterol levels is to adopt healthier habits. Change your diet, exercise more, drop habits like smoking, and focus on promoting your own health. These changes will often lower your cholesterol to safer levels with enough time.
Patients with genetic conditions or factors out of their control may have to adopt other measures. While a healthy lifestyle will certainly help, it may also be necessary to talk to your doctor about medication or ongoing treatments.
Keeping an Eye on Your Health
Cholesterol isn’t poisonous by any means. However, it certainly has the potential to cause health problems if not managed properly. Take control of your health by watching your cholesterol levels and working with your doctor for a long-term treatment plan.
Get in touch with us to learn how to manage your cholesterol numbers and improve your quality of life.