Dealing with High Cholesterol

Cholesterol overview

A few years ago, I had the obligatory ‘middle-aged’ health check-in 2017, where they did the full MOT. The key item that dropped out, besides carrying too much weight, was a significantly high level of cholesterol. Although I would try to keep a healthy diet, I’d have red meat quite a lot, probably 6-8 times a week, enjoyed milk, including full fat for my coffee, and probably laden too much butter on my toast with Vegemite (which contains Niacin, and that can help with cholesterol). The Doctor was keen to get me onto statins.

Statins target your liver, the cholesterol control center of your body. Here’s how they help manage cholesterol levels:

  1. Production Control: Statins block an enzyme in the liver called HMG-CoA reductase. This enzyme plays a key role in the liver’s production of LDL cholesterol, the “bad” cholesterol. By inhibiting this enzyme, statins slow down the production of LDL, leading to lower levels circulating in your blood.
  2. Enhanced Removal: Statins also nudge your liver to step up its game in removing LDL cholesterol that’s already present in your bloodstream. They do this by increasing the number of LDL receptors in liver cells. These receptors act like little Pac-man, gobbling up LDL particles from the blood.

 

Overall, statins work like a double whammy on LDL cholesterol – reducing production and boosting removal – leading to lower blood LDL levels and a healthier cholesterol profile.

I wasn’t keen to start a daily regime of tablet taking, so promised to change my eating habits. Of course, I never did, so when I had a follow-up MOT in 2023 my cholesterol was in the ‘very-high’ range, and I really needed to go on statins. This time I did, well, for a few months, and then it seemed too much hassle to get the repeat prescriptions each fortnight, and so, I seemed to just forget about them. Again, my diet in retrospect was filled with high cholesterol including red meat, dairy, and eggs. My carbonara sauce would have been a nuclear cholesterol bomb with bacon, egg yolk, and cream as the key ingredients!

It was in 2024 when I was having my teeth done in Turkey when I had the real cholesterol jolt. If you read this article, you will read where the gum specialist told me that I had a cholesterol problem (which I knew), but when he told me he could see it in my gums, yellow stuff, I initially felt ill, and then realized I had to do something about my high cholesterol problem, seriously I needed to start sorting this out.


Cholesterol is a waxy substance found in your blood and throughout your body. It’s often referred to as a fat, but it’s a type of alcohol. Your body needs cholesterol to build healthy cells and make hormones, but high levels of cholesterol can increase your risk of heart disease and stroke.

Dealing with High Cholesterol - 23/04/2024

Dealing with High Cholesterol - 23/04/2024en.wikipedia.org

Cholesterol molecule

There are two main types of cholesterol:

  • LDL (low-density lipoprotein) cholesterol is often called “bad” cholesterol. This is because high levels of LDL cholesterol can build up in your arteries, forming plaque. Plaque narrows your arteries, making it harder for blood to flow through.
  • HDL (high-density lipoprotein) cholesterol is often called “good” cholesterol. HDL cholesterol helps remove LDL cholesterol from your arteries and transport it back to your liver, where it can be broken down and removed from your body.

 

A cholesterol test is a simple blood test that can measure your LDL and HDL cholesterol levels. If your cholesterol levels are high, there are several things you can do to lower them, including:

  • Eating a healthy diet
  • Exercising regularly
  • Losing weight if you are overweight or obese
  • Quitting smoking
  • Limiting alcohol intake

 

So, I immediately made some dietary changes, I immediately removed red meat, but finished off the milk and butter I had, and started ramping up my oats intake. Not long after I found that I was heading toward vegetarianism, which wasn’t a bad thing. A nice surprise was that I found some great plant-based milk replacement drinks.

Here is a great article on the foods you should add to your diet to tackle high cholesterol. As stated above, you need the HDL to get the LDL out of the system, I think of these HDL foods as medicines for cholesterol. I also beefed (no pun intended) up my intake of margarine sterols, you can read if that helps here.

Dealing with High Cholesterol - 23/04/2024

The worst foods for high cholesterol, given their high saturated fat content, include:

  • Red meat, like beef, pork, and lamb, as well as processed meats like sausage
  • Full-fat dairy, like cream, whole milk, and butter
  • Baked goods and sweets
  • Fried foods
  • Tropical oils such as palm oil and coconut oil
  • Butter

 

If lifestyle changes aren’t enough to lower your cholesterol levels, speak with your doctor, they may prescribe medication.

Medically reviewed by Dr. Fatima Tariq (MBBS)

As someone with a deep understanding of medical jargon, I can acknowledge that this article provides the most comprehensive overview of the effects of high cholesterol on the human body in a perfectly summarized way. What I like the most is that the author has used his personal experiences to showcase the poor lifestyle habits that can lead to the buildup of cholesterol over the years. And yet, the article is not only about the problem; it also offers solutions, and probably everything that we, doctors, are trying to address about cholesterol is in it.

This might take you more than a minute to read, but it’ll be worth it.

fullife.com does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Any information published on this website or by this brand is not intended as a substitute for medical advice, and you should not take any action before consulting with a healthcare professional.

Picture of Quinton Smith

Quinton Smith

Share this Post

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Want More fullife? Sign Up!

Get our free essential travel checklist and country information sheets and more!

Popular Posts