Should I worry about my high cholesterol?
Have you recently been told by your doctor that your cholesterol is high? Typically, this calls for alarm bells after seeing one or many parameters of your blood (‘serum’) cholesterol being raised, and the topic of conversation may even lead into a pharmaceutical cholesterol-lowering drug called a statin.
BUT is high cholesterol all that bad?
After all, cholesterol is essential for:
sex hormone production (which doesn’t happen at certain times of the month – we make these every day!)
So before we all freak out, let’s break it down a little. There are many reasons your cholesterol could be high. First and foremost it could be your diet…
Take into consideration your dietary intake. Is there a high amount of animal meats and products like butter or cream in there? If so, it makes total sense that the overall cholesterol in the body is high. Humans make their own, and so too do animals. So human cholesterol + animal cholesterol = lots of cholesterol. Pretty basic right?
A liver that works properly spits out it’s detergent bile to break down fats and oils (which help our bodies make cholesterol) and mop up the excess. Liver issues might prevent this process from occurring.
How would you know you had liver issues? You may be the kind of person that thrives after coming off a detox, you might struggle with acne, find it hard to breakdown fatty foods and maybe are prone to swelling up and feeling fluid retention. A yellowy tinge to your skin and pain, swelling in your upper right abdomen are also more obvious giveaways.
When liver mops up bile your body should be able to eliminate it properly. If you tend towards constipation, chances are you’re reabsorbing a lot of waste that should be exiting. If you’re reabsorbing those bile-cholesterol compounds, this would again add to your overall load. This might be because you are dehydrated or don’t have much fibre in your diet.
Sometimes our body is trying to achieve something. e.g. If you’re a female over 45+ and your body knows it’s going to need to match the high level of oestrogen you can reach during perimenopause, it may be trying to bump up your circulating cholesterol to try to manufacture lots of progesterone (the counter to oestrogen) which is a calming, immune supporting sex hormone that helps reduce the likelihood of stubborn fat. Do I need to lower it?
With statins, no. Dietary approaches though, might mean your total cholesterol comes down and you find your body and brain functions a lot better. Those dietary approaches however, would not be trying to reduce your cholesterol but rather optimising your overall health to see how your body responds once any nutritional gaps have been filled.
The Importance of Cholesterol Understanding your cholesterol and what it may mean is more important than shutting off your body’s ability to create it. Every cell in our body has a skin that relies on the stuff! So we don’t want to be messing with that process or it could mean bigger, worse problems.
If you’re already doing all the right things i.e. a diet with adequate whole-food plant fibre, antioxidants, healthy fats and enough protein, and you feel good in your own body this isn’t necessarily something I’d worry about. A slight elevation, even across parameters like LDL and non HDL wouldn’t be a cause for concern. So speak to your natural health practitioner about whether your cholesterol needs to be lowered and if so, do it safely with natural, targeted dietary approaches.
If you would like some assistance to optimise your diet to support cardiovascular, liver and general health - get in touch. We'd love to help you.
Dee Zibara Adv.Dip.Nut.Med.ANTA