Cholesterol is a fatty substance supplied by certain foods in the diet, although a bigger percentage of total cholesterol is produced in the liver. The functions of cholesterol in the body are numerous: it is the building block of every single cell a membrane (thin skin surrounding each cell and which facilitates the entry and exit of nutrients and wastes respectively), it insulates every nerve in the body, supporting uninterrupted electrical flow, and it is the basic ingredient of hormones.
Cholesterol also plays a role in protective mechanisms, such as protection of red blood cells, and repair of internal damage (acts like a sticky plaster) to arteries, veins and muscular membranes.
There are two basic types of cholesterol, considered ‘good’ (HDL) or ‘bad’ (LDL). So it is vital to know which one is high, because a simple overall high cholesterol diagnosis does not give the whole picture.
Every person with a diagnosis of high cholesterol is considered a potential candidate for heart disease, and since a diagnosis of high cholesterol is simply not a balanced state, health issues are bound to follow of one kind or another due to this (or any other) imbalance. However, this ‘threat’ from Doctors when a high cholesterol level is discovered, brings with it an increased stress response which in turn stimulates more cholesterol to be produced by the liver. A better take home message would be that you have an imbalance that can be corrected!
Foods high in saturated fat are well known cholesterol sources, but lifestyle factors play a bigger role as they initiate cholesterol production in the liver. Three main lifestyle factors should be addressed with the intention of bringing about a balance. These are: hormone health, exercise versus inactivity, and the level of stress versus relaxation and quality sleep. Work on those while reducing your saturated fat intake and cholesterol levels will come back into balance.
The key word to remember about Good Health and how to achieve it is Balance; where balance exists in all that we supply to the body, and in all of our activities in life, good health ensues.
By Lisa Borg, Nutritional Therapist at Pulse Light Clinic, to find out more about Lisa, please click here – Lisa Borg’s Biography