What is Cholesterol?
It is a fat-like substance that occurs naturally in all parts of the body. A healthy level of cholesterol is needed for your body to work optimally. However, if you have too much cholesterol it sticks to the walls of your blood vessels and forms plaque. This plaque causes the blood vessels to narrow or even block them completely. Some cholesterol is produced by your body naturally, but a lot of it comes from the food we eat.
- Total cholesterol – This level should be less than 200.
- Triglycerides – This is a form of fat made in the body. Elevations of this can be due to overweight/obesity, physical inactivity, cigarette smoking, excess alcohol consumption, and a diet high in carbohydrates or simple sugars. This level should be less than 150.
- HDL – The “good” cholesterol that protects your body from allowing the LDL from getting lodged into the wall of your arteries. We like this level to be >59 mg/dl.
- LDL – The “bad” cholesterol. It is the measurement of cholesterol carried inside LDL particles. Too much LDL circulating in the blood can cause blockage in the arteries, which increases your risk of heart attack and stroke. Ideally, this level should be less than 100.
- Particle numbers – The number of LDL particles that are present in the blood. These particles are containers that carry cholesterol in the blood. LDL particles can be large or small, and the amount of cholesterol contained within these particles varies. Smaller particles have a greater risk of causing cardiovascular disease. The higher the particle number, the more plaque and inflammation you have present. This level should be less than 1000.
- Homocysteine – An amino acid found in the blood. High levels are related to the development of heart and blood vessel disease. Elevated homocysteine is also related to low levels of vitamin B6 and B12. This level should be less than 7.
- CRP – This is a blood test that measures general levels of inflammation in your body. This test is done to see if you are at an increased chance of having heart disease. This level should be less than 3.
Why is it Important to Have my Cholesterol Checked?
- Heart disease is the #1 cause of death in the United States! Over 2,200 Americans die of heart disease each day, which is an average of one death every 39 seconds.
- It is one of the most controllable risk factors for coronary heart disease, heart attack, and stroke!
Causes of High Cholesterol and Elevated Triglycerides
- Excess dietary sugar
- Excess dietary starch
- Hydrogenated, partially hydrogenated, or processed fats (shortening, palm oil, margarine)
- Liver dysfunction
- Amino acid deficiency
- Essential fatty acid deficiency
- Deficiency of natural antioxidants (vitamin E, selenium, beta-carotene)
- White sugar, flour, bread, cakes, candies
- Soft drinks (including diet!)
- Fruit juice
- High-fat diet
- Family inheritance
- Skipping breakfast and/or lunch and making up for it at supper
- Lack of physical activity
- Caffeine – beyond two cups of coffee per day
Traditional Management of High Cholesterol vs. Our Approach
- Traditional management involves diet, exercise and use of a statin. The downside to this approach is statins affect liver function and is the leading cause of joint pain and fatigue in our society. Statins also deplete CoQ10, which is important in heart function.
- Our approach focuses on finding the root cause of why you have high cholesterol. We do an extensive panel to look for several risk factors, not just cholesterol. Included in this are homocysteine levels, insulin, CRP, particle number and size. We also have the option to do nutritional testing with Spectracell, as well as checking your toxicity level with our BIA (Bioelectrical Impedance Analysis). There are over 400 risk factors for heart disease. Our recommendations are:
- Nutritional and Lifestyle Modification – With our weight loss programs Healthy Lifestyle and the HCG Diet we see significant improvement in overall health and wellness including cholesterol improvement. These medically supervised weight loss programs incorporate healthy nutrition, supplements, medical foods, nutritional protocols, exercise, and stress management. Another option is to follow the Mediterranean or Paleo diets – whole food diets rich in antioxidant rich fruits and vegetables, gluten-free whole grains (Mediterranean), beans/legumes(Mediterranean), nuts, and seeds, use of healthy fats, such as olive or coconut oil and adequate amounts of lean, quality protein, fish, and eggs.
- Exercise – Cardio workouts 30 minutes a day, five days a week; strength training twice a week.
- Take fish oil (dose depends on the severity of the cholesterol levels)
- Niacin – Decreases total cholesterol, decreases LDL, decreases triglycerides, and increases HDL. (dose depends on the severity of the cholesterol levels)
- Increase fiber intake – Soluble fiber will lower both total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol.
- Red Yeast Rice