Managing Cholesterol – Recent Developments Part 1

The subject of elevated cholesterol is a big topic, and for that reason, I will be spending this and next week devoting this forum to clarify the mystery around cholesterol management. For as long as I've been in practice and even well before that, Naturopaths have known that the impact of modern food developments, increasing stress load and consistent sleep deprivation can have an adverse effect on a person's cardiovascular risk factors.  Modern science is now just starting to reveal in scientific terms the reality of this however, there is still a lot that is left undone before statin medication is prescribed.

 Lifestyle factors are essentially the first place to start when managing the elevation of fats causing disease in the body, but it is not all just fats that are the problem.  In fact, medicine is now admitting they have had that part all wrong up to now and with recent revelations that statin drugs are creating adverse effects in the health of the brain (an organ that absolutely needs healthy fats to fire properly) - it is time to look at ways we can manage better using the basics again. 

The chemicals and responses to those chemicals that your body produces under these 'insults' can create the necessary changes that will comprimise the membranes of your arteries (and other structures) - therefore effectively trapping the circulating cholesterol.  Elevated triglycerides is essentially a modern day condition - with the bombardment across the day of an 'innocent' intake of refined carbohydrates (muffins, white bread, white rice, white pasta, donuts, sweets, additional brown sugar, white sugar, syrups, alcohol) combined with trans fatty acids (margarine, palm oil, canola oil).

Research now shows us that it is not the saturated fats from animal foods that are the evil here - your body can produce at least 4 times more the amount of cholesterol that you can ever consume during a daily intak e of animal product.  Essentially everytime you need to make a stress hormone - your body needs cholesterol to manufacture these. Therefore this is just one of the ways your cholesterol levels can increase.

Having elevated cholesterol is a sign that a few things may be out of balance.  Here are a number of factors that elevated cholesterol may be indicating are out of order and therefore should be checked in your initial assessment and testing (not just a cholesterol test on its own):

1. Homocysteine - a by product from poor folic acid metabolism - if elevated increases the risk factors for cardiovascular disease. In both elevated cholesterol and blood pressure, this is an essential (and easy to manage) nutrient by product to check.

2.  Vitamin D - much research is now showing that lowered Vitamin D levels are implicated in elevated risk factors and cholesterol levels.

3.  Leptin receptor resistance - the hormone that is released when you are 'full' during a meal.

4.  Iron and copper deficiency - both requiring an acidic stomach and good hydrochloric acid production for absorption.

5.  Alterations in cortisol production - an adrenal hormone that impacts both glucose and fat metabolism and is often raised at night in persons that are suffering insomnia.  It is a stress hormone.

6.  Thyroid function problems - in particular iodine deficiency.

7.  Infection - your cholesterol levels may elevate during an infection due to the elevated immune hormone production required to fight infection.

8.  Inflammation - either caused by stress or other disease processes such as arthritis - your cholesterol levels in conjunction with pain and stress are a sure fire indicator your body is in inflammation.

Inflammation is essentially at the seat of elevated cholesterol - you reduce that - you can go a long way towards managing this naturally.  Next week, my recommended management strategies for cholesterol and triglyceride elevation will be revealed - stay tuned!

Remember - cholesterol is not an evil substance, it is a necessary chemical in your body and has an important function.

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