Raised cholesterol can be a risk factor for cardio vascular diseases and over half of all adults in England have raised cholesterol according to heart uk, the cholesterol charity.
The NHS always recommends lifestyle changes but if unsuccessful, the only option is to go on statins for life if levels are dangerously high. Statins lower cholesterol by blocking the enzyme in the liver that makes cholesterol, but come with many possible side affects that include:
- Gastrointestinal disturbances
- Sleep disturbance
- Peripheral neuropathy
- Sexual dysfunction
- Visual disturbances
- Hypersensitivity reactions including rash, pruritus, urticarial.
- Hyperglycaemia, which is associated with type two diabetes
- Muscle damage
- Back pain
- Chest pain
- Weight gain
- Peripheral oedema
- Neck pain
- Stevens-Johnson syndrome
- Toxic epidermal necrolysis
- Hearing loss
Whilst these side effects are alarming and likely to lead you to a cocktail of drugs to negate the side effects, there are measures you can put in place naturally to try and lower cholesterol and avoid a lifetime of pharmaceutical drug use.
Cholesterol is an essential part of every cell structure and is needed for proper brain and nerve function and is also a key component in the manufacture of sex hormones. Cholesterol is made in the liver and transported through the blood stream to the sites where it is needed. It is a fatty substance and because blood is mostly water, it has to attach to molecules called lipoproteins to travel around successfully. Low-density lipoproteins (LDL’S) are the major transporters of cholesterol into the bloodstream and deposit cholesterol into the arteries, so are known as bad cholesterol. High Density lipoproteins (HDL’S) on the other hand, are considered good cholesterol as they carry unneeded cholesterol away from the cells and back to the liver, where it is broken down and removed from the body.
If this system gets out of balance and there is to much cholesterol for the HDL’S to pick up or not enough HDL’S to do the job, then cholesterol can form plaques in the arteries that may eventually lead to heart disease. The key is to try and increase HDL and lower LDL cholesterol through lifestyle changes, dietary changes and supplementation. Implement the following recommendations over a 6-month to 1-year period and see if there has been any improvement.
- Avoid stress
- Avoid alcohol consumption and smoking
- Participate in a regular balanced exercise program. High intensity short bursts are recommended (20-60 seconds) to enhance growth hormone release. Also engage in resistance training that works all major muscle groups.
- Include the following cholesterol lowering foods in the diet: Almonds, apples, bananas, carrots, cold water fish, dried beans, garlic, grapefruit, oats, olive oil, salmon, walnuts and strawberries.
- If consuming starchy foods such as bananas or carrots, ensure to add a good protein source to stabilize blood sugar. Always eat a good protein source with snacks and meals for this reason.
- Avoid sugar, especially high fructose corn syrup.
- Limit starchy carbohydrates such as potatoes, pasta, rice, breads, crackers, refined cereals etc.
- Avoid cakes, sweets, carbonated drinks, coffee, gravies, pies, processed and refined foods, refined carbohydrates, tea
- Make sure to take in plenty of fibre in the forms of fruits and vegetables. Aim for 5-9 servings per day.
- Drink fresh juices, especially carrot, celery and beetroot. These juices help to flush out fat from the bile in the liver and this helps to lower cholesterol.
- Use only unrefined cold pressed oils. Use olive oil at low heat for cooking
- Reduce the amount of saturated fat and cholesterol from the diet. Saturated fats include all fats of animal origin (especially pork) as well as coconut oil and palm oil.
- Avoid hydrogenated oils and fried foods.
- Psyllium husk or apple pectin. Take as directed on label
- Chinese red yeast rice extract. 2.4g daily
- Chromium picolinate. 400-600mcg daily
- Garlic. 2-3 capsules daily
- Sunflower lecithin granules or capsules. 1tbsp (1200mg) 3 times daily before meals
- Methylated B vitamin complex. Vitamin B1 (thiamine) and B3 (Niacin) important in lowering cholesterol. Take up to 300mg daily of niacin. This can cause skin flushing. Do not exceed this amount. Do not take if you have a liver disorder, gout, or high blood pressure.
- Vitamin C with Bioflavonoids. 3000-8000mg daily in divided doses. Lower daily dose if you experience gastrointestinal symptoms
BNF 66 September-march 2014. The authority on the selection and use of medicines
Balch 2014,nutritional healing fifth edition