As we go into the new year 2018, it is a time for reflection.
Time to make pledges to do something for better, to accomplish a goal or to make changes.
Selecting a healthcare goal can be the first step to wellness in 2018.
Why worry about cholesterol you might ask.
Cholesterol is a waxy substance in our diet that is needed for cell membrane function. However, like all things, much can build up and become a hindrance.
When in excess it just so happens that this waxy substance can build up on the inner lining of blood vessels and cause blockages over time.
Cholesterol can deposit in organs like the liver and cause liver problems.
The second problem with cholesterol is the genetic type of high cholesterol. There are various inherited conditions that cause lack of the receptors that bind the free-floating cholesterol.
When there is a defect, the result is excess cholesterol in the circulatory system with nowhere to go.
People with these conditions may have family members with cardiovascular disease at an early age.
So cholesterol is not a joke.
Everywhere I look, it seems impossible to run from cholesterol.
Cholesterol is seen in food like cheese, processed meats and meat, foods that have high saturated fat. It is seen in pastries, creams, gravy that use saturated fats like butter, margarine or palm oil.
Fried food can also have high cholesterol depending the oil used and the amount consumed.
There are 4 main types that should be screened for on a yearly basis. After an 8 hour fast, a fasting lipid profile will show HDL cholesterol, triglycerides, LDL cholesterol, and total cholesterol.
I call these the good, bad and ugly. HDL is good, the higher the better. This goes up with exercise.
Triglycerides is bad, in addition to cholesterol high foods and genetic predisposition, it also goes up with high intake of sugar and alcohol. Very high triglycerides can cause inflammation of the pancreas.
LDL cholesterol and total cholesterol are ugly and cause much havoc in form of heart disease, cerebrovascular disease like stroke and dementia, as well as kidney damage.
What can be done to lower cholesterol?
In the lowering of cholesterol, diet, exercise, and medications are the cornerstone of care.
Yes, it is never too late to make changes. The new year’s resolution is perfect to address changes for good.
Mindful eating will help. By being aware of the cholesterol content of food, it keeps one in check so as not to eat too much of foods that are unhealthy.
In this day and age of technology advances, there are many fitness tools, like activity trackers and apps as well as wellness programs to help track your fitness and diet goals.
My pledges for 2018:
I will add a little bit of fiber inform of psyllium to diet. Fiber is hard to digest if eaten in heavy amounts, so the emphasis on small here.
Reduce meat intake. I remember the small cubes of meat from ‘mama put’ from my University days. I will go back to cube sized meat portions.
To walk more. 10,000 steps per day.
Wishing you a happy and healthy 2018.
Written by Dr. Onuoha
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