Cholesterol is not the bad guy
70% of our body produces cholesterol. Do you think the body will work so hard to produce something that is bad for you?. Virtually all cells of the body can produce cholesterol but is mostly made in the liver, intestine, adrenal cortex, and reproductive tissue.
Why cholesterol is so important?
Here are some of the roles that show how important is cholesterol:
- Used for cell membrane integrity.
- Protects cell from toxins and dehydration.
- Component of bile
- Precursor of vitamin D and steroid hormones. If your body does not have enough cholesterol, it cannot make bile or vitamin D!.
- Acts as an antioxidant when the body is depleted of antioxidants.
What causes the body to produce elevated cholesterol levels?
Here are some of the most common causes:
- Deficiencies of antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, and essential fatty acids
- Low dietary fiber intake because less bile and therefore cholesterol is eliminated
- Chronic dehydration because cholesterol is used in the cell membranes to prevent them from dehydration
- Chronic stress because it causes elevated cortisol levels, and cortisol is made from cholesterol!
- Low thyroid function because reduced T4 causes that enzyme that makes cholesterol to go in overdrive…
- Menopause, the body produces more cholesterol to make progesteron and estrogen as transitional help
Maintaining cholesterol levels in a healthy way
So now that you know the roles of cholesterol, you can see that you need to address the reason for elevated cholesterol levels rather than taking a pill to reduce it… forcefully reducing cholesterol levels can actually cause you harm because your body needs more cholesterol for a reason.
Here are some recommendations to keep your cholesterol at a healthy level by addressing the most common causes of elevated cholesterol levels:
- Drink 8-10 glasses of water (8oz). Just water… not juice, coffee, or other drinks. Definitely not pop because it dehydrates you more. If you drink coffee or alcohol, drink a glass water for every 8oz.
- Increase dietary fiber. Consume at least 30g a day. It is really easy by eating fruits (berries) and vegetables high in fiber. Eat whole grains only! Beans are also high in fiber.
- Take 2000 IUs of Vitamin D3. We are all deficient during the winter months. Once, I did my cholesterol test in the winter and my family doc told me that I had slightly higher cholesterol levels, the following year I did the test in the summer and the levels were normal again… without changing anything or taking anything for reducing it.
- Ask your physician to check your thyroid function.
- If you have a lot of stress, follow diet and lifestyle guidelines to reduce it.
- Eat good fats and moderate the amounts of sugars and processed fats, or better yet eliminate them altogether.
If you have high cholesterol due to genetic reasons, you might need these drugs. In other cases, it is important to find the causing factor and address it rather than using these drugs.
These drugs are toxic to the liver and highly carcinogenic. Some of these drugs are associated with increased risk of cardiovascular mortality despite their claims. So make sure you o your research.
Lowering cholesterol with diet
Excess of sugars and excess of fats from processed and non-essential dietary fatty acids are converted into cholesterol. An excess of these foods can contribute to high cholesterol but certainly are not the cause. So you need to be mindful and use with moderation or even better eliminate as there is no real value on these foods.
Any food high in fiber helps to lower cholesterol. Your body cannot burn cholesterol as it burns fat… so it removes the excess of cholesterol as a component of bile provided that you consume enough fiber!
A kapha reducing diet also helps to control cholesterol. For some guidelines, see The ayurvedic lowdown on winter.
Lowering cholesterol with yoga
A regular yoga practice addresses causing factors of elevated cholesterol, such as:
- Improves levels of cholesterol and triglycerides
- Improves bowel function and therefor elimination
- Lowers cortisol levels (stress hormone)
- Lowers blood sugar and blood pressure
- Relaxes and improves the function of the nervous system
Some yoga poses that can help you control cholesterol are:
- Sun Salutation
- Shoulder Stand
- Spinal Twist
If you are new to yoga, restorative practice provides alternative way to practice all these poses. For more information, see Yoga classes for real people.