To better understand how to lower cholesterol naturally, let’s take a step back and talk a bit about it.
What is Cholesterol?
Cholesterol is a fatty substance that is produced in your cells. Because of the negative view most people have of anything fatty, it is often perceived as bad. However, you need a certain amount of cholesterol in your body as you’ll see below. Cholesterol is necessary for life in all animals.
What Does Cholesterol Do?
Cholesterol has several functions. The purpose of cholesterol in your body includes:
- It acts as a framework to make hormones like estrogen and testosterone
- It is an important part of the membrane that surrounds every cell in your body
- Cholesterol helps to move things within your cells
- It also makes up some of the sheath around your nerves that improves nerve transmission
- Cholesterol is used to make vitamin D
- It is used by your liver to make bile acids. These help you digest and absorb fats and fat-soluble vitamins like vitamins A, D, E and K
What Are the Different Types of Cholesterol?
You’ve likely heard that there is “good” and “bad” cholesterol. The good cholesterol (HDL) works to remove excess cholesterol from your tissues and return it to your liver – either for excretion or to make into hormones. The bad cholesterol (LDL) is associated with heart attacks, strokes and vascular disease. There is also VLDL and IDL cholesterol. The levels of LDL, VLDL and IDL cholesterol are the ones that are correlated with clogged arteries.
What is a Normal Cholesterol Level?
Normal cholesterol levels in Canada are:
Total cholesterol = less than 5.20 mmol/L
HDL cholesterol = greater than 1.3 mmol/L
LDL cholesterol = less than 3.5 mmol/L
Ratio of Total cholesterol:HDL cholesterol = less than 5.0
Why Not Just Use Statins to Lower Cholesterol?
There are several reasons why it may not be a good idea to just use statins to lower your cholesterol level:
- High cholesterol is a symptom of a problem. It is your body telling you that something is wrong. Merely suppressing the cholesterol without addressing the real reason it is high, ignores the underlying issue. That issue can continue to damage your health and lead to heart disease.
- Statins and insulin resistance. There is an association between the use of statins and insulin resistance and type II diabetes.
- Statins and muscle problems. Statin use is associated with the development of muscle pain and weakness and an autoimmune muscle disorder known as necrotizing autoimmune myopathy (IMNM).
How to Lower Cholesterol Naturally
The advice given to many patients to lower their cholesterol is to reduce their intake of eggs, meat and dairy products. These animal foods contain cholesterol. However, most of the cholesterol in these foods is in a form that is poorly absorbed by your gut. So, making these dietary changes makes little or no difference to your blood cholesterol! In fact, in some cases, removing these foods makes the problem worse. The real reason your cholesterol is increased isn’t being addressed. So cholesterol continues to rise until you find yourself on cholesterol medication.
Our naturopathic doctors and registered dietitian provide effective dietary changes to lower cholesterol that does not involve cutting out eggs, red meat and dairy products. Rather, we address the real foods that increase blood cholesterol (and it’s not those).
Other Natural Treatments to Lower Cholesterol
Our naturopathic doctors have helped many people lower their cholesterol levels naturally, without drugs. There are dietary and lifestyle options to help your body stop making too much cholesterol. Also, there are cholesterol-lowering supplements to help your body remove the excess for excretion through your digestive tract.
For more information, call 416-481-0222 or book an appointment online any time here.