What Cholesterol Means for Your Body
It’s time we stopped being afraid of cholesterol and find out a few things about it. Cholesterol is a lipid-like type of substance that can and should be found inside any healthy organism. In any normal functioning body, cholesterol is the base on which cell membranes, vitamin D, digestive juices and hormones are produced.
In its natural state, cholesterol can only be found in foods coming from an animal. Most significant quantities are commonly stored in egg yolk and in the liver, but also in cheese, red meats, and poultry. Besides cholesterol, lipids also encompass triglycerides, high-density lipoprotein (HDL) and low-density lipoprotein (LDL).
The importance of having your cholesterol levels tested comes from the fact that high levels of cholesterol, the undesirable, harmful ones i.e., are not generally manifested through any symptoms or specific warning signs.
The testing involves something which is referred to as a lipid panel. Essentially, it is a blood test designed to provide measurements of the fats and fatty substances that constitute the reserve of energy for the body.
The preparatory conduct prior to being tested involves fasting for up to 12 hours before the scheduled meeting with your doctor. You should also not have anything to drink other than water. It should be acknowledged that there are some cholesterol tests that do not impose these restrictions on the patient. For the safest, most advantageous approach, you should have your doctor guide you through the entire process.
The measurements on the lipid panel have four points of interest: the total cholesterol level, the triglyceride level, the HDL (high-density lipoprotein) cholesterol level and, lastly, the LDL (low-density lipoprotein) cholesterol level. Triglycerides are that into which calories are converted when the amount existent in your body exceeds the limit of what is actually needed. HDL cholesterol or the “good” cholesterol and LDL cholesterol or the “bad” cholesterol are a bit tricker for patients to manage because the former is hard to increase and the latter is difficult to get rid of speedily.
However, a more accurate status concerning any health risks can be determined by taking into consideration each type of cholesterol listed in the lipid panel, rather than making predictions about potential diseases solely based on the total amount recorded.
In the case of children, the approved medical recommendation regarding the testing of cholesterol levels is, according to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, somewhere between 9 and 11 years old with follow-up tests only to be administered later on between 17 and 21 years old. This age gap is due to the expected hormonal changes during this period that would provide distorted results. However, individuals that are at risk of heart attacks or stroke have to be tested on a regular basis as a way to determine if their treatment is effective.
Keeping Your Cholesterol under Control
When trying to lower your cholesterol levels the first changes usually happen to your diet and physical activity routines. It is also helpful to renounce bad habits including alcohol consumption, smoking, and poor stress management. Your doctor should be the first source you consult in this matter in order to make sure that you get information that caters to your needs specifically.
Plant-based foods would make for a healthy diet for the person prone to cholesterol issues. A more vegetarian approach, therefore, has the potential to lower the LDL cholesterol levels. Thus, it would be a good idea for foods like the following to make your grocery list:
Enriching your meals with foods high in fiber will help you get your LDL cholesterol under control. Dietary changes, however, should be accompanied by a vigorous exercise program that focuses on aerobic activity.
If lifestyle shifts have little to no effect at all on your attempt to reduce your cholesterol to healthy levels, then your doctor will present you with the option of taking medication that will do just that. The choice of the kind of medication that might be prescribed to you is informed not only by your specific results from the lipid panel but also by other conditions you might be suffering from and a thorough inquiry of your medical history.