Do you smoke? Do you booze? Do you not exercise? Do you eat less green vegetables & fruits and more fast foods? Well, then the chances of you suffering from high or low cholesterol are alleviated to dangerous levels.
What Is Cholesterol:
In simple words, cholesterol is a waxy substance that is present in our body naturally in the membranes and cell walls. It is fat-like and buttery substance which is used to produce bile acids, hormones, and vitamin D to digest the fat present in our body.
It comes from two sources:
- The food we eat. However, there is no cholesterol in plant-based foods. It only comes from products of animals.
- Your body makes cholesterol on its own as required.
Types of cholesterol:
The cholesterol travels in combination with proteins. These combinations are called “Lipoproteins”. These “Lipoproteins” are of two types:
- High-Density Lipoproteins (also referred to as good cholesterol or HDLs)
- Low-Density Lipoproteins (also referred to as bad cholesterol or LDLs)
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High-Density Lipoproteins(HDL) : Good Cholesterol
Good Cholesterol which is high-density lipoproteins is a blob which is microscopic and constitutes of the rim of lipoproteins that surrounds the center of cholesterol. The high density of cholesterol particles in HDLs as compared to the density of particles of cholesterol in other types is the reason these particles are called High-Density Lipoproteins. They are useful in following ways:
- It hunts for bad cholesterol and removes them.
- It reuses, reduces and recycles LDL cholesterol by transferring it to the liver where it can be converted.
- They keep the walls of our blood vessels clean, thus reducing the risk of heart attack and strokes.
Low-Density Lipoproteins : Bad Cholesterol
Bad Cholesterol which is called low-density lipoproteins isn’t actually totally bad. These are fats that are crucial for your body cells. Some of these cholesterol enters our body from our diet while some are produced by our liver. The proteins in our blood carry the cholesterol since it is unable to dissolve in the blood. It is these carriers, which are called lipoproteins. They are bad in the following ways:
- During childhood or adolescence, they start depositing on the walls of our arteries.
- In the process of processing the blood vessels, the white blood cells try to digest them and convert the LDL into an oxidized form of toxic waste.
- More and more white blood cells reach that place and slowly start to create inflammation on the walls of the arteries that is steady and low-grade.
- More LDL keeping collecting at that area leading to the creation of a bump called plaque which leads to blockage of the artery.
As the name suggests, high cholesterol or Hyperlipidemia is the increase of cholesterol level in different parts of the body.
- Lifestyle: The way you live your life has an important role in keeping you away from having high cholesterol. Unhealthy diet, lack of physical exercise, obesity, consumption of excessive quantities of alcohol and smoking are sure to cause high cholesterol.
- Other factors: They include hypertension and diabetes. People suffering from these two diseases have higher chances of suffering from high cholesterol. Family history and age are also factors that affect cholesterol. People from the Indian subcontinent have higher chances of having this disease.
Symptoms of High Cholesterol
Often referred to as the “silent killer”, the symptoms are:
- Heart Attack: This is caused by the blockage of one of the arteries or more which is linked to the heart.
- Angina: This is caused by the narrowing of one of the arteries or more which is linked to the heart.
- Pain while talking: This is caused by the blockage of an artery that connects to the muscles of the legs.
- Stroke: This is caused by the blockage of an artery that connects to the brain or neck.
Low cholesterol or Hypolipidemia:
The causes include:
- Lack of food or malnutrition
- Low level of red blood cells called Anemia
- Inability of the body to absorb food
- Tangier Disease
- Liver Disease
- Very rare genetic conditions like abetalipoproteinemia or hypobetalipoproteinemia
Symptoms of Low Cholesterol
- Depression, memory impairment, excessive anger, emotional instability, Schizophrenia and various other psychological disorders and neuropathies.
- Among children, nerve development and impairment of brain which can lead to various developmental problems.
- Erectile Dysfunction, infertility, and reproductive problems
- Adrenal exhaustion
- Problems in digestion
- Decrease in functioning of the immunity system
On your part, all you can do in the name of treatment is to start making changes in your lifestyle. Start eating a more balanced and healthy diet. Exercise your way to good health and lose those extra kilos. These are more than enough if you want to decrease your cholesterol level. For some, medicines work while some require a combination of both. Below diagram shows some healthy food habits to keep a check on cholesterol.