Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Cholesterol Levels and General Health

People with high blood cholesterol levels are very exposed to developing heart disease. High cholesterol levels are common to people with ages over 50, people with weight problems, people with gastro-intestinal disorders and people with diabetes. High blood cholesterol levels can be the result of either overproduction of the substance (due to liver dysfunctions) or the inability of the body to eliminate it. However, apart from physiological factors that enable the accumulation of cholesterol inside the organism, there are also many other external factors that contribute to cholesterol build up: inappropriate diet, sedentary lifestyle, smoking and alcohol abuse.

Although the body is able to produce the amount of cholesterol it needs for sustaining its normal activity, a high-cholesterol diet can significantly increase blood cholesterol levels. Foods of animal origin are rich in cholesterol and saturated fats that are very harmful to the organism when they are consumed in large amounts. You should replace meats and dairy products with vegetables, cereals and fruits in order to maintain normal cholesterol levels. Simple carbohydrates (sweets) also enable cholesterol to build up inside the body and therefore should be avoided.

Proper physical exercise is very important for keeping your blood cholesterol levels in check. Regular physical exercise improves blood circulation and helps in the elimination of excess cholesterol. Exercise frequently and you will be able to maintain normal cholesterol levels and lose extra weight.

Smoking is considered to be a major factor of risk in heart disease. Smoking facilitates cholesterol to deposit inside arteries, where they can cause blockage, perturbing the normal blood flow. If you have high blood cholesterol levels and you are a smoker, it is advised to stop smoking. Alcohol also contributes to the accumulation of cholesterol in the bloodstream and therefore it should be avoided Within normal limits, cholesterol is very important to the organism. The liver produces cholesterol (a waxy, viscous substance) in small amounts, as it is required in certain physiological processes. Without cholesterol, the body is unable to produce hormones (testosterone and estrogen), vitamin D (fortifies bone tissues) and bile (a very important substance used in digesting fat). While in small quantities cholesterol is benefic for the organism, in excess it can cause a lot of harm. Cholesterol is not soluble in blood and therefore it accumulates and deposits inside arteries, slowing down the normal blood circulation. High cholesterol levels considerably increase the risk of cardio-vascular diseases and even heart failure.

It is very important to know that there are several types of cholesterol. When you have your cholesterol levels checked, you are usually told the total cholesterol level. Total cholesterol level consists of high-density lipoprotein (HDL), low-density lipoprotein (LDL) and very low-density lipoprotein (VLDL). Low-density lipoprotein is also known as "bad cholesterol" and this substance can be harmful to the human body when it accumulates in excess. Bad cholesterol (LDL) accumulates inside arteries and perturbs normal blood circulation. Good cholesterol (HDL) is benign to the organism, as it collects low-density lipoprotein from the bloodstream and brings it back to the liver.

By keeping a healthy diet and by exercising regularly, you will be able to raise your good cholesterol levels, while reducing bad cholesterol levels. By making improvements in your lifestyle, you will be able to maintain your total cholesterol levels in check.