Friday, July 15, 2016

Why The Cholesterol Is Bad For Your Health Is A Myth?


Time to get abreast with new thinking about this misunderstood food ingredient.

Cholesterol has to be the most demonised ingredient got via food. It has been whipped for long, branded the main villain in the heart attack and stroke sagas, and petrified us for almost five decades now.

But now slowly yet steadily, scientific thinking has been veering towards the opposite direction, and it is increasingly becoming clear that it's bad reputation is not justified at all.

Time to get abreast with new thinking about this misunderstood food ingredient.

We need cholesterol to live:
Cholesterol is a type of fat and is an essential building block for cell membranes. It's not all bad, as commonly branded; in fact it is so important (for multiple bodily processes) that our liver and intestines convert food (anything - fat, sugar…) that we eat to cholesterol to meet body's requirement for it.
In an average person, the body's production of cholesterol far outstrips any amount that we might eat from the foods. There!

The good, the bad and the ugly:
All cholesterols are not made equal. And we actually need to balance cholesterol, not just lower it to stay safe. High Density Lipoprotein or HDL Cholesterol, also called "good cholesterol", is essential to make hormones, vitamin D, cell membranes and the protective sheath around nerve cells.

Whereas the Low Density Lipoprotein or LDL Cholesterol, normally referred to as "bad cholesterol", is what causes blockages, when in excess.

The secret to a healthy heart lies in maintaining a balance between the good and the bad cholesterol and not just aiming to flag the total cholesterol numbers down. Basically the aim should be to keep the good up to ensure protection, and bad low for further hedging of risks.

So stay in the know; get a cholesterol check done regularly, but get your figures right. If your total cholesterol is greater than 200 mg, it is high and you need to keep a tab on it. But the real risk is when the LDL to HDL ratio is greater than 4:1.

This is because at least 1 HDL (good) is needed to pick and transport 4 LDL (bad) back to liver from blood thus away from causing any harm.

Eat that egg
The biggest recent nutrition turnaround has been the news that cholesterol from food sources does not really matter... Yes! In fact a Harvard panel (formally known as the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee) suggested in 2015 that dietary guidelines should stop warning people about cholesterol found in food.

Missed the perfect protein?
The fact that within the fitness community eggs are now being heralded as the perfect protein (far cry from being labelled as cholesterol laden demons) is just one case in point. And questions are also being raised about red-flagging other cholesterol-rich foods (like butted, shrimps et al).

There are other more effective ways of ensuring that your lipid profile stays in the green (read about it in the next post on cholesterol cutters)

The triggers that actually matter:
The focus rightfully is back on factors that are far more important. Low or nil exercise, too much sitting, more meals out compared to home cooked food... getting a grip on these is important. And that daily walk can actually do wonders here.

The genetic connect is alive and kicking too; some people do everything right - still their cholesterol stays high. I have a few patients like that - and I worry that it's the scare that'll do them in, rather than their border line cholesterol. Here keeping a tab is important, but living petrified doesn't help one bit.

Then there is the stress connect too.

In fact exacting work deadlines, family needs, and household responsibilities... add more to the cholesterol problem than any food ever can. That's because during stressful times, chemical messengers are released in to body (the fight-or-flight response) and these mess up the cholesterol numbers big time.

Research has also found that stress can trigger dyslipidemia, a disorder that changes the levels of fats and lipoproteins in the blood and alters the way body metabolises fat - leading to formation of too much "bad" cholesterol.

So whatever else you may/or may not do, definitely make an effort to manage your hectic lifestyle and ease up a bit. It will be far more effective than red-flagging foods arbitrarily.

#Blood Pressure, #Heart Risk, #Health,#Cholesterol

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