Balance – Cholesterol

Definition

Cholesterol is not as bad as its reputation would lead one to believe; it is of central importance to the structure and function of the cells in our bodies.  At the same time, cholesterol is a valuable precursor in the biosynthesis of vitamin D, hormones, and the bile which breaks down fat.  The human body is able to produce cholesterol on its own.  Therefore, it does not have to be supplied through diet. Cholesterol can be found in varying concentrations primarily in foods of animal origin.  

Two types of cholesterol

In order to transport itself though the bloodstream, cholesterol binds itself to proteins. These compounds occur as either LDL or HDL cholesterol.  Together, they constitute total cholesterol.

LDL stands for low density lipoprotein. LDL-particles transport cholesterol from the liver to the body. When there is an excess of LDL in the blood, it accumulates along the vessel walls and increases the risk of the vessels becoming clogged. Thus, high cholesterol contributes to atherosclerosis and, in the worst case, a stroke or heart attack. LDL cholesterol is therefore also known as the "bad cholesterol."

HDL cholesterol IS The antagonist of LDL cholesterol.  HDL stands for high density lipoprotein. HDL particles dissolve the cholesterol which has deposited itself on the vessel walls and transports it back to the liver. There once again, it is sent on its way through the body or converted into other substances, such as bile, and delivered to the intestine. HDL cholesterol thereby reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease. At the same time, it is able to limit elevated LDL levels to a certain extent. This is why HDL cholesterol is also referred to as the "good cholesterol."

The optimal levels of cholesterol are usually determined by one’s attending physician. The following values ​​can be used as general guidelines for healthy people with no additional risk factors:

  • Total cholesterol <200 mg / dl

  • LDL <160 mg / dl

  • HDL at least 40 mg / dl

  • Triglycerides <150 mg / dl

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In the case of people whose levels are already elevated and/or those who have additional risk factors (smoking, diabetes, genetic predisposition, age) the following values ​​can be used as basic guidelines:

  • Total cholesterol <200 mg / dl

  • LDL <130 mg / dl

  • HDL at least 40 mg / dl

  • Triglycerides <150 mg / dl

For people with existing coronary heart disease, LDL levels below 100 mg / dL are advisable.

A high HDL level (> 60 mg / dl) may minimize or counteract another risk factor.

Causes

A number of causes can lead to high cholesterol levels (hypercholesterolemia). One of these causes may be e.g. be a hereditary lipid metabolism disorder. However, this is only the case for about 30 percent of all diagnoses. On the other hand - the vast majority of cases of high cholesterol levels result from other factors or diseases. A common cause among these factors, in particular, is an unhealthy diet lacking in omega-3 fatty acid and fiber. In addition, conditions such as an underactive thyroid (hypothyroidism), diabetes, and/or kidney disease (nephrotic syndrome) can lead to elevated cholesterol levels.

Monitor your cholesterol

A number of causes can lead to high cholesterol levels (hypercholesterolemia). One of these causes may be e.g. be a hereditary lipid metabolism disorder. However, this is only the case for about 30 percent of all diagnoses. On the other hand - the vast majority of cases of high cholesterol levels result from other factors or diseases. A common cause among these factors, in particular, is an unhealthy diet lacking in omega-3 fatty acid and fiber. In addition, conditions such as an underactive thyroid (hypothyroidism), diabetes, and/or kidney disease (nephrotic syndrome) can lead to elevated cholesterol levels.

Natural remedies and their effects

It is recommended that people who have a high cholesterol value or who wish to avoid increasing cholesterol levels consume a higher amount of healthy vegetable omega-3 fatty acids. It has been demonstrated that these may help to reduce total and LDL cholesterol levels.

Alpha-linolenic acid (ALA)

Alpha-linolenic acid is a vital (essential), polyunsaturated omega-3 fatty acid. It supports the synthesis of cell membranes and is the foundation for their fluidity, flexibility, and activity. Healthy cells contribute to metabolic processes running optimally. A particularly rich source of alpha-linolenic acid is flax seed oil, which contains about 60 percent ALA.

American scientists were able to demonstrate in a study that flax seed oil has beneficial effects on cholesterol levels (1). In the study, the subjects were served one tablespoon of flax seed oil and three slices of flax seed bread daily, over a period of three months. After the final measurement of cholesterol levels, it was found that the values ​​were significantly improved; both the value of total cholesterol and that of undesirable LDL cholesterol had dropped.

Similar results were obtained in another medical study from 2005 (2). The scientists showed that-  after a few weeks - a significant reduction in total and LDL-cholesterol concentration was achieved in the blood through eating foods which had been enriched with alpha-linolenic acid.

(1) www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/7903324
Reducing atherogenic risk in hyperlipemic humans with flax seed supplementation: a preliminary report
 
(2) www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12370843
Effect of alpha-linolenic acid-rich Camelina sativa oil on serum fatty acid composition and serum lipids in hypercholesterolemic subjects

Nutrition and Co.

Many metabolic disorders can be positively affected by a persistent change in diet. To achieve a healthy cholesterol metabolism, a balanced, nutritious diet is recommended. An additional factor which can boost LDL cholesterol and blood lipid levels and which should be considered is obesity. High-fiber diets which contain plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables along with whole grain products are recommended for maintaining healthy levels of cholesterol. Special attention should be paid to the selection of healthy fats and oils.  The consumption of vegetable-based, cold pressed, electron-rich oils which contain a high percentage of monounsaturated fatty acids (for example, olive oil) and polyunsaturated fatty acids, in particular omega-3 fatty acid (for example, flax seed oil), can lower elevated cholesterol as well as triglyceride levels. Omega-3 fatty acids which cannot be synthesized by the body itself must be supplied through daily diet, since they regulate cholesterol by lowering lipid content.  Approximately 35 grams of dietary fiber should be eaten per day, in order to bind and transport the excess cholesterol out of the body. Excellent tried and tested sources of fiber are, for example, freshly shredded and fortified flax seeds, oat bran, whole grains, vegetables, fruit, and legumes.

Dr. Johanna Budwig’s oil protein diet provides an excellent basis for a healthy, cholesterol-conscious diet. It ensures a sufficient supply of the healthy fatty acids ALA and DHA, as well as fruits and vegetables. The flax seed oil supplied via the polyunsaturated omega-3 fatty acids regulate cholesterol levels through their lipid-lowering effects.

When choosing fatty suppliers, it is essential to ensure their high quality. Only this way, as Dr. Johanna Budwig pointed out again and again, can our cells fully benefit from the full electron richness of the oils. In the production of flax seed oil, the utmost importance must be placed on the selection of the seeds and crop rotation as well as on their pressing and subsequent processing. For this reason, Dr. Johanna Budwig defined and recorded strict quality standards. For the extraction, she developed a particularly gentle method. “The Original Dr. Budwig pressing method" is still used under her name today.

Furthermore, the intake of readily available carbohydrates (sugar, white flour, etc.) should be reduced, in order to counteract a carbohydrate-related increase in the cholesterol level. Alcohol consumption should be avoided in particular in the case of those with elevated triglyceride levels. An adequate supply of vitamins C and E, beta-carotene, B vitamins, magnesium, and plant sterols as from natural sources provide additional protection for blood vessels.

 

In addition to a balanced diet, regular exercise and the use of relaxation techniques such as act autogenic training, yoga, or progressive muscle relaxation have favorable effects on cholesterol levels. In particular in her capacity as a healer, Dr. Johanna Budwig drew attention to the importance of proper stress management and the significance of a stable psychosocial environment.

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