Heart disease can be prevented and reversed by lowering the concentration of bad cholesterol.
"Bad cholesterol " - the scientific name LDL cholesterol, is a very popular term recently, and it is a risk factor for cardiovascular disease. Some natural methods can help you lower bad cholesterol in your body , thereby preventing and reversing heart disease .
Heart disease is the leading cause of death in Americans , according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) . On the surface, this sounds scary, but the fact that heart disease is preventable and in some cases reversible becomes good news.
Heart disease can be prevented or reversed
While there are many genetic factors that determine the risk of heart disease, it is still preventable and reversible. This is because the most common cause of heart disease, atherosclerosis, is caused by factors that we can control.
While atherosclerosis is ostensibly the buildup of fatty plaque in the arteries, that doesn't mean fat is the only factor to consider.
In fact, many studies show that a low-fat diet does not reduce the risk of heart disease.
What You Don't Know About "Bad Cholesterol "
Atherosclerosis is not caused by fat clogging arteries. Fat is not the problem. Even atherosclerosis is not a problem, it is a solution to the problem caused by oxidized LDL cholesterol.
LDL cholesterol is often referred to as " bad cholesterol ," but it's actually necessary for our survival.
We can think of LDL as a grumpy guy. LDL brings nutrients such as cholesterol and vitamins to cells, reducing free radical damage to cells. Unfortunately, if LDL interacts with free radicals in the blood, it can be oxidized.
Oxidized LDL can lose its temper and cause damage to vascular endothelial cells. Endothelial damage activates macrophages (a type of immune cell) that try to prevent oxidized LDL from causing more damage.
Macrophages turn oxidized LDL into inert, nontoxic fatty plaques located within the walls of blood vessels. Our bodies create this plaque to prevent oxidized LDL from damaging more cells, which is why atherosclerosis is part of the solution to bad cholesterol.
Do not blindly take statins
Knowing that there is indeed a link between LDL cholesterol and heart disease, it's easy to do everything to lower cholesterol. That's why cholesterol-lowering drugs called statins have been among the best-selling prescription drugs in the world.
One reason statins are so popular is because they work. In fact, they have been found to consistently reduce plasma LDL levels by 25% to 35% and reduce the frequency of heart attacks by 25% to 30%. It's nothing short of miraculous, at least it looks like until you know what statins actually do.
● The bad side of statins
Statins work by inhibiting a reductase called HMG-CoA. When this enzyme is inhibited, the liver stops producing cholesterol, which leads to lower levels of LDL in the blood. However, inhibiting HMG-CoA reductase also impairs our ability to produce CoQ10. Coenzyme Q10 is a molecule critical to cellular health and mitochondrial function.
Coenzyme Q10 helps mitochondria to produce energy efficiently so cells can survive and grow. When CoQ10 levels are low, muscle function and recovery plummets. This can lead to muscle pain and inflammation, which also happens to be the most commonly reported adverse effects of taking statins. What a coincidence! Cognitive decline and liver damage are other common adverse effects associated with statin use and coenzyme Q10 deficiency.
Just as importantly, low cholesterol has its own side effects. Hormone imbalances (eg, low testosterone), increased fatigue, increased frequency of illness, and decreased ability to digest fat may be due to low cholesterol levels. This is because cholesterol provides us with the sex hormones, stress hormones, and the production of bile salts that we need to survive.
● Statins still have a place
While statins do carry many risks, they may help people with genetic risk factors for heart disease. But even if you do have a family history of heart disease, it can still be addressed more effectively by naturally increasing the activity of LDL receptors.
A great way to recycle bad cholesterol and reverse heart disease
The liver contains many LDL receptors. When these receptors are active, they absorb excess LDL cholesterol back into the liver, reducing the chance of it being oxidized and causing trouble.
We can increase LDL receptor activity in 4 ways:
1. Lowers the concentration of cholesterol in the liver
The liver is the regulator of cholesterol levels in the body. It produces cholesterol and uses LDL particles to send it to cells, and it also converts it into bile salts and excretes it in the feces to remove cholesterol.
When we eat high- fiber foods like peas, lentils, artichokes, and broccoli, the fiber blocks bile from being reabsorbed. This forces the liver to increase its LDL receptor activity, bringing LDL cholesterol back to the liver and synthesizing more bile.
This method of controlling LDL cholesterol levels is not just theoretical. The study showed that survivors who were on a high- fiber diet had an approximately 40% lower risk of recurrence compared with survivors of myocardial infarction who did not change their diet . According to the American Heart Association diet plan, you can increase your fiber intake to 25 to 30 grams per day.
2. Lowers Inflammation Levels
Inflammation is the body's self-healing process, and LDL cholesterol is an important player in this process. Whenever there is injury or trauma, the liver increases LDL output and reduces LDL receptor activity, which keeps LDL levels in the bloodstream and helps improve inflammation. That's why cholesterol levels tend to be higher when we're stressed, sick, or injured.
When cells are constantly traumatized by our own immune system (autoimmune disease) or chronic toxic stress (due to emotional stress, environmental toxins, and/or dietary toxins), the body will be in a chronic state of high cholesterol inflammation.
To reduce inflammation, you need to remove toxins from your environment and diet, improve sleep quality, reduce emotional stress, and increase your levels of low-intensity activities like walking or yoga. You can also supplement with anti-inflammatory foods like turmeric or vitamins E and C to reduce oxidative stress.
You can track inflammation levels by measuring C-reactive protein (C-reactive protein) levels with a blood test. C-reactive protein is produced by the liver when there is inflammation in the body, so it is an important indicator of the level of inflammation in the body. It is generally recommended to keep C-reactive protein levels below 1 mg/L, but Chris Masterjohn, PhD, of nutritional sciences, suggests that it is best to keep it below 0.07 mg/L.
3. Improve thyroid function
If you're depressed, lose your hair, and have high cholesterol, you may need to improve your thyroid function. Hypothyroidism leads to elevated cholesterol levels, and increased thyroid function may increase LDL receptor activity and lower LDL cholesterol levels. So, if your thyroid is underactive, improving thyroid function will reduce your risk of heart disease.
To improve thyroid function, it's important to first reduce inflammation, which turns off thyroid hormone production. It's also important to make sure you're eating nutrient-dense foods that keep you feeling full. When we feel full from a nutrient-dense meal, the thyroid gets signals from the brain that we have enough energy. The thyroid responds to signals by releasing thyroid hormones that improve cell function throughout the body.
Sleep is also an important factor in improving thyroid function. Make sure you go to sleep at the same time each night and get enough sleep so you wake up refreshed, not tired.
4. Improves insulin sensitivity
Type 2 diabetes is a major risk factor for heart disease. The reason for this is that insulin, LDL receptor activity and thyroid function are closely related. For example, when cells become resistant to insulin, it causes thyroid function and LDL receptor activity to drop, as the body ingests it as food. The result is high cholesterol, high blood sugar, and even a higher risk of heart disease.
On the other hand, when cells are sensitive to insulin, thyroid function and LDL receptor activity increase, resulting in stable blood sugar, lower cholesterol, and little risk of heart disease.
To increase the sensitivity of cells to insulin, it is important to increase physical activity and reduce the amount of refined foods in the diet. Increasing your level of exercise by lifting weights, doing aerobics, and doing interval training will greatly improve insulin sensitivity. Replacing refined foods with vegetables and fruits will increase your vitamin and fiber intake, which will help increase insulin sensitivity and lower cholesterol.
How to evaluate your improvement?
To assess whether your personal lifestyle plan is effective in reducing the likelihood of heart disease, check your total cholesterol to HDL cholesterol ratio at your next blood test. The total cholesterol to HDL cholesterol ratio should be between 3 and 4 to ensure healthy cholesterol levels and greatly reduce the risk of heart disease.