Know Your Numbers

You are not too young to start a heart-healthy diet, low in cholesterol.

Some diseases can be directly linked to your life style.  So simple changes in diet can produce dramatic improved outcomes. This is the case for your cholesterol.  You need to know your numbers.  Let me explain.

The cholesterol in your blood comes from two sources.  It comes from the foods you eat and from your liver.  Yes, your liver produces most if not all the cholesterol your body needs.  You see, cholesterol is needed to produce hormones your body needs to survive and also is essential in forming the cell membranes of all your cells.  The problem is that we take into our bodies too much cholesterol-laden foods.  The extra cholesterol goes into storage in fat cells called Adipocytes and in the clogging of arteries or plaques, in your heart, neck and legs.

If we could only find a way to starve the body of foods with excess cholesterol, we could use up the cholesterol in clogged arteries and fat cells, then we could just survive on the liver-produced variety. Well, there is a way.

Choke off the Cholesterol

You see 99% of cholesterol we eat comes from animal products.  Eggs, milk, cheese, butter and meat are packed with cholesterol.  If we starve the body of these foods taken in, and the body needs more cholesterol to form those hormones and cell membranes, guess where it will then get the needed cholesterol?  You are right.  The body will start using up the fats in adipocyte cells and blocked arteries.

Starving the body of cholesterol foods can occur with a plant based diet, what some people call a vegan diet.  In fact, articles published in the Journal of the American Heart Association and JAMA Internal Medicine found that diets high in plant- based foods can decrease the risk of dying of heart attack, stroke or heart failure by 32%.

I recently did a study with the majority of my patients.  I asked them to become vegans for just three days a week for 30 days.  The three days had to be in succession.  Patients ate no eggs, milk butter, cheese or any animal meat, including fish for those three days.  They could have cereals, but had to use milk substitutes.  No cake because of course, that was milk, butter and eggs.

At the end of the month I drew a blood sample for a fasting lipid profile of Total cholesterol, HDL (the good cholesterol), LDL (the bad cholesterol) and triglycerides. The results were amazing.

Not only did a majority feel better but their numbers were 20 to 25% improved.  Some even said that they went more than the three days on this plant-based life style change.  They took charge of their health.  So knowing your cholesterol numbers is a very important beginning when you decide to change your lifestyle. Want to know your numbers?

Here are my recommendations:

  • Your total cholesterol is calculated by adding the HDL and LDL levels to 20% of your triglyceride level.
  • Total cholesterol should be less than 200 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL)
  • HDL or High Density Lipoprotein, (good cholesterol) should be greater than 40 mg/dL
  • LDL or Low Density Lipoprotein, (bad cholesterol) should be less than 100 mg/dL
  • Triglycerides should be less than 130 mg/dL.

These are your numbers.  Write them down somewhere available to you and every six months have your lab draw a fasting lipid profile to update your numbers.

Your elevated cholesterol is your problem not the physicians.  He or she should be there to diagnose, then guide you and help you in correcting your problem.  So begin to take charge of your health.  Again, you need to know your numbers.

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