Contributed by- Dr. Dhrity Vats
5 Tips to lower your cholesterol naturally
With increased work hours and hectic schedules, the need of the hour is to focus on a healthy lifestyle. Lifestyle-based strategies have proven extraordinarily effective in reducing cholesterol quickly and permanently. Now the question is why do we need to reduce cholesterol? High cholesterol increases the risk of coronary heart disease, stroke, peripheral arterial disease and high blood pressure. The medical complication depends on which blood vessels are narrowed or blocked by fatty deposits.
According to a recent WHO report, in India approximately 26 lakh people died in 2016 due to cardiovascular diseases, including coronary heart disease, stroke and hypertension. People belonging to the age group 30-69 years at the highest risk. Hence, controlling your cholesterol levels with a healthy change of lifestyle would be the best approach to counter this risk.
The first step is to know your cholesterol levels. This becomes mandatory if you are overweight, sweat a lot or/and pant after walking for 500 meters. A cholesterol test will measure all the fats in your blood. The lipid profile test would show you the levels of HDL or good cholesterols and LDL or bad cholesterols. The effect of abnormal cholesterol ranges shall show up and you will need to reduce the LDL and increase the HDL.
You can improve cholesterol with medicines, but why not do it naturally. Few simple and healthy changes can get you the desired effect. And if you have started your medicines by now, these changes will enhance their cholesterol-lowering effect.
Here we are giving you a cumulative list of 5 tried and tested techniques which shall not only reduce your cholesterol but will lead you to a healthy lifestyle.
Aim at a healthy menu
There are foods which pep up your mood, but make your body sad by affecting your heart and your waistlines. Hyper-processed foods like potato chips and french fries, sugar-saturated drinks and fatty, artery-clogging meats and full-fat dairy foods like cheese damage the arteries and can lead to atherosclerosis. Include foods like oats for a healthy beginning with some nuts like walnuts. Almonds and cashews are other good options. However, while nuts are heart healthy, they are also high in calories, so practice portion control. Black tea is known to reduce blood lipids. Try to include at least one pulse (beans, peas, lentils) every day. Other rich sources of soluble fibre include sweet potato, brinjals, okra or bhindi, broccoli, apples, strawberry. Include multigrain aata instead of plain wheat flour. Soya is a source which has proven to reduce the lipids in our body. Try using soya milk and soya products.
Get on your toes
Exercise has proven to lower your total and LDL cholesterol levels and at the same time sheds off the excess weight your body carries. Overweight increases the amount of low-density lipoprotein (LDL) in the blood, a lipoprotein that is linked to heart disease. Exercise stimulates enzymes that help move LDL from the blood (and blood-vessel walls) to the liver. From there, the cholesterol is converted into bile (for digestion) or excreted. So, as you increase the amount of exercise the more LDL is expelled from the body.
To start with, you can plan an average of 40 minutes of moderate- to vigorous-intensity aerobic activity three or four times a week. This can include
- Walking briskly (approx. 5 km per hour or faster)
- Bicycling (16 km per hour or slower)
- Playing tennis (doubles)
Always keep in mind to not to start with a strenuous exercise pattern suddenly. Give your body time and resistance to increase the intensity of exercise. To stay motivated, find an exercise buddy or join an exercise group. And remember, any activity is helpful. Take stairs instead of the elevator and do a few sit ups while watching your favourite TV show will make a difference.
Yoga and cholesterol
Yoga has proven to reduce cholesterol if practiced on a regular basis. There are many different techniques and postures that will stretch and massage the abdominal muscles and organs. This helps stimulate and improve the functioning of these organs, and hereby works to reduce your overall cholesterol levels. Some asanas which can and should be practiced are:
- Kapal Bhati Pranayama
- Sarvangasana Pose
- Ardha Matsyendrasana
Smoking is the single most reason for many health issues. It weakens the individual both physically and psychologically. The person who smokes tends to smoke more in public places due to the fear of losing one’s identity. To stop smoking is the single best thing you can do to improve your heart health. Though quitting is definitely not easy, but with the support of family and peers one can definitely quit. Quitting smoking will improve your HDL cholesterol level.
Control the intake of alcohol
Alcohol has its major side effects. For those who are already suffering with high lipids, wine as a medicinal liquor is recommended but in moderation. Getting drunk or having it beyond the limits will be hazardous. For healthy adults, women of all age and men older than 65 are advised up to 1 drink a day for women and for men under 65 years of age upto 2 drinks a day is recommended as safe limits. Love your drinks, but love yourself more!
All the above explained tips are of immense benefit if you are at a high risk of increased lipid ranges. When followed over a period of time these tips help a lot in controlling the body to go in for hyperlipidemia. But if changes are not observed, then your doctor might recommend medication to help lower your cholesterol, take it as prescribed, check your cholesterol levels regularly but continue your lifestyle changes. Remember, these simple yet effective changes will help keep your medication dosage low.
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