Cholesterol levels have to be balanced. Medical experts agree that when your blood cholesterol levels become too high it can cause serious problems for your body.
Cholesterol is a waxy, fat-like substance (a lipid) produced by the liver with a minimal amount coming from your diet. It is needed by your body to complete multiple functions such as building and maintaining cell membranes, balancing your hormones and manufacturing vitamin D.
Another lipid, triglyceride is important in building cell structure too. It is also used in making hormones and producing energy.
So, when is cholesterol bad?
Cholesterol levels have to be balanced. Medical experts agree that when your blood cholesterol levels become too high it can cause serious problems for your body. If you have too high a level in your system you at risk of suffering a heart attack or stroke.
Conversely, if you have too low a level in your system your vital hormone and cell functions may be gravely compromised. It is crucial therefore that a balance between these points is reached and maintained to preserve health.
High blood levels of LDL cholesterol means that you have an excess of fatty cholesterol deposits in your system. This is a major risk factor in the development of heart disease. It can contribute to hardening and narrowing of the arteries (atherosclerosis), causing chest pain (angina), cardiovascular disease and, if the vessel is blocked, a heart attack.
High cholesterol also increases the risk of other conditions such as stroke (if the blood supply to part of the brain is reduced) and peripheral vascular disease (narrowed blood vessels in the limbs) leading to pain in the extremities, ulcers and possible infection.
But be aware…too little cholesterol is also dangerous…
We know that too much cholesterol can seriously damage your health, but just as importantly you need to be aware that too little cholesterol is just as damaging.
Cholesterol levels below 190 for men and below 178 for women have been shown to increase the risk of having a stroke.
It has been proven that low cholesterol levels can also result in a reduction of serotonin production – a major factor in mood disorders - with a serious link being found between too little cholesterol and cases of depression and even suicide.
Plus, dangerously low cholesterol has been associated with an increase in mortality rates in cancer patients, senility and impotency.
So you see the emphasis must be placed on cholesterol BALANCE and not cholesterol ELIMINATION.
The difference between ‘good’ and ‘bad’ cholesterol types
Cholesterol is primarily composed of two forms, LDL (Low Density Lipoprotein) and HDL (High Density Lipoprotein).
LDLs (Low Density Lipoproteins)
These are known as the ‘bad’ or high form of cholesterol. They attach to the walls of your arteries and create 'plaque'. This plaque accumulates over time and creates a blockage in your arteries causing a heart attack, or in your brain capillaries, starving your brain of oxygen and causing a stroke.
To achieve good health, your LDL cholesterol needs to be at a reasonable level, but more importantly, not oxidized. This is difficult to measure. LDL is usually calculated using a formula based on levels of HDL and triglycerides and can sometimes therefore be misleading.
HDLs (High Density Lipoproteins)
These are known as the ‘good' form of cholesterol. HDL cholesterol travels in your bloodstream picking up excess LDL cholesterol and transporting it back to your liver for reprocessing and excretion.
To achieve good health and ensure adequate ‘cleaning’ of ‘bad’ LDL cholesterol from your system, your HDL level needs to be as high as possible.
Because of this important relationship between your LDL and your HDL cholesterol, the most significant figures to examine when looking at your cholesterol test results is not your total cholesterol, but rather the ratio between your LDL and HDL cholesterol levels.
You want your LDL level to be reasonably low to prevent cholesterol building up in the arteries and you want your HDL level to be as high as possible to ensure adequate ‘cleaning’ of LDL cholesterol from your bloodstream.
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The main causes of high cholesterol are:
- Obesity, smoking and excessive alcohol intake
- Lack of exercise
- Hormonal imbalances
- Discrepancies in naturally produced body chemicals and their function
- Genetics - Familial hypercholesterolaemia
Familial hypercholesterolaemia (FH) is where inherited cholesterol levels are very high. There is also a condition called Familial Combined Hyperlipidaemia (FCH), where triglyceride levels are very high too.
Other common causes…
Health conditions such as diabetes, kidney and liver diseases. An under-active thyroid gland may also add to the problem.
Hydrogenated oils (unsaturated fats hardened to make them more solid) often found in margarines and cooking oils (especially those used to cook ‘fast foods’) raise cholesterol levels considerably. The hydrogenation process changes fatty acids into trans-fatty acids, and these cause a significant increase in LDLs and a noticeable loss of HDLs.
Medicines such as beta-blockers, steroids or thiazides (a type of diuretic) also cause side effects that may include increased cholesterol.
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The best way to find out whether you have high cholesterol or significant imbalances is to visit your doctor, naturopathic practitioner, homoeopath, or alternative health care provider.
Your cholesterol level can be measured easily with a quick, simple and most importantly painless blood sample.
If you are aged 20 or older you should have your cholesterol measured at least once every 5 years. The blood test will give you your…
Cholesterol levels are measured in milligrams (mg) of cholesterol per decilitre (dL) of blood. The tables below show ideal levels as measured in standard blood tests the world over:
For the USA:
| ||Normal ||Optimal |
|Total Cholesterol ||Up to 199 mg/dL ||Between 180 - 220 mg/dL |
|LDL Cholesterol ||Up to 129 mg/dL ||Under 100 mg/dL |
|HDL Cholesterol ||No lower than 35 mg/dL ||Over 50 mg/dL |
For the rest of the world:
|Reference Range |
|Total Cholesterol ||Less than 5.0 mmol/L |
|LDL Cholesterol ||Less than 3.0 |
|HDL Cholesterol ||1.0 - 2.5 mmol/L |
*To convert from US standard to the standard used in the rest of the world simply multiply by .0259. Conversely, to convert from the rest of the world to US standard multiply by 38.7.
NB: Some authorities recommend lower cholesterol levels than those we have stated above. Xtend-Life, along with many other experts in this field, believes lower levels can be injurious to your health for reasons explained later in this page.
- LDL (bad) cholesterol level
- HDL (good) cholesterol level
- Triglyceride level, and
- Total cholesterol.
NB: Ensure that when you have a blood test it encompasses all of the above. Blood tests only measuring total cholesterol are unreliable and do not give the information you need to assess your true position. You MUST have both the LDL and HDL readings as well as the triglycerides.
There has been evidence produced that suggests the “Cholesterol Council” is largely controlled by the major pharmaceutical companies and is therefore not impartial which accounts for some of the more recent 'unrealistic' target levels which can only be achieved using a statin drug.
Remember, it is important to concentrate on your ratio of HDL to LDL cholesterol rather than your total cholesterol level. Some people have high total cholesterol levels that seem to put them in a high-risk group. However, if your ratio of HDL or LDL cholesterol is good and your triglyceride levels are also fine, then your risk may not be as high as other people with lower total cholesterol and higher triglycerides.
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But the big question is, how to lower cholesterol? Statin drugs have been used for some years to lower cholesterol. The use of these drugs accelerated thanks to massive advertising and the downward adjustment of recommended safe cholesterol levels. Patients are normally advised to take these drugs for the rest of their lives, making statins the most profitable group of drugs ever developed.
Statins work by inhibiting HMG-CoA (a reductase, a necessary enzyme involved in the biosynthesis of cholesterol from acetyl-CoA). By inhibiting these enzymes statin drugs prevent the liver from manufacturing its full ‘quota’ of cholesterol.
Unfortunately, cholesterol is produced using the same biological pathway as co-enzyme Q10 (CoQ10). CoQ10 is an essential antioxidant, critical for the production of energy in every cell in your body. It destroys free radicals and is a crucial enzyme your body needs for the health of all cells, tissues and organs.
Regrettably, as indicated in Diag.1 below, because cholesterol and CoQ10 share this pathway, the process statin drugs use to inhibit cholesterol production also prevents the manufacture of CoQ10 by inhibiting its fundamental biosynthesis.
Diag.1: Acetyl-CoA converts to cholesterol via biosynthesis through a reductase enzyme (HMG-CoA) and conversion through pyrophosphates (which also produce CoQ10).
Consequently, depletion of CoQ10 in the body by users of statin drugs can set the stage for some serious long-term health problems.
In 1990 studies began into the actual safety of statin drugs. These studies discovered many more adverse and potentially dangerous side effects which statins are now widely known to produce. These side effects include nausea, upset stomach, diarrhoea, constipation, muscle aching, headache, dizziness, rashes, sleep disturbances, depression, irritability, tingling and numbness, swelling, shortness of breath blurred vision and weight gain.
More serious side effects also include elevated liver enzymes and myopathy (muscle pain and tenderness).
Along with the mentioned stomach, lung and liver problems, the following side effects have also been associated with statin drug use:
- Severe muscle weakness and pain, even at low doses
- Cognitive impairment and memory loss
- Increased risk of heart failure
- Birth defects
(In further studies, cancer has also been found.)
Some statin drugs, (the most notable one being Baycol), have been removed from the market place after multiple reported deaths.
This all leads to one question… is the use of statin drugs to lower cholesterol outweighed by their interference with your long-term health?
NB: If you do choose to either start taking a statin or if you are already on one and you are not comfortable about attempting to phase it out, please ensure that you take our Cardio-Support which not only contains CoQ10 but also many other nutrients that will benefit your cardiovascular system and help clean your arteries as well as helping lower your LDL cholesterol and raise your HDL.
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Natural Treatments for Cholesterol Imbalance
The 6 objectives for Cholesterol Balancing are as follows:
- Reduce the production of cholesterol in the body.
- Reduce the absorption of cholesterol in the gastrointestinal tract.
- Decrease circulating blood fats and dissolve cholesterol particles.
- Increase the excretion of cholesterol carrying bile acid.
- Lower the oxidation of the cholesterol.
- Lessen the intake of foods high in cholesterol.*
*It is advisable to take care with point 6. You don’t want to deprive your body of healthy nutrients like organic eggs just because they contain cholesterol. Remember: Only 20% of cholesterol is produced through your diet. Even if you cut your dietary intake by 50% it is only going to have an overall impact of 10%!
For most people it is possible to achieve 5 of these 6 objectives by ingesting specific nutrients…
The following is a list of natural ingredients that scientists worldwide agree will help lower cholesterol, but will not produce the negative side effects of statins:
A substance extracted from sugar, rice bran and beeswax that significantly reduces the production of low-density (LDL) cholesterol as well as increasing high-density (HDL) cholesterol – hence normalizing (or balancing) cholesterol levels - via the alcohols it contains. These alcohols inhibit cholesterol synthesis, acting on cholesterol metabolism in the liver and inhibit LDL oxidation. Policosanol also helps to remove plaque from the arteries. It has been found in many clinical studies to be as effective as a statin drug, without side effects. An additional benefit is that Policosanol does not directly inhibit HMG-CoA reductase, therefore not consequently destroying the essential enzyme CoQ10, which is a major downfall of statin drugs.
Produced when green tea ferments, they scavenge radicals to produce antioxidative effects. Theaflavins not only lower LDL cholesterol but also raise HDL cholesterol at the same time.
A natural phospholipid, an emulsifying agent that dissolves cholesterol, inhibits its absorption into the gastrointestinal tract and reduces oxidation. It does this by forming a protective barrier around cells and by regulating the homoeostasis of cholesterol (the balance of LDL and HDL levels) by controlling a balanced exchange of lipids to reduce cholesterol synthesis. Lecithin increases cholesterol oxidation into bile salts, thus helping it to be excreted more easily.
A plant sterol with a similar chemical structure to cholesterol. It reduces the absorption of cholesterol in the gastrointestinal tract by competing for the same space in cellulose molecules.
Rice Bran oil, Oryzanol
The outer grain hull of the rice containing fibre, lipids and amino acids along with beta-sitostrol and phytosterols that reduce cholesterol absorption and increase bile acid secretion. It is able to inhibit cholesterol absorption by converting cholesterol to bile acids and subsequently increasing bile acid excretion.
A non-toxic component of the oil extracted from citrus rind. It is a natural solvent that builds up in the liver, inhibits HMG-Co-enzyme A and helps to dissolve cholesterol gallstones. D-Limonene is also known to help acute sinusitis and chronic bronchitis.
All of the above ingredients are important and most are available to you on the world market, yet none of them will individually address all the multiple causes of high cholesterol.
If they are combined synergistically, along with co-factors and trace elements, then you have the best possible chance of resolving and rebalancing your problem naturally, with no negative side effects.
Xtend-Life scientists have addressed these needs and the net result is a formula proving outstanding success with the majority of users. It is called Xtend-Life Lipi-Rite (formerly Cholest-Natural).
Plus, to help your body make the most of this product and absorb the nutrients more adequately, not only from this product but generally from your improved diet, our Xtend-Life Kiwi-Klenz (formerly Digesten-K) is something we would consider essential to include if you can. In turn, this could also help take pressure off the liver by detoxing digestive toxins, reducing inflammation, improve the immune system, and help the body better digest and metabolise your diet and nutrient intake for best effect.
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