How to Lower Cholesterol Naturally: Lowering Cholesterol Through Exercise, Diet and Stress Reduction

Over the past two decades, high cholesterol levels have become a major source of concern with regards to heart disease. According to current medical recommendations, overall blood cholesterol should be no greater than 200. Fifteen years ago, the recommendation was to keep it under 300, but doctors now believe the lower, the better. However, in the prevention of heart attacks, keeping serum cholesterol in check may only be part of the solution, since there are an equal number of heart attacks in those with low cholesterol as those with high cholesterol.

The ratio of HDL (good cholesterol) and LDL (bad cholesterol) is also important because HDL attaches to LDL and shuttles it out of the blood stream before it can attach to artery walls. HDL levels above 50 are desirable.

What is Cholesterol?

Cholesterol is made in the liver and is necessary in the production of every cell in the body. Our brains are made up almost entirely from cholesterol. In fact, without cholesterol, the human body couldn’t survive. So, why is it a problem then? Well, the current science tells us that too much of a good thing isn’t a good thing. When the LDL is too high, the excess can stick to artery walls and eventually cause a blockage, resulting in loss of blood flow to the heart. The exact mechanism for why this takes place is not completely understood, or at least there is some debate. One of the more accepted views is that damage to the artery wall will attract cholesterol to help in the healing process. What we do know is that damage to arteries can be caused by high blood pressure, stress, poor diet, and smoking.

So, the question becomes: Without those risk factors, would cholesterol be problematic? Remember, statistics show that an equal number of people who die from heart disease have low cholesterol as those with high cholesterol.

Cholesterol lowering medications (statins) work to inhibit the absorption of cholesterol in the gut, and others aid in stopping production in the liver. What none of them do is to address why an excess is produced in the first place.


 

Causes of High Cholesterol

Genetics most likely has a lot to do with cholesterol levels, but genetics may simply mean that one displays the same family habits and lifestyle choices that lead to any number of conditions, including high cholesterol. The most likely catalyst for producing high cholesterol is insulin.

Insulin is a hormone that is produced in the pancreas and is released in response to high blood sugar and stress (fight or flight). A chronically high level of insulin in the blood stream causes fat storage and can lead to high blood pressure and elevated cholesterol levels.

Inside each of the body’s cells are receptors that signal the pancreas to send out more cholesterol when the level is low. Remember, cholesterol is necessary for the production of every cell in the body, including fat cells. The trouble here is that once the cell is full, any excess cholesterol has nowhere to go, so it simply stays in the blood stream.

Another very important hormone to consider is glucagon. Unlike insulin, which causes sugar to be converted to fat and stored, glucagon stimulates fat for energy use. Keeping the insulin/glucagon system in balance is critical.

Stress will also increase insulin levels and can lead to elevated cholesterol and damage to the arteries.

Stress is an important survival mechanism that prepares the body (and the mind) for situations that warrant complete focus and awareness. In response to fight or flight, the adrenals release cortisol, which in turn signals the pancreas to release insulin. The energy from glucose can now be used to fight or flee. In this way, the system is very important. The problem is we are only designed to live with stress for short bouts. When we are stressed for extended periods of time, the system becomes overworked and can lead to a number of health complications, including elevated levels of cholesterol, high blood pressure, and damage to the artery walls, which may be the reason that cholesterol “sticks” in the first place.

Why stress leads to elevated cholesterol levels isn’t exactly understood, but one reason may be that energy molecules produced from stress stimulates fatty acids to be released by the liver.

Natural Solutions for High Cholesterol

A natural approach to lowering the risk for coronary artery disease (CAD) is to find what your body’s normal cholesterol levels are, and to address issues that damage arteries. Exercise, lowering stress, proper rest, and diet are all important things to consider in reducing the risk of CAD.

Exercise, in particular weight training, can lower blood pressure, reduce body fat, increase metabolism, reduce stress and balance the insulin/glucagon system. It has also been shown to significantly increase HDL cholesterol levels. In addition, heavy weight training, that stimulates the lactic system, causes a surge in growth hormone, which has been shown to regulate cholesterol production.

Eat small meals throughout the day. This will also help to control blood sugar and keep your cholesterol levels in check. Lean proteins should be combined with non processed carbohydrates like sweet potatoes, brown rice, beans, and of course, green leafy vegetables. Consuming high fiber foods such as oats and almonds can lower total cholesterol by as much as 12%. However, adding sugar toppings such as honey, sugar and milk can increase blood sugar and insulin response, so they should be limited.

Get at least seven hours of sleep per night to help control blood pressure and increase growth hormone levels.

While medications may help to lower cholesterol in the blood, they do not address the causes, which may in fact be more relevant to heart disease. On the other hand, exercise, diet and managing stress does both.


How to Reduce/ Lower Cholesterol Levels in Blood & Improve Health

Cholesterol, the artery clogger. Doctors now say that anybody over the age of 20 years old should get their cholesterol levels checked every 5 years. There are however, many, many simple everyday things to do that will lower levels and consistently maintain a good healthy level. Such practices inevitably also increase vitality and general health and well-being.

Tips to Reduce Cholesterol Levels in the Blood: Don´t Smoke

Or at the least, cut down or use weaker cigarettes. Doctors report that smoking is the number one cause for high cholesterol levels. In countries such as Ireland, heart-related problems are the cause of 40 percent of deaths, not to mention all the heart problems that people experience in their daily lives, due to smoking, not least, high cholesterol levels. To put it simple, quit smoking and cholesterol levels in the blood will fall. Sharply.

 

Eat Healthier to Lower Cholesterol

Something that everybody knows but most people don´t realize how easy it can be. Instead of cooking with fat or vegetable oil try using olive oil, particularly the extra virgin brand (the light green coloured one). Olive oil is an especially good food for the heart, with many benefits, as it is rich in monounsaturated fatty acids (good fats!) and antioxidative substances. It is the staple of the mediterranean diet, such as in Spain, where Spanish people are the longest living people in Europe, with a higher life expectancy than the rest of the continent. And it tastes good too.

Another thing that everyone can learn from Spain is to eat fresh fruit. Slice a banana or some strawberries onto a bol of cron flakes and Bob´s your uncle. One more thing worth mentioning is that people from the UK and the US do not, generally, eat enough fish, an important part of a healthy diet at least once or twice a week. So, next time at the supermarket, try buying a fillet of fish instead of chicken or steak.

Exercise and Lowering Cholesterol Levels

Even if just for a walk around the block, daily, it will work wonders for the body as opposed to driving everywhere. Cardiovascular exercise is also scientifically proven to increase well-being levels and enhances the mood. This is due, in part, to the fact that exercise aids the body in controlling blood sugar levels more effectively, it increases serotonin distribution in the body and release chemical endorphins, all leading to what basically amounts to feeling good, as well as reducing cholesterol!

Light to moderate exercise regularly does the trick. Go for a walk three times a week or jump on a bike and go for a spin.


Lower Cholesterol and Regulate High Blood Pressure Naturally

Although it is part of the onion family, garlic or Allium sativum has it own distinct personality in aroma, flavor and healing capabilities such as lowering cholesterol and high blood pressure, which makes it an essential herb to keep on hand. Growing in grass-like clumps, garlic produces small green-white or rose-white bulbs underground. Inside these large bulbs are individual sections called cloves.

Cutting one unleashes what is inside these pungent cloves, an essential oil (alliin that converts to diallydisulphide, the antibacterial sulfur compound), an enzyme (alliinase), vitamins (A, B1, B2, C, thiamin, niacin, riboflavin), and minerals (magnesium, phosphorus, potassium). Many find it hard to believe that something called “the stinking rose” can be so healthful. The stronger the smell is the more potent and better quality the garlic.

The Amazing Appeal of Garlic

Garlic has vast health restoration powers. For instance, high cholesterol is a major factor in impotence and mental fog or sluggishness. Recent studies prove that using small doses of one or two cloves daily do lower cholesterol. It also aids in preventing heart disease by thinning the blood and reducing triglycerides.

It is also been used as an antibiotic, antioxidant, diuretic and to improve digestion. Used as an oil or vinegar, it is used to treat ear and mouth infections. Researchers note success in treating fungal infections, whooping cough, lead poisoning and some carcinomas. Case studies show it is effective in treating hepatitis, retina conditions, and almost every lung condition.

Cultivation and Growing Tips

This annual herb germinates in one to three weeks. Plant the seed in the fall. The bulbs need to be separated into individual cloves and planted with the pointed side up in the early spring or mid fall in rich well-drained soil. Planting cloves in March will yield fresh produce in July or August. The outer cloves seem to develop the best quality.

Garlic loves full sun. Heat seems to develop the best flavor. Garlic should be kept well watered during dry periods until it ripens. Then, water should be withheld. The bulbs are ready to be harvested when the leaves have turned yellow. The bulbs should be dried in the sun for a day to prepare them storage and use.

The Origins of Garlic

Originating in central Asia and Mediterranean areas, garlic has been used for medical and culinary purposes for centuries. According to Herodotus, the Greek historian, it was eaten for endurance by the slaves who built the Cheops pyramid and was found in King Tut’s tomb. Roman soldiers on long marches were fed a daily ration of garlic for strength and to prevent illnesses.

In the 18th century, French priests used garlic to protect themselves from the highly contagious fever in the poor section of London. In World War I and World War II, European doctors used garlic with sphagnum moss to dress wounds and prevent gangrene. It was also the main ingredient in the “Four Thieves Vinegar” used by 4 thieves in Marseilles who confessed that it protected them as they robbed the bodies of plague victims.

In the culinary arena of the past and present, garlic is one of the most popular flavors in the world. It is included in vinegars, butters, salts, dried seasonings, salad dressings, soups, and many food recipes. Garlic dishes were often served with fresh parsley embellishments to reduce the aftertaste or lingering aroma of garlic after a meal.

Worth Its Weight in Gold

In the first century, the East Indian herbalist Charaka said garlic would be worth its weight in gold, if it wasn’t for its smell. The fame, power and mystic of garlic is so great that it runs the gambit, encompassing everything from general health usage to lower cholesterol and regulate high blood pressure to protection from evil forces to delicious culinary adventures. The stamina and versatility of garlic through the years should earn it a place in every pantry and medicine cabinet.