The Truth about Cholesterol

 
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From the desk of Dr Nandita Shah

These days there are so many different opinions about cholesterol that nobody knows what to believe. Doctors routinely check lipid levels during lab tests and all too often prescribe statins and other cholesterol-lowering drugs. On the other hand, there are several studies and articles that suggest cholesterol is not at all bad. What is the truth?

Cholesterol is produced by your liver. Our bodies use it to build the structure of cell membranes, and produce hormones such as oestrogen, testosterone and adrenalin to ensure optimum metabolism. Cholesterol is essential for your body to produce vitamin D and help organs function effectively. Yet most of us regard cholesterol as something harmful that we need to get rid of.

Cholesterol in itself does not cause heart disease or hypertension. However, when our blood is thickened due to excess fat and less fibre in the diet, this viscid fluid injures the artery walls. These injuries are then bandaged by cholesterol. Over a period of time the build-up of cholesterol in the arteries narrows the blood vessels resulting in high blood pressure. During a blood test, this cholesterol is not measured as it is not flowing in the blood but is lining the arteries instead. Therefore, the cholesterol levels can show up as low in a blood test, while the blood pressure is high. This is dangerous. It also means that the level of cholesterol is not a true indicator of the extent of heart disease. Therefore it’s important to understand cholesterol before trying to treat it!

 
 

Doctors say 'no' to medicines

Hippocrates, the father of medicine, has said that it is only food that is our real medicine. However, with industrialisation, we forgot this critical truth. It is indeed heartening that we are making an effort to get back to our roots.

Immuno Blast 

Ingredients

  • 1 banana, peeled and frozen
  • ½ medium lemon, peeled
  • 1 inch ginger
  • 1-2 medium dates, pitted
  • 1 cup water

Method

Blend until smooth.

Food for the mind

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Take charge of your cholesterol         

Remember that only animals produce cholesterol. We are animals and we need cholesterol but we produce all the cholesterol that we need. If there is excess, its likely to be from animal products in our diet. There is no cholesterol in cashews or coconut or for that matter any other plant. Therefore, if you are on a plant based diet you have zero intake of cholesterol. The best way to have optimum cholesterol is to take the animal products out of our diets.

Here are some facts about cholesterol:

1. 

Not all cholesterol is bad. It's good, for instance, to have high levels of "good" cholesterol (HDL). HDL cholesterol prevents plaque build-up in the arteries by transporting the “bad” cholesterol (LDL) out of the blood to the liver. There, it is eliminated from the body.

2. 

Anti-cholesterol medications like statins hardly improve health. Instead they raise blood sugar levels and have other side effects such as headaches, difficulty in sleeping, muscle aches and weakness, bloating and digestive disturbances.

3. 

Cholesterol is needed for proper brain and nerve function. Too low cholesterol can result in memory loss, mental confusion, and neuropathy.

4. 

After switching to a plant based diet, if your cholesterol rises it could be because of the accumulated cholesterol in your arteries from the past that is getting released. A plant based diet helps dissolve the accumulated cholesterol in the arteries and thins the blood. The serum cholesterol then goes up. This is good as it means the arteries are becoming wider and can lead to lower blood pressure.

5. 

Stress raises cholesterol levels.

6. 

People with hypothyroidism are likely to have high cholesterol.

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This newsletter was compiled by SHARAN Head of Mumbai, Reyna K Rupani, She facilitates the Six Weeks to Health Gain & Weight Loss program and also conducts health talks for schools, groups, corporates and more.

Edited by Vasanti Sundaram, Bangalore who has also benefitted from the SHARAN programmes, and now spreads awareness of plant based lifestyle through her talks.

Sanctuary for Health and Re-connection to Animals and Nature (SHARAN) is a social enterprise with the goal of spreading awareness about holistic health and an ecologically sustainable compassionate lifestyle.

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