Cholesterol. A word you’ll often see integrated into health campaigns and television advertisements with the specific intention to strike fear into the hearts of the nation. Despite its prominence within the public eye, only a small percentage of us are aware of what cholesterol is and the consequences of high cholesterol.
Cholesterol is waxy fat, present in some foods and produced in the liver, which finds its way into the bloodstream. Here cholesterol clogs up blood vessels by attaching itself to lipoproteins. Lipoproteins come in two forms. Low-Density Lipoprotein (LDL) or ‘bad cholesterol’ is at the heart of cholesterol build-up, as an abundance can restrict the capacity of oxygen transported via the red blood cells to the heart, arteries and other vital organs.
However not all cholesterol is bad. High-Density Lipoproteins (HDL), more commonly known as ‘good cholesterol’, is essential to a healthy body. Their protective capabilities help decrease the amount of LDLs. Olive oil, whole grains, fatty fish, nuts and chia seeds are a few ways you can assist your body’s levels of HDLs.
Cholesterol plays an essential role in every cell’s function and is a requirement of Vitamin D production, alongside hormones and bile for the digestion. It’s when there's an abundance of LDLs that the risk of acquiring heart and circulatory related diseases rise.
Is there a way to avoid high cholesterol levels? For some, the simple answer is no. While it’s possible that issues with cholesterol can be minimised, the possibility of them being gene related always remains.
Evidence suggests that regular exercise is one of the easiest ways to minimise LDLs and maintain a healthy heart. The cholesterol-focused charity HEART UK recognise this importance and encourage you to take part in their Great Cholesterol Challenge. Taking place throughout October, entrants aim to achieve 100 miles of physical activity. You can run, walk, cycle, row or, if you’re feeling brave, swim your 100 miles either solo or as part of a team.
National Cholesterol Month targets to raise £50,000 for the awareness of cholesterol. The challenge has already begun and has even seen recognition from Prime Minister, Theresa May, who stresses how “HEART UK’s work is vital for our nation’s health.”
With this in mind, here are 15 reasons why you should value a healthy heart this October.
Kiss goodbye to health conditions – No one wants to have that awkward conversation with their GP about a worrying discovery they’ve made under their microscope. If your heart is healthy, the risk of you being diagnosed with peripheral arterial disease, and becoming victim to a heart attack, is significantly lower. Your life expectancy also gets a reassuring boost and you’re far less likely to contract diabetes or high levels of blood pressure.
A flawless figure – Who wants to feel restricted by their weight? Alongside the risks of strained joints and a negative body image, obesity is one of the leading causes of heart disease and high cholesterol. The saturated and trans fats that are present in fast foods provide LDLs with a significant boost. Be sure to eat healthy, wholesome and hearty meals to maintain a healthy figure.
So long stress – The heart is the central organ of your body and other vital organs depend on its condition. If weak, and exposed to high levels of grief or emotional trauma, a surge of stress-related hormones (for example, adrenaline) can trigger severe chest pains. A healthy heart is more able to cope with trauma and ultimately enables a quicker recovery. Live your best life by loving your heart.
Be more alert –What with this technologically advancing world, life is faster paced than ever before and requires quick reactions. Studies have shown that individuals with healthy hearts possess more rapid reactions and quick thinking – all critical elements to success.
Done with the drowsiness – It’s nice to have a lazy day once in a while, but if this is every day you could be putting yourself at risk. Studies conducted by the Journal of Cardiovascular Nursing have observed that individuals who had below 6 hours of sleep per night were found to have increased their risk of cardiovascular disease. Oversleeping also poses a threat, causing HDL levels to decline across both sexes. Ensure you get your 8 hours to minimise the risk to your heart.
Easy breathing – Have you burst into a coughing fit while scaling a flight of stairs or pacing up a hill? Respiratory problems can often signify an unhealthy heart and turn ordinary tasks into near impossible ones. Persistent coughing fits can signify the presence of liquid on the lungs. A common symptom of heart failure, as the heart loses its ability to pump large quantities of blood around the body. Care for your cholesterol and make every breath that little less strenuous.
No more noisy nights – Snoring. A bodily function that men and women both cannot admit to, but can be a significant sign of an unhealthy heart. Obtuse amounts of snoring can signify sleep apnea - a dangerous condition of breathing interruptions during sleep. At its worst, sleep apnea can potentially starve the brain and other vital organs of oxygen transferred through the body’s red blood cells. Minimising LDL levels is an effective way to prevent snores and keep this rather embarrassing habit at bay.
Ample appetite – Food is one of the few aspects of human life that never gets old. Whether it be a stir-fry, pizza or curry, food boosts our mood and fuels our life. Dopamine (the body’s happy chemical) is at the heart of these mood boosts that arise whenever we achieve a task, for example cooking A weak heart makes the everyday a chore, causing a decline in productivity and dopamine production. Lack of dopamine can cause lulls in someone’s mood and hamper their positivity, which in some cases can prompt a reduction in food intake and decrease diversity of food consumption. Eating less can cause a reduction in the body’s appetite thermostat and soon morph into malnutrition.
Put a stop to health procrastination – With today’s ‘one click’ world, health procrastination is an attractive option for a growing number of us – after all there’s always tomorrow. While we associate procrastination with essays and work deadlines, it can prove fatal in regard to health issues. With constant media coverage of the NHS’s struggles, far fewer of us are willing to visit the GP when we have only mild symptoms. The result is a rise in avoidable mortality in the last year, so no matter how mild your symptoms appear, be sure to seek medical advice.
A lustful libido – As we get older, our bodies find it harder to function. With a fumble under the covers being one of the few pastimes that combine both emotional and physical activity, it’s vital your heart remains fighting fit. Sex decreases pain and anxiety by boosting the levels of oxytocin released into the brain. A weak heart has been proven to increase the likelihood of erectile dysfunction, sexual pains and loss of sexual desires. Look after your heart to keep your libido alive.
Top-notch teeth – It’s now become common knowledge amongst medical professionals that a link exists between a person’s gum health and cardiovascular health. Although you wouldn’t necessarily associate the two, bleeding gums are often a sign of a struggling heart and Vitamin D deficiency. Make sure to check your gums regularly and inform your dentist of any abnormalities.
Do away with dizziness – When your world’s spinning like a tumble dryer it’s far from pleasant. While high cholesterol is not a common culprit of dizzy spells, medication such as statins, designed to lower levels of LDL cholesterol in the blood and inside the liver, can have these side effects. Be sure to consult your GP before taking this route.
Healthy amounts of hair – While a common symptom of old age, hair loss can be a tell-tale sign of heart-related problems. Studies have revealed that, in comparison to men sporting a full head of hair, men with a bald crown are 23% more likely to experience heart issues. Sudden hair loss typically signifies a lack of oxygen within the bloodstream; a common result of high cholesterol levels and one to watch out for.
No more large limbs – Retention of fluid in the feet and legs is known as peripheral oedema – a common condition when wearing tight socks or lingerie. These indents on the skin typically disappear within a few minutes. However, pitting oedema is very different. Here the indent remains and could be an early sign of congestive heart failure. When the heart is unwell, blood vessels leak fluid into surrounding tissues. The condition is most common on the legs or ankles, due to gravitational effects. Be sure to regularly assess your body to ensure your situation doesn’t become inflamed.
Irresistible radiance – Skin is the staple of beauty and signifies good health, so the last thing you’d want is for your complexion to deteriorate. A weak heart can lead to skin conditions like xanthoma. xanthelasma palpebrarum (a type of xanthoma) usually appears as minor cholesterol-filled plaques on the eyelids. Remember to keep an eye out for symptoms like these.
Now you’re aware of the crucial relationship between cholesterol levels and heart health; it seems only right to focus on a healthy lifestyle. After all, the better health of your heart, the more likely you are to live into triple figures.
OptiBiotix has always seen improved science as the root of improved health. CholBiomeX3 is its new cholesterol management product that harnesses the power of human microbiome modulation. CholBiome supplements aim to provide a natural solution to cholesterol management. The supplements are scientifically proven to reduce LDL by up to 36.7% and lower blood pressure by 5.1%. CholBiome harnesses the power of OptiBiotix’s developed Lactobacillus Plantarum LPLDL®, which proves to be the ideal way to efficiently regulate cholesterol levels and promote heart health.
For more information on our product CholBiomeX3, head over to our store now. Or for further details of the Great Cholesterol Challenge, the funds raised so far and to share your 100 mile journey, socialise using the hashtag #NCMheartuk.