How to Maintain and Restore Healthy Blood Lipids Level
Cardiovascular disease is referred to a group of health conditions involving body's circulatory system including heart, arteries, and veins. There are different mechanisms by which a cardiovascular condition could form. For example the atherosclerosis is a mechanism through which the coronary artery disease and stroke are developing. There are several causes initiating atherosclerosis including; high blood pressure, high blood lipids, diabetes, high toxic load such as smoking and alcohol, being overweight and so on.
Since high blood lipid levels remains one of the of the major concerns in regards to cardiovascular disease, managing and maintaining proper blood lipids will help to eliminate one of the contributing pillars to the atherosclerosis and cardiovascular disease.
How lipids are moving around in our body?
Cholesterol and triglyceride molecules are transported by specialized proteins called Lipoproteins throughout the blood; and in fact the size and density of lipoproteins are the risk indicators of cardiovascular disease.
Lipoproteins are also responsible to transport fat soluble vitamins and antioxidants such as beta carotenes, vitamin E and Co Q10. The structure of these lipoproteins contains protein molecules called Apo-proteins. Apo-proteins act as signaling factors guiding the lipoproteins through blood stream to get to the tissues where they have to transport the lipids to.
Lipoproteins are categorized based on their function, size, density, and structure:
Chylomicrons: are produced by the intestinal cells to transport the lipid molecules absorbed from food to the liver, fat cells, and muscles.
VLDLs: take the triglycerides, cholesterol and phospholipids from liver and transport them to the fat cells to be stored.
LDLs: transport the cholesterol from the liver to the other tissues where needed. LDLs contain 60 to 70% of circulating cholesterol in our body. The signaling protein of LDL is called ApoB-100 which is recognized and picked up by those cell requiring cholesterol.
Because higher amount of cholesterol is carried by LDL, LDL is known as bad cholesterol. However all the LDLs are not equal and the LDL's amount of the total cholesterol alone is not making it a risk factor. Smaller and denser LDL molecules pose a significantly higher risk to the cardiovascular system.
Smaller and denser LDL Molecules are more prone to oxidation and much easier can penetrate under the inner lining of arteries. Therefore, besides LDL numbers, analysis of the size and density of the blood LDLs provide higher value and accuracy in preventing and risk assessment of cardiovascular disease.
HDLs: take the cholesterol from tissues, cells, and other carries like VLDLs and Chylomicrons and bring them to the liver to be re-processed, used in hormone production, vitamin production, or disposed as bile salts.
HDLs form 20 to 30% of the blood cholesterol. Cholesterol carried in form of the HDL is known as good Cholesterol because of its protecting benefits. The signalling molecules of the HDL are including ApoA-I & ApoA-II.
What are the functions of cholesterol and triglycerides?
As it is apparent liver plays a key role in storing, metabolizing and distributing energy form different sources including lipids, glucose, and protein around the body.
Cholesterol is a wax like steroid molecule which plays multiple important roles in our body. Cholesterol molecules are found in our cells' membranes and its concentration varies depending on the function of that cell. For example, more cholesterol is found in the cell wall of the nerve cells. Cholesterol is also critical in metabolism of steroid hormones, and Vitamin D. Cholesterol is necessary for formation of bile saltswhich further help with digesting lipids.
Triglyceride molecules provide long term storage of energy in the form of fat. While our body is limited to store sugar in the form of glycogen in muscles and liver, it has much greater capacity to store higher amount of energy in the fat form. Simply our liver turns the excess sugar from our diet to fat for storage.
How cholesterol and triglycerides have become risk factors?
Initially due to finding of lipid deposits in the affected areas of arteries in cases with atherosclerosis, high blood lipid levels were linked to cardiovascular disease. Later on studies found that particularly the oxidized LDL (Ox-LDL) is able to pass beneath the inner layer of arteries and initiate inflammation, scaring, trapping more fat and eventually forming a plaque.
Fatty acid parts of the LDLs get oxidized as exposed to free radicals and toxins in the blood, and that changes the structure and eventually the function of the LDL. Oxidized LDL is able to damage the Inner layer of arteries and get beneath this layer, consequently the immune system will be triggered and white blood cells are called to remove these oxidized LDLs. This process often causes inflammation and creates bigger molecular structures trapped under the endothelium narrowing the artery and forming plaque.
High blood glucose or high sugar diet as well increases the damaging effects of LDL to the arteries. Through a process called Glycation, the fatty acids in LDL join to Glucose and that not only will change structure and function of the LDL, but also do accelerate the LDL's oxidation.
Therefore, elevated LDL alone does not cause cardiovascular disease. High LDL increases the likely hood of more of them being oxidized and that impose a serious risk to our arteries.
How to reduce the side effects of bad cholesterol and triglycerides?
Prevention of cardiovascular disease should start from our diets. Research recommend series of therapeutic lifestyle changes to manage blood lipid levels.
- Diet low in saturated and hydrogenated fats while rich and high in Omega 3 fatty acids and plant sterols.
- Diet low in sugar and simple carbohydrates, instead to include complex carbs, vegetables, and minimum daily amount of 30 grams fibre.
- Diet to include 15% of daily calorie from lean protein.
- Diet with Low sodium.
As cholesterol is a pre-cursor to production of variety of steroid hormones, optimizing hormonal level will improve the reverse cholesterol transport resulting in lower LDL and better HDL function.
Several nutrients via different mode of action promote a healthy blood lipid levels and provide protection against cardiovascular disease:
Pantethine (biological active form of vitamin B5) acts as a co-factor in fatty acid metabolism promoting energy production from fatty acids in cells. Studies show both cholesterol and triglyceride lowering effaces of Panthetine in patients with high blood lipid profile and high blood sugar.
Garlic extract has been supported by many human studies for its cholesterol and triglycerides lowering benefits. Garlic extract also helps to reduce both Systolic and diastolic blood pressure. Human trial showed up to 4.5 mmHg reduction in systolic blood pressure compared to placebo group and this reduction was greater (about 8.5 mmHg) in those with hypersensitivity.
Amla is an Ayurvedic medicine which has been researched for its cardiovascular benefits. Research show that Amla provides great antioxidant activity and is able to lower the Ox-LDL and improve overall lipid profile by reducing LDL, total cholesterol and triglycerides, while increasing HDL. Additionally it is suggested that Amla improves blood sugar levels and consequently could protect against Glycation.
Plant sterols (phytosterols) are steroid molecules of plants acting similar to cholesterol in human and other animals. Phytosterols are hardly get absorbed in our digestive system and by competing with the absorption of other fats, they help to lower the lipids absorption in digestive tract. Multiple human studies indicate that supplementing with 2 to 3 grams of plant sterols daily will more effectively reduce blood lipids when combined with lifestyle and diet improvement.
Based on numerous human trials daily therapeutic dosage of antioxidants including Co Q10, Vitamin E, Vitamin C, Pomegranate extract, Carotenoids like Lycopene, and Phytophenols such as Flavonoides from green tea, Resveratrol from grapes, Anthocianidines from grapes and berries, can prevent and reverse the LDL oxidation, and improve overall cellular function and energy.
Omega3 fatty acids including EPA and DHA are not synthesized in human, but they are essential to the health due to their participation in multiple metabolic functions in the body. Omega 3 should be sourced though diet. It's been found that daily therapeutic dosage of 3-4 grams of high grade EPA and DHA can slow down the release of the VLDL and increase degeneration of blood triglycerides, therefore able to reduce triglyceride levels significantly. Lowering triglycerides also reduces the LDL levels and improves HDL.
Maintaining a healthy liver improves the lipid profile and cardiovascular health. Artichoke extract has been found to provide liver protecting and bile flow stimulating properties. Studies on human found supplementing 1.2 to 1.8 grams of artichoke extract within 6 to 12 weeks has lowered the LDL and total cholesterol about 6-10% and improved overall liver health.
Optimal Intestinal health by maintaining a balanced and healthy micro-flora population also play an important role in managing healthy blood lipids. Intestinal probiotics play a role in controlling and regulating cholesterol metabolism and transport. One bacteria in particular called Lactobacillus reuteri has been studied for its cholesterol lowering benefits. A randomized human study suggests supplementing with 3 billion cfu L.reuteri during 6 weeks decreased blood total cholesterol, LDL, APOB100, and inflammatory markers like CRP.
Cardiovascular disease is a chronic condition which is usually resulted from multiple factors. It is very important to be pro active and reduce the impact of the contributing risk factors by being aware of and eliminating them through adopting a healthy lifestyle habits, healthy foods, and nutritional supplements. Also it is shown maximum recovery from cardiovascular disease and restoring health is achieved via a holistic approach and by addressing all the contributing factors.
Articles and products featured by Health Palace are collected from a variety of sources and are provided as a service by Health Palace. These newsletters, while of potential interest to readers, do not necessarily represent the opinions nor constitute the advice of Health Palace. Presented materials are only for information purposes and do not intent to treat, cure, or prevent any disease.
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