What you may not know about cholesterol
Cholesterol. A word that can automatically have a negative connotation and is many times associated with fried foods, a sedentary lifestyle, too much stress, and smoking.
However, not all cholesterol is bad and in fact, it’s a natural fat received from foods that floats around the body and is a building block for hormones and vitamin D.
So what’s the issue then?
Research has indicated that LDL cholesterol is harmful (HDL is known as good) so when this type of cholesterol is high, it can be of concern. But why is that?
It may all come down to oxidized cholesterol.
When LDL cholesterol gets oxidized due to a chemical reaction with free radicals and toxins (from how you eat and live) it can lead to sticky plaque on artery walls.
Oxidized cholesterol develops into plaque and overtime, can block arteries. In addition, the immune system can be tricked into thinking oxidized cholesterol is a bacteria and may try to fight it, creating inflammation in the arteries and blood vessels – which can lead to even more plaque.
What if cholesterol levels are high?
Commonly, if a cholesterol test comes back high (particularly high LDL), a primary care physician will prescribe a statin or cholesterol medication.
While these can be effective in lowering dangerous LDL levels (especially if risk factors are present), naturopathic medicine may also provide valuable options for treatment.
Dr. Graves starts by comparing the ratio of LDL to HDL and taking a health inventory. Risk factors such as:
- unhealthy diet
- excessive weight
- hereditary heart disease
- lack of movement
- chronic stress
- high blood pressure
- metabolism issues
can all attribute to high LDL and may benefit from naturopathic and self-care that Dr. Graves can provide and/or recommend.
In addition to this preliminary analysis, further testing can provide more insight.
An oxidized LDL blood test measures the level of oxidized cholesterol in the blood and a coronary calcium scan (a CT scan of the heart) assesses oxidized plaque around blood vessels. Both of these tests can be prescribed by Dr. Graves and can be performed in the surrounding local areas.
What if testing shows high oxidized cholesterol levels?
If oxidized cholesterol is high, there is more concern for clogged arteries.
Recommendations may include:
- adding antioxidants and eliminating free radicals from diet
- herbal supplements such as red yeast rice, niacin, and soluble fiber
- properly managing pre-existing conditions such as diabetes
- quitting smoking
- increased daily movement
- stress management
and can complement prescription medication if needed.
If oxidized cholesterol levels are low, this may suggest there may not be extensive plaque buildup in the arteries and scheduled monitoring is commonly proposed.
However, keep in mind that depending on test results, health inventory, family history, and lifestyle factors, treatment may differ for each individual. Consult your physician and Dr. Graves for personal recommendations.
As well, more research is consistently being performed on cholesterol and as we learn more, recommendations may change.
The bottom line?
If you’ve been diagnosed with high cholesterol, there may be naturopathic treatments that can help balance your HDL and LDL ratio alongside, or in place of, prescription medicine.
Call us at (303) 688-6698 or click here to schedule a free 15 minute phone call with Dr. Graves to learn more.
The CNMA office provides naturopathic care, testing, massage, and holistic counseling to those in Castle Rock, Castle Pines, Highlands Ranch, Lone Tree, Centennial, Parker, Larkspur, Monument, Colorado Springs, and the greater Denver metro area. For those outside of these areas, virtual appointments are available.