High cholesterol has been an ongoing issue for generations, however, it seems as though it is a more common occurrence as adults age. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), over 70 million adults in the U.S. have high low-density lipoprotein (LDL), or “bad,” cholesterol. What’s even more staggering is that fewer than 1 out of every 3 adults with high LDL cholesterol has the condition under control, according to the CDC.
Adults who are diagnosed with high cholesterol are immediately interested in answering the question, “How can I get my high cholesterol under control?” Cholesterol is manageable, and with the help and guidance of a medical provider you can see real changes in your health – changes that will show up in your lab work in as little as one quarter.
At Warner Family Practice we advocate for our patients to have quarterly lab work done specifically to monitor numbers such as cholesterol and take necessary measures to rectify cholesterol issues or prevent them altogether. Learn more about our approach to lab work here.
In this article we will discuss how a healthy diet, regular exercise and medication can go a long way toward keeping your cholesterol levels under control.
Keeping Cholesterol Under Control with a Healthy Diet
The first step in keeping your cholesterol under control is to closely examine your eating habits. Wanting to eat healthier options is not a completely foreign idea to you – it’s actually something you’ve thought a lot about. The problem you run into is the when and the where of eating.
While meeting with a nutritionist or a naturopathic physician is a great way to start taking complete control of your nutrition so you can begin to see real change in your cholesterol numbers, there are smaller, more subtle changes that you can make immediately.
- Avoid trans fats. Trans fats increase your LDL, or ‘bad’ cholesterol, and lower your HDL, or ‘good’ cholesterol. They are found in foods like cakes and cookies as well as some margarines. In addition, be conscious of the volume of meat, egg yolks and whole milk products you consume as these are concentrated sources of cholesterol.
- Choose foods with healthy fats. Foods like avocados, almonds, pecans and walnuts contain healthy fats. You will also find healthy fats in whole grain products which contain various nutrients that promote health. For instance, the next time you’re going to buy bread or pasta, look for a whole grain variety.
- Eat vegetables. You knew it was going to be on the list. Vegetables do not contain fat and are rich in dietary fiber which can help lower cholesterol.
- Drink alcohol in moderation. It is recommended that if/when you drink, you do so in moderation. Moderation can be measured as no more than one drink a day for women and two drinks a day for men.
- Stop smoking. Smoking is linked to many diseases and illnesses, including cholesterol issues. If you smoke, it is in your best interest and the interest of those who love you, to create a plan to stop.
Keeping Cholesterol Under Control Through Regular Exercise
Making positive changes to your diet is a fantastic start to keeping cholesterol under control. If you’re serious about keeping your cholesterol at healthy levels, you will need to introduce exercise into your life.
To what extent do you need to exercise in order to see a change in your cholesterol numbers? It will vary from person to person – everyone’s body is different – but we can start by saying that most people won’t need to go to the gym and put in a heavy workout every day. The ideal goal is to achieve approximately 200 minutes of aerobic exercise per week. This can be accomplished by doing 30 minutes of exercise seven days per week, or doing 40 minutes of exercise five days per week.
A few ways of getting exercise daily include:
- Taking a brisk walk around your neighborhood
- Riding your bike to a local store instead of driving
- Spending time in the pool swimming laps for 30 minutes
- General aerobic movements
With as little as 30 minutes a day of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise, in a very short time you will begin to see and feel the benefits.
Your doctor will be able to advise you on a healthy amount of exercise. For many, starting with 15 minutes a day and increasing the time spent over the coming weeks is a great way to introduce a strong weapon into your movement to control cholesterol.
The bottom line is – get your body moving.
There is one additional benefit to this part of the cholesterol control journey: those extra pounds you’ve always talked about losing will start to drop off. That, in turn, will help your body in more ways than one.
Keeping Cholesterol Under Control with Medication
In addition to diet and exercise – the two preferred methods of treating high cholesterol – medication may be part of the plan you form with your doctor to keep your cholesterol under control.
The prescription drug market has added quite a few drugs which help lower LDL and increase HDL. Two of the most common drug types are statins and niacin. For circumstances which are more serious and require an expedited timeline of treatment, injections may be necessary.
There is not another patient like you, and your reaction to a particular cholesterol medication will vary from others on the same medication. Our providers work to educate you on what you need to know prior to making a decision on a path of treatment and what medication, if any, will be the best step forward. In many cases, any medication side-effects are mild and will go away once your body adjusts to them.
The portion of treatment in your immediate control is diet and exercise, and with your provider, the third portion of treatment, medication, is well within your grasp.
You Can Keep Your Cholesterol Under Control
Having high cholesterol is not an ideal situation, but you do have options. With a combination of lifestyle changes and medication, you can manage your cholesterol. It takes time and commitment, but with the right plan, you can conquer it.
If you are in the Chandler, Tempe, Mesa, Phoenix or Gilbert area of Arizona, we encourage you to schedule a visit with one of our providers. You can call 480.831.8457 to speak with our scheduling department.
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