Cholesterol is a waxy, fatty substance normally found in the blood. It can be produced naturally by the body via the liver; it can also be consumed from the diet.
Cholesterol is found in every cell in the body and is essential for the formation of cell membranes, certain hormones as well as vitamin D.
Cholesterol is insoluble in water, and since a greater percentage of blood is water, it cannot be ordinarily carried in the blood. The body uses specialized proteins produced in the liver, called lipoproteins (lipids or fats in combination with proteins) to transport cholesterol in the blood.
These proteins may be grouped into two: High-density lipoprotein and Low-density Lipoprotein. They are both codified as HDL and LDL.
HDL helps to carry excess cholesterol deposits from the blood to the liver where they are removed from the body. It has a protective function. Cholesterol which is carried by HDL is often called “good cholesterol”. High HDL levels in the blood reduce the risk for heart diseases and stroke.
LDL carries most of the body’s cholesterol and deposits them in arterial walls, and this may cause a build-up that will lead to the development of plaques. Plaques block the arteries and may lead to heart attacks or strokes. The cholesterol carried by LDL is often called “bad cholesterol”. Therefore, high LDL levels in the blood may lead to an increased risk for cardiovascular diseases.
Triglycerides are a different type of lipids that are products formed from the conversion of excess calories. When the body ingests more calories than it needs, it converts them to triglycerides, which could be used as a source of energy much later. Triglycerides are transported in the body via Very Low-Density Lipoprotein (VLDL).
The total cholesterol in the body is a measure of the levels of LDL, HDL, and triglycerides in the blood. High total cholesterol, also called hypercholesterolemia, could be a result of a relatively high LDL, a relatively high HDL, or a relatively high VLDL.
When the LDL and HDL levels are within the normal range but there is hypercholesterolemia, it could be a result of a high level of triglycerides in the blood. When the level of triglycerides in the body is more than 200 mg/dL, even where there are low HDL and LDL levels, it overly increases the total cholesterol level of the body. This could be due to problems in the liver where triglycerides are assembled. The liver enzymes are usually a major test for the levels of triglycerides in the body. Increased levels would likely mean an increased number of enzymes. Also, smoking, excessive drinking, and heavy steroid use (e.g estrogen) could be causes of hypertriglyceridemia.
High total cholesterol levels caused by high levels of triglycerides may cause problems for the cardiovascular system, an example of which is coronary heart disease. It is also a major cause of acute pancreatitis, diabetes, heart attack, and stroke.
There could also be complications for the hepatobiliary system. High levels of cholesterol can cause non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, which can lead to cirrhosis and liver failure. These high levels of cholesterol can also lead to the formation of cholesterol crystals within the gallbladder, leading to possible bile duct obstruction, obstructive jaundice, cholecystitis, and poor fat absorption in the intestines.
Treatment for High triglyceride level-induced Hypercholesterolemia
This kind of high total cholesterol level, as a result of high triglyceride levels, can be treated by natural methods which do not involve any type of medication, as well as artificial or synthetic methods that involve the ingestion of drugs and supplements.
The natural treatment of total cholesterol level involves healthy lifestyle choices such as:
- Reduction in Alcohol Intake: since triglyceride level is increased by excessive drinking, it is advisable to reduce alcohol consumption of any kind.
- Cut down on all forms of smoking and steroid use.
- Kefir a sour milk type of product has been found to reduce triglyceride levels and weight gain.
- The consumption of whole grains such as Brown rice, Bulgur, whole wheat, whole grain cereals, oatmeal, barley, quinoa, etc, has been found to greatly reduce high triglyceride levels in the blood and is therefore encouraged as a remedy for high total cholesterol levels.
- Good fats such as Omega-3 fats help to reduce cholesterol levels in the blood. Omega-3 fats are found in fatty fish such as salmon, sardines, tuna, and mackerel and they help to reduce triglyceride levels in the body when consumed.
- Exercise does not just help to maintain the normal triglyceride levels in the body, but it also helps to reduce the lipid content of the body, thereby improving the overall health of the individual. Exercise more often than not, to effectively curb low cholesterol levels.
- Weight management is an effective way to reduce the calorie content of the body. Recall those excess calories are converted to triglycerides in the liver, hence, the need to reduce weight especially if the individual is overweight or obese. Exercise is an efficient way of weight reduction, as well as healthy eating, mainly the avoidance of foods that contain high calories.
Supplements and medications
- Spirulina which is ordinarily a common blue-green alga has been commercially synthesized by researchers as a dietary supplement in capsule, pill, and powder form, and helps in the reduction of high levels of triglycerides in the body. It has been found to be very efficient in tackling hypercholesterolemia.
- Nicotinic acid (Niacin/Vitamin B3) has been found to increase levels of HDL and reduce LDL and triglyceride levels in the body, so is an effective pharmaceutical option in the handling of high total cholesterol levels in the body. Even though Niacin is an easily accessible drug, it is advisable to ask your doctor before using it, since there is a risk of serious side effects.
- Cholesterol absorption inhibitors are a synthetic group of compounds that when taken help to reduce the intestinal absorption of cholesterol from dietary sources, in turn reducing both cholesterol and triglyceride levels in the body.
- Fibrates help to reduce triglyceride levels in the blood and increase HDL (good cholesterol) levels ultimately maintaining cholesterol levels in the body.
- Statins are prescription drugs that help to stall the synthesis of cholesterol and triglycerides in the liver, hence reducing the natural production of these lipids in the liver.
High triglyceride blood levels as in the very low-density lipoprotein content of the blood, can cause high total cholesterol levels even when the high-density lipoprotein and low-density lipoprotein are within the normal levels. It is imperative to reduce the level of triglycerides by the methods that are shown in this article, to avoid cardiac diseases and nervous system disorders which will result from untreated hypercholesterolemia.