Minggu, 26 Juni 2011

Cholesterol - The Good and the Bad

Cholesterol, first identified by François Poulletier de la Salle in 1769, got its name from a combination of the Greek words 'chole', meaning 'bile', 'stereos', meaning 'solid', and the suffix 'ol' which indicates alcohol within the molecule. Cholesterol is a fat-like product, produced by the liver of all Mammals. It is waxy in substance, and required to maintain cell membrane permeability and fluidity; it does this over a range of internal and external temperatures. Cholesterol also is responsible for regulating plasma membrane permeability to protons (such as positive hydrogen ions and sodium ions), has recently been cited as having influence in cell signaling processes, is the precursor in biochemical pathways, dissolves fats while being a part of bile secreted by the liver, has recently [and very importantly] been cited as a possible antioxidant, and plays a major part in the human body as a major component used to manufacture many substances required for proper bodily system functions', such as bile acids in the digestive tract, hormones, and the processing of vitamins of the fat-soluble variety (like Vitamin A, D, E, and K). However, despite its many required functions, this necessary molecule can be a dire indicator of disease if elevated levels are discovered.

Cholesterol is excreted by the liver. The typical human adult of about 150lb produces naturally, about 1gram (1000 mg) of cholesterol a day, and retains at any given time about 35grams within the body itself. The amount of cholesterol produced by the human body can be influenced by the amount ingested in food products as well. The more cholesterol a person ingests (approximately 200-300mg in the average US citizen's daily diet), the less cholesterol the body produces naturally. This is the body's method of regulating the amount of cholesterol it maintains. Cholesterol enters the digestive tract via the bile produced by the liver, and is recycled by the body by reabsorbing approximately 50% of the original amount produced, through the small bowel and it is then re-transported throughout the body via the bloodstream. Since Cholesterol cannot be soluble within the blood stream, and is only partially soluble in water, (and even at that, at only very small concentrations), the body has a very remarkable method of transporting this highly necessary molecule. To transport cholesterol the body utilizes lipoproteins, which, spherical in shape, are extremely complex particles consisting of a water soluble exterior called amphiphilic proteins, and a lipid [fat]-soluble interior. The cholesterol esters as well as triglycerides are harbored within the lipoprotein carrier, while the surface layer transports the Phospholipids and additional cholesterol. Triglycerides are primarily composed of vegetable oils and animals fats; they are the primary source of fat consumed by humans, and have a large impact on human metabolism as they are the primary energy source and transporters of dietary fat within the body, containing more than twice as much the amount of energy available from protein or carbohydrates. Together, triglycerides and cholesterol form chylomicrons, which are excreted from cells. These chylomicrons are collected by the lymph system in large blood vessels near the heart prior to mixing into the blood; this build up is more commonly referred to as plak (plaque). Once one understands this process, it is easy to then see the link between high levels of triglycerides in the human bloodstream, coinciding with high levels of cholesterol. High levels of Triglycerides within the blood can also be linked to atherosclerosis (hardening of the blood vessels), brought on by the afore mentioned bodily method of storing them. They are also linked likewise, to heart disease and stroke. As the plak hardens the vessels, it poses the potential risk to break off into the bloodstream causing the blood to clot [around the foreign object], as well as the risk of which can be partially attributed to the inverse relationship between triglyceride levels and HDL cholesterol levels.

HDL (high density lipoprotein), is also referred to as the "good cholesterol" due to its composition of being primarily protein, and very little cholesterol and triglycerides. The lower the amount of both cholesterol and triglycerides in your blood stream, the less need to have greater amounts transported via the lipoproteins. Likewise, the opposite characteristics can be attributed to LDL, also called the "bad cholesterol". LDL (low density lipoprotein) is composed of lesser amounts of proteins and higher amounts of cholesterol and triglycerides as the amount of each increases in the human body, the greater need for transportation of the higher amounts of each through the bloodstream and to other in need sources within the body's various systems. Aside from the quantity factor of cholesterol or triglycerides within the body, a certain amount of blame as to how much HDL one's body produces to how much LDL a body produces can also be attributed to genetics as well.

Although it is widely believed that one's cholesterol level can be controlled by simply restricting or closely monitoring the cholesterol levels' of the food that an individual consumes, many other factors must also be considered. Again, genetic disposition being very primary, as well as activity level, which are both major contributing factors. One should consult a doctor to appropriately consider and discuss all of their personal risk factors and benefits, and to find the most appropriate solution. Common methods of controlling cholesterol include increasing your activity level, limiting high fat, fried, and breaded foods, and foods that come with sauces, or gravies within your diet. Include new, healthy foods, such as oatmeal, a proven cholesterol reducing food, and other high fiber foods, within your new diet regime. Reducing your current body weight can also assist in reducing your cholesterol. Other popular or well utilized methods of cholesterol control are prescription medications, which may be useful when exercise and diet monitoring simply are not enough to rectify the problem. There are several types of medications, and while most are well tolerated, some do have unpleasant side effects, such as nausea and muscle soreness that result from the kidney malfunction caused when a person is prescribed medications in the "Statin" family (which includes Lipitor, Crestor, Zocor, and Pravachol ). It is wise, therefore, to discuss all side effects with your doctor thoroughly before deciding this is the best course of action; for a brief over view you can see a short list of prescription medications available on the Mayo Clinic website http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/cholesterol-medications/hb00042. An individual who is considering medications or treatments, but would like to take a more homeopathic route (or more natural route with less side effects), may consider other options like increasing their vitamins C & E intake, consuming more grapefruit or garlic (about 7 cloves a day), and adding beans to their regular daily diet (again, increasing their fiber intake), or taking a natural supplement designed and formulated to help control cholesterol. Of the many supplements available, a few have had very high success rates, and have been shown to have exceptionally quicker reaction times than simply taking a single herbal supplement. Such supplements are formulated to naturally decrease your levels of LDL cholesterol, while simultaneously increasing your HDL levels. While Red Yeast Rice Supplements have been shown to have beneficial properties with regards to lowering cholesterol, the supplements themselves are illegal to sell or purchase in the U.S. unless the supplements contain only trace amounts of the product. The added benefits of homeopathic or naturalist remedies is that they, have virtually no side effects, though it is still advisable to consult your doctor first, before taking any type of medication. Another source of information is the Web, on which you can find websites that list the ingredients and side effects (if any), of all natural remedies said to lower cholesterol, or be an effective remedy for cholesterol.

Whatever method you choose to lower your cholesterol, the benefits are clear. A Lowered risk of heart disease, such as stroke or heart attacks, as well as an overall increased quality of life style and life expectancy are all benefits of lowering cholesterol. You are at less risk to have to endure major surgery, long and complicated recovery times, and at a far less risk to have a relapsing heart condition. Regardless of the tactic you decide to practice to combat your cholesterol levels, one thing is certain, the benefits far outweigh the risks of doing nothing at all.

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