Four Key Practices to Improve Your Cholesterol
Balancing cholesterol is not a simple task. Often we must combine medications, supplements and ALWAYS lifestyle practices – what we call the Four Pillars of Health.
The First Pillar: Movement
Even if you are currently sedentary (meaning sitting for at least 6 hours per day with no form of formal movement), it is not too late to start moving your body. And, it does not matter what type of activity you do – just pick something that causes your heart to pump and your pores to sweat. You can do hula hoop, Zumba, fast walking, dancing, etc. Start moving at least 3 times per week for at least 15 minutes with an initial goal of 30 minutes 3 times per week and then 5 times per week working on getting your heart rate to about 50-75% of your maximum. An easy way to figure out you age-related maximum heart rate is to take 220 minus your age. So, for a 50-year-old that would be 170 beats per minute (bpm). So, for a sedentary 50-year-old, the initial heart rate goal would be 50-75% of that maximum or 85-127 bpm.
For those who have been exercising regularly, the goal is at least 30 minutes 5 times per week of exercise at 70-80% of heart rate. Most forms of aerobic exercise combined with strength training are excellent for cardiovascular health. High Intensity Interval Training or HIIT (a 20-minute workout is sufficient due to the intensity) combined with resistance training (weight lifting or bands or body weight) will have the greatest impact on your cardiovascular health.
The Second Pillar: Diet
Regardless of which diet you follow, make sure to include soluble fiber daily. Consuming at least 5-10 grams of soluble fiber per day can lower your LDL. Start low and go slow with fiber because it can rev up your digestive system. I suggest starting with 1-2 tablespoons of ground organic flax per day in your smoothie, in yogurt, in water or on top of your vegetables and working up to 4-5 tablespoons per day. Flax should be kept cold at all times in the refrigerator or freezer. Other forms of soluble fiber include oat bran, beans (especially lentils), tofu, avocado, green vegetables like broccoli and Brussels sprouts, chia seeds, apples, blueberries, sweet potato and many others.
The Third Pillar: Stress Management
There are multiple ways to increase the parasympathetic tone of the body and just 15-20 minutes of practice a few times a week can make a great impact on your overall health. There are many forms of stress management. If you are interested in exploring meditation, check out the Insight Timer App. There are forms of movement like yoga, tai chi and chi gong which also can help lower our stress response. Most forms of exercise as well can be a stress busters. And there are loads of other techniques like biofeedback, massage, acupuncture and more. Being with friends and family members who are supportive, singing, dancing and laughter will also lower stress.
The Fourth Pillar: Sleep
Personalizing your lifestyle program to help balance cholesterol is a priority at Robinson MD. We perform extensive cholesterol lab testing in our office so we can analyze your personal lipid profile and make a personalized plan for you.
National Library of Medicine – Effects of High Intensity Interval Training and Strength Training on Metabolic, Cardiovascular and Hormonal Outcomes in Women with Polycystic Ovary Syndrome: A Pilot Study
National Library of Medicine – Metabolic and anti-inflammatory effects of a home-based programme of aerobic physical exercise
National Library of Medicine – Differential Effects of Aerobic Exercise, Resistance Training and Combined Exercise Modalities on Cholesterol and the Lipid Profile: Review, Synthesis and Recommendations
JACC Journals – The Effect of Mediterranean Diet on Metabolic Syndrome and its Components: A Meta-Analysis of 50 Studies and 534,906 Individuals
National Library of Medicine – What are the effects of psychological stress and physical work on blood lipid profiles?
MDPI – Effect of Continuous Positive Airway Pressure on Lipid Profiles in Obstructive Sleep Apnea: A Meta-Analysis
Think of the food labels as a warning label and if you follow the following rules, your health and wellness will be better in the long run… Read the ingredients rather than calories or nutrients. Calorie counting is less not effective for losing the inflammatory...