The Low-Down On Cholesterol

cholesterolCholesterol is a type of fat that is carried around in the blood. It performs useful functions in the body and is a major building block for cells and many of your hormones, including oestrogen, testosterone and cortisol. Cholesterol is also important for the synthesis of vitamin D, as well as bile acids which aid in the digestion of fats. Our bodies manufacture cholesterol but it can also be found in foods containing saturated fats. It is important to check your cholesterol levels regularly. Even though our bodies need some cholesterol, having high cholesterol can be bad for your health and increase the risk of cardiovascular disease.


The Good vs. The Bad Cholesterol

HDL and LDL are letters that you may have seen before on a blood test, and your Practitioner will be interested in reviewing these to monitor your health. But what do they mean? Your total cholesterol is made up of two types of cholesterol, often referred to as “good” and “bad” cholesterol.

  • High Density Lipoprotein (HDL) is essentially the “good” form of cholesterol. It carries cholesterol from the tissues to the liver to be broken down and excreted. HDL helps to decrease cardiovascular risk.
  • Low Density Lipoprotein (LDL) is often referred to as the “bad” form of cholesterol. High levels of LDL cholesterol can leave cholesterol deposits in the arteries, increasing the risk of the coronary artery disease known as atherosclerosis.
  • It is important to keep your HDL:LDL ratio in balance; aim towards having higher levels of the “good” and lower levels of the “bad” cholesterol.

High cholesterol is a complex issue and genetics definitely play a key role in many cases but for a wide variety of people the following suggestions can make an enormous difference, and for those who are genetically predisposed to high cholesterol it is important to make lifestyle and dietary changes that benefit your heart and cardiovascular system even if they don’t necessarily make a huge difference to your actual cholesterol levels.


Natural Support For Cholesterol

Liver Tonics : Making sure the liver is working optimally is extremely important when trying to lower cholesterol. An initial liver detox would be an excellent start, but a general liver tonic that includes the herbs Cynara, dandelion root, milk thistle and fringe-tree would be of great benefit.

  • Polymethoxyflavones: Also known as PMFs, these natural antioxidant and anti-inflammatory compounds found in citrus peel assist in maintaining healthy cholesterol levels. Research has shown that nobiletin and tangeretin, the phytochemicals found in PMFs, may assist in lowering LDL levels by reducing synthesis and increasing the clearance of LDL cholesterol.
  • Tocotrienols: Tocotrienols are members of the vitamin E family. These antioxidants also increase the clearance of LDL cholesterol and reduce the body’s production of LDL.
  • Krill oil: The oil from the crustacean, krill, has been shown to be beneficial for cholesterol balance, particularly by supporting HDL levels.
  • Fish oil: 2 g to 4 g of combined EPA/DHA has been shown to decrease triglyceride levels and is beneficial for heart health.


Six Tips For Optimal Cardiovascular Performance

Take on these tips for eating and living to support healthy cholesterol and cardiovascular health:

  • Follow the Mediterranean diet. People eating this diet rich in essential nutrients and antioxidants have the lowest rates of cardiovascular disease in the world.
  • Reduce saturated fats by choosing lean meats. Eating too much saturated fat may increase your weight and cholesterol levels.
  • Eliminate detrimental trans fats found in many fast foods, fried foods and packaged baked goods.
  • Cut down on sugary refined carbohydrates and processed food. These foods often contain ‘hidden sugars’ that can be converted to fat when supply is high.
  • Weight loss. If you are overweight, losing extra weight will help to lose the risk factors associated with cardiovascular disease. Your Practitioner can recommend a clinically-proven weight loss program and targeted supplements to assist healthy weight management.


Fighting Cellulite.

celeryCellulite – many women (if not all) of us have it and are not particularly fond of it. There are simple steps you can take to improve your blood circulation and lymphatic circulation which in turn will help to move on the fatty deposits which cause cellulite and that “orange peel” appearance.


Dry Skin Brushing

Dry skin brushing is a great way to encourage circulation and to help the elimination of waste from the tissues.

Five minutes of skin brushing with a firm bristle skin brush in the morning before getting in the shower is an invigorating way to start the day and excellent for getting those fatty deposits moving.


Lymphatic Drainage and Reflexology

Lymphatic drainage is a light pressured massage that works to remove waste by stimulating the lymphatic fluid towards specific drainage points in the body. Reflexologist, Cathy, offers lymphatic drainage in her reflexology sessions at Health In The Bay.



I know I harp on about it but it’s the best thing anyone can do for themselves, for so many reasons…

Getting the heart rate up improves circulation as well as burning up the excess fat stored in our bodies.


Essential Oils

Massaging the affected area with a combination of essential oils in a base oil, such as almond oil, will help to improve the circulation and therefore the removal of wastes. Oils specific for cellulite are:

  • Cypress – which assists in the management of fluid retention and is a circulatory tonic.
  • Juniper – is a diuretic known for its clearing, cleansing and detoxifying properties. It also improves circulation
  • Geranium – stimulates the lymphatic system and regenerates cells
  • Grapefruit – is said to assist in the breakdown of cellulite when mixed with evening primrose oil.


Herbal Medicine

Herbs which have a detoxifying effect and help to move excess water and eliminate wastes can be useful. These include celery seed, dandelion leaf and root, horse chestnut and St Mary’s thistle.


Regular Detoxification

By stimulating bile flow and liver detoxification the body is able to break down fats more efficiently. A good detox will also speed the clearance of toxins stored in fat.

Whether it’s a complete detoxification program or even the regular use of a good quality liver tonic your body will thank you for it.

Detoxification is best (safe and effective) when done under the care of a healthcare practitioner.


Whole food diet and plenty of water.

Its obvious! Put good stuff in and you’ll look and feel great. By avoiding foods high in saturated fats and refined carbohydrates, you will have less fat to store. Because lets face it – if you’re not burning those nasty hard to digest fats off straight away they’re going to find, or even worse create, a fat cell and get rather comfy. And remember – sugar and alcohol will ultimately end up there as well if they are not burned off by exercise.

It is important not to fear all fats though. Make sure you get plenty of essential fats such as those from raw nuts, seeds and fish, for healthy cells. These fats DON’T MAKE YOU FAT, actually studies have shown quite the opposite. People who eat diets with adequate amounts of essential fats tend to have smaller appetites and feel full and satisfied for longer after eating.

Fresh vegetable juices can also help due to their detoxifying effect – celery, carrot, beetroot and watermelon are particularly good.


Ingredients To Avoid

Mineral oil reduces the body’s natural oil production and causes dry skin. Synthetic fragrance oils are artificial, have no therapeutic effect and can irritate the skin.