More than 78 million adults in the United States have high cholesterol levels, according to the CDC. In terms of total population, that is more than one-third of all adults in the U.S.
Cholesterol is a waxy substance found in your blood that is also present in many animal products, like eggs, dairy and meat.
Your body naturally produces all of the cholesterol that it needs. When you take in cholesterol from outside sources, your body produces less to make up for the difference, but taking in too much can throw off the body’s natural ability to regulate levels safely.
Our bodies need cholesterol to produce hormones and vitamin D. However having levels that are too high can put you at an increased risk for serious complications.
Symptoms of High Cholesterol
Many people who have high cholesterol may not be aware; people with high levels generally exhibit no noticeable symptoms. A blood test can tell you if you have high levels of cholesterol.
Causes of High Cholesterol
Cholesterol moves through the body on two different types of proteins in the blood (called “lipoproteins”). If you have ever heard somebody talking about the “good” and “bad” types of cholesterol, they were referring to levels of these two lipoproteins.
- High-density lipoprotein (HDL) is known as the “good” cholesterol. This type of protein absorbs cholesterol and carries it to the liver, where it is processed and removed from the body. High levels of HDL lower your risk of serious complications.
- Low-density lipoprotein (LDL) is known as the “bad” cholesterol. LDL is the more common form of cholesterol. High LDL levels increase your risk of heart disease and stroke.
Certain factors and behaviors increase your risk of high cholesterol. Some of the top risk factors include:
- Genetics. Having a family history of high cholesterol levels may increase your risk.
- Gender. Post-menopausal women often have higher levels of LDL cholesterol.
- Age. As you get older, your risk of high cholesterol goes up. For men, it typically starts around age 45. For women, it starts around 55.
- Poor diet. Eating a diet high in saturated fat (found in animal products) raises your body’s cholesterol levels.
- Obesity. A BMI over 30 increases your risk of high cholesterol.
- Smoking. Smoking damages the cells in your blood, making it easier for them to accumulate high levels of bad cholesterol.
- Diabetes. High blood sugar can contribute to high levels of bad cholesterol in the blood.
Treating these underlying risk factors can be part of an overall strategy for treating high levels of cholesterol.
Untreated high cholesterol can damage the lining of your arteries and increase your risk of serious complications, such as:
- Heart attack
- Chest pain
- Heart disease
- Peripheral artery disease
Managing your Cholesterol Levels Naturally
When you visit The Epigenetics Healing Center with high cholesterol, we don’t prescribe medications to lower your levels without a second thought. We look at what is happening to your biochemistry and create a plan to help your body lower its cholesterol levels on its own.
We offer a range of programs to help you lower your levels of high cholesterol in the best ways for you, including nutritional counseling and functional medicine.