According to dietitian Edvardas Grišinas, summer is the perfect time to make lifestyle changes to improve not only your overall well-being but also, for example, to combat high cholesterol. You can take advantage of the excellent weather for walks or other physical activities, and eating seasonal fruit, berries, and vegetables can quickly provide your body with vitamins and other beneficial substances.
Ready for a healthy change in your life? Read on!
Not all cholesterol is bad for you.
According to the doctor, cholesterol is an essential substance in the human body, whose metabolism is carried out by two main organs: the liver and the intestines.
Cholesterol is essential for:
- The structure of nervous tissue
- The transmission of impulses
- Vitamin D function
- Synthesis of sex hormones
It’s also a component of bile, responsible for the absorption of fats and fat-soluble vitamins in the intestines, the maintenance of liver detoxification functions, and the harmonious functioning of the intestines.
“Depending on the density of lipoproteins (the particles that carry cholesterol), there are two main types of cholesterol. These are the so-called good and bad cholesterol (low-density lipoprotein – LDL). However, I want to emphasise that cholesterol is neither good nor bad – we’re talking about the lipoprotein that carries it. Suppose excess LDL cholesterol builds up in the body. In that case, it is deposited in the walls of blood vessels and increases the risk of cardiovascular disease, gallstones and intestinal dysbacteriosis,” says E. Grišinas.
Finding the real cause of high cholesterol is essential.
Any inflammation in the body – liver, gallbladder, or bowel dysfunction – and excess calories can increase bad cholesterol.
According to the doctor, these factors lead to inflammation in the body, leading to gastrointestinal and hepatic problems and high cholesterol. Monitoring calorie intake and regulating bowel activity is essential to prevent inflammation.
“Feeding the gut with fermented probiotics by consuming fermented dairy products such as yoghurt, kefir, and sour milk is recommended. They can be supplemented with polyphenols and antioxidants by adding a few teaspoons of chia seeds or carotenoid-rich Golden Chlorella microalgae. The astaxanthin carotenoid found in marine microalgae has a strong cholesterol-lowering effect,” says E. Grišinas.
He adds that high cholesterol often goes hand in hand with chronic diseases such as gout, obesity, psoriasis, autoimmune thyroid disease or hypothyroidism, type 2 diabetes, and hypogonadism. High cholesterol is also often associated with chronic stress, smoking, and other harmful lifestyle factors.
“In the case of elevated cholesterol, it’s important first to find out what is causing the increase – whether it is a primary disorder or a secondary manifestation of an underlying disease,” the dietitian points out.
Effective, but not easy way
According to the dietitian, we must be prepared for a long and demanding process to reduce cholesterol through lifestyle changes.
“Although the positive results of a lifestyle change are not as quickly apparent as with medication, the results last much longer. First, closely examine your eating habits to reduce cholesterol naturally. Pay attention to the amount of simple carbohydrates you consume – too much of them can slow down the results we want to achieve,” stresses E. Grišinas.
It’s also important to consider how much saturated and polyunsaturated fat you consume. Not all fats are bad, says the doctor. Both saturated and poly- and monounsaturated fats have a purpose in our bodies. A lower intake of fats can contribute to cholesterol-lowering therapy, but an insufficient intake of polyunsaturated omega-3 and monounsaturated fatty acids can interfere with the best results. Complete fat elimination is not recommended, especially for those with thyroid disease.
“When making lifestyle changes, it’s important to turn actions into habits – that’s the only way to get the best results,” says E. Grišinas.
The actions that lead to lifestyle changes are often stopped before they become a habit.
“According to some sources, it takes three weeks to develop a new habit, but I don’t think this is a universal rule. Habit formation is a dynamic process that depends on the frequency of an action, not the duration of it. So the more often we remember to eat fresh vegetables at every meal, dare to look at our pedometer and go for a walk for at least 15 minutes around the neighbourhood and have the confidence to say ‘no thanks, I’ll give up this meal today’,” the lower our risk of chronic diseases,” the dietician believes.
ABCs of healthy living
According to E. Grišinas, to maintain good health, you must eat regularly, drink enough water, consume soluble fibre, and eat at least 150-200 grams of vegetables at every meal.
“After all, this is summer, when seasonal vegetables and fruits are abundant and can benefit the body. Vegetables are an excellent source of fibre and micronutrients, stabilising blood glucose levels and reducing cholesterol absorption in the digestive tract. Don’t forget to include vegetables in the breakfast menus. For example, when eating natural yoghurt or porridge for breakfast, add ground flaxseed or Spanish sage seeds. And instead of cereals, use fresh seasonal berries, which are now readily available, such as strawberries, raspberries, rosehips and others. You can also flavour porridge and yoghurt with Golden Chlorella microalgae with a neutral smell and taste that children will enjoy. Microalgae are rich in fibre, minerals, and B vitamins,” says the dietician.
Including antioxidant foods such as cruciferous vegetables: broccoli, leafy greens, Chinese cabbage, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, and turnips is also helpful. Their consumption helps to maintain liver function and regular bile outflow. “This is important because irregular bile outflow is one of the more common factors responsible for indigestion, bowel problems, or high cholesterol,” says E. Grišinas.
Make the most of the summer.
According to E. Grišinas, a healthy diet alone won’t achieve the best results in lowering cholesterol – it’s vital to get a good night’s sleep, avoid stress, and give up harmful habits such as smoking and drinking alcohol.
“It’s also important to get enough exercise– at least 30 minutes 5 times a week, alternating aerobic activity with strength training. This is an effective way of lowering cholesterol, positively affecting our emotional state, increasing motivation, and improving sleep quality. Of course, please don’t overdo it and start exercising every day for 2 hours on the treadmill. Any over-activation of the nervous system and insufficient time for recovery will also lead to a rise in blood cholesterol levels,” points out the dietician.
He believes the optimal approach is to exercise two or three times a week, combined with daily walks of at least 40 minutes each.
“My advice is to make the most of the summer and spend as much time as possible outdoors: walking, jogging, wakeboarding, kayaking, cycling, or other physical activity. Also, eat seasonal fruit, berries, and vegetables to replenish your body with a burst of vitamins. Summer is a good time to make lifestyle changes, so I advise you to make the most of this time to improve your health. Remember that you are only doing it for yourself,” says E. Grišinas.