High cholesterol is a major health problem for American adults, which means it's even more important to monitor and control cholesterol problems in seniors, whose bodies require more care and attention to maintain stasis than younger, healthier bodies do.
But the first step to controlling high cholesterol is understanding it, at least at a basic level. So here's what you need to know:
What Is Cholesterol, and How Does It Become ‘Bad'?
Cholesterol is a fat-like substance that your body produces. It helps make hormones, some vitamins, and other substances that aid in digestion. Cholesterol gets transported through your body in the blood stream in groups called lipoproteins (a combination of fats and proteins). There are two types of lipoproteins: low-density (LDL) and high-density (HDL).
When a doctor refers to “bad” cholesterol, they're referring to the LDLs. When these LDLs build up, they can begin clogging arteries. This makes your heart work harder to pump blood throughout the body and also puts you at immediate greater risk for a heart attack. Those with high cholesterol are statistically twice as likely of developing heart disease, as well.
According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), nearly one-third of all Americans have “high” levels of that bad cholesterol (73.5 million Americans), but fewer than one third of those same adults with high cholesterol have the condition under control – and less than half are even receiving treatments to correct the issue.
Your body produces all the cholesterol it needs, but cholesterol is also found in the foods that we eat.
Here are the three best ways to lower bad cholesterol, increase good cholesterol, and live a healthier, happier life.
Avoid Foods That Cause High Bad Cholesterol
Alcohol, caffeine, and sugar all are stimulants to the liver's production of cholesterol, so right off the bat, it's important to severely reduce – or even altogether eliminate – the consumption of foods and beverages with those ingredients.
Anything that is extremely high in salt (sodium), bad fats, or sugar will be harmful to cholesterol levels. Eating processed meats and low-quality red meats will also negatively affect cholesterol levels.
For a better idea of the type of diet to maintain, check out these suggestions from WebMD, but in short, stick to the classics: a colorful plate full of fruits and vegetables, organic whole grains, lean proteins, and other things found in a healthy, balanced diet.
The biggest key here is weight maintenance, but simply exercising alone can help lower your cholesterol levels. If you want to read more about why exercise helps, you can do so here, but in short: exercising produces hormones that help your body flush out bad cholesterol.
Of course, as the classic fitness adage goes, you can't out train a bad diet. In other words, good health starts in the kitchen, so exercising without eating properly, while still beneficial, won't alleviate your problems – weight- or cholesterol-related.
Go to the Doctor!
In this day and age, most people don't consider a 65-year-old person to be a “senior,” but by healthcare standards, you most definitely are.
Actually, the minimum age for Medicare eligibility is 65, which is actually a perfect time to head back to the doctor and get a physical. Did you know that in their first 12 months on Medicare, seniors are offered free physicals? And seniors are entitled to one free wellness visit every year thereafter. It's a great time to get back to the doctor and get some tests run, even as a precaution. The best medicine is prevention.
Have another question about preventative steps to take, or interested in speaking to Senior Helpers about our services? Contact us today and learn more about our in-home senior care on our website and how it can help keep the seniors in your life happy and healthy.