Cholesterol is a waxy substance that ultimately ends up in the walls of arteries. It causes the plaques that lead to heart attacks and strokes.
The role of cholesterol in causing heart attacks is still a subject of research.
- The body regulates itself how much cholesterol is in your blood.
- There are different kinds of cholesterol. Low-density lipoprotein or LDL (bad) cholesterol contributes to plaque build-up along with triglycerides, another lipid. High-density lipoprotein or HDL (good) cholesterol discourages plaque build-up.
- The way body processes cholesterol differs person to person. Some people appear to be more vulnerable to cholesterol-rich diets.
Research shows that your genetic makeup – not diet – is the driving force behind cholesterol levels.
The body creates cholesterol in amounts much larger than what we eat. So avoiding foods that are high in cholesterol won’t affect your blood cholesterol levels very much.
About 80-85 percent of the cholesterol in circulation is manufactured by the body in the liver, It isn’t coming directly from the cholesterol that we eat.
There is roll of big Pharmaceutical Companies which likes health scares because it leads to the sale of more medicines for them.
The greater danger for everyone is in foods that are high in Trans- fats.
The real health crisis in India is the Vitamin D deficiency. Known as the sunshine vitamin, it is produced by the body in response to skin being exposed to sunlight. It is also occurs naturally in a few foods — including some fish, fish liver oils, and egg yolks — and in fortified dairy and grain products.
Vitamin D is essential for strong bones, because it helps body to use calcium from the diet. Traditionally, its deficiency has been associated with rickets, a disease in which the bone tissue doesn’t properly mineralise, leading to softer bones and skeletal deformities. Increasingly, research is revealing the importance of vitamin D in protecting against a host of health problems.
Vitamin D is needed mostly by brown skinned people like us. Since this is not a condition that greatly concern the American medical establishment there is not as much as literature available as it is there for cholesterol. Until a couple of decades ago, the pathology labs even in big cities did not offer test for it.
Unlike our ancestors who spent a long time in the sun, we shun direct sunlight. We spend less time out and remain indoors. We travel in covered vehicles. Even when we go out in the morning or in the evening our body would not pick up much UV rays from the sun. The best time for the UV rays is between noons to 3pm when the sun’s rays are at their highest. But it is exactly the time when many would not want to go out in the sun.
In recent years, there are new factors such as clouds of air pollution that cover most of our cities which prevent UV rays from reaching ground.
If you have any of the following symptoms like – muscle weakness, fatigue, pains while climbing stairs, your legs hurt at all the time then it is worth adding a Vitamin D supplements to your diet. If this symptom doesn’t go away, then you can go and see a doctor and take your tests. The logic behind this is, tests are expensive while supplements are largely harmless and cheap. In many countries abroad, foods are routinely fortified with Vitamin D.
While doctor will tell you that a level of 20nanograms of Vitamin D in your blood is normal, labs may report the level less than 30nanograms as deficiency. A doctor may then prescribe a supplement that we may not really need. Pharmaceutical companies have recognised this opportunity, possibly many doctors may push you to have high dose of Vitamin D injections, which may not be necessary for most of us. So, the best approach is simple do-it-yourself approach as mentioned above.
In few years of time from now, our food may be compulsorily fortified with Vitamin D which may eliminate the need of supplement. Till that happens, worry about Vitamin D more than worrying about cholesterol levels, since the dietary cholesterol scare may be overstated and outdated. However, Vitamin D deficiency is real and we need to act upon it now on priority.
~Kishore Sanjeeva Hegde