Today risk of heart attack has cautioned the world to control hyperlipidaemia – high level of lipids (fat or cholesterol or triglycerides) in blood. Obesity also blames hyperlipidaemia. Likewise, cholesterol or fat is now blamed for all sorts of problems from acne, ulcers, gall stones, heart diseases, vascular diseases, cerebrovascular disorders, impotency, deranged mental health, increased blood pressure, ulcers and even indigestion.
Cosmopolitan people prefer a lean body structure without any fatness. But no one can deny the need of fat for good structuring of our body and its functions. Fat is very essential and found everywhere in the body i.e. in the skin, nerves, tissues, other organs, blood, etc. It provides lots and lots of benefits for the body:
- It covers our body like an insulating blanket (layer) and acts as the energy-giving heater. Emaciated persons, who have less fat covering, will usually have low body temperature and feel cold very easily.
- It gives a cushioning effect to the body.
- It is very essential for our body functions and health.
- It acts as a reservoir of energy, more than sugar, i.e. stored fat may be utilised for 3-6 weeks in case of starvation or fasting. As they say, butter is better for longer trips.
- It aids in absorption of fat soluble vitamins A, D, E & K.
- Fat metabolism is an alternative metabolism during lack of carbohydrates.
- It is very essential for synthesis of hormones and bile salts.
- It controls the water permeability of the skin cells, so it controls excess evaporation.
- Lipid is essential for clotting, if platelet is deprived of it, blood will not coagulate.
Cholesterol required for our body is usually sourced from foods (vegetable or animal) or can be synthesised in the liver. The excess intake of fats initially gets deposited in the adipose layer of the skin. Then, it is stored in the liver. The excess fat stored in the liver makes liver fatty and hard. It then gradually gets released in a sustained manner according to the requirements, if there is any. The rich sources of fat are the liver of sheep, beef, fish oils, meat, butter, ghee, nuts, seeds, grains, cereals and pulses. Continuous deposition of fat can cause weight gain.
All fat people will not have high cholesterol in blood, since obesity may be part of their constitution. Likewise, even a lean person can have high cholesterol level in blood. So, it is more concerned with mobilisation & utilisation of fat.
Types of fats
Fats based on our foods intake are classified into two categories:
1) Saturated fats which are again classified as
- Short chain fatty acids- somewhat easily digestible
- Long chain fatty acids – hard to digest – animal fats
- Mono unsaturated fatty acids – very easily digestible – olive, corn oil and soya.
- Poly unsaturated fatty acids – Essential fatty acids
Fats are stored in the body as triglycerides, phospholipids and chylomicrons and transported in the blood to various organs as
1. LDL cholesterol (low density lipoprotein) is also called bad cholesterol, due to its bad effect on the heart. This LDL cholesterol gets deposited on the walls of the arteries and makes blood vessels hard and narrow – a condition called atherosclerosis. The risk of deprivation of blood supply to heart, kidney, extremities, brain, etc., may occur due to the blockage or the narrowing of blood vessels with this fat deposits. When the same condition occurs in the coronary artery (which supplies blood to the heart), it causes ischaemic heart diseases (IHD).
2. HDL cholesterol (high density lipoprotein) is also named as good cholesterol since it is good for the heart. It can remove the fat deposits from the arteries and bring them back to the liver.
3. VLDL cholesterol (very low density lipoprotein) is the smallest mass of lipoproteins synthesised by the liver from carbohydrates. They are carried to other tissues for storage.
Total cholesterol is the sum of LDL + HDL + VLDL
Triglycerides are a form of neutral fats which is the usual form of storage.
Phospholipids are the lipoproteins which is very essential for functions of cell membrane
Chylomicrons are protein coated small fat droplets which are produced by the intestines, during and after meals. They are carried as milky white fluid by lymph vessels for circulation.
Causes and incidences that favour hyperlipidaemia Mostly diet and heredity control lipid levels. So, the primary cause may be due to overeating or familial condition. The secondary causes are due to diseases like diabetes, hypothyroidism, alcohol addiction, kidney failure, gall bladder diseases, etc. Other factors have fewer influences.
- Familial – High cholesterol, like diabetes, hypertension, etc., is often found to run in families. Familial hypercholesterolemia is an inherited tendency to develop atherosclerosis and heart attacks in a young age. Also, the chances of risk are more when both parents have high cholesterol.
- Age – As age advances, everyone retires and takes rest with good meal, which tends to increase cholesterol levels. Also, naturally, there is a tendency to have raised value of cholesterol as age advances. After the age of 40, the incidence is more common and after 60, it is found to be higher. Males suffer more commonly than females but after the menopausal age, they suffer equally.
- Diet – Food rich in saturated fats will raise the bad cholesterol level in the blood. For example – meat, chicken, egg, oil, etc.
- Habits of smoking, drinking, sedentary work can also raise cholesterol levels.
- Diseases – Hypertension, diabetes mostly co-exist with high cholesterol level. Hypothyroidism can also cause high cholesterol level.
Symptoms – Awareness of cholesterol is now increasing day by day. Mostly there is no symptom at all for high levels of blood cholesterol. But, carelessness even after diagnosing it will lead one to obesity, hypertension and diseases that involve the heart, kidney, liver, etc. It can cause various symptoms or complications according to the parts involved. Commonly, giddiness, headache, palpitation, vomiting and indigestion are the accompanying symptoms of high blood cholesterol. Most complaints of high blood pressure, diabetes and heart diseases are closely associated with this lipid abnormality.
Diagnosis – Nowadays, cholesterol level and triglycerides levels are checked more cautiously, due to higher incidence of heart attacks. Even without any symptoms or complaints, most people opt for routine yearly master health check-ups after the age of 40. Also, a check-up during high BP or diabetes often reveals high levels of cholesterol in blood. Once the blood shows a high level of cholesterol, it should be thoroughly investigated by a lipid profile. This blood test should be done after 12 hours of fasting. Further to rule out heart involvement, ECG must be analysed to care for the heart.
LIPID PROFILE – Normal expected levels are
Serum total cholesterol – 150 – 240mg/dl – better to have below 200mg/dl
Serum triglycerides – 70 – 150 mg / dl – better to have below 130mg/dl
Serum HDL cholesterol – 30 -70 mg / dl – better to have above 50mg/dl
Serum LDL cholesterol – 70 -130 mg / dl – better to have below 100mg/dl
Serum VLDL cholesterol – 20 – 40 mg / dl – better to have below 30mg/dl
LDL/HDL ratio – 2.5 – 4.0 – better to have below 3.0
Complications – High level of cholesterol and triglycerides usually lead to complications if there is no proper care. Mainly, cholesterol deposits in the blood vessels cause hardening of arteries i.e., atherosclerosis, which will be the main reason or cause for hypertension getting worse (by narrowing the blood vessels), ischaemic heart disorders (by blocking the coronary arteries) and stroke (by thrombus formation). Likewise, high levels of cholesterol also complicate diabetes.
Prevention – You can live pleasantly and cheerfully with cholesterol if you keep it under your control.
Do not take any food in excesss.
Utilise intake of food properly – don’t let it to go for storage
- Regular exercise and reduce weight. Doing exercise regularly will keep LDL cholesterol at low level and HDL cholesterol at high level, which is good for the heart.
- Smoking and drinking
- Saturated fats and cholesterol foods like meat, chicken, eggs, cakes, pastries, cookies, milk products and fried foods
- Nuts containing saturated fatty acids in large doses
- Using coconut oil and palm oil for cooking and try to use mono unsaturated fatty acids like safflower oil, corn oil, mustard oil, olive oil, etc.
- Butter and ghee
- Omega 3 unsaturated fatty acids supplements or use oil which contains it
- Plenty of vegetables, fruits, cereals, pulses and grains
- Regular treatment for high BP, heart disorders and diabetes
From olden days, using garlic in food has been considered as traditional medicine for controlling cholesterol. Treatment based on drugs, once started, must be continued for life. Now, doctors commonly recommend Omega-3 supplements for high cholesterol levels, along with their treatments. Blood pressure and sugar should be carefully watched during the treatment.
Homeopathic approach to controling fats – Hyperlipidaemia is supposed to be a constitutional disease, so treatment also should be constitutional. If the cause is secondary, treatment should be aimed at the causative factor. Normal levels can be surely claimed and maintained if the treatment is started earlier. Treatment should be followed for quite a long time to treat hyperlipidaemia. Unlike other systems of medicine, which are toxic in nature during continuous usage, drugs used in Homeopathy are safe and offer betterment without any side-effects. Discover health and happiness with peace of mind and proper treatment.
In Homeopathy, medicines are selected constitutionally according to the patient and his symptoms. Like all other system of medicines, in Homeopathy also, medicines are given second importance only compared to diet and exercises. Homeopathic medicines commonly used in cases of high level of cholesterol or triglycerides are Allium Sativa, Allium Ursinum, Baryta mur, Calc carb, Cholestrinum, Crataegus, Kali Brom, Lycopodium, Nat sulp, Nux vom, Pulsatilla, Rauwolfia, Sulphur, Thuja, etc. These Medicines should be taken under the advice and diagnosis of a qualified Homeopath.
(Disclaimer: The contents of this column are for informational purpose only. The content is not intended to be a substitute for professional healthcare advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of healthcare professional for any health problem or medical condition.)