Pat Henry: Cholesterol - exercise is essential
Genetics plays a huge part in whether you might be susceptible to having high cholesterol or not, but there are steps you can take to counter it, says Pat Henry
It's 1973 and I'm training in California with the greatest trainer ever Vince Gironda in his gym in Hollywood. Looking back, his training methods and diet plan was 50 years ahead of his time. He invented the high fat, high protein diet for maximum definition. The training was really hard but his diet plan sounded crazy. However, no matter what he told me to eat, I ate.
Both my training partner and myself were just glad to be there. Our new diet was 72 raw fertile organic eggs daily, mixed with double cream and protein powder with handfuls of digestive enzymes etc. Yes I was concerned with my cholesterol which, when starting, was 3-5 and after two months, was still 3-5. Now, 43 years later, it's still 3-5.
The moral of the story is that genetics play a huge part in determining our health including whether we have high cholesterol or not. Now I am not recommending eating lots of eggs or any high levels of protein. One egg is equal to six grams of protein and the yellow yolk six grams of fat.
Having too much bad cholesterol puts us at risk of heart attacks and strokes. We do need cholesterol for the body to function properly but cholesterol that is not used builds up more in our blood vessels causing blockage.
Medics are now recommending children from the ages of 12 to 14 upwards to have regular tests, even those who have lots of lean tissue and are slim. This is where your genetics make-up comes in.
We automatically think it's the people who carry lots of fat on the body who will have the highest cholesterol. Not so. Many of our clients who are in great shape can have levels of 5.5, 6.5 or more. Certainly as we age, cholesterol levels can rise due to lack of fitness or poor eating habits and stress. All these factors contribute to rising levels. The Heart Association worldwide recommends that those over 20 have cholesterol checks at least every four years. Men can be a higher risk but women can be at risk as hormone levels change with menopause.
So what can you do to help?
1 Exercise boosts your HDL and good cholesterol levels increase, so cycling, jogging, swimming for at least 45 mins per day can be very beneficial.
2 Try to eat more wholegrain foods and cut down on white carbs, white bread, and white pasta; eat more roughage, cut out soggy foods.
3 Eat more good fats such as avocado (pictured), olive oil, all varieties of nuts. They have good healthy fats which won't raise your bad cholesterol.
4 Read the China Study a fascinating look at lowering your cholesterol. Also cut down as many processed meats especially those with lots of fat. Also watch out for overindulgence of the rich foods. Just cut down in general, you won't starve.
5 Stop smoking, avoid the production of plaque.
Genetics and family history play a huge part in your diagnosis. Your doctor will suggest what your level should be for your lifestyle and age, but it is you who must insist that your family history is taken into account rather than just taking a simple blood test.
They have now developed a tiny drill that goes into the veins and rotates very fast and clears blockages. Probably in the future this will be done during your lunch break - it will be like going to the dentist or a beauty salon.
Still, I would rather it went away naturally!
Health & Living