Dietary changes and physical activity can have a powerful effect on lowering an individual’s cholesterol numbers. Diet and exercise affect cholesterol levels so much, that every cholesterol-lowering medications come with the recommendation to improve diet and exercise habits while on the medication. Unfortunately, the diet and exercise part are not stressed nearly as much in the current practice of cholesterol management.
On September 30, 2013, I had a new patient come to the office with the following reported symptoms: Obesity, High Blood Pressure (managed with Rx), Elevated Cholesterol (251 – Normal is less than 200), Poor Thyroid Function (managed with Rx), Carpal Tunnel Syndrome in both hands, and Low Back Pain. After a comprehensive history, exam, and reviewing his blood work, we began a nutritional program that would support the underlying inflammation that was aggravating his symptoms. The most common inflammatory foods were removed from his diet, and he was encouraged to track his food intake for me so that I could see a correlation between his symptoms and his diet.
Things went well for the first 3 weeks, and he reported improved energy, decreased pain, better sleep, and weight loss. Then, due to his work schedule, and later, the Thanksgiving holiday, I did not hear from him for a few weeks. When he was able to get into the office again on December 9th, he came in with updated blood tests from his family physician.
The results were amazing. His Total Cholesterol dropped from 251 mg/dL on July 28, to 178 mg/dL on November 18. 73 points! The only change between the two tests, removing inflammatory foods from his diet.
When you see elevated cholesterol levels on your own blood work, or when a family member is recommended to go on a cholesterol-lowering medication, is diet discussed? Do you have a family history of high cholesterol, and want to take a preventative approach to keeping it in check? Look to your diet, increase your physical activity, and recheck it periodically to make sure it is moving in the right direction.