Just the word alone sends cold shivers down the back of many people.
Millions of dollars are spent every year to control blood cholesterol levels.
With the word being bandied about everyday in the media and general conversations, one would think that all concerned are experts on the subject.
However, only a small number of people really understand what it is all about.
Cholesterol is an absolutely essential substance for life itself.
Without it one will just fade and die like a lamp run out of fuel.
The liver produces cholesterol from acetyl coenzyme A.
Dorland's Medical Dictionary for Health Consumers defines the coenzyme as: "an important intermediate in the tricarboxylic acid cycle and the chief precursor of lipids and steroids; it is formed by the attachment to coenzyme A of an acetyl group during the oxidation of carbohydrates, fatty acids, or amino acids": Quite a mouthful.
It all derives from the proteins that we take in as food.
This fuel is burned through metabolism and any excess fuel is stored as fat in the body cells and any excess settles as a plaque in the arterial system.
Cholesterol is found in two forms: The HDL (High-density Lipoprotein) and LDL (Low-density Lipoprotein).
The HDL is the so-called bad cholesterol and is the one that takes the blame for clogging the arteries and causing heart attacks.
Some people are genetically more prone to bad cholesterol than others.
One might even assume that such a person was born with a liver tending to malfunction in the department of cholesterol production.
However, studies have shown that too much saturated fat in a person's diet is the main cause of a raised LDL cholesterol level (the bad guy).
Having said that, it must be firmly reiterated that the main ally of the latter is a sedentary lifestyle.
Aerobic activity (taking oxygen freely from the air)(no cost exercising) promotes aerobic metabolism: Simply; an activity that promotes the increase of breathing and pulse rate.
The western sedentary lifestyle is probably public enemy number one as far as overweight and all associated problems are concerned, including high cholesterol levels (that is, the unwelcome kind).
While all the aforementioned may sound very applicable, it is, nevertheless, also confusing to some extent.
SOLVING THE PROBLEM The average person do not want to be involved or concerned with all the technical detail of the problem, he/she just wants a solution.
The life of the average citizen is so hurried and pressurized that a quick and easy solution is all that is looked for.
DIET (eating plan, eating habits and intake of nutrients) Research has shown that a diet with high fruit and vegetable content is the ideal thing.
Supplementing this with omega 3 from fish products is the easy and ideal way of combating, or at least, avoiding, high cholesterol levels (of the nasty kind).
Despite the finding that diet is a major contributor to high levels of bad cholesterol, it is also agreed that genetics, lack of proper exercise or lack of regular physical activity is a major contributor to the cholesterol problem.
Lack of exercise, overeating, excessive alcohol-intake causes the metabolism to lose its natural rhythm and synchronization resulting in the whole bio-chemical activity to derail.
THE REGIMEN The sad truth is that there is no freedom without responsibility, or shall we say that self-discipline is important in all spheres of life; and this is exceedingly applicable to lifestyle.
The best example the author can think of, offhand, is the pop queen, Madonna.
She follows a despotic regimen of diet and exercise.
Fortunately we don't all have to go to such extremes because we are not all in the public eye to the same extent as pop stars.
However, we all either want to live longer and happier or we will want to look better, sexier, more attractive and feel healthy and in great spirits as much as possible.
The number one rule is to stick to a discipline within your reach.
If you never attain a Madonna figure, you may not achieve Nobel Prize status, but your health and vigour will be much improved.
Here are some tips:Do not set unattainable goals.
Don't change from a gluttonous eater to a starvation diet overnight.
Design a diet (eating plan) that you think you will be able to maintain for at least two weeks; be generous without being over generous.
When you eat, eat slowly and masticate well (chew thoroughly).
Eat small portions more often.
Avoid the experience of feeling full or filled up.
Concentrate on raw vegetables and fruit.
The latter helps your metabolism to become livelier.
Minimize carbohydrates and concentrate on protein intake, especially vegetable protein.
Do push ups and running-on-the-spot exercises to increase your pulse and breathing rate.
Take vigorous walks and rest often while you get fit.
Set goals to achieve various targets, but wait for at least a month before you start setting goals on losing fat.
Remember that losing fat may be replaced by healthy muscle and therefore not much weight loss on the scale.
Simple planning:Distance to walk or jog: If you are young enough and relatively healthy, a target for a certain jogging distance can be set, say: First day - 500 meters brisk walk.
Second day - 700 meters brisk walk and add 200 meters every day.
This way you won't injure your unfit body.
Jogging must start of with something like an alternated 100 meters walk and 100 meters jog until you feel that, for your physical condition, you have done enough for the day.
Follow this up by a rest period of between ten minutes and half an hour.
Take enough water before during, and after the exercise and don't strain yourself.
The object of all this activity is Aerobics, or free movement exercising, to promote intake of sufficient oxygen.
CONCLUSION The simplest way to reduce a high cholesterol level is by eating correctly.
Teach yourself to eat raw vegetables as far as possible.
The green, red and yellow vegetables are all fairly nice to eat raw, or just nicely blanched in boiling water.
It is wonderful to discover how nice vegetables really taste when just slightly crisped in a microwave oven.
Meats must mostly be clean of any fat.
Remove all fat from steak and mutton, add your favourite herbs and spices and grill.
Chicken breasts can be turned into a nice dish within a veggie stir-fry.
Eat Biblical - no dairy and meat in the same sitting.
Not more than one carbohydrate per sitting.
All these are very simple rules to follow if the motivation is right.
Be motivated: Prepare yourself psychologically for the start of your quest.
Visualize the fact that if you can lower your cholesterol level that you will still be able to dance the waltz (or whatever your favourite may be) at age 85.
Visualize the steps you will take to be resolute during your first two weeks.
Family and friends are often a great stumbling block.
Tell them that you HAVE to get your cholesterol levels back in shape, so they must please respect your efforts.
If you don't think you can do it on your own, don't feel bad.
Find a diet plan that will give your metabolism a kick-start.
Probably the best known and the most effective is an eating plan by a lady named Cathi Graham of Canada.
She dropped 187 pounds of fat in 18 months and has maintained a steady weight and healthy cholesterol level since around 1998.
Please remember to consult with an appropriate health or nutrition professional before starting any rigorous eating plan.