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Ways to Wellness
Well I did it! I lowered my cholesterol 91 points in six months without medication.
I’m still not out of the woods yet, as my overall numbers are 214 and should be below 200. Plus the doctor thought I should lose another 10 pounds.
How did I do it? There was no one thing. I changed some eating habits to include more fruits and vegetable and increased my fiber intake. I reduced the amount of bacon and other high fat foods I ate. I ate more oatmeal, fish, nuts, and cooked with olive oil. I stayed away from anything with trans fats and reduced my consumption of saturated fats.
I watched the number of calories I ate. One very easy trick was to cook portabella mushrooms on the grill instead of beef burgers. Topped with low fat cheese, I believe I like them better than regular burgers and they are about 300 calories less! I also stopped eating snacks after supper.
I drank lots and lots of water, thus getting a bit more exercise during the night with trips to the bathroom (smile).
I made a conscious effort to do some sort of physical activity at least 30 minutes every day. This included walking, pushing a lawn mower, weeding my flower gardens, and Curves. I must admit, it’s much harder to do this in the extreme heat we’ve been having. But my intention is to get back at it as soon as it cools off to a more reasonable temperature.
I started taking supplements – fish oil, garlic, cinnamon, CoQ10, benefiber, folic acid and vitamin B 6 and 12. I figured I’d add in calcium as well. For good measure, I wash these down with flavored soy milk, which seems to help reduce those pesky hot flashes.
All of these efforts created an added bonus, I lost 12 pounds!
All adults age 20 and over should have their cholesterol checked at least once every five years as recommended by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute of the National Institutes of Health. You may require more frequent screenings if you have certain risk factors for heart disease or if your test results are cause for concern.
Generally, doctors like to see total cholesterol below 200 mg/dL, with LDL (bad cholesterol) below 130 -- the high end of the "near-optimal" range -- and HDL (good cholesterol) above 40. My good cholesterol is 60, but I still have work to do on the LDL as it’s 140 (but down from 228).
Even for those whose cholesterol is within the range considered normal, knocking a few points off their readings can slow fatty buildup in the arteries and possibly reduce any buildup that's already there.
Of course everyone is different and things that work for one person might not for the next. With some people, high cholesterol is due to their genetic makeup and not a result of their lifestyle. The most important thing is to know your numbers and talk with your doctor if those numbers are not what they should be.
Patricia Duguay is the Executive Director of the River Valley Healthy Communities, a Healthy Maine Partnership and works to promote health in all its aspects in Western Oxford County. The office is located at 94 River St. in Rumford. You may also call 364-7408 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information on the Healthy Communities and its programs visit our web site at www.rvhcc.org