One of the biggest concerns of type 2 diabetes is cardiovascular disease.
And one of the cardiovascular risk factors that you can control is cholesterol levels.
Cholesterol isn’t necessarily a bad thing. But in high levels it can be.
The thing about cholesterol is not only does your body need it for numerous bodily functions, but your body also makes it.
Cholesterol and Diabetes
Cholesterol is a fat-like substance that travels around your body as a fat or lipid attached to a protein. The medical term for this is lipoprotein.
There are 2 kinds of cholesterol:
- HDL (high-density lipoprotein)
- LDL (low-density lipoprotein)
HDL is considered the good cholesterol.
I like to refer to HDL as the garbage cleaners. HDL removes extra cholesterol from your arteries and bring it back to your liver for excretion from your body.
High HDL levels are considered cardioprotective meaning they help to protect against heart disease. In type 2 diabetes though, people usually have much lower HDL than non-diabetics.
LDL is considered the bad cholesterol.
The big reason for this is because it can build up and hardening of the walls of your arteries that supply blood to your heart and brain.
This is called plaque.
Plaque in your arteries, lead to hardened arteries and make it harder for your blood to flow through. This leads to many issues, such as heart disease, and high blood pressure.
Think of your arteries as similar to water vessels. Plaque would be the equivalent of causing some type of blockage in the flow of water.
And similar to a dam where you have complete blockage of water flow, plaque in your blood vessels can completely cut off the flow of blood to and/or from your heart leading to heart attack or stroke.
This is basically what happens and why high LDL should be taken seriously.
The buildup of plaque in your arteries, cause them to narrow, become hardened and less flexible. Then you have clots which form and these blockages present serious problems.
Even if you have normal LDL numbers, the challenge with type 2 diabetes is that the LDL particles tend to be small, dense and sticky instead of ideally larger and fluffy.
Think of it as a golf ball versus a beach ball.
Think what would happen if you threw a beach ball at glass a glass window. This probably wouldn’t cause much damage.
But if you threw a golf ball at a glass window, this would probably damage the glass and cause it to break.
The same applies here for type 2 diabetics with dense LDL. These dense LDL particles hit your artery walls and cause damage over time.
While the larger more fluffy LDL doesn’t.
To address LDL levels, most doctors prescribe medications for controlling LDL levels.
Most people with type 2 diabetes have high LDL levels.
For LDL the goal is below 100 mg/dL.
For HDL, low is considered less than 40 mg/dL for men and less than 50 mg/dL for women. For low HDL, treatment may be necessary to reduce your risk to coronary heart disease.
How To Lower Cholesterol Naturally
One point with cholesterol worth noting is sometimes you can do everything right and still have issues with cholesterol.
For some, high cholesterol is genetic.
Your body makes its own cholesterol in addition to cholesterol that we get from the foods we eat.
But the best ways to naturally improve cholesterol are:
- Exercise – is a strong way to increase HDL (the good cholesterol)
- Diet – cutting back on saturated fats found in meats, fried foods, and desserts such as cookies and cakes (Other major dietary sources of cholesterol are egg yolks and cheese)
- Reducing carbohydrate intake
- Controlling your blood sugar
- Maintain a healthy weight
- Limiting alcohol (although has been shown to raise your HDL – 1 glass per day)
Prior to using any of this material, please consult with your physician.