Cholesterol Confusion


Understanding nutrition is difficult at best because there is so much conflicting information. Understanding nutritional supplements is also difficult because one person will get great results using a specific herb or vitamin and the next person will get not results on the same product. There are so many studies that report on a single nutrient – for example, cinnamon seems to be the most popular supplement for controlling blood sugar. But what about chromium, vanadium and biotin? They still work and are available in blood sugar control formulations?

Our human nature makes us tend to focus on the "one" thing that will make us healthy instead of following a balanced approach. I like to think about how the body actually works and use common sense. For example, are those who are using cinnamon for blood sugar control doing anything else to help manage blood sugar? What about dietary changes such as eating low glycemic index foods and eliminating the wrong kind of fats? What about regular exercise which is proven to be a crucial component of managing blood sugar levels? What about magnesium which most diabetics tend to be deficient in?

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The cholesterol craze is another single focus issue that many are concerned about. When you know how the body works, then you can take a balanced approach to managing it. One component of the cholesterol puzzle is what you eat – not only the wrong kind of fats, but too many refined carbohydrates as well. A sign of poor carbohydrate metabolism and a diet too high in refined carbohydrates is high cholesterol combined with high triglycerides. People with this problem tend to either be diabetic or have insulin resistance (meaning compromised blood sugar handling). Low glycemic diets and supplements that help manage blood sugar levels help reduce both cholesterol and triglycerides.

Another part of the cholesterol puzzle is the understanding that the body eliminates cholesterol through the digestive system. The bile which is made by the liver to emulsify fats contains cholesterol which is meant to be carried out of the body with other waste products through the colon. Fiber acts like a sponge and soaks up the cholesterol so that it can be eliminated naturally. If the diet does not contain enough fiber, or if there is a problem with constipation, then the cholesterol is reabsorbed rather than being eliminated.

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June 21, 2010