Lipids and cholesterol are essential components of the living cell; however, the abnormal levels of these lipids in the blood give rise to dyslipidaemia. High levels of cholesterol and lipids can be a risk factor for a heart attack or a heart disease.1
There are several reasons for an increase in blood cholesterol levels. Studies suggest that unhealthy or negative lifestyle behaviour is also one of them.2 This article focuses on the negative lifestyle behaviours that may lead to dyslipidaemia, which will help you to make a New Year resolution of letting go of your negative behaviours and choosing a positive and healthy lifestyle to fight high cholesterol.
What happens in dyslipidaemia?
Dyslipidaemia is characterised by:1
- High levels of low-density lipoprotein (LDL), also known as bad cholesterol
- Low levels of high-density lipoprotein (HDL), also known as good cholesterol
- High levels of triglycerides
These abnormal lipid levels result in the build-up of plaque (fatty deposits) in the arteries of the heart. As a result, the arteries harden and become narrow, leading to a decrease in blood flow that eventually causes a heart attack or a stroke. However, optimal levels of good cholesterol have a protective action as it helps remove the plaque from the arteries.1 Your body produces all the bad cholesterol in the body itself. Negative lifestyle behaviours tend to increase the production of bad cholesterol, thereby raising its levels in blood.2
How do the negative lifestyle behaviours affect cholesterol levels in the blood?
Evidence from studies indicates that certain behaviours and lifestyle habits can negatively affect cholesterol levels.
These are listed below:2-4
- Unhealthy diet: A diet that is rich in trans-fat and saturated fat contributes to high cholesterol and other conditions related to it.
- Lack of physical activity: A sedentary lifestyle results in weight gain, which leads to high cholesterol.
- Smoking: Smoking damages blood vessels and also lowers good cholesterol.
- Excess weight: Being overweight or obese increases bad cholesterol and lowers good cholesterol.
How can people who have negative lifestyle behaviours control dyslipidaemia?
Modest changes in your lifestyle to get rid of the negative lifestyle behaviours can help you control dyslipidaemia and its complications.2 However, if the lifestyle changes do not show any significant effect on your dyslipidaemia, you may need to take medication to lower your cholesterol level.4
Make the following resolutions this year and help transform your negative lifestyle behaviour into a healthy lifestyle:
- Change your diet: Limit your consumption of red meat, high-fat products and fried food. Choose a heart-healthy diet that includes fruits, vegetables, whole grains, poultry and fish. A high-fibre diet can help in reducing cholesterol.4
- Be physically active: Studies show that physical activities such as brisk walking or biking for 30-45 minutes every day can have a protective effect on the 5 Aerobic exercises can also reduce triglycerides and increase good cholesterol levels when performed for at least 120 minutes per week.6 Observations made in some studies also indicate that dietary changes combined with exercise have a significant impact on your lipid profile.7 Brisk walking, swimming, cycling and taking a dance class may also help.4
- Quit smoking: Smoking increases total cholesterol in the blood, lowers good cholesterol and increases bad cholesterol. Quitting smoking has been reported to increase the good cholesterol levels in the blood.7
- Maintain a healthy weight: You should try and exercise daily to lose the excess weight. Evidence suggests that a 10% reduction in weight significantly improves 4
- Alcohol consumption: Studies suggest that alcohol increases the good cholesterol. It may benefit more in combination with a healthier lifestyle such as physical activity.7
Which factors can lead to poor compliance with lifestyle modification?
Despite evidence pointing at lifestyle changes to control dyslipidaemia, the following factors can affect compliance with these lifestyle changes.7
- Poor motivation
- Poor perception of the benefits of the change in lifestyle
- Lack of follow-up
- The complexity of the regime
- Factors affecting cognition such as brain injury or dementia
Regular counselling by professionals can motivate people who have a negative lifestyle behaviour to change their lifestyle. Frequent contact with a dietician can help in dietary modification.7 Be physically active and reduce your weight so that you can control dyslipidaemia.4 We hope this article helps you to understand the harmful effects of negative lifestyle behaviour and choose a better lifestyle to control dyslipidaemia.
Make a New Year resolution to give up the negative lifestyle behaviour, choose a healthy lifestyle and control your lipid levels to get dyslipidaemia under control.
- Hormone Health Network. Dyslipidemia [Internet]. [updated 2018 May; cited 2019 Dec 18]. Available from: https://www.hormone.org/diseases-and-conditions/dyslipidemia.
- American Heart Association. Causes of high cholesterol [Internet]. [updated 2017 Apr 30; cited 2019 Dec 18]. Available from: https://www.heart.org/en/health-topics/cholesterol/causes-of-high-cholesterol.
- Centers for Disease Prevention and Control. Knowing your risk – high cholesterol [Internet]. [updated 2019 Feb 6; cited 2019 Dec 18]. Available from: https://www.cdc.gov/cholesterol/risk_factors.htm.
- American Heart Association. Prevention and treatment of high cholesterol (hyperlipidemia) [Internet]. [updated 2017 Apr 30; cited 2019 Dec 18]. Available from: https://www.heart.org/en/health-Ref 4 topics/cholesterol/prevention-and-treatment-of-high-cholesterol-hyperlipidemia.
- Puddu PE, Menotti A. The impact of basic lifestyle behaviour on health: how to lower the risk of coronary heart disease, other cardiovascular diseases, cancer and all-cause mortality. Lifestyle adaptation: a global approach. E journal of cardiology practice. 2015;13:32.
- Kelly RB. Diet and exercise in the management of hyperlipidemia. Am Fam Physician. 2010 May 1;81(9):1097-1102.
- Mannu GS, Zaman MJS, Gupta A, Rehman HU and Myint PK. Evidence of lifestyle modification in the management of hypercholesterolemia. Current Cardiol Rev. 2013 Feb 1;9(1):2-14.