Stress exists in all shapes and forms, but anything in excess is bad. Too much stress can take a toll on you, both physically and mentally. Your cholesterol levels are no exception, which increase as you get stressed with each passing day. Too much cholesterol can make your blood flow and arteries work overtime, thus putting more pressure on your heart.

With that said, you must understand what cholesterol is all about and learn how chronic stress plays a part in it. By lowering your stress levels, you also lower your cholesterol levels and decrease your chances of acquiring any form of heart disease. You will also be introduced to several measures to lower your cholesterol levels for a longer, more worry-free life.

 

What is Cholesterol?

Cholesterol is a waxy, fatty substance that comes from the liver. It is also found in the food we eat, usually from animal products.

Cholesterol can be divided into two categories. The first one is known as LDL cholesterol or “bad” cholesterol; while the second one is called HDL cholesterol or “good” cholesterol. Ideally, you would want to have at least 60 mg/dL of “good” cholesterol and less than 100 mg/dL of “bad” cholesterol for a total of 200 mg/dL.

HDL cholesterol serves as a soft lining to the arteries that not only makes blood flow easier but also protects them from damage. Alternatively, LDL cholesterol blocks the arteries. This puts you at greater risk of getting a stroke, heart attack, or a cardiovascular disease.

Learn more about cholesterol by visiting this helpful resource.

 

Stress Reactions to Consider

Stress can change the way the body responds to it. More often than not, having high cholesterol levels is a common occurrence, especially when chronic stress comes into play.

Flight-or-Fight Response

It’s one of the most unpleasant sensations anyone can experience, similar to a demanding boss or an anxiety-inducing phobia. The body reacts to stress by releasing different hormones like adrenaline (epinephrine), norepinephrine, and cortisol. This action triggers the heart, muscles, and other organs to work harder, leading to higher blood pressure and breathing problems.

Hemoconcentration

This happens when the blood loses fluid as a result of stress. The components of blood, including cholesterol, become more concentrated. In the short-term, you will have high cholesterol levels. This is possibly caused by the movement of fluid from the blood vessels to the occupying spaces around them as blood pressure increases.

Hypertriglyceridemia

Hypertriglyceridemia happens when more triglycerides, a type of lipid, is found in the bloodstream. In stressful situations, unused sugar turns into triglycerides or other fatty acids. This causes the body’s cholesterol levels to rise.

 

Ways to Lower Cholesterol

The key to regulating your cholesterol levels is by managing your stress levels regularly. Good thing, there are a variety of ways to de-stress to a healthy heart! If you’re still in doubt, check this out or ask your doctor about it.

Eat Healthy

Food rich in trans-fat and saturated fat cause your liver to create more cholesterol than it usually would. Cut down on high-fat meal, especially food that is cooked using palm oil or coconut oil. These won’t do any favors in managing your cholesterol levels. Instead, consider meal plans that are low in fat.

Get Enough Sleep

A great way to de-stress is by having at least 8 hours of sleep every day. Sleep deprivation will not only make you cranky; it can also lead to high levels of LDL cholesterol, which is not healthy by any stretch. If you cannot afford to sleep, take a nap instead. Doing this will give you an energy boost, help you overcome stress, and lower your cholesterol levels.

Exercise Regularly

Keeping your blood plumping will not only help de-stress, but also lose weight and unclog your arteries in the process. Whether you’re into low-intensity workouts or advanced cardio exercises, having physical activity can help you cope with stress and decrease your risk of heart disease. With that said, it’s never too late to go out for a run or workout from home.

Avoid Smoking

If you think smoking is essential to your lifestyle, think again. Sure, doing vices may be your coping mechanism but smoking can put you at risk of having a stroke or heart attack. Apart from that, smoking deals a lot of damage to your blood vessels and arteries. This in turn, makes cholesterol plaque buildup highly likely. In short, ditch the tobacco at all cost.

Relax and Recharge

If work is bringing you down, consider going on a leave for several days. A day won’t cut it, so take all the time you need to recover from all the hustle and bustle. You may even want to learn yoga or other forms of meditation to help you relax during busy days. Don’t forget to treat yourself as well. It’s okay to indulge every once in a while. Your mental health will thank you for it.

 

In Summary

Chronic stress should not be taken lightly. This can result to high cholesterol levels brought about by the body’s flight-or-fight response, hemoconcentration, and hypertriglyceridemia, among other factors. The good news is stress can be managed in a variety of ways, such as eating right, engaging in strenuous exercise, and making smart lifestyle choices.