Cholesterol in itself is a substance which is vital for the normal functioning of the body, but excessive high cholesterol can affect the health and cause risks of heart attacks and stroke. Cholesterol is mainly made the by liver from the foods that we eat, so your liver produces the cholesterol your body needs.
Cholesterol levels are influenced by the types of food you eat, some which are good for you and help reduce the levels of cholesterol in your blood and provide the body with fatty acids enabling the body to function (unsaturated fats). These are found in plant based foods, oily fish, avocadoes, nuts and vegetables, sunflower and olive oil.
Saturated fats are found in meat, cheese, butter, cream, cakes, chocolate, coconut oil and pastries. These fats are what cause your cholesterol levels to rise and impacts on heart disease and stroke.
High cholesterol can be controlled by your diet by eating foods low in saturated fats, reducing bad cholesterol. Avoid foods which are rich in saturated fats.
Today's statistics show that UK has one of the relative highest populations with high cholesterol in the world. This is up to half a million people and up to 1 in a 100 with high cholesterol. In America it estimates up to 70% of over 20’s suffer from high cholesterol. UK have estimated that by 2020 heart disease will be a leading case of disablement. Those who are aware of it can maintain and control this in their diet and lifestyle.
High Blood Pressure
High blood pressure (hypertension) occurs when the blood is forced at high pressure through the arteries. This depends on how powerfully the heart pumps blood around the body and how narrow or relaxed your arteries are. If you have high blood pressure your heart has to work harder than usual to pump blood around the body and as time goes on this weakens the heart. This can cause coronary heart disease, stroke, heart failure and heart attack.
There are two groups of possible causes of this disease, one is related to your diet and the intake of salt within your diet, a family history, lack of exercise, obesity and smoking. The second causes are kidney conditions, narrowing of the arteries, medications (contraceptive pills, anti-inflammatory drugs). Of all this, your diet will be the greatest influence.
Approximately 10 million people in the UK are suffering from high blood pressure. The United States has a vast amount of people around 75 million from the age of 20 and above. High blood pressure risks increase with age. In England, half of the people over the age of 75 have this disease.
Diabetes Type II
Diabetes type II is a health condition that occurs when your body doesn’t have enough insulin for it to function, or when the cells in your body don’t respond properly to insulin (insulin resistance). There is also type I diabetes but type II is more common. Heart attacks, strokes, kidney/ nerve damage, foot and eye problems can occur in the long term if glucose levels are higher than normal for a long time. Glucose levels should be checked often so that they are under control.
Eating healthy will increase your chances of fighting this disease. Eat foods high in fibre, and low in fat, salt and sugar. Regular exercise reduces the risk of having a heart attack or stroke. Also exercise is important especially if you are overweight. Losing weight will help you reduce your blood glucose levels. With diabetes, if you have high blood pressure it is a risk for other complications; therefore keeping it under control is crucial (see high blood pressure section below).
Diabetes type II mainly occurs in people over the age of 40 but can also occur in the younger generation, which is now becoming quite common. This is increasing in the UK as it’s widespread if you are overweight or obese. It shows that 1 in 20 people in the UK over the age of 65 and 1 in 5 over 85 have this illness. In America millions are diagnosed with type II diabetes, this is 26 million people of all ages in the U.S. This is more common for people from South Asian and African-Caribbean backgrounds.
There are over 200 different types of cancer. Cancer is a condition where the body’s normal cells start to grow in an uncontrolled way. This growth causes a lump which then starts causing problems. Such as cells; they attack and destroy the healthy tissues in the body including organs. Spreading to other parts of the body and causing pressure to the body.
There are many factors which can cause cancer this includes the environment that you are in everyday such as tobacco smoke, sun, radiation, work place (hazards in use of chemicals). Other factors include your age, genetic make-up, bodyweight, diet and physical activity.
Eating plenty of fruit and vegetables reduces the risk of inheriting some cancer diseases, as it contains nutrients and high in fibre. Eating more red and processed meat and less fruit and vegetables increase the risk of cancer. The way we cook can also increase risks cancer, as cooking red and processed meats at high temperatures causes certain chemicals to be produced. These chemicals then destroy our cells in our body putting us at risk of cancer.
Eating a healthy balanced diet that’s high in fibre, fruit and vegetables, low in red and processed meats, unsaturated fats, low salt and low sugar reduces the risk of cancer. As well as reducing alcohol intake, regular exercise to maintain body weight and limiting sun exposure.
In the UK there are around 309,500 cases each year for cancer. According to CancerResearchUK, more than 1 in 3 people develop this sometime in their lifetime. Also every two minutes someone is diagnosed with this condition. In the States, there are around 1,529,560 new cases of cancer, and more than 1,500 people die a day from this. Cancer is another common cause of death.
The brain cells needs oxygen and nutrients for the blood to function properly, if this is stopped or restricted the brain cells get damaged or can begin to die. A stroke occurs when the blood supply to a part of the brain is cut off, which can lead to brain damage. High blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes and smoking are all risks for a stroke as well as obesity, lack of exercise, and diet.
Stroke is one of the largest causes of death after heart disease and cancer in England, over 150,000 people suffer from this disease. This can occur at any age, but it is most common in people over the age of 65. Those from Asian, African and Caribbean backgrounds are at ha igher risk of suffering a stroke. In the United States, every 45 seconds someone suffers from a stroke, it kills nearly 160,000 people each year.
Just like any disease, eating a healthy diet is very important to reduce the risks of a stroke occurring. A poor diet can lead to a build up of plaque resulting in your arteries narrowing and reducing the blood flow. Eating a low fat diet that's high in fibre reduces risks of stroke. Therefore avoiding saturated fats and salt will help. Being obese increases high blood pressure, therefore regular exercise to maintain body weight also reduces the risks of this disease.
Those with high blood pressure, high cholesterol or diabetes can reduce the risks of stroke by maintaining a healthy diet.
Heart disease (angina, stroke and heart attack) is one of the biggest causes of deaths in the UK. This disease is caused by a build up of fatty deposits in the lining of the heart artery, which then affects the blood flow, and makes it narrow and reduce. Within time if the blood flow is restricted, this can cause chest pain. A heart attack may occur when the artery is completely blocked. Individuals with a high risk level of getting heart disease are those suffering from high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, and those who are overweight.
Minimising and preventing the risks of heart disease can be done by controlling any conditions you currently have (high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes) and secondly by adjusting your lifestyle (maintaining a healthy weight, eating healthy, being active).
Regular exercise allows your heart and blood system to be more efficient, and is also a good way to maintain body weight. This also helps your blood pressure and levels of cholesterol to be under control. Eating healthy is another way of reducing the risks of getting heart disease. Oily fish is known to reduce the amount of fatty deposits building up, as well as a low fat diet containing antioxidants, vitamins, with low or no salt.