Stop smoking. Stop smoking. STOP BLOODY SMOKING!
Yes its hard. Yes its addictive. Grow the hell up and stop making excuses!.
Now thats out of the way, heres the other things you can do:
Know what's driving "high cholesterol". Below are the recognised causes of inflammation and disease and what to do about it.
The Ketogenic Diet is an amazing, powerful way of eating that is extremely low carb. Depending on your risk factors, it might be something worth considering but for the sake of this post, I will focus on "low carb".
DRIVERS and SOLUTIONS
Hyperinsulinemia - (Excessive sugar intake) = Minimise sugar intake including breads, pastas, rices, treats, and some fruits.
Omega 3/6 imbalance. - Strictly avoid vegetable oils/industrial oils e.g. canola, rapeseed, grapeseed, sunflower, sesame, vegetable oils. The food industry (restaurants, food manufacturers/convenience salad bars etc) use these oils as they are cheap, and provide little taste so wont affect the flavour of the dish/product. Increase intake of WILD oily fish, mackerel, salmon, sardines, (limit tuna due to high mercury content), oysters, prawns etc. Possibly add a HIGH QUALITY fish oil liquid like Nordic Naturals Cod liver oil or Omega 369 oil. Do not over do your intake of nuts and seeds as these can drive omega 6 levels.
Nutrient Deficiency - Increase nutrient dense foods (see below) - include some supplementation.
Sedentary Lifestyle - Get moving! Weight lifting has a far better metabolic effect on your body. Hit the gym, get moving, start small and increase your weights. Employ a personal trainer or look online for home workouts.
Go "low carb"- This term is very subjective. "Low Carb" to one person can mean just not eating bread or cereal. But to another will also include root vegetables, all grains and all sugars. The point is, you need to eat less carbohydrate foods - the ones we mentioned in the What Got You Into This Mess post. Stop adding rice to your curries, forget the potatoes even every other day at least, stop buying bread, cakes, buns and everything else you know full well is going to give you a sugar hit! Take one meal at a time. Start with breakfast and have an omelette with avocado, veges and even a little cheese! There are tonnes of websites and blogs online about how to go low carb, and go "keto". You will get over whelmed. You will need to do further research and you will need to decide if saying "no" to the "healthy" dried fruit Fulfill/Pulsin/Nakd/Quest/Trek bar (or whatever the latest one is) is worth it to your body. And remember...as I'm sitting here...in Starbucks (don't judge me!) drinking black coffee with a little cream, next to a young mother with 2 kids munching on giant cookies jumping all over the place at 10am on a Saturday morning...the habits you have, will be passed onto your kids.
Professor Jeff Volek has an excellent diagram which addresses and individuals carb requirement based on the following:
Athletes (and people who are carb tolerant genetically) = ↑ Can be high carb
Naturally lean and active people = ↔ Can handle a moderate carb intake
Overweight/Obese people = ↓ Low carb
Metabolically compromised/Obese = ↓↓ Very low carb
If you are training, use carbohydrate as a "supplement", post workout. Replenishing our glucose stores after intensive exercise will help with recover, muscle repair and energy but its not an invitation to grab a pizza! Choose sweet potato, rice, quinoa or root vegetables.
Increase Your Fats
When you strictly remove carbs, your body will slowly learn to burn fat and use it for energy. So eating eggs, butter, dairy*, avocado, olives and cold pressed olive oil, fatty meats, ghee, coconut oil/butter/flakes, lard, oily fish, seeds, and nuts can be tasty replacements.
THE PROBLEM IS COMBINING CARBS AND FATS...then you're asking for trouble. So put the butter on your veg, forget the honey glazed nuts, be wary of carbs sneaking in when you have higher fat. We've been told for 50 years that fat is bad so it can be hard to get your head around it.
*some people need to be careful with dairy so though excessive amounts are not advised, the preferable option is to choose raw, unpasteurised milk, cheese, yogurts - available at most markets and some health stores.
Increase Your Vegetable Intake - Vegetables are your best friends! Kale, chard, rocket, broccoli, cauliflower, cucumber, brussel sprouts, etc. Eat as many these as you can! your plate should be around 2/3 veges with fat on top and 1/3 protein! Of course colourful veges like carrots, squash, beets, mushrooms, tomatoes, peppers, radish, sugar snap peas, etc are also great too and the more colour on your plate, the greater diversity you will have in your gut bacteria. Thats another post, but you want this! Juicing is not recommended as you might have guessed. The latest "thing" now is cold pressed organic juices but these are still fast digesting forms of sugar. So eat the whole food, and get all that fibre!
Nutrient deficiency - Vitamin D3 and K2 and Magnesium - Low vitamin D3, K2 and Magnesium, and iodine (among others) has been strongly associated with cardiovascular disease, and inflammation, among other illnesses. Of course all nutrients are vital for life but in Ireland, it is common to be low in vitamin D. Vit D3 can be stored in the liver so you can take too much! Tell your doctor to test your levels every 3-4 months. He he/she says no...find another doctor! I like to recommend a Vit D3 and K2 (work synergistically in the body and better absorbed together) such as this one. Magnesium is one of the most underestimated deficiencies in this country according to Dr. Ivor Cummins so supplementation of an "ionised" form - these are usually powder and become ionised when you add hot water and are readily available in good health shops.
Lifestyle Changes - "Outsource" your exercise! Pay someone to be accountable to. Having a personal trainer who's job it is to help you get the body/weight/goal you want means you learn from a professional. If you needed your car fixed, you would go to a mechanic. Spend as much money on your body as you do on your car! It's expensive. So is health care. It doesn't mean going 4 days a week. Even once a week can have enormous benefits. If you've been trying to figure it all out yourself and its not working then "outsource" your fitness to someone who can help.
Meditation, relaxation, spending time with family and friends are all positive life changes that may need to be addressed. Even a career change should be considered if you know deep down, in your heart of hearts that you dread Sunday nights for what looms on Monday. A life coach or psychologist can even be a good place to start to help you figure out how to change, what steps to take and to guide you through such a transition in life. Again, "outsourcing" to a professional can finally get that ball rolling!