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High cholesterol level is a major risk factor for heart disease, and most of us believe that rising cholesterol level is a direct result of poor food choices. While diet plays an important role in determining your cholesterol levels, it is not the only factor responsible for a rising level. Apart from diet, here are five factors contributing to high cholesterol level you must be aware about.
Physical inactivity: There's a common misconception that dietary changes are enough to control cholesterol levels, if a person is not overweight. But those who are not overweight may also have high cholesterol if they're following a sedentary lifestyle. There are several studies highlighting the role of aerobic and strength exercises on the levels of cholesterol in the blood. Exercise not only lowers bad cholesterol (LDL) but also boosts good cholesterol (HDL).
Over-exercise: Too much of anything can be harmful for health, even if it is exercise. Certain high-intensity exercises may cause a rise in cholesterol levels. When you over-exercise, your body's stress response is exploited to an extent that a cascade of biochemical reactions is triggered. These responses may lead to serious damage. Further, it may cause chronic stress and increase your risk of suffering from metabolic disorders, which indirectly affect cholesterol levels.
Metabolic disorders: In some cases, the risk of high cholesterol levels increases with certain diseases. Some common conditions that have been linked to high cholesterol include pancreatitis, diabetes and underactive thyroid (hyperthyroidism).
Stress: Mental and emotional stress can have a huge impact on your overall health. Certain psychological stressors may induce craving for unhealthy food that increases bad cholesterol levels. In fact, increased LDL levels due to stress is one of the reasons people are prone to heart disease.
Lack of sleep: Researches have found a link between both quantity and quality of sleep and changes in cholesterol levels. Sleep cycle regulation synchronises other processes of the body and makes them function optimally. Naturally, when you're sleep deprived your stress levels increase, your brain function slows down and your circulation gets affected. All these contribute to fluctuating lipid levels in the blood.
Excessive sleep: Just like over-exercising, excessive sleep also has a negative impact on cholesterol levels. The relationship between sleep and cholesterol levels seems to follows a U-shaped pattern. So, people who sleep for less than six hours every night over a period of time may have the same impact on their cholesterol levels as that of those sleeping for more than nine hours or more consistently.
Medication: In addition to diseases and conditions, some prescribed medicines can also affect your blood lipid levels. Some studies indicate that use of birth control pills can increase risk of cholesterol levels and atherosclerosis. Other drugs like blood pressure pills, steroids have also been linked to increased cholesterol levels.
Image source: Getty images
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