Dyslipidemia (lipid disorders) manifests as increased levels of total cholesterol, low-density lipoprotein, and triglycerides coupled with low levels of high-density lipoprotein. If you are watching your blood lipid levels, then the recommended LDL-C levels are:
- Optimal < 100 mg/dl
- Near or above optimal 100-129 mg/dl
- High 160-189 mg/dl
- Very high 190 mg/dl or greater
What is the Link between Smoking and Dyslipidemia?
Tobacco’s harmful effects are caused by nicotine, which is also responsible for the experienced addiction. Apart from nicotine other constituents of cigarette that cause harmful effects include carbon monoxide and oxidative gases. Smoking is a risk factor for heart (cardiovascular) diseases and dyslipidemia. The habit triggers the release of stored triglycerides and increases the amounts of free fatty acids in the blood. Smoking has also been associated with lower levels of HDL-cholesterol and higher levels of total cholesterol, LDL-cholesterol and triglycerides.
Cigarette smoking also causes fat deposition on the upper part of the body. Central obesity is associated with dyslipidemia that contributes to the development of cardiovascular diseases.
Any form of smoking increases systolic blood pressure and heart rate. Female smokers tend to suffer more from the harmful effects of smoking compared to men. Besides, women post better improvement in HDL-C levels after smoking cessation compared to men. The degree of these changes depends on the number of cigarettes that someone smokes in a day. Cessation of the vice normalizes the lipid levels with time.
Genetics contributes towards the initiation of smoking behavior, the number of cigarettes smoked daily, and smoking cessation. Nonsmokers who are exposed to cigarette smoke (secondhand smoking) are at risk of suffering from the negative effects of smoking.
On the other hand, smoking during pregnancy alters the lipid profile (increased LDL-cholesterol) of newborns who might end up suffering from heart diseases such as atherosclerosis later in life. Such newborns tend to have low birth weight. The nicotine crosses the placenta into the embryo and accumulates to higher levels than the amount in the mother’s blood. The nicotine then triggers an increase in Low-Density Lipoprotein cholesterol, which is cleared from the body at a slower rate.
Examples of medication used to induce smoking cessation include varenicline, bupropion, nicotine gum, lozenge, nasal spray, and patch. The government has also tried to encourage the cessation of smoking through anti-smoking policies, imposing high prices on tobacco products, setting up quitlines, and counselling.
Diet and Lifestyle Goals
Dietary and lifestyle interventions are the foundation of clinical therapies for dyslipidemia. Some of the important dietary and lifestyle goals that promote normal lipid levels include:
- Avoiding exposure to and use of tobacco
- Consuming a healthy diet
- Maintain a healthy weight
- Attain the recommended levels of LDL-C, HDL-C, and triglycerides
- Targeting normal blood sugar readings
- Avoiding Processed food
Those undergoing smoking cessation should consume a diet that will correct the lipid disorders they are facing. Smoking also causes inflammation making it necessary to consume a diet that is rich in antioxidants and unsaturated fatty acids. Adhering to a strict diet comprising of carbohydrates, fats, proteins, and dietary fiber reduces Total Cholesterol, and LDL-C levels. To limit your intake of saturated fat, it is advisable to substitute animal protein with plant protein. Therefore, the following food items should feature prominently on your shopping basket:
- Fruits and vegetables
- Oily fish
- Whole oats and other sources of soluble fiber
- Soy foods
Always limit cholesterol intake to less than 200 mg per day and include foods that have plant sterols such as margarines and yoghurt. For maximum benefits, the dietary approach should be accompanied with physical activities such as aerobics and endurance training. The physical activity roster should have exercises such as walking, swimming, and running. Such therapy should last for about a year for there to be a maximum impact on the LDL-C levels.