How Does Cholesterol Metabolism Affect Our Health?

Most of us are familiar with the term cholesterol. We can understand cholesterol better if we know the atoms which compose it. Cholesterol belongs to the sterol group. It is sterol made inside animal bodies. Sterol has the chemical formula C17H28O. Sterol is also called as steroid alcohol and is the alcohol subgroup of steroids. The more general term for sterols and cholesterol are lipids, also called fats. The chemical formula for cholesterol is C27H46O. Sterols are found in animal and plant cell membranes.

 Cholesterol In Different Parts

The human and animal body manufactures its own cholesterol and also gets it from plant and animal food matter. Our cell membranes are made of cholesterol. Cholesterol present in cell membranes provides them with their structure and enables them to carry out their function of bi way selective transmission within cells. Another major function of cholesterol is serving as a precursor to the synthesis of vital substances like steroid hormones, bile acids and vitamin D.

How Does Cholesterol Metabolism Affect Our Health?

Cholesterol metabolism in the liver

Cholesterol metabolism takes place at the cellular level as well as in the liver. The liver organ has a high capacity to metabolize cholesterol. The liver manages the cholesterol pathways for cholesterol use, break up, storage and formation. The liver manufactures bile with the help of cholesterol. Bile is used for digestion, reabsorbed from the small intestine and is also passed out of the body with faeces. Bile is impermeable through cell membranes. Excess bile is stored in the liver. Whenever the liver needs to make more bile it draws in cholesterol from the bloodstream and cholesterol levels in the blood falls. 

Cholesterol pathways in the body

The body with the help of organic chemicals is capable of transporting cholesterol from the liver and back. In the liver, the cholesterol is stored as an ester. When peripheral tissues need cholesterol the forward pathway is activated and a series of chemical reactions follow to carry forward the cholesterol molecules to peripheries. The reverse cholesterol pathway is activated when the liver needs cholesterol. When the liver needs cholesterol again a series of chemical combinations and breakdowns bring the cholesterol from the periphery towards the liver. HDL or high-density lipoprotein is an important molecule that the body uses to transfer cholesterol to the liver during the reverse transfer of cholesterol. HDL can take up free cholesterol from the cell membranes of several tissues through the process of esterification. Thus the importance of HDL is stressed in comparison to LDLs in the body for weight control diets.

Cholesterol and ageing

Medical research shows that as the body ages its ability to metabolize cholesterol decreases. The body loses the ability to maintain HDL rates and LDL concentration rises. A high level of low-density lipids in the body has been associated with cardiovascular diseases, a major cause of mortality amongst the ageing population. One way of delaying the ageing process is improving the metabolism of cholesterol by the body. Liver functioning also plays a key role in delayed ageing.

Excess cholesterol in the body

The excess cholesterol in the body gets deposited in the form of fatty tissues. These present a hindrance to body processes. Excess cholesterol can delay or block the passage of molecules to and fro cells. Excess fat deposits in the heart choke the arteries and obstruct blood flow. If a piece of this excess deposit dislodges it can move towards the heart and cause a heart attack. Excess deposit of cholesterol in the liver causes a disease called fatty liver. Liver functioning and its ability to produce bile can get impaired due to liver disease. Maintaining a healthy liver enables the usage of cholesterol and maintaining normal levels.

Foods for liver health

The liver can become diseased due to obesity or attack by germs. Green leafy vegetables, carrots, bitter gourd, citrus fruits, papaya have been found to have benevolent effects on liver health. Their daily inclusion in diets is advised for maintaining good liver health. In case of severe liver disease medicines and strict diet routines are prescribed.

Weight loss regimen

Obesity is a cause of several diseases and a disease in itself. Obesity is complex as it can be caused by multiple factors and once caused it can pave the way for the onset of several other illnesses. Weight gain above normal weight should always be a matter of concern. It is important to maintain normal body weight and normal body mass index at all times for optimal functioning of the body and its organs.

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