High cholesterol in a child
Much has been said and written about the dangers of excess cholesterol in the body. But mostly in the context of adults and obese people. Meanwhile, in recent years there are more and more cases of children whose cholesterol levels are significantly above the norm. How can you recognize the risk and what to do to prevent the development of cardiovascular diseases?
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Diseases of the heart and the entire circulatory system do not arise suddenly - you work on them for years. Sometimes from the first years of life. If a child is fed fatty snacks and large portions of red meat from preschool age, he will be a potential heart attack by the time he is 30.
It is rarely talked about, but the first atherosclerotic plaques can begin to build up in the vessels even in two-year-old toddlers. By the time such children reach the age of 10, they develop atherosclerosis, which over time leads to heart attacks and strokes, and significantly shortens their lives. That is why it is worth getting interested in the level of cholesterol in your child as early as possible.
1. What is Cholesterol?
Cholesterol is a fatty substance produced in the human body, mainly by the liver. However, we provide a significant proportion of cholesterol with food. The richest sources of this substance are products of animal origin, especially red meat, offal, pates, sausages, sausages, brawn etc. and egg yolks. Cholesterol, on the other hand, is not found in products of plant origin.
However, let's not think that cholesterol is a fundamentally bad and unnecessary component for our body. It is part of all cell membranes. With its participation, bile acids are formed, and these are necessary for proper digestion, and hormones such as cortisol and corticosterone, progesterone, testosterone, aldosterone, and estrogens are formed.
It is also needed for the production and absorption of vitamin D. It is a substance necessary for young children for the proper development of the brain and the entire nervous system. A study carried out a few years ago in France shows that children whose diets were eliminated from eggs or butter, leading to cholesterol deficiency, had not only worse academic results, but also a greater tendency to aggression. So cholesterol is essential for the body to function properly.
2. The causes of excessive cholesterol in children
The cause of the problem in the youngest is the increasing share of saturated and trans fats in the diet and low physical activity, which disrupt the natural lipid metabolism. The saturated fatty acids contained in human diet have a decisive influence on the level of cholesterol in the blood serum. It was found that saturated acids exhibit a strong hypercholesterolemic effect (i.e. they increase the cholesterol content in the blood), thus accelerating the development of changes in arteries.
Numerous results of experimental and epidemiological studies indicate that the most effective way to lower the blood cholesterol content is to reduce the consumption of saturated fatty acids. But it's not easy, because the main source of trans fats in children are fast food snacks, crackers, crisps and all kinds of sweets.
In the face of the obesity epidemic and the youngest population, an increasing number of doctors suggest that cholesterol testing should be screened in children from the age of nine. Especially since the excess of this substance in the body usually does not give any symptoms. And not always the problem concerns only obese or overweight children. If the child's parents suffer from serious cardiovascular diseases, it is worth lowering the age of the first child's examination to the age of three.
There are several risk factors for high cholesterol in children:
- if parents have cholesterol levels above 240 mg / dl,
- if a family history of a heart attack, stroke,
- when the child is obese or overweight,
- when you have diabetes or high blood pressure.
If the child is in this group, parents should come with him for preventive examinations.
4. Special diet
Preventing high blood cholesterol levels is all about learning healthy eating habits from an early age. Your child's diet should be full of fresh fruit and vegetables, and whole grains. Use lean meat and low-fat dairy or legumes as a source of protein. It is worth reducing the amount of white sugar, saturated and trans fats to a minimum.
If an elevated cholesterol level is already detected in a toddler, you should limit red meat (up to 2-3 times a month), cream, fatty cheese and dairy products, sausages, offal in the child's diet. The menu should be composed so as to reduce the amount of cholesterol, but not eliminate it from the diet.