Sunday morning while out on the road in my semi down in southwestern Kansas, I captured this most amazing sunrise with my phone camera. Later when I was able to get a good look at the picture I had taken, I was very pleasantly surprised to see I had also caught the grain silo’s in my mirror’s reflection. I could not have captured such a perfect picture if I had tried. The silo’s were just a small detail in the larger picture that captured the essence of the beautiful, agricultural state in which I live. Sometimes, it is the fine details, that really tie together everything else that pieces the broader scope of the bigger picture. Thinking about how the small detail in this picture made it complete, it also caused me to reflect on an article I read the other day about how too many people are ignorant in the role that triglycerides play in their over all health.
Okay, I know, understand and accept that I am weird to some for always thinking about health…
It is not uncommon to hear others speak of needing to get their blood pressure under control. People will often speak of having to begin taking statins in order to lower their cholesterol. But, how often do we ever hear anyone speaking of their need to lower their triglycerides? Triglycerides seem to be a small health detail that rarely gets mentioned when people are speaking of their overall health. Yet, triglycerides actually have a pretty huge impact on your health and well being.
What are Triglycerides?
Triglycerides are a type of fat (lipid) found in your blood.
Each and every time you sit down to a meal or a snack, your body converts any calories it doesn’t need to use right away into triglycerides.
This is but one of the many reasons to track how much you consume each day.
Triglycerides are stored in your fat cells. Your liver cells can synthesize and store triglycerides. When the body requires fatty acids as an energy source, the hormone glucagon signals the breakdown of the triglycerides by hormone-sensitive lipase to release free fatty acids for energy between meals..
If you are overweight, or obese, and regularly eat more calories than you burn, particularly from high-carbohydrate foods, you are quite likely to have high triglycerides (hypertriglyceridemia). With our growing obesity epidemic in western cultures, more and more people are being affected by high triglycerides each day.
What is a normal level of triglycerides?
- Normal — Less than 150 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL), or less than 1.7 millimoles per liter (mmol/L)
- Borderline high — 150 to 199 mg/dL (1.8 to 2.2 mmol/L)
- High — 200 to 499 mg/dL (2.3 to 5.6 mmol)
- Very high — 500 mg/dL or above (5.7 mmol/L or above) (1)
When you go to your doctor for a physical or check up, they will usually check your blood for high triglycerides as part of a cholesterol test. This blood laboratory testing is usually referred to as a lipid panel or lipid profile.
What is the difference between triglycerides and cholesterol?
While triglycerides and cholesterol are both a type of lipid that circulates in your blood, they are not the same thing. Both play distinctly different roles in what they do for, or to your body and overall health:
Triglycerides store unused calories and provide your body with energy.
Cholesterol is used to build cells and certain hormones.
Triglycerides give me energy, why should I care if they are high?
High triglycerides may contribute to hardening of the arteries or thickening of the artery walls (arteriosclerosis) — which increases the risk of stroke, heart attack and heart disease. Extremely high triglycerides can also cause acute inflammation of the pancreas (pancreatitis).
High triglycerides are often a sign of other conditions that increase the risk of heart disease and stroke, including obesity and metabolic syndrome — a cluster of conditions that includes too much fat around the waist, high blood pressure, high triglycerides, high blood sugar and abnormal cholesterol levels. (1)
High triglycerides can also be a sign of:
- Type 2 diabetes or prediabetes
- Metabolic syndrome — a condition when high blood pressure, obesity and high blood sugar occur together, increasing your risk of heart disease
- Low levels of thyroid hormones (hypothyroidism)
- Certain rare genetic conditions that affect how your body converts fat to energy.
What can I do about high triglycerides?
First and foremost, commit yourself to a permanent lifestyle of healthy living, and then act upon this personal commitment to yourself.
- Avoid sugar and refined carbohydrates. Simple carbohydrates, such as sugar and foods made with white flour or fructose, can and will increase your triglycerides. Going sugar free is easier than you might believe, and with sweeteners such as Erythitol (Swerve), there is no reason to ever use it. Try our dessert recipes on David’s Way. We have a good many dessert and treat recipes that are 100% sugar free that your family and friends are sure to enjoy.
- Exercise regularly. Aim for at least 30 minutes of physical activity on most or all days of the week. Surely you can find 30 minutes for yourself, can’t you? Take a break from your Facebook page, get away from the 24/7 news on your television. Get your butt out of bed earlier if needed. Just commit to getting it done. Make regular exercise a high priority in your life as it can lower triglycerides and boost “good” cholesterol. Try to incorporate more physical activity into your daily tasks — for example, climb the stairs at work or take a walk during breaks. Please, be sure to get your doctor’s approval for any exercise regimen you might begin.
- Lose weight. If you have mild to moderate hypertriglyceridemia, focus on cutting calories. Extra calories are converted to triglycerides and stored as fat. Reducing your calories will reduce triglycerides. You can simply go to our Calorie Counter Pro menu, enter your personal information and weight loss goals and have your caloric needs calculated for you. This information is entirely private and will only be seen by yourself. When you begin eating David’s Way , by eating only whole healthy foods with no added sugar or processed foods, you will find it difficult to actually consume as many calories as you need in a day to just maintain your weight. You have nothing to lose but unhealthy body fat and all that goes with it by trying our methodology. Unlike some of the other weight loss websites and apps, I am not charging you a single penny for this. My pledge to you is my website will always be entirely free to our readers.
- Choose healthier fats. Trade saturated fat found in meats for healthier fat found in plants, such as olive and canola oils. Instead of red meat, try fish high in omega-3 fatty acids — such as mackerel or salmon. Avoid trans fats or foods with hydrogenated oils or fats.
- Limit how much alcohol you drink. Alcohol is high in calories and sugar and has a particularly potent effect on triglycerides. If you have severe hypertriglyceridemia, avoid drinking any alcohol.
Your health and well being is reliant on you paying close attention to the small details that tie together for your overall wellness. Living a healthy life at a healthy body fat percentage is a matter of making personal choices to do so, the same as deciding at the beginning of each day that you are going to be happy or not. You can not live a sedentary life where you just snarf down anything and everything you want, and then be surprised when your health goes to hell on you. Too many ailments people are commonly afflicted with are a direct result of their lifestyles and dietary habits. Make a choice to pay attention to the small details!