How to Manage High Triglyceride Levels?
Today, we’re going to dive into a topic that might sound a bit technical but is vital for your heart health: cholesterol and triglycerides. These two components play a significant role in your cardiovascular well-being, and understanding the science behind high cholesterol and triglycerides can help you make informed choices about your lifestyle and diet.
So, let’s break it down and get to the heart of the matter.
What are Triglycerides Cholesterol?
Triglycerides are a type of fat found in your blood. Your body uses them for energy, but if you consume more calories than you burn, those excess calories get converted into triglycerides and stored in fat cells. High levels of triglycerides can increase your risk of heart disease or even heart failure.
Now if you are wondering what is ‘Cholesterol’?
Cholesterol is another type of fat, but it’s a bit more complex. It comes in two main forms: LDL (low-density lipoprotein) and HDL (high-density lipoprotein). LDL is often referred to as “bad” cholesterol because it can build up in your arteries, while HDL is considered “good” cholesterol because it helps remove LDL from your arteries.
How are triglycerides different from cholesterol?
While both cholesterol and triglycerides are fats in your blood, they serve different purposes. Triglycerides store excess energy, while cholesterol is a crucial building block for cells and hormones. They have distinct roles, but imbalances in either can affect your heart health
What are the symptoms of high triglycerides?
High triglycerides often lurk in the background without causing noticeable symptoms on their own. However, they are often accompanied by other health issues that have noticeable symptoms such as:
- Increased Thirst: Feeling unusually thirsty can be a sign of high blood sugar levels (type 2 diabetes) which often go hand in hand with high triglycerides. It’s your body’s way of trying to flush out excess sugar.
- Frequent Urination: High blood sugar can lead to excessive urination as your kidneys work overtime to remove excess glucose from your bloodstream. If you find yourself making more trips to the bathroom than usual, it might be time to check your blood sugar levels.
- Unexplained Weight Gain: Gaining weight without an apparent cause can be linked to metabolic changes associated with high triglycerides and insulin resistance. Your body may struggle to manage calories effectively.
What causes high triglycerides?
Let’s examine the variables that may be responsible for high triglyceride levels:
- Diet: The food you eat plays a significant role in triglyceride levels. Diets high in sugars and refined carbohydrates, often found in sugary drinks, sweets, and white bread, can cause a spike in triglycerides. Additionally, excessive alcohol consumption, especially if it’s rich in sugary mixers, can also lead to elevated levels.
- Obesity: Carrying excess weight, especially around your abdomen, can be a key contributor to high triglycerides. Fat cells, particularly those in the abdominal area, can produce and store more triglycerides.
- Physical Inactivity: Leading a sedentary lifestyle, where you don’t engage in regular physical activity or exercise, can lead to higher triglyceride levels. Exercise helps your body use triglycerides for energy.
- Genetics: Sometimes, high triglycerides run in families due to genetic factors. If your close relatives have a history of elevated triglycerides, you may be at a higher risk.
- Medical Conditions: Certain medical conditions can also elevate triglycerides. These include:
- Diabetes: Insulin resistance, a hallmark of type 2 diabetes, can lead to elevated triglycerides.
- Kidney Disease: Impaired kidney function can affect the clearance of triglycerides from the blood.
- Underactive Thyroid (Hypothyroidism): A sluggish thyroid gland can disrupt the body’s metabolism, potentially leading to higher triglyceride levels.
How can you prevent or lower high triglycerides?
Now, let’s talk about how you can take control of your triglyceride cholesterol levels:
- Dietary Changes: This includes reducing the intake of:
- Sugars and Refined Carbohydrates: Limit foods and beverages high in added sugars, such as soda, candy, and sugary snacks. Choose whole grains over refined carbohydrates like white bread.
- Saturated and Trans Fats: Minimise consumption of saturated fats found in red meat, full-fat dairy products, and certain oils like coconut and palm oil. Avoid trans fats often found in processed and fried foods.
- Omega-3 Fatty Acids: Increase your intake of omega-3 fatty acids, commonly found in fatty fish like salmon and mackerel. Consider adding flaxseeds, chia seeds, and walnuts to your diet.
- Fibre: Include foods high in soluble fibre, such as oats, beans, lentils, and fruits like apples and citrus, which can help lower triglycerides.
- Exercise: Get moving! Regular physical activity can help lower triglycerides. Aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise per week.
- Manage Weight: If you’re overweight, losing even a modest amount of weight can significantly lower triglycerides.
- Smoking Cessation: If you smoke, quitting is essential, as smoking can worsen cardiovascular health and contribute to elevated triglycerides.
- Limit Alcohol: If you drink alcohol, do so in moderation. For many people, this means one drink per day for women and up to two drinks per day for men.
What are the treatments for high triglycerides?
Treatment for high triglycerides often starts with lifestyle changes. However, in more severe cases or when lifestyle modifications aren’t enough, medications may be recommended. Common medications for high triglycerides include statins, fibrates, and omega-3 fatty acid supplements. The best course of action for your particular circumstances will be decided by your healthcare practitioner.
Understanding triglyceride cholesterol and its impact on your heart health is crucial. While high triglycerides may not manifest noticeable symptoms, they can significantly influence your cardiovascular well-being. By making informed lifestyle choices, including adopting a balanced diet, engaging in regular exercise, moderating alcohol intake, and staying vigilant about hypertension diagnosis, you can take proactive steps to lower triglyceride levels and reduce the risk of heart disease. You can consult a physician for advice if you still want to learn more about it. Visit Bp in Control’s ‘Find a Physician‘ page to locate and contact a health professional in your area.
Remember, it’s never too late to prioritise your heart’s health and well-being!
FAQs on cholesterol and triglycerides
1) What does it mean if your triglycerides are high?
When paired with other risk factors, elevated triglyceride levels can show a higher risk of heart disease.
2) What happens if triglyceride cholesterol is high?
High levels of triglycerides and LDL (bad) cholesterol can contribute to the buildup of plaque in your arteries, increasing the risk of atherosclerosis and heart disease.
3) What is the danger level of triglycerides?
Typically, a triglyceride level below 150 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL) is considered normal. Levels between 150 and 199 mg/dL are borderline high, while 200 mg/dL to 500 mg/dL is considered moderately high. Anything above 500 mg/dL is considered to be severely high and requires immediate medical intervention.
4) How can I lower my triglycerides quickly?
Making simple dietary modifications, such as cutting back on sugar and processed carbs while consuming more fibre, can help decrease triglycerides rather quickly. But for outcomes that last, long-term improvements using a holistic approach are necessary.
5) What foods reduce triglycerides?
Foods that can help lower triglycerides include fatty fish (like salmon and mackerel), nuts, seeds, and whole grains, fruits, vegetables, and foods high in soluble fibre, such as oats and beans.