Your blood work results came back, and it turns out you have high triglycerides. Now what? Even if you know what triglycerides are and what they mean for your health, you may not know how to return your levels to normal.
That’s when you turn to our expert.
Dr. Michael Skardasis at Optimal Performance Medicine in Woodstock, Georgia, specializes in helping you understand your health and equipping you with the tools you need to manage it. Here’s everything you need to know about triglycerides and what to do when your levels are out of whack.
What are triglycerides?
Triglycerides are a type of fat — also known as lipid — found in your blood, and they’re an important measure of your heart and overall health. Your body turns the extra calories from the food you eat into triglycerides and stores them in fat cells. Later, certain hormones release triglycerides from your fat cells, so your body can use them for energy between meals.
If the number of calories you consume is higher than the number of calories you burn, it can cause you to have high levels of triglycerides, which is an indicator of too much fat in your blood or hyperlipidemia.
The higher your triglyceride levels, the higher your chances of developing health problems, including arteriosclerosis/atherosclerosis, heart attack, heart disease, stroke, and pancreatitis.
If your triglyceride levels are higher than normal (150mg/dL and above), you likely have other conditions that increase your risk of heart disease and strokes, such as obesity and metabolic syndrome, which refers to a group of health problems that includes excess fat around your midsection, high blood pressure, high blood sugar, and abnormal cholesterol levels.
High triglycerides can also be a warning sign of type 2 diabetes and hypothyroidism or point to a problem with certain medications.
What do I do if my triglyceride levels are high?
We check your triglycerides as a part of a routine lipid panel or lipid profile test, which you may know as a cholesterol test. If the results report high levels of triglycerides, we begin working with you on ways to lower your levels. Here are a few of the best ways you take control of your triglyceride levels.
Commit to losing weight
Because they hide in your fat cells, shedding some extra pounds is the best and first place to start when you want to manage your triglycerides. Even losing 5-10% of your body weight can lower your triglycerides by 40 mg/dl.
Adjust your diet
When it comes to lowering your triglycerides, reducing your carb intake and choosing healthier fats are the best diet choices you can make.
A diet consisting mainly of sugars, refined carbs, white flour, and fructose leads to higher levels of triglycerides. Similarly, if you eat food rich in trans and saturated fats, you have an increased risk of higher triglyceride levels. Instead, opt for foods that contain healthier mono- and unsaturated fats, including olive oil, canola oil, and fish.
Simple things like taking the stairs or taking a brisk walk around your neighborhood can go a long way in lowering your triglyceride levels and helping you lose weight. The American Heart Association recommends at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise per week. Talk to us about some practical ways to incorporate activity into your routine.
Alcoholic beverages are loaded with sugar and calories, which quickly turn into triglycerides in your blood. Do your best to eliminate or at least limit your consumption of alcohol.
There are a few supplements that have proven to lower triglycerides. For example, one study discovered that fish oil reduces triglycerides by 48%. Talk to us before trying a new supplement.
Sometimes, medication is necessary to manage high levels of triglycerides, but we view medications as a last resort and always begin your treatment plans with lifestyle and diet modifications.
Have more questions about triglycerides? Reach out to our friendly staff online or over the phone and schedule an appointment today.