Saturday, 6 September 2014

The danger of high Triglycerides


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The real danger of high Triglycerides

If I asked you what the danger was in having high blood sugar, you would probably say it means insulin resistance or Type 2 diabetes. Then if I asked what elevated cholesterol can contribute to, chances are good you’d say heart disease. And then if I really challenged you and asked what protein in your urine could mean, you just might know that it suggests a kidney problem. But how about if I asked you about elevated triglycerides? Especifically what they are and what the big deal is about them?
Hello?  Anybody there?
Fact is, most people don’t really understand triglycerides.  The typical response I hear when I ask people about them is, "Aren't they something like cholesterol and they’re tied to heart disease?"
Well, sort of.  But there’s a whole lot more to it than that.
Let me give you a brief crash course in triglycerides so you can better understand what they really are, what the elevations mean and most importantly, how to help keep yours healthy.

So...what are triglycerides anyway?

Simply put, triglycerides are your body's main type of fat.
When you eat, your body converts any calories it doesn't need to use for energy at that moment into triglycerides. The triglycerides are stored in your fat cells (adipose tissue).
So when you 'pinch an inch' you’re viewing fat cells that are your little biological warehouses for triglycerides.
Later on when it’s been a while since you had food and your body needs a source of energy, hormones (including insulin) release triglycerides into your bloodstream for your energy needs between meals.
Triglycerides also insulate and protect your organs and store your body's reserve of essential fatty acids (like Omega-3 and Omega-6 EFAs).

So, similar to cholesterol, triglycerides are NOT the demons that people think they are.  Without them you’d be deep-sixed before long!
The trouble with triglycerides is some people have WAY too many and they’re stored in an area that can spell trouble.
Here’s what I mean.

High triglycerides and the "apple figure"

Just like elevated glucose in the bloodstream, high blood levels of triglycerides also increase your risk of heart disease by damaging your artery walls.
The danger is similar to not changing the oil in your car.
When neglected, both human blood and engine oil get thick and slushy, which makes the heart (or engine) have to work harder to pump the fluid. This viscous fluid also picks up excess debris and forms harmful deposits, which eventually cause a breakdown.
A car engine will burn up. In humans, the result is atherosclerosis and eventually a heart attack or a stroke.
And it's especially risky for people with an "apple figure" (having excess weight around their middle) and insulin resistance or Type 2 diabetes.
For men with diabetes AND the apple figure, the risk for heart disease goes up two and a half times. For women with diabetes and this shape, it rises EIGHT times.

Here's what’s going on:

Fat cells located in your abdominal area release fat into the blood far more easily than fat cells found elsewhere in your body. Release of fat in your middle begins just 3 to 4 hours after you eat, compared to many more hours for other fat cells.
This quick, easy release shows up as elevated triglyceride levels.
How blood triglycerides get too high to begin with, more than 200.
Although a common cause of high blood triglycerides is diet (more on that below), there are also MANY other causes and contributing factors including:
    Type 2 diabetes or insulin resistance
    Prolonged stress and/or depression
    Heavy caffeine use
    Smoking cigarettes
    Alcohol abuse
    Lack of exercise
    Chronic liver disease or kidney damage
    Pancreatitis--infection of the pancreas
    Underactive thyroid (hypothyroidism)
    Cystic fibrosis
    Cushing's syndrome--Excess cortisol production, usually the result of steroids, which can cause a fatty hump between the shoulders, a rounded face and pink or purple stretch marks on the skin.
    Estrogens like "the pill" or hormone replacement therapy such as Premarin
    Corticosteroids like Hydrocortisone, Prednisolone, and Prednisone
    Beta-blockers - used to treat high blood pressure and coronary artery disease
    Diuretics - aka water pills; also used to treat high blood pressure
    Tamoxifen - drug treatment for women with breast cancer
    Quinapril (Accupril), an antihypertensive known as an ACE inhibitor
    Mirtazapine - an antidepressant

But far and away, the LEADING causes of elevated triglycerides are these three dietary no-no's:

1- Eating too many refined carbohydrates such as white flour, processed grains, sweets, and other sugar-containing foods
2- Eating too many saturated fats (ESPECIALLY trans-fats)
3- Having too few antioxidants in your system.
Here’s why that is so:

The triple dietary whammy

1-      The refined carb piece

First of all, having a diet high in refined carbs creates an enormous influx of glucose into your bloodstream every time you eat.  Your body tries its best to deal with this tidal wave by clanging the alarm bell for the pancreas to secrete insulin, hoping that the glucose will be taken in by your cells and your blood glucose level will come back down where it needs to be.
Insulin also is the trigger that allows your body to use triglycerides as energy, so it has a dual purpose here.
But when you take in large amounts of refined carbs day in and day out (and thus get far more glucose than your body needs for energy), your poor pancreas goes into overdrive trying to keep up with your insulin requirements.
Eventually you can reach the point where your cells start ignoring the signal to take in the glucose (insulin resistance) and your pancreas gets exhausted (and therefore can’t release enough insulin for your glucose or triglyceride needs).
The end result?  You get glucose and triglycerides building up in your bloodstream!

2-      The saturated fat/trans-fat piece

Both saturated fats (found in animal products such as meat, butter and eggs) and trans-fats (found in processed foods, baked goods and fast food) raise blood levels of triglycerides.  So getting too much of either is not a good idea.
However, your body does NEED saturated fats, especially your brain, nervous system and even your heart, so you shouldn’t completely swear them off.
A good rule of thumb is to limit your dietary intake of fats to about 30% of your total calories, of which 1/3 is saturated fats, 1/3 monounsaturated fats and 1/3 polyunsaturated fats.  This will ensure your body gets what it needs without going overboard.
What you SHOULD totally swear off are trans-fats.  These are fats that have never occurred in Nature and are created by infusing hydrogen into a polyunsaturated fat.
They are completely foreign (like a poison) to your body and you can’t metabolize them.  So instead they tax your liver, gum up your arteries, create free radicals, burrow into your tissues and create inflammation and open the door for atherosclerosis, dementia and premature aging.
Oh, and they also cause your blood triglycerides to soar.

3-      The antioxidant piece

Antioxidants are your body’s main defense against the damaging effects of free radicals, so that fact in and of itself makes them a superstar.
But studies have also shown that these impressive little guys can also help lower blood triglyceride levels!
One study performed at Penn State University found that adding spices rich in antioxidants may counteract the effect of fat-rich, triglyceride-raising foods.
During the two-day study, researchers worked with men between the ages of 30 and 65 who were slightly overweight but otherwise healthy.
The men were first served a high-fat meal with antioxidant-rich spices like oregano, rosemary, cinnamon, turmeric, cloves, garlic powder, paprika and black powder. Then the next time the men were served the same high-fat meal, but without the spices.
When the antioxidant rich spices were added, the researchers saw that blood triglyceride levels in the participants had decreased by 30% as compared to the levels with the non-antioxidant meal!

What you can do?

Hopefully you’ve gotten the idea that the way to go here is to respect the role triglycerides play in your body, and to help make sure yours stay at a health-enhancing, not health harming, level!

Part 1- Severely limit your intake of refined carbs, get the right amount of GOOD saturated fats, avoid trans-fats like the plague, and eat more foods that contain natural antioxidants.

If that sounds like a mouthful and seems difficult or overwhelming, nothing could be farther from the truth.

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