Your Questions About Triglycerides Diet

What do you do if you have high triglycerides as a result of heredity? Can diet and lifestyle changes help you? What if you are taking medications and you still have high triglycerides? These are some of the concerns that today’s readers have. Read on to find out the answers to their questions…

Lisa asks…

I am looking for ways to improve HDL and reduce triglycerides and VLDL? We are vegetarians. What dietary suggestions do you have?

My husband’s HDL is 50 / LDL is within range / VLDL are slightly high / and Triglycerides are appx 270. He does take walks semi-regularly for 45 – 60 minutes. He is 35 years old.

Sheila answers:

As you know, your husband’s triglyceride level of 270 is high. The optimal level should be less than 100 mg/dl in a fasting state. to bring that high triglyceride level down, your husband may want to:

1. Increase his semi-regular walking to daily walking, 30 to 60 minutes each time.

2. Lose any excess weight.

3. Cut back or eliminate saturated fats and trans fats.

4. Completely eliminate any alcohol, or at least reduce it to one drink on special occasions only.

5. Increase the Omega-3 fatty acids in the diet. Since you are vegetarians and, if you don’t eat any type of fish, you should add flax to your diet (about 1 tbsp. ground flax per day) and take a vegetarian Omega-3 supplement.

6. Reduce or eliminate any high-glycemic foods in your diet.

VLDL stands for ‘very low density lipoproteins’.  There are three major  types of lipoproteins in your body. They help to transport the cholesterol, triglycerides and other blood fats throughout the body.

VLDL is considered one of the ‘bad’ types of cholesterol because it helps the cholesterol build up on the artery walls. It also contains the highest amount of triglycerides so following the above 6 steps to reduce your triglyceride level should result in reducing the VLDL level, too.

The VLDL level is usually an estimate based on your triglyceride level because there is no direct way of measuring the VLDL. It is approximately 20% or one-fifth of your triglyceride level.  A healthy VLDL is between 5 and 40 mg/dl.

The HDL, or high-density lipoprotein, is the ‘good’ cholesterol. As a lipoprotein, it, too, carries the blood fats but from other parts of the body to the liver, where they then get broken down. So, of course, you want a healthy level of HDL to remove excess blood fats.

Regular exercise can increase the HDL level so your husband should see his level increase if he can increase his walking to daily.

Laura asks…

How To Control Triglycerides. Let me know medicines & dos and don,ts?

For the last so many years I could not control my triglycerides in spite of taking Lipicard (200 ) twice a day & Storvas 40 mg a day. Please suggest any other medicine to control the same and also let me know the diet chart to reduce triglycerides.

Sheila answers:

Fenofibrate is used with diet changes (restriction of cholesterol and fat intake) to reduce the amount of cholesterol and triglycerides (fatty substances) in your blood. Accumulation of cholesterol and fats along the walls of your arteries (a process known as atherosclerosis) decreases blood flow and, therefore, the oxygen supply to your heart, brain, and other parts of your body. Lowering your blood level of cholesterol and fats may help to prevent heart disease, angina (chest pain), strokes, and heart attacks.

Atorvastatin is used along with diet, exercise, and weight-loss to reduce the risk of heart attack and stroke and to decrease the chance that heart surgery will be needed in people who have heart disease or who are at risk of developing heart disease.

Atorvastatin is also used to decrease the amount of cholesterol (a fat-like substance) and other fatty substances in the blood. This will decrease the risk of stroke, heart attack, and other heart diseases because when there are high levels of cholesterol and other fats in the blood, these substances may build up along the walls of the blood vessels and decrease or block blood flow to the heart.

Atorvastatin is in a class of medications called HMG-CoA reductase inhibitors (statins). It works by slowing the production of cholesterol in the body.

* Increased fish oil intake may substantially lower an individual’s triglycerides.
* Obesity, hypothyroidism and diabetes can raise triglyceride levels.
* Certain birth control pills can raise triglyceride levels.
* Avoid excess calories and foods high in saturated fats and refined carbohydrates.
* If high triglyceride levels persist despite diet changes, medication may be needed. Nicotinic acid and gemfibrozil have been shown to lower triglyceride levels in people with this condition.

Continue to work with your doctor to find the right combination of medications for your situation. Ask your doctor about working with a dietitian on making the dietary changes you need to lower your triglyceride levels.

Ruth asks…

Diet is ineffective in control of cholesterol/triglycerides & drugs aren’t safe & mostly must be taken for life…

What can be done to correct lipid metabolism?

Sheila answers:

Actually, diet and lifestyle changes are the most effective way to bring your cholesterol and triglyceride levels to a nice, healthy range.  Without knowing which diet and lifestyle changes you have attempted without success, it is hard for me to make any suggestions.

If your lipids are abnormal due to hereditary reasons, then indeed your diet and lifestyle changes may not be enough. You need to continue to work with a health care practitioner. Don’t give up because the long-term consequences can be fatal.

Jenny asks…

What is the natural way to lower triglycerides?

I have high triglycerides inherited from my dad, so my diet has nothing to do with it. The doctor prescribed me Tricor, I take Omega 3 fish oil pills. My doctor still wants my triglycerides a little lower, I don’t want to be on another medication. I am looking for advice for something else over the counter that is natural and will go along with my fish oil.

Sheila answers:

As you know, lowering triglycerides is an important part of reducing your risk of developing heart disease. High levels of triglycerides in the bloodstream are a precursor to coronary blockage, and as such you should learn how to lower your triglycerides to avoid serious heart problems.
Triglycerides are a scientific term for fatty deposits stored in your body. Following is a brief explanation of how they are formed:

Your body transforms the carbohydrates you eat into glucose to be used for energy by your cells. Once the cells have what they need, the excess glucose is sent back to your liver and converted to glycogen. Glycogen can then be stored in your muscles. (Bodybuilders can eat more carbs and be able to store them since their muscles are larger than those of an average person.)

Once you’ve reached your capacity of glycogen, excess glycogen is sent back to your liver again, where it becomes triglycerides, which are stored as fat. Your body has endless storage space for this fat, as we all know.

Now some of these triglycerides are not stored as fat, but remain in your blood stream, which is where the problem lies. Excess levels of triglycerides thicken your blood, making it sludgy, which increases the possibility of clotting and blockage which could eventually lead to a heart attack or stroke. This is why it is so important to keep your triglyceride levels as low as possible.

Many doctors focus too much on cholesterol, and not enough on triglycerides. However if you have high cholesterol AND high triglycerides, your chances of developing heart disease go up exponentially. As such, both indicators must be paid attention to.

As we mentioned above, triglyceride levels are directly influenced by what you eat.  Even if you have inherited high triglycerides, diet and lifestyle changes in addition to meds can help you.  Anything that increases blood glucose will potentially increase triglycerides, so you should lower your intake of anything that is converted to glucose in the body.

The most important step to take is to lower your refined, processed and high-glycemic carbohydrate intake. All of the most popular diets today – Atkins, South Beach, Zone, etc. Are all based on a low carbohydrate diet, because it is an increase in carbs that triggers the conversion of glucose to triglycerides (fats). The low carbohydrate diet is being recommended by more and more doctors and nutritionists as science is proving the carbohydrate fat relationship outlined above.

Excess sugar should also be avoided, as it is converted to glucose and in turn triglycerides much the same way as carbohydrates are.

Are there specific nutrients for lowering triglycerides?
Many of the nutrients for lowering cholesterol naturally will help with triglyceride levels as well.

According to a publication by P.K. Reissell’s group at Harvard in 1966, it was clearly established that Omega 3 fatty acids and Vitamin C, combined with a low carbohydrate diet, can dramatically reduce your triglyceride levels. Omega 3 fatty acids can help with cholesterol as well.

If triglycerides are essentially fat, shouldn’t you avoid fat in your diet too? In a word, NO! Natural animal fats found in eggs and butter are actually necessary – your body needs dietary fats to perform many functions. Many people are finding great results with the paleolithic diet, which includes grass-fed meats, free-range eggs, low glycemic vegetables and excludes any dairy, grains and processed carbs.

You should definitely avoid the bad kinds of fat – transfats and hydrogenated oils found in margarine, processed and refined foods and fast food. These transfats are chemically altered substances, and as such your body does not know how to handle them properly. They are foreign to the body and therefore dangerous to your health.

So, in summary, following a no-fat diet is dangerous. Your body needs good fat in certain quantities each and every day. What you want to avoid is the bad fats, the trans and hydrogenated fats and oils which are artificially processed to make foods last longer. (That’s why that fast food burger that’s been sitting there for weeks tastes fresh!)

Before you add any natural supplements, discuss this with your doctor. Even natural supplements can interact with the medication you are already on.

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