The truth about those triglycerides

High cholesterol levels are dangerous. Left unchecked, they lead to heart attack and stroke. Old news, right?

Very… because, in spite of what you’ve been led to believe, the research has recently revealed that cholesterol is not the culprit behind heart disease.

Cholesterol is actually an important nutrient (a hormone) required by your body to support many functions directly related to your health…

Cholesterol helps your body make vitamin D… makes up the protective sheath that surrounds nerves and brain cells… is vital for sex hormone production and your overall neurological function.

But, it’s a double-edged sword: you need it to survive, but too much can be harmful.

It’s the same with triglycerides: too much circulating in your blood and you may have to deal with heart disease, diabetes, liver failure, and possibly Alzheimer’s.

That’s enough to scare you into taking all the drugs to lower your triglycerides as much as possible, right? Not so fast…

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Why your body needs triglycerides

Triglycerides have really gotten a bad rap. In fact, you’d be extremely unhealthy without them, since they perform some crucial bodily functions…

Essentially, triglycerides are the fats that are stored in the liver for use whenever the body needs energy. Any time we eat more calories than we need at that moment, triglycerides store the rest as fat, to be released when energy is low.

Triglycerides perform other essential functions:

  • They provide insulation — A layer of fatty tissue under the skin protects us against extreme temperatures, while fatty tissue around the organs provides a cushion against trauma.
  • They provide nutrition — Fat-soluble vitamins including Vitamins A, D, E and K need sufficient triglycerides to enter our bloodstream.
  • They help build cell membranes — Triglycerides protect the inside of the cell and allow the right chemicals to cross the cell membrane.

It’s only when triglyceride levels grow too high that they present a problem…

What can cause high triglyceride levels?

A normal triglyceride level is less than 150 mg per deciliter. Anything above 200 mg is considered high.

High triglycerides can be caused by a range of factors. These include:

  • An underactive thyroid — More triglycerides remain stored in fat cells since the body is burning energy more slowly.
  • Poorly controlled type-2 diabetes — Insulin resistance also prevents fat from being converted to energy.
  • Kidney disease — The kidneys do not clear triglycerides from the blood.
  • Excess alcohol — When the liver cannot metabolize alcohol fast enough, fatty acids accumulate in the blood.
  • Metabolic syndrome — A cluster of conditions that include high blood pressure, diabetes, obesity and high cholesterol.
  • Certain medications, including contraceptive pills, diuretics, antipsychotics and corticosteroids used to control asthma or arthritis

Why are high triglycerides dangerous?

Not all triglycerides are stored as fatty tissue. A certain percentage travels in the bloodstream as VLDL (very low-density lipoprotein). Too much of this fat in the blood can lead to conditions such as:

  • Acute pancreatitis — Alcoholism is usually the cause since it can spike triglyceride levels dramatically.
  • Heart attack and stroke — Excess fat in the blood increases the chances of arterial blockage.
  • Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease — More than 10 percent of the liver is replaced by fat.
  • Peripheral artery disease — Arterial deposits cause pain and numbness in the limbs.
  • Eye complications — Extremely high triglyceride levels cause lipemia retinalis, excess fat in ocular blood vessels.

Link to Alzheimer’s disease

A 2017 study published in the journal Neurology followed a group of adults for 20 years, from their 50s into their 70s. The study found that triglyceride levels at midlife were a predictor of heightened Aβ and tau proteins, which are linked to Alzheimer’s symptoms.

If high triglyceride levels are a predictor of Alzheimer’s, this could have amazing implications for research into prevention through diet and other health interventions.

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How to keep your triglycerides low

If your doctor has expressed concern over your triglyceride levels, he may have talked to you about statins.

But he likely didn’t discuss how you can naturally balance your levels without the side effects of statins, which have been reported to include muscle loss, pain and memory loss — or that statins have been linked to Parkinson’s, type 2 diabetes and invasive breast cancer. My colleague Jedha Dening called them a “prescription for disease.”

Luckily there’s a lot you can do to optimize your levels:

1. Drop a few unwanted pounds. Losing just 5-10 percent of your body weight can have a lasting effect on blood triglyceride levels (and many other health conditions).

2. Lay off the sugar. Studies show that the connection between a high-sugar diet and high triglycerides begins in childhood, but you can still benefit by cutting down on sugar now.

3. Go low-carb. Extra carbs are converted to triglycerides and stored. Studies have connected a lower carb intake to lower triglycerides, even more than a low-fat diet.

4. Eat more fiber. It can decrease the absorption of fats and sugars by the body. By the way, fiber is one of three weight loss supplements scientists say really work.

5. Get fishy. Eating fatty fish such as salmon and sardines twice a week was shown to decrease blood triglycerides, due to the high content of omega-3 fatty acids. Don’t eat enough fish? Consider a high-quality supplement.

6. Limit alcohol intake. Even people with normal triglycerides will see a spike after a day of moderate drinking.

7. Exercise. High levels of HDL “good” cholesterol, help lower triglycerides. And regular aerobic exercise like walking, biking or swimming are effective ways to increase HDL.

Editor’s note: While you’re doing all the right things to protect your brain as you age, make sure you don’t make the mistake 38 million Americans do every day — by taking a drug that robs them of an essential brain nutrient! Click here to discover the truth about the Cholesterol Super-Brain!

Sources:

High Triglycerides: 11 Causes and 9 Dangers to Worry About — healthvigil.com

13 Simple Ways to Lower Your Triglycerides — healthline.com

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Joyce Hollman

By Joyce Hollman

Joyce Hollman is a writer based in Kennebunk, Maine, specializing in the medical/healthcare and natural/alternative health space. Health challenges of her own led Joyce on a journey to discover ways to feel better through organic living, utilizing natural health strategies. Now, practicing yoga and meditation, and working towards living in a chemical-free home, her experiences make her the perfect conduit to help others live and feel better naturally.