Joy Bauer https://joybauer.com Life is hard, food should be easy Sat, 27 Feb 2016 03:26:59 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=5.8.3 How Food Affects High Triglycerides https://joybauer.com/high-triglycerides/about-high-triglycerides/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=about-high-triglycerides Tue, 09 Feb 2016 19:44:11 +0000 http://www.joybauer.com/?p=1130 If you have high triglyceride levels, it's important to take action right away.

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For those diagnosed with high triglycerides, it’s important to take action to lower your levels and improve your heart health.

Triglyceride is just a fancy word for fat — the fat in our bodies is stored in the form of triglycerides. Triglycerides are found in foods and manufactured in our bodies. Normal triglyceride levels are defined as less than 150 mg/dL; 150 to 199 is considered borderline high; 200 to 499 is high; and 500 or higher is officially called very high. To me, anything over 150 is a red flag indicating my client needs to take immediate steps to get the situation under control.

High triglyceride levels make blood thicker and stickier, which means that it is more likely to form clots. Studies have shown that triglyceride levels are associated with increased risks of cardiovascular disease and stroke — in both men and women — alone or in combination with other risk factors (high triglycerides combined with high LDL cholesterol can be a particularly deadly combination). For example, in one ground–breaking study, high triglycerides alone increased the risk of cardiovascular disease by 14 percent in men, and by 37 percent in women. But when the test subjects also had low HDL cholesterol (that’s the good cholesterol) and other risk factors, high triglycerides increased the risk of disease by 32 percent in men and 76 percent in women.

Fortunately, triglycerides can often be easily controlled with several diet and lifestyle changes — many of the same changes that I outlined in my High Blood Pressure and High Cholesterol sections.

What Factors Can Increase Triglycerides?

As with cholesterol, eating too much of the wrong kinds of fats will raise your blood triglycerides. Therefore, it’s important to restrict the amounts of saturated fats and trans fats you allow into your diet. Triglyceride levels can also shoot up after eating foods that are high in carbohydrates or after drinking alcohol. That’s why triglyceride blood tests require an overnight fast. If you have elevated triglycerides, it’s especially important to avoid sugary and refined carbohydrates, including sugar, honey, and other sweeteners, soda and other sugary drinks, candy, baked goods, and anything made with white (refined or enriched) flour, including white bread, rolls, cereals, buns, pastries, regular pasta, and white rice. You’ll also want to limit dried fruit and fruit juice since they’re dense in simple sugar. All of these low–quality carbs cause a sudden rise in insulin, which may lead to a spike in triglycerides.

Triglycerides can also become elevated as a reaction to having diabetes, hypothyroidism, or kidney disease. As with most other heart–related factors, being overweight and inactive also contribute to abnormal triglycerides. And unfortunately, some people have a genetic predisposition that causes them to manufacture way too much triglycerides on their own, no matter how carefully they eat.

How Can You Lower Your Triglyceride Levels?

If you are diagnosed with high triglycerides, it’s important to take action. There are several things you can do to help lower your triglyceride levels and improve your heart health:

  1. Lose weight if you are overweight. There is a clear correlation between obesity and high triglycerides — the heavier people are, the higher their triglyceride levels are likely to be. The good news is that losing weight can significantly lower triglycerides. In a large study of individuals with type 2 diabetes, those assigned to the “lifestyle intervention group” — which involved counseling, a low–calorie meal plan, and customized exercise program — lost 8.6% of their body weight and lowered their triglyceride levels by more than 16%. If you’re overweight, find a weight loss plan that works for you and commit to shedding the pounds and getting healthier.
  2. Reduce the amount of saturated fat and trans fat in your diet. Start by avoiding or dramatically limiting butter, cream cheese, lard, sour cream, doughnuts, cakes, cookies, candy bars, regular ice cream, fried foods, pizza, cheese sauce, cream–based sauces and salad dressings, high–fat meats (including fatty hamburgers, bologna, pepperoni, sausage, bacon, salami, pastrami, spareribs, and hot dogs), high–fat cuts of beef and pork, and whole-milk dairy products. Other ways to cut back:
    • Choose lean meats only (including skinless chicken and turkey, lean beef, lean pork), fish, and reduced–fat or fat–free dairy products. Experiment with adding whole soy foods to your diet. Although soy itself may not reduce risk of heart disease, it replaces hazardous animal fats with healthier proteins. Choose high–quality soy foods, such as tofu, tempeh, soy milk, and edamame (whole soybeans).
    • Always remove skin from poultry.
    • Prepare foods by baking, roasting, broiling, boiling, poaching, steaming, grilling, or stir–frying in vegetable oil.
    • Most stick margarines contain trans fats, and trans fats are also found in some packaged baked goods, potato chips, snack foods, fried foods, and fast food that use or create hydrogenated oils. (All food labels must now list the amount of trans fats, right after the amount of saturated fats — good news for consumers. As a result, many food companies have now reformulated their products to be trans fat free…many, but not all! So it’s still just as important to read labels and make sure the packaged foods you buy don’t contain trans fats.) If you use margarine, purchase soft-tub margarine spreads that contain 0 grams trans fats and don’t list any partially hydrogenated oils in the ingredients list. By substituting olive oil or vegetable oil for trans fats in just 2 percent of your daily calories, you can reduce your risk of heart disease by 53 percent. There is no safe amount of trans fats, so try to keep them as far from your plate as possible.
  3. Avoid foods that are concentrated in sugar (even dried fruit and fruit juice). Sugary foods can elevate triglyceride levels in the blood, so keep them to a bare minimum.
  4. Swap out refined carbohydrates for whole grains. Refined carbohydrates — like white rice, regular pasta, and anything made with white or “enriched” flour (including white bread, rolls, cereals, buns, and crackers) — raise blood sugar and insulin levels more than fiber-rich whole grains. Higher insulin levels, in turn, can lead to a higher rise in triglycerides after a meal. So, make the switch to whole wheat bread, whole grain pasta, brown or wild rice, and whole grain versions of cereals, crackers, and other bread products. However, it’s important to know that individuals with high triglycerides should moderate even their intake of high–quality starches (since all starches raise blood sugar) — I recommend 1 to 2 servings per meal.
  5. Cut way back on alcohol. If you have high triglycerides, alcohol should be considered a rare treat — if you indulge at all, since even small amounts of alcohol can dramatically increase triglyceride levels.
  6. Incorporate omega-3 fats. Heart–healthy fish oils are especially rich in omega–3 fatty acids. In multiple studies over the past two decades, people who ate diets high in omega–3s had 30 to 40 percent reductions in heart disease. Although we don’t yet know why fish oil works so well, there are several possibilities. Omega–3s seem to reduce inflammation, reduce high blood pressure, decrease triglycerides, raise HDL cholesterol, and make blood thinner and less sticky so it is less likely to clot. It’s as close to a food prescription for heart health as it gets. If you have high triglycerides, I recommend eating at least three servings of one of the omega–3–rich fish every week (fatty fish is the most concentrated food form of omega three fats). If you cannot manage to eat that much fish, speak with your physician about taking fish oil capsules, which offer similar benefits.The best foods for omega–3 fatty acids include wild salmon (fresh, canned), herring, mackerel (not king), sardines, anchovies, rainbow trout, and Pacific oysters. Non-fish sources of omega–3 fats include omega–3–fortified eggs, ground flaxseed, chia seeds, walnuts, butternuts (white walnuts), seaweed, walnut oil, canola oil, and soybeans.
  7. Quit smoking. Smoking causes inflammation, not just in your lungs, but throughout your body. Inflammation can contribute to atherosclerosis, blood clots, and risk of heart attack. Smoking makes all heart health indicators worse. If you have high cholesterol, high triglycerides, or high blood pressure, smoking magnifies the danger.
  8. Become more physically active. Even moderate exercise can help improve cholesterol, triglycerides, and blood pressure. Aerobic exercise seems to be able to stop the sharp rise of triglycerides after eating, perhaps because of a decrease in the amount of triglyceride released by the liver, or because active muscle clears triglycerides out of the blood stream more quickly than inactive muscle. If you haven’t exercised regularly (or at all) for years, I recommend starting slowly, by walking at an easy pace for 15 minutes a day. Then, as you feel more comfortable, increase the amount. Your ultimate goal should be at least 30 minutes of moderate physical activity, at least five days a week.

Learn more about Food Cures for high triglycerides.

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Lowering Triglyceride Levels https://joybauer.com/high-triglycerides/lowering-levels/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=lowering-levels Tue, 09 Feb 2016 19:39:35 +0000 http://www.joybauer.com/?p=1126 If your triglyceride levels are elevated, then you're at risk for serious ailments.

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If your triglyceride levels are elevated, then you’re at risk for serious ailments such as heart disease, stroke and diabetes.

Q: How do triglyceride levels differ from cholesterol levels — and how do I get my triglyceride levels down if my doctor tells me they are elevated?

A: Triglycerides, like cholesterol, are a type of lipid (also called fat). Most of the triglycerides in your body settle in your fat tissue, where they’re used to store energy as fat. However, some triglycerides are always circulating in your blood to provide fuel to muscles. Both cholesterol and triglycerides (two separate, but equally important blood readings that measure circulating fat) are indicators that can be used to assess heart health and evaluate your risk of heart attack and stroke. In fact, cholesterol and triglycerides are typically measured by your doctor in the same blood test as part of a complete Lipid Profile. Of course, high levels of either will indicate a red flag.

If your triglyceride levels are higher than 150 mg/dl, it’s time to take action. Even though cholesterol and triglycerides have their differences, bringing their levels down to a proper range can be done with many of the same steps. So if you’re familiar with cholesterol, then you probably know the drill already: lose weight, exercise, and limit your intake of saturated and trans fats.

But when it comes to lowering triglycerides, there are a few other Food Cures you’ll especially want to focus on:

  • Avoid sugary and refined carbohydrates, including sugar, honey, and other sweeteners, soda and other sugary drinks, candy, baked goods, and anything made with white (refined or enriched) flour, including white bread, rolls, cereals, buns, pastries, regular pasta and white rice. You’ll also want to limit dried fruit and fruit juice since they’re dense in simple sugar. All of these poor–quality carbs can spike triglyceride levels.
  • Cut way back on alcohol. If you have high triglycerides, alcohol should be considered a rare treat — if you indulge at all, since even small amounts of alcohol can dramatically increase triglyceride levels.
  • Eat lots of fatty fish, like salmon and sardines, as often as possible. They’re loaded with omega–3 fats which are incredibly effective at reducing triglycerides. In fact, omega–3 fats are so effective at lowering triglycerides that people with particularly high numbers should speak with their physician about fish oil supplements.

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What Is the Metabolic Syndrome? https://joybauer.com/high-triglycerides/metabolic-syndrome/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=metabolic-syndrome Tue, 09 Feb 2016 19:34:22 +0000 http://www.joybauer.com/?p=1122 Metabolic syndrome is a giant red flag for you and your doctor — find out why.

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Metabolic syndrome is sort of like an advanced warning system to put you and your doctor on high alert: Unless you make significant changes to your lifestyle, you’re at great risk of developing type 2 diabetes and heart disease.

Q: My doctor told me I have the Metabolic Syndrome. What does this mean, and what can I do about it?

A: Metabolic syndrome isn’t a true disease (that’s why researchers and health professionals have labeled it a “syndrome”). The metabolic syndrome describes a cluster of risk factors which identify individuals at increased risk of developing a chronic condition — type 2 diabetes, heart disease, or stroke — later in life. Metabolic syndrome is common among individuals who are overweight (particularly those who carry most of their weight around their waist).

Doctors diagnose metabolic syndrome in patients who have at least three of the following conditions: elevated blood pressure (130/85 mmHg or higher), elevated triglycerides (150 mg/dL or higher), low HDL cholesterol (below 50 mg/dL for women, below 40 mg/dL for men), large waist circumference (greater than 35″ for women, greater than 40″ for men), and fasting blood sugar higher than 100 mg/dL. The combination of three or more of these factors is dangerous, even if the numbers are only slightly out of the normal range. A diagnosis of metabolic syndrome indicates that your blood vessels and organs are being exposed to a toxic, pro–inflammatory environment that, though still in its early stages, can eventually manifest itself as diabetes or a heart attack.

Metabolic syndrome is sort of like an advanced warning system to put you and your doctor on high alert— unless you make significant changes to your lifestyle, you’re at great risk of developing type 2 diabetes or cardiovascular disease. Fortunately, by making heart–healthy changes to your diet and lifestyle, you can improve each of the risk factors — and solve all five problems with one approach. If you’ve been diagnosed with metabolic syndrome, here’s what you can do to turn the tide and lower your risk.

  • Lose Weight: Losing weight shrinks your waist circumference, lowers blood pressure, cholesterol levels, and triglycerides, and improves blood sugar control. In one study of individuals with metabolic syndrome, two–thirds of the participants who lost more than 10 percent of their body weight over the course of 2 years no longer met the criteria for metabolic syndrome at the end of the study.
  • Get Active: Boosting your physical activity level can improve every risk factor associated with metabolic syndrome, and help you lose weight and reign in your waistline. Try brisk walking for at least 30 minutes on most, but preferably all, days of the week. If finding time to exercise is a challenge, split up your exercise into 10–minute chunks spaced throughout the day. As long as your total activity time totals 30 minutes, you’ll still reap the same health benefits.
  • Give Your Diet a Makeover: Following a heart–healthy diet can help decrease inflammation, lower your cholesterol, and moderate blood sugar levels. You’ll want to limit saturated and trans fats, refined carbs, and added sugar and make vegetables, fruits, whole grains, lean proteins, fatty fish, and reduced–fat dairy products your dietary staples. You can use the nutrition guidelines in my sections on High Triglycerides, High Blood Pressure, and High Cholesterol to help guide you, since my food prescription is similar for all of these conditions.

Always check with your doctor when determining the proper diet and exercise plan for you, and be sure to follow up with your physician at regular check–ups to see how your lifestyle changes are impacting your risk factors.

 

Learn more about Food Cures for high triglycerides.

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Fruit and Triglyceride Levels https://joybauer.com/high-triglycerides/fruit-and-triglyceride-levels/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=fruit-and-triglyceride-levels Tue, 09 Feb 2016 19:30:16 +0000 http://www.joybauer.com/?p=1118 Can eating a diet rich in fruits contribute to an increase in triglycerides?

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Large amounts of fructose can raise triglycerides to unhealthy levels — and fruit does contain the sugary culprit. Luckily, those battling high triglycerides don’t have to give fruit the boot.

Q: I’ve heard that large amounts of fructose can raise triglycerides. Since fructose is the primary sugar in fruits, does eating a diet rich in fruits also contribute to an increase in triglycerides?

A: No, fruit contains only moderate amounts of fructose and is perfectly healthy. Studies that have shown that fructose raises triglycerides involved giving participants large quantities of concentrated fructose in the form of sugary drinks sweetened only with fructose.

While it’s true that fructose is the main sugar in fruit, fruit contains only small amount of fructose, since the fructose is diluted by the high water and fiber content of the fruit. Also, the fiber naturally found in whole fruits helps slow the absorption of fructose into the bloodstream, so you’re not getting a concentrated hit of fructose at one time. And, unlike sweeteners that are high in fructose (like agave, which can be up to 90% fructose), fruit is NOT a source of empty calories — fruit offers up many beneficial nutrients like vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. So you’re definitely not just eating pure sugar.

Of course, you want to eat everything in moderation, so stick with 2 to 3 servings of fruit per day and be sure to eat a variety of fruit so you get a good mix of nutrients in your diet.

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