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Triglyceride is important for your body. Period.

Simply put, they are the fats in your blood.

When your triglyceride levels become high, that’s the time you have to be cautious.

Now, let’ see what triglycerides mean and do for your body.

A triglyceride is a form of fat used by the body to store energy as well as transporting it. It is also referred to as one of the three lipids present in the human body.

Triglyceride accounts for most of the fat stored in your body. This is because all excess triglycerides will be stored only as fat and not as energy.

Triglycerides are either produced in your liver or comes from foods you eat, and then they are absorbed into your body.

Triglycerides are stored in your fat cells, known as adipose cells. If you eat more calories than you can burn, especially from carbohydrates, you accumulate excess triglycerides. This increases your risk of stroke and heart disease.

Also, your liver plays a major role in metabolism of your body with your liver cells executing most of the complex functions.

Normally, your liver stores fatty acids as triglycerides only in small amounts. But problems of obesity and overnutrition often result in changes to your liver metabolic processes, in which triglycerides are accumulated within your liver cells, known as hepatocytes. This evidently leads to a clinical condition known as non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD).

High levels of triglyceride could lead to hardening of your arteries or thickening of your artery walls. This could increase your risk of heart attack, stroke and pancreatitis.

Symptoms don’t readily show up, when your triglyceride levels are high. So it is only by a periodical evaluation of your lipid profile that you can know your triglyceride levels.


Causes for High Triglycerides

Primary Causes: usually triggered by genetic variations or disorders, which affect the metabolism of triglycerides

Secondary Causes: mostly due to underlying medical conditions or eating lots of fats from foods.

Some of these causes include:

  • Too much alcohol consumption
  • Diabetes, especially type 2 
  • Menopause
  • Thyroid disease
  • Some medications like beta blockers and diuretics
  • Kidney or liver disease
  • Obesity
  • Metabolic syndrome
  • Diets high in sugar

Diagnosis

Your Doctor will ask you to fast overnight (9-12 hours) and do a lipid panel, a common blood test that includes measurements of both your cholesterol levels and triglycerides.

This test determines your total cholesterol by evaluating your triglycerides, HDL and LDL levels. If your LDL cholesterol is high along with high triglycerides, you have a higher risk of heart attack and stroke.

The following chart shows triglyceride levels measured in milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL)


Treatment to Reduce Triglycerides

Always start with dietary changes required to reverse your triglyceride levels back to normal. And, invest your efforts in sustainable weight loss to bring your health back as well as reduce your high levels of triglyceride.

Positive changes in your lifestyle can go a long way in helping you reduce your triglyceride levels.

Indulge in Physical Activity

A perfect balance between your daily caloric intake and your workout regime will help you in more ways than one. Dedicate 30 minutes of your time to exercises like walking, swimming or cycling. These measures will help you reduce the excess triglycerides in your body.

Invest Your Time in Sustainable Weight Loss

Lose your bad fat and build your muscle. Eat foods which are based on personalised dietary recommendations, instead of off-the-shelf diet plans. Consult your Doctor or Nutritionist for advice. These measures will help you reduce triglyceride levels in your body.

Quit Your Drinking Habit

Alcohol can cause unusual spikes in your triglyceride levels, since they are high in calories, sugar and carbs. If you’re suffering from acute hypertriglyceridemia, you must completely stay away from alcohol.

Quit Your Smoking Habit

Research indicates that smoking seems to disrupt your lipid and lipoprotein metabolism. Also, smoking elevates your triglycerides and LDL cholesterol (bad cholesterol).

Eat in Moderation, Eat Healthy

Avoid eating bad unhealthy fats, such as trans fats and saturated fats. Reduce your sugar intake and full-fat dairy products. Eat more vegetables, fruits, whole grains rich in fiber, seeds and beans.

Also avoid refined carbohydrates and reduce your salt intake to lower triglycerides in your body. Eat fish high in omega-3 fatty acids along with good fats such as ones found in vegetable oils, nuts and seeds.


Bottomline

Science cannot say with absolute certainty that high triglycerides in your body lead you to heart attack or other medical conditions on their own. But they seem to lead to heart disease and stroke along with other underlying conditions.

Always consider good dietary and lifestyle changes as important yardsticks in your efforts to reduce surplus triglyceride levels in your blood.

Medications can help you for the moment, but always think long-term and depend on physical workouts or waking or cycling and good dietary practises to keep yourself healthy.

Building good habits that guide you through bad health phases can be your life-savers.


 

If you have a question related to this blog post, write to us here and we will update this post with a response.

Sources: Mayo Clinic, Medline Plus, WebMD 1, 2, Healthline, University of Rochester Medical Center, NHLBI, Harvard Health Publishing, Heart UK, Medical News Today (1), (2), PubMed, Verywell Health (1), (2) and PACE-CME.

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