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Ester Marsh column: Keep checkups with your doctor, lower your triglycerides

I hope you keep your preventative checkups with your doctor(s). In this crazy time, some people think it’s better to “wait.” However, preventative check-ups are imperative for your health, even during the COVID19. (Your doctor will make the proper adjustments if they feel you need to meet virtually).

In the next few weeks, I will go over some basic test results starting this week with your triglycerides. So what are they? And what level is good?

Triglycerides are a form of fat carried through the blood stream. When you eat, your body converts any calories it does not need at that moment and stores them as triglycerides. When you regularly eat more calories than you burn, you may have high triglycerides (and most likely weight gain).

Normal triglyceride level is less than 150 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dl)

Border line = 150-199 mg/dl

High = 200-499 mg/dl

Very high = 500 mg/dl or above

High triglycerides may contribute to hardening of the arteries or thickening of the artery walls. High triglycerides often accompany other conditions known to increase the risk of heart disease, heart attack and stroke. High triglycerides can also be a sign of other health conditions, so it’s important stay on top of your preventative check-ups including bloodwork.

The best way to lower triglycerides:

• Lose excess pounds. There will be instant health benefits by cutting body fat.

• Consume fewer calories. Eat less than you burn.

• Avoid sugary foods. Simple carbs can sudden increase your insulin production and this could increase your triglyceride level. You would think high fat diets would raise your triglycerides levels. However, simple carbs appear to be the most important dietary predictor of high triglycerides. Diets high in carbs, especially sugar, lead to increases in triglycerides.

• Avoid trans fats (In processed foods to increase shelf life)

• Limit saturated fats (fatty meats, dairy, coconut and palm oils) while increasing unsaturated fats (olive oil, tree nuts, avocados)

• If you can, eat fatty fish (such as salmon and sardines)  a few times a week

• Limit alcohol. It is high in calories and sugar and has a potent effect on triglycerides.

Exercise regularly, trying at least 30 minutes daily most days of the week. We have opened the YMCA and machines are safely spaced apart but if you don’t feel comfortable inside yet, we still have virtual classes going on and of course our gorgeous local parks are great for walking, running or cycling, especially when the weather is this beautiful. Keep your body as strong and healthy as you possibly can by exercising and eating healthy and continue your preventative check-ups with your doctor.

Knowledge is power.

Ester Hoeben Marsh is Health and Fitness Director at the J.F. Hurley Family YMCA.

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