Triglyceride is a chemical form of fat found in our body. Triglycerides are essential in bodily functions and account for more than 90% of the fatty tissue in our body. They make up the main form of fat in each person’s diet. When your body ingests food with more than the recommended amount of calories, the excess is converted into triglycerides and stored in fat cells. In simple terms, triglyceride is extracted from food and is a resulting chemical formed from ingested fats and carbohydrates.
Importance of Triglycerides
Because triglycerides are the main form of fat in our body, they play an important role in all our bodily functions. Some of these roles include:
Triglycerides are the main source of energy of our body. If triglycerides extracted from a meal are not sufficient, your body releases hormones that make use of your stored triglycerides to help energize your body until your next meal.
Triglycerides also help in your body’s metabolism. Body fat, in this case, Triglycerides, help the body utilize protein and carbohydrates for energy. When the energy is being metabolized by the body, glucose fragments combine with fat fragments. This means your body makes use of fat rather than protein, leaving the latter free to use for more important bodily tasks that may come ahead.
3. Fatty Acids
Triglycerides are essential in the production of fatty acids. Two such important fatty acids, omega-6 linoleic acid and omega-3 linoleic acid, can be found in triglycerides. These two fatty acids help in structuring cell membranes as well as help the body produce eicosanoids – compounds aiding in the regulation of blood pressure, immune response, as well as blood clotting.
However, too much of a good thing is bad, which is the same case with the level of triglyceride in the body.
When you have a blood test that measures cholesterol, chances are, triglyceride levels are also included with the findings.
A triglyceride level below 150 is considered normal. From 150 to 199, triglyceride levels are considered Borderline-high. When the level is anywhere between 200 and 499, the triglyceride level is considered high. Any level above 500 on the other hand, is considered very high.
Causes of High Triglycerides
There are five main causes of high levels of triglyceride:
A healthy lifestyle can help maintain triglycerides to normal levels. Practicing otherwise causes the opposite.
Obesity hampers the balance of lipid in blood causing high LDL, low HDL, and triglycerides. Lack of exercise can cause an increase in weight. Smoking causes hypertryglyceridemia which causes sudden spikes in triglyceride levels. Excess alcohol increases the production of triglycerides in the liver and decreases the fat that is filtered from the blood. Fasting less than 12 hours before cholesterol testing can cause a sudden rise in triglycerides. Unhealthy eating patterns such as eating large amounts in each meal and skipping meals as well as eating snacks late at night and overeating are obvious culprits in a triglyceride problem.
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Any health condition known to cause more weight than recommended can lead to unhealthy levels of triglyceride. Obesity, undiagnosed diabetes, high blood pressure, acute hepatitis, heart disease, liver disease, hypothyroidism, acromegaly, kidney disease, lipodystrophies, Polycystic Ovary Syndrome, and Cushing’s syndrome all contribute to increased levels of triglyceride.
One should note that these health conditions are infamous especially among people who strive to lose weight.
Although indirectly related to health, age is also one factor that can affect the level of triglycerides. The older a person grows, the more his bodily organs experience difficulty in properly disposing excess triglycerides.
Medicines or drugs are also known to raise triglycerides. These can include Tamofixen, beta-blockers, diuretics, birth-control pills, estrogen, antiretroviral therapy medicine, cyclosporine, estrogen replacement therapy drugs, newer antipsychotics, oral contraceptives, retinoids, progesterone, glucorticoids, and steroids.
4. Hereditary Issues
High triglyceride levels can also run in a family’s bloodline. These genetic conditions include but are not limited to familial hypertriglyceridemia, familial dysbetalipoproteinemia, familiar lipoprotein lipase deficiency, type III hyperlipoproteinemia, and type V hyperlipoproteinemia
Due to its nature as a form of fat, triglyceride levels are sure to rise when you eat high fat foods such as red meat or dairy products.
Diets that concentrate more on trans fat and saturated fats rice can also cause a sudden rise in triglyceride levels. Fried foods, fast food, dairy products, butter, cheese, ready snacks, and shortening are just some examples. A healthier alternative to these are polyunsaturated or monounsaturated fats such as olive oil, canola oil, or liquid margarine.
Sugar should also be avoided. Sugary foods contain simple carbs which induce the production of insulin thereby increasing triglycerides.
Popular desserts that make use of much sugar such as ice cream are perfect examples of foods you should avoid. Tempting as they are, these foods are one of the biggest causes of high triglyceride levels.
The intake of natural sugar should also be limited as well. This includes glucose, sucrose, and fructose which raise triglyceride levels. As a general rule, sugar intake should never exceed 8% of total intake of calories each day.
Beverages such as colas, sports drinks, smoothies, or even lemonades should be replaced with diet drinks that are sugar free. More importantly, excess liquor like beer and wine should be avoided.
Overall, the best way to control triglyceride levels is to correct each problem mentioned above. Practicing a healthy lifestyle, keeping one’s self healthy, and avoiding certain medicines and foods can be more than enough to gradually improve the level of triglyceride to healthy levels.
The American Heart Association has stated in the past that the most effective way to decrease the level of triglyceride in the body is by quitting smoking or avoiding second hand smoke, allotting 30 minutes of each day for exercise or any healthy physical activity, maintaining the intake of saturated fat to less than 10 percent of calories, and decreasing the intake of any carbohydrates such as those found in simple sugars or processed flour. Although it may take a long time to see favorable results, it is better than having to suffer the effects of high triglyceride in the future.
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