Cholesterol, Diabetes and Body Weight

 

What is High Cholesterol and why should I be concerned about it?    

Hyperlipidemia refers to increased levels of cholesterol and triglycerides (fat) in the blood.  Both of these increase the risk of narrowing of the arteries in the heart (coronary artery disease) and the brain, which can lead to heart attack and stroke.  Diabetes, high blood pressure, cigarette smoking, family history of coronary disease (men under 55 years, females under 65 years), older age, male sex, history of poor circulation in the legs & feet, and kidney disease all increase the risk of cholesterol related problems.  The three types of lipids that doctors follow to determine your risk are total cholesterol, LDL (bad cholesterol) and triglycerides (fat).  Men should begin testing at age 35, or at age 20 if they have the above risk factors.  Women should begin testing at age 45, or at age 20 if they have the above risk factors.  Testing of blood levels is best done in the morning after fasting for 12-14 hours.  The following are normal and elevated ranges of lipids:

 

Optimal

Normal

Elevated

High

Very High

Total cholesterol

 

<200 mg/dL

200-239 mg/dL

>240 mg/dL

 

Bad cholesterol

<100 mg/dL

101-129 mg/dL

130-159 mg/dL

>160 mg/dL

 

Triglycerides

 

<150 mg/dL

150-199 mg/dL

200-499 mg/dL

>500 mg/dL

 

How can I reduce my cholesterol levels without medication?    

Avoid red meat, butter, fried foods, cheese, eggs and other foods that have a lot of saturated fat. 

The following food products have been shown to reduce cholesterol levels: Foods with Omega 3 fatty acids such as salmon (fatty fish), flaxseed and flaxseed oil, canola oil, soybean oil, and walnuts, fish oil supplements at higher doses (>6 grams/day) and red yeast rice (2.4 grams/day), some soluble fibers (psyllium, pectin, wheat dextrin, and oat products), diets high in fruits & vegetables.  Plant sterol enriched margarine and soy products can have some beneficial effects.  Remember; always have your cholesterol checked when indicated.  You may not “feel” there are any problems until it is too late!

 

What is Diabetes and why should I be concerned about it?    

Whenever you eat, the pancreas (internal organ) produces insulin (a hormone) which signals the body to take sugar out of your bloodstream and put it into the cells where the body can use it.  Diabetes is the failure of the pancreas (internal organ) to produce enough insulin to manage the sugar you eat and/or insensitivity to insulin by the body.  People with diabetes are at a much higher risk for heart attack, stroke, kidney disease or failure, damage to vision or blindness.  Some symptoms that suggest you may have diabetes include frequent urination, intense thirst and blurry vision.  Diabetes can be diagnosed with any of the following criteria:

  • Symptoms of diabetes with a random blood sugar of 200 mg/dL or higher
  • Fasting blood sugar level of 126 mg/dL or higher
  • A blood sugar of 200 mg/dL or higher two hours after an oral glucose tolerance test
  • An HbA1C level of 6.5 percent or higher (HbA1C is a measure of blood sugar control over 3 months)

 

How can I reduce my risk of Diabetes?     

The recommendations for reducing the risk for diabetes are similar to those for cholesterol: Lose weight, eat healthy, exercise regularly (walking at least 30 minutes 3-4 times per week) and stop smoking.  Eating healthy also means increasing fiber intake, reducing salt intake (lowers blood pressure), and reducing alcohol intake. All people, including those who have diabetes or at risk for diabetes should eat frequently and eat five times per day (three regular meals per day with a snack at 10:00 am and 3:00 pm).  This is critical to speeding up your metabolism which helps burn calories and prevents any excess calories you eat from turning into fat.  Many people think that restricting calories is the main way to lose weight and do not pay attention to glycemic index (the type of calories).  Glycemic index is a measure of how quickly sugar is “dumped” into your bloodstream and glycemic load is a measure of how much sugar is “dumped” into your bloodstream.  Foods high in carbohydrates or simple sugars can hurt your attempts to lose weight and make your diabetes worse. Examples of high glycemic index foods include fruit juice, non-diet soda, potatoes, white rice, white bread, sweets and pastries.  Examples of low glycemic index or “healthy calories” include low fat protein such as lentils & whey powder shakes, cereals based on oats, barley and bran, breads made from whole-grain, stone ground flour or sour dough, quinoa, brown and Basmati rice. Glycemic index is measured as follows:  Low <55     Moderate 56-69    High >50.  To find out the glycemic index of any food go to:  www.glycemicindex.com

 

Why should I maintain a healthy body weight?    

Maintaining a healthy Body Mass Index (BMI <25.0) is critical to reducing the risk for diabetes, cholesterol and high blood pressure.  High blood pressure is directly associated with elevated body weight and makes the complications of diabetes and cholesterol listed above much worse.  Elevated or low body weight can make a woman’s menstrual cycles irregular or lead to infertility.  The ranges for body mass index are as follows:

Low BMI

Normal

Overweight

Obese

Morbidly Obese

<18.5 kg/m2

18.5-24.9 kg/m2

25.0-29.9 kg/m2

30.0-39.9 kg/m2

>40

 

Your appropriate body weight can be calculated at:  www.bmi-calculator.net. Even if it seems difficult to lose enough weight to get to your ideal weight, any weight loss will be helpful if your BMI is >25.0.

Advanced Fertility Center of Texas is a leading fertility clinic headed by Dr. Michael Allon, Dr. Dmitri Dozortsev, and Mary Turner, WHNP who provide quality treatment for our patients in the Houston and College Station, Texas area.

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