Many people ask me how they can reduce triglycerides quickly. I love these kinds of questions for two reasons:
1) I sincerely believe that prevention of a disease is much more important than managing it after it has already happened. We can save ourselves a lot of suffering if we start preventing disease early and improved public education can exactly do that.
2) I am also convinced that we as a society should decrease our medication consumption and emphasize more conservative managements, such as lifestyle changes including dietary improvements.
How to reduce triglycerides quickly
I would like to clarify the word “quickly” in this post. I think the desire to achieve things as quickly as possible could result in a lot of frustration and disappointments. It is important to spend the necessary amount of time on achieving a goal. I have used the word quickly in this post because I have seen numerous patients who were able to reduce their blood triglycerides level rather promptly (within 6-8 weeks) after adapting the following management. However, this time can vary among different groups of individuals.
Let us go back to our discussion on how to reduce triglycerides.
It is clear that medications are occasionally necessary for managing some conditions. However, in my experience, if the lifestyle changes happen early, then, the need for medications can be reduced, and if taking a medication is found to be really necessary, the dosage can be kept to a minimum.
A triglyceride molecule is a combination of three molecules of fatty acids plus glycerides. It is the most common form of fat that humans digest.
Triglycerides are a significant risk factor for coronary heart disease, especially in women. Similar to elevated levels of fasting, very high levels of non-fasting triglycerides may also increase the risk for coronary heart disease.
Here are simple ways in which you can reduce your blood triglyceride level.
Regular exercise and triglycerides
A regular exercise routine consisting of at least 30 minutes of moderately intense physical activity (e.g., brisk walking), may help to reduce triglyceride levels in the blood.
As you may already know, we have different forms of exercises. They include:
- Stretching or flexibility
- Power or resistance
I will concentrate on cardio-respiratory exercise in this article.
Many studies have shown the considerable value of 150 minutes per week of moderate physical exercise in reducing risk factors for heart disease and stroke such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, insulin resistance and others.
You may have some issues with understanding what exactly moderate intensity physical exercise means. Let me give you a couple of examples. For instance, moderate intensity walking includes approximately 100 steps per minute for around 30 minutes per session or biking with a 5-9 mph speed on level terrain.
The good news for many of us with stressful lives is that we can accumulate exercise time in bouts of 10 minutes to achieve a goal of 30 minutes daily. Studies have shown that 3 times 10 minutes of exercise will also help us in achieving our health related goals.
The American Heart Association, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and the Department of Health and Human Services recommend regular consumption of fatty fish (salmon, tuna, herring, sardines, mackerel, and trout) that provide omega-3 fatty acids (docosahexanoic acid [DHA] and eicosapentaenoic acid [EPA]).
Eating eight ounces of fatty fish per week provides an average of almost 500 mg/d DHA and EPA. Treatment consisting of 4 g of omega-3 fatty acids per day resulted in a median reduction of triglycerides of almost 45%.
In higher doses, DHA and EPA lower serum triglycerides by reducing the liver production of triglyceride-rich lipoproteins.
You may have noticed the recent discussions about necessity of fish oil and whether it is as beneficial as once thought. I have therefore analyzed many different studies and data and wrote an article in “plain English” concerning these questions. You could read this article and my opinion about whether we should continue taking fish oil or if it is now time to stop it by clicking here.
Reducing alcohol intake
The recommended alcohol intake is not more than one drink per day for women and up to two drinks per day for men.
Studies have shown that when drinking alcohol the level of triglycerides increases and reaches its peak at about 3 hours after the consumption. Alcohol intake can significantly increase the average fasting triglyceride level up to 53%.
Other studies have actually confirmed that moderate consumption of alcohol could benefit the heart and vascular system but increased consumption could elevate the risk of death. It is fine if somebody wants to have one or two glasses of wine a day.
I would like to underline that recommendations are different for women and men. You may ask why? Why should gender affect how much alcohol we are supposed to drink?
This recommendation takes into account the difference between average weight and metabolism of these two genders, especially the amount of enzymes necessary to dissolve the alcohol in body (alcohol-dehydrogenase) that is higher in men than women.
Lower total carbohydrate consumption
Individuals with high carbohydrate consumption who attempt to replace fat with carbs could see an elevated triglyceride level and lower high density lipoprotein (HDL).
We have many people who I like to call, “master of oversimplifications”. Unfortunately, our society often asks for oversimplified explanations for complex problems.
One of the major black and white areas in nutrition and medicine is related to carbohydrates. Some people overly accentuate the importance of a low carbohydrate diet.
It is important for you to know that carbohydrates are necessary for a healthy function of your body. You should not totally remove this sort of food from your diet.
According to different dietary recommendations, 50-60% of each meal should be in carbs. Sometimes this ratio need to be adjusted according to individuals other medical conditions. However, like everything else we should be aware that high consumption of more powerful and fast-acting carbs such as sugar, white bread, potatoes, noodles, white rice could affect your triglyceride level significantly.
You should try to consume slow/long-acting carbohydrates instead of short-acting ones. Samples of slow/long-acting carbs are whole grain bread, brown rice and noodles. You should also try getting rid of any unnecessary sugar where and when you can. That helps a lot.
I wish you good luck in your endeavor to learn about triglycerides, prevent its elevation and managing it (if you have already a high level). Please let me know about your experience with the suggestions above. All of your questions are welcomed.
Please, if you liked this article be generous to others and share it. I am confident that many people including me will appreciate it a lot.
Keep on learning!