About Brian Berger’s Triglycerides…


Today as I was driving and running some errands for the clinic I was listening to my favorite: Sports Radio (750 AM). Brian Berger was the radio host and he runs a segment where he has a sports medicine doc on to discuss various injuries to players. At the end of the segment Brian said he was going to get selfish for a moment and as about a personal health issue. Of course I perked up. He had just gone in for a physical and everything was good except for a report of high triglycerides in his blood work. His questions were naturally: 1. What is a triglyceride? and 2. How do you reduce them?. The doc on the radio was obviously caught off guard. He deals with strains, sprains and other sports injuries most of the time. Players aren't asking about triglycerides much. But he did really well describing the problem and offered some info. I thought that there was more to add so I hit up Mr. Berger on Twitter. He said he would be interested in more info so I thought I would share this with anybody who may have a question about triglycerides.

First… I must say that it is very cool that Mr. Berger responds so quickly to his listening audience. Consider me an even bigger fan now.

Now to the triglycerides… This is a fancy word we doctors use to refer to fat that travels in the bloodstream. This is an important measure of health because elevated triglycerides are associated with an increased risk of heart attack, stroke and other nasty things. You might be surprised to know that triglycerides don't necessarily come from eating fatty foods. The bigger culprits are actually sugar and alcohol. By sugars I mean table sugar, brown sugar, organic sugar cane, evaporated cane juice, corn syrup, high-fructose corn syrup, fructose and anything else that sounds like sugar (regardless of the fancy names). You can also add to this list any refined grains such as white flour, bread flour, bleached flour…. you get the idea. I'm pretty sure you get what alcohol is too.

"Well wait a minute… What about cutting out fats?" you might ask. After all if you are trying to reduce the level of "fatty acid" in the blood shouldn't you limit the fat? Good question. It turns out that if you are overweight and have extremely high triglyceride levels then reducing fat intake helps. Otherwise it doesn't make a huge difference. If you only have moderatly elevated triglycerides (150 mg/dl-400 mg/dl) then a very low fat diet will probably actually increase trigylcerides!  This will also decrease the amount of "healthy" cholesterol (HDLs) in your blood.

Are you a coffee drinker or do you drink caffeinated soda?  Cutting back on caffeine has also been shown to decrease triglycerides by about 25% in some cases. 

Another good thing you can do to help reduce triglycerides is to be sure to get a good multivitamin/multimineral supplement and Fish Oil.  It is almost impossible to get all of the nutrients we need to be as healthy as possible in food these days.  Fish Oil helps boost our HDLs.  Getting all of the essential vitamins and minerals helps to make sure that your metabolism is working well enough to deal with the triglyceride burden.  Another supplement that has been shown in research studies to help is L-Carnitine.  Using garlic in your food or taking garlic pills boosts your immune system and… you guessed it… reduces your triglycerides.

On the radio Mr. Berger commented that he was thinking about boosting the intensity of his workouts to help drop triglyceride levels.  That's a good move.  Exercise is a great way to improve your cardiovascular and heart health.  Of course it helps control blood pressure, weight, metabolism and I could go on all day.

So there it is… limit your carbohydrates (sugars), limit your alcohol, take your vitamins, and hit the gym.  Trust me.  This is the way you want to lower your triglycerides.  There are no side effects unless you count all of the other added benefits of getting healthy.  To you Mr. Berger and all of those like you, BEST OF HEALTH!  (and GO BLAZERS!)

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