Sunday, October 24, 2010
My recent medical checkup included a lipid panel, i.e., fats in the blood, and the triglycerides part of it came in high. (Lower than it was the first time I had it checked a few years back, and not enough so they thought I should take medication, but enough to advise me that I should alter my diet to get them down, but still ...)
Cholesterol, by the by, is not a fat itself, but a waxy metabolite produced by the body from fat, mostly animal in origin.
There is some contention in the health field as to how much high triglycerides affect things such as heart attack and stroke, though the mainstream thought is they increase the risk of both.
Likewise, there is contention as how best to treat the elevation, with two primary views holding sway: One faction allows that fats should be the first to go; the other view says to stop eating sugar. I could get into the theory behind each -- there is a lot of it -- but basically my view is it's a combination: The too-much-sugar notion makes sense. Plus avoiding saturated fats -- basically anything that is solid at room temperature -- butter, lard, sour cream, cheese, like that. You know, the good stuff.
Simple sugars spike your glucose levels, and that requires that your body produce insulin, and that whole pancreatic process is complicated and prone to cause problems. Lot more Type II diabetics than there used to be, because, let's face it, as a nation, we over-indulge out the wazoo when it comes to junk food.
Me, too, I confess.
I work out enough to keep my weight where I want it, but there's only so much that exercise can do, and I admit to a sweet tooth. I have a jones for pies, cookies, cakes, ice cream, and candy. All of which are great for gumming up your motor. And we all know this, but do it anyway.
Most obese people aren't that way because they consume too much fat; it's because they eat too much sugar, and more calories in than out equals weight gain. Simple equation, and no way around it. We've had that discussion before, and I won't belabor it. The 3% of folks who have major metabolic problems notwithstanding, the other 97% of us who are fat are that way because we eat too much and don't burn it off. Period.
Oh, yeah, and alcohol messes up the normal metabolic process -- the liver clears booze first, an ounce or so an hour, and while it is busy doing that, the rest of the stuff floating around has to wait its turn. A beer now and then, a glass of wine, fine. Past that?
So once again, the eat-your-veggies-and-skip-the-empty-calories advice rears its ugly head. Hold down the booze consumption. Consume good fats -- olive oil is better for you than butter. Ease up on the cheese. Leafy, bunny food. Yadda, yadda, yadda.
To test my theory, I'm going to see if cutting back on saturated fats and simple sugars -- and that includes white death, honey, fructose and sucrose and all like that -- plus doubling my fish oil consumption is enough to do the trick. I'll dig out my handy-dandy blood test kit in three or four months and see what's what.
And with a big bowl of Hallowe'en candy sitting in the kitchen for the trick-or-treaters, there's my first challenge ...