What Lifestyle Choices Cause High Triglyceride Levels?

What Lifestyle Choices Cause High Triglyceride Levels?

The body stores blood fats, triglycerides, in order to give you energy throughout the day. The extra calories, sugars, and alcohol that you consume convert into triglycerides. And if you need a little extra energy between meals, hormones release triglycerides. That sounds wonderful, and it is necessary for the body to function, but too many triglycerides in the bloodstream can be dangerous to your overall health. 

The liver can convert triglycerides into glucose, but excess triglycerides end up in fat cells, or adipose tissue. Fatty buildup in the arteries can stem from excess triglycerides in the bloodstream. Higher triglyceride levels can also cause pancreatitis, an inflammation of the pancreas. 

Are There Symptoms Of High Triglycerides?

There are many lifestyle habits that can cause high triglyceride levels, also known as dyslipidemia. You typically won’t develop symptoms if you have high triglyceride levels, though. That said, there are several complications that can result from high levels, some of which include:

  • Pancreatitis
  • Stroke
  • Coronary heart disease
  • Multifactorial chylomicronemia syndrome 
  • Lipemia retinalis, a condition that changes how the blood vessels in the eyes look

Risk Factors For High Triglycerides

You may have a higher risk of high triglyceride levels because of the following: 

  • Menopause
  • Lipid metabolism disorder
  • A family history of high triglyceride or cholesterol levels
  • Pregnancy
  • Being of Mexican or South Asian ancestry

What Causes High Triglycerides But Normal Cholesterol?

This is a bit of conundrum because the two usually go hand in hand, or so you’ve been told. Despite what some people say, cholesterol and triglycerides are two different substances in the bloodstream. Triglycerides are the most common type of fat in the body, storing extra calories and converting them into energy. Cholesterol is a waxy substance produced by the liver that produces hormones and builds cells, among other functions. If you have normal cholesterol levels but high triglyceride levels, consider the following:

  • Obesity
  • Insufficient exercise
  • A diet high in carbohydrates, saturated fats, and calories
  • Heavy alcohol use
  • Smoking cigarettes
  • Liver or autoimmune diseases

Knowing all of this information can help you make better lifestyle choices to avoid high triglyceride levels. You may be unaware of certain lifestyle habits that are raising triglycerides. Learn more about these habits below. 

Lack Of Exercise

You burn off excess calories when you exercise, which means those calories don’t convert into triglycerides. Exercise boosts the production of lipoprotein lipase, an enzyme that aids with the removal of triglycerides from your bloodstream. According to a small study of 38 people with coronary heart disease, participants who performed moderately intense aerobic exercise for eight weeks significantly reduced triglyceride levels compared to the group that didn’t exercise. 

What And How Much You Eat And Drink

A diet high in sugar and simple carbohydrates can raise triglyceride levels. These foods contain hydrogenated oils, trans fats, or white flour. Oils, butters, and fats that you eat also create triglycerides, and the extra calories from those foods produce more triglycerides. Drinking a lot of alcohol can also raise triglyceride levels. In fact, one study monitored people who had eight or more alcoholic drinks per week. Their odds of developing high triglyceride levels increased two- to eightfold. 

Certain Health Conditions

There are several health conditions that can cause high triglyceride levels, some of which include:

  • Liver disease: Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease, hepatitis, and cirrhosis can cause metabolic issues that affect the liver’s ability to secrete triglycerides and increase their production.
  • Thyroid disease: An underactive thyroid (hypothyroidism), can slow hormone production and the rate at which you burn calories. Together, those two things can raise triglyceride levels. 
  • Chronic kidney disease: If your kidneys are damaged, they may produce more triglycerides and decrease the body’s ability to clear them from your bloodstream.
  • Obesity: If you are obese, the excess body fat, especially the body fat around your stomach, can release free fatty acids that convert into triglycerides when they enter the bloodstream.
  • Type 2 diabetes: Diabetes is a metabolic condition that can raise triglyceride levels because of insulin resistance, which can potentially cause buildup in the bloodstream. 

Certain Medications

Sometimes, you have to consult your doctor about the different side effects of medications, especially if you have elevated triglyceride levels. Common medications that increase triglycerides include:

  • Retinoids for acne
  • Diuretics and older beta blockers that treat high blood pressure
  • Corticosteroids that reduce inflammation
  • Estrogen in birth control pills or hormone replacement therapy
  • Antiretroviral drugs that treat HIV

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