What Do My Numbers Mean?

Understanding the Indicators of Health Status

What is cholesterol?

According to the National Heart, Blood and Lung Institute, cholesterol is a fat-like substance that is found in all cells. There are different types of cholesterol and it’s important to know the difference to understand what your numbers mean. Our body makes cholesterol and we also consume it. Cholesterol is found in animal fat (this is why it is recommended to stick to the lean meats).

Recommended total cholesterol levels are less than 200 mg/dL. LDL, also known as “BAD” cholesterol, is one of the components of total cholesterol. LDL causes build-up of plaque in your arteries. There is a direct correlation between high LDL cholesterol and risk of getting coronary artery disease. According to the American Heart Association, it is recommended that LDL be less than 100 mg/dL. HDL is your good cholesterol, which helps lower your risk of coronary heart disease.

What is HDL and how do I improve my level?

HDL is the good cholesterol, this number we want to be above 60 mg/dL. There are a few ways to help improve your HDL cholesterol. Have you heard of omega 3s? One of the many benefits of omega 3s (found in salmon, mackerel, herring, almonds, pecans, walnuts and chia seeds) is to increase your HDL cholesterol.

Trans fats, which the FDA recently released a statement saying they are no longer generally recognized as safe, lower your HDL cholesterol. If there is less than 0.5 grams of trans fats, companies can still claim there are no trans fats in the product! Make sure you look on the ingredients label: if it says hydrogenated oil, it contains trans fats and you should STAY AWAY!

Smoking, being overweight and physical inactivity can also lower HDL so quit smoking and GET ACTIVE.

How do I control my glucose levels?

There are a few different things that you can do to control your blood glucose levels. The first and most important is diet. Consistent carbohydrate intake and choosing the right carbohydrates are the keys to managing blood glucose. You want to stick to low glycemic carbohydrates. Glycemic index tells us how high and fast blood sugar spikes up. Low glycemic carbohydrates contain FIBER which is very important for a number of reasons. Fiber is a nondigestible carbohydrate which slows down the absorption of glucose, helps to lower cholesterol levels, keeps you full and regular. Exercise is another great way to control your blood sugar.

Beware of fluid intake! Juice, soda, sweeteners in coffee, and tea can increase your blood sugar tremendously without you realizing it!

Balance of protein, fruits, veggies, low glycemic carbohydrates and good fats is the key!

Why measure my waist circumference?

Waist circumference is an indicator of health status. There is a direct relationship between the risk of diabetes, cancer, and heart disease with a waist circumference greater than 35 inches for women and 40 inches for men. Diet and exercise is the best combination to lower your waist circumference. Everyone’s nutritional needs are slightly different based on age, gender, activity level, health conditions. To find out what is best for you: ask Nicole about designing a customized meal plan for you!