There are many factors to type 2 diabetes that make it a tough disease to understand and handle. But when you start to educate yourself on all of the other things that come into play you start to feel empowered. Well, the same is true with one of the major risk factors in type 2 diabetes. This factor is cholesterol (medical term lipids) and is often below the surface, but can lead to many other things that happen down the road in type 2 diabetes.
When I speak of type 2 diabetes and cholesterol here, I’m talking about LDL, HDL and triglycerides. With a good understanding of this information I hope you are able to use this material to control and prevent many of the other complications from happening.
Diabetes And Cholesterol Explained
First things first, cholesterol abnormalities equal added risk for cardiovascular problems with type 2 diabetes. This leads to many of the bad things you hear about such as heart attack and stroke. The reason for this is because cholesterol problems lead to damaged and clogged arteries and high blood pressure.
It is very common for people with type 2 diabetes to have high triglycerides, low HDL (good cholesterol) and high LDL (bad cholesterol). This abnormal cholesterol pattern in medical terms is called dyslipidemia.
When you go to the doctor and you do blood work, your doctor will order a test to look at your cholesterol numbers. This is pretty much standard practice. In fact, most doctors have told me that they always see a relationship between bad blood sugar control in type 2 diabetes and bad cholesterol numbers. And for the most part, bad cholesterol numbers are caused by insulin resistance, the same thing that causes high blood sugar.
Cholesterol And Genetics
It is Key that you control your blood sugar because in most cases you can control your blood cholesterol numbers at the same time. However, like most things, cholesterol can also be affected by genetics.
The reason for this is because your body also produces cholesterol and if you’re parents, for example had high LDL levels, you will usually tend to have high LDL cholesterol. Or on the flip side, if you were blessed genetically with parents who have an unusually high level of HDL, which is the good cholesterol, you may tend to have higher levels. HDL is “good cholesterol” because it removes the bad cholesterol from your bloodstream. Think of HDL as the garbage cleaners. They take the trash (bad cholesterol) out of your bloodstream so to speak. The more you have around the better.
6 Ways To Improve Your Cholesterol
- Exercise – is a strong way to increase HDL (the good cholesterol) especially when adding resistance training to your routine.
- Diet – cutting back on saturated fats found in meats, fried foods, and desserts such as cookies and cakes. And substituting them for for monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats found in plants, such as olive oil, and fish high in omega-3 fatty acids — like salmon.
- Reducing carbohydrate intake. Carbohydrates affect your blood sugar level the most and reducing intake of them is like a domino effect. It keeps all of the other risks in like such as cholesterol problems, high blood pressure, etc.
- Controlling your blood sugar. If your fasting blood sugar levels were consistently in a range of <90 mg/dL you’d probably have pretty good cholesterol. This has the biggest effect on triglycerides and does very little to raise your HDL and slightly lowers your LDL.
- Maintain a healthy weight.
- Limiting alcohol. Alcohol is high in carbohydrates and calories and in excess can significantly raise your triglycerides.
The LDL, HDL, And Triglyceride Goals Set By The ADA
- LDL: <100 mg/dL
- HDL: >40 mg/dL in men, and >50 mg/dL in women
- Triglyceride: <150 mg/dL
What Doctors Will Usually Do To Improve Cholesterol
If the above measures to control your cholesterol levels don’t work, a doctor will usually prescribe drugs. Or in many cases early on when you get the diagnosis a doctor will start cholesterol lowering drugs right away. Statins, such as Lipitor, Pravachol, Zocor or Crestor are usually the first drugs for lowering LDL cholesterol (the bad cholesterol).
HDL is tough to change but exercise is usually best or Niacin, which comes in over-the-counter and in prescription drug forms such as Niaspan. For lower triglyceride levels one of the most widely used drugs by doctors is Lopid.
Prior to using any of this material, please consult with your physician.