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How to Lower Your Patient's Triglycerides Using Root Cause Medicine

Medically reviewed by 
Jeannie Achuff
How to Lower Your Patient's Triglycerides Using Root Cause Medicine

Triglycerides often take a back seat to cholesterol in the heart-health conversation. Yet, they are just as crucial in assessing and managing the risk of cardiovascular disease. In this article, we will identify the root causes of elevated levels of triglycerides and offer practical, actionable steps that practitioners can use to guide their patients toward improved health outcomes. 

Whether you are a seasoned healthcare professional or new to functional medicine, this article will offer you the knowledge and tools necessary to impact your patients' lives positively.


What Are Triglycerides?

Triglycerides are a type of fat (lipid) present in the bloodstream and are the main form of stored lipids in the human body. After consuming food, excess calories not immediately required for energy are converted into triglycerides and stored in adipose tissue. These stored fats are later mobilized to provide energy during periods when food intake is insufficient to meet the body's energy demands.

Triglycerides are vital in the body's energy economy. They serve as a dense energy source, providing more than double the energy per gram as compared with carbohydrates or proteins. This makes them an efficient form of energy storage for periods of caloric deficit. 

Beyond their role in energy metabolism, triglycerides contribute to the body's thermal insulation and offer physical protection for organs against mechanical damage. Triglycerides and the fatty acids derived from them are integral to cell membrane structure and fluidity. They are involved in various cellular functions, including cell signaling and synthesizing essential molecules such as hormones and eicosanoids.

Triglycerides are more than just an energy reserve; they are a critical marker for cardiovascular health and metabolic disorders. Elevated serum triglyceride levels are a recognized risk factor for atherosclerosis, potentially leading to coronary artery disease, stroke, and peripheral artery disease.

What Causes High Triglycerides?

Elevated triglyceride levels can result from a combination of dietary, genetic, and environmental factors, and the interplay of these factors can significantly impact individual risk profiles. 

Diet plays a central role in the regulation of triglyceride levels. Diets high in simple carbohydrates, especially sugars like fructose and glucose, along with foods rich in saturated and trans fats, are known contributors to elevated triglyceride levels. Excessive caloric intake beyond the body's immediate energy requirements converts these excess calories into triglycerides, which are then stored in adipose (fatty) tissues. 

Genetic predispositions also play a critical role in determining an individual's triglyceride levels. Conditions like familial hypertriglyceridemia show how genes can affect lipid metabolism. Persistently high triglyceride levels put people at risk for pancreatitis and heart disease despite a healthy lifestyle. Additionally, mutations affecting enzymes like lipoprotein lipase, essential for triglyceride breakdown, can lead to marked hypertriglyceridemia.

Lifestyle and environmental factors further compound the risk associated with high triglycerides. A sedentary lifestyle characterized by physical inactivity contributes to the body's reduced capacity to utilize triglycerides as an energy source, leading to accumulation. Obesity, particularly central adiposity, is closely linked with increased triglyceride levels and insulin resistance, exacerbating cardiovascular risks.

Certain medical conditions can also influence triglyceride levels. Diabetes and insulin resistance are particularly impactful, disrupting the normal metabolism of fats and leading to elevated triglyceride levels. Thyroid disorders, such as hypothyroidism, slow down metabolic processes, including the breakdown of triglycerides, contributing to their increased levels.

How to Test Triglyceride Levels

Triglyceride levels can be measured as part of comprehensive panels and as standalone single biomarker assessments. 

The Triglycerides test from Access Medical Laboratories is essential for healthcare practitioners focusing on preventive health measures and managing patients with or at risk for cardiovascular diseases. It provides a straightforward and effective way to monitor triglycerides, aiding in the early detection and management of conditions that could lead to more serious health issues if left unaddressed.

In the broader context of lipid management, the Lipid Panel by Access Medical Laboratories offers a comprehensive assessment, including total cholesterol, HDL, LDL, triglycerides, and the TC/HDL ratio. This panel is invaluable for a holistic view of a patient's lipid health, enabling practitioners to devise personalized strategies for managing cardiovascular risk.

Precision Point's Oxidized LDL with Lipids Test provides important insights for those delving into the nuances of lipid oxidation and its implications for heart disease. This panel sheds light on oxidative stress and its role in atherosclerosis by measuring oxidized LDL alongside traditional lipid markers. It offers a sophisticated tool for managing patients with elevated cardiovascular risk.


What Level of Triglycerides is Dangerous?

Triglyceride levels in the blood are a crucial factor in assessing cardiovascular health. The normal range for fasting triglyceride levels typically falls below 150 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL) of blood. Triglyceride levels between 150 mg/dL and 199 mg/dL are considered borderline high. 

While not classified as high, these levels may indicate an increased risk of cardiovascular disease, especially when combined with other risk factors. Triglyceride levels of 200 mg/dL or higher are considered high and are associated with an elevated risk of cardiovascular disease. 

Extremely low triglyceride levels (below 50 mg/dL) may not necessarily be dangerous, but they could raise concerns. There is not a lot of research on low triglycerides driving disease, but it may be noteworthy in cases of chronic disease. Very low levels can be associated with conditions like malnutrition, hyperthyroidism, or certain genetic disorders.

How to Lower Triglycerides

Elevated triglyceride levels can be a significant concern for cardiovascular health, and addressing them is crucial in reducing the risk of heart disease.

Conventional Medicine Approach to Lowering Triglycerides

The conventional medicine approach to lowering triglycerides recognizes the importance of lifestyle and dietary modifications as primary treatment methods. Additionally, medications such as statins and fibrates are commonly prescribed to target elevated triglyceride levels. Nutritional changes are emphasized, including the reduction of simple carbohydrates, especially sugars such as fructose and glucose, as well as the limitation of saturated and trans fats found in processed foods. Conversely, increasing the intake of omega-3-rich foods, like fatty fish, is recommended. 

Enhancing insulin sensitivity through calorie control, increased exercise, and weight management all have a significant effect on lowering triglyceride levels. Lifestyle adjustments, such as moderating alcohol consumption and quitting smoking, are integral components, as excessive alcohol and smoking are associated with elevated triglycerides and cardiovascular risks.

A Root Cause Medicine Approach to Lowering Triglycerides

The root cause medicine approach to lowering triglycerides takes a holistic perspective, aiming to address the underlying factors contributing to elevated triglyceride levels rather than merely treating symptoms. Functional medicine practitioners conduct thorough assessments to identify underlying factors contributing to elevated triglycerides. This may include assessing insulin resistance, hormonal imbalances (e.g., thyroid function), gut health, and genetic predispositions. 

Individualized treatment plans are then developed to address these specific root causes.

Dietary modifications form the cornerstone of triglyceride management. Patients should be encouraged to adopt a whole-food, nutrient-dense diet tailored to their needs. The emphasis is on reducing processed foods, refined carbohydrates, and added sugars, all of which can lead to elevated triglycerides. Fiber-rich foods, such as fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, are promoted to stabilize blood sugar levels and improve lipid profiles.

Certain supplements have effectively lowered triglycerides when combined with dietary changes and exercise. Garlic is recognized for its anti-lipidemic properties, helping reduce total cholesterol, LDL, and triglyceride levels. Fenugreek extract, known for its ability to balance blood sugar and support insulin sensitivity, can also impact triglycerides positively. Additionally, a combination of Red Yeast Rice and Nattokinase is favored for its ability to break down fibrins in the blood, reduce clotting, and lower cholesterol, LDL, and triglycerides. Last but not least, evidence in support of the ability of omega-3 fatty acids to reduce triglyceride levels is consistent and robust.

Regular physical activity is also integral to triglyceride management. Stress management techniques, such as mindfulness, meditation, and relaxation practices, should be integrated into the treatment plan to address stress as a root cause of unhealthy lipid levels. A well-rounded fitness routine should be tailored to individual fitness levels and preferences, including aerobic exercises, strength training, and flexibility exercises.


How to Lower Your Patient's Triglycerides Using Root Cause Medicine

Recognizing the multifaceted role of triglycerides in the body underscores the importance of managing high triglyceride levels to prevent metabolic and cardiovascular diseases. For healthcare practitioners, this knowledge forms the basis for advising patients on lifestyle modifications, dietary interventions, and, when necessary, pharmacological treatments to manage triglyceride levels effectively.

Root cause medicine addresses elevated triglycerides using a holistic approach, focusing on symptom management and identifying and treating underlying causes such as poor diet, physical inactivity, and genetic factors. This comprehensive strategy enhances patient outcomes by lowering triglyceride levels, improving overall metabolic health, and reducing cardiovascular risk.

The information provided is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always consult with your doctor or other qualified healthcare provider before taking any dietary supplement or making any changes to your diet or exercise routine.
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