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Let’s Run the Numbers on Glucose and Cholesterol

On our journey toward optimal health and wellbeing, we’ve walked together, shared a light Mediterranean meal together, and even started getting sharp on health numbers such as blood pressure. Before we move on from the numbers game, let’s talk about two other essential numbers that can measure our health: glucose and cholesterol.

Glucose is a type of sugar that comes from the food we eat, and is a vital source of energy for the body. The amount of glucose (sugar) in your blood at a given point in time is called your blood glucose level. Research and evidence show that getting one’s blood glucose within normal levels can significantly decrease long-term risk of heart attack, stroke, blindness, amputation and dialysis. 

What’s considered “normal” levels? Acceptable blood glucose when fasting (having not eaten for 8 hours) is less than 100 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL). 

Fasting blood glucose up to 139 mg/dL were once normal levels. Today, a fasting glucose level over 126mg/dL is indicative of Type 2 diabetes. A glucose level over 99 mg/dL is indicative of a prediabetes diagnosis. Many clinicians now recommend early intervention consisting of diet, exercise and weight loss for individuals with elevated glucose levels. There is also new data to demonstrate the successful treatment of Type 2 diabetes (and prediabetes) with medication (often generic) and a diet low in carbohydrates.

Cholesterol is a type of fat (lipid) in your blood that aids in essential body functions such as food digestion. Cholesterol comes from your liver and the foods you consume. It’s important to monitor your cholesterol as high levels can increase your risk of heart disease. 

The American Heart Association recommends that adults have their cholesterol checked every 4 to 6 years, starting at age 20, which is when cholesterol levels can start to go up.

A lab test can provide your lipid panel, which consists of the following measurements:

  • Total cholesterol – all of the cholesterol in your blood. A level below 150 is considered low and above 200 high.
  • LDL (low-density lipoprotein) – often called “bad” cholesterol because it clogs arteries. The LDL goal is less than 100 (below 70 if you have known coronary artery disease), and high is above 160. Above 190 is very high and will likely demand immediate professional medical intervention.
  • HDL (high-density lipoprotein) – is the “good” cholesterol because it carries extra cholesterol back to the liver to be broken down and removed from the bloodstream. The HDL goal is above 60, and below 40 is low. You can elevate your HDL with daily exercise.
  • Triglycerides – fat that is stored in your body after digestion. The goal for triglycerides is less than 150, and above 200 is high.   

In conclusion, if you find your glucose and cholesterol numbers ranging in “not good” levels, your provider will likely discuss your family history, lifestyle, diet and exercise (it is a repeatable theme towards excellent health) and will want to conduct a follow-up check a few months later.

I hope you continue to find useful insights in my blog.  Next time, we’ll talk about a moment of quiet. I invite you to join me and let’s delve into a discussion about how silence and creating quieter spaces for ourselves can positively affect our health.