What is Dyslipidemia?
Cholesterol is transported in the blood while attached to compounds called lipoproteins. The two main lipoproteins are:
- Low-Density Lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-C) also referred to as ‘bad cholesterol’ because when in excess, it is responsible for transporting cholesterol to our arteries where it builds up and increases our risk of heart diseases.
- High-Density Lipoprotein Cholesterol (HDL-C) also referred to as ‘good cholesterol’ because it is responsible for carrying cholesterol from the arteries back to the liver thus reducing our risk of heart diseases.
- Triglycerides are Fats that are transported by other lipoproteins and they also increase our risk of heart diseases and pancreatitis if in excess.
Any imbalance in the levels of these lipoproteins and/or fats(triglycerides) in blood is termed as a lipid disorder (dyslipidemia) and it increases our risk of developing heart diseases.
What is Obesity?
Obesity is a condition where there is an excess body fat in relation to lean mass. The condition reduces life expectancy and increases health complications. Besides, obese individuals must contend with serious social and psychological issues. Obesity is defined through body mass index (BMI) but can be further evaluated in relation to fat distribution using the waist circumference. Below are the different classes of obesity:
|BMI (kg/m2)||Classification||Risk of T2D/Dyslipidemia|
|30.0-34.9||Class I Obesity||Very High|
|35.0-39.9||Class II Obesity||Very High|
|≥40||Class III Obesity||Extremely High|
What is Diabetes?
Diabetes is a medical condition that is characterized by poor control of blood sugar either due to lack of insulin or poor response to the hormone. Apart from age, another major cause of atherosclerosis among diabetics is excess fat in the body and blood. Diabetic dyslipidemia is the reason why many Type 2 Diabetes patients suffer from cardiovascular diseases. The association between diabetes mellitus and cardiovascular diseases is responsible for the microvascular and macrovascular complications witnessed among this group. Diabetics usually display high triglyceride levels and low HDL-C levels. Lifestyle modifications are useful in the management of diabetic dyslipidemia.
Which Lifestyle Modifications are Suitable for Lipid Management among Diabetics?
- Weight Loss
- Reduced consumption of saturated and trans fat as well as cholesterol
- Increased consumption of omega 3 fatty acids and dietary fiber
- Increased physical activity
Is there a Link between Dyslipidemia, Obesity, and Diabetes?
Body fat distribution has an important influence on metabolic and cardiovascular risk factors. Depending on the pattern of fat distribution someone can either be peripherally or centrally obese. Numerous studies have shown that increased abdominal fat accumulation (Central obesity) is linked to insulin resistance; hypertension; increased triglycerides; and reduced HDL. The adipose tissue in such individuals releases an increased amount of non-esterified fatty acids, hormones, and inflammatory molecules thereby contributing to the development of insulin resistance and dyslipidemia.
Management of Obesity, Dyslipidemia and Diabetes
- Weight Loss
Managing the complications brought about by obesity will require someone to devise a weight loss strategy. Do you have weight loss goals? Is there any progress towards achieving the goals? Are your weight loss goals accompanied with exercise goals? Are you consistent with your gym work/ home workouts/walks/jogging? These are examples of fundamental questions that require answers. However, they are overshadowed by your willingness to adhere and see out your weight loss program. Therefore, do not just settle for a fad/diet you came across in a magazine but make sure your plan is healthy and sustainable.
Your weight loss program should be:
- Dietary interventions
Although food is good, the type of food that you consume really matters. It is important to settle on the right quality of food instead of avoiding some food groups entirely and end up missing some essential nutrients. Here are some useful tips for choosing foods of the right quality:
- Replace processed and refined foods that are high in trans-fat with high fiber and whole foods such as cereals that lower the level of blood cholesterol.
- Settle on foods that are rich in Monounsaturated Fatty Acids and Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids such as olive oil, nuts, avocado, and oily fish.
- Opt for plant proteins such as legumes and soy products instead of animal proteins to limit the consumption of saturated fats.
- Consume a lot of fruits and vegetables that will supply you with phytosterols that suppress the absorption of cholesterol. In addition, fruits and vegetables are rich in polyphenols which have anti-inflammatory properties.
- Avoids processed foods with added sugars especially fructose because they interfere with lipid levels.
- Physical Activity
The body burns fat when you are engaging in physical activity. Besides, physical activity improves your insulin sensitivity, which can be beneficial to diabetes patients. Engaging in exercises is bound to lighten your mood. Therefore, it is advisable to develop exercise programs that comprise of both aerobic and resistance training. The latter will improve the composition of your body while the former guarantees you cardio fitness. Therefore, supplement cardio workouts such as running and swimming with resistance exercises such as weightlifting. Always increase the duration and intensity of any workout program gradually.
Remember, to be emotionally well and avoid stressful situations that can raise your cortisol levels and result in weight gain.