Triglycerides and Diabetes Risk Connection

Triglycerides and Diabetes

Triglycerides and diabetes are very intimately related. In fact, it is possible to say that one might not exist without the other in some cases. When we eat sugary foods, the body very quickly gobbles up the sugar to use for rapid energy. But, there is often extra leftover. Much of the time this gets stored in the form of fat. But, when storage capacity is as its limit, it is converted into triglycerides.

This is why one of the most important parts of a triglyceride lowering diet is the reduction of sugars. Specifically, the diet means reducing simple sugars, such as those found in candies, cakes and donuts. Additionally, high starchy foods like white rice and white flour should be avoided as part of triglyceride lowering diet. This is because of the way the body can convert these into the blood fats, which can lead to higher than normal triglycerides levels.

It may come as no surprise then that this relationship between triglycerides and diabetes means that many people trying to reduce their blood fat levels share in a diet that helps manage the blood sugar of diabetics, called the low glycemic diet (or, glycemic index diet), as explained in our article, Triglycerides and Sugar – Why Sugary Foods Should Be Avoided? The diet revolves around reducing or eliminating foods that have a high glycemic index (which is related to sugar content) in order to healthfully manage blood sugar levels. The same diet can be beneficial to those with high triglycerides to a certain extent as sugar avoidance is very important to reducing the amounts of the fats in the blood.

People most often become aware of their triglycerides and diabetes relationship following the results of a lipid panel. This test measures the amount of the fats in the blood as well as other lipids like good and bad cholesterol. Together, the results of a lipid panel provide a bigger picture of overall heart health and the risk for heart related diseases. Results falling below 150 mg / dL are considered normal. 151 mg / dL to 199 mg / dL are considered to be elevated in terms of triglycerides and signal an increased risk of heart disease. The range between 200 mg / dL and 499 mg / dL is where the connection between diabetes risk and high triglycerides becomes more prevalent. Once blood fats reach 250 mg / dL, the risk for type 2 diabetes is increased. And, elevated triglycerides often go hand in hand with lower than desirable levels of LDL cholesterol or “good” cholesterol. This measurement is also taken on a lipid panel. The risk of diabetes is increased when the amount of good cholesterol in the blood is below 35 mg / dL.

The relationship between triglycerides and diabetes is explained in a way that levels of the fats in the blood can be a sign that the body’s mechanism of converting food into energy is malfunctioning. Sometimes, the elevation of blood triglycerides can be a result of insulin resistance. Insulin is what the body uses in order to use triglycerides. A resistance to insulin can cause a situation in which both triglycerides and glucose build up in the blood stream. When insulin resistance is present, type 2 diabetes can often follow.

While there is an inherent connection between triglycerides and sugar and an increased risk of diabetes as a result, there are other commonalities between the two conditions that make them even more connected. Both conditions share common risk factors for development such as inactivity and being overweight. Just as obesity is a risk factor for elevated triglycerides, it is also a factor in the development of type 2 diabetes. And, activity level is also a risk factor for developing both conditions. A sedentary lifestyle can cause an increased likelihood of high triglycerides and diabetes. But, with sugar intake being likely the biggest cause of high triglycerides, its bitter association with the sweet stuff is where the connection with diabetes is often made. And, the only positive factor to consider between triglycerides and diabetes is that lowering sugar intake can reduce both the risk of diabetes and elevated triglyceride levels which can lead to heart disease and other serious health complications.