Triglycerides are a type of lipids or fats that occur when the calories, which we consume with food remain unused. When they are not needed by the organism, triglycerides are accumulated and stored in the fat cells and when our body needs them (while eating, performing physical activity in order to protect us from cold and other), they are released in order to meet its needs.
When our body needs energy, the insulin allows access to triglycerides that are divided into glycerol and fat cells through a process called lipase. In turn, glycerol converts to glucose and provides energy to the body.
Fat cells are used for production of cellular energy through a process called beta – oxidation or they can perform other functions such as formation of cellular membrane, hormone regulation, transport of fat-soluble vitamins and formation of myelin in the brain and skin, and other.
Simply put, when triglycerides are within normal levels, they are very important (and useful) for our health.
Values of the triglycerides:
- normal – lower than 150 ml/dl;
- risky – 150-199 ml/dl;
- high – 200 – 499 ml/dl;
- very high – 500 ml/dl or more
The problems come when their values are high and this happens when their production increases. Our organism can’t burn all triglycerides and they accumulate in our body most often in the form of fats, which in turn causes a condition called hypertriglyceridemia.
According of the data of the World Health Organization, more than 30% of the population of the USA and Europe have increased levels of triglycerides, and these high levels are the main risk factor for the occurence of cardiovascular diseases, which is the N1 cause among the causers of death globally.
Studies carried out by the World Health Organization in 2007 have shown that there is a direct link between the high levels of triglycerides and coronary disease of the heart (occlusion of the arteries).
Factors that affect the values of triglycerides can be genetic (less common) or weight disturbances.
When a person is overweight, the triglycerides accumulated in the organism can’t be completely consumed and they accumulate in the form of fat in different parts of the body. Their increased level, in turn, reduces the level of good cholesterol and increases the bad, as all this leads to occurance of diseases such as stroke, type 2 diabetes, pancreatitis, atherosclerosis and other.
How to reduce our triglycerides with the help of Ayurveda?
Modern medicine offers a variety of medications to lower the triglyceride levels and it recommends a diet (most commonly Mediterranean) to be followed in order the weight to be reduced, because as it is already clear, overweight and unbalanced nutrition are one of the main reasons for high levels of triglycerides.
Methods for lowering of the triglycerides with the help of Ayurveda are a little bit different than these of conventional medicine, so now we will explain, staring with the following…
According to modern medicine, following a diet is the main method to reduce the weight and to lower bad cholesterol and the levels of triglycerides accordingly, but Ayurveda works on building habits to maintain a balanced lifestyle.
None of the Ayurvedic texts mentions „cholesterol”, but refers to „lipid tissue” (meta datum) and it explains how to maintain a healthy amount and quality of the fat tissue in the body. When the lipid tissue is balanced and healthy, then the levels of triglycerides and cholesterol are normal.
When the digestive fire (Agni) is weak, the organism accumulates ama (toxins) in the fat tissue. Usually ama is a metabolic waste, which is a product of improper digestion and it can cause clogging and blockage of the channels of the body (most often this is an artery occlusion).
Besides ama, there are other, even more dangerous toxins called amavisha, as they form when ama has been present in the organism for a long time. Then this excessive amount of ama begins to spread throughout the entire body, mixing with the tissues of the body (dhatus) and mala (waste products). Once amavisha is mixed with the fat tissue, it begins to cause damage to the channels, which in turn leads to diseases, some of which we mentioned above.
In order to lower the triglycerides naturally, Ayurveda doesn’t only focus on foods that lower the cholesterol (and triglycerides), but rather works on the nutritional recommendations that balance the overall metabolism of fats in the body.
That is why Ayurveda recommends balancing of Kapha dosha, because the imbalanced Kapha is one of the main reasons for the accumulations of excessive amount of triglycerides in the organism.
Lowering the triglycerides with the help of Ayureda – practical tips
To increase the digestive fire (agni) and to improve the metabolism of fats, Ayurveda recommends following a diet that reduces the Kapha’s excess in the body.
It is recommended to consume foods such as lentils, mung bean, mung dahl, horseradish, which are rich sources of fiber and proteins and they cleanse the gastrointestinal tract from toxins.
For the balancing of Kapha, Ayurveda recommends also the consumption of cruciferous vegetables such as cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli and fruits such as apples and pears.
Also very good are the foods with bitter taste, as they include all leafy vegetables, for example, spinach and cabbage. Seasoned with spices, these vegetables cleanse the intestines and help to lower triglycerides and prevent the accumulation of bad cholesterol in the organism.
The soothing Kapha diet includes also many whole grain foods such as:
- barley that improves fat metabolism;
- oats that provides the fiber necessary for the organism;
- quinoa that provides zinc, which also imrpves metabolism of fats.
A big role in lowering the triglycerides with the help of Ayurveda have the garlic, apple vinegar, turmeric, essential oils such as lavender oil and basil extract.
Once the food is prepared it should be consumed warm, because this helps to boost the digestive fire agni and to balance Kapha dosha.
In the process of food preparation, it is good to use olive oil or ghee butter, although in both cases don’t overdo it.
Foods that increase the levels of triglycerides and should be avoided
Glycemic foods, trans fats, saturated fat foods should be avoided when we want to reduce our weight and our triglycerides accordingly. Why these foods exactly and what are they? Ayurveda answers the question as follows:
Glycemic foods are transformed directly into triglycerides and accumulate as fats or, otherwise said, they make us fat and increase our bad cholesterol.
Such foods are:
- sweet drinks;
- sugar and all its varieties;
- sweet foods (sweet foods are not only desserts, but also a large part of fruits containing high levels of fructose);
- all foods made from white flour – bread, pasta, pizza, snacks and more. The consumption of whole grain flour products is allowed in small quantities;
- refined products such as white rice;
- dried fruits, especially dried bananas, plums, apricots;
- any type of alcohol (beer, wine, hard alcohol)
Saturated fats also should be avoided because their consumption can lead to imbalanced production of triglycerides. Such fats are contained in the lard, hard cheeses, cream, ice cream, beef, pork, bird meat with skin, palm oil and coconut oil.
Trans fats are a modern invention formed by the addition of hydrogen to liquid fats. These fats can’t be absorbed by the organism and when they enter our bodies they immediately form ama.
Ayurveda considers trans fats to be very harmful and dangerous, because their consumption not only increases the levels of triglycerides and bad cholesterol, but is also one of the causes for occurrence of cardiovascular diseases, type 2 diabetes, stroke and other.
Foods that contain trans fats are margarine, packaged products, fried and packaged sweet foods such as donuts, pies, biscuits, waffles, cakes.
Trans fats are also present in fried foods and in particular in the fried potatoes that are offered in the restaurants, because palm oil is often used for their preparation.
In addition to the change in nutrition and the limitation of bad foods consumption, for reduction of triglycerides with the help of Ayurveda, is also recommended a change is the lifestyle.
This includes establishing a routine in life. Eating always at the same time, going to bed and waking up at the same time, exercise and meditation.
Daytime sleep is not recommended, so it should be avoided. It is best to wake up early in the morning (before sunrise) and to go to bed at 22.00 p.m.
As we have already mentioned, meals should be consumed always at the same time, as the most abundant meat have to be at lunch, and the dinner should be light and if possible before sunset.
Exercises such as yoga asanas and suri namaskar (sun salutations) are part of the Ayurvedic therapy and if performed twice a day they help to normalize the metabolism of fats and to reduce triglycerides and cholesterol.
Pranayama or yoga breathing techniques are also recommended, because the proper breathing helps for the improvement of digestion and for cleansing of channels from the accumulated ama.
To balance cholesterol, it is also important to do other physical exercises such as daily walks, swimming, aerobics or other type of sports, which, however, should be practiced regularly.
Ayurveda also recommends some herbal products that have very good effect on the levels of triglycerides.
And most importantly, the proper nutrition, maintenance of normal weight, physical exercises and consumption of herbal products have to be combined with regular appointments for check-ups at the office of the Ayurveda doctor.
We say this because the increase of triglycerides happens without any visible symptoms, so only with medical tests can be found whether there are any problems or not.