Lipids are groups of fats and fat-like substances, such as cholesterol and triglycerides, that are important for cell health and help provide energy. A lipid profile is a panel of blood tests that screens for abnormalities in lipids and is an overall assessment of your cardiac health. Monitoring and maintaining healthy levels of lipids is important. If certain levels are too high, plaque can develop on the walls of blood vessels. These plaques can narrow or even block the opening of the blood vessels and lead to hardening of the arteries and an increased risk of heart disease and stroke.
Causes of unhealthy lipid levels include diet, metabolic function, poor thyroid function, environmental toxins, other causes of inflammation, lack of proper exercise, and genetics. Risk factors for high lipid levels include high blood pressure, diabetes, being overweight, smoking, lack of exercise, and a diet comprised of unhealthy food. Having unhealthy lipid levels can be dangerous because typically, there aren’t any symptoms until the plaque has already formed and caused a heart attack or stroke.
Standard cholesterol testing is often misleading and only provides part of the picture. In fact, standard testing can indicate “normal” levels but still leave you at risk for a heart attack as conventional medicine typically only tests total and LDL cholesterol. In addition, in a conventional setting, it’s about symptom suppression. In traditional Western medicine, if your cholesterol is high, you take a drug to lower it.
When it comes to functional medicine, an effort is made to identify underlying factors that are contributing to abnormal lipid profiles. Frequently, these are treatable issues contributing to abnormal lipid levels. Dealing with these issues can often help restore lipid profiles back to the optimal range without the use of prescription medications such as “statin” drugs.
A lipid panel is conducted that will include total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol, HDL cholesterol, and triglycerides. In some patients, a more detailed lipid assessment may be beneficial. You will also be tested for inflammation, thyroid issues, or other hormone imbalances that can affect and/or cause unhealthy lipid levels.
Making lifestyle changes accordingly to either decrease or increase certain levels can help lower your cardiac risk and increase your health. Avoid high-sugar, processed, and refined foods as they tend to be high in saturated and trans fat, both of which can increase your bad cholesterol levels. Regular exercise can also help improve your lipid levels by lowering low-density cholesterol (the bad cholesterol) and raising high-density cholesterol (the good cholesterol).
As a functional medicine practitioner, Dr. Gruber at J. Gruber Health Solutions helps you attain optimal physical well-being by providing a patient-centered and holistic approach to medicine. Contact us today at 303-746-1964 to have a complete lipid profile done to help ensure your health and vitality.