It’s pretty certain that we all know we need to have an annual physical. For many of us, our healthcare providers offer them included in our coverage. After a certain age, one may also be required to obtain or continue with life insurance coverage. When our physician is reviewing our results, there are three areas that frequently may be outside the desirable range. Those three are our A1C (our blood glucose over a period of time, considered a risk element for Type II diabetes), blood pressure and cholesterol. All three are indicators of vital conditions, and making a positive impact on any that are not in line can have a major effect on our health.

For a full length article on hypertension (high blood pressure) click here.

For an article on A1C, click here.

Our cholesterol consists of four numerical ratings, triglycerides, LDL (low density lipoproteins), HDL (high density lipoproteins) and our composite (total) number, which is a total of our HDL, LDL and 20% of our triglycerides . High cholesterol levels can lead to fatty deposits in our blood vessels. Over time, this can lead to restricted blood flow, and a higher risk for blood clots. Triglycerides are the chemical form in which fats exist. High triglyceride levels can be a result of obesity, smoking, inactivity, high levels of alcohol consumption, and genetics and/or certain diseases can play a part.

LDL, or low density lipoproteins, is the bad cholesterol, so low levels are desirable. High saturated and trans fat intakes are a primary contributor to high levels.

HDL, or high density lipoproteins, is the “good” cholesterol. Women tend to have higher levels than men, and most of the same risk factors for high LDL impact HDL.

So, if your cholesterol is above the desirable level, what do you do? First, get moving. Activity, most desirably exercise at a higher intensity, is one of the major impacts on high cholesterol.

Next, make sure you are eating the right foods, and avoiding the bad ones. Low amounts of saturated and trans fats, high nutrient foods like fruits and vegetables, limited fried foods and sodium intake, and be sure you get plenty of fiber.

Stop smoking, if you do.

Keep alcohol intake to a moderate level. Click here for more information on alcohol consumption and how it can impact your health.

Make sure your weight is in line with BMI guidelines, but focus more on composition (men around 18-20% body fat, women 20-23%) than the actual BMI.

Many people are able to make major impacts on their cholesterol from lifestyle changes and avoid the need for medications. Cholesterol meds may make it difficult for you to lose weight, so if you can safely avoid them, it can be a huge health benefit. Be sure to include your physician in any medication decisions, and make sure any lifestyle changes you consider don’t conflict with any current treatments or medications you are using.