Diabetes and Cholesterol Levels – Facts Explained
People with type 2 diabetes have to suffer the dual complications of high cholesterol. What is more, they also increase the chances of developing cardiovascular complications. High blood sugar or hyperglycemia always results in bad cholesterol or LDL (low-density protein) and high levels of triglycerides, which increase the chances of heart disease. However, all these risks can be considerably reduced if people manage their diabetes efficiently.
According to 2010 statistics, in the United States alone, around 10.9 million people, at or above 65 years old, had diabetes. This number was around 27% of the overall population in that age group. The same year, there were 1.9 newly diagnosed people with diabetes above the age of 20. Even more of a concern is the fact that around 215,000 people less than 20 years old had developed type 1 or type 2 diabetes.
Cholesterol is a type of fat that is produced by the intestines or the liver. It looks soft and waxy and is formed in the cell membranes of all the tissues in the body. The body needs an adequate amount of cholesterol for the formation of cell membrane and certain hormones. More than the required amounts of cholesterol can be fatal. Other than being produced naturally in the body, cholesterol is formed by fat intake from animal products like eggs, poultry, fish, meat, cheese, whole milk, and butter. Excess cholesterol leads to inflammation, which leads to severe damage of the arteries due to excessive formation of plaque. This results in lowered amount of good cholesterol or high-density lipoprotein.
For people with both type 1 and type 2 diabetes, the trick to control their sugar levels is controlling the levels of cholesterol. Diabetes that is poorly managed by not following a medication regimen or the required diet, results in high levels of cholesterol. Unfortunately, for people with type 2 diabetes, the level of LDL and HDL always tends to be at undesirable limits even if the sugar level is under control. This is mainly because people with type 2 diabetes develop clogged arteries as a result of excessive fat deposit.
According to the American Diabetes Association (ADA), it would be wise for people with diabetes to monitor their cholesterol levels once a year even if they are under control. If the level is high in spite of medications, patients are recommended to have frequent checkups. The ADA recommends that the level of LDL should be below 70 mg/dL for patients with both diabetes and cardiovascular issues. High doses of statin medications like niacin might be required to reach the adequate LDL level and significantly reduces the chances of people suffering a heart attack. Similarly, HDL should be above 40 mg/dL and triglyceride levels below 150 mg/dL. For women, HDL levels of above 50 mg/dL are recommended. However, for people with diabetes, but no cardiovascular problems, LDL levels of below 100 mg/dL and HDL levels of above 50 mg/dL are recommended.
People with diabetes need a total revamp of their lifestyle and diet. Daily exercise like an hour spent at the gymnasium or an hour of walk per day is a must. People with type 2 diabetes, who are also required to focus on reducing their cholesterol levels, should go for a high-fiber, high-protein, and low-fat diet. Some of the foods recommended for people with type 2 diabetes are oat bran, broccoli, tofu, and soy-based products. It is very important to quit smoking and alcohol to manage all types of diabetes in an effective manner. Experts also advise periodical monitoring of blood pressure levels to manage diabetes effectively.