TG – Triglycerides

Ques: DO you have high cholesterol & high TG’s? But WHY?

Well, high TG’s are as bad as high cholesterol folks.

Background to this post: Incidentally two back to back blood reports of my clients showed high triglycerides whereas, both were worried about high cholesterol and not high TG’s. And this is not just them but the general sense that prevail in society is concerning cholesterol in lipid panel and not TG’s. So I thought this subject needs a of clarity and here it goes:

Step 1: Fat gets digested in small intestine where big fat molecules are converted into small fat globules (via bile salts)
Step 2: Makes it into the blood via lymphatic vessels in the form of ‘chylomicrons’.

So just like glucose/sugar in our blood, we also have fats in the form of chylomicrons and it is suppose to get delivered somewhere in our body. Let us understand it further:

Now, a chylomicron have – TG’s, Cholesterol, Cholesterol Ester (storage form of CH) along with lipoprotein Apo B48.

STAGE 2 – What’s the fate of a ‘Chylomicron’ in blood?

1 – There is an enzyme that gets activated called – Lipoprotein Lipase, responsible to break the fat globule to tear open the tryglycerides.
2 – TG’s get broken into – Free Fatty Acids (FFA) & glycerol
3 – This leaves chylomicron with cholesterol, and a little bit of TG

STAGE 3 – What’s the fate of fat globule after this?

1) The separated FFA’s can make its way into skeleton muscles to be used a energy. Glycerol makes it to the liver.
OR FFA’s can make its way into what we call ‘adipocytes’ – its storage store

2) The left over chylomicron with Ch makes it into liver and gets repackaged as VLDL. VLDL goes the same fate as Chylomicron and lastly, gets repackaged as LDL.

QUES: Now what does it mean to have high TG’s in blood?

Well, it simply means that

a) Either the lipase could not able to break down the TG’s
b) Or we are overfeeding fat and we supply more TG’s or fat globules into blood then our body can clear out the old ones.

In either scenario, one can understand, that high TG’s in the blood can’t be good just like high sugar in blood. Because blood plasma is not TG’s resting place. They are meant to be broken for energy or future energy (storage).

Now, people can argue, what if I don’t feed fat to myself and instead go on ‘zero’ fat diet. Then what?

Fact: All the carbs that we eat gets converted into glucose. We take little use of what we eat instantly in muscles, brain, etc. and rest of it gets stored as fat. And how would it do it? By converting glucose into TG’s and transporting TG’s to adipocytes via blood. Same way as above 🙂

Ques: But then how can we reduce TG’s or for that matter ‘Cholesterol’ in blood because they are packed together. remember?

a) By reducing the overall amount of food that we eat
b) By staying hungry – intermittent fasting is a good way
c) Cutting out on processed food for a little while
d) By having less calorie dense food – raw Vs cooked (deep fried)

All the above will help improve mitochondria health however, exercise is the best way to do it. Exercise will create demand for energy in the body pushing mitochondria to generate energy from fat. More demand would mean more consumption and more consumption means good absorption.

Analogy – pressing the race paddle of your car while on neutral will ensure instant fuel supply to the engine.

Just the same way….when we exercise or move, we are pressing the paddle and push mitochondria to create energy.

Note: Mitochondria is present in our cells and is responsible for converting fat into energy. Most day and night (barring non-exhaustive exercising times), we oxidise fat for energy and therefore, mitochondrial health is very important for our health and well being. It’s bad health is also regarded as one of the key contributor to chronic diseases like diabetes, cancer, etc.

Lastly, it’s not a medical advise. It’s to build an understanding around the subject with simplified scientific explanation.