To live a healthy life, you have to play the numbers game.
With early detection and by knowing three numbers related to your blood pressure, cholesterol and Hemoglobin A1C can prevent heart disease, stroke, heart attack and diabetes.
It is important to keep track of your numbers and use the initial results as a baseline. These numbers are great for future results, and you are able to make changes to improve your health.
Don’t be afraid of your numbers; your knowledge gives you the power to make a change that will save your life.
Your blood pressure can be checked and monitored by your doctor, or there may be free services available. Check local listings for health fair screenings at schools, colleges and houses of worship, which usually screen blood pressure, blood sugar via a finger stick, and cholesterol via finger stick only.
Knowing your numbers
Cholesterol is comprised of four components: total cholesterol made up of LDL, HDL and triglycerides. Cholesterol is a fatty substance needed in the body for some basic functions, however, too much can be very dangerous since it can clog the arteries, leading to stroke and heart attack. Total cholesterol should be less than 200 mg/dl.
LDL (or low-density lipoprotein) — aka “bad cholesterol” (when there is too much) — results in atherosclerosis, which occurs when excess LDL and other substances create plaque in the arteries, putting you at risk for coronary artery disease. LDL is best if less than 100 mg/dl.
HDL (high-density lipoprotein) — aka “good cholesterol” — does help to return some of the bad cholesterol LDL to the liver, which assists in elimination from the body. So a higher HDL is better and ranges between 40-59 mg/dl (normal) and greater than 60 mg/dl (very good).
Triglycerides are found in the blood and usually from the food we eat, such as sugar, butter and oils. Too much can be dangerous since high levels are associated with a risk of heart attack and stroke. Normal levels are under 150 mg/dl.
Hemoglobin A1C is a number that flags how your body processes sugar over a three-month period. This number is more accurate than a daily finger stick utilizing a blood glucose monitor, though it’s a home diagnostic test that gives immediate results. Hemoglobin A1C test will determine a more accurate depiction of how your body handles carbohydrates/sugar. A normal range is below 5.7 percent.
Improving your numbers
Diet and exercise are key to living a healthier life. Just start with small simple changes. Reduce fried foods, eat less salt or added salt, and eat minimally processed food (That’s anything in a box.)
Eat more green leafy vegetables, fiber-rich foods, such as lentils, oatmeal and foods made with brown flour (versus white flour). Drink more water, eat lower sugar fruits (strawberries, blueberries, blackberries and grapefruit) and lean protein, such as fish, skinless chicken, and lean red meat.
When you eat healthier food and begin exercising, your future health and body will be grateful and most importantly you will be proud of your accomplishment.
—Dr. Tre, The Wellness Foodie Pharmacist and CEO of DR Flava Spices