Thursday, January 21, 2010

Bring Your Fat to a Checkup

Your weight, BMI, and body-fat percentage provide some important clues about your overall health, but they’re far from definitive. For more comprehensive information, it’s time to doctor up.

Yes, you may hate waiting in the doctor’s office. And you probably aren’t crazy about stripping off your clothes and donning a paper gown that’s roughly the width of two paper towels. But your family doctor is an important team player in every aspect of your body’s health. If your weight has been creeping up and you’re starting to get nervous about the possible ill effects, your doctor can run some of the following tests:

• Cholesterol levels. Doctors measure two types of cholesterol. At high levels, LDL cholesterol can clog your arteries when it forms into a sticky plaque. HDL cholesterol is the good stuff—it helps mop up excess LDL cholesterol, keeping your arteries clean. To stay healthy, you need a balance between these two players. A blood test can tell you how your body is doing.

• Triglyceride level. Triglycerides are a form of fat that travels through your bloodstream. Your body uses triglycerides to move fat from one spot to another, so it can fuel the work going on in your body. But if there’s too much fat circulating in your blood, you’re at greater risk for heart disease. Once again, you can check your triglycerides with a blood test.

• High blood glucose. Normally, the human body is extremely effective at pulling excess sugar out of your blood using insulin. But if this sugar-storage system is starting to malfunction—perhaps after a lifetime on the Krispy Kreme diet—your blood will stay sugared-up. This is the beginning of diabetes. Left unchecked, the runaway sugar can damage your heart, eyes, and kidneys.

• Blood pressure. Blood pressure measures the force of your blood as it pushes through your arteries (page 161). Although high blood pressure causes no immediate damage (and has virtually no obvious symptoms), over time it strains your heart and thickens your arteries. Left untreated, it can lead to organ damage, heart attack, or stroke.

Even if you have an ideal BMI and aren’t worrying about your weight, there are reasons you might still want to take these tests. For example, you might have a family history of early heart disease, smoke two fistfuls of cigarettes between breakfast and lunch, or have unexplained symptoms. If in doubt, chat it up at your next physical.

Source of Information : Oreilly - Your Body Missing Manual

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