You went to the doctor and got your biometrics tested. Seven days later you get your results, but have no clue what they mean. You are not alone. Many Americans are uneducated when it comes to their biometric numbers. But don't ignore them! Instead, here are biometrics simplified.

What are Biometrics?

Biometrics measure your blood glucose, blood pressure, HDL, LDL, triglycerides, total cholesterol (HDL+LDL+20% of triglycerides), and weight/BMI.These are the numbers your insurance uses to see what type of coverage you need.They also influence your premium costsor whether you receive coverage.

What you should aim for

  • Blood glucose: 100 or below
  • Blood pressure: 120/80(it can be within a 10 point range and still be acceptable)
  • Total cholesterol: 200 or below
    • HDL: 40-50 at least (dependent on gender)
    • LDL 100 or below
    • Triglycerides 150 or below
  • Weight/BMI: 24/25 is best (dependent on gender)

It is also important to try and keep up with changing guidelines. For instance, new guidelines about blood pressure say that under 50swith140/90 is acceptable, with 150/90 acceptable for those over 50. Most doctors still find these numbers concerning, but becausethese higher numbers can be a side effect of medication, they may be considered within range.

What happens if your numbers increase?

This could be due to age. The older you get, the more likely it is your numbers will increase. It could also be lifestyle. For example people under 50 can have a daily sodium intake of 2300 mg, but if you are over 50 they recommend at most 1500 mg.Howevereven if you aren't going over the maximum daily intake, sodium can increase your blood pressure.Inthose casesit is recommend to lower your sodium intake to 1500mg and 1200mg, respectively.

Another age-related number is your LDL. Women over 50 will most likely seethis increase. This is due to hormonal changes during menopause which decreases estrogen levels in women. Estrogen is a natural protectant against high LDL. The decrease in estrogen levels means women who do have high LDL’s are more likely to have problems with heart health. In fact, the number one killer of women is heart disease.

Theother biometrics are not age-related, and should remain within the recommended ranges for a clean bill of health.

But don’t worry, that doesn’t mean you’ll be put on medication right away if one is outside the healthy-zone. Doctors will usually wait to see if the number decreases after recommending lifestyle changes (diet and exercise). If it doesn't, then medication is prescribed. Yet, what many don't realize is that while the medication will manage your biometric number, it doesn't prevent or reverse the disease. Thismeans it will become chronic unless nutritional and fitness changes are made.

Only a very small percentage of people are predisposed to chronic diseases—most develop them by refusing to make the recommended changes in their nutrition and level of fitness—but even those predisposed can lower their medication dosage, therefore prolonging their life, if they make lifestyle changes.

Why Biometrics are tricky

Correcting one number can sometimes cause another that was previously in the healthy-zone to increase. Why is this? We tend to overcorrect, which leads to imbalanced nutrition and lifestyle. For example, someone who has a high LDL (caused by too many saturated fats) may try to lower this number by cutting out red meats, eggs, etc., but then theywill rely on more processed foods like breads.

Processed foods are high in sugars, and too many of these can increase your triglycerides (another fat source in your body). Or, the flip will happen, where someone has high triglycerides and will go on a Paleo dietto counter it.However,they then consume more animal by-products like meats and yogurt whichare higher in saturated fats.

What should you do then? Focus on nutrient-rich foods. High-nutrient food keeps you full, helps you lose weight, and keeps those numbers closer to where they need to be.

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