What are Triglycerides?
Triglycerides are referred to as good cholesterol. However, in reality, it is scientifically more complicated than that. Triglycerides are composed of a glycerol and three fatty acids, thus calling it tri for three. The reason triglycerides are commonly called good cholesterol is because it provides energy for the various metabolic processes and functions that are needed in your body to maintain homeostasis. Homeostasis is a permanent status in your body to perform its essential function, including aging.
An excess amount of triglycerides from our food intake is stored as adipose tissues. While the primary function of adipose tissue is to store those excess triglycerides up until they are needed, it also provides energy for the cells to perform essential tasks like the synthesis of proteins and degradation of carbohydrates.
In short, when you eat, calories that are not needed immediately are converted into triglycerides, i.e. fatty molecules that are formed by the liver as it digests the fats and carbohydrates that are ingested. These fatty molecules are stored in fat cells and circulate in the bloodstream. As your body needs energy, hormones release the triglycerides to provide the energy needed between meals.
Triglycerides, Malfunctions and Age
When your body can’t synthesize all the triglycerides it has, it will be stored as fat and can cause hypertriglyceridemia, a condition in which in your body has excess high-density lipoprotein and low-density lipoproteins.
Triglycerides are synthesized in the liver mainly from carbohydrates. The liver has multiple functions in lipid metabolism, and these are degradation of fatty acids into smaller compounds that can be used for normal function, synthesis of triglycerides, as mentioned above, and synthesis of other lipids from fatty acids. As we age, our body tends to decline its storage of triglycerides, which then causes an imbalance.
While the primary function of adipose tissue is to store the excess triglycerides up until they are needed to provide energy for the cells to perform essential tasks, changes in the liberation of free fatty acids from adipocytes may contribute to the age-related increase in body fat.
Statistically, there is probable evidence showing that there is a higher incidence of triglyceride imbalance in women than in men. As Dr. Stanley G. Rockton, Chief of Consultative Cardiology and Professor of Medicine at Stanford University says, both genders are going to experience some hormonal shifts in the same age range division.
The Causes of Triglyceride Changes
Multiple reasons contribute to the high degree of changes in one’s triglyceride levels. One big significant factor that contributes to one’s high level of triglycerides would be the way foods get processed today. Before, when the law didn’t forbid companies yet to reform their means of preparing the food that used trans fats to preserve them, many people were still affected by how trans-fatty acids increase our triglyceride levels. New food processes today are keeping our bloodstreams a bit more clear of the harmful effects of trans-fatty acids.
Another possible explanation for the decrease in our triglyceride levels is because of the multiple kinds of cholesterol-lowering supplements that people take nowadays. These medications affect how we process the triglycerides in our system, thereby lowering the cholesterol levels and affecting triglyceride metabolism in our body.
You can’t always just blame the medication, though. The decrease in changes in our normal triglycerides may also be because of other factors in the changes in our lifestyle affected by environment, nature and even technology. However, it’s important to note that even with these changes, it is usually the overweight adults and obese individuals who are most affected by triglycerides-altering medications.
While triglycerides circulate in the bloodstream, it is there that they may contribute to the buildup of cholesterol plaques and the hardening of the arteries, thus leading to an increased risk of heart disease.
In a report from the CDC it was revealed that in 2012, about 11 percent more men than women had elevated triglyceride levels between the ages of 20 and 60. Once men and women were over the age of 60, the gender differences disappeared for the most part. However, for men, triglyceride levels were at their highest in the 40 to 59 age group, while women’s highest rates appeared in the over-60 age group.
While hormonal changes in men and women are natural with age, the post-hormonal change in men appears to create a different environment than the post-hormonal change in women. Thus, to maintain balanced triglyceride levels throughout the aging process, health-oriented lifestyle shifts are encouraged to decrease increased health risks associated with being overweight and having high cholesterol and to help avoid cholesterol-changing medications.