By: Nishaat Patel, Registered Dietitian
Have you recently received your lab results and noticed that perhaps you have high cholesterol, blood sugars, triglycerides, or concerns about liver health? Working on these through good nutrition can help prevent and manage developing conditions like heart disease, diabetes, and liver disease.
Keep reading for our top tips to address the 3 most common lab results. However, it’s important that you speak with both your physician and a registered dietitian before addressing blood work with nutrition and lifestyle. Dietitians are educated on interpreting lab results, how to help correct abnormalities with nutrition and lifestyle, and can help to educate you on what your numbers mean.
This blog has recently been updated with a new section detailing: “8 More Reasons To Review Your Lab Results With A Dietitian”. Click here to jump ahead!
High blood sugar (HbA1c)
How should I eat to balance my blood sugars?
Work on balancing your meals by including complex carbohydrates (vegetables, fruits, whole grains) with sources of lower-fat protein (plain, low-fat dairy, fish, poultry, eggs, legumes, nuts, and seeds).
- At meals, make ½ of your plate vegetables, ¼ protein, and ¼ carbohydrates
- Choose lower glycemic fruit options like apples or berries and pair with some nuts or plain yogurt
- Read labels and buy ‘no sugar added products
High LDL (lousy) cholesterol, low HDL (healthy) cholesterol, or high triglycerides
How do I improve my cholesterol?
Cholesterol is a significant risk factor for heart disease and the best way to improve your cholesterol is by limiting processed foods and eating fibre.
- Swap butter/lard/ghee/coconut oil (saturated fats) for olive/canola/avocado oil (monounsaturated fats)
- Swap high-fat dairy products for 1% or skim milk, plain yogurt, or lower-fat cheese and choose foods with <15% DV for saturated + trans fats
- Trim the fat off meats/poultry and consider swapping out for plant-based proteins such as chickpeas, lentils, or tofu
- Aim for 21-38 g/day of fibre
- Supplement consideration: https://nutriprocan.metagenicscanada.com/1252/omegagenics-mega-10
Fatty liver, high AST or ALT
How should I eat to protect my liver health?
The liver is a very important organ, performing 500 vital functions!
- Focus on complex carbohydrates, such as whole grains and vegetables, over simple carbohydrates such as white bread, rice, or pasta
- Drink 2 L of water daily
- Eat raw vegetables high in sulfur (Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli, onion, garlic)
- Eat brightly-coloured fruits and vegetables, lean protein, and healthy fats (nuts, seeds, avocado, fatty fish)
- Avoid drinking alcohol, eating foods high in saturated fat (butter, cakes, fatty meats), and eating or drinking foods and beverages high in added sugars (candy, baked goods, juices, pop)
- Learn more by signing up for our NEW Fatty Liver Nutrition Course online!
8 More Reasons To Review Your Lab Results With A Dietitian
When was the last time you had your blood tests done? Here are some common markers a registered dietitian can help you with or use as a tool/measure to support you with your health goals.
- Potassium: It is important that this level stays within the reference range, as hyper or hypokalemia can have serious health consequences (e.g. cardiovascular events). A dietitian can help you understand if your results are within the healthy range and get these levels down by guiding and monitoring your intake of high-potassium foods/supplements.
- eGFR: Important as a measure of kidney function/diagnosis of kidney disease. Working with a dietitian to manage your nutrition intake, especially fruits, vegetables, protein, and salt, can help slow down the progression of kidney disease.
- Iron studies: RBC, MCV, Transferrin, TIBC, Ferritin and Hemoglobin: Can help diagnose and monitor anemia (iron deficiency) or, more uncommonly, iron overload/excess. Common symptoms of anemia can be fatigue, weakness, pale skin, dizziness, irregular heartbeat, etc. A dietitian can help you to improve these measurable levels through diet and supplementation.
- Sodium: Elevated sodium can indicate dehydration, while low levels can possibly indicate kidney, liver, or heart issues. If left untreated, this can cause confusion, seizures, and brain dysfunction. Work with a dietitian to help you improve your hydration levels (water intake) and decrease your salt intake to prevent dehydration and support your organ health.
- B12: B12 is important for your brain, nervous system and blood cells to function optimally. Low B12 levels can contribute to anemia, weakness, irritability, and brain dysfunction. A dietitian can help you work on getting these levels up through diet and supplementation.
- Thyroid markers: This can help give context to things like weight gain/loss, lethargy, etc. It is often treated with medication (e.g. thyroid hormones), but adopting a balanced diet (with the support of a dietitian) and lifestyle can help support your hormonal health.
- Lipids: Cholesterol levels (Total Cholesterol, LDL, HDL) and triglycerides can be significant predictors of developing/managing cardiovascular diseases. A dietitian can help you get these at optimal levels through your diet, supplementation and exercise recommendations.
- Vitamin D3: This is an essential and often missed marker, but definitely important to keep an eye on for things such as bone health, mental health, gut health, and immune health. A dietitian can help you get these levels up to optimal through food and supplementation.
Nutrition changes can take as little as a few months to see positive improvements in your health metrics. Today is a perfect day to start; take the first step and speak with one of our trusted online dietitians to create your plan!
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Author: NutriProCan Dietitians. Nishaat Patel, RD, Master of Dietetics, BSc. Nutrition, BSc. Food Science
Always consult with a qualified registered dietitian before changing your diet. This article is for informational purposes only and is not intended to serve as a substitute for a dietitian consultation. The Information is not exhaustive, does not provide any medical advice, and does not cover all diseases, ailments, physical conditions, or their treatment. Contact [email protected] with any questions.
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