Are you at Risk?

There are four key factors that can be used to identify risks for inflammatory based diseases:

  • Insulin

  • Weight and waist size

  • Blood pressure

  • Cholesterol


Insulin’s job is to keep blood sugar at an appropriate level.

Carbohydrates generate a rise in blood sugar. The pancreas secretes insulin into the bloodstream, which lowers blood sugar by storing it in cells.

A diet that includes a lot of high-glycemic carbohydrates (sugars and most grains) leads to sharp spikes in insulin. These spikes may, over time,  lead to insulin and leptin resistance, and/or diabetes.

In addition, when insulin and leptin levels rise due to excess refined carbohydrates, the body will store fat while holding on to the fat that is already there.

Thus, excess carbohydrates can make you overweight and will adversely affect your weight loss efforts, too.

Insulin can be measured by an inexpensive blood test.

Weight and Waist: Hip Ratio

One effective and simple method to figure out if you are at risk for inflammatory diseases is the waist:hip ratio.

 This is one of the best indicators of intra-abdominal fat mass, the dangerous type of fat around your internal organs strongly linked with type 2 diabetes, heart disease and nonalcoholic fatty liver disease.

Abdominal fat is considered an important risk factor for cardiovascular diseases such as coronary heart disease and stroke.

Your waist size is also an indicator of insulin sensitivity.  Studies show that measuring your waist size is one of the most simple and accurate ways to predict your risk for diabetes.

 Your Ideal Blood Pressure Should be 120/80 or Lower

Elevated insulin levels are a significant contributor to high blood pressure. Other contributors include being overweight, under stress,  and chronically anxious.

High blood pressure, in combination with arterial plaque and inflammation, puts one at risk for cardiac arrest or a stroke.

In addition, the combination of hypertension, obesity, high cholesterol and insulin resistance (AKA “Metabolic Syndrome” or “Syndrome X”), compounds the risk of a serious or life threatening event.

Your Ideal Cholesterol Ratio

In the conventional medicine world, much of the emphasis on heart health is placed on total cholesterol. However, total cholesterol is a poor indicator of heart attack risk. More significant predictors of cardiovascular risk are the ratio of total cholesterol to HDL, along with the ratio of triglycerides to HDL.

It’s time to stop demonizing cholesterol. Cholesterol is not so simple, and it’s not simply a matter of “good” and “bad” (as the statin drug makers would lead us to believe). Our bodies require cholesterol for cell membranes, hormones, vitamin D and bile acids (which help you to digest fat). It is also vital to our nervous systems.

The following two ratios are significant indicators for heart disease risk:

  1. Total Cholesterol/HDL Ratio: Some labs obtain this ratio by dividing total cholesterol by HDL . Ideally the number should be less than 4.

  2. Triglyceride/HDL Ratio: Should be below 2. A ratio of 4 is considered high. The higher this number is, the worse your insulin control may be.

If you have one or more risk factors, these can be addressed through a customized diet, exercise and lifestyle program based on your specific risk factors and health.

As a side note, if you have an abnormal lipid blood test, there is a more accurate test called an LPP, which can better identify your risk factors by evaluating the types of lipid molecules and their propensity to cause artery damage. This test is available through our office.


About the Author

Dr. Geoff LecovinNaturopathic Physician/Chiropractor/Acupuncturist/Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist/Corrective Exercise Specialist/Performance Enhancement Specialist/Certified Sports Nutritionist/View all posts by Dr. Geoff Lecovin