Numbers to Strive Towards
How high is your cholesterol? Blood pressure? A few key numbers can help you live a longer, healthier life.
18.5 – 24.9
Body Mass Index | Healthy number: between 18.5 and 24.9. You calculate your BMI by comparing your weight to your height. A BMI that is too low, under 18.5 unless you are a body builder, can lead to some health issues like anemia, bone loss, irregular periods and infertility in women. However in this day and age most people suffer from the opposite problem of having a BMI that is too high. For a woman if your BMI is between 25 and 29.9, she is considered overweight. A BMI of 30 or higher is defined as obese and increases your risk of heart disease, diabetes and many more diseases. — and that’s a problem we should all worry about.
Blood Sugar | Healthy number: 99 or lower. When you consume sugar, the time it takes for your body to process it indicates whether you are at risk of getting or have diabetes. A 126 means you have diabetes or your body doesn’t produce enough insulin to combat or break down the sugar in your system. With higher numbers you are at risk of kidney disease, vision loss, and heart disease.
Height at age 21
When you have your annual check up, have your height checked. If you lose more than 1.5 inches after your 21st birthday, you are at risk of osteoporosis or bone loss. If you have become shorter, you should get a bone density test and be on alert that your risk is greater and your bones are more fragile. To help, eat calcium-enriched foods, exercise regularly, including weight bearing and strength training, and avoid alcohol and smoking.
Ideal Blood Pressure | Healthy number: 120/80 or lower. The lower, the better. This means the force of the blood against the walls of your arteries isn’t damaging the arteries themselves. Hypertension—the silent killer— leads to stroke, heart disease, damage to kidneys, and loss of vision and memory when your blood pressure is 140/90 or higher. So be mindful of your number. Even readings between 120-139 over 80-89 can mean pre-hypertension, which carries its own set of health risks.
Cholesterol | Healthy number: 200 or lower. As this number increases, so does your risk of developing heart disease. To protect yourself, make your target number for overall cholesterol less than 200. There are two kinds of Cholesterol: LDL and HDL. The LDL, or bad cholesterol, should be lower than 100, which will help reduce your risk of stroke and heart disease. If you already have diabetes or are diagnosed with heart disease, your magic number should be 70 or lower. On the other side of the coin, the HDL, or good cholesterol, should be higher than 50. HDL helps remove the LDL in our arteries, which in turn makes us healthier.
Triglycerides | Healthy number: 150 or less. Triglycerides are a type of fat in the blood and elevated levels increase the risk of diabetes and heart disease. When measuring these fats, 150-199 is borderline and higher than 200 is high and dangerous. Studies have shown that high triglyceride levels are more dangerous in women than in men, although the studies didn’t exactly indicate why. So watch your weight, alcohol consumption, and get regular exercise.
Thyroid levels | Healthy number: 4 or less. The thyroid secretes hormones into the body that regulate metabolism, body temp and heart rates. These hormones also affect mental function, muscle strength, and even how healthy our skin and hair are. If your reading is 4.5 or higher, that means your thyroid isn’t doing its job in producing hormones to help your body function efficiently.