Can cholesterol and blood sugar levels increase due to stress?
Q: My mother-in-law has had high LDL levels, high sugar and high blood pressure for about 3 years now. We took her for a medical check-up about a year and a half back and were asked to follow a completely oil-free, sugar-free, milk-free diet, which includes only boiled vegetables and a roti a day. She was also asked to exercise by walking for about 4 kms daily. But she has not really followed any of the advice. She has been taking a typical South Indian diet including rice, dal, subzi with lots of oil - twice a day. Recently, there were some problems, which were stressful for all of us at home. Following this, when we had her check up done, it was found that her cholesterol level, blood sugar and blood pressure readings had all increased significantly. She still does not follow any diet instructions insisting that the increase is only due to stress and that once the stress is gone all her readings will become normal. Can cholesterol and blood sugar levels increase only due to stress?
A:Diet, obesity and lack of exercise have a direct affect on cholesterol levels. Stress also has a mild effect as shown by decreased levels with yoga etc, but its effects are more on the heart tubes directly i.e. at any cholesterol level the damage during stress will be more than without stress. Her levels will not come down significantly when she is de-stressed unless her food habits have got worse due to the stress. Eating irregularly and skipping meals is not a good idea as people usually overcompensate when they get hungry and also eat fast foods in between. Because she is a diabetic and has blocks I hope she is taking powerful cholesterol lowering drugs to keep LDL-C, 70 mg% and HDL-C >45 mg%.