Healthy Heart: Update on Cholesterol Case Study

blood-workYou may remember a post I did in March of this year sharing my husband’s cholesterol experiment. To refresh your memory or in case you didn’t read it, he decided after years of being told his cholesterol was high and he needed to go on statins, that he would go gluten free for 6 weeks to see if that would make a difference. I shared that he essentially did the first 2 detox weeks of my Today’s the Day plan for 6 weeks and his results were impressive. After just 6 weeks his total cholesterol dropped 35 points and his LDL cholesterol dropped 31 points which is amazing especially in such a short time.

He was encouraged by the results and was committed to continuing. As we went forward I found some excellent low-carb, gluten free recipes for things like burger buns and English muffins so he could enjoy those things in a healthier way. I did find some gluten free burger buns in the freezer section of my supermarket but they were VERY expensive and not low carb at all. So these easy-to-make versions were a much healthier and more affordable option.

I revised several recipes for meals he especially liked to be healthier and gluten free and he was very happy, satisfied and committed to seeing this through. Interestingly, to me anyway, he has not gotten his taste for pasta back. In fact, we just went on a cruise vacation and he said he went to the pasta station to see if he might want to have some and it absolutely turned him off! I know my Italian mother-in-law would be upset with me for this – but it’s definitely better for his health.

He scheduled his bloodwork for the week before our vacation. His conversation with his doctor was pretty interesting. She still was pretty insistent that she wanted him to go on a statin because she was worried that he might have some sort of “event.” I do appreciate and believe she is sincere about her concern for his health. That being said he told her that he changed his diet and wanted to see how it affected his results.

She asked him how he changed his diet and he said he is eating low-carb and gluten free, avoiding sugar and eating eggs most mornings. As you might imagine she was horrified and said why would you avoid carbs and sugar? He just told her to do the blood test and they could discuss it when they had the results.

She never called before we left on vacation so we went on vacation and to be totally honest, he went off his clean eating. With my blessing. I think when you are too restrictive and say you can never do anything whether it’s eat bread or pasta or ice cream or whatever – you are headed for trouble. I told him before we left he could eat whatever he wanted to and we’d just go back to the way we were eating when we got home.

She called when we got home and was extremely low key about his results. Here are the results after eight months of these clean eating changes:

Total cholesterol dropped a total of 75 points to a perfectly normal 190;

LDL cholesterol (supposedly the “bad” cholesterol) dropped a total of 81 points to a perfectly acceptable 110; and

Best of all, his HDL, the “good” cholesterol, which had never been higher than 56 rose to an excellent and heart protective 72!! So much for restricting eggs!

Even his triglycerides, which were never high at all dropped 27 points to 41.

She told him his levels were all improved saying, “Your diet seemed to work for you so congratulations on that but I still suggest you go to a cardiologist and if there is any calcification he will still want you to go on a statin.”

Does it seem to you like the whole focus here is getting on that statin? Yes, it does to me too. I am very proud of his commitment to a very different way of eating and also to his determination to stay off the dangerous statin drugs.

It is very gratifying to be able to see those results solely from cleaning up nutrition. I am a huge fan of evidence based medicine and consider this to be evidence based nutrition!

What do you think about our cholesterol experiment?

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Posted in Heart Health, Nutrition, Overall Health and Wholeness | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Health and Well-Being: More Effective than Any Drug

attitude-of-gratitude-340“If [thankfulness] were a drug, it would be the world’s best-selling product with a health maintenance indication for every major organ system.” Dr. P. Murali Doraiswamy, Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences

Well that’s saying a mouthful! So just being thankful regularly can impact how healthy you are? Well, perhaps this is why we are commanded in scripture to give thanks in all circumstances (which is very different from giving thanks “for” all things – but that’s another post altogether).

1 Thessalonians 5:18 Amp.: “Thank [God] in everything [no matter what the circumstances may be, be thankful and give thanks], for this is the will of God for you [who are] in Christ Jesus [the Revealer and Mediator of that will].”

I did a post not too long ago about how to train your brain to be more positive by focusing on gratitude. Well if you began the habit of writing down several things you are grateful for each day, here are some of the benefits you are reaping:

Better ability to cope with stress

Experience more positive emotions and less anxiety

More peaceful, restful sleep

A healthier heart

But that’s not all. Gratitude has been shown to have measurable, positive effects on bodily systems, including:

Mood neurotransmitters (serotonin and norepinephrine)

Reproductive hormones

Inflammatory and immune systems (cytokines)

Social bonding hormones (oxytocin)

Stress hormones (cortisol)

Blood pressure, cardiac and EEG rhythms

Blood sugar

Prayer is one of the absolute best ways to practice gratitude daily! If you spend any time each day in prayer, begin with thanksgiving. We are told to enter God’s presence with thanksgiving. (Ps. 100:4) It’s a beautiful way to begin your day. If you practice it daily it will become your natural way of thinking, speaking and responding to circumstances!

Ephesians 5:4 in The Message says: “…Though some tongues just love the taste of gossip, those who follow Jesus have better uses for language than that. Don’t talk dirty or silly. That kind of talk doesn’t fit our style. Thanksgiving is our dialect.”

Do you intentionally practice gratitude daily?

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Posted in Brain health, Emotional Health, Gratitude, Heart Health, Overall Health and Wholeness, Spiritual Health | Tagged , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Heart Health: To Salt or Not to Salt?

Himalayan saltI’ve worked with clients in the past who wanted to lower their blood pressure without resorting to drugs. I remember one gentleman in particular. He was one of my son, Matthew’s baseball coaches years ago. The first thing I recommended when I evaluated his diet was that he increase his water intake and include the right amount of natural, unprocessed salt. There were other suggestions, but that was the basic change I saw he would benefit from.

He questioned whether this was really a good idea thinking salt would raise his blood pressure. I explained that unless he was one of the very few people who were extremely sensitive to sodium, this would not raise his blood pressure at all. The key is to use the right kind of salt and the proper amount in combination with enough water. So he was willing to give it a try and within weeks he contacted me saying his blood pressure, which he checked daily at home, was consistently within normal range. But he also noticed he had much more energy and even dropped a few pounds without even trying.

Needless to say, he was a believer and now, almost 10 years later he is still off blood pressure meds.

Now this is not to say that you should eat a lot of salt. Not at all. Recent studies show that both very high salt diets as well as low salt diets were harmful to heart health.

Even more interesting, new studies show that too little salt can actually increase the risk of heart attack and stroke.

I mentioned not only the right amount of salt but the right type of salt is critical. Processed, white table salt is sodium chloride and anti-caking ingredients. The type of salt we use in cooking and for health is natural, unprocessed salt like Himalayan crystal salt or Celtic sea salt. There’s a huge difference here because those salts contain trace minerals as well.

That isn’t the end of the story, however. The reason most people get way too much sodium is two-fold. They eat too many processed, packaged “foods” which are very high in sodium and not nearly enough potassium-rich foods, like veggies, particularly leafy greens.

So it all comes back to nutrition and eating real foods. You need sodium. It’s an essential mineral just as potassium, calcium and magnesium are. However, you can get too much of a good thing. So keeping balance is critical.

Do you use natural salt or avoid salt in an effort to keep your heart healthy?

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Posted in Heart Health, Nutrition, Weight loss | Tagged , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Health and OTC Drugs: Unusual Side Effects

ImodiumOkay so now I feel like perhaps I’ve heard everything. There is a growing problem in our country with opioid drug use. These drugs that are used for chronic pain are being over-prescribed and abused. The result is addiction to these pain-killers.

Well, this article explains how people who have become addicted to these opioid drugs are using a common over the counter anti-diarrhea medication to get the same high as they do from those prescribed pain drugs.

The main ingredient in Imodium A-D, Loperamide, stops diarrhea by slowing down intestinal action. In extremely high doses, anywhere from 50 to 300 pills per day, it will also cause a similar euphoria or high as the opioids.

Addiction is bad enough, but taking that much Imodium can cause heart problems, kidney and liver failure, and death.

This is just one more reason to remember that no drugs are truly safe and we have to be aware of the possible dangers associated with them.

Were you aware of the potential dangers of overdosing on this common OTC drug?

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Posted in Digestive Health, Soul Health | Tagged , , , , , | 2 Comments

Health: Addiction to Pain Drugs

Opioid pain meds“Data shows the number of prescriptions written for opioids as well opioid overdose deaths have skyrocketed in recent years, highlighting a growing addiction problem in the U.S.” Time.com

When we think of drug addiction we tend to think of illegal street drugs, not prescription drugs. It’s a very different picture in our country today as the quotation and article above detail.

Opioid drug addiction has increased exponentially in our country. More than 100 million Americans live with chronic pain and prescription pain medication is the most common treatment.  Opioid prescriptions for pain have almost tripled in the last 20 years jumping from 76 million to 219 million. While there is certainly a place for them, unfortunately they are over-prescribed and abused all too often.

And while someone dealing with chronic pain can get to a point where they just want relief and don’t even consider the negative effects, we have to be aware of the pros and cons. While addiction, abuse and overdose are at the top of the list, (OxyContin has been identified as a major gateway drug to heroin) researchers question just how effective they are, particularly long term.

There are other side-effects, including increases in hepatitis C and HIV.

There are non-drug alternatives you can consider before resorting to these dangerous drugs, since pain has both physical and emotional components:

Nutrition – eliminating grains, sugar, processed foods and nightshades which are inflammatory;

Try herbs, spices and natural substances like turmeric, ginger, boswellia, bromelain, Cetyl Myristoleate (CMO)

Be sure you get enough Omega-3 fatty acids, which are precursors to prostaglandins, which reduce inflammation as well as vitamin D

Cayenne and CM cream topically

Acupuncture, chiropractic, physical therapy

Mind-Body techniques like EFT, Healing Codes, massage, meditation, prayer

Grounding

If you have pain issues, how do you deal with them?

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Posted in Brain health, Emotional Health, Overall Health and Wholeness, Supplements | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Healthy Lifestyle: Primary Reason for the Rise in the Death Rate

Healthy choicesThat means not only are middle-aged white people drinking more, using more opioids, and killing themselves at higher rates, more of them are getting sick with the diseases that usually kill older people. And when they do get sick, they don’t get better.”

From this quotation from the referenced article you may think that drinking and drugs are the reason for this uptick in the death rate but upon closer investigation, it seems there is a basic, underlying cause that is affecting us all.

Lifestyle.

We’ve reached the point when technology and treatments cannot overcome the effects of poor lifestyle choices in the United States. For the first time in 10 years the death rate has risen. While cancer and heart disease have long been the primary causes of death, heart disease death rate had been steadily declining. It is believed that this offset deaths due to drug overdoses and suicide. However, this year the number of deaths due to cardiovascular disease has increased.

Yes, the increase in opioid drug use is definitely a serious problem and factor. Often those drugs lead to depression and suicide. While fewer people are dying from the leading causes of death – heart disease, diabetes, and respiratory disease – than 50 years ago, that is changing. The rate of decline of these diseases has slowed.

Lifestyle is the factor every one of us can control. I believe it is directly attributable to rising obesity rates since heart disease, cancer and diabetes are all directly linked to obesity. I understand obesity is a complicated issue, but reversing this trend and improving health all begin with better lifestyle choices and the best place to begin is optimizing nutrition.

Does it surprise you that the death rate in the United States is rising?

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Posted in Cancer, Diabetes, Heart Health, Nutrition, Overall Health and Wholeness, Weight loss | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Healthy Snacking: 5 Reasons to Eat Popcorn Again

popcornOne of my daughter’s favorite go-to snacks is air popped popcorn. She drizzles it with melted organic ghee and mixes in chili lime spice! I was concerned about her eating popcorn because I know most of the corn produced here is genetically modified so I made sure I only bought her organic, non-GMO certified popping corn.

I found out I didn’t have to go to all that trouble! While 90% of the corn grown in the US is genetically engineered, popping corn, which comes from a different seed, is not genetically modified – at least not yet.

This should be good news if this has always been a favorite snack food. There are plenty of health benefits associated with it as well including:

It is nutrient dense with 3.5 oz. providing 56% of the recommended daily allowance for manganese, 36% each of magnesium and phosphorous and 21% of zinc as well as several B vitamins;

It is high in fiber which is important for good health in so many ways, including balancing blood sugar;

While it is a starchy carb food, the starch it contains is known to help lower cholesterol;

It can be a great weight loss food because of the high fiber content and relatively low calorie count (as long as you don’t use any unhealthy add-ins!); and

It has a very high concentration of antioxidants and polyphenols – higher than other relatively healthy snack options, including fruits!

So if you have been avoiding popcorn thinking it is an empty-calorie snack – here are some reasons to include it again. Just beware of movie theater popcorn and remember air-popped popcorn has half the calories of microwave popcorn and corn you pop with your own oil.

Just use healthy toppings like a little coconut oil, ghee, pasture butter and some healthy spices. I used to enjoy sprinkling it with nutritional yeast. It has a cheesy flavor and adds protein! A win-win in my book.

Do you eat popcorn?

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Posted in Children's Health, Digestive Health, Nutrition, Weight loss | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments