Metabolic Syndrome-Part 3-Understanding Cholesterol

One of the most confusing subjects for people to shuffle through is understanding their serum cholesterol score. It is not as easy as just combining the numbers to create total cholesterol and if over 200. It is far more complex than that and more testing is available that really gets down to the nitty-gritty of cholesterol. You need a better view of the complex structure of the molecules, size, and density which all make a difference. We were told that HDL was our Happy cholesterol, so we wanted it high, and our LDL is Lousy, so we want it low. Hold on, it’s not that simple!

First, we need to understand that cholesterol is crucial for life, without it we would die. Cholesterol is:

  • used to produce hormones, including sex hormones
  • necessary for cell wall structure
  • vital for brain function
  • needed for nerve signaling
  • required for the production of vitamin D
  • a factor in autoimmune conditions as well as cancer, if too low
  • involved in the production of bile, used for digestion
  • related to depression

 

Isn’t high cholesterol inherited?

There is a condition called familial hypocholesterolemia; which is the inherited form of high cholesterol not necessarily related to the foods that are eaten. This type should be managed by food and possibly conventional medicine, so make sure you are weighing and researching your doctor’s advice AND eat clean to give yourself a chance at a long healthy life. Long life is not enjoyable if you don’t have your health.

I have a relative with this type of high cholesterol and she is now 88 years old and living on her own with a clear mind and active body. She has eaten clean her whole life because she just ate whole foods as her mother taught her. She never fell into the processed food frenzy and she stuck to the foods she grew up on, as her family ran a dairy farm back during and after the great depression.

Not all high cholesterol is inherited by genes, but most is inherited by one generation teaching the next how to eat. Those who have moved from whole foods to processed foods also pass on the progression of poor-quality cholesterol ratio in the bodies of their offspring. So, in a way, it’s inherited behavior and traditions, not simply inherited through genetics.

So, before you go removing naturally occurring cholesterol from your body with a statin, let’s do what we can with our food to balance cholesterol.

 

What does LDL cholesterol do then?

LDL particles are involved in the detection of germs or foreign substances in our bodies. These little LDL scouts go out and when they come in contact with bacteria, they become oxidized and are taken up by white blood cells. At this point, the white blood cells form an attack on the invader. It basically gives itself up to start the immune response to the bacteria. This can be why high LDL is found in people with a lot of health problems. Lots of scouts are needed to identify problems and start the immune response. This also leads to inflammation, which leads to other problems and the cascade of negative events leading to co-morbidity factors.

 

So, what about HDL cholesterol?

Natural fats from whole foods consumed are not the culprit often blamed for atherosclerosis. If your body needs more cholesterol, it will make more. If it needs less cholesterol, it will make less. If you consume extra, the HDL particles will work to remove it from your system, given there are high enough numbers of them.

Commonly called the HAPPY cholesterol, high HDL cholesterol is desirable because its job is to absorb extra cholesterol from the blood and carry it back to the liver to begin the process to flush it out of your body, thus lowering your overall LDL cholesterol and triglycerides particles. The more HDL cholesterol you have the better for overall cholesterol balance.

HDL cholesterol increases through nutrient-dense whole fatty foods like salmon, nuts & seeds, avocado, avocado oil, and extra virgin olive oil. Throw in multiple helpings of vegetables and a couple of fiber-rich fruits. The more of these foods you eat, the more satisfied you will be—and less tempted to eat harmful foods. Replace your processed foods with whole foods for better HDL cholesterol levels that go to work for you. The improvement can be staggering over just a few months.

 

Good Fats vs. Bad Fats:

Damaged fats like industrialized canola oil and vegetable oil are made up of damaged molecules that have been treated with high heat and chemicals, then deodorizers so we can’t smell the rancidity in the product. The rancid odor is damaged molecules and when eaten, cause more oxidative stress leading to more inflammation which leads to the laying down of more cholesterol to protect our arteries. It’s very complicated and I don’t want to overwhelm you, but what I want you to understand that what you eat is causing or avoiding bad cholesterol ratio and the laying of cholesterol on your arteries to protect them.

Some people think a pill will fix everything. I am here to tell you it simply does not fix the problem if you are not coupling it with a whole foods way of life. In most cases, you don’t need the pill at all if you are willing to do the right thing for your body. This is your choice.

I am often asked if thin people can have high cholesterol, yes…this is not a disease only people saved for those with visible fat. Thin people are also susceptible, especially if their diet is full of processed foods and sugars.

 

What can you do?

You may not have full control of the foods that are in your kitchen, but you do have control of the foods you put in your mouth. The challenge is using your mind rather than salivating in front of the refrigerator and making the wrong choice when you are hungry. If married, work as a team. If you have kids, teach them how to do it right when they are young, so they don’t have to reverse course later in life. Getting the crap out of your house is one sure-fire way to keep it out of your mouth, especially in times of boredom or grazing.

Your kids don’t need the crap that you are trying to avoid either. I cannot tell you how many times I hear about the snacks parents NEED to keep around for their kids that tempt them, this is an innocent mistake. This problem we have in America starts as a baby or young child and progresses. Teach your children to love whole foods, and they will. We are not born to crave processed foods. Don’t start the metabolic or brain pathway to processed carbohydrates that can and often do take over in their teens, then they are off and running through their adulthood.

A snack is a smaller portion of food to be used for an energy boost or to quench a hunger pain between meals. From this snack, our body will create energy to get you through to your next meal period. It is not an opportunity to have cookies and milk—although tempting—this will make your blood sugar rise and then drop making you even more tired since it was a surge rather than a slow increase to be converted to long-lasting energy and brain-power. Over time, this up and down of sugar (glucose) in your blood will lead to pre-diabetes, insulin resistance, and type 2 diabetes—all of which are related to improper cholesterol levels.

 

What is a good snack?

A snack should consist of a smaller portion of whole foods and a glass of water. Here are 15 quick suggestions of an easy to grab, nutrient-dense snack:

  1. 2 pickle wedges, 8 olives, and 1 hard-boiled egg with sea salt.
  2. Hummus and vegetables of your choice for dipping.
  3. Cantaloupe/blueberries and brazil nuts (high in selenium).
  4. Overnight oatmeal in a jar with walnuts and blueberries, sweetened with Stevia. Eaten hot or cold. This makes a great on the go breakfast as well.
  5. Egg salad made with 2 eggs, served with celery or a handful of arugula
  6. Beef Jerky and fruit/vegetable of choice.
  7. Toasted Garbanzo Beans – good hot or cold.
  8. ½ avocado with sea salt and 2 slices quality ham and celery sticks.
  9. 4 or 5 slices of salami and few mild peppers or baby carrots.
  10. Deviled eggs, make a batch on Sunday, and snack on for the next several days.
  11. Small protein shake made with wholesome ingredients.
  12. Premade spring rolls; vegetarian or with shrimp. Grocery stores do a great job with these. Don’t eat the plum sauce, make your own with soy (or coconut amino’s or Bragg’s liquid amino’s) and chili sauce…YUM! Or use wasabi mixed with the amino’s.  You can ask for a little side of wasabi from the clerk.
  13. Chia seed pudding
  14. Peanut butter or almond butter on a banana.
  15. Banana sliced and topped with Low Karb Granola or full-fat yogurt.

I am not saying you can never have a piece of cake or chocolate chip cookies. What I am saying is that it should be a treat after your evening meal or on the weekend; ONCE IN A WHILE, but not daily. Avoid creating the pathway to cravings. If that is too late, you can reverse the course.

A great book that will make you a bit angry at what our food system has done is called The Dorito Effect by Mark Schatzker. It explains how large food companies work to addict us to their foods. This book is also available on audible.com if you prefer to listen over reading. No, I am not a paid sponsor for the book or the audible.com, just a fan of learning through reading and listening.

 

The moral of the story is:

Eat a wide variety of whole foods like fiber-rich fruit and vegetables, wholesome proteins like seafood, beef, chicken, and healthy fats like avocado, nuts, seeds, and olive oil. Unless you have the inherited form of high cholesterol, you can avoid out of whack cholesterol that is a contributing factor to multiple diseases. First came one, then the other. These ailments of metabolic syndrome are 100% related.

If you are interested in learning more or want to take a journey to better health with a personal evaluation and meal plan, gained knowledge and accountability, give me a call at 303-875-1603, send me an e-mail or schedule a free 30-minute consultation—no sales pressure—I promise! Let’s see if I am the fit for you to return to wellness, or better yet, simply avoid getting the disease in the first place.

Skin From the Inside Out

I am the world’s laziest person when it comes to skincare. It has never been a priority for me—until I learned about toxins much later in life. I was lucky to be born with my Grandma’s great skin and I am thankful for that, but I no longer take it for granted.

I have learned a lot through my education and even more from those in the responsible skincare and cosmetic industry. I did not just take what they said as “the word”.  I am one of those who takes what I am told then I do my own research. I am here to tell you that it does matter what you put on your skin, in your mouth, and your lungs.

It’s not just one or the other, but a combination of what you eat, apply to your body, and the air you breathe.  Skincare happens at a cellular level, which starts:

  • The minute you swallow food and digestion begins
  • Simply by washing your face or body with soap
  • During the application of lotions or make-up to any part of your body
  • By simply breathing the air outside, especially in a crowded city
  • When you sit on or wear fabric that has been treated or washed with chemicals

See, no matter where the toxins come from—diet, make-up, lotions, soap, forest fires, pesticides, disinfecting wipes, car exhaust, microwaving in plastic—even the carpet, laminate floorboards, and the sofa we sit on, our liver has to process it and store the toxins in our fat cells so our bodies do not become overwhelmed. Visualize our fat cells as little barrels that store toxins in our bodies. That does not sound too good, does it?

There are thousands of industrial compounds that are made for our food system—mostly to make it addicting or give it a super long shelf life as well as used in lotions, soaps, and perfumes.  Now we expect our livers to work overtime to store the toxins so our body does not succumb to the environmental toxicity over time.

Why would it store these toxins in our bodies?

The body is designed to keep us in a state of balance (homeostasis) as long as it can. If it cannot excrete all the toxins from our body as it processes them, it stores them in the fat cells to not overwhelm our body. Over time, that backup system becomes overwhelmed as well.

I am sure you have heard of diet-resistant fat. In my humble opinion from all my reading, I truly believe the body is not releasing the toxins until it is safe to handle it, so it holds on to the fat cells for sheer survival. If we have high blood pressure and inflammation for instance, can the body take another assault?  When we have too many factors that increase inflammation in our body, a cascade of events begins to happen to our health. It can start with one problem that seems alone to be minor but left unaddressed, other negative health results will follow.

Over prolonged exposure, liver damage and inflammation can occur. This is quite complicated, and my goal is to keep this blog easy to understand so let’s just leave it at this—too many chemicals in or on our body is damaging our liver, which is the organ that does so many amazing things to keep us alive and in balance. Trust me, you want this liver to last you a long time!

Let’s be realistic, it would be impossible to live toxin-free, but there are some things you can do. Take control of what you can and let your body do the rest. At least you have lessened the toxic load on your liver and body overall. In this case, less is more!

What can you do?

The advice I would give you is this:

  • Buy organic produce or at the very least avoid the Dirty Dozen and buy the Clean 15 produce items whenever possible.
  • Eat animal protein that is organically raised whenever possible. Remember that what they eat does end up in our bellies and then throughout our bodies.
  • Stay away from oils that have been industrialized like canola, corn, vegetable, margarine, and other seed oils. Instead use good old-fashioned butter, extra virgin olive oil, organic coconut oil, avocado oil, and lard…yes lard, like your Great Grandma did. She was right!
  • Enjoy pasture-raised organic eggs like Happy Eggs, which can be found at most chain grocery stores. Chickens are not vegetarians and naturally hunt for grasshoppers, flies, worms, and whatnot. They LOVE their insect protein. Look for the words pasture-raised or free-range and organic on the label. There are a lot of quality options out there—even in the city.
  • Purchase cosmetics from a reputable source like Pure Confidence Minerals that is organic and gluten-free, without compromising quality or spending a ridiculous amount of money too. Oh, and environmentally responsible when it comes to packaging and refills!
  • Although lovely to smell, avoid artificially scented lotions, shampoo, and soap whenever possible. Instead, use soap and body/face lotion from a quality soap maker like Alo Goods who specializes in soaps, lotions, and even toothpaste made with natural ingredients. The owner even goes as far as sustainable packaging for her products.
  • Don’t go jogging in the toxic air during a forest fire, use the treadmill instead.
  • Stop using room fresheners and aerosols, it’s ok if the room does not smell like spring rain.
  • Google and you will find many options for laundry detergent and other cleaners that are as clean and natural as possible.

It boils down to this:

Do what you can to help your liver do what it can for you. After all, you are all the other have…without one, there is not the other!  And as an added bonus, your skin will improve, and over a period of time and repair, you will like what you see in the mirror.

  • For more detailed information on toxins in our environment, check out this article by Dr. Tracy Woodruff, the former senior scientist at the Environmental Protection Agency.
  • The hyperlinks for products provided are for your convenience. I like sharing the quality products I use and I am not a paid endorser for any products I have linked to in this blog.

 

 

 

Metabolic Syndrome Explained – Part 2 – Understanding Hypertension:

High blood pressure (hypertension) can be hereditary, but more often than not it is driven by lifestyle factors. According to the American Heart Association; over 103 million people in our country are diagnosed at some level of hypertension. That is approximately half of the population of the United States of adults over 18 years old. The number is slightly higher for women than men.

Most people have discovered their condition through regular check-ups at their doctor as it is typically a silent health condition. According to a recent 2020 AHA Journals publication, global guidelines for hypertension are addressed in detail and indicate that hypertension is responsible for 10.4 million deaths per year globally.

Hypertension is not just for people who are overweight, although that can be a factor, it can happen to anyone and should be taken seriously. You have heard a nurse take your blood pressure and tell you the reading is something like 120 over 78.  Ok, what do those two numbers mean?  The top number is called systolic blood pressure (SBP), which measures the pressure placed on the artery walls with each beat of your heart. The higher the number, the greater the pressure.  The bottom number is called diastolic blood pressure (DBP), which is pressure on the artery walls in the resting period between beats. Think of it as a bike tire, if you put too much air in the tire, it will wear out faster as the tread is more exposed to the surface of the road, not allowing the grooves in the tire to cushion the road to create more cushion on the road surface. The tire is also easier to penetrate or explode when stretched to its limit, just like an artery wall.

To describe the severity of hypertension, doctors use the following as guidelines:

  • Normal – At or less than 120 over 80
  • Prehypertensive – 120 to 130 over 80 to 90
  • Hypertension; Stage 1 – 140 to 159 over 90 to 99
  • Hypertension; Stage 2 – 160 over 100 or higher
  • Essential hypertension – usually familial with no known cause
  • Secondary hypertension – a condition linked to other disorders such as obesity, blockage of arteries, kidney disease, side effects of other medication, and tumors is on the shortlist.

After prolonged periods of high blood pressure pounding on artery walls, the body lays down cholesterol on the artery walls to protect those arteries from thinning and bursting. Now you see how someone can go from high blood pressure to hardening of the arteries. This is the beginning of cholesterol and calcium build up in the arteries of the heart. The body is doing what it can to protect the arteries from rupture, but as it protects from one situation another situation is eventually created; leading to heart disease.

This is called the pathophysiology—which refers to the progression of disease. One condition leads to another, and oftentimes that second condition starts simply to protect the body the only way it knows how. Our body, by nature, is designed to keep us in homeostasis, and in this situation of high blood pressure, laying down cholesterol to support the artery is the action taken.

The focus of this series is to understand that one of the conditions of Metabolic Syndrome alone is dangerous, but if the first sign is ignored, this opens the door for the other conditions such as strokes, T2D, liver disease, heart attack, and kidney disease, to name a few.

 

Lifestyle Modifications:

If you have been dealing with high blood pressure for a while, some of the suggestions below might not be new to you, but persistence pays off. It’s like investing money, if you keep up with the habit of saving and investing, the consistency pays off as compounding starts to happen and you earn money from your investment. In our bodies, compounding works too—and over time—permanent change can happen. Start before there is a further progression of the condition.

  • Reducing hidden/added salt by avoiding salty condiments like soy sauce, ketchup, bottled salad dressings, and hot sauces. Our bodies do need sodium, so use a good quality sea salt for the necessary sodium and minerals. The hidden salts in processed foods and canned goods are more often the culprits over added salt in home-cooked meals.  See the recipe page on Better Me at 5280 website.

 

  • Avoid processed foods, fast food, and sugary foods/beverages. Add foods high in naturally occurring nitrates found in vegetables like leafy greens, beets, celery, spinach, cabbage, and leeks.

 

  • Reduce or eliminate caffeine if it makes you jittery. Try herbal teas with health benefits like those found at In-Tea in downtown Littleton. I love the Turmeric Ginger, as it has calming and anti-inflammatory properties, which can help reduce inflammation. There are oodles of other teas to choose from.

 

  • Reduce or eliminate alcohol (sorry!). There is no healthy way to drink excess. Yes, a glass of wine can have beneficial properties for some people—but not the bottle used to reduce stress. If you smoke tobacco, make it a priority to quit. All hard stuff to change but start somewhere. Make a plan.

 

  • If you have mid-section fat, work to reduce your weight. I know, so easy to say, right! I am here to help with this process to make permanent change. I promise, your future does not need to be full of flavorless food and boring salads, I can show you how.

 

  • Season your food with herbs, ground cayenne, or crushed red pepper. Use flavorful herb blends, ginger, and turmeric, which help reduce inflammation that can help lower blood pressure. Turmeric is not just for Indian food. I put it in potato salad, in my protein shakes with pineapple and on scrambled eggs.

 

  • MOVE! Daily walks, bike rides or simply keeping on your feet by cooking, mowing the lawn, and playing with the kids are great blood pressure lowering activities as well as help with weight reduction. Visit with your friend on the phone and walk on your treadmill at the same time. I have outdoor walking appointments with one friend while on the phone, you will be surprised how fast that hour long walk goes by. You don’t have to be all or nothing, especially if you already have a full schedule—but do something!

 

  • Work to reduce your stress. You can come up with 1001 excuses why you can’t, believe me, I did until my doctor said I was dangerously close to a heart related event. That got my attention. If you end up with health issues, then you have to make change when you don’t feel good, so make a plan for stress reduction.

 

  • Seek advice from your medical professional—you may need a prescription to lower your blood pressure to stay safe—but make lasting change while taking your physician’s advice and add in some of the above recommendations. Be smart, use doctors’ advice, then go educate yourself on your condition. Do the work, reap the rewards!

 

You might start with a bang and then slip a bit—that’s OK because you are human—just start again. You will find that each time you can go a little longer and enjoy the new habits you are forming, and you begin to feel better. As you feel better, you will be driven to do better. It takes determination and energy to make good choices in our world of abundance, over time it gets easier. You won’t want to go back to the way you used to eat and live.

I am passionate about helping people understand why their bodies are doing what they are doing. If you know WHY you can often affect change. If you don’t know why, you keep repeating the same behaviors that led to the disease or progression of disease. Stop the madness! Listen to your body, your doctor and work with a professional to support that treatment through improved nutrition and wellness. This isn’t hard, losing a loved one is hard. This is simply different than what you are used to. You just need to want it.

Sign up for the Better Me at 5280 newsletters and receive notification for this series. Next week:  Metabolic Syndrome Part 3: Understanding Cholesterol

If interested in a chat, please schedule a complimentary 30-minute session.

 

At Better Me at 5280, you are Still You…Only Better!

 

Metabolic Syndrome Explained – Part 1

Welcome to this 6-part blog series, which is designed to break down the conditions that fall within the term “Metabolic Syndrome”.  I am passionate about opening eyes to the severity of these conditions and the overall probable effect, which is why I have spent a great deal of focus on this condition in my field of nutrition.

 

Why is this so important to me? 

Because I have been there, and it took me 10 years of hard work to get my health back. While working at a high pace, successful family retail business in the specialty foods industry, I pushed myself to extremes both professionally and personally. This stress I put myself under daily—over years—left me struggling with extreme anxiety and panic attacks, insulin resistance, pre-diabetes, hormonal issues to include leptin resistance, very high cortisol as well as female hormone imbalance, as well as obesity—it’s a pretty long list.  I was so sick and tired of being sick and tired and taking various prescriptions my doctor prescribed which came with their own set of side effects. The only thing I could think of was to learn about the body so I can manage my own body and make better decisions.  I no longer wanted to be a puppet. I signed up for school in my mid 50’s to learn about nutrition just to save my own life. I had no idea I was going to do this professionally but fell in love with the knowledge and freedom it created for me to make informed decisions and find a better path to health. Five years later while working full time and going to school part-time, I became a Nutrition Therapist Master and wanted to share my experience with others so they can avoid the road I had unknowingly chosen.

If the conditions that lead to metabolic syndrome are better understood, my hope is people will pay attention to the signs earlier than I did due to lack of knowledge on my part. If these conditions are left unaddressed—over time—people are unknowingly increasing the likelihood of more serious conditions to include type 2 diabetes (T2D), stroke, and heart attack. There is also research currently underway that is leaning toward Alzheimer’s as a condition derived from blood sugar dysregulation and further progression of T2D. Early research is in and the relationship between type 2 diabetes, and what is referred to as type 3 diabetes (Alzheimer’s Disease) that attacks the brain. This might explain the increase in T2D and the explosion of Alzheimer’s Disease amongst our elderly population. I wish I knew more before my mother was stricken by Alzheimer’s—and she always thought she was doing the right thing and teaching me the same at a very young age—according to our Standard American Diet. We won’t talk about the Standard American Diet now, but if interested, I do have a separate program that goes into great detail about what we have been taught since the late 1950s and what went wrong and how to fix things. This program is called Mind Over Meals and it is a great way to get the knowledge behind you to help make the change permanent.

 

What is Metabolic Syndrome?

Metabolic Syndrome is described of any 3 of the following conditions:

  • Obesity; especially around the midsection
  • High blood sugar
  • Hypertension
  • Low HDL cholesterol
  • Elevated triglycerides

Metabolic: is a reaction that occurs when energy (food/nutrients) is converted to create a reaction that generates chemical change at the cellular level; which produces the specific energy source needed to create all new materials necessary to keep a chain reaction going which ultimately results in what the body needs. This is done through proper nutrition (fuel).

Syndrome: is when a group of conditions that come together to create a malfunction of sorts; which can lead to further degradation of your body. Let’s just say it creates the perfect storm for more serious conditions to exist and thrive.

In this series, we will cover the conditions of Metabolic Syndrome and explain how the conditions progress into a more complicated syndrome and a whole list of health problems.

 

Metabolic Syndrome and Covid-19:

You may have heard reports about how those with underlying conditions of metabolic syndrome are associated with more intense symptoms of Covid-19 as well as higher rates of hospitalization and death among those with some of the conditions of metabolic syndrome. Simply put, your body is in a compromised health condition and while the body is stretched to its limits taking care of blood pressure, high glucose, and/or high triglycerides—how can it be expected to take on one more thing as serious as Covid-19?  Which ailment should it give up on to fight yet another health condition?

Part 2 of this series is “Understanding Hypertension” and will be out next Friday. If you are not already signed up for our e-news, please do so and this series will appear in your inbox.

For first time visitors, feel free to sign up for a complimentary 30-minute consultation.

Plantar Fasciitis and Type 2 Diabetes: Is There a Link?

As an individual who has lived with plantar fasciitis, I can honestly say, “I feel your pain.”  I consulted with a chiropractor, a podiatrist, and an orthopedic surgeon. I had custom and store-bought inserts for my shoes, cortisone injections, laser therapy, and physical therapy. I taped my feet daily to help with the pain. I also purchased a multitude of footwear that touted relief from foot pain. The pain was affecting my quality of life so much, I was ready to pull the trigger and schedule surgery. I am glad I reached out and sought help from a naturopathic physician, who looked at my particular battle with PF through a different lens. A lens that goes beyond the structure of the foot, but the body as a whole.

 

What is Plantar Fasciitis

Plantar fasciitis (PF) is a common cause of heel pain that is found more often affecting people in their 40’s and 50’s. The pain is at the point in the heel where a ligament attaches at the heel and travels through the arch to the front of your foot. It can be excruciating when you take that first step out of bed or when you get up from your office chair. However, pain does not stop there—it can continue from mild discomfort during your workday—to pain that can change your way of living. There is no single cause of PF, but many factors are associated with PF including Type 2 Diabetes (T2D), obesity, working long hours on your feet, running, advancing age, and sedentary lifestyle.  Since T2D makes the least logical sense on the above list of causes, let’s focus on T2D and see how it could be related to PF.

 

Type 2 Diabetes/Pre-diabetes and Plantar Fasciitis

Numerous studies show a connection between PF and T2D. One study, in particular, showed that high blood sugar levels found in diabetics cause oxidative stress, which increases inflammation.  People struggling with T2D or pre-diabetes are often obese. Silent inflammation is known to be a common factor associated with obesity.

 

Detecting Silent Inflammation

Our blood has a marker in it called C-reactive Protein (CRP). By testing for this marker, you can measure the level of your CRP, which indicates how much inflammation is in your body. Inflammation left unchecked can travel and settle in many areas of the body, including the joints, liver, cardiovascular system, gums, brain, and feet.

A recent study of 400 people divided into two groups of 200 each—with one group being those with pre-diabetes—and the other being those in the control group without the presence of prediabetes. This particular study found that the CRP was higher in the prediabetic people than the group that did not have prediabetes.  Since increased CRP is an indicator of inflammation, this indicates that inflammation is present in individuals with pre-diabetes.

In another 5-year cohort study consisting of over 500,000 patients showed that PF was “substantially higher” in the patients with T2D when compared to the control group, without the presence of T2D. Individuals who were overweight showed a much higher incidence of PF.

 

Reducing Inflammation is Vital

If you have not suffered an injury to the affected foot, then silent inflammation could be to blame. Unchecked silent inflammation leaves the door open for other disease to enter and thrive as the system overall is stretched to its limits. You see, your immune system is what starts the process of inflammation, which is necessary for healing.  But, if you have inflammation in so many areas of your body, your immune system can’t keep up and becomes ineffective at fighting all the battles. At this point, when exhausted, your immune system will adjust to fight the most critical battles, leaving other body parts unprotected.

 

Natural Treatment of Silent Inflammation

An anti-inflammatory diet can reset your body regarding systemic inflammation and T2D, ultimately relieving the pain from PF.  Ruling out or reducing systemic inflammation as the cause of the pain may help with other non-invasive treatments that could be successful without surgery.

Our Standard American Diet consists of many pro-inflammatory foods:

  • Processed foods like cereal, crackers, and bread
  • Dairy to include milk and cheese
  • Sugar and high fructose corn syrup
  • Refined oils high in omega 6
  • Excess alcohol consumption
  • Excess animal protein and processed meat

A wholesome anti-inflammatory diet will remove the above foods from the diet for about 30 days, as well as other foods that are pro-inflammatory for some people like eggs and beans. After the 30 days, some food groups are added back in to see how your body responds. Once your body is reset, by adding just one food at a time, you can see if you are having a negative reaction to a specific food or food group.

Anti-inflammatory diets have been around for decades and there are countless forms of anti-inflammatory diets. With volumes of contradictory information on the web and in books, seeking advice from, a certified nutritionist who specialized in T2D and inflammation is beneficial.

 

The Takeaway

In the absence of injury to the affected area, testing your CRP level is prudent. If CRP is elevated, then systemic inflammation is present. Try an anti-inflammatory diet before scheduling elective surgery. Furthermore, reducing inflammation may also help other traditional treatments succeed and you are on your way to a pain-free life.

Additionally, have your physician check your blood glucose through a simple A1c test, which indicates the presence of pre-diabetes, or T2D. An anti-inflammatory diet is part of an effective treatment plan for both T2D and systemic inflammation.

If any of this sounds familiar and you would like to discuss in more detail, Better Me at 5280 offers a one-time—complimentary 30-minute session—for anyone who would like to know more about the above topic or any other condition that is important to them.  If you are just curious in general and want to have a chat, feel free to schedule your complimentary visit.

 

Sleep Deprived?

How Bad Do You Really Want to Sleep?

I am one of those people who love sleeping and will do anything necessary to make sure I get to bed on time, go through my routine and get my full 8 hours…whenever humanly possible!  That does not mean that once in a while I don’t stay up a little later, but I am willing to bet that I am in bed by 9:00 pm, 300 of the 365 days of the year. Sometimes even earlier if I am tired from a previous night of poor sleep or heavy activity during the day.

Now, the opening paragraph does not insinuate that I get 8 hours per night.  I have a sleep disorder that does not allow me to go through all 5 stages of sleep before hitting REM, which is where vivid dreams happen. In a nutshell, my body and brain have not received all messages that make dream safe for me, as I am a lifelong sleepwalker. My sleepwalking can vary from freaking out my husband with random conversations, to actually driving a car on railroad tracks and getting arrested in my sleep in my 20’s.  After the arrest, I had extensive sleep tests to figure out the problem and I was finally diagnosed with the disorder and my choice is to take a sleeping pill or I sleepwalk. For my own safety, I begrudgingly take a pill nightly. This type of sleepwalking as an adult, runs in families.  I don’t know of anyone else in my family that has it.

I recently tried to get off the sleeping medication as I desire to be medication free.  It’s the only thing I take, and I really don’t want to.  So, I tried early in 2019 and had the most amazing dreams…dreams that I could remember and recite.  Day after day, the dreams came and went.  They were fun, never scary, creative and I looked forward to them.  But within a couple of weeks I was absolutely exhausted.  Exhausted to the point of tears almost daily. Then I started eating like crap and they cycle was in full swing. After about a month, it was clear that I still had the disorder and I would need the sleeping pill again, so I gave in and took the pill. I am back to sleeping most night’s but I miss the wild dreams.

I made an appointment with a neurologist to see if 30+ years after my original diagnosis, if there is some other treatment besides a pill for me.  This doctor was great and spent about 45 minutes discussing sleep and my situation.  Unfortunately, they just don’t know enough about the sleepwalking yet and how to better control my situation.  I believe the less of two evils is to take the pill and sleep and at least feel refreshed, rather than not get any rest during disruptive sleep.  What I do know is that when you sleep, your brain more or less “takes out the garbage”.  Envision little people with brooms going through all the lobes and sweeping the toxins up and disposing them, leaving the brain refreshed for the next days use.  I am concerned I do not fully benefit from this process, as sleep that has been induced by a drugs or alcohol is not the same as natural sleep. But I won’t take that for an answer, and I am actively eating as clean as possible through a meat, veggie, fruit, fat and herbs / mineral diet, eliminating all inflammatory foods like grains, beans and dairy.  I am also making sure I move about 45-60 minutes a day in the form of intentional exercise.  This could be golf, swimming, the gym, walk/hike or kayaking. After 90 days, I will try again and see if the reduced inflammation in my brain helps.

In the meantime, I want to help others with what my research has taught me about sleep.  In our over stimulated world, sleep has to be something you must commit to. It’s not just one thing that allows for good sleep, but a series of things that you can do to achieve better sleep.

I am sure most of you have heard about circadian rhythm, which is our biological clock to arrive to the state of sleep.  The benefit of melatonin secretion at 9:00 pm does not change to a later time, just because you went to bed later.  Rather, you just lose the opportunity to maximize the effects of sleep’s natural cycle.

There is no badge of honor for those people who brag about only needing 5-6 hours of sleep a night. There are over 17,000 well scrutinized scientific studies that support the facts regarding supporting a structured sleep schedule will make a change for the better in your health and mental clarity today as well into your aging years. I personally feel strongly that our lack of sleep hygiene in America is partially to blame for the increase in Alzheimer’s in our parents and grandparents’ in conjunction with the consumption of the Standard American Diet (SAD) which is critically high in processed foods and sugar.

  1. Eat clean wholesome foods. Well, what does that mean?  Think back to the early 1900’s when there was not a refrigerator in your ancestors house.  They opened their back door and all their food was on the land.  They grew and raised some of their own foods and bartered or purchased from others what they did not produce. There was no “healthy” cereal made by General Mills. No skim milk with all the fat removed, leaving behind just the sugars. There was meat, eggs, real milk, vegetables, fruit, healthy fats, nuts and seeds. That’s it!  So before you eat it, think about the year 1900 and what you might see out the back door. Put your calorie counters down and think about what is in the food you are eating. Yes, a calorie is a calorie as it is a unit of measure. But a Hostess cupcake does not equal the nutrient density or benefit of a sweet potato with butter.
  2. Set a nighttime routine and stick to it. Look at the circadian rhythm clock above and you can see that since melatonin secretion starts at 9:00, one should think about taking advantage of it and hitting the sack before 10:00 pm (sorry late night news, we will watch you in the morning while we are brushing our teeth).
  3. Turn off your electronic devices 2 hours before bed. Turn the lights in the house way down or off. You may want to watch TV while you relax, buy blue blocking glasses. Your prescription glasses can be made with these lenses that help block the light that keeps your body in an alert state. If the urge to sleep hits at 8:30, don’t fight it.  Go to bed and take advantage of it. Don’t fall asleep on the couch, because now you have interrupted your bodies 5 stages of natural sleep.
  4. Don’t drink alcohol at night. I know how tempting that glass of wine is to cut the tension of the day, but the tradeoff is poor sleep, which perpetuates the anxiety the next day and a vicious cycle begins. If you must have a glass, have it with dinner, then switch to herbal tea or mineral water on ice, still uber refreshing!
  5. If you get up in the middle of the night to pee, try cutting your liquid consumption at least 2 hours before you go to bed. You want to try to avoid getting up between 2:00 am – 4:30 am when you are getting your deepest sleep, this is when the toxins are removed, and inflammation is reduced.  This can be more difficult as you approach your mid 60’s, so if you can keep it to 1 time a night, you will be ahead of the game.

Let’s treat sleeping like the gift it really is and allow our brains to help us become a Better Me tomorrow and for our overall health of the future! May we age gracefully!

 

Is Waste Really Our Right?

I ask this simply because we live in a country where have certain “Inalienable Rights” that include life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. We have the right to open the business of our choice, our kids can play sports of their choosing, we travel, we cook foods we like, we play sports, we are so lucky!

I now ask about certain “Inalienable Responsibilities”. We live in a very single use world. Is this our right to abuse the natural resources of our planet, or is this something we are responsible to nurture?  Would you want someone abusing your being so they can achieve their goals, or would you prefer they work with you for mutual benefit?

We have a need to drink clean water, but what benefits our bodies should not hurt our planet. Yet we don’t even blink at using a petroleum-based product that is only recycled at a rate of less than 30%, according to multiple sources. Even when recycled, think of the energy used to produce this bottle in the first place, now more energy to turn it into something else. If not recycled, research is showing that one single use plastic bottle can take between 450 and 1,000 years to break down. That’s up to 13 lifetimes. That’s a hell of lot of waste for a single glass of water, especially since it’s a choice!

Imagine just your consumption of water bottles. Let’s say you have one water bottle per day.  We are not even going to count the other items you may drink out of plastic, just one water bottle per day. Now imagine that you are responsible for storing those empty bottles in your home for one year. What would that look like? How long would it take for your entire house to be filled with plastic garbage? Is it fair or right to simply toss it out, close your eyes and your mind about what is actually happening next? Do you simply choose not to see? What right do we have to leave this kind of waste behind for just one serving of water?

For the price of a couple of cases of water, you can buy a decent, large water bottle or cup with lid and straw that you can refill over and over again. If you like grabbing a bottle of water from the refrigerator in a rush, get 2 or 3 of them and keep them fully loaded and ready to grab. Now think about how your house looks storing a few re-usable water bottles.

Plastic was an amazing invention in 1907, but what have we learned since then? Have we taken this too far? We as humans are incredibly resourceful, since we have learned to use much of our planets possessions to survive, that’s her gift to us. Our responsibility is to not return her gifts made up of products she cannot break down and re-use to nurture her. How selfish of us!

This writer knows that many of you will move on and not care, but if this writer can inspire even a small number of people to think before acting, we could help our planet and humanity more than we can even imagine. Such a small ask in such a big problem.

Now I challenge you to do better! 

Drink your water but leave only good health and urine behind!

 

 

You Are Invincible, Until You Are Not!

Yes, you can end up with diabetes. Yes, you can end up with cancer. Yes, you can end up with coronary heart disease. There are literally hundreds of versions of this sentence, but these are the most common. You are not invincible!

When young, we see older people struggling with a multitude of diseases, but we think “Not me, I will never have that, I am healthy”.

I am here to tell you that you are healthy – until you are not! Your body is amazing at keeping you in homeostasis. The human body can make the necessary adjustments for as long as 10 years before symptoms begin to show.

Homeostasis is the capacity to maintain internal stability in a being to compensate for environmental changes.

In my previous career in the retail specialty food business and event catering, I worked long and hard hours. I pushed myself to achieve greatness in myself and the divisions I was heading. I could do it all!  The 6-day work weeks, the 10 to 12-hour days, many of them back to back.  Whatever I needed to do I would do. I never expected my staff to work as much as I did, as this was my family’s business. Oh, and there were labor laws against it!

In 2008, at 48 years old, I was in the peak of my business, my weight was good due to the additional hours I spent riding horses and barrel racing, I was in pretty good shape. But I noticed that my heart was racing after I ate certain foods, pasta was the worst. After a delicious bowl of homemade macaroni and cheese one night, I could feel my heart pounding out my chest and my back. This went on for about 30 minutes or so. I wasn’t sure if I needed to go to the hospital, then it subsided. Scary but I just filed that detail in my brain for later use. I also noticed this when I ate bread. I finally went to the doctor and he took a glucose tolerance test to see if I was diabetic—nope—all good. So, I went back to my duties as if nothing happened.

In 2009, my stress levels were so high, I started having full-blown panic attacks. If you have never had one, I cannot articulate enough how out of control you feel. From your belly, out of literally nowhere you can feel the tension rising into your chest and neck and head and you have a hard time catching your breath. You feel like you are having a heart attack. This continued for years, so my doctor put me on anxiety medication.  Well, that helped the stress a little, but the panic attacks kept coming more frequently. Hellooooo Xanex! So, I was popping these little buggers up to 3 times a day. The last one of the day was typically taken with a bottle of wine. Then the sleeping pill came several hours later. Scary, right? During this time, I had an incredible weight gain of 60# over about a 3-year period. Now I was also struggling with depression and serious brain fog. I was embarrassed to talk to clients because I could not remember the next word to say. I could see it in a bubble over my head, but I could not grasp it!

Right about that time, my good friend Dr. Kat Peterson, a Naturopathic Physician moved back to Colorado. While visiting with her one day she said, “Miss Avie, you are not the same as when I left, what is going on?”. It was all I could do to not burst into tears, I thought I was holding it all together. I started seeing her professionally shortly thereafter and she tested me for things I had never heard of, starting with testing my cortisol levels, where she found my levels were the highest she had seen and my adrenals were all but shut down from being in a constant state of fight or flight. She discovered I was insulin resistant and running headfirst into the prediabetic phase of type 2 diabetes. My female hormones were completely out of whack.  Long story short, we began my 10-year journey to reclaim my health.

Still not ready to face the facts, that my business was perhaps the driving force behind my health, I pushed on. One of the blood tests I took was to measure C-reactive protein (CRP), which is a marker in your blood that measures body-wide silent inflammation. Silent because there were no physical symptoms like swollen joints and such. This marker came back so high and it was at the top of the bad range. I still didn’t slow down because I said to myself “I can’t”, until one day, my doctor said, “You are close to a heart-related event or stroke”. Boy, that got my attention! My mom had suffered from strokes and I saw the damage. I slowly delegated more duties to trusted staff, and they did amazing! Thank you, Lindsey and Ryan!  I whipped my diet into shape as best as I could. I was taking control of my life and not just getting tossed around in the rapids.

Within 30 days, I felt better. I was still taking the medications prescribed by my conventional medicine doctor, still using wine to help with anxiety, but I was feeling better and taking far less Xanex, drinking less wine. My life was slowly returned to me. For the first time, I was listening to what my body is telling me. Over time, I stopped the Xanex and wine—and then as a few more years went by. I was able to stop the Lexapro. It was not a one-day fix all, but a process well worth going through. I am not sure I could have just stopped everything and hit the ground running with a perfect diet—I could not even go there—but baby steps to improve daily.

In 2015, I decided I needed to go to school to understand my body. I enrolled in the Nutrition Therapy Institute in Denver and began my journey to learn what I needed to know about my most valuable asset, my body, and my brain. I fell in love with the knowledge and new doors were opened in my mind. I am within months of completing my master’s in nutrition therapy certification.  After 10 years, I am free of anxiety, zero symptoms of diabetes, panic attack free, alcohol-free, gluten-free, Lexapro, and Xanex free, 30# lighter, and metabolically in harmony. Dr. Kat and I together, literally saved my life!

So, how can I spread the news about what I see now happening to many of my friends in my age group and some younger? How can I help those other women like myself stop the madness before it’s too late? You can still be successful without giving up your health. Chronic multitasking is no way to live! How do we live with “Simplicity and Focus”?

I did not go to school to start a business—I went to school to understand my body and save my life.  In the process, I found a field I am absolutely passionate about.  In 2019, I started Better Me at 5280 and I am so proud to be by your side on the road back to health.  My certification is a Nutrition Therapist Master and I want to hear your story!

Call me at 303-875-1603 or e-mail me.

100% stress-free 30-minute free consultation!

 

 

 

 

 

 

What is Metabolic Syndrome and Why Should I Care?

Metabolic Syndrome is an encompassing term related to a group of ailments that often hit us in our later 40’s and into our 60’s after a lifetime of just that, life.  We work, we play, we raise families, we shuttle kids everywhere and grab dinner, anywhere!  We brag about all that we juggle and how great we are at multi-tasking.  We are so busy being busy we have no time to learn about the long-term effects.  Why would we care about long-term effects, we are young and we are proud we are invincible…..UNTIL you are no longer.  Metabolic Syndrome seems to come on all of a sudden, but actually has been brewing for many years, some say up to 10 years.  Our bodies are amazing at survival.  They will do whatever it takes to maintain homeostasis, until they don’t or can’t anymore. Read more

How not to make food “PREP” the other four letter word!

I know, first hand what it is like to not have a minute to yourself on the precious time off you get to relax or have fun!  Whether you work full time or are raising a family….there is never enough time.  I have heard this concept of food prepping that takes all of one of your precious days.  In this definition of food prep, you are to cook all your meats, sides and such for the week so you can stay on track with healthy eating.  I disagree!  Let me share with you why and what is best! Read more