Healthy Heart: Tips for Healthy Cholesterol

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Cardiovascular Disease is a class of diseases that involves the heart or blood vessels.  Two of the most common causes of cardiovascular diseases are atherosclerosis (hardening of arteries) and hypertension (high blood pressure).  In this article I will focus primarily on ways to prevent atherosclerosis, however many of these diet and lifestyle tips will also encourage healthy blood pressure levels.

Atherosclerosis, or hardening of the arteries, is most commonly due to fatty materials such as CHOLESTEROL. Cholesterol, a fat like substance, is important in many bodily functions, however having too much cholesterol can lead to many adverse effects.  There are two main types of cholesterol: low density lipoprotein (LDL) and high density lipoprotein (HDL).  LDL cholesterol is known as “bad cholesterol” as too much of it can build up in your arteries, narrowing blood flow to the brain and heart, and therefore INCREASING your risk of a heart attack or stroke.  HDL is known as “good cholesterol” as it may aid in preventing LDL from sticking to your artery walls, helping to DECREASE your risk of heart attack and stroke.  The ratio between LDL and HDL cholesterol is very important, and it is best to aim for low LDL and high HDL.  Total Cholesterol (TC) is your LDL + HDL + triglycerides (fat).  Total cholesterol levels should be under 200mg/dl.

There are many factors that affect high cholesterol, including genetics.  We cannot change our genes but we can modify diet and lifestyle to encourage a positive cholesterol ratio, lower total cholesterol levels and decrease our risk of heart attack or stroke.

Listed below is some dietary advice that can significantly benefit your lipid profile!

What to Avoid

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Saturated Fats and Trans Fats: High total cholesterol and high LDL cholesterol is linked with a diet of saturated fats and trans fatty acids.  Saturated Fats come from animal fats, fatty cuts of red meats, high fat dairy such as cheese, ice cream and 2% or higher milk. Trans Fats are found in margarines, fried foods and commercially baked goods such as donuts, cookies and cakes.  Also, packed freezer foods such as microwave dinners, pop tarts and frozen pizza products often contain high amounts of trans fats. As a general rule, it is best to avoid processed and packaged foods.

What to Eat

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1. Fish: Consumption of fish has been shown to produce favorable effects on the lipid profile. It is best if fish is consumed twice a week, and is most beneficial if eaten baked or broiled. Frying fish decreases the amounts of healthy oils found in fish that are so very advantageous to your health.

2. Raw Almonds and Walnuts:  Eating 84g/day of almonds or 68g/day of walnuts has been shown to reduce total and LDL cholesterol. Interestingly enough, eating nuts frequently is shown to reduce heart disease by 30-50%.

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3. Olive Oil: Can reduce LDL cholesterol and increase HDL cholesterol, encouraging a desirable lipid profile.  It is advised to eat olive oil uncooked, by adding on top of salads, soups or breads as frying olive oil changes the chemical structure and reduces its healthy properties.

4. Coconut Oil: This oil is high in saturated fats, HOWEVER, new research is emerging showing that coconut oil may in fact decrease LDL cholesterol and raise HDL cholesterol. Of added benefit, some research is beginning to show that a diet high in coconut may improve cognitive function.

5. DO NOT OVER EAT! Having more weight on your body significantly increases your chances of heart disease.

Sources

1. JF, Anand SX, Valdiviezo C, et al. Update in atherothrombotic disease. Mt Sinai J Med 2004;71:197-208

2. Bucher HC, Hengstler P, Schindler C, et al. N-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids in coronary artery disease: a meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. Am J Med 2002;112:298-304.

3. . Abby M, Noakes M, Belling GB, Nestel PJ. Partial replacement of saturated fats with almonds or walnuts lowers total plasma cholesterol and low density lipoprotein cholesterol. Am J Clin Nutr 1994;59:995-99.

4. . Fraser GE. Nut Consumption, lipids and risk of a coronary event. Clin Cardiol 1999;22 (7Suppl):III 1-III15.

5.  Cullinen K. Olive oil in the treatment of hypercholesterolemia. Med Health R I 2006;89:113.

6. Freeman LR, Haley-Zitlin V, Stevens Granholm AC. Diet-induced effects on uronal and glial elements in the middle-aged rat hippocampus. Nutr Neurosc,vol.14, no.1, pp.32-44, 2011.

7. Granholm AC, Bimonte-Nelson HA, Moore, AB, Nelson ME, Freeman LR, Sambamurti K. Effects of a saturated fat and high cholesterol diet on memory and hippocampal morphology in the middle-aged rat. J Alzheimers Dis, vol.14, no.2, pp.133–45, 2008

8.Nevin, K, and Rajamohan T. Beneficial effects of virgin coconut oil on lipid parameters and in vitro LDL oxidation. Clinical Biochemistry, Volume 37, Issue 9, September 2004, Pages 830–835. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.clinbiochem.2004.04.010

9. L, Villareal DT, Weiss EP, et al. Calorie restriction or exercise: effects on coronary heart disease risk factors. A randomized controlled trial. Am J Physiol Endocrinol Metab 2007;293:E197-202.

10.. Prousky, Jonathan, ND. “Hypercholesteremia” In: Principles & Practices of Naturopathic Clinical Nutrition. Pp68-74, 2008 CCNM Press: Toronto

Photos Courtesy of:

FreedigitalPhotos.net: Human Heart with stethoscope by dream designs

FeedDigitalPhotos.net:Carp Background by Vlado

FreedDigitalPhotos.net:Selection of Cakes by Grant Cochrane

FreedDigitalPhotos.net:Bottle of Olive Oil with Olives by m_bartosch

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Product Review : SINFULLY WHOLESOME

Today I would like to tell you all about a wonderful new company, Sinfully Wholesome.  They make 100% wild crafted, organic soaps and oils that are truely AMAZING. Additionally, they distribute “soap nuts” which are used in place of laundry detergent and surprisingly do an excellent job cleaning clothes!! All Sinfully Wholesome products are ECO CERT and USDA Organic approved and the company strives to be environmentally and socially responsible.

As many of you that read my blog may know, typical soaps and detergents contain lots of harmful chemicals that are carcinogenic, endocrine disrupting, and harsh on the entire body.  Therefore, I always choose soaps, detergents and skin care products that are 100% natural without any of the nasty chemicals. I am truely impressed by the Sinfully Wholesome product line as everything they make is 100% pure but also so effective and nourishing.  Additionally, they take pride in sourcing the best available ingredients in an ethical and thoughtful manner.

Firstly, all the products come in gorgeous packaging made from Lokta Paper.  Even better, the making of this paper is helping to generate an income for the woman of Nepal.  Here is a short video explaining: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NOFq-7xg-4g.

Luxurious Sinfully Wholesome Argan Soap

Luxurious Sinfully Wholesome Argan Soap.

All Sinfully Wholesome soaps come in a very large bar and have a soft beautiful natural smell of the essential oil or plant they are made from.  The Argan Soap is one of my favorites, traditionally used for dry skin, acne, psoriasis among other many things it left my skin feeling nourished and radiant!  That being said the Soliiphilia Soap is SO LUXURIOUS and heavenly.  Soliphilia also has anti-aging properties and produces a wonderful, rich lather. Laurel oils are in both the Soliphilia Soap and the Aleppo soap. Laurel has a high level of antioxidants (great for keeping your skin looking young) but also has antimicrobial and anti-fungal properties which is excellent for helping to treat acne, dermatitis or possibly tinea infections (common fungal skin infections). Additionally, Sinfully Wholesome makes a castile soap which is also lovely:)

SAM_2589The Nepelese Soap Nuts are something that are new to me, and I LOVE them.  So simple, you put 4-5 nuts (about the size of a walnut) in a small bag provided with the product.  Toss this in your wash and Volia! Clean clothes without any chemicals or harmful fragrances.  Even better. after you use the soap nuts for a few washes, you can put them in a spray bottle with water and use for household cleaning.  As the nuts are good for a few washes I have yet to try this but I am excited to experiment with this!SAM_2590

Here is a 10 minute video on soap nuts, and how they make their way to the kind people at Sinfully Wholesome: https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?v=10150780741121650&set=vb.174784579204496&type=3&theater

The Sinfully Wholesome team also distributes wonderful, organic, pure Moroccan argan oil.  SAM_2593

Available in small glass bottles or this easy to roll on glass tube- that I LOVE.  I have been keeping it in my purse and using it around my eyes. However, you can use it in your hail and on your nails.  Argan oil is naturally rich in antioxidants, essential fatty acids, carotenoids, ferulic acid, sterols, polyphenols, vitamin E and squalene. These elements help to reduce inflammation, promote healing and regenerate damaged and aging skin.  Additionally, the ferulic acid is known to an anti microbial which is an added bonus!

Overall I am SO impressed by Sinfully Wholesome and am very happy to tell you all about them!  For further information and ordering here is their website: http://sinfullywholesome.com/wildcrafted_skin_care_products.html.

ALUMINUM AND DEMENTIA

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It seems many people are interested in what they can do to help prevent dementia and keep thier brain healthy.  I have recently done a few talks on Alzheimers prevention and have found that there are many things we can all do to increase our chances of keeping out minds healthy!!

Today, I would like to talk specifically about Aluminum.

Aluminum toxicity appears to play a large role in the etiopathology of AD. Aluminum interferers with the transmission of acetylcholine, an important neurotransmitter involved in memory.  It seems that aluminum is FOUR TIMES higher in the brains of patients with Alzheimer’s compared to people that do not have the disease. Addionally, aluminum appears to increase OXIDATIVE STRESS in the brain.  Oxidative stress appears to be likind with the changes that take place in the brain when one has alzheimers disease (for those of you who are more technical- it is linked with the development of neurofibrillary tangles)   With this being said, there is no conclusive evidence linking AD with aluminum toxicity however I would highly suggest avoiding sources of aluminum as it does seem to play a role in the development of the disease.

Sources of Aluminum:

Store bought pickles (contain a preservative containing aluminum)

Some cosmetics- check the list of ingredients to ensure there is NOTHING that says aluminum!

Deodorants- Use deodorants that DO NOT have aluminum. Most drug stores now carry a few brands that are aluminum free.  Image

Aluminum Foil- Do not use the foil to bake or store your food. Use pots and pans (also make sure they are not aluminum) and store your left overs in glass containers.

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There are many other things you can do to keep your brain healthy- stay tuned for futre blog posts!!

Prousky, Jonathan, ND.  “Alzheimer’s Disease” in: Principles and Practices of Naturopathic Medicine. pp216-222. 2008, CCNM Press, Toronto

 Kuljis RO.  Alzheimer’s disease. EMedicine. [www.emedicine.com/neuro/topic13.htm]Accessed December 11, 2012. 

Canadian Study of Health and Aging Working Group: Canadian study of health and aging: study methods and prevalence of dementia. CMAJ 1994;150:899-913.

Foster HD. How aluminum causes Alzheimer’s disease: the implications for prevention and treatment of Foster’s multiple antagonistic hypothesis. J Orthomol Med 200;15:21-51.

Naylor GJ, Sheperd B, Treliving L et al., Tissue aluminum concentraions stability over time, relationship to age, and dietary intake. Biol Psychiatry 1990;27;884-90.

Barberger-Garlau P, Raffaitin C, Letenneur L. Dietary Patterns and Demenia. AAN Neurol 2007;69:1921-1930.Solfrizzi V, Panza F, Capurso A. The role of diet in cognitive decline. J Neual Transm 2003;110:95-110.

Jama JW, Launer LJ, Witterman JC, et al. Dietary antioxidants and cognitive function in a population based sample of older persons.  Am J Epidemiol 1996;144:275-280., N., Hoerr R., and Ihl R. Alleviating neuropsychiatric symptoms in dementia: the effects of Ginkgo biloba extract EGb 761®. Findings from a randomized controlled trial. Neuropsychiatr Dis Treat 2011;7:209–15

Campbell A, Bondy SC Aluminum induced oxidative events and itsrelation to inflammation: a role for the metal in Alzheimer’s disease.Cell Mol Biol 2000, 46(4):721-730
Eldercare: What We Know Today. Statistics Canada report, October 20, 2008.
Zatta, P., Kiss, T., Suwalsky, M., et al. Aluminium(III) as a promoterof cellular oxidation Coordination Chemistry Reviews, Volume 228, Issue 2, 3 June 2002, Pages 271–284

BREASTS!! (Again)

Cyclic Breast Tenderness with PMS

It is common among  woman to experience breast tenderness before or during the onset of menses. Many woman also notice tissue changes in thier breasts with hormonal fluctuations. Movable, soft cysts in the breast that begin up to two weeks before the onset of menses and resolve once your flow stops is reffered to as fibrocystic breast disease (Kaur, Sat Dharam, 2003)

It is thought that this is due to the effect of more prominant estrogen compared to progesterone on the breast during this time of the cycle (Hudson, Tori 2008).  However, some researchers think it may also be due to an underactive thyroid or change in the ratio of your endogenous estrogens. 

Mastalgia is any breast pain that disrupts a womans quality of life and, if severe enough, causes her to seek treatment (Hudson, Tori 2008).  Pain may be present because of old trauma, acute infection, nodules or unwanted growths.  If pain or swellings do not change during your cycle please seek the care of your doctor. 

 

Nutrition

A diet rich in fruits and vegetables and lower in inflammatory foods such as tomatoes, eggplants, tobacco and potatoes may help reduce the pain.  Other high fiber foods (including fruits and vegetables)  oat bran, split peas, lentils, beans can help eliminate excess estrogens from the body, potentially lessening the negative effect on the breast tissue. 

 

Caffeine (Methylxanthine)

Methylxanthine is found in black tea, green tea, cola, chocolate and coffee. There is a postive correlation between consumption of methylxanthines and fibrocystic breasts. 

Try to avoid these, espeically around the time of your menses.  Allow at least 3 months of little to no consumption of these before you may notice a difference. 

 

Nutritional Defciencies

Deficiences of Vitamin B6, Vitamin E, iodine or coenzyme Q10 may be atrriuted to painful, cystic breasts.  Talk to your Naturopathic Doctor about supplementing with these nutrients. 

 

Practice Breast Massage

Breast massage can help increase lymphatic drainage and keep breasts healthy. For instructions click here: https://emilylipinski.com/2011/02/22/breasts-massage/

 

 Sources:

Hudson, Tori 2008. Women’s Encyclopedia of Natural Medicine: Alternative Thereapies and Integrative Medicine for Total Health and Wellness. McGraw Hill, USA

Kaur, Sat Dharam, 2003. The Complete Natural Medicine Guide to Breast Cancer, Robert Rose Inc. Ontario Canada.

 

A Few “Very Naturopathic” Weight Loss Tips

1. Always eat breakfast! Breakfast helps to kick start our metabolism and increase our metabolic rate for the whole day. By including protein in your first meal of the day you will also stay full and satisfied for longer.
2.Cook with coconut oil as much as possible. Our bodies have trouble storing the fat from coconut oil so as soon as we eat it we burn it!! This also encourages fat loss.
3.Drink at least 8 glasses of water a day and add lemon and/ or a pinch of cayenne to your water. The lemon increases liver detox and the cayenne can help stimulate weight loss.
4.Do not eat three hours before bedtime. You don’t need the fuel right before bedtime, and eating late at night can also interfere with melatonin production, preventing you from getting the rest you need.
6.Try and get 8 hours of sleep a night. Proper sleep helps decrease cortisol levels. High cortisol levels are associated with weight gain. Additionally, when we have enough sleep we have more energy to exercise and less of a tendency to make poor choices when eating.
7. Try and be active EVERYDAY. Even if it is just a 30 minute power walk, at least you are getting your body moving. However, to encourage weight loss you have to sweat, so when you do go to the gym or for a run make sure to work at a level that you are perspiring at.

Hypothyroid

The thyroid gland, also known as the master gland of metabolism is located at the front of the neck.  This gland produces two important hormones, T3 and T4.  These hormones have many important functions including regulating metabolism and oxygen consumption.  Hypothyroidism is a thyroid deficiency that can occur at any age and effects up to 10% of woman (1).

Signs of Thyroid Dysfunction:

Depression
Difficulty loosing weight
Dry skin
Headaches
Fatigue
Sensitivity to cold/ often feeling cold
Recurrent infections(2)

 

If you have been having these symptoms, you may want to consider having your thyroid tested (via blood test) by your doctor.  TSH, T4, T3 and thyroid antibodies are the tests required to investigate thyroid function.

There are many natural supplements to encourage the functioning of thyroid including iodine (found in seaweed), selenium, zinc, copper, vitamin C and iron.  If you have low thyroid or suspect your do, discuss treatment plans with your naturopathic doctor for boosting your thyroid and encouraging proper metabolism!

1.Merck Manual, 18th ed. 2006 Merck Research Laboratories, Whitehouse Station, NJ.
2.Murray, T. and Bongiorno, P “Hypothryoidism” found in: The Textbook of Natural Medicine by Pizzorno J and Murray M. 2006 Churchill, Livingstone, Elsevier, St Louis Missouri

 

Healing Foods for Menopause

Menopause is defined of the absence of a women’s  menses (period) for one full year (1). Perimenopause is the time before the total loss of menses where the menses can become heavier, lighter or irregular.  During this time (perimenopause and menopause) woman can experience a myriad of uncomfortable symptoms. This is largely due to the change in hormones, first the drop in progesterone levels in the body and then the drop in estrogen levels. The good news is that some foods can help to ease these uneasy side effects of the change in life!

1. Pomegranate.  These fruits have a large quantity of phytoestrogens which may help woman in their menopausal health (2).  In fact, pomegranate oil contains more estrogen than any other plant source!!! Therefore, woman with estrogen positive breast cancer should be cautious when taking pomegranate in high amounts.

2. Black beans.  As an alternative to soy beans, try consuming more black beans. They contain just as much phytoestrogen and can be very tasty when added to rice dishes or soups and salads. They are also high in fiber and therefore excellent for the digestive system!

3. Celery- Mildly estrogenic, this can be a good snack choice throughout the day.  Celery also is a great diuretic and when eaten every day may help to lower blood pressure!

4. Walnuts- High in omega 3 fatty acids these nuts can help improve skin, mood and memory.  They are great along as a snack or mixed into trail mixes and salads.

For more info and ideas on how foods can help menopausal symptoms talk to your Naturopathic Doctor!

(1)The Merck Manual of Diagnosis and Therapy. 2006. Merck Research Laboratories, Whitehouse Station, NJ.
(2)Duke, James. The Green Pharmacy to Healing Foods. 2008, Rodale Inc: New York NY.