Learn To Love Your Cholesterol

avocado.jpg

Cholesterol has been given a bad rap.  This essential substance is vital for:

*healthy cells

*reducing inflammation and repairing tissue damage

*hormone production

*stress adaptation

*proper digestion

*vitamin D synthesis

*memory and brain health

Every cell in our body maintains its integrity due to the cholesterol that makes up its cell wall.  The cholesterol component helps keep the cell wall fluid and permeable for the effective exchange of nutrients and wastes.  Without cholesterol our cells would not function properly.  This could result in poor cellular energy production and greater systemic fatigue. 

Because cells make up tissues which make up organs which make up us, unhealthy cells will lead to unhealthy us.

Cholesterol also acts as the body’s bandaid to minimize tissue damage caused by inflammation, high blood glucose and trans fats from vegetable oils and damaged fats.  

The damage to arteries from these oxidative insults results in the body producing more cholesterol to act as an antioxidant, lining the arteries in an attempt to quell the inflammation and protect the arteries from further damage.  

The problem arises from continued high blood sugar and damaged fats that then cause the protective cholesterol to oxidize and become sticky, leading to clogged arteries. 

Hence, the rescue team becomes the bad guy.

The precursor to hormones is cholesterol, and we certainly all need and want adequate hormone production to keep us young, vital and sexy. 

Not only is cholesterol needed for the production of our precious estrogen, progesterone and testosterone, but also for cortisol which allows us to deal with everyday stressors.

Bile is needed for the digestion of fats.  The liver synthesizes bile from cholesterol.  Inadequate cholesterol will lead to low bile production, sluggish bile, poor fat digestion, and typically gallbladder problems.

We need the healthy fat digestion that bile provides for absorption and utilization of the fat soluble vitamins D, K, A, and E.

Speaking of vitamin D, our bodies have the ability to produce this vitamin when the sun hits our bare skin (without sunscreen).  As the sun meets the cholesterol, present in our every cell, the two perform a biochemical dance to produce vitamin D.

Our brains contain the highest concentration of the cholesterol in our bodies.  It is vital 

for a healthy brain and nervous system.  Cholesterol is a vital part of the wiring that allows for learning and memory.

Studies show that older adults with higher cholesterol, better maintain their cognitive function.  

Lack of sleep has been correlated with poor memory.  One reason may be because sleep allows the brain to replenish its level of cholesterol.

Low levels of cholesterol have also been associated with mood disorders such as depression and mood swings.

Now that you know how important cholesterol is in maintaining good health, how do you insure that your liver is functioning optimally to produce the cholesterol you need?

  1. Keep your diet low in sugar, and add fiber like flaxseeds, chia seeds, nuts and seeds.
  2. include lots of fibrous vegetables like dark leafy greens.  The more bitter the better for your liver, like arugula, brussels sprouts, swiss chard and dandelion greens.
  3. Add local raw honey to lower inflammation and nourish your liver and gut.
  4. Try a shot of apple cider vinegar in the morning to help alkalize the body’s PH and nourish the digestive tract.
  5. Warm water with lemon will thin the bile and aid in liver function.
  6. Milk thistle is a powerful herb that gives the liver a boost.
  7. Go easy on alcohol and reduce toxins to unburden the livers job of detoxifying.
  8. Practice de-stressing techniques so your liver does not need to be constantly pumping out cholesterol to provide you with the stress hormone cortisol.
  9. Move your body everyday.  
  10. Let go of anger which we hold in the liver.  Practice forgiveness of self and others.

I for one embrace organic free range eggs, and avocados are my favorite food.  A ketogenic diet may not be for everyone, but many people have improved their health by eating higher amounts of healthy fats and cutting way back on carbohydrates.

As usual, a personalized diet and lifestyle plan is best…but don’t be afraid to eat an avocado.

Unfortunately, pharmaceutical companies are cashing in on statin drug sales, and many conventional doctors are right there with them advocating for lowering cholesterol levels in their patients by using these highly damaging drugs.  Studies show statin side effects include muscle damage, (including the heart muscle), increased risk of diabetes, liver damage and memory loss.   

Not to mention lower hormone production, thereby reducing your ability to handle stress, adding insult to injury for those managing menopause.

For guidance and support on your journey to better health and vitality, contact me for a free 15 minute consultation at nina.lynn@me.com or call me at 301-332-5732.

 

Overcoming Weight Loss Resistance

appetite-1239159__340.jpg

It comes as no surprise to menopausal women (no matter where you fall in the spectrum of pre to post), that once your hormones loose their balance you pack on the pounds, and they don’t want to budge.

Weight loss resistance can be a attributed to a number of factors that interfere with the body’s ability to maintain a healthy metabolism, or to drop body fat.

Here are some common causes of weight loss resistance:

Female Hormone imbalance  

Stress

Inflammation

Toxins

Damaged Metabolism

* Female Hormone imbalance can occur at any age, but in peri-menopause when progesterone levels drop, women find themselves on that slippery slope of hormone imbalance.  Initially progesterone drops more quickly and to a greater degree than estrogen, which sets you up for estrogen dominance. 

Add to that the chemicals that mimic estrogen found in plastics, pesticides, cosmetics, the environment and hormones in animal products and you will soon be feeling the effects of estrogen dominance.   

This includes weight gain around the middle and lower body, fatigue, anxiety, mood swings, bloating, headaches and weight loss resistance.

Further, excess sugar, refined carbohydrates and alcohol all elevate estrogen levels, suppress thyroid function and lower serotonin levels.  Hello tired, sad and chubby.

Adding insult to injury, those extra fat cells you are carrying around make their own estrogen, compounding the problem.

* Stress causes an increase in the hormone cortisol, which signals the body to raise blood sugar levels resulting in elevated insulin.  

Prolonged stress and high cortisol results in adrenal exhaustion, a slower metabolism, elevated blood pressure and high cholesterol, while simultaneously causing you to put on fat around the belly. 

As insulin is constantly being secreted to deal with the elevated blood sugar brought on by stress (cortisol), your cells become insulin resistant, which leads to metabolic syndrome and diabetes.  

High levels of insulin, (also caused by high levels of estrogen) will also promote fat storage, and can damage the brain, heart and gut.

Remember, stress can be real or imagined, your body reacts to it with the same cascade of hormones.

* Inflammation is often hidden in the form of a damaged gut, which could be caused by a poor diet of processed foods full of sugar and trans fats.  Gluten has also been found to damage the lining of the gut.

Food intolerances or sensitivities also drive inflammation as the body mounts an immune response to what it perceives as a foreign object.  Toxins, chronic infections, or over-exercise also cause inflammation.  

No matter what the cause, in an attempt to quell the inflammation, the adrenal glands react to this physical stress the same way they react to emotional and mental stress, by secreting cortisol, which causes elevated blood sugar, which leads to high insulin, which can lead to further inflammation.  Quite a weight loss resistance cycle.

* Toxins in general are a real block to dropping body fat.  We are exposed to toxins everyday from our foods, the environment, cosmetics, municipal water, pesticides, herbicides, fungicides, plastics, household cleaners and heavy metals, (as a short list).

To keep such toxins from circulating in our blood stream, they are trapped in our fat cells.  Thus the body resists burning fat because that would release the toxins into the blood stream, causing damage to the tissues.

Also, fat cells produce the hormone leptin, which signals the brain when we have taken in enough calories and are “satiated”.  The more fat, the more leptin, which leads to leptin resistance in the brain, so you never get the signal that you are full and to stop eating.  

Believing that you are starving, the brain actually sends signals to take in more food, and to slow the metabolism to maintain the fat stores you have.

As well as your body fat, heavy metals like mercury and lead can hide in your bones, brain and kidneys, damaging these organs.

* A damaged metabolism  occurs when your metabolism is breaking down more than it is building up.

All of the conditions above contribute to a damaged metabolism.  You are basically burning yourself out without doing what is necessary to recover and rebuild.

A poor diet of excess sugars, refined and processed foods, along with stress be it mental, physical or imagined,  over-exercise, food intolerances and toxins will all cause inflammation, and damage your metabolism.

How do you heal your metabolism, gently detox, lower inflammation, reduce stress, and balance your hormones?

  1. Eat an anti-inflammatory diet of whole foods, heavy on the plants.  The high mineral content and fiber of plants keep the gut healthy and aid in the elimination of toxins.  Include a clean protein, animals raised to range free and are not given growth hormones, antibiotics or fed grain laden with toxins. Add some healthy fats, and you have a balanced meal providing you with the nutrients you need to build a healthy metabolism.
  2. Cut down on your toxic load by eating organic when possible, choosing organic personal care products and cleaning products, and filter your water.
  3. Add green drinks to your daily routine to help with detoxification and supercharge with valuable nutrients.
  4. Add probiotics to our daily regime to help build a healthy gut.
  5. Exercise appropriately for your level of fitness and stress.  Do not over-exercise.  (Start easy and build slowly).
  6. De-stress throughout the day.  Deep breathing, visualizations, meditations, yoga, qi gong, or taking a nap will all help reduce inflammation.
  7. Include supplements like a multi-vitamin, B vitamins, vitamin D, vitamin C, and omega 3 essential fatty acids, as a very short list to provide your body with missing nutrients and anti-inflammatory properties.
  8. Get your beauty sleep.  Aim for 7-8 hours.
  9. Turn negative self-talk into positive affirmations.
  10. Don’t rule out bioidentical hormones to replenish what your body is no longer producing on its own.

As always, it is best to have a personalized program designed for your specific needs based on your specific metabolism.

For guidance and support on your journey to hormone balance, contact me for a free 15 minute consultation nina.lynn@me.com, or call me at 301-332-5732.

 

Managing Menopause

Monet 4.JPG

As women experience the hormonal changes of peri-menopause and menopause, they may find themselves dealing with fatigue, brain fog, bloating, tender breasts, weight gain around the middle and hips, headaches, insomnia, and mood swings.  That’s a long list.

Lowering levels of progesterone, can cause these symptoms as early as a woman’s 30’s.  

Then as estrogen levels drop down the road, our symptoms can become more severe with hot flashes, night sweats and even depression as lower estrogen drags serotonin levels down as well.

The hormonal rollercoaster gets into full swing with estrogen dominance as stress, high blood sugar, extra body fat, and xenoestrogens (chemicals that mimic estrogens in the body) from plastics, pesticides and even cosmetics, all drive estrogen levels up with too little progesterone to keep it in check.

I work with women in the following five major areas to help them manage the physical, emotional and mental challenges of peri-menopause and menopause.

Nutrition 

Stress Reduction

Adequate Sleep 

Appropriate Exercise 

Emotional Clearing

Replacing processed, refined packaged foods with real, organic, colorful whole foods is a first step to a gentle detox while providing the body with the nutrients needed to build, repair and detoxify.  

A good rule of thumb is to include (3-4 ounces) of a clean protein, along with a healthy fat and a real carbohydrate at each meal.

Real carbohydrates can be planted and harvested and should be eaten in their whole (not processed) form. There are no pasta, bread or doughnut trees that I know of.

Clean protein comes from livestock and poultry that are allowed to range free, with no antibiotics or growth hormone.  Or fish that are wild caught, not farmed.

Examples of healthy fats are, coconut oil, extra virgin olive oil, flax oil, organic nuts and seeds, avocados, flax seeds, and of course the essential fatty acids of omega 3 in fish oil and omega 6 in grass fed meats and in borage and primrose oils.

Damaged fats would be vegetable oils and canola oil.  These oils become trans fats during their high heat processing in preparation for the marketplace.  Trans fats damage arteries, and the gut, while causing inflammation.  Please steer clear.

These are very basic guidelines.  A personalized eating plan is the best way to provide the proper nutrition, and metabolic healing for YOUR specific system.  

Stress reduction is paramount in balancing hormones.  When cortisol (the stress hormone produced by the adrenal glands) is high, your estrogen and progesterone as well as thyroid hormones are suppressed.  

While high cortisol from stress drives up blood sugar, it also drives down serotonin (the happy neurotransmitter), which causes you to crave sweets.  

As the adrenal glands also produce 40% of the estrogen and progesterone in your system (from the precursors they provide) before menopause, and as much as 90% after menopause, it is a good idea to manage your stress so they are not exhausted by the time peri-menopause and menopause rolls around.

De-stressing can be as easy as closing your eyes, visualizing your “happy place” and taking long deep breaths.  Grounding is also a powerful way to calm the nervous system.  Grounding, or earthing is simply standing on the earth (grass or sand, not concrete) bare footed and connecting to the energy of the earth.  

Adequate sleep, being between 7 to 9 hours a night, also helps regulate hormones and allows for regeneration of the brain and body.

  • Beauty sleep suggestions include:
  • Get to bed by 10 pm.
  • Unplug from electronics 30 min before bed.
  • Make your room as dark as a cave, no ambient light.
  • Keep your room cool.
  • Enjoy a calming ritual before bed—soak in a tub, listen to relaxing music, read something spiritual or enjoyable, (please not the news).
  • Try meditation, visualization, gratitude or simply deep breathing.

Over-exercising can be a detriment to your very goal of health and fitness.  Over-exercise stresses and breaks down your system, aging you in fast forward.  

Moderate exercise in a form that you enjoy, will do you more good than pushing yourself to exhaustion.  If you find you have over done it, be sure to allow for more rest for a full recovery.  It is in the recovery that we get stronger, not in the work.

As women, we process information through our limbic system, the emotional brain.  It’s no wonder we attach emotions to “everything”.  

Emotions should be energy in motion.  When that energy gets stuck or blocked, it can cause physical, emotional or mental pain that keeps us stuck and unable to achieve our goals.

I use muscle testing with clients to bypass the conscious mind and free up the energy flow to clear stuck emotions and beliefs.  This allows for a more positive approach to challenges and unburdens the soul.

Along with incorporating the above Transformational Life Choices (TLC), finding an integrative medicine doctor who can help you with bioidentical hormone replacement therapy, BHRT, may be just what you need to manage your menopause with grace and ease.

As women of wisdom and experience, menopause should be a time of liberation and re-birth.  

The area of our body where we once created life is the center of all our creativity.  

If we tap into that area of creativity through art, dance, music, writing, whatever brings us joy and passion, we are bringing life once again to that most sacred center of female essence.

For guidance and support in managing menopause, contact me for a free 15 minute consultation at nina.lynn@me.com, or call me at 301-332-5732.

 

I Have Bad Genes

Beach.jpg

Have you ever felt like you simply have bad genes?  Do certain disorders run in your family?  Well, the good news is that we are not slaves to our genetics.  The science of epigenetics shows us that we can control our gene expression.  Meaning which genes get turned on and which remain dormant.  Thereby bypassing the blueprint of our genetic code, and consciously designing the the environmental “home” our cells live in.

How do we do this, turn our genes on or off?  Simply speaking, by the choices we make every day about how we eat, exercise, sleep, and think.  (The toxic level of our physical environment also plays a role, but we have less influence over that).

Perhaps the most important piece to the puzzle of gene expression is how we think…our belief system.  This is because our thoughts and feelings affect our emotions, which in turn affect our cells, which in turn affect our genes.

The biochemistry of this phenomena is fairly straight forward.  Emotions elicit neurotransmitter and hormonal responses in the body that send chemical signals to the cells directing their behavior, which includes how cells are replicated. These chemical messengers have a direct effect on the gene sequencing of the DNA, and therefore the health of our cells, which make up our tissues, which make up our organs, which make up our body.  Positive emotions lead to healthy new cells, negative emotions can lead to unhealthy new cells.

Feelings like gratitude, compassion, love, joy, contentment, peace, and happiness can help us all enjoy healthier longer lives.  We all have something, or hopefully many things that bring us joy everyday.  Whether that is the love of our partner, children or pet, a great bike ride, a walk in the woods, or just peaceful time to ourselves.  Like the popular saying goes, “whatever makes you happy, do that!”       

If you are at a place in your life where these feelings are not a part of your everyday existence, then take 5 minutes to close your eyes, pull up memories of loving, happy times, put a hand on your heart and breathe deeply.  This simple exercise will flood your body with the chemical messengers of rest, recovery, health and longevity…plus it feels great.  Oh ya, that’s the point.

When we feel better we tend to make healthier choices in general.  We are in control.  So, rather than throwing up our hands and saying, “I have bad genes”, perhaps we could take more responsibility for the choices we make on a daily basis, and actually direct our genes to work FOR us.

As a wellness and lifestyle coach I can guide you to better choices that are in your highest best interest.  Contact me for a free 15 minute consultation at nina.lynn@me.com, or call me at 301-332-5732.

 

The Spider Web Of Hormone Balance

Hormones are the body’s messengers, directing all of its functioning.  In a healthy body the hormonal system maintains a finely tuned balance.  Think of it like a spider’s web.  When one hormone is out of balance it’s like flicking the web, it affects the whole web of your hormonal system.   

The major hormones, insulin, cortisol, and adrenaline control life sustaining bodily functions like maintaining blood pressure and heart rate, blood sugar regulation, ph balance and stress adaptation.  

The minor hormones like melatonin, pregnenolone, estrogen, progesterone, testosterone, DHEA and human growth hormone rely on the proper balance of the major players in order to fully function. 

That is why it is so important to keep your insulin and cortisol levels steady and in balance.  They provide the rhythm for the rest of your hormones to keep up with the dance.  

However, if you eat too many refined carbohydrates, your insulin levels will be off the charts and that will eventually lead to insulin resistance.  

Likewise, stressors of all kinds cause high cortisol levels, which if chronic (as with most people) will leave you with adrenal exhaustion resulting in low cortisol levels and an inability to handle stress.  

When your insulin and cortisol levels are dysregulated, that "flicks the web" and throws your entire hormonal system out of balance.  

To feel your best your hormones must be balanced.  Fatigue, insomnia, brain fog, cravings headaches, depression, PMS, and premature aging are all symptoms of hormonal imbalances. 

Women experiencing peri-menopause and menopause are quite familiar with these symptoms of hormone imbalance as their progesterone levels drop, and estrogen follows along.     

Because the precursors to hormones are protein, cholesterol and essential fats, your diet should include these nutrients to ensure proper hormone production.  

These same macronutrients are also necessary to keep blood sugar balanced and insulin regulated.  

By eating clean grass fed meats, organic eggs from cage free hens, and healthy fats like organic nuts, seeds, avocados, coconut oil, olive oil, fish oil and flax seeds, you are “feeding” your hormones and addressing the above symptoms.  

If at the same time you reduce and manage your stress, get adequate sleep, exercise regularly and maintain a positive attitude, cortisol and insulin levels will stay on track, and you have set the stage for overall hormonal balance.  

For guidance and support on your journey to hormonal balance and well being, contact me for a free 15 minute consultation at nina.lynn@me.com, or call me at 301-332-5732.

Sleep Deprivation Can Be Lethal

You have no doubt heard the foretelling saying “I’ll sleep when I’m dead”; you may have even said it yourself.  

In fact, lack of sleep can be lethal. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, drowsiness and fatigue cause more that 100,000 traffic accidents each year resulting in 1,550 deaths.  

At the very least sleep deprivation will age you in fast forward.  

But how much sleep do you really need? Ideally humans should go to bed when the sun sets, and rise with it in the morning to stay in sync with natural circadian rhythms. 

This is hardly practical, especially in the winter months.  However, if you can get to bed by 10:00 pm, and get up around 6:30 am, your body would thank you.  

Between the hours of 10:00 pm and 2:00 am your body regenerates physically, and between the hours of 2:00 am and 6:00 am your brain regenerates psychologically. Cut into either one of those 4-hour segments, and you are compromising your system’s ability to restore itself. 

Hormonally speaking, (melatonin, serotonin, insulin, dopamine, prolactin and cortisol, to name a few), can not be balanced with out deep prolonged sleep.

The good news is, you will also be balancing your blood sugar and neurotransmitters, strengthening your immune system and slowing the aging process.   

Best case scenario to keep disease at bay and have natural energy and vitality, is to get 8 hours of restful uninterrupted sleep a night, starting as close to 10:00 pm as possible.  

There are folks who insist that 5 hours is all they need.  Of course, that’s after their Venti Cappuccino in the morning, Red Bull mid afternoon, Pepsi at 3 pm, and another with dinner.  No wonder it takes them until 2 am to fall asleep.  

The closer you get to 8 hours of sleep a night, the healthier you will be, the less you’ll spend at Starbucks, and the longer you will live.

For guidance and support on your journey to better sleep, contact me for a free 15 minute consultation at nina.lynn@me.com, or call me at 301-332-5732