Learn To Love Your Cholesterol

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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.

 

Managing Menopause

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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.

 

Recharge Your Batteries

We all understand the concept of needing to charge our electrical technology, but when it comes to recharging our body mind and spirit, we don’t want to be bothered.  Sleeping less than 7-8 hours a night, or running all day without any breaks, is like only partially charging your phone or computer’s battery. 

Sleep is our opportunity  to recharge our “batteries”.  When we skimp on sleep we run ourselves into the ground, literally.  What do we say when our phone battery runs out?  “My phone died”, or “my phone just went dead”.  It works pretty much the same for us, it’s just a slower process. 

When your  phone or computer displays the “low battery” warning, do you  plug your device in, or do you hit “dismiss” and keep right on going? 

Unfortunatelyour bodies don’t have a visual “low battery” warning.  Our signals are fatigue, brain fog and illness, which many of us ignore, or worse, think is “normal”.  Feeling “normal” should mean being alert, motivated, energetic and vital.  When was the last time you felt like that? 

When you get enough sleep (7-9 hours, yes that much), your immune system is strong enough to keep you from catching the flu that everyone around you has,  your brain is able to function because your neurotransmitters regenerate and your brain is able to detoxify,  your blood sugar and hormones have a chance to regulate so you are not constantly craving sweets, while biting everyones head off, and that lovely growth hormone that comes out at night can keep you young and vital. 

And what happens when you don’t get enough sleep?  Fat around the belly, aging in fast forward, mood swings, food cravings, fatigue and even insulin resistance. 

The good news is, every night is a new chance to get the sleep your body needs.  Meanwhile, you can take short breaks during the day to recharge and help make up for your lack of sleep the night before.   

Here are five 5 minute recharges, that are well worth making time for. 

  1. Sit quietly, close your eyes, place your hand over your heart, and visualize a loving memory.

  2. Try a little Qi Gong.  Stand with your feet slightly wider than hip width, knees relaxed, arms to your sides.  Take a deep slow breath into your belly while slowly raising your arms to shoulder height.  Slowly exhale and shift your weight to your right leg while bringing your left foot in to meet the right (95% of weight on the right foot, 5% on ball of the left foot), while lowering your arms.  Slowly inhale and open the left foot back to where it started, while floating  your arms back up--weight on both feet.  Repeat to the left side.  Inhale arms float up, feet open, exhale arms float down, weight on one foot.  Move as in slow motion, work up to 5 minutes.  This will not only calm your system, it will infuse you with life force energy.

  3. Stand barefoot on the earth.  Grass, sand or dirt will all help to ground you and literally fill you with healing energy from Mother Earth. 

  4. Drink 8 ounces of clean filtered water with a pinch of Celtic Sea Salt or Himalayan salt to mineralized it and you.

  5. Do something that that you love to do.  Play, laugh and re-charge.  

We all need to recharge on a regular basis.  Let me guide you to better health and energy.  Contact me for a free 15 minute consultation at nina.lynn@me.com, or call me at 301-332-5732.

Can Lack of Sleep Make You Diabetic?

A sleep study done at the University of Chicago’s medical center in 1999, and published in The Lancet, showed that sleep deprivation reduces the capacity of even young healthy adults to properly maintain blood sugar levels or hormonal balance. 

The study involved manipulating the sleep of 11 healthy young men over 16 consecutive nights.  The first 3 nights they slept 8 hours, the next 6 nights they slept 4 hours and the last 7 nights they slept for 12 hours. 

All 11 participants ate the same diet.  The metabolic changes that were observed resembled the effects of advanced age or early signs of diabetes.  These findings were after less than one week!

This is due to the fact that the hormone cortisol stays elevated when we are awake, especially under artificial light (light bulbs), and computer or television screens. 

Because cortisol mobilizes blood sugar, it signals the release of insulin to carry that sugar out of the blood and into our cells.  That would be our fat cells when we are lying around late at night. 

The later you stay awake, the more cortisol is in your system. The more cortisol, the more insulin.  The more insulin, the  more insulin resistance, which leads to diabetes.  Evidently very quickly.

The only variable in this study was the amount of sleep the subjects received, which shows just how important sleep is to your overall health. 

The adverse effects returned to normal when the subjects slept for 12 hours.  Interestingly, 8 hours of sleep did not bring them to full recovery, which is why many sleep experts suggest 9 ½ hours of sleep a night to keep your body functioning at its peak.  More recent research however suggests between 7-8 hours to be adequate.  I can hear your sigh of relief. 

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

Drop Body Fat In Your Sleep

What’s the best thing to do in bed?  Sleep.  I know that’s not the sexy answer, but sleep can actually help you to drop body fat.  

One of my clients was making progress in the areas of nutrition and exercise, but was having trouble getting a good night’s sleep.  Once she replaced her mattress she began to sleep better, and her excess body fat made a quick exit.  She lost 10 lbs. easily and effortlessly, literally “in her sleep”.  

Even the best eating and exercise plans will be derailed if you don’t sleep. It’s all about hormones, those tiny messengers telling your body when to sleep, when to eat, when to run away, and when to reproduce.  

Not only does sleeping help regulate and regenerate your entire system, but the relaxation that sleep provides allows the level of cortisol in your blood stream to decrease because you are finally out of stress, enabling your body to access stored fat for energy if needed. 

The key is to do what it takes for your pineal gland to produce melatonin, thereby setting up the sequence of hormonal responses that lead to a smaller belly.  

With Melatonin produced at night , you wake up with low insulin and cortisol rising, which allows dopamine to show up and help you feel awake. 

More good news is that with adequate sleep, prolactin, a hormone that regulates appetite, is shut off in the morning so you don’t wake up craving sugar. 

That is the dance of hormones that allow for less body fat storage at night and less body fat production during the day.  

The steps necessary to set the scene for that dance to occur include:

Getting to bed shortly after sun down, or in the real world, by 10:00 pm.

Creating a pitch black bedroom free from the digital lights of a computer, or clock, or other fancy tech gadget.

Shutting down your TV, computer, tablet and phone a half hour before bedtime. 

Keeping the bedroom a cool comfortable temperature.

Reading something relaxing or spiritual to calm your mind.

As you are falling asleep, try deep breathing, meditation, or visualizations to put you in a calm relaxed state.

Suddenly I’m feeling sleepy.

For guidance on your journey to better sleep and weight loss, 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

Sleep vs Stress, You Can't Do Both At The SameTime

When you are stressed, from lack of sleep, over-exercise, poor nutrition, traffic, your boss, your relationship, or even something you imagine to be a threat, your body is in the fight or flight state of the sympathetic branch of the nervous system.  

When sleeping, resting or de-stressing, the body shifts into the parasympathetic branch of the nervous system, or the rest and recovery state.  

When in the fight or flight state of stress, the body systems brake down and you age in fast-forward.  That is why it is SO important to de-stress and rest as often as possible.  

To maintain a healthy balance of stress to rest, your sleep and rest time should equal the amount of time you are stressed.  Thant may take a LOT of rest.

One way to calm your system is by stimulating the vagus nerve.  The vagus nerve runs from the brain through the heart and lungs to the gut, establishing a brain gut connection.

Stimulating the vagus nerve strengthens your immune system and reduces inflammation, while shifting you into the restorative parasympathetic state of being. 

Try these easy and fun ways to stimulate the vegus nerve.

Deep breathing

Meditation

Qi Gong and Tai Chi

acupuncture

Chanting or singing or even gargling

Laughter

Positive social relationships--play with a child, or a pet, hug a friend or loved one.

Show your heart some love by connecting your brain to your gut through your heart.  Place one hand on your belly, the other on your heart and visualize yourself with loved ones, or remember a loving experience, while breathing slowly and deeply.  This is an extremely relaxing way to stimulate the vagus nerve while calming your system.

Taking small breaks throughout the day to include some of these activities will do you a world of good.  Not to mention it will slow the aging process.  Woohoo!

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

We All Need More Beauty Sleep.

Quality sleep is essential for good health.  Lack of adequate sleep will prevent your body from regenerating, and it’s all downhill from there. FYI, by adequate sleep I mean 7-9 hours.  You can eat perfectly, and exercise appropriately but if you are not sleeping you will not be healthy, period, end of sentence.

Our bodies repair and regenerate as part of the rhythm of our biology, and unless you are meditating all day, you need to sleep for that to happen.  If you don’t allow for the rebuilding of your body systems, you will continually break down until you crash head on into a degenerative disease.

When people tell me they don’t have time to sleep, I know their lives are out of balance. You don’t want to disrupt your body’s natural rhythms any more than you want to try to fool Mother Nature.   The go-go-go lifestyle will get-get-get you to an early grave.  

Here’s what happens when you don’t sleep.  You prevent your body from producing melatonin, a powerful antioxidant as well as your ticket to restorative sleep.  Without melatonin at night, along with the subsequent production of the hormone prolactin, your immune system is suppressed, and that is never a good idea.  

Furthermore, cortisol stays up as late as you do and your insulin stays up to deal with all of it.  That means that in the morning, when you need it, cortisol is no where to be found.  This is the reverse of a “normal” and desired circadian rhythm.  As a result you wake up groggy, and your low cortisol means low dopamine so you can’t focus.  

With cortisol and insulin out of whack, your other hormones are all tripped up and you find yourself out of balance on all levels.  Here is where carbohydrate cravings take over in an effort to gain energy and focus.  And we all know where that leads...belly fat and mood swings on your way to insulin resistance.

Another consequence of of staying up after midnight is a reduction in the coveted growth hormone, which keeps us youthful.  As we age, our level of growth hormone reduces on its own, so I would say sleeping is a pretty easy and convenient way to stay young.  They don't call it beauty sleep for nothing.

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