Thursday, December 27, 2012

10 Simple Health Premises

I must confess something.  I have moments where I get weary of thinking about how to be healthier.  I love the part in the Christmas Story where Ralphie's mother has him sitting in the bathroom with the LifeBuoy soap in his mouth.  Remembering and thinking about what I need to do to be healthier sometimes feels like being in trouble, and faced with a plate of kale and mustard greens a lot like the LifeBuoy soap.  Why MUST everything "healthy" taste SO un-Cinnabon-like?

Approaching a New Year we are once again reminded of the DAILY nature of turning over a new leaf, of repenting of the sins of our past, of changing something about ourselves to make life better.  It is a good time to be reminded that better health is actually composed of a small set of simple premises.  I will not kid you about the ease with which you can accomplish this lifestyle, but I think it is largely difficult because we are used to living so far off the mark.  For review sake, here is my list of 10 simple premises for good health.

  1. Water:   1/3 of your body weight in fluid ounces.
  2. Exercise: A brisk walk for 20 minutes a day.
  3. Diet: 3x a day eat a good protein-containing food with the remainder of your plate filled with fruit or vegetables.
  4. Wear your seat belt.
  5. Brush and floss your teeth.
  6. Essential fatty acids: 4 fish oil or flax oil capsules a day.
  7. Prayer/Meditation: 30-60 minutes a day, divided as it works for your schedule.
  8. Perform one kind act for another person each day, and reflect on how God's love is working in your life.
  9. At day's end list at least 3 things for which your are grateful.
  10. Sleep: At least 7 hours a night. 
On paper that's not a hard list to succeed at doing.  If you find yourself unable to succeed at it, perhaps it's time to sit in the bathroom with some LifeBuoy soap in your mouth for making all the silly excuses that are shortening your life?

NatureWords for your health!
Dr. M.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Gray, Gray, Go Away

Fall and winter weather in the Northern latitudes brings a lot of gray and rain/snow and early darkness.  For a considerable number of people their thoughts, attitudes, and disposition go as gray as the weather; some even darker.  The diagnostic label that has been put on this is Seasonal Affective Disorder.  That the acronym, SAD, arises from it is just too much convenience for words.  I have speculated that people with heritages from more southerly latitudes might struggle with SAD more than those, like Scandinavians, from more northern latitudes.  But, perhaps my Scandinavian heritage and the lack of SAD I experience colors my opinion?

Thursday, November 1, 2012

High Cholesterol Fixes

In my last blog I talked about the overuse of statin medications for bringing cholesterol down.  In that I said I would give some natural methods of reducing your cholesterol if it is high.  So, here it goes.

1.  Sugar, and the resulting high glucose levels from eating it, flips on the cholesterol manufacturing engine.  You must get your sugar intake brought down!  This includes all forms of sugar -- the obvious sources from candy, cookies, donuts, and ice cream; but also fructose from juices, honey, maple syrup, organic sugar, turbinado sugar, raw sugar...  While it is a stringent goal, keeping your sugar intake to 20 gm a day will improve your cholesterol and lower your risk for diabetes.  READ LABELS.  Sugar is being thrown into virtually every pre-packaged kind of food there is.  With the 20 gm limit in mind, you will be astounded at the number of single servings that contain that amount or 30, 40, or more grams.

2.  Exercise stimulates bad cholesterol (LDL) to be returned to the liver where it can be excreted.

3.  Increase fiber intake.  Fiber binds with cholesterol (e.g. the LDL's your liver is excreting from your exercising) so that it will not be reabsorbed and put back into circulation.  I have had patients who went on very high fiber diets for a month and totally eliminated their high cholesterol problem.  This might hint that all high cholesterol is because of a lack of enough fruits and vegetables.

4.  Lose Weight.  If you are overweight, losing the extra pounds will reduce the amount of cholesterol in circulation.

5.  Reduce Stress.  Prayer, meditation, hobbies, and exercise all help.  Stress creates the need for a lot more hormones.  The chemical backbone of most hormones comes from cholesterol, so stress tells the liver to make more cholesterol.  Cutting stress will cut down the demand for cholesterol and shut down the manufacture of it.
6.  Add plant sterols.  Plant sterols are plant-based mimics of the cholesterol your body produces.  The function to reduce cholesterol in two ways.  They bind with dietary fats in the stomach that contribute to cholesterol production.  Second they take the place of cholesterol in different receptor sites for cholesterol so it stays in circulation and is more likely to be picked up and excreted by the liver.  Plant sterols are in some butter/margarine substitutes (e.g. Smart Balance) as well as in supplements.

7.  Red Rice Yeast.  The Red Rice Yeast supplement contains natural forms of the statin medications.  It provides some of the same cholesterol-blocking power to suppress the liver.  It does have a far lower risk of creating side effects than the more powerful pharmaceutical medications.

So there are seven options for attacking your high cholesterol.  Share what works for you in the comments.

NatureWords for your health,
Dr. Mark