4 Natural & Effective Ways to Lower Cholesterol

High cholesterol levels is something that effects around 31% of the human population. Having a cholesterol levels can lead to high blood pressure, angina and kidney diseases. In more serious cases it can lead to strokes and heart attacks. This is because cholesterol builds up in our arteries and blood vessels. Due to this build up, it leads to a narrower vessel hence the increase in blood pressure and the increase likelihood of blockages. However, it’s not all doom and gloom, today let’s discuss 4 ways for you to lower your cholesterol.

 

  1. Reduce the amount of saturated fats in your diet. This is because it contains high amounts of LDL. This is a type of cholesterol that is harmful for the body as it leaves build ups and is easily solidified in room temperature. Thus leading to narrower blood vessels in the body. We find saturated fats in many unhealthy foods such as pies, cakes and different types of pastries. This is because they are all made from some sort of animal products like butter and margarine. Another way to avoid food that contains high amount of saturated fats is to consume less processed meats. This is because it is often mixed with cuts of meat that contains high amount of animal fat.
  2. Consume food that is high in omega-3. Even though omega-3 is a fat it does not build up in the body as it is classified as an HDL. Think of it like this, omega-3 is the oil that keeps the mechanics well oiled. If everything in your body is well oiled, it’ll function smoothly and be kept in a better state. By keeping the arteries better oiled, it decreases the amount of plaque and fatty builds up from the LDL. As a result, even if you do have high cholesterol, it’ll lower your blood pressure. Leading to a lower likelihood of heart diseases.
  3. While we are sticking to recommended foods, it is highly recommended for people with high cholesterol to consume soluble fibres like beans, oats, citrus fruits and barley. This is because our body is not able to digest these foods. This create a small barrier where these soluble fibres are then attached to the cholesterol, preventing it from getting into the blood stream. In addition, soluble fibres helps your gut bacteria (probiotics) function better. So start consuming more fibre right now!
  4. Do some exercises. Research has shown that there is a direct correlation between exercise and lower cholesterol levels. This is because exercise stimulates a higher production of HDL levels. As we have mentioned it above, HDKL decreases the amount of plaque and fatty build ups in the arteries. As a recommendation, exercise 30 minutes a day, 5 days a week. It can be anything from brisk walking to playing a sport that you enjoy.

 

Here are 4 tips on how to reduce cholesterol. Remember, it won’t be decreased overtime. Try these tips for a couple of months and retest your levels after. Sometimes it may take even longer. But I guarantee that if you stick to it, results will show over time!

 

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Raising Healthy Children: Tip # 2 How?

By Dr Jennifer Barham-Floreani: How? Take an audit.

Whenever we want to set ourselves a new goal we have to know where we are starting. This allows us to look back in 6 and 12 months time and celebrate how far we have come. It’s hard work being a parent and it’s harder again to a parent who’s committed to healthy habits and rituals. So, it’s important to take stock and appreciate your efforts.

So let’s begin how to audit.

Q: How Much Sugar Do You Each Consume Daily

Without realizing it, most adults and children eat refined sugar for breakfast, lunch and dinner via processed cereals and grains. Most of us consume an average of 53 kg of sugar each year (approximately
29 teaspoons of added and natural sugar each day), and 75 percent comes from the packaged and convenience products we eat and drink.

I’d encourage you to investigate the health risks associated with eating too many sugars (in Lunchbox Solutions I discuss the dangers of sugars and outline what are healthier ways to sweeten recipes, so that’s a great place to start).

There are several reasons should we should avoid sugars, including that they raise our insulin levels. Insulin is a hormone
that our pancreas produces and its main function is taking up blood glucose (sugar) into the cells for energy. High insulin levels are thought to contribute to multiple health issues but for this post where we are focused on raising the health status of our children — let’s keep to three main issues.

Key issues with sugar

1 High insulin levels can depress the immune system weakening our ability to fight disease. This occurs because white blood cells need stacks of vitamin C to kill bacteria and viruses. So our white blood cells work to accumulate
and store vitamin C within the cell. The problem is that vitamin C and glucose have similar chemical structures so they then compete to enter the white blood cells. Guess what happens when we have lots of glucose in our blood from eating lots of foods that contain processed sugars? Glucose wins and our white blood cells become deficient in vitamin C compromising our ability to fight bugs.

2 Too many sugars also upset the integral balance of good and harmful bacteria in the gut. When we consume too many sugars we can create an overgrowth of harmful yeasts and bad bacteria which override our helpful “disease fighting” helpful bacteria — hindering our immune system.

3 Refined sugars also provide us with no vitamins or minerals. In order for them to be metabolized, they draw on the body’s reserves of vitamins and minerals, depleting our body’s nutrients.

ACTION: Start a food diary and observe just how much sugar find there way into your daily diet. Here’s a tip for when looking at products and packaging — sugars tend to be any ingredient ending in “ose” — sucrose, fructose, dextrose, lactose etc. Try it — it will shock you!

Drastically reducing sugar (initially this is not an easy task) not only lightens the load on your child’s immune system it also allows your children to get off the ‘blood-sugar rollercoaster’.

Here’s another tip — cutting back sugar … life just gets better. Sugar highs and lows, make us all irritable and grumpy.

Audit Cont.

Q: How many processed foods are in your pantry, fridge and child’s lunch box?
-Literally count the number of packaged items and take an audit. If a food item has more then 5 or 6 ingredients you can bet it’s refined, altered and damaged. If you can’t pronounce the names of the ingredients in the food item, mostly likely it’s full of chemicals. I’d encourage you to become a food critic and learn what all those numbers and complex sounding ingredients really mean. Please see “Become a Food Critic” and the “Poor Choice, Better Choice and Fabulous Choice” Table in “Empower Their Choices” in Lunchbox Solutions.

Q: How many pieces of fresh fruit and vegetables are you all currently consuming each day?

-Daily consistency is key here.

Q: How many glasses of water do you drink?

Q: What sort of water do you drink?
-And I don’t mean the wet kind. One of the simplest and most important things you can do is invest in a water filter to protect your family against chemically-treated water. Most of our drinking water today contains chlorine and chlorination by-products, as well as numerous other contaminants. Drinking good quality water via a high quality filter system — promotes detoxification, enhances nutritional uptake and ensures optimal hydration.

Help your children develop the habit of drinking water throughout the day rather than juices and soft drinks. A mere two per cent drop in our body’s water supply can trigger signs of dehydration: fuzzy short-term memory, trouble with basic math and difficulty focusing on smaller print, such as a computer screen. Many children are frequently dehydrated, suffering with concentration issues, constipation and digestive problems.

Q: How many prescriptions has your child had in the last twelve months and over their lifetime?
-With regular chiropractic care and addressing these other tips for raising healthy children, many parents delight in no longer relying on antibiotics and instead being able to rely on their child’s own immune strength.

Q: How many sessions of sweaty exercise would each family member perform each week?
-Ideally each of us should be raising our heart rate 5 times a week.

Q: How many harmful chemicals are in your personal care and cleaning products?
-Source brands that are genuinely wholesome — free of nasty chemicals and toxins which are readily absorbed through the skin and tax our body and its defence system.

It can be a “reality slap” to take an audit and look at where you currently sit along the “healthy” and “not so healthy” scale. Where you sit on the “fresh” and “disastrously preserved” scale. Remember though that every moment we make choices and have the opportunity and capacity to influence both our child’s — short and long-term health.

 

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Should I Quit Drinking?

The debate of whether a certain amount of alcohol is good or bad for you has been a long-standing one. Some of us enjoy the glass of wine with dinner. Others have a few beers on the weekend.  But do you need to quit it altogether to change your body or your health?

If you’re thinking that alcoholic beverages tend to show up a lot in life you’re not alone. Alcohol has become a huge part of the culture in New Zealand and in other countries around the world. Whether it’s a nice cold beer at the end of a workday or a bubbly champagne on New Year’s, it tends to add up. But how does that affect your health goals? Well, it’s kind of complicated.

You may have heard that drinking can be good for you as research has shown that moderate alcohol intake is associated with a lower risk of diabetes, gallstones and coronary heart disease. There have even been studies indicating that drinkers live longer than people who don’t drink.

However, it’s important to know that experts recommend that if you don’t already drink, don’t start. Why? Because no one actually knows if ANY amount of alcohol is good for you.

I’m not going to tell you not to drink. But it’s important to know that most of the research on the potential benefits of drinking alcohol doesn’t actually prove anything due to how the studies are designed. The research tends to be large, long-term population-based studies that can’t say that it CAUSES anything, but rather that it CORRELATES with something.

So what is a “moderate alcohol intake”?

  • Women: 7 drinks/week, no more than 3 in a single day
  • Men: 14 drinks/week, no more than 4 in a single day

In my opinion, this type of moderation will land you in a host of health problems. Let’s take it down to 1-2 times per week with only 1 drink per setting. That’s better 🙂

A single drink can be a 330 ml can of 4% alcohol beer or a 100 ml glass of 12.5% alcohol wine.

Chances are, if you’re a human, you’re most likely underestimating your alcohol consumption. The occasional happy hour or birthday dinner can quickly take you from moderate to heavy drinker without you even realizing. The health risks for heavy drinking are much higher for major health problems, such as liver cancer, alcoholism, osteoporosis and a host of other diseases.

So how do you find a nice balance? What amount of alcohol gives you enjoyment while giving your body a chance to respond and recover from processing it? MY moderate alcohol intake guideline is a good start along with the following tips:

  • Keep track of your drinking habits. Do this for a week or two and ask yourself:
    • Am I drinking more than I thought? (Did you forget to count those couple of beers you like to have on Sunday afternoons?)
    • Are there patterns in my drinking? (Does your stressful job trigger your end-of-week binge drink?)
    • Is it helping me enjoy life or stressing me out? (Are you not sleeping well or feeling worried about drinking?)
  • Tune in to your body’s signals:
    • Do I feel good?
    • Am I recovering?
    • How do I feel afterwards?
  • Switch it up and experiment to break your routine:
    • Delay your next drink for 10 minutes and see if you still want it after.
    • Savour your drink. Look, sniff, and taste it.
    • Quality over quantity. Drink less, but have the good stuff.

Evaluate how drinking fits in with your goals. If you want six-pack abs, then that might mean skipping out on a few drinks at the bar. Taking part in Friday night “Happy Hour” means pushing back your Saturday morning workout. If you’re aiming for a more moderate alcohol intake then you’ll have to find a way to say “no” to certain stress/social triggers that make you want to drink more.

 

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Eating During Pregnancy

What you eat during your 9 months of pregnancy matters. The food you consume affects you and your baby, so always mind that you’re eating for two! Pregnancy means that you’re building life, so make sure that you supply all the necessary building blocks.

 

How much should you eat?

Since you’re eating for two, you’ll need extra calories and nutrients as your body builds your baby’s bones, tissues and organs. And just because your waist disappears, it doesn’t give you the all clear to load up on ice cream and sweet treats! Eating 3 regular meals a day? Then add 2 healthy snacks such as fruit, nuts or veggies to meet your higher caloric needs.

  • If you exercise regularly: add 500 calories.
  • If you don’t: add 300 calories.

How much weight should you gain?

You need to gain the appropriate amount of weight so that your baby can too.  If you come up short, then so will your baby. You’re in this together.

  • If you’re underweight: your goal should be to gain 15-20 kg.
  • Normal weight: aim to gain 10-15 kg.
  • Overweight: aim to gain 6-12 kg.
  • If your height is 157 cm or shorter: aim to gain 6-12 kg.

What should you eat?

Protein

  • Eat 2.2 g of protein per kg of your body weight (ex. if you weigh 70 kg aim to consume 154 g of protein).

Omega-3

  • You can get this from walnuts, chia seeds, linseed (flaxseed), hemp seed, seaweed, algae or fish oil supplement or avocado.

Vitamin D

  • Get 20-30 minutes of sun exposure 2-3 days a week.

Zinc

  • This can be from legumes (such as beans and lentils) or dark and leafy veggies.

Calcium

  • Many things can provide calcium such as dark and leafy veggies, legumes, bokchoy, tofu, nuts and seeds.

Vitamin B-12

  • You can get this from a high quality Vitamin B-12 supplement or fortified foods such as tofu, soy milk etc.

Iron

  • Get this from seeds, whole grains, nuts, dried fruits or dark and leafy veggies.

 

What should you minimize?

Caffeine

  • Aim for less than 300 mg per day.

Cured lunch meats

  • This can include ham, hot-dogs and the like.

Artificial sweeteners

  • These should be avoided as much as possible during pregnancy.

High sugar intake

  • Do NOT use cravings to justify poor choices.

 

What should you avoid completely?

The Ministry for Primary Industries of New Zealand has a list of types of fish that should be avoided by women who are pregnant due to higher mercury levels.

  • Cardinalfish
  • Dogfish (excluding rig)
  • Lake Rotomahana trout
  • Lake trout from geothermal regions
  • School shark (greyboy, tope)
  • Marlin (striped)
  • Southern bluefin tuna
  • Swordfish

Tobacco

  • It increases the risk of SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome) so it’s best to .steer clear.

Soft cheeses

  • This includes mold-ripened, blue veined, and unpasteurized cheeses.

Raw or undercooked animal foods

  • This includes meat, seafood (ex. SUSHI), and eggs.

 

What supplements should I take?

Your GP may prescribe prenatal vitamins and if not, it’s a good idea for you to seek some out yourself. Make sure the following is included:

  • Vitamin B-12 (3 ug/day)
  • Folic acid (400 ug/day)
  • Vitamin D (1000 IU/day) especially if you lack sun exposure

 

By following these guidelines, eating right and monitoring your weight, you’ll know that you’ve done everything in your control to lead up to a successful pregnancy.

 

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Eat Slowly

Here you are in the midst of modern society. No time. Rushed. Distracted. And eating… really, really fast. It seems like half the time you’re not even chewing our food properly! It’s time to discover eating slowly and what it can do for your health and well-being.

Learning to eat slowly is one of the simplest yet most impactful things you can do to improve your health. But it’s not always easy, so let’s explore why it’s so beneficial and worthwhile.

 

Hunger satisfaction

 

Eating slowly gives your body time to realize that it’s full. It takes 20 minutes from the start of your meal before your brain sends signals that it’s satisfied with the amount of food and nutrients you consumed. Imagine the extra calories you’ve been eating simply because you haven’t given enough time for your body to realize it longer needs food!

Eating until satisfied is different from eating until you’re full. Satisfied can be around 80% full, which is what you should aim for. When you take the time to slow down and take in each bite mindfully, paying attention to the tastes and textures of the food, you end up feeling way better about what you eat… even if it’s just a sandwich.

 

Improved Digestion

 

Before you even put the food in your mouth, your body’s digestive processes are already at work. As soon as we see, smell or think about food we begin to produce saliva which contains enzymes to break down the food and moisten the mouth to aid in swallowing. Your stomach then starts to secrete more acid and your small intestines start to prepare for movement and food transport.

When we eat fast, we tend to take larger bites and chew less before swallowing. Food that isn’t properly broken down can lead to indigestion and other potential GI problems. Anyone who’s experienced either can tell you it’s not pleasant.

 

Smaller portions

 

A study served lunch in two different ways to 30 average weight women. The meal consisted of a huge plate of classic pasta and a glass of water. All women were instructed to eat to the point of comfortable fullness. During one visit they them to eat as quickly as possible. On the other visit, they were asked to eat slowly and down their utensils between each bite.

Here’s what they found when they compared the difference:

  • Fast eaters: 646 calories in 9 minutes
  • Slow eaters: 579 calories in 29 minutes

That’s 67 less calories in 20 more minutes… which may not seem like much until you add up the three meals a day… 7 days a week. Do some simple maths and you’ll quickly realize that that adds up to 1407 extra calories a week!

On top of that, they found that when the women ate quickly they reported more hunger an hour earlier than when they eat slowly. This means that slow eating leads to less food consumption and more long-lasting satisfaction – which is both good for the wallet and the waistline!

What’s interesting is that they took the same study and compared the amount of water that the participants drank to find that the fast eaters drank an average of 289 mL and the slow eaters drank 409 mL! So they conducted a similar study, only this time they controlled water levels, and found that ate the same amount of food, but an hour after the meal the slow eaters reported less hunger and desire to eat.

So they concluded that drinking more water helps reduce portion sizes, while eating slowly seems to decrease hunger levels for longer. On top of that you get the other incredible benefits of drinking more water such as balancing body fluids, energizing muscles, helping your kidneys and bowels work better and improve skin appearance!

At the end of the day, if you’re eating slowly and drinking more water, you’ll consume less food and feel more satisfied.

Of course, eating slowly is not the end all be all for weight loss and health, but it will definitely help you with portion control and hunger satisfaction.

Here are 5 pro tips to eating slowly:

  1. Put down your utensils between bites
  2. Set aside time to eat
  3. Eat high-fiber foods (fruits and veggies)
  4. Set a minimum number of chews per bite
  5. Eat from smaller plates or containers

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Fertility and Alcohol (women and men)

Introduction

Firstly, let’s look at heavy drinking or binge drinking. As fun as it may be, there is absolutely no evidence that points towards this sort of amusement as being anything other than detrimental to our health. Numerous research studies have found links between moderate-heavy drinking. That is, equalling or surpassing the weekly recommended allowance, and problems with fertility.

 

Alcohol & Female Fertility

Moderate-heavy drinking

The way in which heavy alcohol consumption affects female fertility isn’t properly understood. However, hormonal imbalances are one of the most likely explanations. A study published in a 2000 edition of Alcohol and Alcoholism found that women who enjoyed moderate-heavy drinking had significantly lower levels of progesterone than non-drinkers. Progesterone plays a vital role in conception. It is fundamental in keeping the thick uterine lining, and implanted egg, in place. Low progesterone levels mean that the lining is more likely to shed each month.

The same study found that drinkers had increased estrogen levels, which are often present in women suffering from endometriosis. Indeed, further studies have confirmed that ‘alcohol intake positively associates with endometriosis‘. Abnormally high estrogen levels can cause cells outside the womb to thicken in the same way as the uterine walls. Known as endometriosis, these cells can cause damage to both the ovaries and fallopian tubes. That means some cases don’t lead to the successful completion of the ovulation process. As you’ll know, you can’t get pregnant naturally if you don’t ovulate.

The effects on in-vitro fertilization (IVF)

The research has also suggested that alcohol can even affect assisted conception. Some researchers have proposed that alcohol can not only create an inhospitable environment in the uterus but also decrease egg production and quality. Those are two aspects that would contribute to IVF attempts. A study by the Harvard Medical School put forward the notion that drinking just half a bottle of wine per week could lower the chances of conception via IVF by up to 18%.

Light-moderate drinking

There are some gaps in the research on the effects of light-moderate drinking on conception. However, many studies do argue that even the occasional drink can cause fertility problems in women. There have been two studies. Infertility in Women and Moderate Alcohol Use (1994), and Does moderate alcohol consumption affect fertility? follow up study among couples planning first pregnancy (1998). They both conclude that even light-moderate drinking can reduce the likelihood of conception by a significant margin.

Doctors have even claimed that giving up alcohol completely can be as effective in treating fertility issues as IVF. They have reported a 33% chance of getting pregnant via assisted conception, and a 32% chance of getting pregnant naturally by cutting out the booze. Even if light-moderate drinking doesn’t necessarily cause infertility, it can certainly increase the amount of time it takes to become pregnant.

 

Alcohol & Male Fertility

It’s not just women’s habits that are under the microscope when it comes to how alcohol affects fertility. Conception is a joint effort, so if a woman’s alcohol intake can be an influencing factor, then it makes sense that a man could, too. Unlike with female fertility, it’s far easier to accurately view the effects of alcohol on sperm.
One study, ‘Direct effect of alcohol on the motility and morphology of human spermatozoa’ added alcohol directly onto healthy sperm in concentrations that would be similar to that if the alcohol was consumed.

Mobility, motility, and velocity of the sperm all decreased, while incidents of tail deformities increased. This could not only affect the sperm’s ability to reach the egg in the first place, but also the ability to create a healthy embryo. This study involved moderate-heavy drinkers. In the case of light-moderate drinkers, the research suggests a 14% decrease in IVF success rates when men have consumed as little as half a bottle of wine per week.

Alcohol has been suggested to affect fertility in both, women and men

 

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