Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Mercola.com: How to Lower Your Cholesterol Naturally

Awhile ago, the my friends at Mercola.com did a write up about my story and posted it on their site for all to see. They asked if I would publish one of their articles about lowering your cholesterol naturally and I am happy to oblige.

How to Lower Your Cholesterol Naturally

In the last two decades, cholesterol has been labeled as a cause of worry. Along with saturated fats, it gained its reputation as the leading cause of heart disease. Having high cholesterol levels, often around 220, was an indicator of poor health among both children and adults. Soon, pharmaceutical companies intervened and introduced statins. These cholesterol drugs were then hailed as a hero for their success in lowering cholesterol.

However, nothing could be farther from the truth. This level is not an indicator of heart disease, let alone, high cholesterol levels. At the same time, using statins to lower cholesterol can bring more harm than benefits. If faced with abnormal levels of cholesterol, there are many ways in order to lower it naturally.

But first, here are some information on cholesterol and statins.

Cholesterol: How Does It Benefit Your Health?

Your body needs cholesterol. Seventy-five percent of cholesterol is produced in your liver, and is utilized by your body for the production of cell membranes, hormones, and bile acids that aid in metabolizing fat.

Also, cholesterol is needed for the synthesis of vitamin D. Once your skin absorbs ultraviolet-B (UVB) rays from the sun, it interacts with the cholesterol underneath your skin and produces vitamin D3. Cholesterol also contributes to your memory formation and neurological function.

Having high cholesterol is not an indicator that you have poor heart health. In fact, there are people with levels over 250 but have a very low risk of heart problems, while there are those who have below 200 but possess a great risk.

Ironically, research reveals that there are several side effects associated with low cholesterol levels, such as:

    •    Memory loss
    •    Higher risk of depression, violent behavior, and suicide
    •    Higher chance of contracting cancer or Parkinson’s disease

Why You Shouldn’t Trust Statins to Lower Cholesterol

Statins are a HMG-CoA reductase (cholesterol) inhibitor. They work by blocking the enzyme in your liver that produces cholesterol. Despite their success in lowering cholesterol, they also bring about several side effects.

The most reported side effect of statin drugs is muscle problems, such as muscle pain and weakness. Statins trigger the atrogin-1 gene, which is a factor for muscle atrophy. In advanced cases, a serious condition referred to as rhabdomyolysis can occur. This is when your muscle cells break down.  Often times, the muscle problems disappear once the drugs are halted.

Statin drugs can also be linked to the following adverse consequences:
    •    Cognitive loss
    •    Polyneuropathy or nerve damage in the hands and feet
    •    Hepatic and pancreatic dysfunction
    •    Immune system impairment

Statins also inhibit the production of coenzyme Q10 or CoQ10, which is formed within the same pathway as cholesterol. CoQ10 plays a role in cellular energy production and supports your organ functions.

There is also evidence that statins contribute to the increased risk of hyperglycemia and diabetes, as it prevents your liver from converting sugar and grains into cholesterol and triglycerides. At the same time, it can increase your insulin levels, leading to serious problems like chronic inflammation. This condition is linked to numerous disorders, including heart disease, the very disorder that statins are thought to prevent.

The Lifestyle Approach: Modifying Your Lifestyle to Lower Cholesterol

If you keep your cholesterol levels too high or too low, there are implications of health problems. It is key to keep these levels at normal range, so you won’t need to take any cholesterol drug. Instead, you can safely lower cholesterol and keep your levels at a normal range by:

1. Normalizing your insulin levels – You can do this by lessening or eliminating foods rich in sugars and grains from your diet.

2. Consuming more healthy dietary fats – One example of a healthy fat is omega-3 fatty acids.

3. Eating more raw foods.

4. Adding more heart-healthy foods to your diet – Some recommended choices are coconut oil, olive oil, avocados, raw nuts and seeds, and grass-fed meats.

5. Checking your iron levels – Men and menopausal women have a higher chance of having elevated iron levels. This can inflict oxidative damage on your blood vessels and other important organs.

6. Avoiding smoking and alcohol drinking.

7. Exercising regularly – Exercise is important as it improves your circulation and blood flow.  This enables your immune system to fight off illnesses and infections before they can spread. Your exercise program should not only include aerobics, but also several types of exercise, such as high-intensity interval training, strength/resistance training, core exercises, and stretching.

8. Getting enough rest and sleep – This enables your body to recharge.

9. Addressing your emotional baggage – Emotional stress often affects your physical health. Use stress management techniques, such as meridian tapping, meditation, and journaling.

About the Author

Adrienne Nicole works as a web copywriter for Mercola.com, the world’s most visited natural heath site. She is cautious of her health, as high cholesterol runs in her family. With Dr. Mercola’s steps to optimal health, she has discovered how to lower cholesterol naturally. At the same time, she applies Dr. Mercola’s tips in order to raise her resistance against other health threats.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

The Controversy Over Chick-fil-A

If you have a Facebook account, you know all about the firestorm over fast food restaurant Chick-fil-A.   For those that don't, here's a brief rundown. The president of the company made statements against same-sex marriage.  I'm not going to get into that on a weight loss blog, but it should come as no surprise. The family that owns that restaurant are very religious people.  For instance, their restaurants are famously closed on Sundays.

I have a completely different take and it shows what's wrong with our thinking in this country.

We have become so wrapped up in symbolism over substance, that we've missed the point.  Who cares what the president of Chick-fil-A thinks?  Why not take a look at the nutritional quality of the products they serve in their restaurant?

Their food sucks.  It's loaded with fat, saturated fat, sodium, sugar, too many calories and more garbage than anyone needs.  How about boycotting their restaurant for that reason?

Forget about the politics and think about your life.  The eating of the food from that restaurant is going to affect you a whole lot more than what the president of the company thinks about gay marriage.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Give Them All The Finger

It's the million dollar question: how do you get motivated to lose weight?  I get asked it all the time.

I've talked about this before, but for the benefit of those who are just discovering my blog, I will tell you where mine comes from:


That's right. Anger.  Rage.  But at who?  At what?  For what reason?

You can be mad at yourself for allowing yourself to get to your current state (whatever that is.)

Or, you can do what I do, which is to get mad at the entire food and weight-loss industry.  All of it.

First on my list: restaurants, specifically fast-food chains.  I hate them all.  You run food commercials on TV, making it unwatchable for food addicts like me.  You put photographs of your garbage food on billboards and litter the landscape pushing your drug.  Actually, we all know nothing you sell looks like the food in the billboards or the commercials, that's just part of the deception.  There is nothing of any positive nutritional value in a fast-food restaurant and if there is, it is only there to lure people in and make them feel alright about eating there.

Not fired up enough yet?  Let's move on to the food companies.

The US government requires that pet food be solely nutritious enough to sustain the animal it is being fed to.  In other words, the government has higher standards for dog food than it does for the garbage being pumped out by the food companies.

You load your "food" up with so much fat, sugar and salt and put it in a box with a pretty picture on the front.  You peddle your garbage to kids.  The processed food industry poisons the population with its trash with reckless abandon.  The final insult?  We pay for it all.  The US government subsidizes crops like corn, which is used to make trash like high fructose corn syrup so cheaply that the food companies use it over more healthy ingredients.

And last, but certainly not least, my favorite target:  the weight-loss industry.

Let me be clear: the weight-loss industry is a criminal cartel of companies whose executives should be arrested, companies shut down and the money stolen from its victims given back.

I'm talking about them all.  The pills.  The surgeries.  The frozen dinners.  The diet books.  The broken promises. The lies.  The scams.  The phony claims about results almost no one gets.

These thieves should be locked up.  But for some reason, they are allowed to continue to rip people off.  It is a 100% truth that the weight-loss industry is the only industry that sells a product that when it doesn't work, the consumer blames themselves.  No responsibility is ever shared by the company that created the rip-off product that doesn't work.

That should give you an idea of where I am coming from.

One final note: being angry at somebody or something and using it for motivation is not the same as blaming them.  I and I alone am responsible for my weight problem.  I put the food in my mouth and eat it, no one else.

Past that, they can all go to hell.  Now, it's time to go running!

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Prescription Drug Withdrawal

It has been a rough week.

I got the call from my doctor Tuesday afternoon that I didn't have to take anymore high blood pressure medication (and with that, no more prescription drugs at all.)  What a joyous occasion!

But since then, it has been a real adjustment.  Just like when I came off the Coumadin, my body is taking a lot of energy to adjust to no more meds.  I've taken high blood pressure pills in one for or another for 10 years. Now, there is none.

I ran a mile outside yesterday morning and it felt like I ran 20 miles. Everything is more difficult. I feel tired all of the time.

This too, shall pass.  On the plus side, my blood pressure has not shot up dramatically or anything and my resting heart rate remains 40 beats a minute.
Onward and upward!

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

July 10, 2012: I Am Now Prescription Drug-Free

At long last, after years of waiting, I got the call from my doctor's office that I had been waiting for.

"The doctor says to stop the Diovan."

And with that statement, I am now officially prescription drug free.  No refills to worry about, nothing to have filled.  No followup appointments. It's over.

A month ago, I was going to the doctor every month, having blood drawn all the time, etc.  No more. So why am I celebrating? Why am I so excited?

Because this is all I have.  I have been working on my weight for over 2 years.  It is so hard, takes so much work, takes so long to see the results sometimes...accomplishments like this are what get me through the tough times.

I am glad the doctors, the hospitals and the pharmacists are there.  I am glad they were there for me.  I am glad they will be there if I ever need them again.

But for now, it is not nice to need them.  It's a beautiful day!

Saturday, July 7, 2012

My Weight Loss Bucket List Video

I had a lot of fun making a new video today to celebrate crossing one of the things off my "Weight Loss Bucket List."

These are the kind of things that keep me motivated, keep me having fun. Enjoy!

Why I Do Not Compromise

Of all the things I have changed in my life in the last 2+ years, nothing causes more controversy than my "no restaurants" pledge.

It really bothers people.  I don't know why.  Perhaps because I am so inflexible.  Perhaps because eating out in restaurants is such a fabric of our lives, such a part of the American way of life in the 21st century.  Eating in restaurants is a way to socialize, a way to celebrate.  We do it all the time without thinking and can't imagine not doing it.

But I'm not going to do it and here's why.

I've said over and over that I am a food addict.  It's my problem.  For the first 37 years of my life, I abused food.  I still do sometimes and have to be careful.

If food was my drug then the restaurant was my crack house.

What is the purpose of a restaurant?  Why is it there? Like any other business, its sole purpose is to make money.  And there is nothing wrong with that.  We live in a capitalistic society and the restaurant owner has every right to operate their business as they see fit.

But the restaurant owner does not care about:

-Serving you anything remotely healthy
-The quality of the food (only the taste)
-Limiting your intake.  On the contrary, they want you to eat as much as possible

The restaurant owner also has to keep an eye on food costs.  Since the goal is to get you to spend as much as possible, that means serving you as much food, as cheaply as possible that tastes as good as possible.  And for most people, tasting good means as much sugar, salt and fat as possible.

None of those are good for me.  It's a bad environment for a food addict.  Something happens to me when the consumption of food is turned into an entertainment occasion.  When everyone is laughing and having a good time and the server is bringing me anything I want, as much as I want...self-control melts away.  Who keeps track in a restaurant?  Hardly anyone.

So like an alcoholic does not belong in a bar, I do not belong in a restaurant.  I do not begrudge anyone their restaurant experience.  I'm the one with the problem. 

They're just not for me.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Weighing In

After having been on a plateau for so long it was nice to weigh in this morning at 258.  That's an 8-pound loss in 3 weeks and brings my total weight lost to 319 pounds.

I knew I had lost some more because with every pound I am losing, I can feel the pressure coming off my knees when I run.

I know that I won't always have such a big drop in such a relatively short period of time, but I will celebrate it for now.

So what's my goal?  I've had people ask me how thin I want to get, how much weight I want to lose.  Really, I would love to get to 177.  To be able to say I have lost 400 pounds on my own would be incredible.  I probably haven't weighed that since grade school.  I am not sure that will ever happen, because I will start to look really thin once I get closer to 200.

But imagine what it will be like to run with 60 fewer pounds than I am carrying now! Heaven.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

The FDA Summons Captain Obvious

The Food and Drug Administration has approved its first weight loss drug in 13 years.  The pill is lorcaserin, which will be sold under the name "Belviq."

I think diet pills are a total disaster because they have a terrible track record.  They don't work and if they do, they have horrible side effects and get pulled off the market.

But what caught my eye was this quote from an FDA official:

"Obesity threatens the overall well being of patients and is a major public health concern," Dr. Janet Woodcock, director of the FDA's Center for Drug Evaluation and Research, said in a written statement. "The approval of this drug, used responsibly in combination with a healthy diet and lifestyle, provides a treatment option for Americans who are obese or are overweight and have at least one weight-related comorbid condition."

Really?  So let me get this straight.  If I take this drug, eat right and exercise, I'll lose weight?  WOW! That's freakin' awesome!  Where do I sign up?  Calling Captain Obvious.....

So what's really going on here?  It's this simple: drug companies are for-profit businesses designed to generate value for their shareholders.  A diet pill is huge business.  People are so desperate to lose weight, they will fall for just about anything.  This is just the pharmaceutical wing of the weight loss industry, but the following rules still apply:

1.) You won't lose weight and if you do, you will gain it all back
2.) Your money and your hope will be stolen
3.) The only way to lose weight and keep it off forever is to do the (very) hard work of diet and exercise
4.) The people selling this drug are selling nonsense.  But people will buy it because there is a sucker born every day.

Don't be a sucker.  Have a bowl of oatmeal and take a walk.  There's your weight loss pill.