Hormonal Balance and Our Body’s Biochemical Environment

Many of our readers have suffered from chronic symptoms such as weight gain, skin problems, fatigue, depression, or mood swings.  If these symptoms are part of your daily life, then chances are you may be suffering from hormonal imbalance.

Hormonal Balance and Our Body’s Biochemical EnvironmentHormones are tied to every one of the body’s symptoms, so it’s crucial to have well-regulated and balanced hormones to enjoy good health … both from a physical standpoint (growth, metabolism, and reproductive health) and from a mental and neuro-chemical standpoint as well!

Hormones are created from good fats and cholesterol. Without the proper biochemical environment however, your body doesn’t have the materials needed to create a healthy balance for optimal health. The wrong kinds of fats and other toxins within your body’s chemistry can have far reaching, damaging effects on hormones.

In fact, if you are in an environment that is biologically stressed, either internally or because of things you’re exposed to in life, and you’re producing high levels of stress hormones, a common side-effect is the suppression of other critical hormones such as estrogen, progesterone, testosterone – as well as insulin!

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What to Learn from People Living the Longest, Happiest lives

Dear Friends,

Thank you for your warm and enthusiastic response to my last letter. In case you missed it, I started an open conversation with our Optimal Wellness Labs community about how you experience aging—whether you see it as a good thing or a bad thing.

I cited an emerging body of research that revealed those of us who wake up in the morning with a purpose tend to live an additional 7-10 years longer. I was truly overwhelmed and grateful for the outpouring of heartfelt stories I received in reply. Many of you graciously shared your purpose in life, and I learned a great deal.

Here’s just a few of the many, many inspiring stories you shared with me:

Steve, Age 66: Active in work, family, community and church. City council water board and theater board; married 42 years, 11 grandchildren; loves golf and yard work; believes happiness and engagement with life reduces stress.

Bob, Age 74: Great health; daily walking, hiking, climbing hills and mountains; swims in ocean; manages farms and gardens; leads project helping school for under-privileged Filipinos; enjoys a happy, healthy life.

Maxine, Age 72: Scuba instructor; photographs underwater sea life in Kona; swimming; fun, thrilling life by the sea.

John, 85: Works on vintage aircraft; pilot, takes hunting trips; takes a lot of vitamins and supplements.

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Should You Use Fish Oil as Your Source for Essential Fatty Acids?

Recently there has been a debate about how to supplement our diet to get the essential fatty acids (EFAs) that we need.  This debate is centered around the notion that fish oil is a less effective source of EFAs than is what has been called “Parent Essential Oils” or PEOs for short.

Should You Use Fish Oil as Your Source for Essential Fatty Acids?Is it true that PEOs are a more beneficial source of EFAs rather than traditional sources of Omega 3 such as fish oils?

The reality is most of what you’ve heard about PEOs is simply marketing hype – yet another “latest and greatest” product touted as a more “proper” way to benefit the body.

The whole issue with essential fatty acids boils down to one thing – the quality, reliability, and safety of the processing of the supplement you’re consuming.

What’s important here is not so much where the EFAs come from – it’s how they are handled and processed.

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The Real Story About High Cholesterol Levels

Cholesterol is produced in the liver in response to inflammation as a result of excess acidic waste products that build up on the exterior walls of the blood pressure.

The Real Story About High Cholesterol LevelsBecause 80% of the cholesterol in your body is produced by the liver, the effect of your dietary cholesterol is actually quite negligible.

Until the mid-80s, the only treatment for high cholesterol was niacin – Vitamin B3 … but with the proliferation of statin drugs in the late 80s and into the 90s, average cholesterol levels began to lower – so in part to justify the continued dependence on these patented drugs, the standard for cholesterol levels began to drop … first to 200, then again to 100.

The realistic aspect of this whole issue is that an average cholesterol level of around 200 is perfectly normal. 190 to 220 is the ideal range for most people, because if your cholesterol levels run too low, there is an increased risk of cardiovascular incidents, stroke, and brain hemorrhage.

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Choices for the Best Vitamin C for Natural Home Remedy

With many vitamin manufacturers being somewhat untrustworthy and with claims that the efficacy of vitamin C is being depleted during the production process, many people are asking the same question:  Is there a difference between one vitamin C pill and another—other than the manufacturer?

There are differences, such as the different forms of vitamin C where some are synthetic while others are natural.  The source of Vitamin C is also a distinguishing factor.  Some manufacturers extract the vitamin from the peels and pulps of the fruits and vegetables while others synthesize it in the lab.

An L-Form vitamin C is the shape of the molecule itself.  The natural and synthetic L-ascorbic acids are chemically identical.  There are really no known differences in their biological activity.  The possibility that the bioavailability of L-ascorbic acid from natural sources might differ from that of synthetic ascorbic acid is not established.  Two human studies found there are no clinically significant differences observed.

So what is the bottom line?  While there is difference in form, there is no difference between one vitamin C and another other than the possible dilution of the effectiveness of the pill during the manufacturing process.

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Sleep Hygiene: Checklist for Good Sleep – You Can Sleep Like a Baby!

Sleep Hygiene: Checklist for Good Sleep – You Can Sleep Like a Baby!Most adults need between 7-7.5 hours of sleep per night. This varies from person to person, of course, but it’s a good number to shoot for: let’s call it The Solid Seven.  It’s backed up by research—but you probably know from personal experience the truth of it. When you go consecutive days without a Solid Seven, things tend to go downhill.

Here’s a collection of actions you can take to get the sleep you—and your hormones—need:

General Tips

  • Change the way you think of your bedroom: in your mind, call it the sleeproom. If it helps to call it that when you talk about it, then do that, too. Your family might think you’re silly when you say things like “I left my wallet in the sleeproom,” but then again, it might be fun.
  • Use the sleeproom for sleeping only—and intimacy, of course. Do things like reading, watching TV, working, or playing games in other rooms.
  • At risk of repeating ourselves: avoid reading, writing, working, watching TV, surfing the web on your laptop or tablet, playing games, or talking on the phone while you’re in the sleeproom.
  • Keep the sleeproom quiet and cool. Turn down the heat and keep an extra blanket on hand if you know you’re a cold sleeper.
  • Keep the sleeproom as dark as possible. This will stimulate the release of melatonin so you’re mind tells your body it’s time to sleep. Use blackout shades to keep out ambient light from streetlights, your neighbors outdoor security lights, or light from signage if you live in a big city.
  • Make your bed comfortable. If you sleep with a partner and a queen size bed is not large enough for the two of you, consider investing in a king-sized bed.

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SLEEP YOUR WAY TO BETTER HEALTH (PART TWO OF TWO)

In our last blog post, we examined how lack of sleep can negatively impact the body. While the optimal amount of sleep varies from person to person, the general guideline for adults is seven to nine hours of quality sleep each night. We emphasize quality because many people are in bed for the requisite number of hours but don’t wake up rested and recharged. If you put yourself in this category you’re in good company. The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke estimates about 40 million people in the United States suffer from chronic long-term sleep SLEEP YOUR WAY TO BETTER HEALTH (PART TWO OF TWO)disorders each year. Let’s explore some of the most common disorders:

Insomnia

Nearly everyone has trouble getting to sleep now and then. Insomnia, however, is when a person has difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep night after night, often for months at a time. Acute insomnia is short term and commonly caused by stress, which increases cortisol levels in the body. Chronic insomnia lasts for at least three months and can be triggered by a variety of factors, including shift work, certain medications, environmental changes and hormone imbalances. Because insomnia has so many causes, treating it is a bit of a moving target. Talking with your doctor is the best way to create a tailored, effective care plan.

Neurotransmitter Imbalances

The brain is made up of two types of neurotransmitter chemicals; excitatory, which stimulate brain activity, and inhibitory, which calm the brain. When these chemicals are out of balance they can have a significant, negative impact on a person’s sleep patterns. Fortunately, a simple urine test can determine the best course of action to bring neurotransmitters back into balance. Treatments often take time to be fully realized but a good night’s sleep is well worth the effort.

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SLEEP YOUR WAY TO BETTER HEALTH (PART ONE OF TWO)

SLEEP YOUR WAY TO BETTER HEALTH (PART ONE OF TWO)In our 24/7 society, there is pressure from all sides to forsake sleep in favor of other pursuits. The work project that keeps you at the office late. The DVR that makes it so easy to binge watch until the wee hours. And if you have small children at home, sleep is likely the first thing to go as you settle into your new normal.

Sleep deprivation has become so prevalent in the United States that last year the Centers for Disease Control declared it a public health problem. Proclamations like that usually get people’s attention, so why do we have such a hard time taking sleep seriously? Instead of making a good night’s sleep a habit and a priority, we reach for an energy drink or pour another cup of coffee and pat ourselves on the back for powering through another day. And another one. The cycle is hard to break, but not doing so takes a significant toll in a shockingly short period of time. Here’s what happens to our bodies when we don’t get enough sleep.

Our immune system is weakened.

The body is an amazing machine, particularly the immune system, which fights toxins and bacteria on a pretty predictable 24-hour cycle. Melatonin, prolactin and growth hormones work together in overtime at night to repair muscles, fight antigens and maintain a healthy level of inflammation that controls bacteria in the body. But when sleep is in short supply so is cortisol, an anti-inflammatory hormone. The result? A body that is in an inflammatory state and, by extension, a compromised immune system that can’t effectively combat infections and disease.

We gain weight.

When our bodies are in balance our cells draw in glucose and convert it into energy that keeps us going throughout the day. But just one week of sleep deprivation can disturb that delicate balance and cause glucose to be stored as fat instead, setting in motion a chain reaction. The body isn’t processing glucose efficiently because it’s sleep deprived, which makes you tired and hungry, which makes you reach for unhealthy foods, which puts more glucose into a body that is already having a hard time processing it as it should. The hormones leptin and ghrelin also come into play here. Leptin is an appetite-suppressing hormone normally secreted in high levels at night. Ghrelin, on the other hand, is an appetite-stimulating hormone that is produced in lower levels at night. In sleep deprived bodies, leptin levels go down and ghrelin levels go up, creating a perfect storm for overeating and weight gain.

Our heart health is compromised.

The heart is the body’s hardest working muscle and it gets much-needed rest while you sleep. While it obviously continues to pump throughout the night, it does so at a lower rate which has the added benefit of lowering your blood pressure. Lack of sleep means your heart doesn’t have a chance to recover from the day’s activities, and that can lead to high blood pressure. Skimping on sleep also increases levels of C-reactive protein (CRP), an unhealthy protein physicians measure to determine stress as well as one’s risk for heart disease. CRP also indicates inflammation in the body and, as we’ve already learned, inflammation makes it harder to ward off chronic health problems including cardiovascular disease.

Our cognitive abilities are reduced.

Did you know that going without sleep for 24 hours impairs brain function in the same way as having a blood alcohol level of .10? That sobering fact (no pun intended) plays out in ways that impact job performance, physical activity, even our safety. The “fog” many people describe feeling after a poor night’s sleep is the brain’s prefrontal cortex struggling to focus and concentrate. When you can’t focus, your judgment, memory and ability to reason are all compromised. Our sleep deprived society is also the cause of an alarming increase in car accidents. One study revealed that sleepy drivers are more willing to take risks behind the wheel than their well-rested counterparts. Combine that with a diminished response time and it’s no wonder sleep deprivation is a safety concern.

It’s easy to see the snowball effect a lack of sleep has on virtually every aspect of one’s health and well-being. The challenge is finding a way to remedy the problem. In the second half of this blog series we’ll examine specific sleep disruptors and explore proven techniques to help you get the sleep you need so you can live the life you want.

Avoid These Common Drinks If You Have High Blood Pressure

Avoid These Common Drinks If You Have High Blood Pressure

According to the American Heart Association, 1 out of every 3 adults in the United States has been diagnosed with high blood pressure. Furthermore, the AHA also notes that hypertension “was listed as a primary or contributing cause of death in about 348,102 of the more than 2.4 million U.S. deaths in 2009.”

These numbers are high, and more than likely, high blood pressure affects you or someone you know. It’s a serious health condition, but it’s one that can often be alleviated naturally.

If you’ve been diagnosed with hypertension – or pre-hypertension – perhaps you’ve taken steps to lower your blood pressure by exercising, losing weight, and adopting a healthy lifestyle. Or, if you’re taking medication to treat the problem, you may worry that you’ll have to take that medication for the rest of your life just to keep your numbers down.

Ironically, even if you’ve made several positive changes to lower your blood pressure, you may be consuming drinks that cause your blood pressure to rise. The simple solution is to avoid them or – at least – minimize your consumption of them. Here are three drinks you’ll want to avoid if you are battling high blood pressure.

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New Considerations for Managing those Relentless Chronic Symptoms

New Considerations for Managing those Relentless Chronic SymptomsIf you suffer from a chronic, unresolved symptom and are taking prescription medication prescribed to you by your doctor, chances are you might be experiencing some temporary relief. But don’t assume that the cause of the symptom itself has been identified and eliminated. The reality is that medications only temporarily mask the symptoms but rarely address the reason that the symptoms exist in the first place. This is how the pharmaceutical industry continues to keep you on its drugs.

The key to eliminating the symptom is to identify the cause and remove it. So while your doctor may be telling you the truth about your condition –such as chronic pain, diabetes, acid reflux, inflammation, high blood pressure, weight control, etc.– he or she may not have gone far enough below the surface in their evaluation of you to identify the source – the root cause – of the symptoms themselves.

It’s not your doctor’s fault

Conventional medicine only trains doctors to identify a disease once it’s already developed and then render a diagnosis, not to seek the actual cause of the symptoms. The result is that doctors frequently ‘miss the mark’ because they are either looking at the wrong things or are looking at the things they are trained to look at in the wrong way. So, unless your doctor takes the initiative to explore the relationship of your symptoms—any symptoms—to disease or aging, he or she is limited to what they have been taught. And the way they have been taught is to do X procedure or administer X drug when you complain of X symptom. It’s really not his or her fault. That’s just what they’ve been taught.

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