Archive for February, 2011
Many of us attend our annual physical in a passive manner; we get our measurements, bloodwork and current health indicators, then hoping for the best. I truly believe we must take an active role in our own health care. One of the most powerful steps you can make to take charge of your wellness is to have regular blood tests and request a copy the results. Most importantly, know your optimal range and make it a habit to consult a preventative health expert, like an naturopathic doctor, at least once a year (although I prefer once a season).
Your bloodwork is a very important piece of your health puzzle. This week I thought I would share some tips of a few health tests that can affect your energy, cravings and metabolism, which can be completed by your doctor.
Thyroid hormone: Without enough thyroid hormone, every system in the body slows down. Those who suffer from hypothyroidism often feel tired, tend to sleep a lot, experience constipation and stubborn weight gain. Extremely dry skin, hair loss, brittle hair, splitting nails, slower mental processes, feeling cold, infertility, poor memory, depression, decreased libido or an inability to lose weight are also symptoms to watch for.
Thyroid disease is most accurately diagnosed by blood tests that analyze thyroid gland function, including your thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH). Elevated levels of TSH suggest that the thyroid gland is not responding properly to the signal from the pituitary gland instructing it to make more hormones. For optimal well-being, I prefer to see the TSH between 0.35 to 2.0, although many lab ranges are as high as 5.0, which can leave the patient untreated despite “normal” blood tests. In addition, you should ask for Free T3 and Free T4, with a goal to have them in the middle of your lab’s reference range. If you have a family history of thyroid disease it is wise to test for thyroid antibodies. The presence of antibodies predicts a slightly higher rate of propensity towards hypothyroidism, and should be monitored on a yearly basis.
Insulin and glucose: Glucose and insulin are implicated in many age-related diseases, such as type 2 diabetes, hypoglycemia, carbohydrate metabolism, hypertension, heart disease, insulin resistance and stroke. These tests require a fasting blood level; therefore, a 10- to 12-hour fast is required before the collection of a blood sample. Optimal results for glucose is less than 5.2 mmol/L (Canada) or 86 mg/dL (US units). A value of less than 36 pmol/L (Canada) or 5 mU/mL (US units) is ideal for fasting insulin. Insulin resistance can be associated with a glucose reading greater than 6 mmol/L (or 100 mg/dL) and fasting insulin greater than 36 pmol/L (or 5 mU/mL).
Insulin resistance is a metabolic disorder which can develop as a result of poor dietary habits (excessive intake of sugar, unhealthy fats and carbohydrates, or insufficient protein), stress, obesity, or lack of exercise. Diagnosis is associated with increased risk of type 2 diabetes, obesity, high blood pressure, stroke and coronary heart disease. Remember this: Insulin is the first thing to go wrong in insulin resistance, while blood sugar is the last. Testing insulin, therefore, will allow you to be much more proactive in the prevention of diabetes and heart disease.
Ferritin (Iron): Ferritin is considered an iron-storage protein that keeps the iron in a dissolvable and usable state, which also makes the iron non-toxic to cells around it. A blood test for ferritin measures the iron that is readily available for use. Optimal levels in women should be close to 70 and 100 for men. Low levels of iron are also problematic and are associated with fatigue, decreased athletic performance, ADD/ADHD and hair loss. A recent study published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition found an association between depression and decreased ferritin levels before the occurrence of anemia. Women with heavy menstrual bleeding are more susceptible to low iron levels, which makes it one of the top must-have blood tests. If your iron levels are too low, it will also impact the effectiveness of your thyroid treatment if you are on medication. Abnormally high levels of ferritin can increase the risk of heart disease in both men and women because of the tendency to increase inflammation. If your ferritin is too high (more common with men or post-menopausal women), you should speak to your doctor about the possibility of donating blood; if too low, use a supplement of iron citrate with 1,000 mg of vitamin C.
Progesterone: Progesterone, naturally highest in the luteal phase of the menstrual cycle, works wonderfully to prevent many PMS symptoms such as anxiety, headaches, sleep disruption, water retention and breast tenderness. Progesterone helps protect against anxiety, uterine fibroids, and fibrocystic breast disease. It enhances metabolism and is crucial for fertility. Unfortunately progesterone deficiency becomes very common for many women in their 30’s and 40’s, primarily because stress causes progesterone depletion. In my practice I often see patients with low progesterone who have higher cortisol levels or impaired adrenals. To get an optimal reading of your progesterone levels you should conduct your blood test on day 19 to 21 of your menstrual cycle (with day one being the first day of bleeding). An optimal value is close to 30.
Vitamin D3: Vitamin D has proven immune-enhancing, cancer protective, bone-building and insulin-regulating benefits. It is also important during pregnancy. Your levels should be over 125. If your vitamin D is low, add 2,000 to 5000 IU of vitamin D3 each day to your regimen, in addition to your multivitamin and calcium/magnesium supplement.
Highly sensitive C-reactive protein (Hs-CRP): Hs-CRP is a marker of inflammation and a risk factor for arterial disease. Levels tend to increase as body fat increases and with insulin resistance. An optimal value is less than 0.8. This test is also important for breast cancer survivors and should be tested along with fasting and two-hour PC insulin levels. High CRP or insulin is associated with increased risk of recurrence.
Find out what your numbers are and what they mean. Once you have the answers in hand, book yourself an appointment with either a qualified Homeopath, Naturopath or Holistic Nutritionist to get your body on the right track to health, longevity and feeling great EVERYDAY!
Namaste, JennRead Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )
The majority of individuals I speak to either take no Vitamin D or very little, usually whatever is part of their calcium:magnesium supplement or somewhere between 600-1,000IU. More and more research is mounting and showing that the average adult requires between 2,000-5,000IU daily and that children require between 1,000-2,000IU daily.
A study published in the January 2010 issue of Diabetes, suggests that a simple vitamin deficiency could be responsible for packing on the pounds over time. Researchers measured serum vitamin D (measured as 25-hydroxy vitamin D on a blood test) among a group of healthy adults. Using computed tomography (CT), each subject was also evaluated for their levels of subcutaneous fat (the unsightly fat that accumulates just beneath the skin’s surface) and visceral fat (the fat that surrounds internal organs, deep within the abdomen), which can lead to metabolic syndrome and type 2 diabetes. Results showed that those patients with lower levels of vitamin D were likely to have an increased waist circumference and higher blood insulin levels.
In addition, researchers found that low levels of vitamin D were linked to an increase in volume in both types of fat, with the rates of vitamin D deficiency being three times greater in subjects with the highest amounts of body fat. The researchers concluded that vitamin D status is strongly associated with the body’s levels of fat, and most notably visceral fat, which has direct ties to both heart disease and diabetes.
I recommend 2,000 – 5,000iu of vitamin D3 daily. If you are menopausal, suffer from cancer, MS, arthritis or fibromyalgia maybe even 5,000-10,000 IU daily. If you take vitamin D3 (liquid) drops versus pills, be sure to take them under your tongue for improved absorption.
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Like many of you living in York Region today was a snowy, blustery, stay-at-home-if-you-can kind of day and I did just that! What this kind of day also meant was that I was not going to be heading out to the grocery store so I needed to make do with what I had and still prepare some healthy meals for the day and evening dinner. I now, 3 meals, 2 baking experiments and some 10 hours later have affectionately termed this day ‘Whatever Wednesday’ definition – use whatever I have left in the fridge to cook for the Fam…
Here is a peek at a few things I came up with:
By the time lunch rolled around I had used any bread we’d had at breakfast to go with our eggs and fruit so when I Decided to make tuna for lunch I needed a back up plan of how to make this interesting enough for my 2 year old and 4 year old to eat.
I sliced some cucumber and spooned some tuna on top of each, added some whole grain crackers, made up a quick nutrient dense salsa using jarred salsa, 1/2 avocado, 1/4 can of black beans and 1/2 cup corn…delish, then I added to the plate some carrots, sliced pickles, red and green grapes – voila! Complete protein, healthy fat, fiber, color and complex carbs.
Later in the day we tried out two new recipes – Black Bean Brownies and Spelt Flax Maple Cookies
Black Bean Brownies
2 Tbsp 70% dark chocolate squares
1 1/2 cups rinsed black beans, canned
1/4 cup applesauce
1/2 cup honey or maple syrup
2 eggs plus 1 egg white
2 tsp olive oil
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 cup walnuts, chopped (optional)
1. Pre heat oven to 350′ and grease 8 inch pan
2. Melt chocolate with a little water in saucepan.
3. Combine all ingredients including melted chocolate in food processor and blend until smooth
4. Pour into pan and bake for 30-35 minutes.
Spelt Flax Maple Cookies
2 cups spelt flour
1/4 cup flax seeds
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/2 cup maple syrup
1/2 cup sunflower or olive oil
Pre heat oven to 350′ and line cookie sheet with parchment paper.
1. Whisk all dry ingredients together.
2. Add liquid ingredients until dry ingredients are absorbed.
3. Roll the doll into walnut size balls placed evenly apart on the sheet. Use the back of a fork to press down lightly on balls.
4. Bake for 12 minutes. You may also add 1/2 cup chocolate chips if you choose
Now what about dinner?
Open Freezer…nothing but some shrimp which we have yet to give our 2-year-old, some frozen fruit, edamame and veggies, fig and brie appetizers, flour, nuts, seeds and ice…WOW what a variety to choose from:)
Open Fridge…somewhat the same; nuts, seeds, fruit, a mix of a little veg here and a little veg there, some condiments, yogurt, humus, cheese, left over plain kamut pasta spirals, wine and salad greens.
So here is what I came up with:
I sautéed some carrots, greens beans, green onions, celery, sweet potato, bok choy and zucchini with olive oil. Then I added a carton of vegetable broth and 1 cup of water. I found a can of diced tomatoes and black-eyed peas and added those along with some spices and a piece of fresh ginger I found. I did all of this with one pot, one cutting board a can opener and one knife…so super quick and easy.
I also found some Ezekiel wraps (found in the freezer section of most health food stores) that I cut into triangles, brushed with olive oil sprinkled with sea salt and rosemary and lightly crisped.
And there you go a lovely ‘Whatever Wednesday’ soup with toasty triangles!
Hope you enjoy:)Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( 2 so far )