What is aging?

In terms of our health and cells, we know that everyone ages differently. We see many people at the age of 80 that look and act like their 60. It's apparent that defining age chronologically has its flaws and in fact, leads to many misconceptions about aging! 

Biological age is reflects the interplay of your lifestyle, environment and genes. Now some may think they are aging faster because of their “dirty” genes but that is not entirely true.

Our environment and lifestyle play a major role. Only when there is excessive stress, nutritional, and antioxidant deficiencies, our “dirty” genes will only then be turned on and lead to accelerated biological age and chronic diseases.

Now you can’t live forever but we can slow the biological aging process and even improve the health of your cells and tissues! 

So what does a healthy aging look like? Simply put, you should be able to live a long life into old age free of chronic disease, with excellent energy, strength, memory and be free of pain. 

Break free of the common aging misconceptions and age well!

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Advanced Cholesterol Testing and Heart Health

This week I have been thinking a lot about a few people I love and recently lost to heart disease, stroke, and Alzheimer's.

I often think of them and this pushes me daily to keep reminding myself, family and the community to keep working to support heart and brain health. These conditions are largely preventable and we know how important nutrition and lifestyle play in its development.

Having your blood evaluated for other risk factors gives us more information regarding your treatment program to prevent a cardiovascular event ie a heart attack or a stroke.

Cholesterol is a good test to evaluate risk but 50% of people who have had a cardiovascular event have normal cholesterol! And many of us with high cholesterol never develop heart disease. So the standard cholesterol panel is really outdated.

Cholesterol science is rapidly evolving and here are some exciting new markers that more accurately evaluate risk.

LDL cholesterol is classically called the “bad” cholesterol but we now know that this group is a family and can be classified based on size and certain protein flags on their surface. Scientists have looked at this and found that the small, dense LDL is the most dangerous. Especially if inflammation is high. We now know that the larger LDL cholesterol is less dangerous. If you have high LDL cholesterol we need to first evaluate if you have dangerous levels of the small dense LDL.

Remnant lipoproteins are another type of cholesterol that is a risk factor associated with coronary heart disease and is related to insulin resistance. This is highly atherogenic, causing platelet aggregation and impairs vascular relaxation. It is also a major component of plaque. It is a remnant lipoprotein that carries cholesterol into the arterial wall making it more atherogenic. These are often elevated in those with the metabolic syndrome of insulin resistance.

We are finding that high-quality omega 3 fatty acids, EPA and DHA are good at lowering small LDL and remnant lipoprotein.

Other nutrients that help with cholesterol control are berberine, niacin and omega 3 fatty acids.

inflammation and insulin resistance is another major risk factor that you should explore.

CRP (hs): elevated levels of C-reactive protein (CRP) indicate inflammation due to infection or tissue injury anywhere in the body. If both the CRP and the Lp-PLA2 levels are high, the risk for a heart attack or stroke increases significantly. Exercise along with many natural nutrients like omega 3 oils, turmeric, ginger and pigmented vegetables and berries lower CRP.

Homocysteine: high levels may cause injury to blood vessel walls increasing the risk for heart disease and stroke, osteoporosis and peripheral artery disease. Reducing homocysteine is done with methylating nutrients such as B12, Folate, betaine HCL and B6.

Spectracell's Cardiometabolic lab provides these tests and many more (click to read more).

The development of heart disease, stroke and Alzheimer's disease occurs over time and for the most part, it is silent.

We have been tracking these markers for years now and it is always a nice feeling when we can look back and see the changes we make!

Around this time of year, I always begin the reach out to my clients and even family to remind them to keep this one up to date. I also recommend this testing for those following a low carb and keto diet, experiencing blood sugar issues, metabolic syndrome, PCOS or have a family risk of heart disease or Al.

Begin monitoring your risks as part of your healthy aging plan!

Inflammation and Pain 

I have been getting a lot of questions about inflammation so this week I decided to spend some time on this topic.


Understanding inflammation matters because it is a major part of all chronic, complex conditions ranging from chronic stress or anxiety, gut dysfunction to pain, heart disease and diabetes.

So what is Inflammation?

It's actually your immune system repairing itself after an injury or fighting some sort of infection.

We have all felt acute inflammation after an injury that results in pain, redness, heat, and swelling. After the damage is healed the inflammation goes away.

But inflammation can also be more silent when at a low level. This type of inflammation is more harmful over the long term. Especially for the heart!

How can you tell you have inflammation?

Low-level inflammation is silent but many will experience general joint aches and pains, rashes, fatigue, and low mood.

We can also evaluate inflammation though a lab panel. I use the pannel by Sprecracell Lab - Called the Cardiometabolic test. This is a specialty test for inflammation and cholesterol that you can not get at the regular doctor's office.

What can you do?

When it comes to inflammation we want to find the TRIGGERS and treat the TRIGGERS. This is the only way to reduce inflammation for good in the long run. Classic triggers often comes from:

  1. Foods - like gluten, lectins, nightshades

  2. Silent infections in the gut, bladder, and mouth

  3. Emotional stress and lack of sleep

  4. Environmental triggers like dist, pollution, chemicals, pollen and molds.

I generally can get a pretty good idea on the triggers just from an office consultation and detailed history. Functional lab testing can also help when it's less obvious.

Trusted and New Remedies for Inflammation

Now there are many anti-inflammatory and immune-modulating herbs that offer excellent support. I definitely recommend using them to protect your self from inflammation as you work on searching for the triggers. I have worked with many over the years and here are a few of the favorites that I have worked with.

  1. Turmeric, ginger and rosemary spices as teas or in food offer a foundation

  2. Curcuma Longa and Boswellia standardized extract in a liposomal form

  3. Specific Pro resolving Mediators (SPMs) is a new substance that we naturally make to recover from inflammation. They have potent anti-inflammatory properties and can be made from fish oil to be given at a much higher dosage.

HRV Biofeedback For Anxiety

I have been using heart rate variability for myself and patients.

What I love about HRV biofeedback is that it allow us to check in with our physiology before we may feel any changes!

A drop in HRV occurs when there is excessive stress or inflammation. These could be due to an early cold or when anxiety levels begin to build and become disruptive.

We can see the improvements in the HRV score when we are working on wellness and engaging in stress-reducing activities. It's encouraging! On days when the HRV is optimal, we know that our body can handle more stress!

Breathing and mindfulness help improve HRV because they regulate the “slow down” phase of the nervous system through the vagus nerve. This calms the thinking areas and anxiety centers of the brain. The more we do these activities the stronger the vagus nerve gets, just like exercising.

Many are finding that this is an effective tool for those managing chronic stress, depression, panic attacks, generalized anxiety disorder, and PTSD

Reference:

Physical activity, mindfulness meditation, or heart rate variability biofeedback for stress reduction: a randomized controlled trial.

Immune Support

The cold and flu season is here! So it's time to support your body with good nutrition and some herbal remedies. We've probably heard of one of the more popular ones echinacea but there are quite a few more.

Astragalus is a Chinese herb that has immune-modulating effects. I think of this herb as being fantastic four supporting week or fragile immune systems. Those that get sick often or have a low white blood cell count can really benefit from this herb. It can be taken at a low dose to support a healthy immune response or acutely at a much higher dose during a cold or flu to help the body recover more quickly. This is one that I like to take while travelling as well.

Andrographis is another one of my favourites. I think of this one as a deep viral tonic.

Zinc is a mineral that is important for a healthy immune response. Zinc deficiency is quite common actually. Zinc is very important for the production of alkaline phosphatase which is a common blood marker. When it is low I suspect a zinc deficiency. Zinc supplementation can really help you recover more quickly from a cold.

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IBS and your gut bacteria

We have been finding that a large portion of those with IBS symptoms have functional bacterial imbalances in their gut. If the bacteria in the gut move up into the small intestine then it can interfere with normal digestion and result in bloating, diarrhea/constipation and even nutritional deficiencies. We can use a breath test like this to diagnose if this is occurring and then prepare a nutritional protocall to treat it.

There are also many conditions that are highly associated with a functional imbalance in the gut microbiome such as fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue, brain fog, iron deficiencies, B12 deficiencies, GERD, acid reflux, autoimmune disease, food sensitivities and restless leg syndrome.

With new research evolving, we are beginning to see that the gut microbiome is a central component to wellness. Working on the gut microbiome can help optimize health in so many areas ranging from irritable bowel syndrome to brain optimization.

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