Is High Cholesterol a Bad Thing?

Is High Cholesterol a Bad Thing?

Is Cholesterol a Bad Thing?

 

Cholesterol in a Nut Shell

Instead of looking at your high cholesterol labs with a sense of doom, let’s look at how cholesterol levels in the blood rise and when it can become a problem.

One of the basic functions of cholesterol is to stabilize the mitochondria (the energy powerhouse of the cell), preventing their destruction from stress. Did you know that anytime you’re under a stressful situation, cholesterol rises as a protective response to the stressor! Yes, you read that right: cholesterol is a protective substance! Stress also lowers intracellular magnesium, which also causes cholesterol production to increase, since magnesium regulates the enzyme that makes cholesterol. Stress to the body can be what we normally categorize as normal stressors but it can also constitute skipping meals, not getting enough sleep, and eating poorly.

In our younger years and in those with high metabolisms, cholesterol is converted inside cells into pregnenolone, DHEA, testosterone, progesterone, and other important protective hormones. You cannot make these hormones without cholesterol. Cells need 2 things to make the conversion: Vitamin A in its active form & thyroid hormone. As humans get older, their ability to convert beta carotene into active Vitamin A decreases, most people don’t eat much active Vitamin A in their diet, & metabolism decreases. In fact, up until about 40 years ago, high cholesterol was diagnostic of hypothyroidism, & routinely treated with supplemental thyroid hormones.

 

When is Cholesterol a Problem?

So high cholesterol is a problem because you’re not making youthful, protective hormones, but it’s also a problem because cholesterol oxidizes if it hangs around in the blood stream long enough, losing its protective functions. The cholesterol — or more accurately, the lipoproteins like LDL that are carrying cholesterol — get damaged by oxidation, and then the immune system’s response to that oxidative process is what causes the buildup of plaque and then ultimately the rupture of plaque and heart attack.So the real question everyone should be asking when it comes to atherosclerosis & heart disease is: “what causes LDL to oxidize?”

These are the main ways oxidized cholesterol builds up in your bloodstream:
• eating commercially fried foods.
• eating excess polyunsaturated fatty acids, which are found in vegetable oils, packaged & restaurant foods.
• smoking, alcohol & processed sugars.

 

What Can you Do?

If you have high cholesterol and your doctor is concerned, here is what I would recommend:

• Ask your Dr. for a cholesterol particle size test (LDL-P). Small LDL particles are more likely to oxidize & form plaques under the artery walls.
• Know your calcium status. One of my favorite things about Mineral Analysis, is the crucial information on tissue calcium that it provides. Coronary calcium scans will also give you good information about your tissue calcium buildup.
• Check your thyroid’s temperature first thing in the morning as an indicator for thyroid uptake. Anything less than 97.8 degrees is considered functionally hypothyroid.

If you want to lower your cholesterol naturally to ensure health for years to come:
• Make sure your diet has plenty of sources of active Vitamin A (eggs or cod liver oil).
• Eat more magnesium & supplement if needed. Cooked dark, leafy greens are excellent sources.
• Eat plenty of potassium-rich foods, like fruits & vegetables.
• Make sure your diet has plenty of Vitamin K2, active Vitamin K. K2 is a calcium director and can remove calcium buildup from the arteries.
• Focus on all the things that improve thyroid uptake by cells such as getting enough calories, protein, carbohydrates, potassium and other minerals, good estrogen metabolism, and good liver function – all the things I work on with my patients!

Why Your Hormones Need Carbohydrates to Function

Why Your Hormones Need Carbohydrates to Function

Why Carbs are Good for Your Hormones

 

Low carb diets are all the rage right now in the nutrition and health world. And it’s true, cutting carbs can help with weight loss and health improvements for some people, mostly because of the caloric restriction.But for many people – women especially – keeping carbs too low for too long can have pretty unhealthy consequences, especially if you work out with any level of intensity. And even more so if you have hormone-related health issues like HPA axis dysregulation or hypothalamic amenorrhea, PCOS, hypothyroidism, adrenal fatigue and Hashimoto’s.

If you’re sedentary, your carb needs are generally lower than someone who is active. Those who don’t train regularly might be able to get away with less carbohydrates overall. And even if you do work out regularly, you probably won’t immediately feel the consequences when you first cut most carbs from your diet. It may take a few months to see the long-term impact, but at some point, you might start to feel spaced-out, sluggish, cranky and sick.

 

Low Carb Diet & Your Hormones

Eventually, restricting your carb intake too much can lead to many hormone-related issues such as:

  • decreased thyroid output (hypothyroidism)
  • increased cortisol output (abdominal fat)
  • decreased or increased testosterone (low libido and osteopenia)
  • impaired mood and cognitive function (brain fog)

If you already had a pre-existing hormone related condition before cutting carbs, such as hypothyroidism, PCOS, missed or irregular periods, or adrenal fatigue; eating too few carbs will only exacerbate your condition.  And if you’re under a lot of stress already, going too low carb can cause further HPA dysregulation and increase its symptoms.

Your carbohydrate intake is a critical part of the equation when it comes to balancing your sex hormones, losing weight, recovering from exercise, supporting your thyroid, boosting your energy, and so much more. You may be wondering how carbohydrates affect your adrenal health. Reducing carbohydrates excessively can affect stress hormone production in many people, usually causing a significant increase in cortisol. This will directly impact your energy levels causing them to plummet and eventually worsen pre-existing adrenal fatigue.

 

The Basic Chemistry of Blood Sugar

Any time we eat, our food is broken down into macronutrients, micronutrients, and water. This complex process allows us to derive energy from our food, obtain essential vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients, and collect the building blocks needed to make our immune cells, hormones, and neurotransmitters.

Carbohydrates are found in many different foods, and in different forms. After we eat, blood sugar rises as carbohydrates are digested and absorbed. This triggers the release of insulin, which helps shuttle glucose out of the bloodstream and into our cells. Insulin is considered an “anabolic hormone,” meaning it promotes the storage of glucose and the conversion of any excess into its long-term storage form: fat. We also have hormones that help us tap into stored glucose or generate more. This occurs when our blood sugar is low or when we have increased energy demands.

So, what does this mini biochemistry lesson have to do with adrenal fatigue?

As the name implies, adrenal fatigue involves a dysregulation in our body’s stress response. Initially this leads to elevated cortisol, a stress hormone produced by the adrenal glands. As adrenal fatigue progresses, the dysregulation often leads to low cortisol. Now here’s the catch: Low carbohydrate diets have also been shown to be a stressor on our adrenals.

 

Common Symptoms of Adrenal Fatigue

-Tend to be a “night person”
-Difficulty falling asleep
-Slow starter in the morning
-Tend to be keyed up, trouble calming down
-Calm on the outside, troubled on the inside
-Tendency to need sunglasses
–Chronic fatigue or get drowsy often
-Crave salty foods

Any time that you are not meeting your body’s needs for energy with adequate fuel, you put stress on your adrenals, since they act as your body’s shock absorbers (allowing your body to adapt to stress). This means that any caloric abuse or nutrition neglect is something that your adrenals have to make up for– by producing stress hormones (cortisol and adrenaline) to get you through the day. Usually, the more severe the adrenal dysfunction, the longer the adrenal stress has been going on.

Additionally, when you inadequately fuel your body, it stimulates the use of glycogen (stored sugar in the liver) for energy. Once your glycogen stores are depleted, tissue breakdown begins (the breakdown of proteins and fat to make glucose [sugar] for energy). This process of muscle catabolism releases amino acids such as cysteine, methionine, and tryptophan, which are all anti-metabolic to your thyroid. This happens because it’s the body’s way of being very intelligent,  by communicating with your thyroid, and telling it to turn down the conversion of active thyroid hormone in order to save your body from running itself into the ground.

 

How Many Carbs to Eat?

Here are my general starting points of the percentage of carbohydrates for hormone related health issues. But please keep in mind that your activity, stress, genetics and hormone imbalance will influence these recommendations:

  • For most women, I recommend a minimum of 25% of calories from carbs, particularly if you’re active.
  • For patients already dealing with an HPA Axis issue (“adrenal fatigue”), I start them at 30-40% calories from carbohydrates.
  • For women who are dealing with health issues surrounding fertility and hypothalamic amenorrhea, I recommend 40-50% of calories from carbs.

 

How do I  Know What MY Carb Needs May be?

In general, everybody has different dietary carbohydrate needs primarily depending on their activity levels and genetics, but also dependent on their age, gender, stage of life, and goals.

As I mentioned earlier, if you are sedentary you can likely eat fewer carbs and feel fine. However, if you regularly participate in intense, glucose-demanding activities like Crossfit, heavy powerlifting, and/or high-intensity interval training (HIIT), your body will begin to rely on stress hormones like cortisol to produce the glucose the brain and muscles need. When this happens, you may eventually develop symptoms associated with hormone related health conditions such as amenorrhea, hypothyroidism or adrenal fatigue.

 

Which Carbs are Best for YOU?

A hormone-supportive diet isn’t just about the quantity of carbohydrates. It’s also important to consider the quality of carbohydrates and the timing of when you’re eating them throughout the day. Choosing high fiber carbohydrates, such as those found in whole grains, legumes, and vegetables provide the essential nutrients needed to support proper hormone function. Also, the fiber in carbohydrates also helps slow the release of carbohydrates into the bloodstream, thus keeping blood sugar more stable. Whole grains are an incredible source of prebiotic fiber and have earned their rightful place in a diverse, healthy hormone based diet. They do this but maintaining your gut integrity, feeding your healthy probiotics foods they need to replicate and in turn create healthier hormones.

Another way to balance blood sugar is to make sure carbohydrates are paired with protein and/or fat at every meal and snack. Spacing carbohydrates out throughout the day is also important for adrenal function. This prevents blood sugar from dipping too low, which will also increase demand on the adrenals to release cortisol.

But to truly know which carbs are best for you, I’d recommend the Nirvana Diet™. I created this Diet to know exactly which foods, and in this case carbohydrates, you should be eating based upon your genetics. It takes the guess work out of knowing which foods are best for balancing your hormones!

The takeaway? Carbs are not the enemy. Eating quality carbs in balance with a whole food diet, can be supportive of all of your hormones in helping to regulate your body’s ability to stay balanced, happy, and regenerating stronger cells.

Getting Rid of Your Belly Fat, Naturally

Getting Rid of Your Belly Fat, Naturally

Welcome to Regenerate You, I’m Dr. Nirvana!

Where fat ends up is influenced by several factors, including heredity and hormones. ​Calories matter, but hormones matter more. In particular, reducing your belly fat involves the reset of the belly fat ​hormones which I’ll be discussing during this episode. I’ll share my basic strategies that you can implement to burn the fat around your abdomen, naturally!​​​ 

If you’re looking for additional advice, feel free to visit my blog here. You can also stay connected with me on my Facebook page @DrNirvanaHeals or on my Instagram @DrNirvana.

Please remember to subscribe and to please leave me a review as well!

 

And remember, when you regenerate, there’s a new you every day!

The Impact of Caffeine on your Thyroid Health

Is Caffeine Hurting Your Thyroid?

If you’re drinking caffeine, be it from a cup of coffee, tea, or even a can of caffeinated beverage, your adrenal glands immediately release a series of hormones – this is essentially what causes the person to experience the boost in mental and physical energy, and what makes you more alert. The reason why the adrenals release these hormones, is that caffeine is known as a stimulant.

Drinking a cup of coffee now-and-then won’t cause any serious problems, but when the adrenal glands are constantly stimulated (especially in cases of adrenal fatigue), it can cause their function to become impaired. The hormones that are frequently released by the adrenal glands can also start to have an adverse impact on different areas of the body – and this includes the thyroid gland.

 

Caffeine increases blood sugar levels

This is especially dangerous for people with hypoglycemia (or low sugar levels) who feel jittery, shaky, moody and unfocused when hungry. Blood sugar fluctuations cause cortisol spikes, which not only exhaust the adrenals, but also deregulate the immune system. This is highly undesirable for those with adrenal fatigue, Hashimoto’s or Graves’ disease. Such cortisol spikes are also highly inflammatory.

 

Creates sugar and carbohydrate cravings

As the result of the above (increase in sugar levels), when our blood sugar levels come down, we need an emergency fix to bring them back up. This is why people who drink coffee at breakfast or indulge in sugary and processed breakfasts crave carbs and sugar by 11am or later in the day.

 

Exhausts the Adrenals

Coffee stimulates the adrenals to release more cortisol, our stress hormone; this is partly why we experience a wonderful but temporary and unsustainable burst of energy.

What many of us don’t realize is that our tired adrenals are often the cause of unexplained weight gain, sleeping problems, feeling emotionally fragile, depression and fatigue. Drinking coffee while experiencing adrenal fatigue is only adding fuel to the fire.

People with Hashimoto’s should be extra careful as the adrenals and cortisol also modulate the immune system and Hashimoto’s is a condition in which the immune system is already out of whack.

 

Causes estrogen dominance = thyroid nodules, worse PMS and lumpy breasts

Coffee can contribute to estrogen dominance, which can mean one of two things: we either have too much estrogen in relation to progesterone, or we have an imbalance in the estrogen metabolites (some are protective and some are dangerous). PMS, lumpy breasts, heavy periods, cellulite and even breast cancer (an estrogenic cancer) can be symptoms of estrogen dominance.

Estrogen is especially problematic for people with thyroid conditions. High estrogen levels (also known as estrogen dominance) rise thyroid binding globulin, making less thyroid hormone available for the body. Estrogen dominance is also often cited as the cause of thyroid nodules as well.

 

Impacts the conversion of T4 to T3 hormones

Coffee impacts the absorption of thyroid medications, this is why thyroid patients need to take their hormone replacement pill at least an hour before drinking coffee.The indirect but important point is that coffee contributes to estrogen dominance, and estrogen dominance inhibits T4 to T3 conversion.

 

Gluten-cross reactive food

50% of people with gluten sensitivities also experience cross reactivity with other foods, including casein in milk products, corn, coffee, and almost all grains, because their protein structures are similar. Cyrex Labs provides a test for gluten cross-reactive foods (Array 4). Many people report having a similar reaction to coffee as they do to gluten..

 

Still feel like having your cup of coffee in the mornings? Try weaning yourself off gently with some matcha green tea which has less caffeine than coffee. Then move to white tea, which has even less caffeine, and eventually to your favorite herbal tea!

 

The Link Between Your Hormones and Anxiety

The Link Between Your Hormones and Anxiety

Welcome to Regenerate You, I’m Dr. Nirvana!

If you’ve ever felt confused by spiking anxiety shortly before your period begins, don’t worry: You’re not alone. Our hormones directly affect our anxiety levels. And it’s not just cortisol — a number of hormones can influence how stressed you’re feeling on any particular day. On this episode, I discuss the wild world of hormones inside your body — and info about how they can cause your anxiety. Plus some tips on what to do to balance them out. While it may be unnerving to think about the hormones your body is putting out, remember that it’s simply about going to the root cause. Don’t guess, but test your hormones to really know what your body is trying to tell you! To receive a B-vitamin or Bliss shot that I mentioned during the is episode, visit my Vitamin Shot Bar.

If you’re looking for additional advice, feel free to visit my blog here. You can also stay connected with me on my Facebook page @DrNirvanaHeals or on my Instagram @DrNirvana.

Don’ forget to subscribe to my Podcast!

 

And remember, when you regenerate, there’s a new you every day!

The Link Between Thyroid and Cholesterol

The Link Between Thyroid and Cholesterol

Welcome to Regenerate You, I’m Dr. Nirvana!

Thyroid problems can have a ripple effect throughout your body, including your cardiovascular system. In particular, people with hypothyroidism may have higher cholesterol, which can increase the risk of heart disease and further inflammatory conditions in the body. On this episode I discuss the link between thryoid issues and cardivascular disease and what you need to know about this potential danger.

If you’re looking for additional advice, feel free to visit my blog here. You can also stay connected with me on my Facebook page @DrNirvanaHeals or on my Instagram @DrNirvana.

Please remember to subscribe and to share this Podcast!

 

And remember, when you regenerate, there’s a new you every day!