Many of you are looking for immune-boosting substances right now and rightfully so. Elderberry extract has become very popular during the cold and flu season and many people swear by its effect, but is it a “placebo” effect or the real deal?
We are in the midst of the strangest times but one of the beautiful things about it is, we are back in our kitchens cooking!!
Let’s look at a beautiful whole food that most of us probably have in our kitchen, honey. I often get asked, “is honey the same as sugar?” The answer to that question is “NO!”
Why You Should Ditch Sugar for Honey
First, honey is a whole food and sucrose is not. In other words, sucrose is an isolate – technically only one chemical compound – lifted from a background of hundreds of other components within the whole plant, whereas honey is composed of an equally complex array of compounds, many of which are well-known (including macronutrients and micronutrients, enzymes, probiotics, and prebiotics, etc.), others whose role is still completely a mystery.
Even the “sugar” in honey, which we might equate to the sugar in sugar cane or beet sugar, is a complex mix of 25 different types of sugar. Modern man in his “wisdom”, around the 1800s, started refining the sugar cane and eventually beets to create a single molecule called “sucrose” which has wreaked havoc with our health. Of course, there are now many names for sucrose when you look at a food label, but no matter what the name it doesn’t compare to the amazing benefits of honey.
But the differences between honey and sugar are not simply based on their respective chemical and nutritional compositions, but also the length of time we humans have had to adapt to them as a source of energy and nourishment.
8000-year-old cave painting from the Araña Caves in Spain.
We can assume our love affair with honey goes back ten’s of thousands of years! Our bodies have had infinitely more time to adapt to honey than to sugar.
The Beautiful Benefits of Honey
I’m often asked, “can I eat honey and will it raise my blood sugar and put weight on?”. There was a double-blind, randomized clinical study published in 2010 in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition, comparing the effects of honey or sugar on your appetite hormones (ghrelin, peptide YY) and the glycemic and thermic effects after a meal. This was done on 14 healthy, non-obese women. The researchers found that the group given 450 calories of honey with their breakfasts had a “blunted glycemic response which may be beneficial for reducing glucose intolerance.” they also saw a positive modulation of appetite hormones, delayed the postprandial (after meal) ghrelin response and enhanced total peptide YY levels!!In
In Layman’s Terms
Ok, in layman’s language, that means you don’t’ get as hungry as soon after you eat and your blood sugar doesn’t spike which leads to weight gain.
Another study published in Journal of Medical Food in 2004, which compared honey to dextrose and sucrose, found that natural honey was capable of lowering plasma glucose, C-reactive protein (inflammation marker) , homocysteine in healthy, diabetic and hyperlipidemic subjects (people with high cholesterol.)
Animal research also confirms that, when compared to sucrose, honey is more effective at promoting lower weight gain, adiposity (fat accumulation), and triglycerides, WOHOO! Are you loving your honey yet???
Eat It Raw
Raw honey contains enzymes and probiotics which are destroyed when heated. These compounds contribute directly or indirectly to honey’s amazing health benefits, so go “raw” when you buy honey.
Take the active starch-digesting enzyme amylase, for instance, found only in the raw form of honey in a form known as diastase, which is believed to contribute to clearing antigen-antibody immune complexes associated with allergies to pollens. Also, if it is local honey, it will pick up small amounts of local pollen which may help to “immunize,” or desensitize an overly active immune response to these environmental triggers. There is also the enzyme in raw honey known as glucose oxidase, which produces hydrogen peroxide. The hydrogen peroxide formed as a result of this enzyme is associated with honey’s well-known wound sterilizing and healing properties.
Honey is also rich in prebiotics, as attributed to some of the carbohydrates and probiotics that contribute to supporting the healthy flora in our gut as well. Recently, in fact, an abundant, diverse and ancient set of beneficial lactic acid bacteria were discovered within the honeybee gut. Researchers found a collection of 50 novel species from the genera Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium from a single insect! Consuming raw honey, therefore, likely significantly impacts the microbiota within our own gut, and is one way to reconnect to ancient symbiotic relationships with flora that in our modern, sterilized, pasteurized, irradiated, poisoned, cooked, and the bleached world, are all but eradicated from our environment, soil, food, and therefore bodies! These probiotic boosting properties may explain why honey is effective at healing gastrointestinal disorders.
Bee products, including venom, wax, propolis ((Bee Propolis Abstracts), royal jelly, etc., have been found to provide potential medicinal solutions for over 170 different health conditions (587 Bee Abstracts) expressing over 40 distinct beneficial pharmacological actions. This growing body of research should awaken in us a greater respect for this sacred insect — even if only for selfish reasons — and when we say sacred, the word sacred means “to make holy,” and the word holy shares the same root meaning as the words whole and heal, so incredibly powerful!
The sad part of this is we are seeing an explosion of colony collapses. The correlation between pesticides and big agrichemicals can not be understated in the role they are playing in destroying our bees worldwide. These chemicals radically transform the bee’s natural habitat and microbiota which has been around far longer than we an imagine. Support Organic farmers!!
10 Day Detox
Yes, we get to have honey during our 10 Day Detox! Our next class starts on April 13th and what a perfect time to kick the sugar habit and build your immune system. Teaching you powerful truths such as “honey vs sugar” is what I love to do during these ten days. Let’s focus on ancient wisdom and the healing power it has!
Learn more here… 10 Day Detox
I’m sure by this point you have heard MANY “experts” talking about the Coronavirus and all the implications involved with it. I thought I would give you a little different perspective and also link you to a podcast by Dr. Kendal Stewart.
Dr. Kendal Stewart…
Dr. Stewart is Board Certified in Otolaryngology / Head and Neck Surgery and has subspecialty training in Otology/Neurotology – Skull Base Surgery. Along with that he is a remarkable biochemist and started Neurobiologix formulations to go with genetic testing form GX Sciences, all in Austin Texas. I’ve had the privilege of being trained by Dr. Stewart in genetic testing over the last five years. When you listen to the podcast you get a great “picture” of how viruses work in the body but I’ll also give you an overview here.
If you would like to go directly to the podcast click HERE
The Bug Doesn’t Make You Sick…it’s your body’s response to the bug.
Most of us think of a virus as attacking the body, replicating and eventually taking over and overwhelming the immune system and that is what eventually can cause death. Part of this is true, but what most of us don’t realize is the immune system’s response to a virus is inflammation.
You’ve experienced this….every cut yourself pretty good? What does that cut look like 24 hours later? Hot, inflamed and swollen, the immune system is working on healing that cut with an “inflammatory” response. So, all inflammation is not bad, in fact, we want that response when a virus or bacteria enters the body. The problem is when it’s “on” all the time.
For some of you reading this, you have had your genetics tested and you know your inflammation genes and how they are operating. For most of you, this is an “unknown”, what’s going on inside your body all the time in regards to inflammation? Is your immune system “on” too much? Do you have chronic inflammation? Auto-immune disorder or inflammation that shows up as severe allergies, asthma, skin inflammation like eczema, IBS or allergic rhinitis all indicate an immune system stuck in the “on” position constantly cranking out inflammation.
What does this have to do with the Coronavirus?
Those that are at high risk are those that have immune systems that have been “on” for decades and the immune system is tired. When it’s hit with an aggressive virus such as the Coronavirus, it ‘s been “on” for so long its troops are not shooting with AK47’s (like they did when you were younger), they are shooting with bow and arrows! There may be a lot of troops but their weapons are ineffective.
The flip side to that is an immune system that is too weak to put up a fight, low troop numbers. Are you one of those who “never get sick, never get a fever?” That actually is worrisome…..that means you’re getting exposed to a virus but not mounting an immune response. An immune response would actually be a fever, chills, brain fog, lethargic, that’s the body fighting for you. Now, I haven’t been sick with the flu in years, does that mean I have a low immune system? No…I sometimes get a “touch” of something, my body mounting an immune response, then I increase my immune support supplements, get my sleep and make sure my diet is super clean and within 24-48 hours I’m back to normal.
Set Up Some Buffers for Your Immune System
Why is the aging population at higher risk? Because their production of hormones such as testosterone in men and progesterone in women is lower. They also have lower Cortisol (a steroidal hormone that lowers inflammation) and Vitamin D (yes, it’s a hormone too.) These “buffer” the immune system to keep it from over-working itself. As we age we lose many of these buffers, therefore the inflammation goes up (this causes accelerated aging.)
Additionally, your Omega 3’s, antioxidants, CBD oil, Turmeric, etc. all can help “buffer” the immune system and lower inflammation. Just as important is to eat a low inflammatory diet, get sleep, lose weight and lower stress to give your body a chance to rest the immune system so it can fight when called upon.
The Coronavirus is a very aggressive initiator of the immune system (inflammation) and that’s what leads to a person getting very sick. What are people dying of? Pneumonia? No, Pneumonitis. Pneumonitis is a term used to describe inflammation of the lung tissues without the presence of an infection, whereas pneumonia is inflammation caused by an infection. Anytime you see “itis” on the end of a word it means inflammation!
The Bottom Line…
Bottom line…..lower inflammation, not only for this current virus but for long-term health and slowing down aging!
I know this was another deep dive but my goal is to educate and empower you. This is why I love to take folks through my 10 Day Detox, so I get to have ten days educating and empowering you! Our next class starts on April 13th, let’s do a spring cleaning together! Learn more HERE…..
To your health,
So I started the month of February off with this question, “do cholesterol numbers matter?” and I’ve done two articles on heart health and the true cause of heart disease. This is my final article of the month and we will take a look at statins, do we need them and what testing we really want to determine our risk of heart disease.
The Deep Dive…
This is a “deep dive” so hang in there with me!! If you missed the last two articles you can catch yourself up to speed HERE.
Since their introduction in the 1980s, statin drugs have been almost universally hailed as “wonder drugs” by medical authorities around the world. The global market for statins was $16 billion in 2016, and approximately 40 million Americans (that’s one in every five adults!) takes a statin.
Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is still the leading cause of death in the United States, claiming 350,000 lives annually. Medical authorities and doctors claim that statins reduce the risk of CVD and vascular deaths by lowering levels of total cholesterol and proclaimed “bad” low-density lipoprotein (LDL)-cholesterol. There’s no denying that statins are effective at lowering blood cholesterol levels. Depending on the dose and circumstance, LDL-cholesterol (LDL-C) can be lowered by 30 to 60 percent.
As I discussed in the previous articles, cholesterol is the “ambulance” that shows up on the scene of the accident to do its job, so we can’t blame it 100% for the cardiovascular deaths each year. I believe taking statins can give you a false sense that “all is ok” when in reality, there could be a whole lot of damage going on without you being aware.
There is little information regarding the long-term effects of this class of drugs. We do know the extensive list of side effects including diabetes, digestive disorders, cataracts, memory loss, muscle damage, liver damage and low testosterone to name a few.
How To Understand the Clinical Trial Numbers
“Statins reduce deaths from coronary heart disease by 28 percent in men.” This is a headline from 2017 reporting the results from a long-term study on cholesterol-lowering statins. Sounds pretty impressive, doesn’t it?
An important thing to understand about drug clinical trials and medical claims is the difference between relative risk and absolute risk. For example, imagine that your risk of developing Condition A is one-half of 1 percent—0.5 percent. That’s your absolute risk, and it’s quite low. Now, imagine that Drug B reduces your chance of developing Condition A down from one-half of 1 percent to one-quarter of 1 percent.
We could report this reduction in one of two ways:
- Your relative risk of developing Condition A was reduced by a whopping 50 percent, from 0.5 percent to 0.25 percent, from Drug B.
- Your absolute risk was reduced by a mere one-quarter of 1 percent, or 0.25 percent, for an already low-risk event.
Many statin studies and claims perfectly exemplify this phenomenon of reporting relative risk without acknowledging absolute risk. If you want to read one such study in Lancet Go here and you’ll see that an absolute risk reduction of a mere 0.2 percent!! Even if it was 1.5%, 63 people would need to take the drug for 5 years in order to prevent 1 person from having a cardiovascular event.
Did you know you can have “low” cholesterol and still be at risk for heart disease? Did you know you can have “high” cholesterol and not be at risk for heart disease? How do you know???
You need to know your “particle numbers”. We are going through this right now with my husbands cardiologist. They want to just do a standard HDL/LDL cholesterol lab. We requested an additional panel, LDL-P, small particle LDL numbers (still waiting to hear if they will). In my previous article I touched briefly on the small particle LDL being the one that gets into the endothelial barrier in your arteries and causes damage which in turn causes “repair” which builds plaque. You can have “low” LDL and have “high” LDL-P and be at a higher risk. You can have “high” LDL with very little LDL-P and be at low risk.
For those of you who want a deep dive, you can get the Boston Heart Health Panel. We had to “ask” for this from our cardiologist and it turns out he had a requisition form in his office and Medicare-covered it! This is a deep dive, very thorough and gives you so much great information on what is going on inside your body.
The bottom line, if you really want to know your heart health risk, ask for more than your standard HDL/LDL, ask for at least the small particle LDL. Ask for inflammation markers such as CRP, IL1b, and IL-6. Ask for Homocysteine, Thyroid panels and Vitamin D. All of these are as important as your cholesterol numbers.
Heart disease is a complex, multifactorial process. So many factors play a role, genetics, diets, lifestyle, and toxic exposure. Last week’s article gave you a whole list of ideas for lifestyle and diet that can help lower inflammation, oxidative stress and help prevent the cholesterol train from showing up on the seen to create plaque. Let’s look at some specifics for heart health. This is not even an exhaustive list but my “top picks”!
- Green Powders – you want to support your detoxification pathways and chlorella and spirulina are two detoxifiers that you will usually find in a “green” powder. Along with detoxifying blood, they have Vitamin A, B, C, E, and Inositol. A 2013 study found they decreased inflammation and oxidation of LDL. My favorite is “Green Vibrance” because it not only is loaded with wonderful greens but tastes good! You can find it on Amazon in either 30 or 60 serving size. I throw it in my smoothies!
- Omega 3’s – these have hundreds of clinical trials that demonstrate benefits for lowering inflammation. This polyunsaturated fat is critical for the brain, heart and every cell in your body. Many people try and use flaxseed for their Omega 3’s but it does not convert well to the DHA and EPA that you need for the benefits. Make sure you are buying an Omega 3 that has been tested for heavy metals and is “species-specific” for the type of fish.
- Vitamin K & D – you need vitamin K and D in order for calcium to store in your bones and teeth. Without it, calcium deposits everywhere, including blood vessels and coronary plaque.
- Vitamin E – this is a powerful antioxidant and protects against free radicals. It improves vascular endothelial function, protects cells from free-radical damage and contains anti-clotting properties. Make sure and buy an E that is “complete”, containing tocopherols and tocotrienols.
- Vitamin C – vitamin C is a winner in so many ways including lowering blood pressure, boosting immune function, as an antioxidant, improving endothelial function, decreases LDL oxidative damage, decreases clotting, lowers the risk of atrial fibrillation and supports collagen production.
- Berberine – studies show improvement in lipid control, heart failure, lowered inflammation and the side benefit it has been shown to be as effective as Metformin in lowering blood sugars. Remember, high blood sugars equal to high inflammation.
- Magnesium – lowers blood pressure, raises HDL, lowers triglycerides, lowers CRP (a measure of inflammation) and improves blood sugar control.
- Red Yeast Rice – If you have stubborn cholesterol numbers (after changing your diet), red yeast rice may be appropriate. It is a form of statin that has been used in Asia for centuries. It is derived from fermented rice that creates a yeast. The original statin formula came from red yeast rice! Lowers LDL, lowers CRP, appears to be safe for people who do not tolerate statins. You must take a CoQ10 just as if you were on a statin.
- CoQ10 – this is found in the body as ubiquinone and ubiquinol. Ubiquinone is better for those younger than forty and ubiquinol for those over forty. This is an excellent antioxidant, protecting LDL from oxidation. Statins reduce the CoQ10 levels by 40%!
Whew! We made it! February has been Heart Health month and I hope with these three articles you have learned a lot about what causes heart disease and what you can do to prevent it. Thanks for hanging in there with me!
P.S. Mark your calendar for April 13th, our next 10 Day Detox!
Last week I started the conversation about cholesterol and heart health since February is Heart Health Month. If you didn’t catch that article “Do Cholesterol Numbers Matter?” you can read it here….so this article makes sense!
I left off last week telling you how important cholesterol is for the body. It is a critical molecule for cell function, hormone formation, digestion, and vitamin D production. Every cell in your body is dependent on cholesterol. It’s getting a bad rap for the damage that it didn’t start!
Inflammation and Oxidation (Free Radicals)
These are the real enemies of cardiovascular health and age-related diseases. What causes them? Poor nutrition, stress, heavy metal toxicity, overgrowth of bad bacteria, exposure to toxins, unhealthy diets full of bad fats, high blood sugars, leaky guts and poor sleep to mention a few!
How Coronary Artery Blockages Form
Hang in there with me for a bit, this is important to understand…
Endothelial cells line blood vessels and are the barrier between the bloodstream and the blood vessel. A healthy endothelium keeps unwanted items out, produces vasodilating molecules, which keep vessels open, and allows the outer portion of the vessel to function normally. If we eat bad food (inflammation) or are exposed to chemicals (oxidation), the endothelium becomes “leaky.” This allows unwanted molecules to traverse from the blood into the artery wall. This is how people get coronary artery disease. It’s actually not a “disease”, it’s a response to the damage done from toxins and all the things I mentioned above, it’s the body’s way of trying to heal you!
Did you realize your immune system is working when you have “inflammation?” Think about this…what if you cut your arm pretty good right now. Twenty-four hours from now what would that area look like? Hot, red and swollen, that is your immune system doing its job, yep, inflammation. So what happens when these molecules get into your arterial walls? Inflammation! Double whammy, inflammation caused by toxins and poor diet then more inflammation because your body is trying to fight back!
Where is Cholesterol in This Picture?
LDL cholesterol particles, usually of the smaller, damaging variety, cross what should be a very selective endothelial barrier, but remember, it’s now “leaky.” A vicious cycle develops when immune cells respond to the damage and release cytokine messengers, which in turn recruit more immune cells. The culmination of this event is either a healed blockage (stable plaque) or an unhealed blockage (unstable plaque). Just imagine this going on for years and decades resulting in coronary artery blockages.
How Do We Fix This?
Pretty obvious we want to lower inflammation and stop as much oxidative stress as possible. In this scenario it’s obvious that just by lowering cholesterol we haven’t gotten to the “root cause.” We must support the body and prevent the damage done by these twin villains.
Tips to Lower Inflammation and Reduce Oxidation
Diet is #1
A low inflammatory diet such as a Paleo diet, rich in healthy fats and antioxidant colorful fruits and vegetables. Eat organic as much as possible to lower your toxic burden. At the bottom of my website home page, you’ll see a suggested Anti-Inflammatory Diet.
Heal your gut
If you are experiencing “gut” issues, irritable bowel, any of the “itis’s” Colitis, Diverticulitis, constipation or diarrhea, gas and bloating or discomfort in the gut, you have inflammation. Work with a nutritionist or naturopathic doc to get your gut healed.
Stress is a big-time inflammation producer. Meditation, prayer, and exercise are the top things that can lower your stress.
Heavy metal detox
We all have metals in our body from the water we drink, the air we breathe, the environments we live in, our dental work and the foods we consume. If you struggle with high blood pressure or high cholesterol (before you take a drug), consider having a heavy metal test done by a qualified health professional.
Your body needs sleep to heal, restore, clean out the garbage and protect your body from all the assaults it is exposed to every day.
Good Dental Health
This is often an underlying “root cause” of inflammation.
Supplements to help
there are many supplements that can help lower inflammation and oxidative stress. Some of my top favorites are Omega 3’s, Resveratrol, Turmeric, Vitamins C and E, n-acetyl cysteine and L-arginine.
I’m not done yet!!
I still want to address statin drugs directly and answer that question “do your cholesterol numbers matter and do you need a statin drug to prevent heart disease?”
In good health,
February is “Heart Health Month” so what better time to talk about the big “C” word…Cholesterol!
I’m prompted to do this by two back-to-back conversations with clients about cholesterol numbers going up on a Ketogenic diet. Whether you are on a low-carb diet or not, it’s important to have a clear picture of cholesterol and whether we should be so focused on the “one thing” for heart health. This is going to take a couple of articles over this month, so hang in there with me!
Just say the word cholesterol out loud. What images does it conjure up? Heart attack, stroke, clogged blood vessels, death??? Next ask yourself this question, “what is cholesterol and what does it do in my body?” Can you answer that question?
Cholesterol is hydrophobic, it doesn’t like water and prefers to hang out with other fats. It travels with some friends, LDL and HDL. Large production of cholesterol occurs in the liver. The body makes about 1000mg of cholesterol daily. Very low cholesterol is a bad sign that the liver is not functioning well and is associated with a higher risk of cancer.
Cholesterol is found in all animal sources of food and daily consumption is around 200-300mg, about the weight of 3 raindrops. Most of the cholesterol from food is not absorbed but preferentially passed in the stool. The gut prefers to absorb the cholesterol made by the liver and passed into the bile to assist with digestion.
Cholesterol is the King of Hormones
Cholesterol is the foundation of all your steroidal hormones.
Without cholesterol to make your testosterone your libido disappears (women too!) Testosterone increases muscle mass and leads to improved bone density and strength. Low “T” is linked to Alzheimer’s, erectile dysfunction and coronary artery disease.
Progesterone is produced in the ovaries, adrenal glands, and placenta when pregnant. For a pre-menopausal woman to be put on cholesterol-lowering medications is a crime! She’s already losing progesterone as she heads into menopause and that is what causes hot flashes, low libido and the general “menopausal” symptoms that often start in her forties.
Yep, we need cholesterol to make estrogen too! The last thing a woman wants as she enters menopause is to lower estrogen even further making it a higher risk for bone loss, cognitive function and low libido.
This molecule is converted to estrogen and testosterone. DHEA is made in the adrenals, testes and ovaries from cholesterol. Low DHEA is associated with an increased risk of heart attack, stroke and diabetes.
Cortisol is the main “energy” hormone of the body and cortisol is made from cholesterol. Cortisol’s primary function is to increase blood sugar (if a tiger is chasing you!), balance the immune system, aid in fat, protein and carbohydrate metabolism. Cortisol maintains blood pressure and is important for digestion.
Cholesterol is needed to convert the sunlight into vitamin D! We now understand the vitamin D is actually a hormone.
As you can see, cholesterol is an essential molecule and every cell in the body needs it. The cell membrane is rich in cholesterol and your brain is 80% fat, much of that cholesterol. So if it is so good, why is it so bad??? OR is it?
You’ve Had an Accident
The best analogy to start this conversation with is this…
You’ve just been involved in a two-car accident and there are injuries involved that require an ambulance. The ambulance shows up on the scene of the accident and everybody starts blaming the ambulance for the accident. I’m sure you’re thinking, “that’s a little crazy.”
Well, that’s what we do with the cholesterol story. Inflammation and oxidation cause damage to your arterial walls. Cholesterol’s job is to come along and “repair” the damage with plaque. How can we blame it for doing its job???
The true culprits here are the inflammation and oxidation, not cholesterol!
I will continue this story next week!!
Until then, enjoy your butter, bacon, and eggs!