Tag Archives: high cholesterol

Lifestyle Diseases

Silent Sickness

Life Style Diseases

Early detection of lifestyle diseases are important.  The top three lifestyle diseases that I discuss in this blog are high blood pressure, high cholesterol and pre-diabetes. These three diseases are lifestyle related because they can be attributed to obesity. Obesity most often results from to overeating, a typical American diet, a sedentary lifestyle and stress. These lifestyle diseases are often without symptoms initially, which is why I refer to them as silent sicknesses. They escape detection unless you go looking for them. Most often you will not feel sick until they are advanced.

In this blog I discuss when to begin checking for them and how frequently. The goal is to never suffer from lifestyle diseases, but early detection of high blood pressure, high cholesterol and pre-diabetes is the next best option.

High Blood Pressure: Life Style Disease #1

The first silent sickness is high blood pressure. High blood pressure has most recently been implicated as a precursor to diabetes in those with abnormal fasting glucose along with the high blood pressure. High blood pressure is a risk factor for cardiovascular disease and kidney disease. High blood pressure that is undetected and untreated will result in kidney damage, damage to the small blood vessels in the eyes (this is possibly reversible),  and can increase the risk for stroke and heart attack.

However, the symptoms are often so non-specific it can be overlooked for years. Some of the more common vague symptoms are fatigue and headache. These are so non-specific that  most people attribute them to other conditions of their life.

Normal Blood Pressure

Normal healthy blood pressure should be below 120/80 for the average adult.

When Do I Check My Blood Pressure?

Check a baseline blood pressure at age 18 and then every 2-3 years if normal.

However, if you are obese overweight it should be checked before age 18. The risk for elevated blood pressure is high with obesity.

If it is higher than 120/80, and you are normal weight with no other health issues and if you are in your 30’s monitor it every 2 years.

If you are in your 40’s then annually is adequate if it was normal at the initial check, you are not obese and are maintaining a healthy weight.

If your BP is higher than this, and you are normal weight, recheck again in 3 months.

If your BP is higher than normal and you are overweight, obese, have high cholesterol and/or pre-diabetes then you should recheck it every 2 months.

Using Automated /Public Blood Pressure Check Machines

The automated blood pressure check machines located at many pharmacies are a great place to check you pressure if you don’t want to go to the doctor. These machines are required to be calibrated and if used properly can be used for blood pressure screening.

Follow these steps to ensure the most accurate reading.

Ensure that the home machine is not over 2 years old, and in proper working. For the public blood pressure machines you can ask for their calibration records, or trust that it is in working order.

Ensure that the cuff is the correct size. The correct cuff size is important. If you use the incorrect size cuff the reading will be too high (if it’s too small) or too low (if it is too large). If your upper arm is more than 13 inch diameter, use an adult large.

To accurately check your blood pressure follow these steps

Avoid smoking for 30 minutes prior
Sit quietly for 3-5 minutes prior to taking the reading
Refrain from speak during the reading
Do not hold your arm up actively during the reading

High Cholesterol: Life Style Disease #2

High cholesterol is a risk factor for cardiovascular disease including stroke and heart attacks. Elevated cholesterol levels do not result in physical symptoms. Doing research for this blog I saw many sites stating that pain in the hands, and feet can indicate high cholesterol. I have never heard of this symptom before. This is such a vague symptom, and there may be many causes of those symptoms. If you experience them I recommend  a general health evaluation by your provider.

There are some uncommon outward signs include: arcus senilis, which is an opaque ring around the iris of the eye that can appear in the elderly, and in younger people with high cholesterol; xanthelasma papebrarum, these are yellow deposits around the eyelids; and xanthomata, which are fatty deposits in the tendons.

Normal Cholesterol Levels

Normal levels of cholesterol vary by gender, race and age.

When to Check Cholesterol Levels?

All adults should have their fasting cholesterol checked once very 4-6 years. Fasting cholesterol levels means that your last meal was between 8-12 hours before the blood test. Your doctor will monitor it more frequently when you receive the diagnosis of high cholesterol. Once you have the diagnosis testing may occur every 3 months, 6 months and then annually.

Studies show that keeping these levels within normal parameters (for those without genetically related high cholesterol) can reduce the risk of these life changing events such as heart attack and stroke.

Pre diabetes: Life Style Disease #3

Pre-diabetes often goes undetected for years, because,  like high blood pressure and high cholesterol, the symptoms are subtle. Pre-diabetes puts you at risk for progressing to diabetes type 2.

The subtle symptoms will include fatigue, skin changes called acanthosis nigricans, sugar cravings and weight gain. Once pre-diabetes becomes diabetes, the symptoms become more difficult to ignore as they may disrupt your life. The symptoms of diabetes include increased thirst, increased urination, increased hunger, weight loss or gain without changing anything, and fatigue.

Normal Blood Sugar Levels

Normal fasting blood sugar levels are 65 mg/dL-99 mg/dL and an Hemoglobin A 1 C of less than 5.7%.

Pre-diabetes occurs when the blood sugar is higher than 99 but  less than 126 or the A1c is more than 5.7%

When to Check for Pre-Diabetes

If you are obese or overweight you should check annually for pre-diabetes. The only way to check for pre-diabetes and diabetes is to check you lab work.

Silent Diseases can Kill

These silent sicknesses can dramatically change your life in a negative manner. The medicines will have side effects, the monitoring of them will cost you money and time.
You can avoid these silent sicknesses by maintaining a proper weight, eating a clean diet consisting of wholesome foods and being active enough.

If you already have these diseases, all is not lost. If you lose as little as 5% of your body weight, you can improve your blood pressure, your blood cholesterol and your blood sugar.

You can check your cholesterol levels and blood sugar/A1c without having to go to the doctor. Ulta Lab tests offers this service. You sign up for the testing you want on the website, you will choose the lab location most convenient for you to get the blood drawn at. Your results will be available online in your account. You will then be able to print and take the results to your physician for evaluation.

Life style changes are the cornerstone for prevention and even possible reversal of lifestyle diseases. My book, Second Chance at Health- Learn to Love Active Living and Clean Eating can show you how to make these changes. When you discover the movements that you love, and a sustainable eating plan, it is easy to stay healthy.

Exercise can Lower Cholesterol for Fitness after 40

woman exercising with jump-rope outdoors

Physical activity is an important aspect of life, and getting enough of it can seem impossible. I have discussed many benefits of physical activity. You should read my other posts, Improved Muscle Strength,  Post Exercise Hypotension and of course in my book, Second Chance at Health. Now I have one more benefit to share with you, it can lower your cholesterol!

Exercise and Cholesterol Reduction

A single bout of aerobic exercise can result in immediate decreases of  blood cholesterols. Specifically, the triglycerides decrease by 10-25%, and high-density lipoproteins  increase (HDL- the “good”cholesterol). These changes were noted after 1-2 days for untrained and trained adults. They expended between 350 kcal – 500kcal and 1000 kcal respectively per exercise session.

This research article did not describe what exercises they did, but the exercises that could expended this number of calories varies. It could include walking at a fast pace, 4.5 -5 miles per hour for 1 hour, gardening for 1 ½ hours, biking at 14-16 mile/hour for 30 min, or jumping rope for 30 min.

How does this translate into real life?

I suggest that if you are trying to regain your health, that you focus on adding additional activity to your day. If you work long hours and want to just sit on the couch when you get home, you have three options.

  1. Opt for increasing your exercise during the day with NEAT, (taking the farthest parking spot, taking the stairs, standing at your desk, taking a walking lunch, using the farthest restroom).
  2. Exercise BEFORE you go to work.
  3. Or every commercial do squats, jumping jacks, arm circles, burpees, sit ups. You get the picture. Even if you did this every other day, you will have your body working for you for a day or two after.

Choosing an active life style that includes eating wholesome foods most of the time can greatly reduce your chances of needing medication support as you age. If you opt to adopt an active lifestyle with wholesome foods, then you could even reduce or eliminate any medications prescribed for many diseases.

I have written a book that can guide you to the best exercise and eating plans for your individual likes, needs and desires.

Order your book now to seize your second chance at health.

Bounds, RG, Grandjean PW, Obrien BC, Inman C, Crouse SE. Diet and short term plasma lipoprotein-lipid changes after exercise in trained men. Int J Sport Ntur Exerc Metab 2000:10:114-27.

Second Chance at Health: Best Diet Plans

scale f

The Best Weight Loss Plans

There are so many weight loss and eating plans available that it can be difficult to decide where to start. Your friends at work are succeeding different diets. Some are on thee Ketogenic diet, your cousin is following Whole30, and your doctor wants you to follow the DASH diet. But which one do you choose? Don’t despair, my ebook, Second Chance at Health-Learn to Love Active Living and Clean Eating, can guide you!

This post will break them down into simple terms. It will help you understand which might be your BEST eating plan.

Calorie Restricting Plans for Weight Loss

Weight loss plans that involve calorie limiting plans are very common. They are based on limiting the calorie intake to approximately 500 calories below your basal metabolic rate, or BMR. If this caloric limit is greater than 800 calories per day, it is safe (per the FDA) to perform without medical over site. To find out what your BMR is you can use a Tanita Scale, or use this link. BMR Calculator

The calorie limiting plans will require you to monitor your caloric intake daily based on your food choices. These plans can be modified for people with obesity-related health conditions such as diabetes, high cholesterol, or high blood pressure. The food selections can support the special needs of each of those conditions, while providing calories sufficient for weight loss. These plans can also incorporate the popular macro monitoring as well. There are many apps for smartphones that monitor your calorie intake and calculate macro and micro nutrients for those who need to monitor those.

This type of eating plan is fantastic for the individual who likes to monitor, plan, calculate and be intensely involved. Individuals who chose this type of plan often like to cook and prep for their success.

Meal Replacement Plans for Weight Loss or Weight Maintenance

Meal replacements were one of the first diet changes that I used in my 30s. I used Herbal Life shakes. Using meal replacement shakes as a weight loss program typically involves replacing two meals a day with a shake and then eating a sensible third meal.
This type of meal plan is remarkable for quick weight loss, but sustaining it can be somewhat trickier. With meal replacement programs, the transition off the program will need to be managed. Meal replacement shakes can be incorporated into other diet programs. They can be used to provide additional protein as needed to maintain muscle mass during a calorie-reduced diet. And they can be used to maintain and sustain weight loss due to the consistent nutrition count which helps to maintain a certain calorie level.

This type of diet is the one to use when you are busy and don’t have time for preparations, or you dislike cooking.

Whole Food Plans for Health That Can Be Used for Weight Loss and Weight Maintenance

Whole food/clean food eating plans encourage eating foods that are in their most natural forms . Ensure that they have been not been processed at all, or are processed minimally. These types of plans include paleo and Whole 30. They emphasize that eating good wholesome foods can rebalance the body and health.

These types of plans can be utilized for weight loss by using the BMR calculation for weight loss, or even just by eating the correct portions. The medical diets, such as Therapeutic Lifestyle Changes diet (TLC diet), diabetic diets, and the Mediterranean Diet will fall into this category.

The ketogenic diet requires significant limitation of carbohydrate intake to induce nutritional ketosis. This state allows the body to use the fat stores for energy which results in weight loss. This diet is high fat, moderate protein and low carbohydrate.

These diets are ideal for those who like to cook and have time to prep their foods. These plans encourage eating clean foods and result in great results.

Sustainable Eating Plans for Weight Loss and Weight Maintenance

Eating plans that are sustainable—for the weight loss goal, as well as for maintenance—will include the foods that a person likes to eat, in the proper portion size for either weight loss or weight maintenance. The initial eating plan, depending on the goal, will include adjusted amounts of macro nutrients, which are protein, fat and carbohydrates. If the diet is for weight loss, there will be a limit on the fat and carbohydrate intake, and adequate protein. to maintain muscle mass. These ratios would vary.

Eating plans to manage high blood pressure will focus on sodium and potassium intake. Eating plans for diabetes will focus on adequate carbohydrate counts. This ensures that the blood sugar improves, but does not result in symptoms of low blood sugar or hypoglycemia.

There are many more types of eating plans to choose from. These are the plans work when followed! I have also recommended combining one or more eating plans. Combining eating plans allows for the ebb and flow of life while maintaining your path to your goal.

Your most pressing question at this point should be, “Now what?” order my book and be prepared to learn to love active living and clean eating!

No matter what your goal is, I know you can and will attain and surpass it. I can’t wait to hear from you as you describe your success story.

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