Monday, March 8, 2010

30 Points!

Last week, I fasted overnight and had my cholesterol re-checked. It had been 3 months since the 2-5-0 verdict and I've since made some dietary and supplement changes. I've been anxious to see what, if anything, has changed.

The first words out of my doctor's mouth, when she called late Friday afternoon, were: "Your cholesterol dropped 30 points!! Excellent work!"

While the ratios have remained basically the same, the overall drop is very encouraging. So what have I been doing? A lot of things, none of which I can pinpoint the results directly to.

For starters, I take "Cholest-Off" each day. My dad says that the stuff reduced his overall cholesterol by 50 points. It is widely available at Rite Aid, Target or Costco.

I also bought the best derivative of Coenzyme Q10 that I could find. It is crazy expensive but the woman in Elliott's (who I trust implicitly) says that Co-Q10 is only effective in its purest form.

Fish oil has become my staple supplement. I take five fish oil pills each day; sometimes more if my body is feeling particularly inflammatory and vulnerable to illness. I buy the triple strength fish oil from Rite Aid.

As far as my diet goes, I eliminated butter, eggs and cheese. Sometimes, I'll have a little goat cheese or parmesan but I try and steer clear of almost all cheeses. I still use Smart Balance although I've loosened the household restrictions on butter and regularly feed it to Ben.

I eat nuts by the pound. Seriously. Several ounces a day, especially almonds. I can't say that this is a great strategy for weight loss but there is lots of proven evidence showing that nuts play a big role in lowering cholesterol. I think my mom is amazed by the packages of nuts that come through the kitchen each week. I've even persuaded Ben to start eating cashews - heavily salted, of course!

Wild salmon is on the menu two times each week. That, with the all the fish oil I take, has a great effect on mood and nerves, as well as the much-needed benefit of dropping cholesterol (all the good oil makes the arteries nice and slippery!). I also eat oatmeal several times a week with ground flax - both are superstars at reducing overall cholesterol.

I've mostly cut out all packaged foods (including crackers, cookies and pretzels) which I think harbor quite a lot of "hidden" and not-so-stellar fats. (But I have been known to get into Ben's coveted stash of sesame sticks!) I avoid desserts completely except for squares of dark, dark chocolate and big scoops of organic vanilla yogurt (still high in sugar but a decent substitute for heavy desserts).

Lastly, I aim for a minimum of eight servings of fruits and vegetables each day. I buy my produce from the farmer's market each week and then fill in around the edges with frozen blueberries, frozen mango, bananas and vegetable based soups. It's a lot of work to eat this way, but I've been doing it for so long that it's natural for me to plan meals around a high minimum of produce.

All in all, I'm super happy with the results of my latest cholesterol check and plan to keep things as they are, in terms of my supplements and my diet. The one thing I'd like to reduce is the Co-Q10 as it's just so darn expensive and its role in cholesterol reduction is somewhat questionable in the big picture.

My next check is in 6 months. I'll keep you posted...

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

You Only Get One Face

In the summertime, I'm mostly incognito - usually hiding under a huge, floppy hat despite the fact that I've slathered SPF 70 all over my face.

I'm obsessed with keeping my skin healthy, particularly the skin on my face. And I'm also convinced that the girl who covers up her face now is the woman who ages gracefully and healthfully into many, many decades later. I'm also a bit fearful of my family genes and the incidents of skin cancer in my family. So I lather up and cover up and use a lot of bronzer. It's a good combo.

But now I've discovered two little gems that are not only keeping my skin healthy, they're imparting this great glow that I never thought I would have. For years, I've spent my skin care dollars on high end moisturizers and night creams, only to be disappointed by the results. Recently, a dermatologist pointed out to me that we need to treat the skin directly with the things that it needs and not let the marketing messages from Olay, Ponds or whomever influence our skin care decisions.

For me, at age 39, that means integrating Retinol and Vitamin C into my daily life. And that's it. Just those two items. I still use my tried-and-true Cetaphil cleanser and my Boots No 7 moisturizer. I also use an organic eye cream. In the mornings, I apply Vitamin C serum (10%) onto my face. In the evenings, I use Retinol cream (.05%) on my skin. The Retinol can cause some minor pealing as your skin gets used to high concentration of Retin-A. But I think that the pealing is largely off-set by the great glow that the Vitamin C gives you each morning.

Certainly, there are other things I do for my skin. I eat 8 to 10 servings of fruits and vegetables each day. I drink a lot of water. I take a ton of Omega 3s and fish oil. I am religious about washing my face every day. But it's amazing to me that just by adding in these two products, I'm looking at a whole new face in the mirror each day.

The products I've mentioned in this post are mostly available from doctors and "medical spas." You can also find them online. I use the Obagi line and the total amount that I spent on both items was less than $130.00. I think it's safe to say that I'll get months of use out of each, since just a tiny bit of product is necessary each day.

You really do only get one chance to preserve your face. It's so necessary to take the steps we can now - to ensure many years of health, glow and vitality.