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Simple Lifestyle Changes to Drastically Improve Your Lab Numbers

Are any of you struggling with high cholesterol, elevated fasting glucose and/or hemoglobin A1C, or high blood pressure?

Did you know that there are many things that we can do in our day-to-day lives that can help to significantly improve our abnormal lab values?

Prediabetes / Diabetes – If you have an elevated fasting glucose level, and/or if you have a hemoglobin A1c (HbA1c) that is borderline or high, then some of the best changes you can make to your diet are to limit white rice, white bread, white sugar, alcohol, and refined carbs in general. Additionally, incorporating as much fiber and protein with each meal will help to reduce the glycemic load (i.e. how quickly and significantly glucose enters your bloodstream following a meal) from what you are eating, as well. Not only that, but if you like fermented foods, then adding these to your meals will additionally assist with lowering your overall postprandial glucose and insulin levels (e.g. Kimchi, Kefir, sauerkraut, apple cider vinegar). Raw / unfiltered apple cider vinegar in particular has been studied extensively in type 2 diabetics, showing that when it is incorporated into a meal (e.g. on salads / with veggies), that postprandial glucose numbers will generally remain within a more normal range. Lastly, working to incorporate a very low-impact / slow 5-10 minute stroll around your block after each of your meals can actually help insulin bind more effectively to the receptors on your cells, so that the glucose can exit your bloodstream and enter your cells more rapidly. You do not want to elevate your heartrate too much, as this will shunt blood flow away from your digestion and to your skeletal muscles; however, just the gentle and slow movement of your body following a meal (as opposed to remaining sedentary) is enough to mobilize the glucose out of your blood more efficiently.

Elevated Cholesterol and/or Triglycerides – If your total and/or LDL cholesterol levels are high, then there are both dietary and lifestyle changes that you can implement, which can help to improve your numbers. The best dietary change that you can make is to reduce your intake of high saturated fat animal meats and dairy products, and instead opt for a more plant-based diet / plant sources of protein (e.g. legumes, vegetables, hemp seeds, amaranth, quinoa, sprouted grains, nutritional yeast). Choosing more mono and poly unsaturated fatty acids, such as olive, avocado, or grapeseed oil, instead of options like butter, ghee, or coconut oil will help to reduce your overall “bad” cholesterol (i.e. LDL cholesterol). Minimizing your intake of cheese, shrimp, red meat / pork, chicken skin, coconut oil, excessive / numerous egg yolks, while increasing your dietary fiber in the form of organic fruits & veggies with the skin, nuts / seeds, legumes, and clean sources of grains, will all help to improve your cholesterol levels. Additionally, if your triglycerides are elevated, then limiting your intake of white rice, white bread, white sugar, alcohol, and refined carbs in general will help to lower triglycerides, as well. It is actually the excessive amounts of carbs and sugar that we consume in our diets, which convert into fat in our blood stream, leading to higher circulating triglyceride levels. Lastly, according to the American Heart Association, aiming for a goal of approximately 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise on a weekly basis will also help with lowering cholesterol levels, particularly if you can exert yourself to a significant level of sweating.

High Blood Pressure / Hypertension – Do you have high blood pressure? Or perhaps you have “White Coat Hypertension,” where your BP only tends to be elevated when you are at your doctor’s office? Well, have you ever tried just sitting still and doing 5 minutes of a slow, relaxing, diaphragmatic, abdominal / belly breathing following a high blood pressure reading, and then proceeding to retake your BP? Simply breathing functionally / with our diaphragm and abdomen can not only stimulate our vagus nerve and slow our heart rate (i.e. heart rate variability), but it can also lower our BP by a number of points! You can also incorporate more hibiscus tea into your diet, which has also been studied to effectively lower BP numbers of hypertensive patients. Some additional simple dietary changes include eating or juicing 2-3 celery stalks per day, switching from sodium chloride table salt to potassium chloride, drinking half of your body weight in ounces of water on a daily basis, and reducing your daily caffeine intake.

Occasional Anxiety / Stress – Do you struggle with feelings of anxiety or stress throughout your day? Or what about waking up frequently throughout the night, and/or having a difficult time falling back to sleep? Did you know that anytime our blood sugar levels drop too low, that our adrenal glands release the stress hormone cortisol, which can make us feel irritable and short-tempered? Cortisol spikes while we are sleeping overnight can also trigger nighttime wakings, making it more difficult to fall back to sleep in the middle of the night. Staring the day by doing our best to eat a protein-rich breakfast within 30-45 minutes of waking, and then proceeding to eat a protein-rich snack every 2-3 hours throughout the day (i.e. this only needs to be 1-2 bites of anything protein-rich; e.g. hummus / legumes / nuts / seeds / clean nut butters / clean sources of meat jerkies), can significantly help to maintain a more stable blood sugar level, and overall mood, throughout the day. The more stable that we are able to maintain our blood sugar throughout the day, the better regulated it will remain while we are sleeping overnight, as well. Not only that, but if we additionally incorporate a protein-rich bedtime snack within 30-45 minutes of going to sleep, then our blood sugar is less like to tank shortly after we fall asleep, and more likely to remain in a stable range, where cortisol release will not be triggered.

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