Saturday, 17 October 2020

Balanced changes

A little bit of Autumn colors here and there. It is slowly getting more yellow and orange at the park. We have continued our walking rounds even the evenings are getting darker and colder. It is different than it was in the summer and it is more challenging to reach the same daily goals now. It is good to have goals, but I have learned to be more flexible in my thoughts. What I can't or feel doing today, I can do tomorrow or some other day. It is common to say " Better do it now and not wait until tomorrow". Sometimes it is useful to do things immediately and sometimes it is wiser to be more gentle and wait for tomorrow. We only know what is best for us right now. Waiting for tomorrow is different than waiting until the next week or to next month. 

This new situation with the covid-19 virus is changing our perspective. We are having now a partly lock down in the Netherlands for the next 4 weeks. After this period it will be evaluated if the current rules had any effect of the amount of the new infections during this time. If not, there will be some more rules. Our own behavior is in our own hands. At the same time our children still go to school and meet their friends and seem quite balanced. Children under 18 can take part to sport training and the schools are going to stay open as long as it is possible. We are planning things for small periods at the time because we do not know what the next weeks are bringing to us. The outside world is unstable, but we want to feel safe inside our own little unit. We need some continuing routines to frame our days and give a feeling we are going forwards. 

This week it has been more quiet on our walks. The restaurants had to close their doors and there was less traffic on the streets. We have a Autumn holiday at the moment. We are staying home. I went to pilates studio this morning and it was great to be there as a small group of six people and the teacher. Keeping the distance and taking care of the hygiene, but enjoying doing some healthy activity with other people. Small delights are important in these days.

I was writing about my high cholesterol level last spring. I am happy to announce that the changes that I made with my eating and drinking habits have lowered my total cholesterol(HDL and LDL-cholesterol) level from 10 to 5. I found an excellent, professional Finnish blog about nutrition and it made my planning easier. I will link the blog article in the end of this blog post. It is in Finnish, but there is also some references to international studies.

This week I saw a small document about genetic high cholesterol (FH disease)on dutch tv. It was about how people are recommended to use  the medication to lower their cholesterol levels and decrease the risk for the heart and blood vessel diseases. The tricky thing is that many of these people feel totally normal and healthy with their high cholesterol, but get many side effects by using the statin medication for their genetic condition. There are some new studies that suggest that the high cholesterol itself doesn't increase the risk for the heart and blood vessel diseases or to earlier death. The bigger indicator can be the individual differences between the blood clotting. The more easily the blood is clotting, the bigger the risk for the problems with the heart and blood vessel functions. 

Anyway I am not a doctor. I just want to point out that you can try to make some changes with your lifestyle to make you feel more healthy and be more healthy. The cholesterol is just a one indicator and there are a lot more behind many conditions: smoking, stress, lack of movement, overweight...the list goes on. 

When I visited my house doctor this spring he was suggesting for me to start using the statins to lower my cholesterol. I was friendly to my doctor, but against this sudden suggestion. I made it clear that I first wanted to make some changes with my eating patterns and I did. He also agreed that the medication is sometimes too easily offered and that eating more vegetables and less animal fat could really help. I think he was worried, cos my total cholesterol was so high and he wanted to lower it effectively and he was suspecting if I had the familiar cholesterol disease (which I do not have).

Like I earlier wrote I had been eating more or less the high fat/low carbs style of diet before and how I did not feel comfortable with it. My body was telling me...this is not for you. I honestly do not think there is only one suitable way of living for everyone. We have to really carefully listen to our body and mind by choosing the right ingredients to support our health. Everyone has their own weaknesses or risk factors that we have to evaluate.

One key of my beter well being is using more vegetable fats and oils instead of animal fats. I use colors on my plate. This means I am using more vegetables, fruit and berries. I do not take too big portions and I try to enjoy every bite that I eat. I can eat something unhealthy every now and then if I get back to my normal patterns the next day. I do not eat evening snacks after dinner.

I am not being too hard on myself. I still have bad habits like drinking too much coffee...but I use oat milk instead of cow milk. I love cheese, but I am not having a collection of 5 different ones in my fridge anymore. I use cheese sometimes when cooking or have a slice of it with a good bread. 

Here is a list of my favorite ingredients to lower the bad LDL cholesterol in a natural way. 

-A handful of non salted and non roasted peanuts every day (especially the walnuts are excellent)

-Eating enough of Oats and barley (fibre: beta gluten). For example a morning porridge of overnight oats are great.

-Pectin from vegetables, fruit and berries. -avocados
                                           -green beans
                                           -pear with the skin
                                           -brussel sprout
                                           -cassis berries

Other good sources of pectin: Black beans, chia seeds, chickpea, unpeeled potato, peanuts, sunflower seeds

-Using Tofu or other vegetable options instead of eating too much meat. Soya products are lowering the cholesterol. 
The different sort of beans and lentils are as good options as well.

-Using vegetal oils( olive oil, avocado, peanuts) instead of hard animal fats(meat, milk products and butter).

If eating less meat is difficult, try to eat more fish and choose less fatty meat products. Fish is not lowering the cholesterol, but the good fats from the fish are good for the heart.

From milk products the cheese and natural yoghurt are better choices  than fatty milk or butter. I Use more soya-, oat- or amandel products instead of milk.

Margarines are not a good options with the bread. The palm oil is often used to make the product harder. Also some other methods by producing the margarine have an negative effect on the quality on the used vegetable oils. The best way is to use more pure and high quality vegetable fats like  

-extra virgine olive oil

I love to dip my bread in the mixture of good olive oil, pepper and  lemon! I also eat often bred with avocado. If you want to use margarine, do not use the light products, because the quality of the fat is often worse in those ones. Also the margarines that are lowering the cholesterol are not necessarily good for the health of the heart. The European heart organisation is not recommending on using the vegetable statin margarines. Just search the information about products before you make your own individual decisions.


-filtered coffee instead of espresso-type of coffee (filter stops the   unhealthy fats from coffee entering to your coffee cup)
- dark chocolade (20-30g)

Read also this Harward study about eggs ! It is not dangerous to eat some eggs. We were always taught that eggs are big cholesterol bombs and bad for the heart and blood vessels. 

I am using a bergamot oil pill to keep my cholesterol level low. Many people who can't use statins are using this natural product instead. Bergamot is a citrus fruit from the south Italy. You can find more information about it by searching from the internet. There are several scientific studies made of using Bergamot to lower the LDL-cholesterol.

You can read more from the following link: 
Basic information about Bergamot. If you are using statins, never stop using them without talking to your doctor first!

I am only writing about these nutritional issues, because I want to take a better care of myself. I recommend everyone should go to regular health checks and try to find the ways to improve the health that are suiting to you. You should always talk to your doctor or with a specialised nutritionist if you have a medical condition and use medication. 

Using a common sense and listening to your body, searching the information and taking small steps can make your eyes open. 
By leaving the alcohol use very minimal, eating better quality food and walking daily I surprised my house doctor with excellent results. I lost my zwollen morning eye bags and lost the few extra kilos from my waistline. 

Egg plant filled with cherry tomatoes and onions. One of my favorite foods!

The lifestyle change gave me new energy to start things I had thought over for a long time.

"I had postponed my own plans and my own needs of growth for a while. I had to get my thoughts clear and dig in deeper to reach my own ground again. 
  I learned to trust more of my instinct or the driven feeling I had in some new situations or during the decision making moments. I am still listening other people, but I trust my own decisions and work on the paths and directions I chose."

The most beautiful and inspiring path I found lately is learning to use the singing bowls for relaxing and trying to find the inner calmth and be better connected to your self. I am taking part in a course to learn a singing bowl massage by Peter Hess method. 

This journey takes me to a small dutch town in Friesland for a few weekends during the next months. It gives me a great joy to give this relaxation to my family or to my friends. Especially in this strange time when we might feel some other sort of stress or fear that we are normally used to. Our body consist about 70 % of water and the vibration of these bowls, set on the human body, are moving through our cells. Like dropping a stone in the water, relaxing our system. It is so interesting! I will tell more about this method in some other post. 

With this shaky picture from my evening walk, I wish you a good weekend!!