How to Lower Your Cholesterol Naturally

Cholesterol naturally occurs in the body.  Good health is linked to having the right amounts of cholesterol in the blood.  But people worry about high levels of blood cholesterol, because it plays a major role in heart disease, stroke and clogged arteries.  People with inherited family traits for high cholesterol levels worry that the body will naturally make too much of it. To avoid the cost and side effects of drugs, many people want to keep levels low through natural means.

Controlling levels of cholesterol is challenging because of the body’s ability to make its own.  Natural methods for reducing high cholesterol are an important part of staying well, where drug therapies alone may not give you the healthy outcome you want most.

What is Cholesterol?

Cholesterol is a soft fatty substance in the bloodstream.  The liver produces cholesterol and the body absorbs it from foods coming from animal sources.  Meat, fish, cheese, milk products, and eggs all contain cholesterol.  Foods from plants do not contain cholesterol.

Every cell in our body contains cholesterol (in cell membranes), and it’s a necessary part of maintaining health.  But because it travels in the blood stream, too much cholesterol can cause problems for blood circulation and heart health.  It travels in particles called lipoproteins.  The “good” cholesterol and “bad” cholesterol measured with blood tests refers to the two types of lipoproteins in the cells.  The truth is, a healthy body needs the right amount of both lipoproteins in the blood.

The two types of cholesterol proteins in the blood are: low density lipoprotein, and high density lipoprotein.

Low Density Lipoprotein, or LDL, is commonly known as “bad” cholesterol because it can build up on the lining of blood vessels.  LDL forms deposits with other particles on the lining of arteries, a coating known as plaque.

Plaque buildup over time can cause a number of serious health conditions and risks. These include hardened arteries, heart disease, heart attack and stroke.

Lowering high levels of LDL can reduce plaque buildup, or even stop it.  At the Optimal Wellness Center of Franklin Lakes, New Jersey, Dr. Betty Keller orders blood tests and helps patients learn and understand their cholesterol levels. According to The National Institute of Health, the recommended optimal level of LDL is below 100mg/dL.

High Density Lipoprotein, or HDL, is commonly called the “good” cholesterol.  This protein carries cholesterol from other parties of your body back to the liver.  The liver then removes the cholesterol from the body with bile. The higher your HDL, the lower your risk of heart disease. According to The National Institute of Health, people with cholesterol >60 mg/dL have a lower risk of heart disease. Those with HDL<40 mg/dL have a higher risk.

Healthy Lifestyle Choices to Control Cholesterol Levels

High LDL levels can occur because of your own body chemistry.   But even so, you can prevent high levels of bad cholesterol by choosing physical activities and foods carefully.  A healthy diet and regular exercise can significantly decrease your cholesterol levels, and lower your risk of heart attack and stroke.   Still, in some cases, your body may need some drug therapy, in addition to lifestyle changes, to lower your cholesterol to healthy levels.

Which Lifestyle Choices Lower “Bad” and raise “Good” Cholesterol?

1) Weight Loss: If your body is somewhat overweight, losing extra weight is one of the best things you can do to improve your cholesterol levels.

Even small amounts of weight loss can help meaningfully: taking off only 5 to 10 pounds can lower blood cholesterol.

2) Enjoy heart-healthy physical activity: As little as 30 minutes a day of appropriate exercise not only lowers bad cholesterol, it can raise good cholesterol.  It improves balance, strength, and can make the difference between dependence and independence in later years.

If you’re just starting out, your doctor can help you choose the right types of activities at the right intensity to begin.  Appropriate exercises can be rhythmic, repetitive activities that get your circulation going at a healthy intensity for you.  Walking, aerobic dancing, cycling with family or friends can all become part of a healthy lifestyle.  One that’s naturally low in cholesterol.

Dr. Betty Keller works with patients from New York City, Northern NJ and Bergen County NJ to lower cholesterol and promote health, at the Optimal Wellness Center.  Her therapeutic approach combines traditional medicine, dietary changes, nutritional supplements, and acupuncture.  Patients receive effective, personalized treatment plans to prevent chronic disease.  For an in-person consultation in her Franklin Lakes, NJ office, contact 201-485-7930.




Allergy Symptoms: Trigger Foods to Avoid, Helper Foods to Enjoy

Spring and fall are both seasons that trigger allergy symptoms for many people.  Tree pollens and grasses cause itchy watery eyes, sneezing and a runny nose that can make spring a miserable time for allergy sufferers.  In fall, dust, mold and ragweed pollen are to blame when allergy symptoms strike many people with coughing, red, irritated eyes and congestion.

Here is one way to manage the worst of your symptoms: Watch out for trigger foods!

Although most people experience mild reactions, some may experience warning signs of an extreme or  even life threatening allergic reaction (anaphylaxis).

You may need to keep away from individual foods during peak allergy season. Have you ever had an itchy mouth or tongue after eating particular fruits or vegetables? If you have noticed these reactions and you also have seasonal allergies, you may have Oral Allergy Syndrome (OAS). OAS is caused by cross reactivity between proteins in fresh fruits and vegetables and pollens. Most people experience signs that last only a few seconds to minutes.

Symptoms of OAS are usually more noticeable during times  the air is full of pollens that people are particularly sensitive to.

If you know which pollens you’re most sensitive to, you can avoid these trigger foods that can make your symptoms worse.

Ragweed Allergy: Ragweed pollen is at its peak during late summer and fall in North America. There are a few foods to avoid because they may make your reaction worse:  bananas, cucumbers, melons, tomatoes, and zucchini.

Tree Pollen Allergy: Spring is the season for tree pollens.  When tree pollen is most abundant, avoid these food triggers can also cause you to react: apples, apricots, potatoes, carrots, celery, cherries, parsnips, pears, peaches, plums,  hazelnuts and kiwi.

Grass Allergy: Does walking through a meadow or mowing the lawn make your nose run and eyes water? When you suffer allergy symptoms to grass, you may also react to:  melons, oranges, peaches, potatoes and tomatoes.

More Relief from Alternative Therapies: These Nutritional Supplements Can Help

Sometimes called dietary supplements or vitamins, you can find nutritional supplements that improve your well-being when you’re confronted with allergens.  Vitamin C is an effective nutritional supplement to defend against allergy symptoms.  So is quercetin (found as a supplement and in foods like red grapes, red onions, and green and black teas).  Bromelain as a dietary supplement also found in pineapple.

Other effective nutrition supplements include green tea extract, magnesium, MSM  and probiotics.

Immune Boosting Foods to Improve Your Resistance to Allergy Symptoms

If you prefer to make food choices to help ease allergy suffering, the good news is many foods are rich in nutrients that boost your immune response.  You can find Vitamin C in oranges, peppers, strawberries, kiwi, potatoes, broccoli and cabbage.

Magnesium is present in almonds, spinach, avocados, oysters, and peanuts.

Quercetin occurs naturally in certain vegetables and fruits, and decreases inflammation. Quercetin is found in apples, cranberries, grapefruit, grapes, pears, spinach, kale and cabbage.

Bromelain is a natural anti-inflammatory and is present in all parts of the pineapple plant.

Ginger acts as a natural antihistamine and decongestant.

Can Herbs Relieve the Allergic Response?

Herbal supplements that may be effective in easing allergy symptoms include butterbur, stinging needle and goldenseal.   Always check together with your doctor before adding herbs to your treatment program.

Other Treatments to Ease Allergy Symptoms: Acupuncture and Traditional Medicines

Some people don’t like drugstore allergy medicines because of unwanted side effects.  Don’t like the drowsy feeling from over the counter allergy medicines?  Many people with allergies find acupuncture and acupressure  provide real relief from allergy symptoms.  Studies have shown that a combination of dietary remedies and acupuncture can help people enjoy more activities with a decrease in allergy symptoms.

Still not better? There are still a wide range of treatment options available to you.

If you have especially bad seasonal allergies, you may benefit from allergy testing.  An allergist can perform skin or blood tests.  This way you can learn exactly what you are allergic to.

In cases of extreme seasonal allergies your doctor may recommend that you start on medication before the season begins.  This way your treatment can prevent severe symptoms. For some people, allergy shots can be an effective option. Allergy shots are a series of injections using small amounts of the substances that cause your allergic response. Over time these injections can reduce your immune system’s reaction to thee substances.

Acupuncture and Traditional Medical Therapies for Allergies in Northern NJ

Dr. Betty Keller treats patients suffering from chronic illness at the Optimal Wellness Center in Franklin Lakes New Jersey.   Because each person’s symptoms and situation is individual, Dr. Keller develops a personalized treatment plan.  She specializes  fibromyalgia and musculoskeletal disorders, weight loss and chronic disease prevention.  Treatment plans may include traditional medicine, combined with nutritional supplements and acupuncture.  If you suffer from illness that has not improved with typical treatments, and would like to find out more about treatments available at the Optimal Wellness Center, contact Dr. Keller’s office at 201-485-7930.

Disclaimer:  The information contained in this site is for educational purposes only, and should not be used as a substitute for personal care by a licensed physician.

Weight Loss: 10 Tips to Make a Plan That Works for You

Almost every person who comes into to my office wants to lose weight.  But each person is different.  Everyone’s metabolism is different.  Everyone has their own thoughts and feelings about weight loss and food.  Each person has a unique lifestyle.  So, can a standard approach to weight control work for every patient?  Of course not.

Our approach at the Franklin Lakes Optimal Wellness Center is to find what works for you.   Long term weight loss and, ultimately, your lower risk of chronic disease come from making livable changes that become a regular part of your life each day.

Here are 10 basic tips to start you on your way to permanent weight loss, one step at a time:

#1 Start with a personal commitment to yourself.  Before you can make changes that last, promise yourself that you are doing this for real.  No medical consultation in the world is going to make a difference if you are not committed to making changes happen.  Your progress in choosing foods, activities and ways to reduce stress only work if you are ready and willing to make the new choices you’re giving yourself.

#2 Find what motivates you and work with that.  Only you know the real reasons you want to make a change.  No one can tell you the right reason. This has to be what you want for yourself.  Think about what means most to you, like “I want more energy and fun playing with my kids,” or “I want to feel more comfortable in my body.”   Write your reason down.  Keep it in mind.  These thoughts will help you make positive, healthier choices.

#3 Say to yourself:  I can do this! Your mind is powerful – the most powerful tool you have.  When you tell yourself “I can,” you’re helping set the course of your actions.  Your actions follow your thoughts.  “I can do this” leads you on to your own personal success.

#4  Look at how you think about food, and change the way you think about it. Food is meant as fuel for your body.  It gives you nourishment and the ability for your body to perform.  People may talk about “comfort” food.  But any “comfort” in eating doesn’t last very long.  Our thoughts and relationships about food are complicated.  Be willing to reflect on your thoughts and feelings about food, and decide which thoughts to keep.

#5  Take time to relax and enjoy yourself when you eat.  Enjoy your food.  Be minfdful and allow yourself to sit down for your meal, and enjoy every bite. Don’t watch TV while eating, or check your email, or read.  Make meal time a pleasure and a break you take for yourself.

#6 For the first 3 weeks, write down what you eat in a food diary.  This isn’t forever, — it’s good to do at least for the first 21 days.  Keeping a food diary will help you become aware of the new habits and choices you are forming.  It will help keep you on track..

#7 Keep unhealthy foods out of your home.  Remove any foods you’ve decided to keep out of your life for now.  You save yourself a lot of stress and temptation if it’s not in your house.  Make sure you remove trigger foods from your home: those which you can’t stop eating once you get started.  Know that you’re not alone in having foods that are just not safe for you to have nearby:  There’s a reason why certain potato chips makers advertise that “You can’t eat just one.”

#8 Drink water.  Plan times to help yourself to a glass of water.  Drink a glass before you have a meal, and before you have a snack.  When you make sure to give your body enough water, you are less likely to make the common mistake of eating, thinking you’re hungry, when you are actually thirsty instead.  Drinking plenty of water also helps prevent food cravings, and keeps you from feeling fatigue due to dehydration.

#9 Get active.  Find an activity that you enjoy.  Make time to enjoy your activity for at least half an hour, 5 days a week.  Exercise speeds up your metabolism.  If you stay active for 60 minutes a day, you reach your weight loss goals even faster.  In addition to an activity that gives your heart rate and metabolism a healthy boost, find an exercise that helps you improve muscle strength.  Just two days per week of strengthening exercises is enough to improve wellness.  Your doctor can help you find a range of activities that are safe and beneficial to you.   Always check with your doctor before starting an exercise program.

#10 Eat breakfast – don’t skip it.  A healthy breakfast is a signal to get your metabolism going after having no food overnight.  When you skip breakfast, your body respons as if you are under stress.  It automatically responds with hormones that tell your body to conserve fat tissue.

Even if you have struggled with your weight for years, you can find a solution that works for you.

Struggling with your weight for years can leave you feeling discouraged.  But in over 25 years of practice, I have seen hundreds of patients benefit greatly from our whole-person approach.  Patients regain lower weights they enjoyed in their younger years, and find more energy and enjoyment in life.

The good news is that you can maintain a healthy weight, even if other attempts have failed.  If you are located near Franklin Lakes, New Jersey, call the Optimal Wellness Center to schedule an appointment, and find a weight control lifestyle that works for you.

We are located in Fraklin Lakes, New Jersey.  We are close to Saddle River, Paramus, and Ridgewood.  We serve patients from throughout Bergen County.