Managing High Cholesterol with Lifestyle Approaches – Sheila’s Quest

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Angela G. Gentile, MSW, RSW

My good friend Sheila, 55, recently shared with me her story about high cholesterol and how she has made a very concerted effort to change her lifestyle in order to avoid taking “statin” drugs to help keep her cholesterol counts at a healthy level. High cholesterol, of the “bad” kind (LDL), can cause an increased risk for a heart attack or stroke. I am happy to say Sheila has been very successful in getting on top of her cholesterol levels and she would like to share her story here in hopes of perhaps helping others.

41% of Canadians have hazardous blood cholesterol levels, so this is not an uncommon problem. Some only find out after their first heart attack. Research indicates that there is a fairly high percentage of adults in Canada who are unaware of their unhealthy blood cholesterol levels (also known as dyslipidemia). The older we get, the higher our risk for unhealthy cholesterol levels.

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According to Statistics Canada’s “Canadian Health Measures Survey” released in 2010, 47% of adults between the ages of 40 and 59 and 54% of those aged 60 to 79 had high levels of total cholesterol.

Source: https://www.cbc.ca/news/technology/cholesterol-keeping-your-levels-in-check-1.880731

At around age 52, Sheila learned she had high cholesterol. Her doctor at the time told her her total count had gone from 3.2 to 6.8 and tended to minimize it because her “good cholesterol was high so don’t worry.” The doctor gave her no strategies at this point. Sheila told me she was worried because her mother had had a few TIAs (mini-strokes) later in life and her grandmother (her mom’s mom) had died of a stroke. As she talked to her siblings, she found out 3 of 5 were on statins (a commonly prescribed medication for high cholesterol – such as Lipitor or Crestor). Sheila did not want to go on medications as she knew she would probably have to be on them for life. This was a lifestyle change she prefers to avoid. She preferred to take a “change in lifestyle” approach to help manage her health. At first, she didn’t acknowledge the severity of this condition (and her doctor didn’t either). She occasionally dieted to lose a few pounds but never really connected it to her overall health. She would lose some weight, then soon after, gain the weight back.  She was a member of Weight Watchers (WW), but the dieting program which focuses on counting points didn’t really stick with her at the time.

A couple of years later, Sheila’s doctor was reducing the number of patients in her practice, so she had to find a new doctor. In September 2018 she saw her new doctor who ordered blood work including a lipid profile and did a blood pressure check. Sheila was soon called back for a follow-up appointment to discuss her high cholesterol (now at 7.6 total cholesterol) and high blood pressure (her previous doctor was aware of these issues, but did not do anything about it). Sheila told her new doctor that she didn’t want to go on medications and asked for an alternative way to manage these conditions. The new doctor replied, “Start with weight loss.” Her doctor also instructed her to monitor her blood pressure for three months and come back to discuss the results.

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Sheila started back on WW and started taking her blood pressure regularly. She increased her physical activity and increased her time walking the track at work from 20 minutes daily to 30 minutes daily. She went back to her doctor every three months to show her where she was at with her blood pressure. As her weight loss increased, her blood pressure progressively decreased. She was seeing progress. The doctor also said she wasn’t able to take her blood test to check her cholesterol more than once a year so they would check for that in the fall.

One year later, in September 2019, Sheila was happy to report she had lost 25 pounds. Her blood pressure was down to 130/90 and the doctor said there was still room for it to go down but was pleased with her progress. After increasing exercise and losing weight, the blood tests showed that Sheila’s total cholesterol was down to 7.5, which was down by only measly 0.1. Sheila was disheartened by this as she felt she had been working so hard. Her LDL was at 5.0, whereas the normal target is under 3.5. Sheila wanted to know if there was anything more she could do to reduce the numbers (other than going on medication). The doctor asked her if she wanted to go to a Lipid Clinic and to see a dietician. Sheila agreed to both.

Sheila was disheartened as all the efforts of her lifestyle changes of losing weight and exercising did not reflect in her test results. She was feeling discouraged. Determined to turn over every stone before going on statins, she went to see the dietician.

The dietician said that doctors often look at the “total” cholesterol and they need to look at the three groups – LDL, HDL, and Triglycerides. Sheila’s triglycerides and HDL were excellent and the dietician asked Sheila about her diet. She said Sheila’s diet was very healthy, which included low sugar, low white bread, limited alcohol, low fat, lots of fruits and vegetables, and whole foods. The dietician was also pleased with Sheila’s level of physical activity. The dietician praised Sheila for her weight loss and said that although the good cholesterol (HDL) and triglycerides were good, having a high LDL could mean that she has “familial hypercholesterolemia” (FH) which means she could have inherited the gene for high cholesterol.

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Photo by Ella Olsson on Pexels.com

To help reduce Sheila’s bad cholesterol, the dietician recommended Sheila consider adding the following to her lifestyle approach to managing her cholesterol:

  • Follow the Meditteranean diet.
  • Eat three meals a week without any animal products.
  • Make her own salad dressing because sometimes store-bought dressings contain oils that contain saturated or trans fats.
  • Eat more nuts in her diet (on salads, in yogurt). This includes almonds, hemp, flaxseed or chia.
  • Increase cardio exercise by hitting her “target heart rate” for 15 minutes twice-weekly (aka High-Intensity Interval Training or HIIT).

Sheila learned that her practice of “counting steps” is good, however, it is individual for each person. Sheila’s job keeps her on her feet and it is not uncommon for her to reach 10,000 steps a day. However, for heart health, it is important to add in some cardio activity. When the blood pumps through the arteries due to exertion, this creates a “blood-plumbing” effect which can help clean out the arteries, leaving less opportunity for clogs.

Surprisingly, the dietician told Sheila it’s okay to eat eggs, they are not the culprit for causing high cholesterol. Also, she notes that eating loads of refined sugar is the new smoking.

Sheila left the dietician’s office feeling very happy and encouraged, considering two weeks prior she was feeling so defeated. She is well-aware that for some people, no matter what they do, they may still need to go on medications. She is planning on going to the Lipid Clinic as well, so as she says, “Stay tuned.”

For reference, here are what the lipid profile targets are for a 55-year-old female after fasting for 12 hours (may be different for gender and age):

Cholesterol (Total): <5.0 mmol/L

Triglycerides (fasting): <1.7 mmol/L

HDL Cholesterol: >1.3 mmol/L

LDL Cholesterol: <3.5 mmol/L

Non-HDL Cholesterol: <4.3 mmol/L

For more information on how to manage high blood cholesterol, check out this article called High Cholesterol from the Mayo Clinic.

Check out the Heart and Stroke Association’s booklet on How to Manage Your Cholesterol.

I strongly urge you to get your blood cholesterol levels checked (“Lipid Profile”) and to work with your healthcare team to help reduce your risk of heart disease. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Heavy, Painful, Achy Arms Can Signify a Heart Attack – Crystal’s Story

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This is a guest post, written by Crystal Lindal (47), Ontario, Canada. I first saw her Facebook post on October 22, 2019, and she agreed to allow me to share her story. 

 

It’s been exactly one month today.

Not a lot of people know I had a heart attack on September 22, 2019, in the early morning. And I wasn’t going to say anything on Facebook, but … BUT … if it helps just one person, then I’m okay with posting this.

Women have different heart attacks than men! Most women experience symptoms, they pass after a bit, and they go on with their day. They think, “It’s probably just my stomach … my arthritis … I haven’t eaten much today … I’m just too busy” … you get the idea!

I had slept over at my mom’s who lives next door. I woke up about 6:30 a.m., made coffee, and was sitting quietly on the computer – just scrolling Facebook and checking emails when the symptoms started at 7:15 a.m.

My heart attack symptoms:
> Both arms got extremely heavy and achy (the ache was very painful)
> Then I got nauseous
> Then my lower jaw hurt – felt like I had been sucker-punched!

I got up, walked around. I tried to shake my arms, thinking maybe I slept wrong or pinched my elbows somehow. I started pacing and went into the kitchen. While laying my arms and head across the kitchen island and concentrating on my breathing (because I thought it was some sort of anxiety attack) I looked over at the kitchen sink and there in all its glory was a bottle of low-dose Aspirin! I still have no idea what made me walk over and take one – but I’m pretty sure it saved my life!

My mom called the ambulance around 7:40 a.m. and it arrived shortly after. If she hadn’t done that, I most likely would have just got on with my day as I felt completely fine by then. I felt silly going to the hospital in an ambulance – I actually felt embarrassed!!

“Don’t doubt yourself! Don’t negate the signs and symptoms of a heart attack!”

Crystal Lindal, Heart Attack Survivor

I did get flown to Thunder Bay – and the doctor said I’m one of the lucky ones as my blockage is only at 50%. They only usually stent at 75%+ so no stent for me. But I now know I can do things in my life to reverse the blockage or at least stall it!

So, there ya go! My hope is that this may help someone out there to listen to their bodies. When something’s not right, it’s not right.

And I do suggest a bottle of low-dose Aspirin in every household!

– Crystal Lindal

 

For further information:

If you would like to reach Crystal, please use the Contact Form and your message will be forwarded to her.

Edited by Angela G. Gentile, MSW, RSW

Integrative Medicine – The “Best of Both Worlds”

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Integrative Medicine and Cancer

 

It’s been one year since the release of my latest book, “Cancer Up the Wazoo”  and to celebrate I am offering another chapter for free! Chapter 17 is about my beliefs and experiences with “integrative medicine.”

Check out the PDF “Integrative Medicine” on how complementary therapies combined with conventional treatment can help provide the best treatment for a diagnosis of cancer.

(The other chapter I offer for free is on Anal Cancer Basics.)

Cancer Up the Wazoo

If you would like to read the rest of the book, it is available on Amazon.

 

Angela G. Gentile, MSW, RSW

www.AngelaGGentile.com

My Low-FODMAP Elimination Diet Experience to Treat Irritable Bowel Syndrome

 

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Pasta with garlic bread. Off-limits for people with GOS sensitivity

Normally I don’t like to share my personal stuff here on the World Wide Web, however, once in a while I come across something that I think, if I share this with the world, maybe, just maybe, it will help someone else. In this article, I want to share with you my very personal (and embarrassing) experience with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), and a way to help diagnose and manage further episodes of diarrhea and stomach upset.

My “tummy troubles” started when I was in my early 20’s. I was in university and I remember having cramps and diarrhea that would seem to come out of nowhere. Sometimes it was worse when I felt stressed, but it usually took me by surprise. I usually had little warning and a short amount of time before I needed to relieve myself. It was embarrassing, and I remember once when I was working with Home Care, I had to use a client’s bathroom. Another time, I had to cancel a support group I was running because I was suddenly taken over by vomiting and diarrhea.

The doctor I saw at the time recommended I have a colonoscopy to determine if there was anything going on such as colitis. The results came back as “minor irritable bowel syndrome.” I am not sure how that was determined, but for me, it was more than minor. I had also been tested for celiac disease (gluten allergy), and that test came back negative.

Fast forward to 30 years later, plus a bout of chemoradiation for anal cancer, I was really desperate to figure out how to control this irritable bowel. My sphincter muscles are no longer as strong or healthy as they used to be (imagine your bum being put into a microwave oven and fried!) so my IBS symptoms are much more concerning. The control I had before is now at half the strength it used to be (I’ve never lost control, thank God!).  I asked my doctor once again for a referral to a specialist, this time to a gastroenterologist (GE).

I saw the GE in April 2019. He recommended I go on a low-FODMAP diet. He told me about a mobile app I could use on my phone. He then said he would schedule a flexible sigmoidoscopy and a biopsy for microscopic colitis. He also took a blood test to check for celiac disease.

When I went home, I looked up low FODMAP. I had heard of this before, but I was not totally sure what it was. I came across the Monash University in Australia and found out they have done a lot of work in the last 12 years on helping people manage their IBS. They had an app that cost around $10 CAD, and from the reviews I had read on it, it was something I felt I could really get some good use out of.  I purchased it and never regretted it. It is something I use regularly. I can look up things for my friends, too!

FODMAP (pronounced “fawd-map”) stands for a group of carbohydrates found in foods – Fermentable, Oligosaccharides, Disaccharides, Monosaccharides and Polyols. Many people (about 10-15%) find these types of ingredients hard to digest, therefore, causing an abdominal upset. These symptoms include abdominal pain, bloating, gas, nausea, diarrhea, constipation, and could include a combination of any or all of these. For me, it can get so severe, that I also vomit. This may be too much information for some of you, but unfortunately at times, when I am having a bad “attack,” my body expels my stomach and bowel contents at the same time. I have it “coming out of both ends.” It is very quick and short-lived. I feel better soon after these attacks. So, I get it pretty bad sometimes.

The low-FODMAP process includes eliminating all foods that have the FODMAP irritants until all symptoms noted above are gone. The foods fall into different categories: Fructose, Lactose (many people are lactose intolerant), Mannitol, Sorbitol, GOS, and Fructan. This process can take two to six weeks. For me, it only took a couple of weeks. My family was very supportive and I avoided eating out. Once symptoms are under control, then you start reintroducing each of the foods to see if it triggers a response. There are “safe serving sizes” for each food that are very helpful.

For me, it turns out I am sensitive to GOS –- Galacto-oligosaccharides. These are found in foods such as nuts, beans, legumes, wheat, and grains. I found out quickly that I can only handle 8-10 pistachios or almonds at a time and I need to wait a few hours between having these foods again, in fear of “stacking” and causing an attack.

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All those years I thought I was eating healthy (12-grain bread, almonds, cashews, pistachios, legumes, etc.) turned out to be one of the worst things I could be doing for my body. Thirty years of suffering, not understanding why I was having so much trouble. One time I remember calling a restaurant to say I was sure I had food poisoning. Looking back now, it was probably just an IBS attack.

By June of 2019 (two months later) I was feeling I had a handle on my diet. I had also seen a dietician for nutrition counselling, and I had a Nutrigenomix DNA test to help me personalize my dietary approach. I had also started intermittent fasting and tried out the ketogenic diet for a bit.

Overall, the low FODMAP diet and Monash University FODMAP Diet app changed my life, for the better. Every once in a while I have an upset, and I go to the app or I find out what the ingredients were in a meal I ate. I am still learning as I go, and unfortunately, durum wheat semolina pasta with a side order of brioche garlic bread is the equivalence of dynamite for me. Enzyme therapy is another option that I could consider to help manage my GOS sensitivity. I am looking into this.

I am hopeful that research will continue and the lives of people with IBS with improve. Although it is not a cure-all, considering doing a low-FODMAP diet to help improve and manage your “tummy troubles” is highly recommended. Working with your healthcare professionals and specialists is also important.

Angela G. Gentile, MSW, RSW

Social Worker/Author

For more info: www.AngelaGGentile.com

Life with an Old Dog

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Rocky the Cockapoo (14 years)

Rocky, a cockapoo, joined our family 14 years ago. His mom was a black cocker spaniel and his dad was a miniature white poodle. His black eye made him stand out in a litter of 6 puppies. Most of his black hairs have turned grey. His fur is now wiry (it used to be baby-hair soft). Considered a member of our family, he was a great addition for us with his sweet, intelligent and obedient personality.

Over the last year or two, we have seen many changes. These changes became more noticeable when we got our new puppy, Berkeley, a Havanese. The differences between a younger dog and an older dog were quite striking. As anyone who has had a dog for a few years knows, these changes come on slowly. So, having a younger dog around really made them noticeable.

Rocky is considered a “senior” and as a medium-sized dog, his life span is expected to be between 14-16 years. He is showing signs of growing old and as an aging specialist (in humans), I see how time has affected him. I have never had a dog that lived to a natural old age, so this is my first experience with seeing it first hand.

The signs of aging for Rocky have been:

Decreased hearing (he has had many ear infections over the years, so I suspect this has contributed to his deafness). He can still hear loud claps and whistles, or other loud noises like his sister Berkeley barking right beside him. We have learned to use hand gestures and touches on his butt area or head to help guide him to where we want him to go. On runs with Cupp (his “dad”), he has to be on a leash now, as it is difficult to get his attention as he likes to wander off to sniff or go pee/poo.

Decreased eyesight. The vet said about a year ago that he was developing cataracts. This is very common in humans, too. We notice he can’t see that rabbit on the lawn as quickly as he used to. Or he may miss that treat that fell on the floor (his sister Berkeley is quicker to snatch it up so we have to watch that!)

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Rocky (right) wearing his belly band

Urinary incontinence. Rocky started having “accidents” and I looked up to see what “doggy diapers” there were. I learned about belly bands for male dogs and bought some for him (“Teamoy” brand on Amazon). We keep this on him most of the time, especially when he is sleeping. I observed that his accidents happened usually while he was sleeping. In humans, we call it “nocturnal enuresis.” The absorbent washable fabric band has velcro and goes around his waist area. I put a feminine napkin inside to catch the bulk of the liquid. He doesn’t mind wearing them and it is working out quite well. It took us some getting used to, as we would forget he was wearing the diaper and he would go outside with it on. He would go pee with it on! Our bad. 

Coordination issues. Sometimes I will notice him stumble a bit, especially on stairs. He is more cautious now before he tries to climb up on things. His back end kind of “drags.” He takes a little more time getting around.

Prefers soft, canned dog food. We noticed he wasn’t eating his hard kibble, so we added some soft food to his kibble. This is more appealing to him, and we can get him to eat a lot more than if we hadn’t added the soft food to it. (His teeth are still good as far as we know. Many older dogs have issues with gums and teeth.)

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Rocky under my feet while I brush my teeth.

Anxiety. Rocky has been showing signs of anxiety, especially in the mornings. On bad days, he will tremble, pant and shadow me (stay really close). I suspect he feels “out-of-sorts” with his declining senses (decreased hearing and vision) and he is very attached to me. He may sense that I am getting ready to go to work, therefore leaving him behind to fend for himself. I have been giving him 10:10 cannabis oil (THC/CBD) and a very small amount has been helping him settle. Marijuana can help people in many ways and it’s not just for “getting high.” I thought I’d give it a try and when I notice him having an “anxiety attack within”, I give him a very small dose of 10:10 and within 30-45 minutes, he is resting comfortably. This effect lasts about 3-4 hours. We may continue with this solution, or I may end up getting him a prescription for an anti-anxiety pill or something similar from the vet.

Growths, lumps, bumps, and warts. Rocky has many little sores and bumps all over his body. The vet said some of it could be cancer. He likes to lick these areas and we have tried using creams and ointments but he just licks it off. We could use a cone, but that seems to be a moot point because I believe these abnormalities on his skin aren’t going to heal. I suspect many more skin issues are to come. We try to gently redirect him from licking and it usually works.

IMG_1664Sleeping a lot. Rocky rarely plays with his toys anymore and tends to sleep a lot. He still enjoys walks and “running” beside Cupp when he is on his bike. When we are chilling, he prefers to be right beside me and part of his body cuddled up against us. He never used to be a cuddler, but now he enjoys touch more than ever. He will not sleep at night if he is not on our bed. I always said I didn’t want my dog sleeping on my bed, but he gets very anxious if he is not near us.

Shadowing me. Whenever I get up, Rocky gets up. He is usually right underfoot, and I am afraid I will kick him or trip over him. He seems to need the reassurance of having someone else be his eyes and ears for him. This is probably related to increased feelings of anxiety.

“Doggy dementia moments.” Sometimes Rocky will do strange things, like stand in the bathroom behind the door (lost perhaps?) or scratch on a door that is already open. One time he was staring at a bedroom dresser. Some days he is “off” and more confused than other days.

Like humans, dogs need love, affection, attention, and activity no matter what their age. Old dogs need an increased level of it and some extra patience. Special needs will arise, and it’s important to pay attention to these needs to help your little buddy have a good quality of life in his or her golden years.

Please share your experiences about living with, and loving, an old dog.

Angela G. Gentile

www.AngelaGGentile.com

 

 

 

How to Prevent Heart Disease — The Number One Cause of Death Worldwide

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Image by Bruno Glätsch from Pixabay

Heart disease is the number one killer, worldwide. Prevention is key. Although these ten points were written for healthcare professionals,  there are a few points that we can incorporate into our own lives. In the first point, we are to be encouraged to aim for a healthy lifestyle throughout life. It’s never too early or too late to start living a heart-healthy lifestyle.

It is also important to note points four and five — the heart-healthy diet and exercise recommendations. Making healthy choices 80% of the time is what we are aiming for. Knowledge is power.

 

Top 10 Take-Home Messages for the Primary Prevention of Cardiovascular Disease

American Heart Association, 2019

1.  The most important way to prevent atherosclerotic vascular disease, heart failure, and atrial fibrillation is to promote a healthy lifestyle throughout life.

2.  A team-based care approach is an effective strategy for the prevention of cardiovascular disease. Clinicians should evaluate the social determinants of health that affect individuals to inform treatment decisions.

3.  Adults who are 40 to 75 years of age and are being evaluated for cardiovascular disease prevention should undergo 10-year atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease (ASCVD) risk estimation and have a clinician–patient risk discussion before starting on pharmacological therapy, such as antihypertensive therapy, a statin, or aspirin. In addition, assessing for other risk-enhancing factors can help guide decisions about preventive interventions in select individuals, as can coronary artery calcium scanning.

4.  All adults should consume a healthy diet that emphasizes the intake of vegetables, fruits, nuts, whole grains, lean vegetable or animal protein, and fish and minimizes the intake of trans fats, processed meats, refined carbohydrates, and sweetened beverages. For adults with overweight and obesity, counseling and caloric restriction are recommended for achieving and maintaining weight loss.

5.  Adults should engage in at least 150 minutes per week of accumulated moderate-intensity physical activity or 75 minutes per week of vigorous-intensity physical activity.

6.  For adults with type 2 diabetes mellitus, lifestyle changes, such as improving dietary habits and achieving exercise recommendations, are crucial. If medication is indicated, metformin is first-line therapy, followed by consideration of a sodium-glucose cotransporter 2 inhibitor or a glucagon-like peptide-1 receptor agonist.

7.  All adults should be assessed at every healthcare visit for tobacco use, and those who use tobacco should be assisted and strongly advised to quit.

8.  Aspirin should be used infrequently in the routine primary prevention of ASCVD because of lack of net benefit.

9.  Statin therapy is first-line treatment for primary prevention of ASCVD in patients with elevated low-density lipoprotein cholesterol levels (≥190 mg/dL), those with diabetes mellitus, who are 40 to 75 years of age, and those determined to be at sufficient ASCVD risk after a clinician–patient risk discussion.

10.  Nonpharmacological interventions are recommended for all adults with elevated blood pressure or hypertension. For those requiring pharmacological therapy, the target blood pressure should generally be <130/80 mm Hg.

Arnett et al. 2019 ACC/AHA Guideline on the Primary Prevention of Cardiovascular Disease

https://www.ahajournals.org/doi/pdf/10.1161/CIR.0000000000000678

Age well, my friend.

Angela G. Gentile, MSW, RSW

Eat According to Your Genes – Nutrigenomix. Part 1

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Nutrigenomix packaging

I have been learning a lot about nutrition and diets. After reading Gin Stephen’s book “Feast Without Fear,” I was curious to find out what kind of “personalized nutrition” options were available to me. I came across this company called Nutrigenomix (out of Toronto, Ontario, Canada) and talked to my doctor and dietician about it. It’s a genetic test for personalized nutrition worth $499.00 CAD, so I wanted to make sure it was worth it.  With a doctor’s referral, I could get 80% of the cost covered by Manitoba Blue Cross. My doctor agreed to give me a referral.

I found a dietician that was trained in doing this kind of testing (at the Wellness Institute in Winnipeg), and I booked an initial consultation with Laura. On the first visit, I had to read over and sign a consent form.

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Page 1 of Nutrigenomix consent form

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Page 2 of Nutrigenomix consent form

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Tube for Nutrigenomix saliva (DNA) sample

Laura then took a history, a brief assessment and told me a little about the DNA test. She was very interested in my intermittent fasting, so we talked a little bit about that. I also told her about the Low FODMAP Diet (for irritable bowel syndrome) and that I was learning I have an intolerance to certain foods like pistachios, almonds, and wheat flour.

She opened up the packaging and told me to get ready to provide a saliva sample for the DNA test. I had done a similar test for Ancestry DNA a few years back, so I knew it would take me a while to fill the tube up to the line (not including bubbles!). She said she would call when the results were in, which would take about three to four weeks.

Easy-peasy. Now the wait begins. Stay tuned. Watch for Part 2 when I receive the results!

 

Angela G. Gentile, MSW, RSW

 

 

The Benefits of Participating in a 24-Hour Online Group-Fast for Health and Wellness

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Image courtesy of WorldWideStock at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

I have been using the “intermittent fasting” method for health and weight management for four months now. Intermittent fasting, or IF, includes a variety of approaches to patterned eating. My typical schedule evolved from fasting for 16 hours a day to 17 – 18 hours a day. Depending on my social and family life, sometimes I change my fasting time to include longer 24-hour fasts. I have also used fasting as a health tool to help boost my immunity. My longest fast to date was 60 hours.

Due to my interest and passion for helping and supporting others in their health and wellness goals, I created and now administer a Facebook group for women called “What IF.” We help and encourage each other on our IF methods and approaches. A few weeks back I shared a great article by Benjamin Hardy called “The Number One Secret to Superhuman Willpower,” and it was all about fasting. Hardy spoke mainly about the spiritual aspects of going for long periods of time without eating, and he made a point about “getting a group of people together to fast…leads to miracles and radical breakthroughs.” He goes on to say “fast in whatever group you want – so long as the purpose for the fast is relevant to each member of the group.”

I was inspired by Hardy’s idea of fasting in a group and wanted to see if there were people online that would be interested in doing a virtual 24-hour group fast. I set up an “Event” on my Author Angela G. Gentile Facebook page and shared the link in various other groups and on my personal Facebook page. It was advertised 11 days ahead of the event.

The plan was to fast from a Wednesday evening after our supper meal, until the same time (24-hours later) on a Thursday evening. The start and stop times were going to be staggered, and it could be personalized to suit a person’s lifestyle. I chose to fast from 6:50 pm until 6:50 pm the next day. I answered questions as they came up and encouraged people to let me know when they started and ended their fast. I also made a “24-Hour Fast” chat group on Messenger.

The response was more encouraging than I expected! I ended up with “25 Went and 45 Interested.” The event was a huge success, and I decided to do a short survey on “Survey Monkey” afterward to see if I should do this again, and how I could improve on it.

I received 21 survey responses – from 19 women and two men. The responses were helpful, insightful and encouraging. See the highlights below.

1. How did you first hear about the “24-Hour Group-Fast” event?
What IF Facebook group (8), Angela G. Gentile’s personal Facebook page (7), Author Angela G. Gentile’s business Facebook page (1), Other (6) included Keto groups on Facebook

2. How many hours did you successfully fast for this 24-hour event?
Surprisingly a few went way past the 24-hour mark. It seemed to trigger something in some people. The longest fast was recorded as 61 hours! The shortest was 22. There were a few who did over 40 hours. 17 of us did between the 23.5-36 hour mark!

3. How did you feel DURING the fast?
Most people reported feeling “Fine,” “Good,” “Great!”. One person said “Amazing!!!! A new level of happy and wellbeing.” Another response was “Focused!” One person said “I felt really great! I had forgotten how fasting makes your sides feel clean, as I hadn’t done it for so long!”
For those who felt hungry, they said “I felt OK as long as I kept busy” and “Fine in the AM. Hungry around 17-20, but less hungry the last 4 hours.” One person said they were “only hungry when I had to prepare food for my daughter.”
Not everyone had a great experience though. One person said “I felt bad at first. I am out of practice. But at 20 hours I felt great.” One had a “slight headache and felt tired late in the day”; another reported my “head ached and felt jittery at the end.” One felt a “little light-headed later in the afternoon but got home from work, relaxed and felt better.”

4. How did you feel AFTER the fast?
Most people had something very positive to say about how they felt after the fast. Typical responses were: “Good,” “Great!” “Really Good!” “Excellent,” “Empowered!” “Energized” and “Energetic.” One person said, “Energized, hopeful and happy.” One person felt “Detoxed,” and another said their “bowel seemed to work better.” Two said they could have gone longer.” One person said they felt “Tired.” Another reported, “I felt my good choice after fasting wasn’t great and I felt icky after eating.” One enthusiastically stated, “I slept better than I had in a very long time! I felt so refreshed!”

5. How often would you like to do a fast?
“Once a week” received the most responses (9). “Once a month” (6), and “Once every two weeks “ (4). One person said they were “going to try to fast from Sunday night until Tuesday afternoon each week for the month of May.” One would like to do this “3-4 times a week.”

The “general” responses included lots of “Thank yous” and other kind words of appreciation for organizing the event. I enjoyed hosting this group fast and I even personally benefitted from it! I flexed my fasting muscle and willpower, and I felt in control. I enjoyed the group aspect of it and learned from others in the Messenger group and on the Facebook discussions and comments.

These final comments stand out for me and verify that deciding to run this fasting event was an excellent idea! Thank you to all who participated and took the time to answer the survey.

“Thank you so much for this opportunity! I believe fasting is good for you and it’s a lot easier when you have people doing it with you and cheering you on!”

“It helped me stay motivated knowing others were doing it too.”

“It was nice to complete as a group.”

NOTE: If you would like to be notified of the next 24-hour group fast, or if you would like more information on intermittent fasting for health and weight management, please let me know.

Angela G. Gentile

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Angela G. Gentile  MSW, RSW is a clinical social worker and author. She lives in Winnipeg, Manitoba with her husband and has two adult children. For more information visit: www.AngelaGGentile.com.

 

“Skate Your Butt Off” — Fundraiser for the Anal Cancer Foundation

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Skate Your Butt Off – Sunday May 19, 2019 in Santa Clarita, California

I have been invited to attend the “Skate Your Butt Off” Roller Event fundraiser for the Anal Cancer Foundation. My event tickets are purchased, I have a travel buddy (Judy Lee-Wing) and our flights are booked!

I will be showcasing my book “Cancer Up the Wazoo: Stories, Information, and Hope for Those Affected by Anal Cancer” and there will be some copies available for purchase. A portion of the proceeds from each book sold will go towards the Anal Cancer Foundation.

If you would like more information on the event, or if you would like to donate funds to this cause, please contact the Anal Cancer Foundation. Alternatively, you can always contact me:

 

Thanks for reading!

Angela G. Gentile, MSW, RSW

 

 

 

Join Us for a 24-Hour Fast

24-Hour Fast with Angela (1)

 

Strengthen your fasting muscle!

Please join me in a 24-hour fast

(FREE EVENT).

Wed. April 24th, at 7:00 pm –

Thurs. April 25th, at 7:00 pm, CT.

 

Join the Facebook event or contact me!

 

It is a “clean fast” as defined by Gin Stephens author of “Delay Don’t Deny.”

You can drink water, plain black coffee or tea, green tea, and mineral/sparkling water. No food allowed!

This will help improve your self-control, willpower and overall health and wellness.

It is also used for “resetting” your relationship with food. There are many other benefits to intermittent fasting!

Note: Fasting is not for everyone, if you have any health issues, pregnant or breastfeeding, history of disordered eating, or are under 18, please consult your doctor first.

Let me support you with your health and wellness goals. Questions? Please ask!

Angela G. Gentile, MSW, RSW