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A Better Way to Predict Cardiovascular Risk

Do you know that roughly 75% of people who end up in the hospital due to a heart attack have altogether normal cholesterol levels? My father passed away at 69 from a massive heart attack after receiving a clean bill of health from his physician. His cholesterol levels were in the normal range.

It’s surprising but true, so the research says. And yet, your primary care physician is most likely still measuring your risk for a heart attack using the same ol’ methods—ordering lipid panels and keeping track of your LDL (“bad”) cholesterol and total cholesterol levels. These methods don’t capture the whole picture, as several factors indicate your risk for heart attack and cardiovascular disease—and all these factors need to be taken into account and tested properly.

You can’t change (or predict) what you can’t measure. Modern technologies have allowed us to go beyond “good” and “bad” cholesterol, and at INDUR we believe it’s time to equip you with a complete understanding of your cardiovascular risk.

What is Cholesterol?

First, let’s clear up this thing called cholesterol. Cholesterol is a kind of fat that’s found in our bloodstream, and it actually does a lot of good in our bodies We use it to make many of the hormones we need to stay healthy, sharp, and strong. High cholesterol can be dangerous, but so can low cholesterol.

We get cholesterol via our food—eggs, meats, cheese, butter, and milk all contain healthy amounts of cholesterol. And, our liver makes it as well. We need it—in proper amounts.

Though it’s true that having high LDL (“bad cholesterol”) and low HDL (“good cholesterol”) can increase your risk for developing heart disease (especially if you have a family history), not all HDL and LDL are created equal. Let’s take a quick look at some of the important factors to consider.

LDL Particle Size

Pop quiz: Which type of “bad” cholesterol is more likely to give you heart disease?

A. Big and fluffy particles of LDL cholesterol?
B. Small and dense particles of LDL cholesterol?

Most people assume that “big and fluffy” implies more likely to clog arteries. Simple physics, right? Actually, small dense LDL is more likely to create atherosclerotic plaques (the kind you don’t want) in your arteries because it is more likely to cause damage to the arteries themselves.

They’re also more likely to oxidize (think: turn to rust) within the bloodstream, and oxidized cholesterol is much more likely to increase your risk for coronary artery disease.

No matter whether you passed this pop quiz or not, you’ll want to know whether your body has chosen answer A or answer B.

LDL Particle Number

First, you need to know your LDL Particle Number . This is a measure of the number of LDL particles you have, rather than the total amount of cholesterol you have. This is a more realistic approximation of risk that may result from a high LDL.

HDL Size and Type

In addition to knowing the size of your LDL, it is helpful to know the size of your HDL particles. Interestingly, these are the ones that you want to be big and fluffy. The higher the level of the biggest, fluffiest HDL (called “α-1”) particles, the better. We can also measure some subparticles of HDL (specifically apoA-1, which provides structure to HDL), as every 1 mg/dL apoA-I increase in very large α-1 HDL is associated with a 26% decrease in heart disease risk.

Lp(a) and Advanced Inflammatory Markers

Cholesterol problems don’t develop overnight, and neither do the factors that cause them. One of the most important considerations is how much inflammation is going on inside your blood vessels. Luckily, we can test for some of these risk factors. Assessing blood levels of homocysteine and Omega 3s can tell us how likely we are to be inflamed. Meanwhile, assessing our hs-CRP, Fibrinogen, or Lp(a) tells us if we already are. The good news is that either way, lifestyle intervention (and sometimes appropriately prescribed and monitored medication and supplements) has the potential to improve these inflammatory markers and reduce your risk.

Apolipoprotein B

Next, there’s something called Apolipoprotein B. This is the part of the cholesterol molecule that give LDL its shape, and the amount we have is directly tied to the amount of dangerous LDL particles. a molecule that shows up in cholesterol, and it’s one you want to keep to a minimum. Why? For every truly risky LDL, we carry just one of these. The more of these, the more we’re at risk.

Fatty Acids

What we put into our bodies goes a long way toward impacting how likely we are to be inflamed. Research shows that those of us who are deficient in omega-3 fatty acids are at greater risk for heart disease. At INDUR, we check your omega-3 index—to make sure you’re getting proper amounts of healthy, anti-inflammatory fats from foods like salmon, sardines, and other cold-water fish. Some foods (red meat, white meat, cheese, dairy, eggs, and some fish) contain arachidonic acid, a pro-inflammatory omega-6 fatty acid . Your diet needs to strike a proper balance between omega-6 fatty acids and omega-3 fatty acids (a ratio of 4:1 has been shown to reduce risk of death by 70% compared to a Standard American Diet). Sadly, the average American has an Omega 6 to Omega 3 ratio of greater than 20 to 1. For this reason, we need to increase our consumption of omega-3 fatty acids, and decrease the omega-6 intake.

Getting Tested

Though many of these risk factors that we can test for are impacted by your genetics (everyone knows the person who can eat a burger a day and keep the doctor away, after all!), there is a lot that you can do by making significant changes to your lifestyle. At INDUR, we believe that those changes should be both precise and personalized, and appropriate testing can go a long way in helping to develop the best recommendations for you. The Ultimate Testing package was designed for the individual who wants to know their risks so that they can begin to truly take charge of their health.

Brandt Beal on Testosterone Therapy

If you’ve recently seen a billboard or TV ad commenting on the “low testosterone” rates that are plaguing men today, you’re not alone. Marketing on “low T” has been on the rise in recent years, with more testosterone gels, patches, and injections administered than ever before, according to the New York Times.

However, anyone praying that an extra dose of testosterone will make them more manly, boost muscle enhancement, and contribute to greater sex performance might find this blog to be a bit sobering. Only 15 percent of men over the age of 65 have the “low T” levels that are worth considering enhancement, with another study showing such enhancement had no tangible effects by the end of the experiment.

Natural Male Testosterone Levels

In men, testosterone levels begin to gradually decline after the age of 30. The average level accepted as optimal for most men ranges from 300 to 1,000 nanograms per deciliter of blood. However, these rates fluctuate greatly depending upon sleep, the time of day, overall health, and other medications.

The Seriousness of Playing with Male Hormones

Your body was designed with an endocrine system that sends off trigger and warning signals to start and stop hormonal production. It’s part of your natural homeostasis, which is completely unique to you. When testosterone, a critical male hormone, is tampered with, natural bodily productions are turned off and can contribute to a slew of other health-related problems. Testosterone alone is responsible for the development of male reproductive tissues, the maintenance of muscle and bone mass, the growth of body hair, overall health and well-being, and the prevention of osteoporosis. When you alter your testosterone production, you can actually make low T symptoms even worse.

Since every man’s optimal level of testosterone is unique to them, taking a supplement is one of the most dangerous things you could do.

Even more alarming, if you plan to start a family, testosterone therapy can cause your sperm production to spiral out of control, stopping altogether. Even if you stop treatment, your sperm production might never be the same again.

Smart Advice

The human body is one of the most complex systems in our world today. The fragility of hormonal production in keeping your complex body regulated is so innate to your personal frame that using a “one-size-fits-all” supplement is horribly dangerous.

According to INDUR CEO Brandt Beal, “Far too many of our customers here at INDUR have fallen victim to unnecessary testosterone therapy, receiving treatments from doctors that consider “normal T” levels as opposed to personal, optimal T levels.” Money talks, and there’s BIG money in the testosterone industry. There’s a lot of markup in testosterone therapy, with doctors pushing injections for a buck when it might not be the safest answer to the deficiency solution.

Natural Treatment

Many times, lower-than-normal testosterone levels are caused by other concerns. Your body has an incredible natural ability to restore testosterone production, as the most critical male-only hormone in your body. Why shut the “boys” off and become dependent on a drug when it’s not necessary? Consider that the imbalance could be caused by unhealthy practices, a low-fat, less than optimal zinc or Vitamin D levels, chronic stress, and adrenal fatigue instead.

INDUR assessment packages include a full hormonal assessment to give you the exact picture of your optimal health. You’ll also have access to expert practitioners so you know the best-in-class protocol. Before you dive into hormonal replacement therapy, know your personal hormonal story and discuss it with our experts first.

Working with a Naturopath changed my life.

So you’re fed up with Western medicine. 

Believe me, you’re not alone. 

I turned away from traditional Western medicine during a health crisis in my own life. My name is Brandt Beal and at age 32, I was in poor health and determined to transform my mind, body, and spirit.

After six months of following my new, healthy protocol, I plateaued. Fatigue overtook me and I looked to Google for some answers. What came of my search were two keywords—blood work. I figured I should treat myself to a series of blood tests to get some real answers. So, I made an appointment with my primary care physician and asked if the blood draws could be done straight away. 

What followed was a wait of several weeks before the blood work even begun. Then more weeks of waiting for results—all of which came to the conclusion that “everything looked fine….” and, “you certainly aren’t dying.” 

That’s it? I thought to myself. That’s all my doctor could give me? 

What’s more, the medical bills arrived a couple weeks later with a price tag of $2500 after insurance refused to pay anything. 

After more research of my own, I came to find out I was insulin-resistant, had significant hormonal imbalances and adrenal fatigue to boot. What’s more, my vitamin D levels were too low, as were my omega-3 levels. I needed guidance—guidance that certainly wouldn’t come from my primary care physician.

So, I turned to myself. I got healthier on my own—no small feat. I realized that the doctors I was used to seeing simply aren’t trained to look at the whole person—which led me to launch Indur and delve into the realm of natural health. Naturopaths are leaders in this realm. 

And, here at INDUR, we strongly encourage our readers and clients to learn more about this fascinating arena of healing. In fact, INDUR health advisors are naturopathic physicians by design. We believe in naturopathy, and encourage you to do the same.

What is Naturopathic Medicine?

When you go to a naturopathic doctor (an N.D.), you won’t come home with a handful of prescriptions for this pharmaceutical or that. And your stop on the drive home won’t be to a CVS pharmacy. 

Instead, you’ll be given a handful of instructions for lifestyle changes and perhaps a list of remedies and supplements. Most importantly, your naturopathic doctor will teach you how to better understand your body and take your health into your own hands. You might have to eliminate harmful substances from your diet, and get to bed at a regular hour. And you won’t receive a quick fix. But in the end, the fix will be a sustainable one. 

Here’s a real world example:

Suppose you’re having sleep issues. For the past several months you’ve become so sleep deprived that it’s fair to say you suffer from miserable insomnia. So you visit your family physician and tell him your troubles. He’ll write a prescription for Ambien and wish you well. 

Not so with your naturopath. He will most likely spend a fair amount of time asking you what’s been shaping up with your life as of late. He’ll also inquire about your diet and eating habits,  while trying to pinpoint possible hormonal imbalances and other suboptimal biomarkers that can impact your ability to get a good night’s sleep.

The appointment with your naturopath will take some time—as will the treatment that follows. 

Why? Because naturopathic medicine is all about treating the root cause of a given health issue, rather than the symptom (as is the case with Western medicine). As such, the training that takes place amongst conventional medical students and students of naturopathy are quite different. 

Of course, both are required to graduate from high school, and then carry on to complete undergraduate work. Both attend 4-year, accredited schools, with the first two years of schooling focused upon roughly the same stuff—anatomy, physiology, genetic, biochemistry and pathology (blood work). The pathology part differs in that the way students learn to choose which tests to order to determine health issues is quite different, as is interpretation of results. 

Changes continue as students go into their 3rd and 4th years. While conventional medical students learn pharmacology and minor surgery, naturopathic students learn homeopathy, mind-body medicine, herbology, nutrition, and sometimes TCM (traditional Chinese medicine) and/or Ayurvedic medicine. Both prospective physicians and naturopaths are required to pass medical board exams. 

The foundational principles of naturopathy are as follows: 

Nature Heals (and so does the human body): 

The system of naturopathy sees the innate self-healing process within us all, and seeks to remove obstacles to healing, while also implementing methods and nature cures to enhance and facilitate the body’s natural healing capacity. 

Identify and Then Treat Root Causes: 

A good naturopath identifies the root cause of a health issue, and then works with the patient to heal the deeply-rooted issue. This is different from conventional medicine which simply seeks to rid the body of (or merely suppress) symptoms.. 

First Do No Harm: 

As naturopaths, we strive to treat our patients without causing them harm. In doing, so we follow three guidelines. We treat our patients with remedies and methods that have little or no harmful side effects. We also make sure we don’t merely suppress symptoms, as this can cause more harm than good in the long run. Lastly, we respect our patients, and work with them as individuals to heal and thrive. 

Doctor as Teacher: 

Naturopaths empower their patients by teaching them during the treatment process in order to help them take responsibility for their health. We also understand how deeply healing a healthy doctor-patient relationship can be.

Holistic Treatment: 

Naturopathic treatment is holistic in nature. We take into consideration all facets of our patient—physical, mental, emotional, spiritual, environmental, social, genetic—you get the picture! 

Prevention is Key: 

The Benjamin Franklin quote that “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” is a cornerstone of naturopathic philosophy. We always seek to prevent disease by taking into account potential risk factors, in order to prevent acute and/or chronic illness. 

As you can see, your experience with a naturopath will be much different than your experience with a medical doctor. Naturopathic medicine is the perfect complement to a conventional medical system that grows more and more ‘sick’ each day. If you’re wondering whether this natural and holistic approach to health is right for you, I encourage you to find a Naturopath today. In fact, many of our health coaches at INDUR are Naturopathic Doctors. Your body, mind, and spirit will thank you for taking the first step!

Leadership the Captain's Way - Brandt Beal
Leadership the Captain's Way - Brandt Beal

Leadership: The Captain’s Way

Today, business owners and managers are reading publications written by hundreds of industry leaders to obtain insight on developing and better implementing strong leadership within their own organizations. The books, articles and blogs are filled with New Age methods, tried and true approaches and lessons by example and experience. Almost all have a common denominator when identifying the behaviors of successful leaders: consistent communication of a concise, effective and important message to members of his or her organization.

I recently took a trip around the Greek islands on a small sailing ship. I couldn’t help but think about the perfection of our voyage and, more importantly, the leadership of our captain. On the first morning, I noticed the captain and his senior officers dining and conversing as a team. After the second morning, I started sitting next to them so I could listen in on their conversations. As I expected, the captain was engaged in one of the most important duties leaders have: communication. Even though the breakfast menu changed from morning to morning, the conversational format and familiar faces at this daily meeting remained constant.

What did they talk about every day?

  • What did we do well yesterday?
  • What could we have done better yesterday?
  • What did we not accomplish that we would have liked to?
  • What is going on today? Who is responsible and accountable?
  • What is most important today?
  • What distractions today might impact our guests’ experience?
  • What distractions today might impact our guests’ safety and security?

The captain consistently communicated the items that were primary to him, his guests, his crew and his employer. His top-down communication style and use of effective meetings provided clarity about what was vital to create a safe and memorable experience for the customers. At the close of each meeting, he would go around the table, ask for verbal confirmation of alignment with the goals and what each officer’s message would be to his individual crew members.

An example of the effectiveness of his leadership was evident late one evening when our tender boat lost power while leaving the port to return to our ship. We were left unseen and adrift in a busy harbor at night. The situation quickly became dangerous, but the emergency procedures implemented by the captain’s crew were flawless. Within minutes, they had sent another boat to pick us up and return us to safety. It was obvious that this procedure had been taught and rehearsed. The crew had ultimate clarity on what needed to be accomplished and who was responsible for each detail.

I think many executives could learn from the captain’s simple, straight-forward communication skills: Communicate frequently; Communicate consistently; Gain alignment and understanding.

How Sleep Influences Muscle Recovery After Working Out
How Sleep Influences Muscle Recovery After Working Out

How Sleep Influences Muscle Recovery After Working Out

You work hard to maintain a steady workout routine to build and maintain your body. But, no matter how hard you try, you can’t seem to build that muscle mass you’ve always wanted. Or, maybe you aren’t losing much weight and can’t figure out why.

Did you know that sleep is just as important as resting and muscle recovery after an intense workout routine?

Turns out, the missing element to your routine may be getting enough sleep each night. Sleep aids the recovery process and enhances the body’s ability to regulate metabolism and helps you maintain regular weight loss and muscle growth. When you get more than four or five hours of sleep per night, you won’t have to worry about exhaustion or depleting the body of nutrients. 

Why is Rest and Recovery Important After a Workout?

Every time you work out, whether it be a full cardio routine, weight lifting, running or any intense workout routine, small microtears occur in the muscles of your body. To compensate for the amount of energy used to repair your muscles, your body begins to require more essential nutrients and chemicals to promote relaxation and circulation. This is why muscle recovery is so important to maintaining the health and strength of your body after working out.

Recovery is an important aspect of your workout routine where your muscles and tissues are repaired and increase their strength. This phase of your workout routine is even more important when you are weight training and trying to build muscle mass. Short-term recovery, also known as active recovery, starts with the initial cool down phase and lasts into the night as hormones regulate these processes.  

While you sleep, your body releases hormones that activates cellular rejuvenation, which promotes muscle repair and growth. For example, the stress hormone cortisol is released and helps the body tap into stored reserves of energy while adrenaline promotes optimal circulation. Not only does the body require high amounts of vitamins, minerals and proteins to sustain enough energy to repair muscles but it also needs a proper amount of sleep each night. 

How Sleep Effects the Recovery Process

Researchers have found that a lack of sleep is like being deficient in vital nutrients that your body needs to maintain optimal health. As observed by researchers Jonathan Mike and Len Kravitz, muscle recovery requires a higher amount of oxygen and nutrients. According to the National Sleep Foundation, sleep deprivation leads to an increased amount of cortisol and a decreased production of glycogen and carbohydrates needed to produce energy. 

While you sleep, growth hormones are released throughout your body and begin to stimulate muscle repair and growth while burning fat. These hormones also improve circulation and provide energy to your organs. Many studies suggest that your tissues are repaired and rejuvenated at a faster pace when you are in the deep REM sleep cycle, which is why it is so important to maintain a regular sleep schedule.

As an ongoing study by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine that was performed on Stanford athletes has shown, getting around eight hours of sleep per night can boost athletic performance. Researchers observed that athletes swam a 15-meter sprint 0.51 seconds faster and reacted 0.15 seconds quicker than normal, which was in the range of 0.10 seconds. 

To meet your health and performance goals, you should never second guess the importance of getting a full night’s rest. Sleep can directly influence muscle recovery and how effective each workout session will be. Next time you plan your workout routine, you should allow enough time to sleep to amplify the occurrence of muscle recovery throughout your body to get the best possible results.