Join me in this week’s Tuesday Terrain Talk as we explore bloodwork from a whole new perspective. Understand the significance of one element of your blood, and what it means from a metabolic health perspective and you can use this understanding to adjust and implement lifestyle practices.
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I know it can feel overwhelming, but remember, you have the power to make positive changes in your life. Whether it's moving a bit more each day, adjusting your diet, or simply understanding your bloodwork better, every step counts.
Give this episode a listen. It's packed with insights and actionable tips to support your journey. 💖 Tune in now! 🎧
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Read the full transcript below:
Laura Lummer 00:00
You're listening to the breast cancer recovery coach podcast. I'm your host, Laura Lummer. I'm a Certified Life health and nutrition coach, and I'm also a breast cancer thriver. If you're trying to figure out how to move past the trauma and the emotional toll of breast cancer, you've come to the right place. In this podcast, I will give you the tools and the insights to create a life that's even better than before breast cancer. Well, let's get started. Hello, hello, welcome to episode 279 have better than before breast cancer with the breast cancer recovery
Laura Lummer 00:41
coach. That's me, Laura Lummer. And thank you so much for joining me here today. It's unbelievable. I think about I'm almost on episode 300 of this podcast. On one side of that coin, it feels like it's taken a long time to get there. Because I've been doing this podcast since 2017. On the other hand, it feels like, wow, there's just so much to talk about when it comes to when breast cancer enters our lives, what we go through how we recover. What happens if we get a recurrence? Well we go through when we do scans and tests and bloodwork. And you know, breast cancer itself is a very complex disease. And so it kind of makes sense that all of the ways that it impacts our lives, and all of the things that we can do to address it are also complex. And I think it's really important that we always keep in mind, I think I've said this a lot of times on the podcast, and I'll probably say it a lot more. But there's just not one thing, right? There's not one magic thing that fixes everything. There's not one thing that we look at and say oh, that's out of balance, or that's bad. And so that's probably going to give me cancer. But it's so important to take a very holistic approach to everything that we do, to the way that we address our lifestyle, to the way that we look at the treatments that we incorporate into our lives. And in doing that, it can also become very complicated, very overwhelming. And so a lot of us just kind of shy away from really digging in deep to what we're doing to support our health because it can become so complex and so overwhelming. So what I want to talk about today is one aspect of a really big picture. And I think it's interesting because not only have my eyes been so open to looking at bloodwork understanding bloodwork since I've been studying with Naisha winters, but understanding blood work from a lifestyle lens, right? So let's think about this. When you go and you get your blood work done by your oncologist, by your GP, whatever phase you're in and your treatment in your recovery, what are they looking for, in the standard of care, we're looking to make sure that everything stays in a normal range, right? If it's too high, or it's too low, it may be an indication of disease, it may be an indication of over treatment with medications. And it's pretty much if it's too high or too low, we've already got a problem. So our doctors are looking at that to make sure that we're staying in this normal range. What is normal based on this is really interesting, because when we go and get our lab work done normal is based on the region around us. So if you go to quest, or if you go to LabCorp, they're deciding on normalcy based on a predetermined region. So if I live in California, that region may be an area of California, it may incorporate Arizona and Nevada, but it's gonna look at a certain population around where I live, and it's gonna say, hey, the majority of people here fall into this range. So if you're in this range, it's normal for your population. Now, that's interesting, because if I live in a place where there's a higher population of health conscious people than normal is probably going to be closer to what naturopathic medicine will look like, which is optimal. And what is optimum optimal, is the range that doctors look at and say, Hey, out of all of our studies out of all of the science out of all of the testing, if we can keep you in this optimal range, then it is a better chance that you won't fall into too low or too high, or presenting with disease or symptoms of disease. So optimal range is what keeps us in this range of good health right. So that's where we want to be. I think this is a really fascinating difference between the way that standard of care looks at labs and the way that naturopath Care looks at labs. And I'm not saying one is better than the other, I'm saying they both serve their own purpose. Because when we're doing standard of care treatments, we're dealing with some really invasive, really powerful, really toxic stuff. And so our doctors are trying to make sure that this medication is serving us, helping us to maintain our longevity and our health and out without was doing as little damage as possible, right. Whereas in the naturopathic side, they're looking at and saying, let's incorporate everything, let's look at what you already are taking medicine wise, what treatments are already going under. And let's look at your lifestyle overall, and see how we can support that and get you into this optimal range. So it's super interesting stuff. And as I started off, it's complicated. So we might look at labs and I know I have a tendency, I think every one of us breast cancer survivors, every human, we have a tendency to look for stuff that's out of range. Right? When we see that too high, or too low cut back on our labs, we panic a little bit, we freak out a little bit. And it's important that we take in the big picture. Again, it's important that we remember to look at the things that are good. And what we're doing that is good. And it's also important to remember that we've got a lot of power when it comes to things we see that are not in an optimal range. And that we can incorporate lifestyle habits to move them into an optimal range. And also understanding what they're indicating what is the story our body is telling us by looking at our bloodwork. So in working with the metabolic approach to health, there are several different blood tests that we look at. But one, I'm only going to talk about one aspect of one blood test today, because I think it's a really cool one. And it's really cool to get an understanding of what it means and what you can do about it. So when we work with someone in the metabolic approach, we're looking at several different blood tests, as I say, but one in particular is called the trifecta Naisha named this the trifecta, because in all of her 30 plus years of experience of working with cancer patients, she sees that these three tests, which tell us a really big story about the inflammation in our body, and the condition of our blood, that when these three tests are in the optimal range, even if we do have cancer presenting in our body, we tend to have kind of an upper hand, like we're doing all the right things, to keep the terrain, which is what this show is all about right keeping the terrain of our body healthy enough that it's more challenging for cancer to take root to grow to spread all those things. So the trifecta is something that we look at every month. So I do this bloodwork every month to look at my trifecta, and to try to keep all of the aspects of it in the optimal range. Now one of those tests is called the e S R. And I want to tell you a little bit more about the ESR. Because it's a simple blood test that you can easily ask your doctor for. If you have insurance, it's probably going to cover it. If you work with a metabolically trained advocate like myself, or one of the doctors in the practitioner group, that trifecta, those three different markers that were looking at that whole monthly test is $50 A month or in that range. So it's really affordable, and some really cool information. So I wanted to talk about the ESR, which is stands for the erythrocyte sedimentation rate. And erythrocytes are just red blood cells. So it's looking at how fast your red blood cells sink. Isn't that interesting. So they draw your blood. And they're looking at how fast your red blood cells sink to the bottom of that blood sample. Because the speed of how fast those blood cells settle is an indication of how much inflammation is happening in our body. So the faster the higher our ESR rate is, is an indication of more inflammation. Now remember, this is super important to remember, this on its own is not going to tell us everything. This on its own may be high. And it may not mean that you have an autoimmune condition or out of control inflammation. I just want to discuss it. So we have an understanding of the ESR what it means to us and again, what lifestyle practices we can do to keep that in an optimal range. Sometimes if the ESR is high, but the other markers in the trifecta and the other bloodwork is great. It could be another indicator it could be actually gluten. Yeah, gluten can increase your ESR or just a faulty blood sample can throw it off and make it higher than normal. Which is another reason why especially for someone like me winner in the act of cancer in process, it's so important to look at these tests monthly and understand them. So when we have inflammation going on in our body, it causes these red blood cells to stick together in clumps. So these clumps of cells are heavier than just a single red blood cells, so they sink faster when a blood sample is taken. And it's funny, because I think a lot of times in the naturopathic, or alternative or integrative care world, we hear terms, that sound kind of general and we think, what's the science behind that? What does that mean? So for instance, when I first heard about ESR, started really digging into ESR. And I saw, it's an indication of thick, sticky blood. And I thought, What in the world is that mean? thick, sticky blood. So no, when I look into it, and realize, okay, what is thick, sticky blood, it's when blood cells are sticking together, right? So it's not just like one of my red blood cells got heavy and sticky, is that something's going on and they're sticking together, and they're becoming clumps. So when we have a high ESR, and it may be one indicator of autoimmune flare ups, if you have an autoimmune condition, it may be one indicator of higher inflammation in the body. And it may be an indicator of thick, sticky blood. So it's something to take into consideration with all of your other bloodwork. But let's say that you get that and you look at your ESR. And it's like, oh, the ESR is high. And then other indicators are also high. Okay, other inflammatory indicators are also high. What can you do about it? This is the beautiful thing, friends, because there's a lot we can do to make sure that our blood stays viscous and flowing, and not sticking together, things that we can do to reduce inflammation. And I'm going to tell you them, and you're gonna say, I know, I've heard this before. But here's the thing. Are you following it? Are you doing something about it? If you've heard this before? Are you paying attention to it? What are the things we can do to keep our ESR our risk recite sedimentation rate in the optimal zone, one of the major things we can do, and if you look this up, and you Google, how to reduce ESR, you're going to find this on every thing from the Mayo Clinic to breast cancer.org. Move your body, move your body. When we move our body, we reduce inflammation, moving our body on a regular basis is so critical. I know you hear it all the time. But let's think about the difference between I know this in my head. And I know this in my heart, right? I know this, and I apply this because in between the intellectual knowing and the heart knowing and that taking action, there's a whole boatload of thoughts. And those thoughts are going to keep you from moving your body, right? I think a couple of the really popular ones that I've had to work through for myself. And that actually not when it comes to exercise, because I kind of just absolutely love exercise. But I had to work through this thought with other things that I do to support my health. And I hear it a lot from clients that I work with is I shouldn't have to do that. Right? I should just be healthy, just like just like me, I wake up every day, and I should just be good. And that's just not the case. Right? So we've got to accept where we're at, and then meet ourselves there and move forward from there. So let's talk about moving our body when we talk about moving our body. You know, I'm avoiding using the word exercise on purpose, right? I'm being very intentional about that. Because I think that for so many of us exercises, actually kind of three steps ahead of where we are. Like just thinking about sitting lists is a good starting point. We have such comfy lives and we've got lots of office jobs, and we have a tendency to sit around a lot. So can we think about sitting less, and realize that wow, if I could just sit less. If I could just stand more, move more, take short walks, decide that I'm not going to sit on my bum until after 5pm or something of that nature, getting a stand up desk. In fact, a funny story before I found standup desks, I used to just take boxes and stack boxes on top of my desk at work and then put my computer on top of Have those boxes so that I could stand up and work. And then I found a cool, you know, standup desks, I could just push a button and stand up or sit down. But really just thinking about moving a little more, sitting less. This is a great starting point. And I don't think I have to go into constructing exercise routines, I'm talking about moderate heart rate and high intensity interval training or any of that stuff. If we're not even moving more, right if we lead a sedentary life. So when you think about inflammation in your body, and if you have a blood test, where you look at your ESR, and you're like, oh, this ESR is giving me an indication that I might have thick, sticky blood. Remember, it's part of the story, not the whole story. I might have thick, sticky blood. Okay. Am I moving my body regularly throughout the day? And if not, what modifications can you make to just get in more movement, and we can work up to exercise and training after we start moving a little more, all right. Another thing that's super important is we've got to look at the ratio of healthy anti inflammatory fats that we take into our body versus inflammatory fats. Inflammatory fats include, if you're getting a food out of a box, if it's pre packaged, and sitting on the shelf, it's probably got some high omega six, which is a fatty acid that we know can lead to more inflammation in the body. So we want to have more omega threes, and just a better ratio of omega six fatty acids to omega three fatty acids. Where do we get omega threes? Where do we get omega sixes? Omega sixes are in processed foods. And they're in seed oils have a show coming up soon, we'll talk a lot more about seed oils. But when you think about seed oils know that they go through a tremendous amount of processing. So by seed, what I mean, sunflower seed, canola oil, safflower oil, these oils go through a lot of processing, that it can include bleaching and having all kinds of solvents. And it can take that fatty acid structure and make it very inflammatory for us. So removing those kinds of things from our diet and incorporating healthier fats. In fact, just sit down at your computer and Google healthy fatty acids, and you can get a full list. I can go into a long list of them here on the show. But I know that if you take the effort and go in and look for things yourself, and your brain sees those things on the screen, you're going they're gonna sink in a little bit more. All right. So how do we move more? How do I get more regular consistent movement into my day? To? How do I get more anti inflammatory fat into my diet? And you might have already thought about this, because when we think about things being thick and sticky, we think about it maybe not being wet, right? And so I'm not saying your blood isn't wet. But what I'm saying is hydration, are you hydrating your body enough? Are you getting the minimum amount of hydration, which would be half your body weight in ounces of water every day? Now, a lot of people when I say that, they say to me, yeah, I probably am. And then we track it. And we find out not even close. In fact, I have run several times. And we'll see it coming up again soon before the end of this year. My hydration challenge. It's a five day hydration challenge. And it's included in my membership and the better than before breast cancer membership. And it's just this very simple, mindful way of addressing hydration and noticing hydration, and how much you actually drink and how much hydration you get in through food. Because obviously, if we're eating a lot of vegetables, they're gonna be really high in the amount of water that they take in. And so I even have a chart in there that shows different fruits and vegetables in the amount of water that's in them, because we can take in water that way too. So when we're looking at our ESR, or erythrocyte sedimentation rate, these are three really important factors that can support you in reducing inflammation and bringing that back into an optimal zone. You know, we as breast cancer survivors as breast cancer thrivers need to constantly be thinking about how diligent we are being in supporting our body's optimal state of well being. Because when it comes to testing when it comes to scans when it comes to bloodwork, if we're going to wait to do something about our lifestyle, until that test shows up and says Whoa, here's a red flag, there's a problem there. Then we're fighting an uphill battle, and it's challenging enough to Just every day without already having a disease on board, to just modify your lifestyle habits and consistently follow healthy practices come on, it's challenging. We live in a world where it's super easy to be really comfortable, super easy to sit around super easy to eat delicious, high sugar, highly processed foods. And it's so easy that it's almost become the norm, right? When I talk to clients who are following a really clean nutrition program, they get questioned all the time. I have this happened to me where people are like, Oh, wow, really? That's how you eat? Oh,
Laura Lummer 20:41
really? Wow. How do you do that? Oh, really? How long? Are you going to have to do that? And it's so fascinating to me, because I think, What in the world, this is the way we're supposed to feed a body, this is the way your body needs to be nourished. But isn't it interesting that we've gotten so far away from that, that the abnormal has become normal. And so that makes it even more challenging for us to follow a whole foods diet, to really be looking at what we're putting in our body to be thinking about when we're eating to be thinking about how much we're moving, right? We've got to be intentional about that on a daily basis. And yeah, I know, you're thinking so hard. And you're right, it takes energy, and it takes effort. But you and me, we're in the position where our body has said to us, Hey, I have this vulnerability, cancer has manifested in this body. And you may have a no evidence of disease. But as we know, every human being is constantly having cancer cells in their body, and their immune system is constantly having to step up to take care of this. So as those of us who know we already are susceptible to that, or we are living and or managing that, it becomes even more critical that we understand and embrace and work through all the thoughts we have that make it challenging for us to intentionally support our healthy body cells to intentionally support our optimal well being. All right, so there's one little nugget for you. And if you look back at your most recent labs, and you see that ESR rate might give you something to think about. And if you see it in the optimal zone, which I don't think I mentioned yet, but the optimal zone is 10. And under, so we want the ESR to be between zero and 10. And that is considered the optimal zone. If you're there, give yourself credit, and keep doing what you're doing. Keep supporting yourself, you're making some good choices, you're doing some good things for your body. So if you don't have a current or recent ESR, or complete blood panel, go and ask your doctor for one, check in and see where you're at. You know, sometimes we wait as we're going through our recovery. And I hear from women all the time. Oh my god, I haven't had labs in year oh my god, my doctor doesn't hardly ever do this. But you can ask, okay, you can ask for that. You can tell them you want that. And there are other resources and other ways like working with a metabolic advocate or a metabolic doctor or third party labs where you can ask to have bloodwork done. But come on, use your doctor, your doctor works for you. So get that information and use that data to get an idea of how your lifestyle is affecting your body and the story that your body is telling you like this is gold, right? When we take our blood and we look at our blood that's like oh, hey, this is what is happening. This is what my body is telling me. This isn't good stuff here. So let's learn from it and learn how to interpret it from the lens of lifestyle management, so that we can step into our power and support ourselves. And if you need more help with that you would like more help with that you would like help with all the thoughts that seem to be roadblocks to you doing what you want to do for yourself in your life and your emotional and physical well being. Come and join me in better than before breast cancer, a life coaching membership. You can find all the details on my website the breast cancer recovery coach.com forward slash life coaching. I'm here for you and I know you can do this. I'll talk to you soon.