The Skinny on Coconut Oil

It’s not a craze. It’s real. It’s been around for ever and its benefits are off-the-charts worth incorporating into our 40 and 50+ lives. Now the beautiful benefits of virgin, unrefined coconut coconut oiloil has finally reached shore  – making its way into our lives. Coconut oil contains a unique combination of fatty acids with some very powerful medicinal properties. Yes, coconut oil is almost 90 percent saturated fat, but not all sat fats are created equal. “The saturated fat in coconut oil is mostly lauric acid, a medium-chain saturated fatty acid that appears to have a more neutral effect on heart health when compared to longer-chain saturated fats found in meats and dairy products,” says Wendy Bazilian, R.D., author of The SuperFoodsRx Diet.

The benefits are many, especially for those who aim for aging gracefully. Getting older means paying close attention to the health of our brain as it is now front and center a leading topic. Coconut oil offers incredible benefits, from protection or reversal of brain fog, early Alzheimer’s Disease and Dementia.

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Early Prevention – Laurel’s Story

Friend, contributing writer and breast cancer survivor of a different kind – Laurel shares her unique story.  Special circumstances pushed her to make an aggressive preventative care decision – an action that ultimately saved her life!

Laurel, Denver

In recognition of October – Breast Cancer Awareness Month

It’s hard to believe, at the ripe old age of 30 I made the decision to have both my breasts removed. Whenever I tell my story, particularly to women, they are usually shocked and astonished that I made this decision voluntarily. I frequently hear words like “devastating” associated with their reactions, but for me there was nothing devastating about it.

I believed then and still believe today that I was saving my life. I didn’t think twice when I made the decision. The kicker? I didn’t have breast cancer.
I began having problems with my breasts after difficulties breastfeeding my second child. I became engorged, which was an excruciatingly painful experience that lead to severe fibrocystic breast disease. Engorgement occurs when the mammary glands produce excessive milk at a rapid rate. The breasts become inflamed, feverish, and hard as a rock. I suffered with this for several days and after things finally settled down, my breasts looked and felt like I had filled them with small rocks.

Laurel receives her Bachelor's degree in 2011

After three years of not wanting to look at myself in the mirror, but more important, living with constant pain, I brought the subject up with my doctor. I was only 29 at the time, which is considered too early for a mammogram, but after my doctor felt my lumpy disfigured breasts she recommended I get the test to make sure something serious wasn’t lurking beneath.  Squeezing a bag of rocks in a mammogram machine doesn’t work so well. Not only did I want to cause bodily harm to the technician but it became apparent that an accurate picture was not going to be possible.

After the failed mammogram, an ultrasound was performed which showed several masses of various sizes and undeterminable content. I was told my best option was to have a few biopsies done with the hope that the results would be indicative of all of my “mystery” masses. Even as this suggestion was presented to me I could tell the doctors were feeling the same doubt I had about the accuracy of random biopsies. I responded with, “why don’t we just remove everything?” They told me it would be nearly impossible to go in and remove every mass they found. I would probably have nothing left. So I clarified my suggestion – I wanted them to remove my breasts entirely.

At first, my suggestion was met with silent, blank stares. Then suddenly a barrage of comments and opinions were thrown at me including reminders of my young age, mastectomy is for cancer patients only, I would be scarred for life, blah blah blah.  Not to negate the educated and experienced advice of medical professionals, but I had some key” intel” that I had not shared with them.

I waited until they were done with their tirade and then informed them that my family history was saturated with cancer. I explained that my maternal grandmother had four sisters and all five of them died of some sort of cancer. Coincidentally, my mother also came from a family of five girls who were all still alive but already two of them had fought cancer (my mother was diagnosed with advanced stage cervical cancer ten years later).
My grandmother had cancer for as long as I knew her. She died when I was nine and I only remember her being ill.  My childhood instilled such a grandiose fear of the big “C” in me that as a young adult, I obsessed about it constantly. Although every ache and pain brought that dreaded word to mind, I never acted on it. Until now. I decided to eliminate my problem breasts before they had the chance to eliminate me.

After numerous arguments and lengthy discussions with my doctors, my family, and my insurance company, I finally convinced everyone that the best option for me would be to remove my breasts. I agreed with the doctors that it was only necessary to remove only the subcutaneous tissue (under the skin) and keep everything else.

The procedure took several hours and the recovery was brutal. After the surgery, when I was awake and alert enough to comprehend my surgeon’s words, he told me he had removed an extreme amount of fibrocystic tissue from my breasts and even quite a bit that had wrapped all the way around my back. Several biopsies showed that this tissue was full of pre-cancerous tissue. I can still hear him telling me that without the surgery, my chances of getting life-threatening breast cancer were 99%.

I had my double mastectomies when I was 30 years old. I have had three reconstructive surgeries over the past 18 years and although my breasts look great under clothes, in the flesh they are full of scars, a little uneven, and have some ripples and bumps that aren’t very appealing. This doesn’t bother me (or my husband of 20 years) one bit.
I am fully convinced that had I not made the decision I did, I wouldn’t be here right now and who cares about nice boobs when you’re dead?  I also had a (somewhat) elective hysterectomy seven years later after too many abnormal pap smears. I have no regrets about the aggressive, preventative decisions I’ve made regarding my health. The peace of mind I now have is well worth the pain, time, and money involved with having surgery.

I have shared my story with my three children now that they are older. Not that I want any of them to go have their body parts removed, but I want them to know they can make tough decisions about their medical health if and when the time comes. I also encourage them to get sufficient preventive care and cancer screenings earlier than the recommended ages. Like me, I want them to know their bodies, their family history, and their rights as a patient.
Whenever I am questioned by my children or anyone else for that matter, I always say it is much easier to prevent cancer than fight it.

Men•o•pause muffin-top

We wonder if Aunt Flo looks something like this.

It’s that time in our life we have to bid farewell to Aunt Flo. She has flown south for the winter and will no longer be visiting.  Boo-hoo, we loved that crazy fool. Yes, a little high maintenance with a lot of baggage, but we did break bread together once a month which meant a decent good-bye was in order. Instead, she blew out of town without a whisper. Damn if she didn’t take my egg supply with her; she’s been robbing me of those since my late 30s.

I always promised myself that when the time came to, well, to kiss Aunt Flo good-bye, I would be prepared. I’ve had 50 years to read up for God’s sake! I wanted to be educated before the night sweats and hot flashes arrived. I wanted to know what the hell was going to happen and what the hell I could do to avoid it.  So, I read and read and found out that one year after the disappearing period I would officially be in menopause. Ugh and duh. To my dismay, I also learned that my HORMONES would go down the drain as well. Two special girls, estrogen and testosterone would simply peter out.

Once “m” arrives, there are decisions to make, HRT, bio-identicals, fans, or cold presses. Just know – if you do nothing at all you may have to experience a little suffering. Don’t be frightened by the following abbreviated symptom list as menopause can make you super sensitive and crabby (which can make you look old). Here goes: brain fog, osteoporosis risk, weight gain, hot flashes, depression, unexplained hunger, unexplained meanness, dry skin, thin skin, breast cancer risk, hair loss, and loss of libido. You may also find yourself arguing and punishing those you love from time to time, and you will be hungrier than you were pre-menopause. And you thought Aunt Flo was a crazy bitch!

There is one symptom that trumps them all though, I saved it for last. It’s the “menopausal muffin-top”. OMG, we’ve heard about it and now some of us may have it.

It’s hard to believe such a thing exists, so, I ran a test to see whether I had it or not. I looked down at my hips and grabbed the fat on each side, and there it was, I found my muffin-top. Unlike some of the other gals who show this thing off, please don’t do it. You can tuck it inside your skirt or pants or cover it with extra long, tight granny panties. Muffin-tops are rude, bloated, disgusting inner-tube type masses – so make sure you place yours out of site. No one wants to see it. This is real estate you must hide from everyone, including your BF or husband or they may also end up going south for the winter.

How do you get rid of it or prevent it or just live life harmoniously while menopausing? You will need to do the same research I did and study the hell up. Seriously! Although my personal recommendation is bio-identical hormones, you may like the Premarin® kind (although, take note of the word “mare” — female horse hormones included, yuk). Regardless of your choice, you won’t regret getting off your menopausal butt and start doing something!
Happy hormoning!

Awesome reading:  Stay Young & Sexy with Bio-Identical Hormone Replacement: The Science Explained, and/or Ageless: The Naked Truth About Bioidentical Hormones