Should yearly vision exams be in your diabetes routine?

Carbohydrate counting, staying active, and checking your blood glucose levels may remind you of the typical diabetes care routine. However, other aspects of diabetes care must not be forgotten. Foot care, dental care, and high cholesterol are just a few other check-ups that are important to diabetes care.

Those with diabetes are at high risk for foot ulcers due to decreased blood flow to the feet caused by diabetes-related nerve damage. Also, those with diabetes are at greater risk vision, eye exam, eye healththan those without diabetes for gum infections. Furthermore, those with diabetes have been shown to have greater blood vessel damage when they have high cholesterol than those without diabetes.

Diabetes and Eye Health

Another important part of diabetes care is regular vision check-ups. This is because those with diabetes are at higher risk for conditions such as glaucoma, cataracts, and retinopathy than those without diabetes.  Diabetes-related nerve damage that occurs as a result of uncontrolled blood glucose levels can greatly impact vision health. According to the National Eye Institute, all forms of diabetic eye disease can lead to severe vision loss and blindness.  However, it is diabetic retinopathy that is the most common cause of vision loss among those with diabetes.

What is Diabetic Retinopathy?

The retina is a light-sensitive tissue that lines the back of the eye. The retina detects light and sends a signals through the optic nerve to the brain. Next, the brain converts this electrical signal to an image.  Uncontrolled diabetes damages vessels of the optic nerve, therefore worsening vision.

When someone has diabetic retinopathy, vessels in the retina swell and leak fluid into the retina. In turn, this fluid distorts vision.  Furthermore, in advanced stages of the disease, scarring of the retina can occur, which can eventually pull the retina away from the underlying tissue, which in turn could lead to blindness.

Diabetes and eye exams

A 2017 study in the New England Journal of Medicine observed the vision health of 1400 people with Type 1 diabetes, or insulin-dependent diabetes, over 30 years.  Biannual retinal photographs and general diabetes health reviews were used to assess vision health. From this study, it was determined that in place of yearly vision exams those with a Hemoglobin A1C, or average blood glucose level over three months of:

  • six-percent or less, without signs of diabetic retinopathy, would be safe getting a vision exam once every four years
  • six-percent or less with mild retinopathy should have vision exams ar least once every three years
  • eight to ten-percent should be screened more often than yearly for their vision health

In addition to getting regular exams, everyone, no matter their diabetes status should take steps to maintain vision health.  Consuming  vitamin A-rich foods such as brightly-colored veggies like carrots, peppers, and leafy greens is one way to support retinal health. Furthermore, leafy greens, as well as pistachios, contain the eye-healthy antioxidants lutein and zeaxanthin that can lower your risk of eye disease. Finally, taking supplements with these eye-healthy nutrients can help you maintain your vision health.

Vita SciencesOcutain contains both lutein as well as beta-carotene, which support eye health. Also, be sure to visit Vita Sciences for other supplements such as Glucarex, which can support healthy blood glucose levels.

Also, be sure to visit the American Optometric Association website for further research and information on ways you can maintain vision health.

-written by Staci Gulbin, MS, MEd, RD, LDN

Sources:

American Optometric Association (accessed April 21, 2017) “Lutein & Zeaxanthin.” https://www.aoa.org/patients-and-public/caring-for-your-vision/diet-and-nutrition/lutein?sso=y

Dreher, M.L. (April 2012) “Pistachio nuts: composition and potential health benefits.” Nutrition Reviews, 70(4):234-40.

Mayo Clinic (December 18, 2014) “Diabetes care: 10 ways to avoid diabetes complications” http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/diabetes/in-depth/diabetes-management/art-20045803

Medline Health News (April 19, 2017) “Is Annual Eye Exam a Must for People With Type 1 Diabetes?” https://medlineplus.gov/news/fullstory_164719.html

National Eye Institute (September 2015) “Facts About Diabetic Eye Disease” https://nei.nih.gov/health/diabetic/retinopathy

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Could Unemployment Increase Stroke Risk?

In unstable financial times, losing a job can be a very stressful time in one’s life.  Anxiety and depression could develop as a result of such a big life event. In turn, a person’s health may start to worsen after losing a job if they do not have effective measures in place to help manage their stress.  Emotional eating, loss of sleep, and engaging in unhealthy habits such as drinking and smoking may develop as a result of stress. In fact, a study from Japan has recently found that those who are unemployed have a greater risk of stroke than those who are employed.

unemployment, health, stroke, heart disease

Unemployment and Stroke Risk Study

A recent study of about 42,000 men found that those men who were unemployed had a 60-percent higher risk of stroke than those who were steadily employed. In addition, those unemployed men who suffered a stroke were about 120-percent more likely to die from it than those employed men who had a stroke. For women, those who were unemployed had a 50-percent greater chance of having a stroke. Of those women who had a stroke, those who were unemployed had a 150-percent greater chance of death.

It is suggested that these alarming rates of stroke and stroke-related death in the unemployed may be due to unhealthy habits such as drinking, smoking, being inactive, and having a poor diet.  In addition, it is suggested that even once re-employed, individuals may feel afraid that they will lose their job again, and therefore may be afraid to take leave when they are sick.  In turn, this could affect their long-term physical health.

Although this study is based on the Japanese culture, it may not be completely applicable to Americans, so further studies must be done. However, studies like the Behavioral Risk Factors Surveillance System reported by the Centers for Disease Control suggest risk of depression is significantly increased for those Americans out of work.

How Can I Lower My Risk For Stroke?

Staying heart healthy involves a holisitic approach of eating balanced meals, staying active, and managing stress. Follow the tips below to help you keep your heart healthy for many years to come.

  • Consume minimally processed foods.  There are many foods that have to go through some processing to create such as yogurt or cottage cheese.  However, these types of products are only minimally processed. When trying to eat heart healthy, just be sure to limit highly processed foods such as neon-colored salty snacks, canned foods, pre-packaged meals, and deli meats like hot dogs or luncheon meat.  Just keep in mind that if it is an unnatural color, or has a confusing list of ingredients, then it is likely to be a highly processed product.
  • Consume plenty of fiber-rich foods. Fruits, veggies, whole grains like brown rice, quinoa, and oats, as well as nuts and seeds are all great natural sources of fiber.  Fiber is important for helping stabilize blood glucose levels, slow down digestion to help with absorption of nutrients from foods, and to bulk stool to help with elimination of wastes from the body. Furthermore, fiber is also great for helping you to stay more satisfied after meals, so it can help with weight management.
  • Stay active.  Staying active each day for at least 30 minutes can be a great way to blow off some steam and keep your heart healthy.  This doesn’t mean you have to go to boot camp classes or run a marathon. Simple moderate activity such as walking, riding a bike, or swimming can help keep your heart  healthy.  Exercise not only works to strengthen your heart, but can also act as an outlet for stress.
  • Get plenty of sleep. When you are feeling stressed, it can be hard to sleep. However, lack of sleep can actually make you more prone to anxiety and depression. This is because your body uses sleeping time to regulate hormones, fluids, and blood glucose levels in the body.  If you have trouble sleeping, try natural essential oils such as lavender or frankincense to help relax your mind. Other sleeping aids may include:
    • Relaxation breathing
    • Listening to relaxing music
    • Eliminating screen time before bed
    • Avoiding fluid consumption 2 hours before bed to avoid interrupted sleep
    • Supplements like Somnova from Vitasciences.

Somnova includes natural ingredients like melatonin and magnesium that work together to help produce restful sleep. Melatonin is also natural, so it is unlikely to have any interactions with other medicines you may be taking. However, be sure to check with your medical provider before starting any supplement regimen.

  • Develop healthy stress management techniques.  Find 15 minutes a day to engage in an activity that you enjoy. Reading a book,  taking a relaxing bath, or going to an acupuncturist or massage therapist, are some ways to relax. Also, visiting a counselor may help you better deal with stress and anxiety. Consistent self-care is essential to overall health and well-being. You can also try supplements like TheraCALM from Vitasciences to help with stress relief and restful sleep.

Visit Vitasciences for all of your supplement needs to help enhance your healthy lifestyle. Also, be sure to visit the National Stroke Association for more information on stroke facts, prevention, and research.

written by Staci Gulbin, MS, MEd, RD, LDN

Sources:

American Heart Association (August 2015) “The American Heart Association’s Diet and Lifestyle Recommendations” http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/HealthyLiving/HealthyEating/Nutrition/The-American-Heart-Associations-Diet-and-Lifestyle-Recommendations_UCM_305855_Article.jsp#.WPUehMuQx9A

Centers for Disease Control (March 19, 2015). “Unemployment and Depression Among Emerging Adults in 12 States, Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System, 2010” https://www.cdc.gov/pcd/issues/2015/14_0451.htm

Medline Plus (2017 April 13). “Another Downside to Unemployment: Stroke Risk?” https://medlineplus.gov/news/fullstory_164623.html

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Can Exercise Prevent Stroke Complications?

stroke, heart disease, health

Knowing these signs and symptoms of stroke can help save a life; perhaps even your own.

I’m sure you have heard many times before how exercising is great for keeping your heart strong. Therefore, it may come as no surprise that exercise has been found to prevent complications after someone has a stroke.

 

What is a stroke?

A stroke is essentially a brain attack of which there are two major types.

A hemorrhagic stroke occurs when a weakened blood vessel bursts.  An ischemic stroke is caused by restricted blood flow to the brain as a result of a vessel being blocked.

According to the National Stroke Association, these brain attacks are the fifth leading cause of death in America and one of the leading causes of adult disabilities in the country.  Unlike what was previously though, it is estimated that 80-percent of strokes can be prevented by such controllable lifestyle factors as:

  • Eating a healthy diet. To consume a heart and brain healthy diet, you can:
    • Limit saturated fats in the diet such as those from fatty meats, whole fat dairy products, and fried foods.
    • Limit sodium in the diet to 2300 milligrams a day.  You can limit sodium by reducing the amount of processed food products you consume each day.  Try to  limit intake of high sodium foods such as canned soups, chips, deli meats, and adding salt to your food.
    • Limit added sugars at meal and snack time.  Try to stick to foods that contain less than 15 grams of sugar per serving and limit intake of sugary drinks such as juice, cola, milkshakes, and dessert coffee drinks.
  • Stay active. Exercise at least 30 minutes a day for 5 days a week. This doesn’t mean you have to attend boot camp classes. Just walking at a brisk pace is enough to keep your heart strong.
  • Limit alcohol intake. For healthy living, you should consume no more than 1 standard drink a day for women and no more than 2 standard drinks a day for men. Alcohol has been associated with increased blood pressure, which can increase risk of stroke. One standard drink is equal to 12 ounces beer, 5 ounces wine, or 1.5 ounces liquor.
  • Quit smoking or don’t start. Smoking constricts the blood vessels, therefore restricting blood flow to the organs and tissues.
  • Visit your doctor regularly. You and your healthcare provider should work to control any chronic conditions such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, or diabetes since these conditions can increase your risk of having a stroke.

Exercise and stroke

In the journal Neurology, researchers followed individuals with no history of stroke for 12 years.  Over 7-percent of those individuals suffered a stroke and survived during the course of the study.  It was found that three years after this major health event, survivors who had exercised regularly before their stroke were 18 percent more likely to be able to perform basic tasks such as bathing themselves. Furthermore, those individuals who were more fit were 16 percent more likely to be able to perform more complex tasks, such as managing money on their own, compared to those who did not exercise.

Surprisingly, a person’s body mass index, or estimate of fat mass, was not a predicting factor in their level of disability after having a stroke. Therefore, it is suggested that doctors should stress the importance of leading an active lifestyle for not only prevention of the condition, but also to improve chances of survival if a stroke occurs.

Another way to help prevent stroke is to take a heart healthy supplement such as Circova by Vita SciencesCircova contains a powerful blend of Hawthorne extract which has been found to assist in the dilation of blood vessels, in turn increasing blood flow to the heart.

Visit the National Stroke Association website for more information on how you can prevent stroke.

-Staci Gulbin, MS, MEd, RD, LDN

Sources:

National Stroke Association (accessed 2017 April 10) “What is Stroke?” http://www.stroke.org/understand-stroke/what-stroke

Preidt, R. (2017 April 5) “Fitness, Not Fat, Is Key to Post-Stroke Recovery” https://medlineplus.gov/news/fullstory_164476.html

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Can Exercise Improve Brain Health?

Staying active is well-known for helping to maintain heart health.  However, did you know that regular exercise may also benefit brain health?  A recent study has found that exercising 2.5 hours a week, or 30 minutes a day for 5 days a week, may help slow progression of Parkinson’s disease.walking, exercise, Parkinson's, brain health

Parkinson’s disease is a chronic and progressive movement disorder that may worsen over time. Therefore, medication and surgery have currently been used to treat and manage the symptoms of the condition.  This condition involves the progressive death of brain cells, which leads to a decrease in dopamine levels in the blood. Lower dopamine levels result in a lessened ability to move.  Therefore, since those with Parkinson’s disease lose dopamine over time, they may subsequently experience tremors, stiffness, and trouble with walking.

Exercise and Parkinson’s Disease 

A recent study in the Journal of Parkinson’s Disease looked at the effects of exercise on the progression of Parkinson’s disease. After observing 3400 patients for over two years, those people with Parkinson’s disease who maintained exercise 150 minutes per week had a smaller decline in quality of life and mobility as compared to those who exercised less. The type of exercise that was of most benefit was not apparent. However, it is suggested that finding a type of exercise an individual enjoys will help them to maintain a regular exercise regimen and in turn will benefit them. Furthermore, by empowering those with Parkinson’s disease to engage in more exercise they enjoy, it may improve overall quality of life for these individuals.

Joint Pain and Quality of Life

Even if you do not have Parkinson’s disease, you may experience joint pain that limits your movement.  Limited movement may in turn reduce quality of life by:

  • affecting heart health
  • making an individual more dependent on others for daily activities
  • reducing the amount of serotonin”feel good” hormone produced

Therefore, it is important to find effective treatments for joint pain that will help make movement more comfortable.  When movement is more comfortable, you will be more likely to engage in more activity, and in turn will gain the most health benefits. Also, the American Psychological Association has reported that regular exercise may help reduce panic in those with anxiety and improve mood in those with depression. Furthermore, regular exercise has been found to normalize sleep patterns, which in turn can make it easier for the body and mind to handle stress.

Some effective treatments for joint pain include:

  • CDC Self-management programs
  • Acupuncture
  • Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications
  • Water-based exercises such as swimming
  • Supplements such as glucosamine or Flexova

Furthermore, Flexova contains a blend of B vitamins, vitamin C, vitamin A, as well as glucosamine sulfate and chondroitin sulfate that helps to reduce joint pain and improve joint mobility.  Therefore, for more information on Flexova and other high quality supplements that can help improve your quality of life, visit Vita Sciences.

-written by Staci Gulbin, MS, MEd, RD, LDN

Sources :

Arthritis Foundation (accessed 2017 April 2) “25 Treatments for Hip and Arthritis Pain” http://www.arthritis.org/living-with-arthritis/pain-management/tips/25-treatments-for-hip-knee-oa.php

Centers for Disease Control (2017 March 7) “Living with Severe Joint Pain” https://www.cdc.gov/features/arthritis-quality-life/

Parkinson’s Disease Foundation (accessed 2017 April 2) “What is Parkinson’s Disease?” http://www.pdf.org/about_pd

Preidt, R. (2017 March 29) “Exercising 2.5 Hours a Week May Slow Parkinson’s Progress” https://medlineplus.gov/news/fullstory_164357.html

Weir, K. (2011 December) “The Exercise Effect” American Psychological Association. http://www.apa.org/monitor/2011/12/exercise.aspx

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Could Healthy Fats Ease Chronic Pain?

You may have heard about healthy fats and their ability to help lower cholesterol.  However, did you know that healthy fats may also help to relieve chronic pain associated with obesity?

What are healthy fats?

There are two main types of fats.  Saturated fats are considered unhealthy fats since they have been found to increase risk of cholesterol plaques in blood vessels.  In turn, these plaques can increase risk of heart disease and stroke.  Fatty meats, fried foods, cream, butter, and some baked goods all contain unhealthy fats.

Unsaturated fats are considered healthy fats since consuming them in place of saturated fats have been found to lower risk of heart disease.  Plant-based foods such as nuts,mediterranean diet, chronic pain, obesity, unsaturated fat seeds, olive oil, olives, and avocado as well as fatty fish like salmon, lake trout, and sardines contain unsaturated fats.  The Mediterranean diet contains nearly half of all calories consumed coming from such healthy fats. The Mediterranean diet involves not only consumption of healthy fats, but also eating:

  • more plant-based foods such as fruits and vegetables
  • replacing animal-based fats such as from red meats and butter with plant-based oils such as olive or canola oil
  • consuming seafood and poultry at least twice a week
  • Using herbs and spices to flavor foods instead of salt

How Do Healthy Fats Help with Pain?

Elevated levels of inflammation have been linked to both body fat and chronic pain.  high levels of inflammation are suspected in those with obesity and chronic pain.  A 2017 study in the journal Pain revealed that those obese adults that consumed a diet full of fish, fruits, vegetables, nuts and beans had significant health benefits such as reduced chronic pain.  This reduction in pain is thought to be a result of the anti-inflammatory properties of such healthy fat-containing foods.

However, further studies will need to be done to determine if the inflammatory markers for this kind of pain is similar in adults of a healthy weight.  It is unclear whether losing weight would further reduce pain in obese individuals. In the mean time, a diet full of healthy fats and plant-based foods can still be a great addition to any heart-healthy regimen.

Another way to relieve pain is to take a high quality supplement like Relocane by Vita Sciences. Relocane contains a powerful blend of ingredients such as turmeric, Holy Basil, Cetyl Myristoleate and MSM.  Such ingredients can modulate a healthy immune inflammatory response in the body.  In turn, minor aches, pains, and muscle cramps have found to have relief with Relocane.

For more information on the latest research and education on pain-related conditions, visit the US Pain Foundation or the International Pain Foundation. iPain Foundation

-written by Staci Gulbin, MS, MEd, RD, LDN

Sources:

Chiu, S., et al. (2017 Feb 6) “Effects of a Very High Saturated Fat Diet on LDL Particles in Adults with Atherogenic Dyslipidemia: A Randomized Controlled Trial.” PLoS One, 12(2):e0170664.

Hooper, L., et al. (2016 April) “Reduced or Modified Dietary Fat for Preventing Cardiovascular Disease.” Sao Paulo Medical Journal, 134(2): 182-3.

Hooper, L., et al. (2015 June 10). “Reduction in Saturated Fat Intake for Cardiovascular Disease.” The Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, (6):CD011737.

Mayo Clinic (2016 May 3) “Mediterranean Diet: A Heart-Healthy Eating Plan.” http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/nutrition-and-healthy-eating/in-depth/mediterranean-diet/art-20047801

Medline Plus (2017 March 10) “Mediterranean Diet May Ease Chronic Pain of Obesity” https://medlineplus.gov/news/fullstory_164033.html

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Are you losing sleep because of daylight savings?

With the recent daylight savings time changes, it can be distressing to hear that you are going to lose an hour of sleep.  Especially if you are already feeling like you do not get enough sleep every night.  According to the National Sleep Foundation, the average adult should get between 7 and 9 hours sleep a night for optimal health.  Most American adults get about 7.5 hours a night according to the most recent Sleep Index Survey.

With the addition of daylight savings time, losing an hour of sleep may put many in the unhealthy range for sleep hours per night. This can have a major impact on well-being since sleep affects many parts of our body. According to the National Institutes of Health, sleep can affect such things as:

  • memory
  • ability to learn
  • mood
  • healing and repair of heart and blood vessels
  • hormone balance
  • immune system response

Therefore, without adequate sleep, a person can be at higher risk for anxiety and depression, high blood pressure, and increased blood glucose levels.

Manage your sleep, manage your health

The National Sleep Foundation recommends that in order to ensure proper sleep each night, to stick to a sleeping schedule.  Without a scheduled bed time each night, you may be at risk for staying up late.  In addition, without a set bed time, you may end up engaging in mindless activities such as playing on the computer or watching television, which could affect your ability to wind down and have restful sleep.

Furthermore, limiting alcohol and caffeine intake can help improve sleep quality. Therefore, try to limit consuming caffeine-containing foods and drinks such as coffee, tea, and chocolate in the later half of your day to prevent over-stimulation.  On a similar note, limit alcohol consumption to improve sleep quality and quantity. Although, you may fall asleep faster after a glass of wine, alcohol actually reduces rapid eye movement (also known as REM). REM sleep is a deep state of sleep, so without it, you may feel tired upon waking.  Therefore, after drinking alcohol, you may fall asleep fast and then wake up earlier and unrested.

Natural supplements such as melatonin, such as that found in Vita Science’s Somnova may also help sleep.  Somnova contains a powerful blend of melatonin, L-Theanine, and magnesium, which work together to promote healthy sleep.  Melatonin is a hormone that helps to maintain a health Circadian rhythm in the body.  Visit Vita Sciences website to check out some other supplements that can help you live a healthier, fuller life.

Also, be sure to visit the National Sleep Foundation website for more tips, research, and Homeinformation about how you can improve your sleep.

-written by Staci Gulbin, MS, MEd, RD, LDN

Sources:

National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (Feb 22, 2012). “Why Is Sleep Important?” https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/health-topics/topics/sdd/why

National Sleep Foundation (accessed 2017 March 20). “How Much Sleep Do We Really Need?” https://sleepfoundation.org/how-sleep-works/how-much-sleep-do-we-really-need

National Sleep Foundation (accessed 2017 March 20). ” How Alcohol Affects the Quality- and Quantity- of Sleep” https://sleepfoundation.org/sleep-topics/how-alcohol-affects-sleep

University of Maryland Medical Center (Feb 3, 2016). “Melatonin” http://umm.edu/health/medical/altmed/supplement/melatonin.

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Three ways you can control your hypertension today

Are you one of the 85 million Americans with high blood pressure? If so, it is important to know what you can do to control your blood pressure and prevent heart disease.  In many cases, there are not any obvious symptoms of high blood pressure.  Therefore, it is important to keep track of your numbers and visit your doctor regularly to control your blood pressure.

If you want to control your blood pressure today, follow these three steps to get started on your heart healthy journey.

1.) Lower your sodium intake.  A recent study of the U.S. National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey looked at salt intake and high blood pressure, also known as hypertension.  Between 1999 and 2012, the sodium intake of those with hypertension rose nearly 14-percent from 2900 to 3350 milligrams daily.  The recommended sodium intake for those with hypertension is 1500 milligrams a day, while those without hypertension should limit intake to 2300 milligrams daily.  It is important to note that that 2300 milligrams of sodium is equal to just one teaspoon of salt.  Furthermore, reports show that three-fourths of the sodium most people consume daily is not from added salt.  Instead, most excess sodium intake is from consuming processed food products. Therefore, it is important to limit prepackaged foods such as:

  • chips
  • crackers
  • canned soups
  • boxed meals
  • deli meats, sausages, and hot dogs
  • take-out food

These convenience foods contain high levels of sodium-based preservatives that make them shelf stable. Therefore, stick to consuming mostly fresh, whole foods such as lean meats, fiber-rich fruits and veggies, and whole grains to maintain healthy levels of daily sodium.

2.) Stay active every day. According to the American Heart Association, at least 40 minutes of exercise each day, 3-4 days a week can help control blood pressure. A recent study in the journal Hypertension looked at the link between exercise and risk of high blood pressure in African Americans.  High blood pressure risk was nearly one-fourth lower in those who exercised at least 150 minutes a week versus non-exercisers. However, it is important to note that the exercise found to be most beneficial was done in bouts of at least ten minutes.

3.) Take your medicine and supplements daily.

Be sure to take any prescribed medicines as suggested by your healthcare provider.  This is because for some people, diet and exercise may not be enough to maintain blood pressure at a healthy level.  In addition, there are some supplements that may be able to help support healthy blood pressure levels. One of these supplements is Presura by Vita SciencesPresura contains niacin, which is found to dilate blood vessels, improve blood flow, and in turn lower blood pressure levels. Therefore, visit Vita Sciences to find supplements that can help support your heart healthy lifestyle today.

For more information on how to control your blood pressure, visit the American Heart Association website or Medline Plus for the latest research findings.

-Staci Gulbin, MS, MEd, RD, LDN

Sources:

American Heart Association (2017 March 10) “The Facts about High Blood Pressure” https://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/Conditions/HighBloodPressure/GettheFactsAboutHighBloodPressure/The-Facts-About-High-Blood-Pressure_UCM_002050_Article.jsp

American Heart Association (2016 December 13) “Five Simple Steps to Control Your Blood Pressure” https://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/Conditions/HighBloodPressure/GettheFactsAboutHighBloodPressure/Five-Simple-Steps-to-Control-Your-Blood-Pressure_UCM_301806_Article.jsp

Medline Plus (2017 March 8) “Americans with High Blood Pressure Still Eating Too Much Salt.” https://medlineplus.gov/news/fullstory_163977.html

U.S. News World Report (2017 January 30) “Exercise May Help Black Americans Lower Blood Pressure Risk” http://health.usnews.com/health-care/articles/2017-01-30/exercise-may-help-black-americans-lower-blood-pressure-risk

 

 

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Could vitamin D protect against bone loss?

Are you one of the 44 million Americans with low one density?  If so, and if you are over the age of 50, you could be one of the 10 million Americans with osteoporosis. Osteoporosis is a dangerous condition in which your bones become fragile and at risk for fractures.  In older individuals, osteoporosis can lead to hip fractures that can limit mobility, or even spine fractures that could be debilitating.  Older women at are most risk for osteoporosis, but this condition can occur to both men and women at any age.

osteoporosis, vitamin D, bone health

Osteoporosis can weaken bone strength over time increasing risk of hip, wrist, and spinal fractures.

If you want to prevent osteoporosis, there are a few controllable factors that you can take charge of to lower your risk.

  • Quit smoking or don’t start if you don’t smoke.
  • Limit drinking alcohol.
  • Eat a diet rich in calcium and vitamin D

A recent study by researchers from Harvard-affiliated Hebrew Senior Life found that older adults who consumed calcium-rich foods such as yogurt, milk, or cheese had higher bone mineral density in the spine and less bone loss in the hip.  However, this risk was only reduced significantly along with consumption of vitamin D supplementation. It is suspected that this finding is due to vitamin D’s important function of assisting with calcium absorption.  Without vitamin D, our body cannot adequately absorb all of the calcium goodness from the foods that we eat. In turn, our bones cannot receive the strengthening elements of calcium needed to preserve bone and prevent bone loss.

If you are not sure if you are vitamin D deficient, be sure to check with your healthcare provider.  Furthermore, if you are vitamin D deficient, it will be important to start on a vitamin D supplementation regimen.  However, check with your healthcare provider to find a regimen that will be best for you. Other ways to increase vitamin D include consuming foods rich in the vitamin such as:

  • fish oils
  • fatty fish
  • mushrooms
  • beef liver
  • cheese
  • egg yolks
  • fortified milk

Also, by increasing your sunlight exposure you can naturally increase your daily intake of vitamin D.   However, the amount of sunlight exposure needed to provide the most benefit will differ for everyone.   This is because the time of day, where you live, and skin pigmentation can all affect the amount of vitamin D your skin makes.

Furthermore, pair your healthy bone regimen with a supplement like Osteovent from Vita Sciences. Osteovent is power-packed with bone healthy vitamins such as vitamin D, calcium, magnesium, vitamin K, and boron that are recommended by the Open Orthopaedics Journal.

Visit the National Osteoporosis Foundation website for all of the great work they are doing to help increase awareness of osteoporosis and improve bone health efforts.

Staci Gulbin, MS, MEd, RD, LDN

Sources:

National Institutes of Health (2017 March 1). “Older Bones Benefit from Dairy Plus Vitamin D” https://medlineplus.gov/news/fullstory_163861.html

National Institutes of Health Osteoporosis and Related Bone Diseases National Resource Center (2014 Nov). “What is Osteoporosis? Fast Facts: An Easy to Read Series of Publications for the Public” https://www.niams.nih.gov/health_info/bone/osteoporosis/osteoporosis_ff.asp

Calcium/Vitamin D

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Could lowering your blood pressure save your life?

Could you be the one in five people who has high blood pressure without knowing it?  You may ask what symptoms you should look out for to know if you have high blood pressure, or hypertension. However, the scariest thing about hypertension is that it usually has no symptoms.  Furthermore, a recent study found that more intensive lowering of systolic blood pressure could save over 100,000 early deaths each year.hypertension, blood pressure, heart health

When looking at blood pressure numbers, the bottom number represents systolic pressure, while the top number represents diastolic pressure.  Systolic pressure shows how much pressure your heart is exerting during heartbeats.  On the other hand, the diastolic pressure shows how much pressure your heart is exerting between heartbeats.

Knowing Your Numbers

It is important to keep track of your blood pressure numbers to know if you are at risk for hypertension. According to the American Heart Association, a healthy blood pressure number is 120/80 mmHg. However, once this number starts to rise, a person climbs into the pre-hypertension range.  Furthermore, when your number moves up to around 140/90 mmHg and above, you become hypertensive.  It is at this point when you should see your healthcare provider for advice on any medications or lifestyle changes you can make to help improve your numbers.

Lowering Systolic Pressure Could Save Lives

A study by researchers at Loyola University Chicago looked at the effects of intensive systolic pressure lowering treatment on hypertensive adults over the age of 50 years.  Each person in the study received at least two hypertensive medicines.  Patients were observed over several years. It was found that when blood pressure was lowered to less than 120/80 versus less than 140/90, there was a 27-percent reduction in mortality from all causes.  In other words, for every 300 people given this intensive treatment over one year, one life would be saved.  When considering that around 18 million people would qualify for this treatment, it could save around 107,500 lives each year.

Therefore, check your blood pressure at least once a year.  Check your numbers more often if you have a family history of hypertension or other risk factors such as obesity or being a smoker.   If you are pre-hypertensive and are not currently on a heart healthy regimen or medication treatment, see your healthcare provider for assistance.  Simple changes to your lifestyle such as reducing sodium intake and walking for 30 minutes a day can improve your numbers.

In addition, natural treatments may also help to support lower blood pressure numbers. Presura from Vitasciences contains natural ingredients such as Hawthorn Berry, Niacin, and Garlic Extract that work together to decrease pressure against the walls of blood vessels. Visit Vitasciences today to get more information on Presura and how it can be a great addition to your  heart healthy lifestyle.

-Staci Gulbin, MS, MEd, RD, LDN

Sources:

American Heart Association (2016 Oct)  “Understanding Blood Pressure Readings” http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/Conditions/HighBloodPressure/GettheFactsAboutHighBloodPressure/Understanding-Blood-Pressure-Readings_UCM_301764_Article.jsp#.WLPQvoWcHIU

American Heart Association (2016 Oct) “Why High Blood Pressure is a ‘Silent Killer'” http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/Conditions/HighBloodPressure/UnderstandSymptomsRisks/Why-High-Blood-Pressure-is-a-Silent-Killer_UCM_002053_Article.jsp#.WLPRO4WcHIU

Loyola University Health System (2017 Feb 23) “Intensive lowering of systolic blood pressure could prevent 107,500 early deaths per year.” https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/02/170223092400.htm

Mayo Clinic (2016 Sept 9) “High Blood Pressure (Hypertension): Risk Factors” http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/high-blood-pressure/basics/risk-factors/con-20019580

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Could Breakfast Improve Your Heart Health?

Are you one of the 30-percent of the American adults that skips breakfast? Time and time again you may have heard that breakfast is the most important meal of the day.  A recent study has found that breakfast may improve heart health by reducing risk of heart disease.

Breakfast and Heart Disease Risk

According to the American Heart Association, eating more in the morning and less at night may reduce the odds for a heart attack, stroke, or other cardiac and blood vessel diseases. This is because those who skip breakfast tend to snack more throughout the day. Furthermore, such snack options may not be the healthiest choices. When people eat breakfast, they have been found less likely to have high cholesterol and high blood pressure. In addition, breakfast eaters tend to have less risk factors for heart disease such as obesity, diabetes, and overall poor nutrition.

It is thought that meal timing may be the primary reason for this correlation between breakfast eating and lower heart disease risk.  It is thought that humans do not process sugars as well in the night time hours as in the morning. Therefore, a person that eats breakfast will most likely in turn eat a sensibly-sized dinner. This sensible dinner, as opposed to snacking or overeating, will contain less sugar than the latter.  Therefore, breakfast eaters will likely have less chance of elevated blood glucose levels and excessive caloric intake that could lead to obesity and related conditions such as heart disease and diabetes.  However, there is a chance that some individuals that add breakfast could actually gain weight. This is likely related to the food choices and portion sizes that are being made during each meal time.

What is a healthy breakfast?

A healthy breakfast, or any healthy meal for that matter, should consist of a good balance of protein and fiber. Protein from lean meats, dairy products, eggs, or plant-based protein such as nuts, seeds, or beans would be balanced along with a fiber-rich serving of whole grains, fruits, or veggies. In addition, limiting salt intake, red meat, as well as high-sugar foods can also reduce risk of heart disease.

What else can I do to improve heart health?

Other lifestyle changes that can be made to improve heart health include:

  • planning and prepping meals ahead of time so you do not rely on convenience foods
  • having grab-and-go healthy snacks available if you have a busy schedule; examples include smoothies, portable fruit like apples, oranges, or bananas, or healthy non-perishable protein-rich foods such as nuts, seeds, and low-sodium turkey jerky
  • stopping “kitchen hours” at a certain time to prevent overeating at night and mindless snacking

Finally, you can also add a heart-healthy supplement to your daily regimen such as Alestra. Alestra is a plant-based supplement containing Gugulipid, niacin, garlic bulb herb powder, cayenne, and phytosterol concentrate.  It works to support healthy cholesterol levels and support heart health. Visit the Vitasciences website for more information on Alestra, or one of their other heart-healthy supplement products.

Be sure to visit the American Heart Association website at Heart.org for more information on the latest research and other helpful information on ways you can improve your heart health.

-written by Staci Gulbin, MS, MEd, RD, LDN

Sources:

Rapaport, Lisa (2017 Jan 31) “Skipping breakfast may be bad for your health, doctors say” Reuters, http://www.reuters.com/article/us-health-cardiovascular-meal-timing-idUSKBN15F2GW

St.-Onge, M-P, et al. (2017 Jan 30) “Meal Timing and Frequency: Implications for Cardiovascular Disease Prevention: A Scientific Statement from the American Heart Association.” Circulation, Volume 135: Issue 7.

 

 

 

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