Category Archives: heart health

Could Heartburn Meds Lessen Life Years?

It may be like second nature popping a heartburn medicine at the first sign of acid reflux. However, what may seem like a habit could be shaving years off of your life. A recent study has found that long-term use of heartburn medications could lessen life years.

Gastroesophageal reflux, or acid reflux, occurs when your stomach contents come back through your esophagus. Furthermore, heartburn occurs when acid from your stomach lining comes back through the esophagus. GERD, or gastroesophageal reflux, is when acid acid reflux, heartburn, GERDreflux occurs for twice a week for more than a few weeks. Uncontrolled GERD can lead to respiratory problems or conditions such as esophagitis, which is an inflammation of the esophagus.

A recent study in the British Medical Journal Open looked at the medical records of thousands of people who use proton pump inhibitors (PPI). PPI’s include such medications like Nexium, Prilosec, or Prevacid.  The study found that those who used the drugs for more than a year had a 51-percent increased risk of premature death as compared to those who did not take them.  Short-term use of 90 days or less did not reveal any health risk.

PPI’s work by blocking the system that produces stomach acid. In turn, long term use of such medicines can increase risk of kidney disease, heart disease, pneumonia, bone fractures and dementia. This is not to say that such medicines are not useful. PPI’s can aid people with acid reflux. However, use of this medicine should be supervised by a healthcare professional. In addition, use of such medicines should not be used longer than truly needed for treatment of acid reflux.

Here are some ways you can naturally lessen your risk of getting heartburn:

  • Eating smaller meals throughout the day versus larger meals. A lot of pressure can be placed on the stomach when eating a lot of food at one sitting. This can cause food particles to be pushed back up through the esophagus.  This can throw acid from the stomach into your esophagus, thus causing heartburn. Therefore, eat more frequent, smaller meals throughout the day to allow time for your body to fully digest your food, and to prevent any stomach acid from causing discomfort.
  • Wear looser clothes. Wearing tight fitting clothes can place pressure on your digestive system, which can increase risk of acid reflux.  Therefore, if last year’s jeans are feeling a bit snug, stop by the store to invest in a looser pair.
  • Exercise more often.  Staying active can help improve digestion and can also lead to better weight management, which both can assist in preventing acid reflux.  Therefore, find ways to get your steps in everyday. Walking, water aerobics, biking, or gardening are just a few ways to stay active. Every movement is one step closer to improved health.
  • Start taking a probiotic such as Biovia 30 by Vita Sciences. Biovia 30 contains a blend of probiotic strains that help to support improved digestive health. This particular probiotic helps to build good bacteria and rid of bad bacteria that may be wreaking havoc on your digestive system.

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

Sources:

Medline Health News (July 3, 2017) “Can Your Heartburn Meds Shorten Your Life?” https://medlineplus.gov/news/fullstory_167005.html

National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (November 2014) “Symptoms and Causes of GER & GERD”

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Are healthy fats as effective as statins in lowering cholesterol?

High cholesterol is a common risk factor for heart disease. Over 31 million Americans have high cholesterol. The common treatment for this condition has been medicines known as statins. However, a recent study by the American Heart Association has found that eating foods containing cholesterol, statin, healthy fatshealthy fats may work to lower cholesterol as well as statins.

You may think if you lower cholesterol in your diet, then you can lower blood cholesterol. However, it is saturated fat intake that has an impact on your cholesterol levels. There are two main types of cholesterol: High-density lipoproteins (HDL) and Low-density lipoproteins (LDL). The HDL, or “good” cholesterol, carries LDL, the “bad” cholesterol away from the heart to the liver to be broken down and used by the body for energy.  Also, LDL  can build up in the arteries causing plaques. This in turn can increase risk of high blood pressure, heart disease, and stroke.

Statins work to lower cholesterol by preventing cholesterol from forming in the liver. Therefore, this reduces the amount of cholesterol that circulates in the blood.  Furthermore, statins also work to increase HDL cholesterol in the blood. Recent studies have shown that consuming healthy fats in the diet can provide these same benefits.

The American Heart Association has found that replacing saturated fats with healthier plant-based fats in the diet can be just as effective in lowering cholesterol as statin drugs. These healthy fats, or unsaturated fats,  help improve cholesterol.  Fatty fish like salmon or trout, nuts, seeds, avocado, olives, and olive oil contain such healthy fats.  In particular, clinical trials have found that replacing saturated fats in the diet with healthier polyunsaturated fats can reduce cholesterol by 30-percent.  It is important to note that this reduction is similar to the effect of statins on cholesterol levels.

Therefore, in order to lower cholesterol, swap out saturated fat foods such as fried foods, fatty meats, and processed food products with healthier fat options.  This small swap can make a world of difference in your heart health.

In addition to diet changes, you can add in a supplement such as Vita Sciences’ AlestraAlestra contains heart-healthy compounds such as niacin, plant sterols, and garlic. These compounds have been found to support healthy cholesterol levels and promote heart health. However, be sure to ask your healthcare provider before adding any new supplements to your routine.

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

Sources:

American Heart Association (April 2017) “HDL (Good), LDL (Bad) Cholesterol and Triglycerides,” “The Skinny on Fats” &”Cholesterol Medications” http://www.heart.org

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (March 17, 2015) “High Cholesterol Facts” https://www.cdc.gov/cholesterol/facts.htm

Medline Plus (June 15, 2017) “Healthy Dietary fats Help Beat High Cholesterol” https://medlineplus.gov/news/fullstory_166625.html

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Top Three Tips for Keeping your Heart Young

Heart disease risk increases as you age. Vessels can become more narrow and damaged, while the heart can become thickened and weak. However, a recent study has found that with a little hard work, keeping a young heart into your golden years is possible.

The American Heart Association states that “Life’s Simple 7” rules can help decrease heart heart, cardiovascular, vessel, cholesterol, diabetesdisease risk.  These rules include:

  • Keeping blood pressure normal
  • Maintaining low cholesterol levels
  • Keeping blood glucose levels down
  • Staying active
  • Eating healthy
  • Losing weight
  • Stopping smoking (or never starting if you don’t smoke)

A recent review of the Framingham Study found that those individuals who met six out of seven of “Life’s Simple 7” were ten times more likely to maintain healthy blood vessels into old age than those who met none of the goals. Also, out of the 3200 adults aged 50 years and older reviewed, those who maintained the healthiest vessels did the following three things:

  • maintained a healthy weight
  • did not develop diabetes
  • kept cholesterol levels within healthy levels

Furthermore, those individuals who had healthy blood vessels had more than a 50-percent lower risk of getting heart disease or stroke.  Subjects were thought to have healthy blood vessels if they had normal blood pressure and supple blood vessels as measured by pulse-wave velocity.

Nearly 20-percent of those who had healthy blood vessels were in the younger end of the group, while only 1-percent were 70 years of age or older. Therefore, it is easy to see that maintaining healthy blood vessels into older age is not easy, but not impossible.

Follow these tips to help keep young and healthy blood vessels for life:

  • Eat a low sodium and high fiber diet.  Consume mostly fresh or frozen fruits and vegetables for more fiber. In addition, reduce intake of processed foods such as deli meats, boxed goods, packaged snacks, and canned soups. Also, limit fried foods, whole fat dairy products, and fatty meats in your diet. Instead, replace such unhealthy fats with healthier fats such as plant-based oils, avocado, fatty fish such as salmon, nuts, and seeds.
  • Stay active for most days of the week. It is thought that moderate exercise for 30 minutes, 5 days a week can lower risk of getting heart disease or having a stroke. Moderate exercise does not mean boot camp or running. However, simply walking, dancing, gardening, or riding a bike can count as moderate exercise.
  • Take supplements such as Alestra by Vita Sciences. Alestra contains niacin, plant sterols, & garlic that has been found to support healthy cholesterol levels. Also, niacin and plant sterols are vegan-friendly for those who are following a plant-based diet.

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

Sources:

American Heart Association (February 2014) “American Heart Association Recommendations for Physical Activity in Adults” http://www.heart.org

Mayo Clinic (July 29, 2014) “Heart Disease: Risk Factors” http://www.mayoclinic.org

MedlinePlus (May 30, 2017) “Can a 70-Year-Old Have the Arteries of a 20-Year-Old?” https://medlineplus.gov/news/fullstory_166076.html

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Can Water Help You Lose Weight?

Do you get your eight cups of water a day? I’m sure you have heard this question from your health care provider, nutritionist, and even in health articles online.  Water is vital to life, but you may not know exactly why.  There are many benefits to water such as:

  • regulating the temperature in your body
  • lubricating joints
  • protecting the tissues in your body
  • flushing out toxins and waste from your body

Your recommended daily intake of water depends on various factors such as weight, activity level, health status, and the climate in which you live.  On average, the recommended daily fluid intake is half of your body weight in ounces. For example, if you water, hydration, healthweigh 150 pounds, then you are suggested to drink 75 ounces, or about 9 and a half cups of fluid a day. Tea, coffee, juice, fluid from fruits and veggies, as well as broths also count towards fluid intake. However, caffeinated drinks such as coffee and cola also act as diuretics since caffeine is a stimulant; therefore these types of fluids can actually dehydrate you if consumed in excess.

Those who live in hot climates, have a fever, or have lost fluids due to diarrhea, vomiting, or other illnesses may require above the daily suggested fluid intake. However, those who have kidney disease or conditions like lymphedema may be told by their healthcare provider to restrict their fluid intake.

Water Intake and Weight Loss

When you are trying to lose weight, you may have been told to drink more water to feel fuller so you will eat less. Also, you may have heard that drinking more water will help reduce bloating.  Although these two suggestions may be effective, research shows that there are other reasons water intake may benefit weight loss.

In the journal Nutrients, researchers observed 16,000 subjects from Spain over 8.5 years.  Over the course of the study, 900 of these subjects became obese. Those who switched a glass of beer for a glass of water each day reduced their risk for obesity by 20-percent. Furthermore, doing the same for sugar-sweetened beverages reduced the risk of becoming obese by 15-percent. Replacing other beverages with water such as whole milk, reduced-fat milk, skim milk, wine, spirits, diet sodas, coffee, orange juice, and other juices did not reduce obesity risk. The study cannot confirm a direct cause and effect link of water intake and reduced risk of obesity.

However, regardless of the study results, it is always good to reduce drinking your calories. When you reduce consumption of calorie-laden beverages, you will reduce daily sugar intake, in turn leaving more daily calories to use for consuming foods that will provide more nutritional benefit. By reducing daily sugar intake, you will be able to also better control blood glucose levels in your body.

Other ways you can control blood glucose levels is through:

  • eating healthy carbohydrates such as fruits, vegetables, and whole grains throughout the day
  • limiting consumption of processed food products that are high in sugar and fat
  • reducing intake of sugar-sweetened foods such as candy, baked goods, and ice cream
  • taking supplements such as Glucarex by Vita Sciences. Glucarex contains vanadium and bitter melon which have both been shown to support healthy blood glucose levels.

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

Sources:

Centers for Disease Control (accessed May 20, 2017) “Water & Nutrition” https://www.cdc.gov/healthywater/drinking/nutrition/

Preidt, R. (May 18, 2017) “Drink Water, Fight Fat?” https://medlineplus.gov/news/fullstory_165714.html

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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 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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Healthy Blood Pressure Begins With These Three Compounds

It may be difficult to understand what it means to get heart healthy.  Heart healthy living can consist of eating plenty of fruits and veggies, limiting red meat, exercising most days of the week, and quitting smoking.  However, even after making some lifestyle changes, losing weight, or reducing stress, your blood pressure may still need some help in getting into a normal, healthy range.  Here are three natural compounds that may help you to lower blood pressure and increase heart health today.

  1. Niacin, otherwise known as B3, helps the body produce certain sex and stress hormones and works to improve circulation.  In addition, niacin can reduce risk of heart disease by suppressing inflammation.  Niacin can reduce risk of heart disease by lowering LDL, or “bad” cholesterol, and blood triglyceride levels.  In turn, reduce hypertensiojn, blood pressure, heartrisk of heart attacks and death by taking niacin with cholesterol-lowering medicine. Beets, beef liver, tuna, salmon, sunflower seeds, and peanuts all contain niacin.  When taken as a supplement, however, keep intake levels below the upper limit of 50 milligrams. Otherwise, dangerous side effects such as liver damage and stomach ulcers may occur.  However, niacin is a water-soluble vitamin excreted in the urine daily. Therefore, a person is unlikely to overdose on niacin.
  2. Hawthorn is a berry plant that has been used for thousands of years to treat heart disease.  The leaves and flowers can improve circulation, lower blood pressure, and improve heart failure treatment outcomes.   Furthermore, the antioxidant flavonoids present in the parts of the Hawthorn plant aid in dilating blood vessels and protecting blood vessels from damage.
  3. Garlic is an edible bulb plant used as an aromatic flavoring to many dishes.  In addition, Native Americans, Egyptians, and Greeks, to name a few, used garlic for health purposes for many years. For example, the 2016 AGE at Heart trial found that aged garlic extract is effective in reducing peripheral and central blood pressure in patients with uncontrolled hypertension.

After reading this list, you may wonder how to get all of these compounds in your daily regimen. Vitasciences has fit all of these heart-healthy compounds in one high quality supplement, Presura.

Visit the American Heart Association website to see if you may be at risk for high blood pressure. Furthermore, if you are at risk for hypertension, ask your healthcare provider to see Presura,  along with a heart healthy lifestyle, could help you.

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

Sources:

National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (2016 Sept.) “Garlic” https://nccih.nih.gov/health/garlic/ataglance.htm

PubMed Health (2012) “Garlic for Hypertension” https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/PMH0048277/

Ried, K, et al. (2016 Jan 27) “The effect of aged garlic extract on blood pressure and other cardiovascular risk factors in uncontrolled hypertensives: the AGE at Heart trial.” Integrated Blood Pressure Control, 9: 9-21.

University of Maryland Medical Center (2015 Aug 6) “Vitamin B3 ( Niacin)” http://umm.edu/health/medical/altmed/supplement/vitamin-b3-niacin

University of Maryland Medical Center (2015 Jan 2) “Hawthorn” http://umm.edu/health/medical/altmed/herb/hawthorn

 

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