Category Archives: Uncategorized

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 Knee Crackles and Pops lead to Arthritis?

When you walk up the stairs does it sound like popcorn popping? Do you feel swelling in those joints after extended movement or climbing up and down stairs? Snapping, cracking, or popping sounds in your knees may be an early sign of arthritis.

Arthritis is an informal way of referring to joint pain or disease. Common symptoms of the knee, arthritis, paincondition include:

  • pain
  • swelling
  • stiffness
  • decreased range of motion

Symptoms of such joint pain may come and go, but if untreated may worsen over time. Severe arthritis may cause permanent joint damage, chronic pain, and may make mobility painful and difficult. Therefore, it is important to treat joint pain as soon as you discover symptoms, no matter how mild they may seem.

A recent study in the journal Arthritis Care & Research looked at 3500 adults ranging in age from 45 to 79 years old and at risk for joint disease. The study found that those middle to older aged adults who heard cracking in their knees often were likely to develop arthritis in the next year.  For example, those that reported hearing their knee crackle “sometimes” or “often” were nearly twice as likely to develop arthritis in the next year as those who reported “never” (8% vs. 4.5%). Furthermore, those who reported hearing their knees crackle “always” were nearly three times more likely to develop the condition in the next year as compared to those who reported “never” (11% vs. 4.5%).

How to Treat Joint Pain

Be sure to visit your healthcare provider if you experience joint pain.  Not only can they provide medications that may help to relieve pain, but they may also be able to take x-rays and blood tests that could check to see if you may have arthritis.

Other ways you can treat joint pain include:

  • Gentle stretching exercises
  • Warm shower
  • Ice packs in the sore area
  • Resting the sore joint

Maintaining a healthy weight by staying active and eating healthy can also reduce joint pain. A joint-healthy diet contains plenty of calcium-rich foods such as milk, yogurt, and other low-fat dairy products as well as leafy green veggies like spinach and kale. Other vitamins and nutrients may also help with the prevention and treatment of joint pain such as the following:

  • Omega-3 fatty acids such as those found in fatty fish, plant-based oils, olives, nuts, and seeds have been found to reduce inflammation in those people who experience joint pain.
  • Glucosamine, a supplement made from the shells of crustaceans such as lobster, crab and shrimp, has been found to decrease joint pain and stiffness.
  • Capsaicin, such as that found in some analgesics, has been found to help rub out mild joint pain.
  • Osteovent by Vita Sciences contains a combination of joint-healthy supplements such as vitamin D, calcium, magnesium, vitamin K, and boron that have been shown to promote strong bones.

You can also visit the Arthritis Foundation website for more information on joint pain research, treatment, and prevention. arthritis, joint pain

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

Sources:

Arthritis Foundation (accessed May 14, 2017) “What is Arthritis?”  & “51 Ways to Be Good to Your Joints” http://www.arthritis.org/

Medline Plus (May 5, 2017) “Do Your Knees Crackle and Pop?” https://medlineplus.gov/news/fullstory_165268.html

NIAMS (July 2014) “Living with Arthritis: Health Information Basics for You and Your Family” https://www.niams.nih.gov/Health_Info/Arthritis/default.asp#d

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Can Meditation Help Those With Anxiety Focus?

Even after thousands of years since its development, meditation is still used as a way to develop the mind and evolve spiritually.  However, even though the term “meditation” may provoke thoughts of religious context, the exercise itself simply involves a specific, comfortable posture, a focus of attention, and an open attitude. Specifically, this may involve repetition of affirmations, relaxation breathing, and clearing your mind of extraneous thought.  According to the National Institutes of Health, meditation holds significant health benefits.  In particular, research has shown the exercise tomeditation anxiety focus mental health benefit those with anxiety, depression, insomnia, and even irritable bowel syndrome. Furthermore, in those with anxiety, meditation helps diffuse worries by improving focus on the present-day.

A recent study in the journal Consciousness and Cognition looked at a group of 82 people with anxiety. Subjects were asked to perform a computer task and were interrupted frequently to test their focus.  Next, subjects were divided into a meditation group and an audio story group.  Results show that those who meditated had greater focus in the second half of the study then those who listened to the audio story.

Therefore, it is safe to say that meditation exercises show promise for helping those with anxiety.  Researchers of the study state that mind wandering account for nearly half of a person’s consciousness. Furthermore, when those with anxiety wander off into repetitive off-focus thought, they may have trouble learning, completing tasks, or functioning safely. However, the National Institutes of Health want to remind you that meditation should not replace primary conventional care of health conditions.

What Are Other Ways to Help Reduce Anxiety?

Besides meditation, there are various ways you can help reduce anxiety:

  • Visit your healthcare provider for counseling or medication treatment
  • Exercise on a regular basis for at least 30 minutes a day; low impact exercises such as walking will do the job.
  • Schedule “me-time” every day engaging in an activity yo love to do such as reading, painting, watching a movie, or cooking; do something that relaxes your mind.
  • Delegate tasks on your to-do list; get others to help with some tasks or schedule some things for another day.
  • Stay connected with a support system through family, friends, coworkers, or community and religious organizations.
  • Use essential oils such as frankincense and lavender to provide a calming scent when practicing relaxation breathing. You can either place oils in a diffuser, or dab on wrists and neck for a more concentrated scent.
  • Drink herbal teas such as peppermint to calm digestion or chamomile to help soothe the mind and promote sleep.
  • Try a supplement such as Sereneo by Vita Sciences. Sereneo contains natural ingredients such as magnesium, chamomile, and valerian that have been shown to promote a boost in “feel-good” serotonin, relieve anxiety, and calm mind and body.

Also,  visit websites such as the Anxiety and Depression Association of America for more information on anxiety, treatment options, and ways you can support anxiety research.  anxiety depression treatment research

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

Sources:

Dallas, M.E. (May 5, 2017) “Meditation Can Help Improve Focus in People With Anxiety” https://medlineplus.gov/news/fullstory_165274.html

National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (updated March 17, 2017) “Meditation: In Depth” https://nccih.nih.gov/health/meditation/overview.htm

National Institute of Mental Health (accessed May 10, 2017) “5 Things You Should Know About Stress” https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/publications/stress/index.shtml

Puff, Ph.D., R. (July 7, 2013) “An Overview of Meditation: Its Origins and Traditions” https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/meditation-modern-life/201307/overview-meditation-its-origins-and-traditions

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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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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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