Category Archives: yoga

Can One Day of Exercise Protect Your Heart for Days?

heart, heart health, exercise, cardiovascular, workout

If you have ever tried to lose weight, you have likely been told to move more and exercise.  This statement may sound pretty generic, however it is true.  Although the Health and Human Services suggests working out at moderate intensity for 150 minutes a week, a recent report has found that even just one high-quality session of pre-conditioning the heart could keep your heart healthy all week long.

What is moderate exercise?

According to the Mayo Clinic, moderate exercise is an intensity in which you can carry a conversation, but cannot sing. For example, if your breathing quickens, but you are not quite out of breath, then you are engaging in moderate exercise.  Examples of moderate exercise may include:

  • walking briskly
  • gardening
  • ballroom dancing
  • water aerobics
  • biking slower than 10 miles per hour

Exercise and Heart Health Research

Animal studies have shown that one session of exercise can protect the heart for the rest of the week. This is based on infarct size, or size of an area of necrosis in an organ caused by obstruction of blood circulation.  The pre-conditioning exercise studied has been shown to reduce infract size, in turn reducing risk of heart disease.  This pre-conditioning involves training the heart during periods of ischemia, or reduced blood flow. In turn, the training is expected to reduce infarct size during periods of occlusion, or vessel blockage.

These types of studies have not yet been done in humans. However, researchers feel that there is great promise for this type of therapy to be done with patients in the days before a scheduled heart surgery or procedure. It is thought that such “cardio protection” could help lower risk of complications or death and improve overall health outcomes.

Other Heart Healthy Things You Can Do Each Week

Besides exercise, there are plenty of things you can do each week to help improve your heart health.

  • Eat more fruits and vegetables: The fiber and nutrients found in fruits and vegetables has been shown to help lower risk of heart disease. Some examples of these nutrients include folate, magnesium, potassium, as well as vitamins A, C, and K. Also, non-starchy vegetables, or those vegetables other than corn, peas, and potatoes, are low in calories. Therefore, such foods can be eaten in great volumes to fill you up without putting you over your suggested calorie intake for the day.
  • Eat less processed foods: Boxed goods, frozen or prepackaged convenience meals, and canned soups are just some examples of processed foods that can hurt your heart. The reason you should limit such foods is because they can often be high in sodium, fat, and sugars that are used to make these products last longer in your pantry or refrigerator.  High sodium foods in particular can contribute to high blood pressure, which is a risk factor for heart disease.
  • Manage stress: Stress can also contribute to high blood pressure.  In addition, when you are stressed, you may eat more sweets and other comfort foods more often. Over time, this emotional eating can lead to weight gain. In turn, weight gain can increase your risk of high blood pressure, diabetes, and heart disease. You should find ways to manage stress such as:
    • talking to a friend or counselor
    • taking a yoga or meditation class
    • performing relaxation breathing
    • listening to music
    • using essential oils
    • engaging in some sort of “me time” every day. “Me time” involves some time each day in which you engage in an activity you enjoy that gives you time to yourself to breathe.
  • Take heart-healthy supplements: Besides a multivitamin each day, you may want to consider a heart healthy supplement such as Circova if you are at risk for heart disease. Circova is a supplement by Vita Sciences that contains Hawthorne extract as well as  antioxidants such as flavonoids and catechins that have been shown to improve blood flow and blood pressure.
  • Visit your doctor regularly: Be sure to visit your healthcare provider on a regular basis to get your blood pressure checked and to assess your heart disease risk. For most people, once a year is sufficient. However, if you have high blood pressure or a history of heart disease or diabetes, then you may want to visit more often such as every 6 months.

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

Sources:

American Heart Association (March 2014) “Moderate to Vigorous: What is Your Level of Intensity?”

American Heart Association (May 15, 2015) “Can antioxidants in fruits and vegetables protect you and your heart?”

Lou N. (November 30, 2017) “One Workout May Protect Heart from Ischemia for Hours or Days.” Medpage Today 

Mayo Clinic (May 19, 2017) “Exercise Intensity: How to Measure It”

Mayo Clinic (July 25, 2015) “Myocardial Ischemia”

Merriam-Webster Dictionary (accessed December 11, 2017) “Infarct”


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    Is Calories In, Calories Out the Key to Losing Weight?

    weight loss, apple, nutrition, orange, calorieIf you have ever tried to lose weight, then you probably have been told to track your calories. Most calorie trackers focus on keeping track of the calories you consume through food.  On the other hand, fitness trackers or workout machines may track how many calories you burn during the day. However, is there more to the story of weight loss, or is calories in and calories out the only key to success?  A recent report by health experts reveal that there may be more than simple math in the weight loss equation.

    What are is a calorie?

    A calorie is a unit of energy that is found in food and beverages. The four major macronutrients that consist of calories include:

    • protein at 4 calories per gram
    • carbohydrate at around 4 calories per gram
    • fat at 7 calories per gram
    • alcohol at 9 calories per gram

    Whatever calories you consume that are not used as energy are stored in the body as fat. In simple terms, you may lose fat stores if you consume less calories than you burn.  Calories can be burned by physical activity, but calorie expenditure may also increase in those who are growing, injured, or ill.  This is because your body will need more energy to support such processes that involve cell reproduction and other related processes.

    Are some calories healthier than others?

    Not all calories are created equal. The recent report reveals a growing trend of people focusing solely on the number of calories in and calories out, rather than the quality of calories consumed. Although this may lead to a calorie deficit, and in turn weight loss, it is not necessarily healthy.

    For example, a piece of candy and an apple may both contain 100 calories. However, the candy mostly contains empty calories because they contain little to no nutritional value. The calories in the candy are mainly from simple carbohydrates like sugar as well as fat.  However, in the apple, those same calories contain many nutrients such as fiber, vitamin C, and potassium. Therefore, the calories from the apple will provide your body with more health benefits than the candy.

    Weighing in on the “Calories In, Calories Out” equation

    The latest diet craze known as CICO (Calories In, Calories Out), may lead to vitamin and nutrient deficiencies according to experts. If you are not looking at the nutrient quality of the calories you consume, then you may increase your risk of heart disease, osteoporosis, anemia, to name a few. In addition, if you restrict yourself of too many calories, then you may develop fatigue and malnutrition, which does your body more harm than good. Contact a registered dietitian to help you determine how many calories you need to support your lifestyle, while still helping you to lose any excess weight.

    How to Work on Weight Loss

    There is no one size fits all plan to help everyone lose weight. However, there are several things you can do today to get on the right track towards healthy weight loss and maintenance.

    • Watch your portion sizes at meals and snacks. A simple way to determine how much food you need to eat at each meal involves your protein and fiber needs. Most adults should consume at least 25 grams of fiber a day through whole grains, fruits, and vegetables. Your protein needs, in grams, can be determined by dividing your weight in pounds by 2.75.  Once you determine your fiber and protein needs, use a nutrition tracker to ensure you meet these needs with mostly whole foods, or foods that are minimally processed.  Also, chew your food more per bite, slow your pace of eating to 20-25 minutes per meal, and be mindful of the food choices you make by looking at nutrition labels before you make food purchases.
    • Stay active most days of the week.  Balance out each week with cardiovascular and resistance exercises. Cardio exercises include walking, jogging, swimming, or biking. These exercises work to increase calorie burn. Resistance exercises, on the other hand, such as lifting weights, doing push-ups, or using resistance bands, help to maintain lean muscle mass. Maintaining your muscle mass as you lose weight helps you to maintain calorie-burning power, also known as metabolism.
    • Get plenty of sleep.  Weight loss may be more difficult for those who do not sleep well.  This is because lack of sleep can disrupt the hormones that control hunger and appetite. Try to get at least 6-8 hours of sleep each night. If you have trouble sleeping due to visiting the bathroom regularly, stop drinking fluids at least 2 hours before bedtime.  If pain is keeping you up, visit your doctor to get support.  If you are not sure what is causing your restless sleep, you may have sleep apnea. You can ask your doctor about getting a sleep study done to determine the cause of your sleepless nights.
    • Visit your doctor if diet and exercise are not leading to weight loss. If calories in and calories out are leading to weight plateaus or gains, then there may be an underlying health issue. Research has shown that some people who have a family history of obesity may have a harder time losing weight than those that don’t. This could be due to:
      • genetic factors.
      • increased risk of conditions like hypothyroidism or insulin resistance.
      • environmental factors such as growing up without knowledge of healthy eating behaviors.
    • Fill in your nutrient gaps with vitamins and supplements. At the very least, take a multivitamin such as Zestia by VitaSciences. Zestia contains a blend of Super Food extracts, probiotics, and digestive enzymes helps to support optimal health. If you live in a climate with little sunlight, you may also need to add a vitamin D3 supplement to your daily routine.  Low vitamin D levels can affect many aspects of health such as bone and immune health, to name a few.

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

    Sources:

    Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (November 16, 2016) “Finding a Balance” 

    Harvard Health Publishing: Harvard Medical School (May 2014) “Eating fiber-rich foods helps keep the heart healthy”

    Harvard Health Publishing: Harvard Medical School (updated April 11, 2017) “Why People Become Overweight” 

    Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health (accessed November 27, 2017) “Protein”

    Medline Health News (November 22, 2017) “It’s the Latest Diet Craze, But Is It Safe?”

    Medline Plus (accessed November 28, 2017) “Vitamin D” 

     

     


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    Can Yoga Soothe Back Pain?

    Yoga may bring images of flexible lean figures bending their bodies in all different directions. Therefore, yoga may not come to mind when it comes to a solution for back pain.  yogaHowever, research shows that yoga can soothe back pain as well as physical therapy.

    According to the National Institutes of Health, yoga is a mind and body practice that involves physical postures, breathing techniques, as well as methods of meditation and relaxation.  Yoga is good for improving muscle tone and strength, improving respiration, and reducing weight, among other things.

    A recent study at Boston Medical Center looked at 320 patients that had persistent back pain for 12 weeks. The patients were assigned to either 12 weekly yoga classes, 15 physical therapy sessions, or  a book on how to manage back pain.  Nearly one-half of those who took yoga classes had “clinically meaningful” improvement. Also, 37-percent of physical therapy patients and 23-percent of book group patients, respectively felt similar improvement. The difference between the yoga and physical therapy results was not considered significant.

    The lead researcher noted that both the yoga and physical therapy patients had pain relief for 12 months. However, he also suggests that not all forms of yoga are appropriate for those with back pain. The gentle yoga used in the study offered chairs and props. Therefore the study yoga was easy on the joints versus other types of yoga.

    Yoga, however, is not effective for everyone with pain issues.  Acupuncture, massage, or natural supplements such as Vita Science’s Relocane can also help relieve pain.  Relocane contains natural ingredients such as turmeric and ginger that can decrease inflammation and help relieve minor aches, pains, and muscle cramps.  Use this supplement by Vita Sciences as part of your daily health regimen to feel your best. However, be sure to talk to your healthcare provider before starting any new supplement or exercise program.

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

    Sources:

    American Osteopathic Association (accessed June 26. 2017) “The Benefits of Yoga” http://www.osteopathic.org/osteopathic-health/about-your-health/health-conditions-library/general-health/Pages/yoga.aspx

    Medline Plus (June 19, 2017) “Yoga Soothes Back Pain” https://medlineplus.gov/news/fullstory_166742.html

    National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (August 26, 2016) “Yoga” https://nccih.nih.gov/health/yoga


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