Tag Archives: Cardiovascular health

Coffee may reduce diabetes complications

coffee, caffeine, diabetes, heart healthNothing says “Good Morning” like a hot cup of coffee. Coffee can be healthy as a part of your morning routine or a pick-me-up on your way to work.  Moderate coffee intake has been shown to improve cognitive health and depression. Also, a 2014 study showed that those who drank three to five cups of coffee daily had lower heart disease risk. Furthermore, a recent study has shown women who drink coffee to have lower diabetes risk.

Diabetes and Caffeine

A study in Portugal looked at the caffeine intake of patients with diabetes over a period of 11 years.   Women who consumed 1-2 cups of coffee had a 57-percent lower risk of dying over the study period than those who did not consume caffeine. For women who drank more than 2 cups of coffee, the death risk was two-thirds less. Further, women who drank the most tea had over three-fourths less chance of dying from cancer than those who drank none.

It is thought that the phytochemicals and antioxidants in coffee and tea can improve health outcomes. Also, older research shows that coffee and tea can improve the way insulin uses glucose for energy.  It is not known why improved outcomes were seen in women and not men. However, it is thought that hormonal or non-hormonal factors related to heart health may have something to do with it.

How Can I Reduce Diabetes Health Risks?

Besides caffeine, there are many ways you can lower your risk of diabetes-related health risks.

  • Eat a balanced diet: A balanced diabetes-friendly diet contains rich sources of lean proteins and fiber-rich foods.  Also, be sure to limit high-sugar and high-sodium processed foods and drinks to keep blood glucose levels stable. Finally, be sure to eat three meals a day and healthy snacks in between.  You should balance meals and snacks with protein and a source of fiber. This balance helps to lower your chances of having blood sugar highs and lows.
  • Stay active: Walking, biking, swimming, jogging, and dancing are just some ways you can stay active to control diabetes.  Being active at least 30 minutes a day five times a week can help manage weight and improve blood glucose levels.
  • Managing stress: Stress can cause a person to engage in poor eating habits and being inactive. Therefore, using stress management techniques such as relaxation breathing, yoga, and prayer can improve energy levels, sleep, and overall well-being.
  • Quit Smoking:  Smoking can narrow blood vessels. In turn, narrow vessels make it harder for blood to get to the body’s tissues and organs. Therefore, smoking can damage nerves and increase blood pressure. Both of these health factors can increase risk of diabetes health issues.
  • Take diabetes-friendly supplements: The Vitamin D Council reports that vitamin D can improve the way insulin uses energy in the body.  Yet, there are also supplements such as Glucarex that can help improve diabetes outcomes. Chromium, cinnamon, and alpha-lipoic acid can also help improve blood glucose levels.  Glucarex by Vita Sciences contains natural compounds such as these which can help with weight loss, metabolism, and managing blood glucose levels.

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

Sources:

American Heart Association (August 2015) “Living Healthy With Diabetes” 

Ding, M., et al. (2014) “Long-Term Coffee Consumption and Risk of Cardiovascular Disease” Circulation

Medline Plus (September 14, 2017) “Can Coffee or Tea Extend the Survival of Diabetes?”

National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (November 2016) “Diabetes Diet, Eating, and Physical Activity” 

Vitamin D Council (July 2013) “Type II Diabetes”

 

 


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    Poor Heart Health Can Increase Stroke and Dementia Risk

    healthy eating, health, food, healthy fats, fish, fruits, vegetables, avocado, olive oilWhen you hear about brain health, you may think of lowering stress and anxiety. However, having a healthy brain also involves reducing risk of stroke as well as memory conditions like Alzheimer’s and dementia.  A recent report has found that keeping your body healthy is vital to keeping your brain healthy.

    Having a healthy body involves more than just eating healthy and exercising. American Heart Association’s Life’s Simple 7 provides simple guidelines to help you develop a healthy body and healthy brain.

    What are the Life’s Simple 7?

    • Manage blood pressure– A healthy blood pressure is one where the systolic, or top number is 120 or less, and the diastolic, or bottom number, is 80 or less.  The systolic pressure measures the pressure during contraction of your heart, while the diastolic measures the pressure in between heart beats.  You should have your blood pressure checked at least once a year at your annual doctor’s visit.  If you have hypertension, or a blood pressure of 140/90 or higher,  you should see your doctor at least every 6 months to monitor your blood pressure.
    • Control cholesterol– You should keep track of your cholesterol numbers at least once a year to stay healthy. This includes not only total cholesterol, but also your LDL, HDL, and triglycerides.  If you already have high cholesterol or triglycerides, be sure to visit your healthcare provider every 6 months to keep track of your numbers.
    • Keep blood sugar normal– When you visit your health care provider, be sure to take a look at your fasting blood glucose and HgA1C numbers. The fasting blood glucose will give you an idea of your current blood level of glucose. However, your HgA1C will give you a three month average of your blood glucose levels. Your HgA1C provides a long term picture of your blood glucose levels and is a better diagnostic tool. A prediabetes diagnosis would occur at an HgA1C of 5.7 to 6.4.  If your HgA1C is 6.5 or higher, you may have diabetes. Be sure to get your numbers checked every year. Check your numbers more often if you have a family history or diagnosis of diabetes or prediabetes.
    • Get physically active– The Department of Health and Human Services recommends 30 minutes of moderate exercise 5 days a week for optimal health. Moderate exercise can include walking, swimming, gardening, biking, or dancing.  You can split this 30 minutes up into five or ten minutes here and there throughout the day.
    • Eat a healthy diet– A healthy diet contains plenty of protein, healthy fats, and fiber-rich foods. Protein can come from lean meats, low-fat dairy products, and healthy plant-based proteins such as legumes, nuts, and seeds. Fiber-rich foods include fruits, vegetables, and whole grains like oats and quinoa. Also, healthy fats from plant-based oils like olive oil, nuts, seeds, avocado, and fatty fish can improve brain health and improve heart health.
    • Lose extra weight– It is important to maintain a healthy weight to lower risk of chronic conditions. Obesity-related conditions like heart disease and diabetes can increase risk of brain health conditions.  Therefore, losing weight can improve both heart and brain health.
    • Don’t start smoking or quit– Smoking can constrict blood vessels and increase risk of hypertension. Therefore, if you don’t already smoke, don’t start. If you do smoke, contact smokefree.gov for resources on how to quit.

    A recent report by the American Heart Association (AHA) has found that brain health is linked to healthy lifestyle factors.  For example, increased blood pressure, blood glucose levels, and high cholesterol can increase risk of atherosclerosis, or narrowed blood vessels. Narrow blood vessels can restrict blood flow to the tissues and organs.  This can lead to increased risk of stroke. Over time, multiple strokes or mini strokes can lead to cognitive impairment, or vascular dementia.

    The risk factors for stroke as listed in the Life’s Simple 7, are the same for Alzheimer’s disease.  The Life’s Simple 7 are risk factors that can be measured, modified, and monitored.  Therefore, healthcare providers can use the knowledge gained from observing such factors to help better treat their patients.  Scientists hope that such data can also lead to expanding research. They hope they may be able to detect genetic or brain markers that could lower the number of people who get dementia.  Nearly 75 million people are expected to have dementia by the year 2030.  However, this number may be lowered if steps are taken now to provide brain health prevention guidelines. Therefore, take steps to improve your lifestyle today to keep a healthy brain for life.

    Other ways to create a healthy life include taking nutrient-rich supplements such as Livrio by Vita Sciences. Livrio contains natural compounds such as milk thistle that have been shown to support a healthy liver.  This supplement helps cleanse and detoxify your liver, in turn providing you with improved energy, glowing skin, and overall well-being.

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

    Sources:

    American Heart Association (September 7, 2017) “Seven Steps to Keep Your Brain Healthy from Childhood to Old Age” http://newsroom.heart.org/news/seven-steps-to-keep-your-brain-healthy-from-childhood-to-old-age


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    Could common painkillers cause high blood pressure?

    pain, over the counter, medicineWhen you take a medicine over the counter, you likely focus mostly on the  benefits it can provide you.  However, it’s possible to experience some harmful health effects from use of over-the-counter medicines.  A recent study has found that some common painkillers used by those with arthritis may cause high blood pressure.

    What is arthritis?

    Arthritis is the inflammation of the tissue lining the joints. It can cause pain, redness, and swelling as well as joint damage, if not treated.  These symptoms can arise due to the rubbing of bone to bone together when the tissue lining the joints is worn down.The two most common types of arthritis are osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis (RA). Osteoarthritis affects mostly the fingers, knees, and hips, while RA is an autoimmune disorder that affects hands, feet, as well as internal systems. Many people with arthritis find relief with common pain medicines such as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs).

    NSAIDs, help to decrease pain by blocking the production of body chemicals that cause inflammation and swelling. Some side effects of taking NSAIDs can include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, gas, and bloating. However, in some people, long-term use of NSAIDs can also cause high blood pressure.

    High blood pressure occurs when the systolic pressure of the contraction is around 140 or higher and the diastolic pressure, or the pressure in between heart beats, is above 90. A study in the European Heart Journal looked at over 400 patients with arthritis.  Study subjects were given either the prescription pain reliever Celebrex, the NSAIDS naproxen or ibuprofen, or placebo.  With the use of NSAIDs, both systolic and diastolic pressure were increased.

    Other ways to reduce arthritis pain

    • Keep your weight down since extra weight can place unnecessary pressure on your joints. Losing weight through diet and exercise can release some of this pressure and prevent damage to joints that may occur with prolonged pressure.
    • Exercise can reduce joint pain caused by arthritis. Low-impact exercises such as walking and water aerobics can aid in such pain relief.
    • See your doctor regularly. Your healthcare provider can adjust medications or supplements as necessary to help reduce any symptoms you may have.
    • Use pain-reducing supplements such as Flexova by Vita Sciences. Flexova contains powerful ingredients such as glucosamine and chondroitin, which can help support joint flexibility and ease of movement.

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

    Sources:

    Cleveland Clinic (2016) “Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs)” https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/articles/non-steroidal-anti-inflammatory-medicines-nsaids

    Dallas, M.E. (August 30, 2017) “Common Painkillers May Boost Blood Pressure in Arthritis Patients” https://medlineplus.gov/news/fullstory_168117.html

    National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases (April 2017) “Living With Arthritis: Health Information Basics for You and Your Family” https://www.niams.nih.gov/health_info/arthritis/default.asp


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    Could hypertension affect your brain health?

    Do you check your blood pressure often? Do you know what your blood pressure numbers vegetables, nutrition, hypertension, high blood pressure, heart healthare?  If you are a young adult, it is very likely that these questions have not been at the forefront of your mind when it comes to your health. A recent study showed that in 2013-2014, only half of the 6.7 million young adults from 18 to 39 years old were treated for high blood pressure. Meanwhile, only 40-percent got their blood pressure under control.  However, blood pressure control is not only important for heart health, but for brain health as well. Recent studies have linked normal blood pressure levels with improved cognition in older adults.

    What  is blood pressure and what is considered a healthy level?

    The American Heart Association defines high blood pressure, or hypertension, as 140/90.  The top number is the systolic pressure, or pressure at contraction. Furthermore, the bottom number is the diastolic pressure, or pressure in between beats. A normal blood pressure level is 120/80.

    Risks of hypertension

    You may think that hypertension is only related to heart health. However, a high blood pressure can increase risk of stroke, which affects the vessels in the brain. In addition, those with diabetes may have a higher risk of heart attack or stroke. Over time, high blood glucose levels can damage the blood vessels as well as the nerves that control your heart and blood vessels. Therefore, those with diabetes should be extra careful to keep track of their blood pressure numbers to make sure they are in a healthy zone.

    In addition to heart-related conditions, hypertension can affect brain health. A recent study has found that older adults whose systolic blood pressure was above 150 mmHg had higher levels of mental decline than those below 120 mmHg.  This study looked at 1700 adults from 70-79 years old over a 10-year period. These individuals in the study were being treated for hypertension, but initially had no mental decline. Those highest numbers in mental decline were seen in African-American older adults. Such declines were linked to health conditions such as kidney disease, stroke, and heart health.

    How to improve heart health

    Besides medications, there are many ways you can work towards improving your heart health.

    • Limit processed food intake such as packaged and canned foods. Crackers, chips, canned soups, sauces, gravies, deli meats, sausages, and hot dogs, as well as frozen meals are all high in sodium. Stick to fresh foods whenever possible. Also, frozen fruits and veggies without added sauces and sugars are good choices for a heart-healthy diet.
    • Stay active often by engaging in moderate activity most days. Walking, biking, dancing, gardening, or swimming are some moderate activities to try. An activity is moderate if you can hold a conversation, but cannot sing while performing it. Stay active for at least 30 minutes a day, 5 days a week for great heart health benefits.
    • Eat a fiber-rich diet full of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains like oats, quinoa, brown rice, wild rice, and whole grain breads.  Consume at least 2 cups of vegetables a day at meal times. Also, add in some low-glycemic fruits such as apples, oranges, and berries for snacks.
    • Stop smoking if you smoke, and don’t start if you don’t. Smoking constricts the blood vessels, which makes it hard for oxygen to flow to your body’s tissues and organs.  Quitting smoking is not easy, so visit Smokefree.gov on resources to help you quit.
    • Keep track of your heart health numbers. Your cholesterol, triglycerides, blood pressure, and blood glucose are all important numbers to check each year.  Check more often if you have a family history of diabetes or heart disease. Also, check your numbers at least every 6 months if you have a diagnosis of prediabetes, diabetes, or heart disease.
    • Add a heart healthy supplement to your regimen such as Presura by Vita SciencesPresura contains heart-healthy compounds such as Hawthorn Berry, Niacin, and Garlic extract. These compounds have been found to support healthy blood pressure levels.  Be sure to check with your doctor before starting any new supplement regimen.

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

    Sources:

    Medline Plus (August 21, 2017) “Lower Blood Pressure Best for Seniors’ Minds” https://medlineplus.gov/news/fullstory_167931.html

    Medline Plus (August 28, 2017) “Young Adults may be ignoring high blood pressure” https://medlineplus.gov/news/fullstory_168063.html

    National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (February 2017) “Diabetes, Heart Disease, and Stroke” https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/diabetes/overview/preventing-problems/heart-disease-stroke


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    Can Skipping Breakfast Impact Your Health?

    breakfast, egg, vegetable, whole grain, fruit, milkDo you skip breakfast? Does your busy schedule make it hard to eat in the morning? Are you just not hungry in the early hours of the day? You may have heard that breakfast is the most important meal of the day.  Recent research has found that this may be true. Skipping your morning meal can deprive your body of many important nutrients vital to overall health.

    Health benefits linked with eating a morning meal include better focus, more energy, lower risk of heart disease and diabetes, among other things. However, a 2011 study found that it is not just important that you eat breakfast, but what you eat at breakfast.

    What is a healthy breakfast?

    A 2011 study by the Institute of Health and Society in Worcester, UK found that it is lower glycemic and higher protein foods at breakfast that will provide the most health benefits. Therefore, swap out your coffee cake or sugary cereal for more nutrient-dense foods. Recommended morning breakfast protein sources include eggs, legumes, nuts, seeds, fish, and poultry. Also, protein from soy, hemp, and pea protein powders can provide a great non-dairy source of protein.  In addition, cottage cheese and protein-rich Greek yogurt are great morning meal options. It is suggested that 30 grams of protein should be eaten at your morning meal to provide an adequate energy source.

    Along with protein, you should balance out your morning meal with complex carbohydrates for fiber.  Such fiber-rich foods may include high-fiber cereals such as bran or oatmeal. Other fiber-rich carbohydrates may include low-glycemic fruits such as berries, grapes, or citrus fruits.  Also, you could add non-starchy vegetables to your breakfast such as peppers, onions, or leafy green vegetables in your omelette. You could also add spinach leaves, kale, or carrots to your morning smoothie with a scoop of plant-based protein powder and some berries.

    Recent research

    A more recent study in the British Journal of Nutrition has found that those young people who skipped breakfast were more likely to be low in nutrients such as folate, calcium, iron, and iodine. Nearly a third of students who skipped breakfast had low iron intake versus 4-percent who did eat in the morning. Similar findings were found for calcium intake. One-fifth of students who did not eat breakfast had low calcium intake versus 3-percent of those who did eat a morning meal.

    The Centers for Diseases Control have found that students who eat a morning meal have improved performance in school. Students who eat breakfast tend to have better focus, attendance, grades, and memory compared to those who skip.  It is likely that adults would have the same benefits from eating breakfast. However, more studies would need to be done in such age groups to confirm this theory.

    Filling in the Nutrient Gaps

    If you find that you are not getting a morning meal in each day, here are some ways to ensure you are getting all of your nutrients during the day.

    • Have healthy snacks available with you at all times. Fiber-rich nuts and seeds, protein-rich jerky and protein bars, as well as freeze-dried fruit are healthy snacks that do not need refrigeration. Keep these snacks in your car, purse, backpack, or at work to make sure you always have nutritious sources of energy on hand.
    • Carry an emergency protein shake with you on-the-go. Pre-prepared protein shakes and waters can provide portable nutrition.  If you don’t have time to sit down and eat a solid meal in the morning, you can at least sip your meal while sitting in traffic or during your morning class or meeting. There are many non-dairy sources of protein drinks for those who may have a dairy intolerance.
    • Take a multivitamin daily to fill in the nutrition gaps. Ask your doctor to test for such important vitamins as B12, vitamin D, and iron.  If you are low in any of these vitamins, taking supplements may be necessary to get your health up to speed.  In the meantime, it doesn’t hurt to take a multivitamin daily. A great multivitamin choice is Zestia by VitaSciences.  Zestia contains a comprehensive vitamin profile, 45 fruits and vegetables, a superfood complex, and probiotics to help support optimal health.

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

    Sources:

    Centers for Disease Control (May 2014) “Health and Academic Achievement” https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4017414/

    Kamada, I., et al. (2011) “The impact of breakfast in metabolic and digestive health.” Gastroenterology and Hepatology from Bed to Bench, 4(2):76-85.

    Medline Health News (August 17, 2017) “Young Breakfast Skippers Lack Vital Nutrients” https://medlineplus.gov/news/fullstory_167879.html


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    Could You Be at Risk for Diabetes?

    Could you be one of the nearly 30-percent of people with diabetes that are not diagnosed? Symptoms may not always be present if you are at risk for diabetes.  A diabetes, prediabetes, blood glucoserecent report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says that over 100 million people in the United States have diabetes or prediabetes.

    Know Your Number

    Your hemoglobin A1C level, or HgA1C, measures your diabetes risk. You may have never heard about it if it has been in normal range so far.  However, this number is one that can slowly creep up over time, so it is important to track.

    So what does this test mean? Your HgA1C is your average blood glucose level from over the past three months.  A healthy HgA1C level is 5.6% or less, whereas 5.7% to 6.4% means that you have prediabetes.  If you have a HgA1C over 6.5%, you may have diabetes.

    Recent Stats

    A recent report states that nearly one in four people do not know they have diabetes. Just as alarming, over 80-percent of people who have prediabetes do not know that they have it. Untreated prediabetes can lead to diabetes within five years. Also, diabetes can lead to later problems with heart health, vision, and nerve function. Therefore, you should take steps to try and prevent this disease.

    Small Steps for Health

    Losing just 7-percent of your body weight can help lower your risk of diabetes by nearly two-thirds. Other ways to lower your risk include:

    • Staying active at least 30 minutes a day for most days of the week. This does not mean you have to go to boot camp or run. Walking, gardening, swimming, and climbing stairs can be great ways to stay active.
    • Eating a healthy, balanced diet. A balance of lean protein and fiber-rich fruits and vegetables is important for overall health.  On the same note, you should eat mostly whole, fresh foods. Also, you should limit intake of high-sodium, high-sugar processed foods.
    • Visiting your doctor often to make sure your health is on track.  You should visit your doctor at least once a year no matter what your health status.  If you have a condition such as diabetes or heart disease, you should visit the doctor more often.
    • Keeping track of your numbers such as blood glucose, HgA1C, and blood pressure can help prevent or treat chronic disease. These numbers can be checked when you visit your doctor.
    • Taking supplements such as Glucarex by Vita Sciences. Glucarex contains vanadium and cinnamon.  Research shows that these compounds can support healthy blood glucose levels.

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

    Sources:

    American Diabetes Association (November 21, 2016) “Diagnosing Diabetes and Learning About Prediabetes” http://www.diabetes.org/diabetes-basics/diagnosis/?loc=db-slabnav

    CDiabetes (September 5, 2016) “Strategies for Balancing Blood Sugar Levels” http://cdiabetes.com/strategies-for-balancing-blood-sugar-levels/

    Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (May 15, 2015) “2014 National Diabetes Statistics Report” https://www.cdc.gov/diabetes/data/statistics/2014statisticsreport.html

    Medline Plus (July 18, 2017) “More Than 100 Million Americans Have Diabetes or Prediabetes: CDC” https://medlineplus.gov/news/fullstory_167270.html


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    Can Eating Healthy Lengthen Life?

    Many diet programs claim to help you lose weight, prevent chronic disease, and improve your overall well-being. However, could eating a healthy diet lengthen your life? A recent study in the New England Journal of Medicine reveals that healthy eating can extend life.hypertension, heart, blood pressure

    Nutrition affects overall health in many ways. For example, those with diabetes must control intake of sugar. Therefore, natural sugars from fruits, veggies, and dairy products should be eaten versus processed sugars from colas, candy, and other sweets. On the other hand, those with high blood pressure should have a lower sodium diet. You can lower sodium in your diet by eating less processed food products such as deli meats, fast foods, and canned soups.

    Vitamins and minerals from the food you eat help keep your body alive. Calcium and vitamin D keeps bones strong, while vitamin C provides immune protection.  Also, magnesium helps the body to use glucose efficiently, while potassium helps produce energy and nerve impulses.

    A recent study looked at 74,000 people over 12 years, during which 10,000 of them died. The review of the study looked at the dietary habits of the people in the previous 12 years of their life before the study. Those who added more fiber-rich fruits, veggies, and whole grains had a lower risk of death than those whose diets stayed the same.

    The Alternate Healthy Eating Index, Alternate Mediterranean Diet Index, and the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) Diet Index set the score of the diets reviewed. Fruits, veggies, whole grains, healthy fats, and other whole foods got higher scores.  On the other hand, unhealthy processed, fatty and sugary foods got lower scores. A minor 20-percent change in diet helped decrease risk of death by about 8 to 17-percent. You could exchange a serving of red meat with a plant-based bean protein for such a change.

    Other ways to make sure you have a healthy diet include the following:

    • Limit sugary foods like candy, cola, and ice cream. If you have a sweet tooth, find lower-calorie options like fruits, low sugar dairy products, or flavored teas.
    • Cooking foods with dry cooking methods such as steaming, baking, broiling, or grilling. These dry cooking methods reduce the amount of fat added to foods.
    • Fill most of your plate with plant-based foods such as fruit, veggies, legumes, and whole grains. These foods are lower in fat and higher in fiber than most meat and dairy-based foods.
    • Add in a multivitamin like Zestia from Vita Sciences to fill your nutrition gap. If you are feeling tired, low on energy, or feel like your diet is lacking, a multivitamin can make sure your body gets the nutrition it needs to be its best. Zestia not only contains a full profile of vitamins, but also contains probiotic and Superfood compounds.

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

    Sources:

    MedLine  Plus (July 12, 2017) “Better Diet, Longer Life” https://medlineplus.gov/news/fullstory_167146.html

    Texas Heart Institute (August 2016) “Minerals: What They Do, Where to Get Them” http://www.texasheart.org/HIC/Topics/HSmart/mineral1.cfm

    World Health Organization (accessed July 16, 2017) “Diet, Nutrition, and the prevention of chronic diseases”  http://www.who.int/dietphysicalactivity/publications/trs916/summary/en/


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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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