Tag Archives: hypertension

Could Excess Weight Shorten Your Life?

age, healthy eating, apple, green, aging, healthAccording to the National Institutes of Health, the average American can live tan average of 79 years.   However, did you know that a few small lifestyle changes could add years to your life? It was found that for every few pounds you lose you could be adding years to your life.

A recent study in Nature Communications looked at genetic data from 600,000 people in North America, Europe and Australia. Smoking, body fat, thought processes and the genes related to such can affect life span.

Of all conditions observed, smoking and traits linked with lung cancer were found to have the greatest impact on reducing life span. Smoking one pack of cigarettes a day over a lifetime can lead to a loss of seven years of life.  However, if a person quits smoking, they can get back those years and live as long as someone who has never smoked.

Obesity is a common risk factor for heart disease and diabetes. However, body fat percentage and other factors linked with diabetes were found to decrease life span. Two months of life can be lost for every 2.2 pounds of excess body fat. This could be related to the increased risk of obesity-related conditions related to excess weight, but the direct reason for this result is not confirmed.

Finally, those with an open mind may live longer than those who were not. For every year of studying done beyond school, a year is added to a person’s life. This could be related to those studying more having sharper minds as they age, but it is not confirmed why. By maintaining mental sharpness, you are helping to keep the body’s software up to date which aids in overall wellness.

Other Ways to Add Years to Your Life

If you want to add years to your life, there are many things you can do.

  • Eat better:  A balanced diet of fruits and vegetables provide fiber that can help manage weight and keep blood glucose levels stable.
  • Stay active: A good balance of cardio, resistance, and flexibility exercises can help you stay young as you age. Resistance exercises such as lifting weights, working with resistance bands, or performing push-ups, can help maintain lean mass. Lean mass can help keep you more mobile as you age and in turn prevent injury. In addition, lean mass can keep bones and joints strong and improve insulin resistance.
  • Sleep more: While you sleep, the body regulates fluid, blood glucose, levels, and blood pressure. Therefore without the recommended 6-8 hours of sleep a night, you may be putting yourself at risk for chronic disease. If you have trouble sleeping, try  reducing screen time before bed, getting blackout blinds, stop eating and drinking two hours before bedtime, or get a white noise machine. Check with your healthcare provider if pain or other health issues that may be keeping you up at night.
  • Practice preventative health: Be sure to visit your doctor every year or more often to check for chronic disease risk factors. Knowing your numbers such as blood pressure, blood glucose, cholesterol, triglycerides, and vitamin levels are important for health tracking. If any of your numbers are out of range, you could increase risk for chronic disease and decrease quality of life.
  • Take a multivitamin: To ensure you are getting your daily nutrients, try the Zestia multivitamin by Vita Sciences. Zestia contains a combination of fruit and vegetable extracts, probiotics, and digestive enzymes to help support an optimal quality of life.

Sources:

Harvard Health Publishing (accessed October 16, 2017) “Tips for  longer life”

Medline Health News (October 13, 2017) “Good Lifestyle Choices Adds Years to Your Life” 

National Institutes of Health News in Health (June 2016) “Can You Lengthen Your Life?” 

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Could Hypertension Increase Dementia Risk in Women?

Ifhypertension, blood pressure, brain, memory, dementia you have high blood pressure, heart disease may be the health concern most on your mind. However, high blood pressure can be a risk factor for more than just heart conditions.  A recent study has found that women in their 40’s with high blood pressure have an increased risk of dementia.

What is high blood pressure?

A systolic blood pressure of 140 mm Hg or higher and a diastolic blood pressure of 90 mm Hg or higher defines a diagnosis of high blood pressure, or hypertension.  Systolic blood pressure is a measure of the pressure when the heart contracts, while diastolic blood pressure is a measure of the pressure in between heart beats.

Hypertension occurs when there is some sort of damage or blockage that causes a narrowing of the blood vessels.  This narrowing slows the flow of blood and oxygen to tissues and organs in the body. Over time, this delayed oxygen and blood flow can cause damage to cells in the body that can lead to disease. Therefore, high blood pressure can lead to increased risk of diabetes, kidney damage, stroke, and vision loss.

Hypertension and Dementia

A recent study in the journal Neurology looked at the medical records of about 5600 patients over 15 years to see who developed dementia.  Those women in their 40’s with hypertension had up to a 73-percent risk of developing dementia.  Although, the same was not true of women in their 30’s or of men in their 40’s.  However, further studies must be done to determine the reason for these results.

Previous studies have found a link between high blood pressure and dementia, but it was not clear if hypertension before the age of 50 was a risk factor for the condition. However, it is clear that the brain is a metabolically active organ that requires oxygen to function properly. Without oxygen, brain cells starve and become damaged causing disease and dysfunction.  In order to get enough oxygen, blood flow to the brain must be healthy. Therefore, anything that prevents or delays blood flow, such as hypertension, could lead to cell damage in the brain as is seen in dementia.

Hypertension Prevention

To lower your risk of diseases such as dementia, take the following steps to prevent or control hypertension.

  • Eat a well-balanced diet of lean proteins, fiber-rich fruits and vegetables, whole grains, low-fat dairy, and healthy fats such as nuts, seeds, avocado, and plant-based oils.  Be sure to limit your intake of sugary and salty processed foods which can increase hypertension risk.
  • Stay active most days of the week.  Walking, jogging, biking, dancing, and swimming are some ways you can stay active to keep your heart healthy. Try to be active for 30 minutes a day for most days of the week to help manage your weight and blood pressure.
  • Limit alcohol intake to no more than one drink a day for women and no more than 2 drinks a day for men.  Over this limit, alcohol can raise blood pressure and can also make it difficult to manage a healthy weight.
  • Control weight since those who are overweight or obese have a higher risk for hypertension than those of a healthy weight.
  • Don’t smoke since smoking can deprive your body of oxygen since it constricts blood vessels. In turn, smoking can increase risk of hypertension and related health issues.
  • Take all prescribed medications to help manage hypertension so that damage to the body’s cells can be limited.
  • Add in heart-healthy vitamins and supplements to your routine such as Presura by Vita Sciences. Presura contains a combination of hawthorn berry, niacin, and garlic extract to help support healthy blood pressure levels. Be sure to contact your healthcare provider before starting any new supplement regimen. It is important to make sure that any new supplements will not interact with your current prescribed medicines.

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

Sources:

American Heart Association (October 2016) “Changes You Can Make to Manage Blood Pressure”

American Heart Association (October 2016) “Understanding Blood Pressure Readings”

Medline Plus (October 4, 2017) “High Blood Pressure in 40’s a Dementia Risk for Women?”

National Institute on Aging (March 1, 2015) “High Blood Pressure” 

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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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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 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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