Simple Dietary Changes To Keep Your Heart Healthy

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Submitted By Richard Adams

healthyheartIt’s been said that the human heart is the most important muscle in the body. Bearing in mind the fact that heart disease is currently the number one killer in the developed world this might not be far from the truth. The good news is that keeping your heart in good condition needn’t be rocket science.

Two of the biggest changes we can all make are to eat better and to exercise more. While they’re both important, it is arguably our diets that are most easily changed. In this guide we’ll therefore be looking at some simple and efficient changes you can make to protect your cardiovascular system…

Reduce Your Intake of Saturated Fats

One factor that virtually every cardiologist can agree on is that saturated fat can raise your cholesterol levels, which in turn puts you at greater risk of heart disease. Studies comparing diet with the risk of heart disease have shown that every additional 10 grams of saturated fat consumed per day leads to a 0.03mm increase in the thickness of artery walls; a well-known metric used to measure the appearance of atherosclerosis.

Luckily, not all fats are bad, and many experts believe that unsaturated fats are positively beneficial in your diet. Generally speaking most saturated fats are solid at room temperature, so to keep your heart healthy aim to reduce your consumption of fatty meat, butter, cream and cheese. Some plant oils such as coconut oil and palm oil are also high in saturated fats.

In contrast great sources of healthy unsaturated fats include oily fish, avocados and many nuts and so these should be incorporated regularly into your diet.

Increase Your Fiber Intake

Fiber doesn’t just “keep you regular” – it has also been found to help control your cholesterol levels, and in doing so to help protect you from heart problems. Scientists think that it does this by binding to cholesterol in the food that you eat, so that it is excreted rather than being absorbed into the blood.

This positive impact of fiber on heart disease has been shown time and again in rigorous scientific analysis. For example, one group of scientists followed over 300,000 people for a period of ten years, cross-referencing their intake of fiber with cardiac events. They found that consuming an additional 10 grams of fiber per day was associated with a 14% decrease in the risk of serious heart problems. Indeed, some studies have found evidence that fiber consumption has an even bigger effect on heart health than diets that are high in saturated fats.

So what fiber should you be eating? Much of the research to date has focused on wholegrains, which are known to not only be high in fat but also lead to a slow, steady release of glucose into the bloodstream, meaning more balanced blood sugar. One group of scientists, for example, found that people who consumed 2 servings of wholegrains per day were 21% less likely to suffer from heart disease than people not regularly consuming them. Other great sources of fiber include brown bread and whole meal pasta, together with a whole host of different fruits and vegetables.

At the same time, it isn’t always easy to consume enough fiber with today’s hectic lifestyles. For these individuals the easiest solution is to consider a fiber supplement. Popular options with impressive results demonstrated include psyllium husk, inulin and guar gum that can be bought in powder or tablet form.

Eat More Garlic

healthywordsCholesterol is a normal part of life, and in moderation it is crucial to our survival. Among other things, for example, cholesterol is a key component that makes up the walls of every cell in our bodies.

Problems arise either when the delicate balance between LDL (“bad”) cholesterol and HDL (“good”) cholesterol fails, or when LDL cholesterol is attacked by free radicals in the environment around us.

Experts believe that garlic plays an important role in preventing this chemical reaction that turns LDL cholesterol into OxLDL – a far more dangerous version – which can lead to atherosclerosis and, ultimately, heart disease. In doing so, garlic helps to protect our cardiovascular system.

Focus on Oily Fish

Omega 3 oils are positively associated with reduced inflammation and, as a result, a lessened chance of circulatory problems.

A study tracked almost 85,000 nurses for a period of 14 years. During this time regular questionnaires were completed on diet, while health checks recorded any cardiovascular risk. The study found that the more fish the women consumed, the lower their odds of suffering from coronary heart disease.

The impacts of dietary omega 3 oils have been borne out in numerous other experiments. One experiment provided healthy male volunteers with either 14 grams of fish oil per day or a placebo for a period of six weeks. The experts found cholesterol levels fell by an average of 22% in those participants supplementing with omega 3.

Most health experts recommend that to keep your heart healthy we should all be eating at least two portions of fish per week, with at least one of these being “oily” fish like mackerel or salmon. For people who don’t have the time or inclination to regularly cook fresh fish, studies suggest that fish oil in supplement form offers similar benefits to the heart, though these do of course omit some of the other beneficial nutrients found in whole fish.

Take Plant Sterols

Plant sterols are naturally-occurring compounds that mimic the overall shape of cholesterol in the body. As a result, plant sterols compete with cholesterol in the body, cutting down the amount of cholesterol that binds to cholesterol receptors. The impact of plant sterols can be considerable. Studies have shown, for example, that an intake of just 2 grams of sterols reduces LDL (“bad”) cholesterol levels by an average of 10%. Even better, plant sterols are regularly available in supplement form, so it is easy to top up your levels on a daily basis.

Reduce Salt Intake

healthyheartThe human body maintains a careful balance of sodium and potassium – two chemicals that we think of more commonly as “salt”. This balance is crucial as it allows your kidneys to draw excess water out of the body and dispose of it in the form of urine. Excess salt in your diet, however, upsets this balance. As the kidneys are unable to extract water efficiently the end result can be raised blood pressure (hypertension). As you might imagine, this effect can also damage the kidneys when taken to excess.

High blood pressure is known to be a factor in all sorts of unpleasant health conditions. For example, one study on the impact of high blood pressure found that it was responsible for 62% of strokes and 49% of heart disease.

At the same time, studies have looked at the impact of reducing salt intake on the risk of cardiovascular disease. One investigation involved 744 participants who reduced the salt intake by roughly 25% for a period of 18 months. Comparing those patients that had reduced their salt intake with the control group who had not, the risk of developing heart disease reduced by a quarter simply by controlling salt. In other words you want to protect your heart; it therefore makes sense to minimize your salt intake.

Conclusion

Keeping your heart healthy doesn’t need to be rocket science. While you should also consider including regular exercise in your weekly regime there are a host of simple dietary changes that can be made. Cut down on salt and unhealthy fats while bulking up on fiber and oily fish and you’ll be well on your way to long-term heart health. Lastly, as we have seen, supplements like plant sterols, psyllium or cod liver oil capsules can give you a little extra boost when you need it.

– This guest post was written by the expert nutritionists at Simply Supplements, who provide a wide range of different supplements including psyllium husk capsules. Click the link to learn more about fiber supplements.

Being Aware Of Any Changes In Moles

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This article is courtesy of PRWeb, please share your thoughts below…..

Knowing the ABCDE rule can help save your life.

didyouknow?We’re fortunate enough to live in a time where medical information is widely available and easy to access. With such information at our fingertips, there are times when we can become hyper-sensitive and blow things out of proportion. One such area where people can become unduly concerned is the appearance of moles on one’s skin. People are constantly told by public service announcements on TV to be on the lookout for any changes, which can lead some people to worry needlessly over the moles that they have. It is true that melanoma, a type of skin cancer, can grow around or in a mole, but that does not mean that every mole will become cancerous.

In fact, it’s quite normal for a person to have moles on their body. The American Academy of Dermatology states that it’s not unusual for the average person to have between ten to forty moles on their skin. (1) Most moles actually appear early on in a person’s life, usually when they’re a young child and up through the first thirty years of life. While parents may worry when spotting a new mole on their child, it’s really nothing to worry about. Moles will actually grow as the child grows up, and they can even darken or lighten. This does not normally mean that a young person is developing melanoma, but if a parent is concerned enough, they should consult a licensed dermatologist, such as Dr. F. Victor Rueckl of Lakes Dermatology in Las Vegas, to make sure that nothing is wrong.

A mole is a growth that occurs when cells in the skin grow in a cluster instead of spreading throughout the skin. There are several different types of moles. A common mole is known as an acquired nevus and is harmless. These moles appear as a flat, round spot that is one color throughout and grow symmetrically. A congenital mole can take several different forms. They can look like normal moles or as a bluish-gray spot that’s usually called Mongolian spots. Congenital moles are mostly harmless, but there is a marked risk for developing melanoma if the mole is large (having a diameter of over 20 centimeters). Having a giant congenital nevus increases the chance of developing melanoma anywhere from 4.5% to 10%, with other studies suggesting an even higher percentage. (2) If your child has such a mole, you should immediately meet with an experienced dermatologist, such as Dr. F. Victor Rueckl of Lakes Dermatology.

Another mole type is the dysplastic mole, which is a classification for moles that do not look like normal moles. They may be asymmetrical, have an irregular border, have more than one color, or have a larger diameter. A spitz nevus is a mole that resembles melanoma. It is often a raised, dome-shaped lesion that is pink in color. It can bleed, ooze through an opening, and have a mix of colors. Most spitz nevi occur during the first two decades of a person’s life, but any appearance of them should have one scheduling an examination with a medical professional, such as Dr. F. Victor Rueckl of Lakes Dermatology in Las Vegas, to make sure that everything is ok.

Moles can serve as an early warning system for melanoma. Skin cancer is the most common type of cancer, and the American Cancer Society estimated that around 76,000 cases of melanoma were diagnosed in 2014. (3) One can check for melanoma by using the ABCDE rule. These rules are:

A – Asymmetry: This occurs when one half of a mole does not match the other half.

B – Border: Check to see if the edges of the mole are ragged, blurred, or irregular.

C – Color: Most moles are uniform in color. Look to see if the color changes or if there are different colors in the same mole.

D – Diameter: Most moles are equal to or smaller than the size of a pencil eraser (about 1/4 inch). Be on the lookout if a mole is larger than that size.

E – Evolving: If the mole changes in size, shape, or color, then meet with a medical doctor to let them know.

Moles are a fact of life, and something that people shouldn’t worry excessively over. As Dr. F. Victor Rueckl of Lakes Dermatology notes, “Most people have a number of moles upon their skin that started in childhood. It’s quite normal that children develop moles, but it is wise to keep track of their development to ensure that any warning signs are not missed. Melanoma is a very treatable cancer if caught early, so use the ABCDE rule to regularly give yourself a checkup. If you spot something troubling, schedule an appointment with a doctor immediately as there’s no time to waste.” (4)

Most of us have moles, and they develop early on in our life. While most moles will remain benign, it behooves us to keep a wary eye on them to ensure that all stays well. Still, there’s a healthy distinction between being aware and being obsessive. There’s no reason to panic if a new mole appears. If you do feel that there’s a cause for concern, them make sure you consult an experienced doctor, such as Dr. F. Victor Rueckl of Lakes Dermatology in Las Vegas, to put your mind at ease.

References:

1) https://www.aad.org/dermatology-a-to-z/diseases-and-treatments/m—p/moles

2) http://www.skincarephysicians.com/skincancernet/moles_children.html

3) http://www.cancer.org/research/infographicgallery/skin-cancer-prevention?gclid=CI2nx8DTqcMCFWsF7AodPz0AxA

4) Quote from Dr. F. Victor Rueckl, dermatologist at Lakes Dermatology

Understanding And Coping With Behavioral Changes In Seniors

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This article is courtesy of PRWeb and Dr. Elizabeth Landsverk with ElderConsult…..please share your comments below…..

seniors2One unchangeable fact of life is that people never stop changing, no matter how old they get. Aging brings a cascade of physical and emotional changes, which can lead to a variety of behavioral changes that can baffle or worry an older adult’s loved ones, according to Elizabeth Landsverk, MD, founder of ElderConsult Geriatric Medicine.

As America’s population increasingly grays – the proportion of those 65 and over will account for 20% of U.S. residents within 25 years, according to the American Psychological Association – being aware of normal changes associated with age is even more paramount.

But what behavioral changes are typical and what aren’t? Sometimes it’s difficult to tell the difference, explains Dr. Landsverk, who is board-certified in geriatric medicine, internal medicine and palliative medicine. “Educating yourself enables you to help your parents, or other loved ones to be more happy and healthy as they age” she says. “While it can be challenging to care for a loved one whose behavior has changed from what you’re used to, patience – along with appropriate medical care and attention – often reaps rewards.”

What’s normal, what’s not, and how to respond

Dr. Landsverk offers these top examples of behavioral changes common in older adults and also elaborates on what might signal a problem and how to react:

#1: Memory lapses or forgetfulness

What’s normal/not: Forgetting where you put your keys or the name of a movie star is common when you get older. So is occasionally having trouble finding the right word or forgetting why you walked into a room. But the specter of dementia is huge, with about 10% of all those over 65 and up to half of those 85 and older developing dementia. Symptoms might include varying degrees of memory loss, language difficulty, poor judgment, problems concentrating and impaired visual perception. Loss that affects daily functioning should be evaluated right away.

“It’s wise for seniors and their families to be alert to warning signs, but there’s no need to be unnerved by every memory lapse,” Dr. Landsverk says. “The warning signs of dementia typically include not just problems remembering, but problems communicating and reasoning.”

What to do: If more signs of dementia become apparent, or there is concern that changes could affect one’s ability to handle finances; it’s important to see a primary care physician or geriatrician to rule out other causes that might be easily treatable. Diagnostic tools typically start with a complete physical and neurological exam, brain imaging, and cognitive assessment. The MOCA or the Montreal Cognitive Assessment tool is more sensitive to early changes in reasoning than the MMSE or Mini Mental Status Exam. However, that may not be sensitive enough. A normal screen may not mean “no decline in cognitive function” and neuropsychological testing may be needed for concerns with changes of judgement that put elders at risk of financial elder abuse.

#2: Low mood after experiencing loss

What’s normal/not: It’s often said that aging is largely about loss, as seniors often experience the deaths of a spouse, friends, siblings or other contemporaries. It’s understandable to suffer low periods following these losses, Dr. Landsverk says. But watch out for depression and anxiety, which are often overlooked and untreated in older Americans because they can coincide with other late-life problems, according to the American Psychological Association. Up to 20% of older adults in the U.S. have experienced depression, a persistent feeling of sadness that can include changes in sleep, appetite, energy level and other areas. Mood changes, apathy or anger may also signal early dementia.

What to do: If you’re concerned, get your loved one evaluated by their physician. Many psychological interventions, including counseling and medication, are highly effective at treating depression, Dr. Landsverk says. “It’s important not to let someone’s low mood continue indefinitely without intervening,” she adds. “If you suspect there’s a problem, you’re often right.” Medications may not be the answer. First, is to include elders in daily activity; bring them to church or other religious services, keep them active and engaged. Avoid sleeping pills and “anti-anxiety pills such as Xanax and Ativan which can lead to more depression, falls and disinhibition. Withdrawal can look like worsening dementia, with confusion, agitation.

seniorwoman2#3: Discouragement or anger as health declines

What’s normal/not: Retirement and moving out of the family home are major life events that don’t just signal increasing freedom – they often stem from declining health, as minor, chronic conditions add up or major health problems get even worse. For some older adults, the development of a disabling illness can bring about a depressive episode, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI). Also, anger or aggression – which can show up as emotional or verbal abuse lashed out at loved ones – can be particularly difficult to handle, Dr. Landsverk says.

What to do: “Talk about the normal feelings a senior might be having in response to their declining health – don’t sweep them under the rug,” she suggests. “Say, ‘It must be painful for you to have to adjust to this.’ Empathy goes a long way.” Consider seeing a doctor with the senior to evaluate troubling behavioral symptoms and consider a day program, or a daytime caregiver to give both the senior and their caregiver a break from the normal dynamic.

#4: Takes longer to learn new things

What’s normal/not: On top of a normal decline in short-term memory in older adults, it’s also common to see a lengthening of “response time” – meaning they learn more slowly and retain new information less effectively. Many seniors who “age well” make a conscious effort to maintain mental alertness by reading widely, learning new skills, taking classes and/or maintaining social contacts with people from a variety of age groups, Dr. Landsverk says. “It is very important to have your loved one in the environment where they can succeed. It is also important to be honest about what they can do now, not what they had done in the past. That said, don’t sell the elder short and not give them the opportunity to stretch and grow; be observant and flexible.”

What to do: If your loved one consistently seems unable to retain new information or place it in context with what they already knew, it could be normal aging or it could be a sign of oncoming dementia. A primary care physician may understand or a geriatrician can evaluate them with special tests of mental performance and suggest ways to increase alertness and cognitive engagement, she says.

Elizabeth Landsverk, MD, is founder of ElderConsult Geriatric Medicine, a house calls practice in the San Francisco Bay Area that addresses the challenging medical and behavioral issues often facing older patients and their families. Dr. Landsverk is board-certified in internal medicine, geriatric medicine and palliative care and is an adjunct clinical professor at Stanford University Medical School.

PE Class Changes In Alabama Stress Student Health

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From Your Health Journal…..”I can always count on the publication SF Gate to have some quality articles on health or wellness. I encourage all of you to visit their page (link below) to read some quality article. Today’s article review discusses Alabama, and it change to a new fitness assessment test. The prevalence rate of obesity in Alabama is higher than the rest of the nation, for both adults and children, so the state decided to move to a newer test, replacing the President’s Challenges test. Though the individual students’ results will be treated as confidential information, both parents and students will receive the assessment results. The PE teachers will report the results annually, which should eventually allow for comparisons to see whether the fitter children perhaps have higher test scores. PE teachers received training in how to test the kids, but videos that demonstrate the exercises used in the assessment are on the state Department of Education’s website. Articles like this stress the importance PE plays in the schools not only for health or fitness, but for improving cognitive skills and self esteem of children. With the obesity rates so high in the United States, it is important to support your local PE department, as well as trying to get the children daily, quality PE each day. Please visit the SF Gate page to read more.”

From the article…..

Alabama’s public school students are taking part in a new physical fitness assessment this year, replacing a series of tests that had not been updated since their parents were in school.

Citing a need to refocus on the fitness of the state’s children, the new Alabama Physical Fitness Assessment rolled out this fall in public schools. The tests are required for all students in grades 2 through 12 and replace the old President’s Challenge Fitness Test, which was adopted in 1984.

The new assessment has been in the works since 2010, when federal stimulus money started flowing to the states. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention awarded grant money to the Alabama Department of Public Health, which used the money to partner with the Alabama State Department of Education to try to improve the quality of physical education in the state, said Laurie Eldridge-Auffant, public health education manager for the ADPH.

“Our prevalence rate of obesity is higher than the rest of the nation, for both adults and children,” Eldridge-Auffant said. “We have some other indicators that let us know we have many chronic diseases that are above the national average.”

Though the individual students’ results will be treated as confidential information, both parents and students will receive the assessment results. The PE teachers will report the results annually, which should eventually allow for comparisons to see whether the fitter children perhaps have higher test scores.

“We’re excited about the potential data down the road,” Eldridge-Auffant said. “We know from the research that the kids who are more physically fit and more physically active have better academic scores.”

But those comparisons will be some time away. For now, the teachers are finishing up the pre-testing on the kids. Post-testing will begin in March.

The new assessment measures four areas: Aerobic cardiovascular endurance, muscular strength and endurance, abdominal strength and endurance and flexibility.

PE teachers received training in how to test the kids, but videos that demonstrate the exercises used in the assessment are on the state Department of Education’s website. The exercises include a partial curl-up (like an abdominal crunch); a timed one-mile run/walk test (the child can walk the whole way if necessary); and a 90-degree push-up (as many as the child can do in two minutes.)

To read the full article…..Click here

More Changes To A School Menu

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From Your Health Journal…..”New guidelines across the United States for healthy lunches have helped make school lunches a better choice for children. The new guidelines, encompassed in the 2010 Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act require set calorie limits, increased daily servings of fruits and vegetables, adding more whole grains and reductions of saturated fat and sodium. In some schools, it is getting praise, as the parents are happy the kids have better choices, while in other school districts, the reviews are not as good, as the kids are saying they are still hungry after lunch. But, overall, hopefully these new measures will help prepare children for healthier eating habits that last a lifetime.”

From the article…..

When the new U.S. Department of Agriculture guidelines for the National Student Lunch Program standards came out in January 2012 for the current school year, Amy Rouse, Fairbanks North Star Borough School District Nutrition Services Director, didn’t panic.

“We were doing a lot of the initiatives already,” Rouse said. “The huge change for us was how we plan our menu.”

The new guidelines, encompassed in the 2010 Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act require set calorie limits, increased daily servings of fruits and vegetables, adding more whole grains and reductions of saturated fat and sodium.

If the district doesn’t comply, it risks not qualifying for the National School Lunch Program federal assistance.

Color, age-appropriate calorie menus, nutrients and taste must all be taken into consideration when planning menus under the new federal requirements, House said.

“The challenge for us was we had to be more conscious of the colors of the vegetables we served. We have weekly minimums on portion sizes of red/orange vegetables like, tomatoes, carrots and sweet potatoes and dark green vegetables, like collards, romaine, spinach and broccoli,” Rouse explained.

There are also weekly requirements for legumes including green, red and black beans, and starchy vegetables like white potatoes (1/2 cup per week), green peas and whole kernel corn.”

During the 21 school days of October, the Nutrition Center delivered 100,832 lunches around the district with a daily average of 4,775 lunches, as well as 32,227 breakfast meals to 32 school sites around the district.

Before the new regulations, meal planning was based on nutrient content and that was how we thought about menus and how we created them,” Rouse said.

The new guidelines started out being more time consuming, because of the thought process changes.

To read the full article…..Click here