Heart Archives

Whole Grains and Blood Pressure

Wheat

For many seniors, as we age, our blood pressure seems to creep up as well. Here’s one solution to lower blood pressure naturally. Refrain from reaching for any white grain such as white rice or white bread. Instead, replace it with brown rice and whole grain bread. In a study of overweight adults in their 50’s, those that replaced refined grains (rice, cereal, bread) with whole grains lost weight as well as a drop in their systolic blood pressure (top number) of five to six points.

High blood pressure can raise your risk for a heart attack, congestive heart failure, kidney disease and blindness among the many problems. Other diseases such as diabetes can raise your risk even further.

The study suggested that lowering blood pressure by eating three servings of whole-grain foods daily could reduce the risk of coronary artery disease by at least 15 percent and stroke by 25 percent or more.  Generally, refined or processed foods have more sodium which is known to contribute to high blood pressure. However, the study did not define exactly how whole grains might contribute to the lowering of blood pressure.

Check this Web site of the Harvard School of Public Health for more information on the benefits of whole grains.

With all of the known side effects of blood pressure medication which even includes heart failure, taking prescription medication should be your last option.  Pre-hypertension or even hypertension can often be controlled with diet and exercise.

February is American Heart Month. On the Web site of the American Heart Association, you will see some staggering figures: 2,200 Americans die of cardiovascular disease each day, it is the number one cause of death of women 20 and older, more women die of heart disease than the next four causes of death combined, including cancer. It is the number one killer in America, also known as the “silent killer.”Enhanced by Zemanta

Happy New Year 2011!

It’s been just over two years since I started this blog and what an enlightening journey it’s been. When I started it, I was writing two times a week and then cut down to once a week when I started aboutalz.com. Now, as the new year begins, I am in the process of developing a new program, Gracefully Age Program  (GAP), where I work with seniors and baby boomers who struggle to find enough time to take care of their aging bodies, but would like to feel like they are in their 20’s again … except with better judgment.

My clients and I work together on the goals to be accomplished. Currently, we are in a three-month pilot program, but the actual program starts this spring and will run for six months. I am developing resources for the program as well as joint ventures. My program will be unique in that as a Cellular Response energy healer, I will incorporate energy exercises which I find totally intriguing.

As my blog has pointed out for the past couple of years, we seniors need to take care of our bodies if we want to have a good quality of life ahead of us. As I observe seniors around me, so many of them have let their bodies deteriorate. They have no energy. They have no sparkle in their faces. They are in pain. Diseases are rampant. I felt a program like GAP could help people even more than what I am doing in my Cellular Response practice. But only people who are committed to do anything to have optimal health will succeed in such a program. We all know people who could benefit from such a program, but they are going to have to want it for themselves. I will be the link that will help them achieve their goals.

So, I need more time to spend on the next chapter of my retirement career of helping more people and therefore, I will be adding to my blog every other Wednesday instead of weekly. I’ll be back in two weeks.

I appreciate your friendship. Make 2011 the best year ever!

How to Keep your Body Alkaline

As 2010 comes to a close, I hope it was a healthy year and you are looking forward to an exciting year ahead. I know I have so much to be thankful for and so much to look forward to in 2011.

Each of us has a path we can take — the illness path or the wellness path. The choices we make determine whether we’re headed for illness or for wellness. We are in charge of our own body. We determine what to consume. We decide if we are going to challenge our bodies by exercising. We are constantly making choices — one choice is just as easy to make as another choice. Still, over a period of time, one will lead to better health and one will lead to your doctor’s office. Which will it be for you?

One of the ways to keep your body free of diseases is to keep it in an alkaline state. I’ve heard it many times — diseases cannot live in an alkaline body. How do you keep your body in an alkaline state? By consuming more alkaline foods than acidic ones. Approximately 75 percent of your food intake should be alkaline and about 25 percent should be acidic. So, a lot more alkaline foods than acidic ones. This helpful chart at betterbones.com puts the alkaline-forming foods on a scale from low to high.

There are various places where you can buy pH paper such as a garden center or pet shop or even one that sells swimming pool supplies. If you want one that covers a wider gamut, you may need to find a lab supply store.
Personally, to keep my body alkaline, I take a “greens” supplement with every meal. What I like about this company is that their multi-vitamin is also packed with a “greens” caplet. I also drink alkaline water. I was recently tested by a health practitioner and my body was in an alkaline state. This is not to say that I leave the job to the supplements. I do try to make smart choices about what I eat.

I wish all of you the best of health. Take care and see you next year.

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Edamame or Soy Beans

Soy Beans in Pod

Now that Thanksgiving is behind us and many of us have overeaten, are you thinking of perhaps incorporating some healthier foods into your diet? If you’ve never had edamame (pronounced eh-dah-mah-meh) or soy beans, it might be something to consider. It’s generally available as an appetizer in Japanese restaurants and readily available in the freezer section of Asian supermarkets either shelled or in the pod. Sometimes you can even find fresh ones in the vegetable section.

Edamame is one of the few plant sources of complete protein and is a great source of antioxidants and high in fiber. When shelled, they look like small lima beans. The taste is unique and mild. They make an excellent snack or a great addition to a salad.

What are the benefits of soy?

  • Keeps bones strong. It contains isoflavones which are estrogen-like compounds that improve bone density and hence, reduce fractures.
  • Fights heart disease. Edamame is one of the few non-fish sources of omega-3 fats which helps to reduce the risk of heart disease and inflammation. Soy can also lower your cholesterol.
  • Beneficial for dieters. Because it’s high in protein, it will fill you up quickly and you won’t overeat. It will also “stick to your ribs” longer. If you snack on the soy beans in the pod, it takes work so you’ll eat more slowly and eat less.

If buying the frozen beans in the pod, check the directions on the package. It’s very simple, but if you’re trying to reduce your sodium intake, eliminate the salt when boiling the beans. Happy, healthy eating!

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Brain Rules: Part I

Brain Rules by John J. Medina, PhD, is an intriguing and interesting book published in 2008. Dr. Medina is a developmental molecular biologist and research consultant. He is the director of the Brain Center for Applied Learning Research at Seattle Pacific University. He also teaches at the University of Washington School of Medicine, in it Department of Bioengineering. In Brain Rules he talks about 12 principles of surviving and thriving at work, home, and school.

  1. Exercise: Exercise boots brain power.
  2. Survival: The human brain evolved, too.
  3. Wiring: Every brain is wired differently.
  4. Attention: We don’t pay attention to boring things.
  5. Short-term Memory: Repeat to remember.
  6. Long-term memory: Remember to repeat.
  7. Sleep: Sleep well, think well.
  8. Stress: Stressed brains don’t learn the same way.
  9. Sensory Integration: Stimulate more of the senses.
  10. Vision: Vision trumps all other senses.
  11. Gender: Male and female brains are different.
  12. Exploration: We are powerful and natural explorers.

Chapter 1 immediately caught my attention with exercise boosts brain power. So all of my writing about “moving” and all of the hours I spend in various forms of exercise should pay off. He answers the question: Is there one factor that predicts how well you will age? Before answering the question, he profiles two people he met on television — Jim and Frank.

Jim is in a nursing home — picture him in a nursing home, in a wheelchair, his eyes vacant, lonely, friendless staring into space. Most people would not want to spend their last years of life in this way. On another channel, the author meets Frank … Frank Lloyd Wright, that is. He was amazed at his use of language and the clarity of his mind. Wright completed the designs for the Guggenheim Museum (his last work) when he was 90 years old in 1957.

Jim or Frank — which lifestyle are you headed for? Medina says:

Put simply, if  you are a couch potato, you are more likely to age like Jim, if you make it to your 80s at all. If you have an active lifestyle, you are more likely to age like Frank Lloyd Wright and much more likely to make it to your 90s.The chief reason for the difference seemed to be that exercise imporved cardiovascular fitness, which in turn reduced the risk for diseases such as heart attacks and stroke.

He goes on to say that a lifetime of exercises can also do amazing things for cognitive performance in areas like long-term memory, reasoning, and problem-solving, but the area that’s not improved by exercise is short-term memory and certain types of reaction times. Also, over-exertion and exhaustion can also hurt cognition. So, folks, we continue with our “senior moments.”

Medina says, “Your lifetime risk for general dementia is literally cut in half if you participate in leisure-time physical activity. Aerobic exercise seems to be the key. With Alzheimer’s, the effect is even greater: Such exercise lowers your odds of getting the disease by more than 60 percent.” Now this is amazing — “… a 20-minute walk each day, and you can cut your risk of having a stroke — one of the leading causes of mental disability in the elderly — by 57 percent.”

Exercise opens up your blood vessels so it can feed your brain. In addition as the blood flows more freely, the body makes new blood vessels, which penetrate deeper into the tissues of the body.

He concludes the chapter by saying, “Our brains were built for walking — 12 miles a day! To improve your thinking skills, move.”

In order to have enough energy to exercise, we must get enough sleep. In Brain Rules: Part II, I talk about sleep.

Dr. Oz and AARP Magazine 6-Month Plan

A couple of months ago, I told you in a post about how much I enjoy watching Dr. Oz. Now, according to Reuters, Dr. Oz has turned 50 and has teamed with AARP Magazine to create a six-month plan for increasing longevity among the 50-plus population.

According to Champagne Living, Dr. Oz’s program includes the following:

Daily Checklist

  1. Walk 30 Minutes
  2. Brush and Floss
  3. Drink Two Cups of Green Tea
  4. Take Omega 3s, Calcium and Vitamin D (links take you to what I recommend — read more about calcium here and Omega 3 fatty acids here)
  5. Sleep 7-8 Hours a Night
  6. Meditate

Dr. Mehmet Oz’s 6-month plan:

  • Month 1: Your Diet Makeover — Provides a three-day diet designed to jump-start your body to lose weight
  • Month 2: Tests & Numbers — Lists important medical tests and tests that readers can do at home to ensure that their health stays on track
  • Month 3: Ramp Up Your Exercise — Maps out a four-week exercise plan focused on weight-lifting, flexibility, and balance
  • Month 4: Manage Your Stress — Encourages readers to engage in daily activities such as deep breathing and meditation to reduce chronic stress
  • Month 5: Find Purpose — Challenges readers to define clearly what they want out of life to add to their overall sense of wellness
  • Month 6: Put it Together — Calls for readers to retake the tests from Month 2 to see how their numbers have improved considerably since embarking on the six-month plan

According to the editor of the AARP Magazine, if you follow these guidelines, at the end of the six month period, your blood pressure, healthy cholesterol, and blood sugar, will improve. I suggested in my very first post about getting started with a baby step such as walking. Topping Dr. Oz’s list is a 30-minute daily walk. If you haven’t started, let’s get moving! Remember, many of our diseases are lifestyle choices.

One of the member benefits is the AARP Magazine so if you are not a member of AARP, click here to join. Click here to find out other member benefits. Cheers to your wellness!

Best Olive Oil: What to Look For

When it comes to olive oil, we’ve either read or heard about the benefits on numerous occasions. However, there are so many to choose from, how does one know which is the best olive oil? What should we look for?

Elle Wood in her article on How to Choose the Best Olive Oil, says to research how the olive oil was created. There are different methods and processes. In an article in Better Homes and Gardens, Nicki Heverling of Oldways says the cold-pressed extra virgin olive oil is best because it contains the most phenols which is most of the source of its healthfulness. Probably the most important factor is taste. No matter how good or healthful an olive oil might be, if you don’t like the taste, there’ll be no enjoyment.

Better Homes and Gardens goes on to say that:

  • Cold-pressed extra virgin olive oil is especially good for drizzling over vegetables and pasta noodles, or for dipping bread.
  • Virgin olive oil is next best and is fine for sauteeing.
  • Light olive oil refers strictly to color and mild taste; not a reduction in calories.

Consumer Research rated the 365 Extra Virgin Olive Oil (private brand for Whole Foods) as the “Best Budget Olive Oil.” Whole Foods says it’s 100% olive oil and “derived from the first cold press of the olives and meet the International Olive Oil Council standards for extra virgin olive oils.”

Personally, I use olive oil and balsamic vinegar on my salad when I’m at home. I use very little balsamic vinegar because of its overwhelming taste, but it pretty much masks the flavor of the olive oil. So I’m not very picky about the taste of the olive oil. However, when I go to restaurants and dip my bread in olive oil, then I can really taste the flavor of the olive oil and I know I like some better than others.

What is your vote for the “best olive oil”? Please share your thoughts.

Anti-inflammatory Turmeric

turmericMany issues faced by seniors such as heart problems, arthritis, and even Alzheimer’s disease are said to be a result of inflammation. Turmeric comes from the root of the Curcuma longa plant and is a member of the ginger family. It has been used in the Ayurvedic (Indian) and Chinese medicine for ages. After processing and being ground into a powder, turmeric is better known to those of us in the west as curry. Today we are realizing more and more health benefits.

According to www.whfoods.com, (The World’s Healthiest Foods and The George Mateljan Foundation, a not-for-profit foundation with no commercial interests, is a new force for change to help make a healthier you and a healthier world), their food rating system shows the following nutrients in turmeric:

Turmeric, powder
2.00 tsp
4.52 grams
16.04 calories

Nutrient

Amount

DV
(%)

Nutrient
Density

World’s Healthiest
Foods Rating

manganese

0.36 mg

18.0

20.2

excellent

iron

1.88 mg

10.4

11.7

excellent

vitamin B6 (pyridoxine)

0.08 mg

4.0

4.5

good

dietary fiber

0.96 g

3.8

4.3

good

potassium

114.48 mg

3.3

3.7

good

DV = Daily Value

World’s Healthiest
Foods Rating

Rule

excellent

DV>=75%

OR

Density>=7.6

AND

DV>=10%

very good

DV>=50%

OR

Density>=3.4

AND

DV>=5%

good

DV>=25%

OR

Density>=1.5

AND

DV>=2.5%

According to The World’s Healthiest Foods, the volatile oil fraction of turmeric has demonstrated significant anti-inflammatory activity in a variety of experimental models. Even more potent than its volatile oil is the yellow or orange pigment of turmeric, which is called curcumin. Curcumin is thought to be the primary pharmacological agent in turmeric. In numerous studies, curcumin’s anti-inflammatory effects have been shown to be comparable to the potent drugs hydrocortisone and phenylbutazone as well as over-the-counter anti-inflammatory agents such as Motrin. Unlike the drugs, which are associated with significant toxic effects (ulcer formation, decreased white blood cell count, intestinal bleeding), curcumin produces no toxicity.

Ezine articles author Henri K. Junttila also writes about the benefits of turmeric in “Discover the Incredible Health Benefits of Turmeric Spice.” She says, “The best way to take advantage of the benefits of this herb is to take it in the form of multi-vitamin supplements.  Studies reveal that the substance is digested and ingested in the bloodstream better in combination with other beneficial substances. It is important however, to check which of the other complementing substances and ingredients work best with turmeric spice.”

There are nutritional supplements available. The supplements that I have taken contain turmeric as part of another supplement. For example, Immunotec has an Omega-3 product with turmeric. Vitamark International puts it in their Naturflex product and includes ginger root in their vitamin, VitaChe, specifically for heart health. My favorite, VitaOne, Vitamark’s multi-nutrition pack, contains 100 mg of turmeric. Does your favorite multi-vitamin contain turmeric?

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Coenzyme Q10 — CoQ10

coenzymeq10_mayoclinicLast week I had an opportunity to meet with my mentor, Richard Dennis, author of Evil Medicine. It is a look at how prescription drugs are destroying our health. One of his topics is Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10). It is produced by the human body and is necessary for the basic functioning of cells.

In the book, he states that your body manufactures CoQ10 for brain health, energy production, and protection against free radical damage. Further, he says that CoQ10 is critical in the synthesis of ATP, our “energy molecule,” the chemical fuel used by all cells.

According to the Mayo Clinic, CoQ10 levels are reported to decrease with age and to be low in patients with some chronic diseases such as heart conditions, muscular dystrophy, Parkinson’s disease, cancer, diabetes, and HIV/AIDS. Some prescription drugs may also lower CoQ10 levels.

The following sampling of drugs may deplete CoQ10:

  • certain anti-depressants
  • anti-psychotic drugs
  • cholesterol-lowering statin drugs
  • beta-blockers
  • anti-diabetic drugs
  • anti-hypertension drugs

Dennis goes on to say that some studies suggest congestive heart failure and cardiomyopathy are CoQ10 deficient diseases. One side effect of these prescription drugs is that they interfere with your body’s production of CoQ10. This depletion can be very serious in the elderly, because aging already depletes CoQ10 and a deficiency may result in Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s.

Symptoms of CoQ10 deficiency include:

  • angina
  • cardiac arrhythmia
  • mitral valve prolapse
  • high blood pressure
  • stroke
  • gum disease
  • low energy — feels like you’re “running on empty”
  • weak immune system

He says most doctors don’t know that CoQ10 levels decrease as we age and it leads to disease susceptibility. Heart patients, diabetics, and almost everyone approaching retirement age critically need more CoQ10.

Older persons in good health have difficulty in synthesizing CoQ10, so there is a real danger that the cholesterol lowering drugs, while perhaps reducing the bad cholesterol count, could be damaging the heart’s ability to function effectively because of a deficit of CoQ10. He ends with, “How ironic is that?”

Would you like to try CoQ10 from a company that offers a 30-day money back guarantee on their product? Click here.

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Why a Mammogram

Mammogram Machine

Mammogram Machine

I was sitting in the waiting room of a radiological center waiting for my yearly torture — a mammogram — and catching up on my Prevention magazine. What a coincidence that I saw a small article that said that mammography may identify women at increased risk of stroke. The article said a large number of benign calcium deposits may indicate plaque buildup in the arteries. The study, headed by Paul S. Dale, MD, was done at the University of Missouri. Plaque buildup, or atherosclerosis, in the arteries leading to the brain is a major cause of stroke.

There have also been previous studies that have shown a link between calcium deposits and diabetes and heart disease.  In this new research, researchers examined the mammograms of 793 healthy women, ages 40 to 90, with no history of stroke, heart disease, or diabetes.

They found the following:

  • 86 of the women, or about 11%, had calcification
  • Of 204 women who had a stroke, 115 or 56%, had calcification

Since I’m fortunate to not have any breast cancer in my immediate family, I had tried to talk my doctor out of getting a mammogram, but perhaps there might be more than one reason to have one. I encourage you to get one as well.

Ever heard of a vitamin that cleans your arteries? Click here.