Archive for the ‘Healthy Heart’ Category

Superfood Nutrition for Stress

Saturday, November 24th, 2012

Providing your body with nutrition is intricately linked with nourishing your mind. If your body is unhealthy, you will be more likely to suffer from symptoms of stress, low mood and anxiety. Eating foods that are high in calories but low in nutritional value can cause dramatic spikes in blood sugar and leave you feeling unsatisfied and tense. Eating foods, such as cottage cheese or those high in vitamin C can help combat stress, take the edge off and keep you calm, no matter how tense life may get.

Paying attention to your nutrition can help you nurture your mental health. Try to incorporate the foods below into your daily diet.Superfood Nutrition for Stress

  • Spinach: This leafy green vegetable can regulate your blood pressure and keep you calm. Spanach also contains high levels of Vitamin C, A, B, and K.
  • Cottage cheese: Loaded with protein and calcium, cottage cheese can help you feel satisfied and reduce hunger pangs.
  • Citrus fruits: When you’re stressed, your body releases free radicals that can be damaging to your health. Eating foods that are high in vitamin C can provide the nutrition you need to maintain a healthy immune system and combat health hazards.
  • Chocolate: Although it’s best to avoid excess sugar when dealing with stress, chocolate may activate the pleasure centers in the brain, helping to boost mood and relieve anxiety. Dark chocolate, which has more cacao, can be more effective at reducing stress than regular or milk chocolate. Eating too much chocolate can cause moodiness after the effects of the sugar and caffeine have worn off, so eat chocolate in moderation to regulate your mood.
  • Fish: Fish with high levels of omega-3 fatty acids have been shown to reduce surges of stress hormones that are released during tense situations. Tuna, an excellent source of omega-3, is also high in vitamins B6 and B12, which support the production of stress-relieving neurotransmitters.
  • Oatmeal: Besides being a great remedy for soothing the skin, oatmeal can also soothe your nerves. The grain stimulates the production of serotonin in the brain, which has a calming effect on the body. Because the body digests oatmeal slowly, the calming effects are long-lasting.
  • Avocado: This rich, creamy, natural treat is packed full of healthy fats, vitamins and minerals used for to combat stress. The healthy fats and high levels of potassium in avocados can also help lower high blood pressure.
  • Beef: Lean red meat is a good source of nutrition and is packed with the mood stabilizers zinc, iron and B vitamins.
  • Asparagus: With high levels of folic acid, asparagus can help you regulate your mood. Folic acid helps create serotonin, a neurotransmitter that contributes to feelings of happiness.
  • Green Tea: Well known for its stress fighting ingredient Theanine, this soothing beverage is also packed full of free radical fighting antioxidants such as vitamin C. Studies have also shown that the act of making tea can help relax the mind.

What foods do you use to balance your stress levels? Share your nutrition secrets in the comments section below.

References –
Stress Relief –
Benefits of Cottage Cheese –
Vitamin C Antioxidants -

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Inflammation and Your Diet

Friday, March 2nd, 2012

You probably think of inflammation as redness or swelling that you can see and feel, when in fact, it can occur throughout the body, including in the digestive tract and the arteries. Inflammation is the immune system’s response to damage within the body, and chronic inflammation has been linked to many diseases, including cancer and Alzheimer’s disease.

Inflammation often begins in the gut. The gastrointestinal tract is the hub for the immune system, because it’s the elimination center for viruses and bacteria that enter the body through food. The digestive system is also sensitive to the toxins and chemicals that people ingest daily and if not properly balanced can lead to problems such as IBS, hemorrhoids or ulcers. Although foods are not the only cause of inflammation in the body, changing your diet can help your body repair itself and improve your health.

Inflammation DietPeople with heart disease, cancer, colitis, arthritis and other inflammatory diseases can benefit from an anti-inflammatory diet. Individuals who are at risk for these diseases can help prevent illness through an anti-inflammatory diet. Foods like polyunsaturated oils, trans fats and sugar can increase inflammation. Common allergens such as casein, which is found in dairy, and gluten, which is found in wheat, can also lead to an inflammatory response by the immune system. Eating fresh fruits, vegetables, wild fish and foods rich in omega-3 fatty acid help boost the immune system and reduce inflammation. Ginger and turmeric have healing properties as well.

People who are having trouble losing weight may be suffering from an inflammatory imbalance. Eating 100 calories worth of inflammatory foods has a much different effect on the body than eating 100 calories worth of foods that reduce inflammation. The unhealthy foods can increase insulin and glucose levels, which can cause the body to hold onto extra weight. Eating right isn’t just about eating fewer calories and less fat; it involves maintaining a balanced immune system.

Gastrointestinal issues such as irritable bowel syndrome, bloating, gas, constipation and diarrhea are often caused or exacerbated by inflammation. Eating foods that trigger an immune response can make symptoms worse. Many people are sensitive to eggs, soy, nuts, gluten and dairy. If these foods cause an inflammatory response in the digestive tract, it could wreak havoc on the entire immune system. An imbalanced gut can make it harder for a person to heal from any illness. Keeping the body balanced with diet is key to curbing inflammation and leading a healthier lifestyle.

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Primrose Oil: Super-Nutrient a Vegetarian Alternative to Fish Oil

Friday, January 6th, 2012

If you don’t like the idea of ingesting any type of animal product, even in supplement form, primrose oil can provide the same benefits as fish oil while allowing you to maintain a vegetarian lifestyle. Extracted from the evening primrose, a plant that displays yellow blooms in the evening hours, this oil contains a high percentage of GLA, gamma-linolenic acid, also known as Omega 6 fatty acid.

Don’t I Need Omega 3s?
Your body does need the Omega 3 fatty acids contained in fish oil, but it’s also capable of converting plant-based Omega 6 compounds into Omega 3s. This provides the same health benefits as consuming them directly through either fish or fish oil supplements.

Primrose Oil and FlowerWhat are the Health Benefits of Primrose Oil?
The GLA in evening primrose oil is reported to support brain function, body growth and overall development. It also promotes hair and skin growth, healthy bones, an efficient metabolism and reproductive health. This vegetarian-friendly supplement has also been shown to help treat or manage a number of diseases including:

  • Rheumatoid Arthritis
  • Ulcerative Colitis
  • Sjogren’s Syndrome
  • Osteoporosis
  • Hypertension

The Future of Primrose Oil
Because of primrose oil’s other benefits, researchers have been looking for new ways to use this vegetarian supplement. So far, it has been found to help with some cancers, especially cerebral gliomas. Primrose oil has shown some promise with skin disorders like atopic dermatitis, mastalgia and some uremic skin disorders.

Sticking with a vegetarian diet doesn’t mean you should ignore the nutrients traditionally provided by animal products.Instead, seek out plant-based alternatives that offer the same health benefits. The omega nutrients are a vital component to your overall health and should not be disregarded just because the most common form comes from animals. Primrose oil is the perfect alternative to the fish oil supplements.

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What Fish Oil is Right for You?

Friday, January 6th, 2012

omega 3 fatty acidFish oil is reported to be a miracle supplement for every ailment under the sun from heart disease to depression. This has resulted in shelves crowded with a variety of products all claiming to be the best. To ease your confusion, here’s a practical guide to fish oil:

What’s so Great About Fish Oil?
The Omega 3 fatty acids found in fish oil are composed of DHA and EPA, docosahexaenoic acid and eicosapentaenoic acid. Considered essential fatty acids, the human body requires these substances to function, but it can’t produce them on its own. In other words, you must obtain all of your DHA and EPA from your diet or through supplements. Omega 6 is another essential fatty acid that can be obtained from plant-based sources like flaxseeds, nuts, and olive oil. This substance contains a different amino acid called ALA or alpha-linolenic acid. The body can use Omega 6 fatty acids, but they must be converted into DHA and EPA first. Because this process stresses the body, it’s always better to get your daily requirement of DHA and EPA directly from your diet or through fish oil supplements.

Types of Fish Oil:
Fish oil comes in three basic varieties: old-fashioned cod liver oil, health-store fish oil and pharmaceutical-grade fish oil. All three include Omega 3 fatty acids, but these products are definitely not created equal. Here’s a breakdown of each one:

  • Cod Liver Oil – This inexpensive oil is harvested from fish liver. It’s OK in small dosages, but higher amounts can expose you to contaminants and excessive levels of Vitamin A. An entire teaspoon, five grams, contains about 500 mg of Omega 3 fatty acids, but you’ll also receive plenty of organic mercury and commercial chemicals including DDT and PCB.
  • Health-Store Fish Oil – Slightly more expensive, this type of fish oil is often extracted from salmon, tuna, anchovies, herring or sardines. Some products are filtered to remove a portion of the contaminants and concentrated to provide a higher dose of Omega 3 fatty acids. On average, this type of fish oil contains 300 mg of Omega 3s per one-gram serving, about three times as much as cod liver oil. Although safer than cod liver oil, this type of fish oil can be dangerous at high dosages.
  • Pharmaceutical-Grade Fish Oil – This type of fish oil has been filtered to remove almost all contaminants and concentrated to increase the Omega 3 percentage to very high levels. If you’re interested in using a high dosage of Omega 3s in your diet, this is the safest and easiest way to proceed. This type of fish oil generally contains 600 mg of Omega 3s per one-gram serving, about double the amount of the typical health store product.

Which Fish Oil Should I Take and How Much?
Although the FDA has not yet set a recommendation for fish oil intake, but several other medical groups have presented their opinions on the subject based on specific health concerns. Here are a few of the most popular recommendations:

  • Omega 3 Fish OilHealthy Adults – This group should get about 2,000 mg of Omega 3 fatty acids every day. This fatty acid supports brain development, brain health and memory. Children and seniors can also benefit from additional amounts of essential fatty acids.• Crohn’s Disease – The recommendation for this ailment is 2,000 mg twice a day for a total of 4,000 mg in a 24-hour period.
  • Lupus – This disorder responds well to 6,000 mg per day split into three 2,000 mg doses.
  • Asthma, Arthritis and High Blood Pressure – Doctors may recommend 3,000 mg per day for these health problems, split into three 1,000 mg doses.

Because of the contaminant levels associated with health-store fish oil capsules, pharmaceutical-grade fish oil is always the safest choice.Speak with your doctor about their recommendations for any of your specific health concerns.

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Atherosclerosis and Peripheral Artery Disease

Friday, October 7th, 2011

Artherosclerosis ArteryAtherosclerosis, or hardening of the arteries, is caused when cholesterol and fat build up on the inner walls of the arteries and form a hard substance called plaque. Eventually, this plaque buildup can clog the arteries and cause a variety of problems throughout the entire body. Restricted blood flow caused prevents an adequate flow of oxygen and nutrients to individual cells and can result in tissue damage, stroke, or heart attack. Narrowed arteries also make blood clots more likely, leading to an increased chance of a pulmonary embolism or peripheral artery disease.

Atherosclerosis Statistics
By the age of 35, two-thirds of Americans have some type of plaque buildup in their arteries although they generally have no noticeable symptoms. However, this slow, progressive condition of peripheral artery disease almost always leads to coronary heart disease, the number one killer in the United States.

Atherosclerosis Risk Factors
Hardening of the arteries happenAtherosclerosis Cholesterols to almost everyone as they age. However, some risk factors like an unhealthy diet filled with fatty foods can make this health condition happen earlier and faster than normal. Additional risk factors include:

  • High Blood Pressure
  • Excessive weight
  • Sedentary Lifestyle
  • Family history of atherosclerosis
  • Excessive alcohol consumption
  • Smoking

Symptoms of Atherosclerosis
In most cases, atherosclerosis causes no noticeable symptoms for the first few years. Once blood flow to the heart is slowed or stopped, shortness of breath, chest pain, and other symptoms may occur. Blockages or narrowed arteries can also cause problems in other parts of the body including the brain, kidneys, intestines, or legs. In fact, atherosclerosis can eventually cause both metabolic syndrome and kidney failure.

Atherosclerosis Treatment
The best treatment for this condition is prevention. Drastically reduce your risk factors by eating a healthy diet low in saturated fats, exercise at least 30 minutes every other day, restrict alcohol consumption, and stop smoking. Blood pressure and blood sugar levels should be monitored and kept within healthy limits. Patients with an extensive family history of coronary heart disease, peripheral artery disease, or stoke may need to take prescription medications to keep cholesterol levels low and take an aspirin daily to prevent blood clots.

Sources

  1. Healthy Blood Sugar Levels – Blood Sugar 360°
  2. Coronary Heart Disease – PubMed
  3. Atherosclerosis – Science Daily
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