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Ten steps to conquering heart disease

  • Written by ARA

umbrellaYou may already know that heart disease is the No. 1 killer in America, and that factors like obesity increase your risk of developing it. But of all the shocking things you know—  or believe you know — about heart disease, here’s the statistic that you might find the most eye-opening: 80 percent of all heart disease is preventable.

“It’s important that everyone understand as much as possible about heart disease prevention, as 80 percent of heart disease can be avoided,” says Dr. Martha Grogan, medical editor-in-chief of the new book “Mayo Clinic Healthy Heart for Life!”

Heart disease claims the lives of 600,000 Americans each year, and another 12.7 million suffer from heart attacks. One in three women are diagnosed with heart disease and 50 percent of men are at risk of heart attacks before age 65. Those statistics may make you feel like you, too, are in the cross-hairs for developing heart disease. Some lifestyle changes, however, can help you greatly reduce your risks.

In the new book, available now online and in bookstores nationwide, Mayo Clinic experts discuss risk factors for heart disease, how to recognize the symptoms, and what lifestyle steps you can take to help reduce your risk. The catchphrase “Eat 5, Move 10, Sleep 8” sums up the approach Mayo experts advocate to minimize heart disease risks. The slogan reminds you to eat five servings of fruits and vegetables each day, do at least 10 minutes of moderately intense physical exercise daily, and get at least eight hours of sleep per night.

In addition, Mayo experts say, 10 simple steps can help you minimize your risk of heart disease.

Here’s a sampling of the steps that you’ll find in the clinic’s new heart healthy book:

• Eat healthy - Adopt simple dietary changes such as eating at least five fruits and vegetables each day, switching to whole grains and lean proteins, and eating a healthy breakfast every day.

• Be active - A sedentary lifestyle is as deadly as smoking, experts say. Exercising just 10 minutes a day can deliver significant heart-health benefits. Have trouble sticking with an exercise plan? Finding something you enjoy doing, whether it’s playing a sport, running, tai chi, yoga or extreme house cleaning, can help you maintain your commitment to exercising.

• Sleep well - Sleep deprivation has serious health repercussions, including increasing your risk of heart disease. Conversely, getting adequate sleep can actually have a restorative effect on the heart. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says sleep deprivation has become a national public health epidemic. Creating a bedtime routine and a relaxing sleep environment can help you get the eight hours of sleep per night that your body needs.

• Plan for emergencies - A heart emergency can happen at any time, so it’s important to know the warning signs of a problem. Learn to recognize symptoms of a crisis, and act quickly to get medical help.

• Enjoy life - A positive attitude, supportive network of family and friends, and good management of your stress not only improve your heart health, they can improve your overall enjoyment of life, as well.

In addition to offering solid advice and the 10 steps to heart health, the “Mayo Clinic Healthy Heart for Life!” also discusses how the heart functions, what can go wrong, tools for ongoing heart health, and tips on how to keep your whole family heart healthy.

“Following these steps can help you dramatically reduce your risk of heart disease, even though it can’t be completely eliminated,” Grogan says. “If you’ve done everything in your power to prevent heart disease or live with it as effectively as possible, then you have, indeed, conquered it.”

Unscrambling the myths behind eggs and cholesterol - Enjoying an egg a day can be part of a healthy diet

  • Written by ARA

When it comes to eggs, dietary cholesterol and heart health, what you think you know may be a bit scrambled.

Concerns over dietary cholesterol and its impact on heart disease keeps many people from eating eggs, despite their nutritional benefits.

However, more than 40 years of research shows healthy adults can enjoy an egg every day without significantly impacting their risk of heart disease.

Cracking the cholesterol myth

Enjoying an egg a day as part of a healthy diet balanced with fruits and vegetables, whole grains and low-fat dairy, falls well within current cholesterol guidelines.

In fact, according to USDA data, one large egg is 14 percent lower in cholesterol than previously recorded, down from 212 mg to 185 mg, and is also 64 percent higher in vitamin D, with 41 IU per large egg.

Moreover, one large egg contains six grams of high-quality protein and 13 essential nutrients for 70 calories.

“Research shows that saturated fat may be more likely to raise a person’s blood cholesterol than dietary cholesterol,” says Neva Cochran, registered dietitian, nutrition writer and researcher for Woman’s World Magazine. “Eating a balanced breakfast with high-quality protein foods like eggs, along with other nutrient-rich foods like fruit and whole grains, is the best way to start the day. Unlike sugary foods, eggs have no simple sugars and contain no carbs, providing steady and sustained energy.”

Additionally, the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recognize eggs as a nutrient dense food and state that the consumption of one egg per day is not associated with risk of coronary heart disease or stroke in healthy adults.

And, eggs provide high-quality protein that helps build muscles and increases satiety for all-day energy, which can help maintain a healthy weight, an important factor in promoting overall health.


Incredible egg benefits

Cochran also points out that at an average of 15 cents apiece, eggs are an affordable, versatile, nutrient powerhouse that contribute to a healthy diet in many ways:

• Breakfast boosters: Research shows that eating high-quality protein foods for breakfast, like eggs, can help increase satiety, maintain long-lasting energy and improve cognitive skills like memory recall time.

• Sunshine supplement: Eggs are one of the few foods that are a naturally good source of vitamin D, meaning that one egg provides at least 10 percent of the recommended daily allowance.

Vitamin D plays an important role in calcium absorption, helping to form and maintain strong bones.

• Weight-loss companion: Research shows that eating eggs for breakfast can help overweight dieters lose more weight, lower their body mass index and shrink their waist more than eating a bagel of equal calories for breakfast.


Eggs are easy

Adding eggs to your breakfast routine can be easy, even on busy weekday mornings.

Whether you’re craving scrambled eggs, an omelet or an egg sandwich, microwaves can be an incredible time-saving tool, so you can start every day with a nutritious breakfast.

Try this quick and easy recipe next time you’re in a rush:

Egg and Cheese Breakfast Burrito

Ingredients:

1 flour tortilla (6-inch)

1 egg

1 tablespoon shredded Mexican cheese blend

1 tablespoon salsa

Directions:

1. Line 2-cup microwave-safe cereal bowl with microwave-safe paper towel. Press tortilla into bowl. Break egg into center of tortilla. Beat egg gently with a fork until blended, being careful not to tear tortilla.

2. Microwave on high 30 seconds; stir. Microwave until egg is almost set, 15 to 30 seconds longer.

3. Remove tortilla with paper towel liner from bowl to flat surface. Top egg with cheese and salsa. Fold bottom of tortilla over egg, then fold in sides.

For more information on the nutrition benefits of eggs or recipe ideas, visit www.eggnutritioncenter.org  or www.IncredibleEgg.org, “Like” the Incredible Edible Egg on Facebook or follow @IncredibleEggs on Twitter.

Resolved to quit smoking? Tips for saving on smoking cessasion products

  • Written by ARA
Although smoking is often touted as an expensive habit, nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) to aid in quitting smoking can seem like an expensive purchase as well. However, the use of NRT products to quit smoking can almost triple a smoker’s chances of success.

“Your best chances for success in quitting smoking are using a medication and counseling,” says Dr. Tom Peterson, smoking cessation expert and chair of Tobacco Free Partners. “You don’t need to go at it alone just because money is tight. The first option is to consider purchasing ‘store-brand’ NRT products.”

Allegan, Mich.-based Perrigo is a pharmaceutical company that manufactures and distributes most of the over-the-counter medications, including store-brand nicotine gum and nicotine lozenges. Perrigo estimates its store-brand over-the-counter NRT products save consumers, on average, 42 percent over comparable brand name products.

To find even more savings, individuals can regularly monitor retailers’ circular flyers and websites, and retailers will often discount NRT products.

The decision to stop smoking is an important one.  Below are some tips to get started:

• Follow a support plan. Personalized plans are available at smokefreehabits.com.

• When the desire to smoke strikes, do something else.

• Carry things to put in your mouth, like gum or hard candy.

Ready to hit the slopes?

  • Written by Dr. John P. Monahan, PT, DPT, Quality Care Physical Therapy, Inc.
Snow is falling in our beautiful mountains and we need to get our bodies ready.  It’s important to prevent injuries. The first step to prevent an injury is getting your equipment tuned up and to be truthful of your weight when your bindings are set.  Inaccurate weight will cause the tension to be wrong and may release your bindings too early or late causing an injury on the slopes.

You also need to get your body tuned up before skiing.  Exercises to train your body to get ready for the slopes are lunges, wall sits, leg press, hamstring curls and balance work. The most common injury while skiing is a tear of the Anterior Cruciate Ligament or ACL.  Our office has seen many of these injuries recently and prevention is very important to keep your knees healthy this season.  Your hamstrings are a key component for prevention of ACL injuries that we tend to forget while working out. Balance and agility are also important components of your workout. Attending an aerobics class or ski conditioning class can decrease your risk of injury.

Once you are on the mountain, take a few moments to stretch you quadriceps and hamstrings. You can stretch your quads by pulling your heel to your buttock. Stretch your hamstring by resting your heel on your bumper and leaning forward.  Another way to loosen your legs is to quickly shake your legs back and forth for 30 seconds causing a relaxation of your leg muscles and getting blood to your legs.  Think of a ski racer getting ready to race downhill.  He quickly moves his legs back and forth to ready his legs for quick movement.

Lastly, remember to match your energy level to the snow conditions, weather and your abilities.  Take a rest when you are tired.  Many of our patients have torn their ACL on the last run of the day when their bodies were tired. Are you going to hit the slopes or are the slopes going to hit you?

Symbiosis

  • Written by Alex Kraft, ND Lac
What if we need to take care of our beneficial intestinal bacteria (flora) as if they are pets? That we need to inoculate ourselves with them regularly, feed them properly and avoid things that harm them. What if we treat ourselves as mini-ecosystems and focus not on sterilization but instead on inoculation to maintain our health?  Perhaps even some of the modern day illnesses such as autism, Asperger’s, ADD/ADHD, asthma or eczema could be moderated or cured by living symbiotically with these bugs.

Why is that?

While the image of humans as walking Petri dishes is far from romantic, the fact that there are more bacteria in our intestines than cells in our bodies speaks to the importance these little creatures have on how we function. We have evolved with these bacteria for the past several million years and we wouldn’t survive without them. Like many things in natural medicine, this is not so much a new discovery as a re-emergence of something which has been occurring throughout history.  Over the past century, our collective flora has been disrupted by increased consumption of sugar and simple carbohydrates, and then made even worse by the overuse of antibiotics. But at this point in history, our culture has begun to move past the war on bugs and has even started to embrace them.

For evidence of this, look no further than probiotic enhanced yogurt in TV commercials. Yes, keep your bugs healthy and happy and they will reward you.

I’m going to propose that many “modern” diets (Atkins, Paleolithic, Specific Carbohydrate, or just plain low-carb) improve the intestinal environment for our little friends.

While weight loss is typically the reason behind these dietary changes, they all include limiting the consumption of simple sugars which feed our flora and increasing beneficial fats instead.

Some dietary sugars or fiber is necessary, but the overabundance of sugars and simple carbohydrates in the Standard American Diet (SAD) allows both good and bad bugs to flourish in our digestive tract.

Many of the dominant flora have a positive influence on our health, but other species which are only supposed to exist in small amounts will, given the opportunity, multiply and become intestinal bullies.

But autism and attention deficit disorder – how are those related to our buggy friends?  We have come to realize that these little critters influence such diverse things as intestinal health, tolerance to allergens and even immune system stimulation.  Naturopathic medicine has long addressed food allergies, but what we have come to see is that sometimes intestinal dysbiosis (growth of bad bacteria) can make these food allergies worse or the bacteria can produce toxins which we react to directly. When our intestines are inflamed and unhappy, the incidence or degree of food allergies increases.

And many modern diseases such as autism, ADD, eczema, auto-immune conditions and asthma have been shown to sometimes be caused by, or contributed to, by food allergies.

Easy ways to address the balance of our digestive flora include limiting dietary sugars and simple carbohydrates, and limiting antibiotic use when possible.

In addition to this, incorporating fermented foods (with “live active cultures”) and/or taking probiotics are good ways to make sure that our protective petri dishes continue to nourish us into the future.

Should we continue to use antibiotics? – Of course, when needed.  Were the “superbugs” created by us from the overuse of antibiotics in humans and livestock? – Again, yes.

The point is that being healthy and staying healthy requires both the propagation of good bugs as well as the avoidance of bad ones.

We need regular ingestion of good bugs, and we need to do what we can to make it less hospitable for the bad bugs.

The bacteria which have evolved with us for millions of years and lived in our bodies long before the agricultural revolution will be just fine with our new diet.

For an assessment of your intestinal health and to reestablish a positive relationship with YOUR bugs, contact Health Moves.

Dr. Kraft is a Naturopathic Doctor and licensed Acupuncturist. He may be reached at: Health Moves, 17311 135th Ave NE Ste. C-800, Woodinville, WA 98072. Phone: 425.402.9999 or www.HealthMoves.org.