August 2008

First Strike at a Silent Killer? (High Blood Pressure)

Friday, August 29, 2008 @ 11:08 AM

posted by Phil

The symptoms and signs of high blood pressure are extremely subtle and you may live with the disease for many years without knowing that you have it. The major damage it can cause includes coronary heart trouble, kidney failure or stroke. I am considered at risk, so I get my blood pressure taken often. I have even been known to sit down at one of those free checkers by the Pharmacy section in the Supermarket, just for kicks. I hear high blood pressure is often called the “silent killer” because there are not a lot of prominent symptoms. Here are some possible high blood pressure symptoms, but because they are so common, people tend to ignore them. If you have more than one of these pretty often, you might want to talk to your doctor.

Headache, Nosebleeds, Fatigue, Stress, Consistent Anger, Dizziness, Light headedness, Red Face

Something else you can do to alleviate the potential for high blood pressure is to change your lifestyle a bit. Studies prove that when an individual consistently maintains a healthy lifestyle for at least a year-and-a-half, the blood pressure reduces significantly.  There are an estimated 65 million adults that suffer with hypertension in the United States, while another 59 million are pre-hypertensive. As these numbers are extremely alarming, it is imperative that you understand the impact that a healthy lifestyle will have on your life.There are some simple things you can implement daily that will reduce your high blood pressure without medication being a part of your daily regimen.  A healthy diet not only helps with reducing high blood pressure, but you will also feel better mentally.

Add Fruits and Vegetables to Your Diet:
These are a good source of stable energy, low in calories, assist with curbing the appetite and work to regulate blood sugar. Reduce the total saturated fats also.

Add Whole Grains to Your Diet:
These are a powerful source of complex carbohydrates and help to control cholesterol levels.

Add Exercise/Physical Activity to Your Daily Lifestyle
Exercise 30 minutes a day. It promotes energy, and is a great cardiovascular workout!

Control Your Weight:
Maintain a normal weight. Use less alcohol and salt. Obesity is one of the major factors that cause high blood pressure.

Along with the above tips, there are some natural supplements that can help lower blood pressure.

One of the best herbs for high blood pressure is the tumeric. Tumeric is a powerful East-Indian herb used in curry dishes. Its extract contains curcumin which is a strong anti-inflammatory, which helps reduce cholesterol while also preventing clot formation.

Ginkgo biloba comes mainly from China. It improves blood circulation and dilates arteries to lower blood pressure.  Because the herb stimulates increased blood flow to the brain, the Ginkgo helps to improve memory and mental alertness.

Another good supplement is the ginger root. Ginger Root is commonly used for Asian cooking. It acts to improve blood circulation and relaxes muscles surrounding the blood vessels. Plus ginger is a powerful digestive herb; helping to eliminate nausea.

Other important nutrients used to protect your heart are vitamins. Coenzyme Q10 is an essential nutrient found in the body. The vitamin-like substance CoQ10 is a natural element required for the normal maintenance of the heart.

Calcium and magnesium are two popular minerals that reduce elevated blood pressure. If you take the recommended daily amounts, these minerals are an efficient dietary source that assists women with menopause in regard to estrogen levels and men and women over age 65.

Vitamin E helps reduce the risk of developing heart disease. And, the combination of Vitamin E and C may actually delay the progression of atherosclerosis.

The National Institution of Health (NIH) provides dietary as well as supplement recommendations to decrease your risk of becoming a victim of this condition. If balanced perfectly, taking herbs and vitamins for high blood pressure will ensure that you are receiving the maximum benefits for your body.

A Little Taste for the Heart

Wednesday, August 27, 2008 @ 06:08 AM
posted by Phil

I read an article posted on the HealthCentral Network, about alcohol, and cardiovascular health.

 Since I also wonder how much alcohol is the right amount for my heart, cardiovascular system, and cholesterol, but is also wrong for my liver and memory, I was interested in what he had to say.

He started with the ever popular “There is no easy answer.” But then went on to say that if you don’t drink now, and really don’t want to, there is no reason to start. If you have problems with alcohol, don’t expose yourself to it in the name of being good for your heart.

Also, if you have a strong family history of alcoholism, using alcohol to lower cardiovascular risk factors is probably not your best idea.

Here are some questions to ask, and a way to calculate your limits:

What, and how much are you drinking? When asked do you reply: “one drink a night” (mixed in a pitcher), or “some wine and a cocktail” (a bottle of wine and an endless cocktail). If you really don’t know the answer, you may have another problem other than a bad memory.

How much do you drink now, and how does it affect you? If a single glass of wine makes you tipsy, or impairs your abilities, you have reached your limit.

How big are you? Alcohol does most of its damage when the level in the blood is high. The larger you are, the more it takes to reach a high level; therefore the smaller you are, the less it takes.

Does your family have a history of alcohol intolerance? People are genetically different from one another and tolerate medications, and/or alcohol at different rates. Some people say they can drink a lot without a problem, but one Benadryl tablet wipes them out. If someone in your family has a low limit, expect you will have one too. Size and gender may be less important when it come to handling alcohol than genetic history.

Are you mixing types of alcohol? There are no good scientific studies on this, but an old French proverb about “mixing grain and grape”, or another Old Wives Tale we used to repeat as I was growing up beer and whiskey mighty risky. have yet to be discounted.

Here are some interesting alcohol facts:

A standard “shot” of whiskey is 45 cc, and if it is 86 proof (43% alcohol by volume), contains 19.35 cc of alcohol by volume: 100 calories.

As far as your diet goes, cocktails add calories to the whiskey, a minimum of about 75 calories for standard drinks, and if you add cream like in a White Russian, or an umbrella drink, you might just as well eat an ice cream. You get the extra calcium and can still drive.

A glass of wine is usually 6 oz (180cc), if it is 11% (most wines are 11-12%) it contains 19.8 cc of alcohol by volume, calories: 170 (120-270), sweet dessert wines have more calories).

Wine coolers: add the calories of the fruits and added sugar.
A can of beer is usually 12 oz (360cc), if it is 5% (most beer is 4-6%), it contains 18 cc of alcohol by volume, calories: 95 to 200 (darker beers have more calories).

A word to the wise is sufficient here. All studies linking alcohol to a reduction of cardiovascular problems are based on populations of adults of a certain age. There is no evidence of a health benefit to start drinking at an early age, or for drinking for long term. As with anything else, balance and moderation are good guidelines to follow.

Two apples a day doesn’t keep the doctor away more than one, five apples a day would not improve your health, but would give you extra bulk to carry around. Alcohol is the same way.

Why is Water so Good for Us?

Thursday, August 28, 2008 @ 12:08 PM
posted by Phil

Who hasn’t heard that you should drink more water. I certainly have, but I also have a hard time getting through a recommended amount every day. I realize that almost two thirds of my body is made up of water, and if I don’t replenish what I lose I start to suffer.

Government guidelines say we should drink at least eight glasses a day and some nutritionists claim that up to 80% of us are walking around dehydrated! This lack of fluid could affect your health, your weight and even your job so here is why you need it to stay healthy.

Water helps with weight loss.

Water naturally reduces your appetite. Many people confuse feeling thirsty with feeling hungry so they eat when their body wants them to drink something. When you’re dehydrated, fat cells become harder to break down and so if you’re trying to diet it’s a lot harder if you don’t drink very much.

Water stops headaches and dizziness.

Don’t reach for the aspirin right away, your headache could be a symptom of being dehydrated so drinking water should make it go away. Even tension headaches and dizziness, which can be brought on by fatigue can be cured or helped by drinking water. Fatigue is also a sign of dehydration.

Water clears your skin.

Yes drinking more water can be good for clear skin and it can also help the symptoms of acne. If you’re skin is dry, drinking water will give it more moisture, and flush toxins out of your body, along with anything else that shouldn’t be there, like dirt and bacteria.

It fights infections.

Drinking water can help fight infections all over your body, not only because it flushes out toxins but because when you’re dehydrated you’re more likely to catch a bug. This is especially true for getting rid of and preventing urine infections and kidney stones. Being well hydrated is also great for allergies and colds because it clears the airways. Even cold sores can be reduced by drinking more water because they tend to pop up in places where your skin is particularly dry.

It keeps you regular.

If you suffer from constipation or piles you may have been told to increase how much fiber you eat. This is definitely one way of getting rid of the problem but you’ll need to drink more water for the fiber to work properly. Otherwise it could have the opposite effect and make things worse.

It makes you exercise better.

We all know to replace the fluids you lose when you sweat with water, but what might not be obvious is that your body works better and harder during your workout if you drink water.

It improves concentration.

Our brain is made of around 85% water, so if you get dehydrated it can affect your concentration and even your short-term memory. Where was I? Oh yeah, water has a particularly strong effect on your math skills, because lack of water causes your brain’s energy levels to decrease.

It boosts your energy.

In the same way that not drinking enough water makes your brain slow down it has the same effect on your body.
Assuming your muscles are around 75% water, your bones are about 22% and your blood is about 83% water. If you’re dehydrated, all these body parts don’t work as well as they should, and as a result, you lack energy and feel tired or lethargic.

It supports your heart.

Your heart is the hardest working muscle in your body, and needs a lot of water to keep it going efficiently. When you get dehydrated your blood gets thicker, and the heart has to work even harder. And if your heart is weak it can lead to more serious heart problems later in life. Personally I help this along daily with a 81 mg. aspirin each morning.