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15 Health Benefits of Omega-3 Fats in Vascular Disease

by Cindy Gray

While fish and fish oil have long been accepted sources of omega-3 fats, these essential fats are also present in a wide variety of plant-based foods and supplements. They are a necessary component of the membrane of each cell in our body and help to correct or prevent many adverse health conditions.

The term ‘omega-3 fat’ refers to a group of three polyunsaturated fatty acids (or PUFAs) that share certain characteristics. These fats are mainly referred to by their acronyms ALA (alpha-linolenic acid), EPA (eicosatetraenoic acid) and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid).15 BENEFITS OF OMEGA-3 FATS

According to scientific research, these are some of the many benefits of omega 3-fats it they apply to vascular disease:

  1. Dietary supplementation with flaxseed oil lowers blood pressure (BP) in people with elevated blood lipids, known as dyslipidemia.

  2. Omega 3 fats improve the cardiovascular risk profile of subjects with metabolic syndrome, including markers of inflammation and autoimmunity.

  3. In modest doses, omega-3 fats reduce incidence of cardiac deaths; while in high doses they reduce non-fatal cardiovascular events.

  4. Dietary supplementation with omega-3 fats reduces incidence of sudden cardiac death in patients with myocardial infarction (MI) or heart attack.

  5. Omega-3 fat supplementation reduces total mortality and sudden death in patients who have already had one heart attack.

  6. Consuming fish is associated with a reduction in coronary heart disease incidence.

  7. Omega-3 fat and vitamin D supplementation leads to a substantial reduction in coronary calcium scores and slows plaque growth.

  8. Omega-3 fats improve macro- and micro-vascular function in patients with type 2 diabetes.

  9. Omega-3 fats improve endothelial function in peripheral arterial disease.

  10. Fish oil has a beneficial effect on blood viscosity in peripheral vascular disease.

  11. The omega-3 fat docosapentaenoic acid (DPA) reduces the risk of peripheral arterial disease associated with smoking.

  12. Fish and long-chain omega-3 fat intake reduce coronary heart disease risk and total mortality in diabetic women.

  13. Higher plasma concentrations of EPA and DPA are associated with a lower risk of non-fatal myocardial infarction or heart attack in women.

  14. Omega-3 fat consumption is inversely associated with incidence of high blood pressure, known as hypertension.

  15. Fish consumption reduces ischemic stroke risk in elderly individuals.

If you’re not sure how you can add omega-3 fats to your daily diet, we have just the solution for you!

Omega-3 supplements and comprehensive heart health formulas should contain enhanced ingredients to help protect your entire cardiovascular system. Often formulated with optimized levels of both EPA and DHA omega-3 fats, these supplements should be sourced from a certified sustainable and responsibly managed Alaskan fishery.

Given the many proven benefits of omega-3 fats in vascular disease, why not begin an omege-3 supplementation routine today?

 

Source:

15 Health Benefits of Omega-3 Fats In Vascular Disease.

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9 Warning Signs of Vitamin D Deficiency

by Cindy Gray

As far back as the 1930s, doctors first recognized the link between vitamin D deficiency and the skeletal disease called rickets, which causes a softening of the bones and teeth.

Today, new research has shed light on many other illnesses which appear to be caused by more subtle forms of vitamin D deficiency.

The term vitamin D refers to both vitamin D2, which we typically get from our diet, and vitamin D3, which is manufactured by our skin when exposed to sunlight. Vitamin D's main function in the body is to regulate blood levels of calcium and phosphorous.

This vital nutrient is found at the highest concentrations in fatty fish such as tuna, mackerel and salmon. Some mushrooms are also high in vitamin D.

While our skin cells do make some of the vitamin D that we need, sun exposure alone may not be enough, so supplementation may be required. Factors such as skin color, the time of year, the angle of the sun, cloud cover, pollution levels and the use of sunscreen can greatly limit the amount of vitamin D made by our skin.

Some people who have vitamin D deficiency may not have any symptoms. Others may experience restless sleep, muscle cramps, general fatigue, joint pain, muscle pain or weakness, inability to concentrate, headaches, constipation or diarrhea and bladder problems.

Here are nine serious medical conditions that have been linked to vitamin D deficiency:

  1. Asthma - daily vitamin D supplementation has been shown to lessen asthma attacks and reduce their severity

  2. Depression - vitamin D deficiencies have been linked to depression and other psychiatric illnesses. Getting enough D during pregnancy has been shown to lessen the chances that the unborn child will develop mental illness later in life

  3. Heart disease - is much more common in people deficient in vitamin D

  4. High blood pressure (BP) - has been associated with deficiencies in calcium, magnesium, potassium and vitamin D

  5. Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) - vitamin D can ease the pain and stiffness associated with RA, a devastating disease that causes systemic inflammation, severe pain and joint damage

  6. Multiple sclerosis (MS) - the farther from the equator you live and the less sun exposure you get, the more likely you are to develop MS, suggesting a strong link between MS and vitamin D

  7. Cancer risk - has been strongly linked to D deficiencies, including breast cancer, prostate cancer and colon cancer

  8. Periodontal disease - inflammation of the gums can cause pain, bleeding and tooth loss. Vitamin D helps to lower the number of harmful mouth bacteria

  9. Diabetes - poor blood sugar control may be a symptom of vitamin D deficiency, leading to an increased risk of developing diabetes

Given the many health risks of not having enough vitamin D in your body, perhaps it’s time to supplement your diet with this vital nutrient right away?

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5 HEALTH BENEFITS OF DIETARY FIBER

by Institute for Vibrant Living

You likely already know that adding fiber to your diet is a great way to improve your regularity or to treat constipation.

However, the fact is that dietary fiber - ideally from plants and nuts - has many other important health benefits, including -  

5 HEALTH BENEFITS OF DIETARY FIBER

  1. Blood sugar control - because it is not broken down by the body, fiber in an apple or a slice of whole grain bread has no effect on blood glucose levels. Of course, most foods that contain fiber - such as fruits, vegetables, whole grain breads, cereals and pastas - also contain other types of non-fiber carbohydrates such as sugar and starch that do raise blood sugar levels. According to a recent study, people with diabetes who ate 50 grams of fiber daily - especially soluble fiber - were able to control their blood sugar much better than those who ate far less. The average person needs to consume between 20-35 grams of fiber every day.
  2. Better heart health - fiber-rich foods are clearly associated with lower risk of heart disease. Research shows that people who regularly consume a high-fiber diet have a 40 percent lower risk of heart disease. A high-fiber diet also lowers levels of LDL ‘bad’ cholesterol and reduces blood pressure (BP). 
  3. Stroke protection - getting more fiber can reduce risk of stroke. Researchers found that each seven-gram increase in total daily fiber intake was associated with a 7 percent decrease in first-time stroke risk. One serving of whole wheat pasta plus two servings of fruits or vegetables provides about 7 grams of fiber. 
  4. Effective weight loss management - a high-fiber diet tends to be low in calories and takes longer to eat. It makes you feel full sooner and for longer. Also, if you're eating more fiber, you're eating less of other foods that cause weight gain - which is also beneficial for heart health. 
  5. Radiant skin health - fiber helps to make your skin appear radiant and healthy. Along with water, fiber cleanses the body of fats and toxins. For example, adding psyllium husk to your diet helps to remove harmful yeast and fungus out of your body, instead of being excreted through your skin where they could trigger acne or rashes.

What are the best sources of fiber? 

Vegetables are a major dietary source including artichokes, cooked green peas and broccoli. Fruits high in fiber include raspberries and pears, eaten with the skin. Legumes - including split peas, black beans and lentils - are also an excellent source of dietary fiber. 

Another way to get adequate fiber in your diet is to take a daily serving of a psyllium supplement. One serving with 8 ounces of water will provide you with about 20% of your daily fiber needs.

Psyllium seed husks are hygroscopic, which means they expand and become mucilaginous on contact with water. Being indigestible, they are a source of soluble dietary fiber and are typically used to relieve constipation, irritable bowel syndrome and diarrhea. They are also used as a dietary supplement to improve and maintain regularity. 

Recent research has shown that psyllium seed husks may also be effective in lowering cholesterol and controlling certain types of diabetes. Other uses include gluten-free baking, where ground psyllium seed husks are used to bind moisture and make breads less crumbly.

 

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Herbs that Help To Increase Energy

by Institute for Vibrant Living

Do you struggle daily with lack of energy or chronic fatigue? Many people do, but do not know how to increase energy levels without the help of caffeine and sugar.

how to increase energy levels with Herbs

Instead of turning to coffee, so-called energy drinks or other stimulants, you might want to try supplementing with adaptogenic herbs to increase your energy levels.  

While stimulants like caffeine may give your body a ‘kick’ in the short-term, they also place a heavy strain on your adrenal cortex (an organ which regulates stress) by causing it to work harder than normal to produce more energy.

On the other hand, adaptogenic herbs like ashwagandha - also known as Indian ginseng - actually give your adrenal cortex the nutrients it needs to generate steady, long-lasting, stress-resistant energy.

In fact, adaptogenic herbs increase your body's natural resistance to almost every type of stress - which takes a large burden off your adrenal system.

For example, athletic competition involves both physical and mental stress. In such cases, long-term consumption of adaptogenic herbs will help to improve both your training effectiveness and overall performance. Also, they are typically harmless when used over long periods of time with few if any dangerous or unpleasant side effects.

In Ayurvedic medicine ashwagandha is believed to not only increase energy levels, but also boost learning and memory.

For example, in a 1993 clinical study, fifty people complaining of lethargy and fatigue for 2-6 months were given an adaptogenic tonic made up of eleven herbs, including 760 mg of ashwagandha once a day.

After just one month of taking the ashwagandha mixture, the patients reported an average 45% improvement in their moods. Their blood plasma protein levels and hemoglobin - two factors used to measure overall health - also increased significantly.

Yet another study compared the adaptogenic and anabolic (ability to promote growth of lean body mass) effects of Korean ginseng and ashwagandha in mice. Groups of six mice were fed 100 mg/kg water extract of either ginseng, ashwagandha or saline for seven days.

On the eighth day, their endurance levels were tested with a swim test. Their average swim times were measured as 62 minutes for Korean ginseng, 82 minutes for ashwagandha; and 35 minutes for saline.

Clearly, ashwagandha is a superior adaptogenic herb when it comes to increasing energy and performance levels.

If you’re experiencing low energy and chronic fatigue, it can be a result of overexposure to stress. Stress not only takes the joy out of life but can also lead to insomnia, high blood pressure, heart disease and other adverse health effects.

 

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The Key Supplement for a Healthy Heart?

by Health News

Looking for some high blood pressure remedies? The best vitamin supplement for a healthy heart is vitamin B. Taking Vitamin B supplements may just be one of the key components to healthy aging. Let’s take a closer look at this essential vitamin.Looking for some high blood pressure remedies? Learn how Vitamin B supplements may be able to help.

The vitamin B complex is a group of 11 separate, water-soluble nutrients: B1 (thiamine), B2 (riboflavin), B3 (niacin), B5 (pantothenic acid), B6, B12, biotin, folic acid, para-aminobenzoic acid (PABA), choline, and inositol.

Of these, vitamins B6 and B12, as well as folic acid and niacin are the most beneficial for heart health.

B6 helps block blood clotting, lowers blood pressure, and reduces blood cholesterol levels. It also works to reduce homocysteine levels, which is a good thing, as this toxic substance has been shown to increase your risk of heart attacks and strokes. 

B12 is necessary for the production of healthy red blood cells. Like B6, it too reduces homocysteine levels, as well as improving arterial function, maintaining healthy cholesterol levels, and promoting blood vessel dilation.

Folic acid is necessary for the production of healthy red blood cells. It also supports the adrenal glands to enhance energy and stamina, helps to maintain healthy homocysteine levels and arterial function, and supports normal cholesterol levels, blood vessel dilation, and decreased plasma viscosity. 

Niacin has been shown to raise HDL cholesterol and lower LDL cholesterol. It also helps dilate your blood vessels, which increases blood flow and helps lower blood pressure.

Aim for 10-12 mg of B6, 50-65 mcg B12, 400 mcg folic acid, and 10-25 mg of niacin daily. Just be sure to take B vitamins with breakfast or lunch rather than at night, as they can be too stimulating.


 

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Four Common Myths About Calcium

by Institute for Vibrant Living

You’ve probably heard of the old saying - ‘Milk does a body good’.

Most people have been raised to accept this as gospel. However, more and more health experts are now saying that not only are we not getting much benefit from Four Common Myths About Calciumcalcium consumption, but it may in fact be actively sabotaging our health.

Calcium is essential for bodily function, but it seems we may be pumping too much of it into our bodies. The fact is, most healthy adults don’t need to consume a lot of calcium - and that need rapidly decreases with age.

Here's the scary thing - excess calcium consumption has been shown to raise risk of heart disease, high blood pressure (BP), strokes, cancer and other chronic diseases. In fact, it increases the overall likelihood of death - known as all-cause mortality - by a staggering 250 percent!

Here are four common myths about calcium you may need to rethink:

  1. Osteoporosis means calcium deficiency - yes it does, but only in bones. It’s not necessarily true that calcium deficiency exists throughout the rest of the body, so consuming more calcium will not always solve the problem. The real problem with osteoporosis is that the body is unable to make new bone and integrate calcium into it - a problem that pumping in more calcium will not solve. The real problem is that most of the calcium leached from bones moves to other parts of the body, where it can be toxic to health.
  2. Dairy products are the best source of calcium - the fact is, you don’t need dairy to get enough calcium. Cultures that drink little to no milk have a much lower incidence of osteoporosis than Americans do. The average person's need for calcium can be easily met by consuming moderate amounts of meat, eggs and vegetables.
  3. More bone density means stronger bones - bone density may indeed improve a little with calcium supplementation, but this does not automatically lead to stronger bones or lower risk of fracture. In fact, bone quality doesn't improve unless other important factors are also addressed.
  4. Bone fracture is the biggest danger in osteoporosis - bone fractures are a serious business, no doubt. However, having a fracture is much less serious than suffering or dying from a heart attack, stroke or cancer. A groundbreaking study showed a 60 percent increase in the risk of death for individuals with lower bone densities - in whom calcium had likely leached to other parts of the body - compared to those with the highest bone densities.

These myths about calcium are currently accepted as fact by most people, and even some healthcare givers. More and more health experts are saying - and with good reason - that raising calcium concentrations is not beneficial, and it can even be toxic for health.

Source: Four Common Myths About Calcium.   

 

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How Olive Oil And Veggies Protect Against High Blood Pressure

by Institute for Vibrant Living

According to a new study led by King's College London, a diet that combines unsaturated fats such as those seen in olive oil, nuts and avocados along with nitrite Best Diet for Lowering High Blood Pressureand nitrate-rich vegetables like lettuce, spinach, celery and carrots, can protect against high blood pressure (BP).

These findings may help to explain why the so-called ‘Mediterranean diet’ has previously been shown to lower BP, along with reducing other risk factors for heart disease.

The Mediterranean diet uses olive oil for cooking and is typically rich in fruits and vegetables, beans, nuts and seeds, whole grain bread and unrefined cereals. Dairy products, eggs, fish and poultry are consumed only in low to moderate amounts, with little or no red meat and moderate consumption of wine.

Combined with a healthy lifestyle such as increased physical activity, moderate alcohol consumption and not smoking, this diet has previously been shown to lower death rates caused by heart disease.

Key to this protective effect appears to be that when unsaturated fats are combined with nitrite and nitrate-rich foods, compounds called nitro fatty acids are formed.

Researchers in this study investigated whether nitro fatty acids lower BP in mice. Specifically, they examined whether nitro fatty acids can inhibit an enzyme known as soluble Epoxide Hydrolase, which is known to regulate BP.

As the study results show, consumption of nitro fatty acids lowered BP in normal mice. On the other hand, mice that were genetically engineered to be resistant to inhibition of soluble Epoxide Hydrolase still had high BP despite being fed the same diet.

This study concludes that the protective effect of the Mediterranean diet has to do at least in part from the generation of nitro fatty acids, which inhibit soluble Epoxide Hydrolase to lower BP.

These findings may help to explain why the Mediterranean diet - supplemented with extra-virgin olive oil and nuts - has been shown to reduce the risk and incidence of cardiovascular events like stroke, heart failure and heart attacks.

Given the many health benefits of the Mediterranean diet, why not adopt it today?

Source: How Olive Oil and Veggies Protect Against High Blood Pressure (BP).
 

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Barley Grass: Benefits For The Heart

by Institute for Vibrant Living

Did you know that barley grass is a nutrient-packed ‘green superfood’ with multiple health benefits - including clearing up skin problems, healing ulcers and lowering the risk for heart disease and stroke? In fact, many people concerned with cardiovascular health have started adding barley grass to their diet as a high blood pressure natural treatment.

Green foods refer to young cereal grasses like barley grass and wheatgrass. During the early grass stage of their growth, barley and wheat are closer to vegetables than grains. However, as they grow further, their healthful chlorophyll, protein and vitamin levels fall sharply while levels of the indigestible fiber cellulose rises.

Barley Grass: High Blood Pressure Natural Treatment

Amazing, but true - an ounce of barley grass, wheatgrass and other green foods contains many more beneficial phytonutrients than an ounce of the healthiest green vegetables!

A concentrated source of several vitamins and minerals, barley grass is also rich in calcium, iron, potassium and chlorophyll. Unlike most plants, barley grass provides all nine essential amino acids, which your body can't produce on its own.

Back in 2002, researchers in Taiwan examined the effects of supplementation of young barley leaf extract - along with vitamins C and E - on the oxidation of low-density lipoprotein (LDL) in patients with type 2 diabetes. LDL oxidation is one of the first, critical steps in the development of atherosclerosis, which leads to heart disease.

Thirty-six patients with type 2 diabetes were enrolled in the Taiwanese study. Each patient received either extract of young barley leaf, vitamin C plus vitamin E alone, or barley extract plus the 2 vitamins daily for 4 weeks.

At the end of the study, the researchers observed that the vitamin E content of LDL increased significantly following supplementation, especially for the group that consumed barley leaf plus the 2 vitamins.

Atherosclerosis is responsible for heart disease and associated deaths in much of the world’s population. LDL oxidation is a critical first step in the development of atherosclerosis. Dietary antioxidants such as vitamin E lower atherosclerosis risk by reducing oxidative stress and preventing LDL oxidation.

This study shows that supplementation with extract of young barley leaf - especially in the presence of vitamins C and E - is likely to prevent LDL oxidation, thereby protecting patients with type 2 diabetes against vascular diseases including heart disease and stroke.

Talk to your doctor to see if taking barley grass supplements as a high blood pressure natural treatment is right for you.

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Barley Grass: A Powerful Green Anti-Cancer Superfood

by Institute for Vibrant Living

What are superfoods - and do they really exist?

According to Dr. Christine Horner, superfoods are any nutrient-dense foods that contain high levels of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, anti-inflammatory compunds and more.

For instance, a certain nutrient-packed ‘ green food has been shown to kill several different types of cancer cells in the laboratory setting - more on this a little later.

Green foods refer to young cereal grasses like barley grass and wheatgrass. During the early grass stage of their growth, wheat and barley are closer to vegetables than grains. However, as the plant grows, their healthful chlorophyll, protein and vitamin content falls sharply while the level of the indigestible fiber cellulose rises.

Barley Grass: A Powerful Green Anti-Cancer Superfood | Institute for Vibrant Living

Did you know that an ounce of these green foods contains many more beneficial phytonutrients than an ounce of the healthiest green vegetables?

Many experimental studies show that green foods have marked beneficial effects on cholesterol, blood pressure (BP), immune response and cancer prevention. These effects are attributed in part to their high concentrations of chlorophyll.

Barley grass is the seedling of the barley plant. It is usually harvested about 200 days after germination, when the shoots are less than a foot tall.

A concentrated source of nearly three dozen vitamins and minerals, barley grass is rich in vitamins A, C, B1, B2, folic acid and B12 as well as calcium, iron, potassium and chlorophyll. Unlike most plants, barley grass also provides all nine essential amino acids, which your body can't produce on its own.

While there have been no clinical trials of barley grass, in a laboratory experiment at George Washington University, leukemia (blood cancer) cells were exposed to dehydrated barley grass extract. The extract killed virtually all of them.

Next, researchers exposed brain cancer cells to the extract - and it eradicated 30-50% of these cells. And in a third trial, the extract inhibited the growth of three types of prostate cancer cells by 90-100%!

If you don’t feel like growing it yourself, barley grass is available commercially as a supplement both in powder and tablet form. Dried barley grass is easier to handle than fresh grasses, which must be juiced. 

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Watermelon Lowers Blood Pressure (Bp)

by Institute for Vibrant Living

Did you know that watermelon can lower your blood pressure (BP)?

Food scientists at Florida State University conducted a pilot study on four men and five postmenopausal women - all of whom suffered from prehypertension - between the ages of 51 to 57 years.  Each of these subjects was daily given six grams of the amino acid L-citrulline/L-arginine - derived from watermelon extract - for a period of six weeks. 

Watermelon Lowers Blood Pressure (Bp) | Institute for Vibrant Living

L-citrulline is converted in the body to L-arginine, which is needed for the formation of nitric oxide (NO). NO is necessary for blood vessels to keep a proper tone and to maintain a healthy BP.

At the end of the pilot study, all nine participants showed improved arterial function and lower aortic BP - indicating that watermelon is effective against prehypertension, a precursor to cardiovascular disease.

L-arginine is available as a dietary supplement. However, it can cause nausea, gastrointestinal tract discomfort and diarrhea when taken regularly. On the other hand, eating watermelon causes none of those effects.

Study researchers say that watermelon dilates blood vessels, which may the underlying reason that it can prevent prehypertension from developing into hypertension - a major risk factor for heart attack and stroke.

Watermelon is the richest edible natural source of L-citrulline. It is also a good source of vitamins A, B6 and C as well as fiber, potassium and the antioxidant lycopene. 

A previous study had shown that L-citrulline supplementation slows the increase in aortic BP in response to cold exposure which, combined with hypertension, is associated with higher rates of myocardial infarction (MI).

Along with L-citrulline, high levels of potassium along with watermelon’s refreshing hydrating quality contribute to its beneficial effects on heart health.

Source: Watermelon lowers Blood Pressure (BP).

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How Do I Lower My Blood Pressure Naturally?

by Health News

February is Heart Health Awareness month. This month we are dedicated to raising your awareness and increasing your knowledge about how to keep your heart healthy. Lower Blood Pressure Naturally | Institute for Vibrant Living

Get educated on the dangers of heart disease, teach you natural tips to preventing high blood pressure and get on track to better heart health. To celebrate, we are offering you a FREE heart health report. Download  Healthy Blood Pressure for Life, today.

Check out these lifestyle strategies to ensure good heart health.

Don’t Smoke – Pack-a-day smokers experience more than twice the risk of having a heart attack than do nonsmokers, and smoking affects others.  It is estimated that roughly 35,000 nonsmokers annually die from heart disease as a result of second-hand exposure to tobacco smoke.
 
Be Active – There are numerous studies that have found regular exercise can help reverse problems that lead to atherosclerosis and coronary artery disease.  Work gradually to achieve 30 to 45 minutes of exercise, three to four times per week.
 
Limit Alcohol Consumption – While moderate amounts of alcohol can protect the heart by raising HDL (good) cholesterol and reducing arterial plaque, more than three drinks a day can lead to an enlarged and weakened heart, congestive heart failure, a higher triglyceride level, high blood pressure and stroke.
 
Eat Well and Control Weight – Maintain a healthy weight with a Mediterranean-style diet which is known for its low incidence of heart disease.  This diet features whole grains, fruits, vegetables, seafood and healthy fats.  Also to ensure good cardiovascular health, take a daily natural supplement that specifically benefits heart health – these can be found through natural supplement websites.

 

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What are the Best Recipes to Keep Your Heart Healthy

by Institute for Vibrant Living

Your diet can make or break your best health intentions. And this is especially true when it comes to your blood pressure

If you are eating an inflammatory, acidic, highly processed, sugar-laden, salt-filled diet, then medications and even supplements will only hold you over for so long. Soon, you’ll need to either up your dosage, take it more frequently, or start adding in prescription after prescription just to offset your damaging diet.

Fortunately, the reverse is also true. If you clean up your diet and choose foods that are alkaline rather than acid, rich in antioxidants and fiber, and low in sodium, then you can not only work to get off medications, you may be able to maintain healthy blood pressure levels for life. And, best of all, the solutions can be downright delicious!

To help you lower your blood pressure naturally and delectably, download and try these heart-healthy recipes.They all boast high antioxidant levels, amazing amounts of fiber, powerful anti-inflammatory oils and spices, and low to no sodium. 

Heart Healthy Recipes 

 

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Regulate Digestive System: How Common Medications May Cause Digestive Problems

by Nancy Maneely

Regulate Digestive SystemIf you suffer from occasional digestive upsets – and who doesn’t? – do you reach for the contents of your medicine cabinet? If so, you may be doing more harm than good.

The best way to eliminate digestive problems like constipation, diarrhea, heartburn, excessive gas, or bloating, is to prevent them from happening in the first place. This we can do by drinking lots of water; eating smaller, more frequent meals; avoiding sugary sweets and drinks (the body has trouble processing sugar overloads); and making sure to replenish the “good” bacteria of the gut with probiotics (either in foods or a daily supplement).

In fact, many medications – both over-the-counter and prescription – can ramp up digestive problems. And ironically, some of the drugs we look to for digestive relief can be the worst offenders. Here are some medications to avoid when you are experiencing digestive upset:

  1. Antacids – The powerful acid blockers on the market today are effective at reducing stomach acid. The problem is, you need that acid to help digest and absorb the nutrients in food. And you also need it to destroy bad bacteria that invade your system. A study in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA, Oct. 4, 2007) found that people who took antacids had four times more pneumonia, because they didn’t have enough stomach acid to protect them against bacteria and viruses.
  2. Laxatives – These may seem to work at first, but there are two downsides: Many people experience irritation of the bowel as a result of the harsh ingredients in most products, and the relief is temporary which can lead to dependence.
  3. NSAIDS and aspirin – These can upset and even damage your intestinal lining.
  4. Antibiotics – There’s no question that antibiotics can be necessary and effective at destroying harmful bacteria, but they also kill off the friendly flora that live in your digestive tract. Antibiotics encourage the overgrowth of the yeast Candida albicans, which can damage the lining of the small intestine and lead to digestive problems.
  5. Other drugs – Some medications tend to relax the lower esophageal sphincter, allowing acid to back up into the esophagus. These include antihistamines, beta-2 agonists for asthma, calcium channel blockers for high blood pressure, nitrates for angina, and tricyclic antidepressants.

Most of us know our bodies well enough to predict which foods cause the most trouble internally. In general, it is best to avoid the worst offenders like trans fats, processed meats, sodas, and low-fiber foods such as white bread and pasta). Many people are lactose intolerant and need to avoid dairy products, which can bring on painful bloating and gas. Other common food allergies include soy, peanuts, eggs and wheat. The best way to test for food sensitivities is to eliminate the suspected foods completely from your diet for several weeks and then add them back in. Keep a daily food journal while you are doing this.

Try incorporating foods that are good for digestion into your daily diet. These include: yogurt or kefir, sweet potato, winter squash, banana, apples, berries, whole grains, sauerkraut, peas, beets, and celery.

What’s your favorite natural remedy for problems related to digestive upset?

Read More:
EverydayHealth.com: Digestive Health

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Maintaining Healthy Blood Pressure with Natto

by Institute for Vibrant Living

Do you know that there is a healthy, natural way to lower your blood pressure (BP) - and keep it low?

High BP is a serious condition that can lead to coronary heart disease, heart failure, stroke, kidney failure and other serious health problems if left untreated. ‘Blood pressure’ means the force of blood pushing against the walls of your arteries as your heart pumps blood.

NATTO BP: HOW TO LOWER YOUR BP, NATURALLY

If your BP rises and stays high over time, it can damage your body in many ways.

About 1 in 3 adults in the United States has high BP, a condition with no obvious signs or symptoms. In fact, you can have it for years without knowing it. But during this time, high BP silently damages your heart, blood vessels, kidneys and other parts of your body.

In 1995, researchers at Miyazaki Medical College and Kurashiki University of Science and Arts in Japan discovered that a food item called Natto, made from fermented soybeans, could relax blood vessel walls and keep BP low, naturally.  

On average, systolic BP (the top number) decreased from 174 to 155, while diastolic BP (the bottom number) dropped from 101 to 91 - an overall drop of roughly 10% in 4 out of 5 study volunteers given Natto.

How does Natto do this?

Renin is an enzyme made in your kidney. It circulates in your bloodstream and breaks down the protein angiotensinogen (made in your liver) into the peptide angiotensin I. Angiotensin I has no action on blood vessels, but is converted by another enzyme known as ACE into angiotensin II - which is a potent constrictor of all blood vessels.

Angiotensin II acts on smooth muscles in arteries to raise the resistance they pose to the heart. The heart tries to overcome this increase in its 'load' and works harder, causing BP to rise.

What has all this got to do with Natto?

The Japanese have been eating Natto for nearly a thousand years - for its taste, and for what it does for their energy, memory, skin and digestion.

But it wasn’t until 1987 that researchers at Miyazaki Medical College discovered exactly what makes Natto so good for your health. They discovered a strong enzyme activity in Natto that breaks down fibrin - the protein that makes your blood clot when you bleed from a wound - and named this enzyme nattokinase.

Too much fibrin can make your blood too thick and too sticky, slow down your circulation, raise BP and cause unhealthy clotting activity. In one study of 12 healthy Japanese volunteers, consuming Natto reduced the time it took to dissolve a clot by nearly half.

Nattokinase also blocks the action of the enzyme ACE, meaning it lowers production of angiotensin II. In other words - Natto potently lowers BP and keeps it low by acting via two separate modes of action. No wonder the Japanese are so fond of it.

Talk to your healthcare provider about adding a Natto supplement to your diet.

Source

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What are the Benefits of Green Tea?

by Health News

What are the Benefits of Green Tea?A 2012 study from Poland shows that regular consumption of green tea extract improves blood pressure (BP), while simultaneously lowering blood sugar levels and markers of inflammation in obese patients with hypertension.

Depending on how it’s made, tea can be either green, black or Oolong - all of which are harvested from the leaves and buds of the same plant, Camellia sinensis, using different methods.

The beneficial actions of green tea in the prevention of cancer as well as cardiovascular, neurodegenerative and other diseases are well known. For example, regular consumption of green tea extract has been shown to significantly reduce weight, body mass index (BMI), waist size and total body fat. Levels of LDL or ‘bad’ cholesterol were also reduced.

Most of these consequences of green tea consumption are attributed to a group of green tea polyphenols called flavonoids that are known to be strong antioxidants, although exactly how they do this still remain unclear. Studies also indicate that green tea catechins - powerful flavonoid antioxidants found in high levels in green tea - may lower risk of type 2 diabetes.

In the current study carried out at the Poznan University of Medical Sciences in Poland, three months of consuming green tea extract significantly lowered levels of inflammation, along with reducing both systolic and diastolic BP.

Green tea extract also influenced cardiovascular and diabetes risk factors such as insulin resistance and oxidative stress in these patients, reported the study authors.

In this double-blind, placebo-controlled trial, 56 obese subjects with hypertension were randomly assigned to be supplemented daily with either green tea extract or a control treatment for up to 3 months. BP, levels of blood lipids, blood sugar, insulin and markers of inflammation as well as total antioxidant status were measured both before the start of the study and after 3 months of treatment with green tea extract.

After 3 months, both systolic and diastolic BP had significantly decreased in patients consuming green tea - not only that, fasting blood sugar, insulin and insulin resistance were all reduced in this group as well.

Inflammation markers were also significantly lower after green tea extract therapy, while total antioxidant status was higher in this group after 3 months.

Supplementation with green tea extract also contributed to significant lowering of both total and LDL or ‘bad’ cholesterol and triglycerides, along with increased levels of HDL or ‘good’ cholesterol.

The study authors wrote in their conclusion that daily supplementation with green tea extract favorably influences BP, insulin resistance, inflammation and oxidative stress, along with improving lipid profiles in obese patients with hypertension.

The implications are clear - regular consumption of green tea extract is very beneficial for your overall cardiovascular health.

Why not start your own therapy today?

Source: The Neverending Health Benefits of Green Tea.

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Does Green Tea Health Benefits affect Type 2 Diabetes?

by Health News

Did you know - more than 24 million Americans suffer from type 2 diabetes, while one in three Americans are at imminent risk of developing this condition?

In diabetes, muscle and liver cells are unable to absorb glucose from the blood, so that they are deprived of the energy they need to function properly - which also means blood glucose levels remain at unhealthily high levels for long periods of time.

High blood glucose seen in diabetes is a serious health issue that greatly increases risk of dying of heart disease or stroke by as much as 40%. It also makes diabetes sufferers more susceptible to obesity, cancer and Alzheimer’s disease.

Interestingly, research studies indicate that green tea catechins - powerful flavonoid antioxidants found in high levels in green tea - may lower risk of type 2 diabetes.

Green Tea Health Benefits affect Type 2 Diabetes

For instance, a double-blind controlled study carried out in 2009 at the Health Care Food Research Laboratories in Tokyo, Japan showed that a catechin-rich beverage reduced obesity and improved blood glucose control in patients with type 2 diabetes.

Study researchers looked at the effects of consumption of catechin-rich green tea in diabetes patients who were not receiving insulin therapy. Participants consumed green tea containing either 582.8 mg or 96.3 mg of catechins every day for 12 weeks.

After 12 weeks, the decrease in waist circumference was noticeably greater in the higher catechin group. At the same time, levels of the hormone adiponectin - which lowers fat accumulation - were also higher in this group. This means green tea catechins may help to prevent obesity along with lowering risk for type 2 diabetes - one of the consequences of obesity.

Similarly, a Japanese study looked at the effects of catechins on body fat reduction and weight loss. 35 Japanese men drank oolong tea fortified with green tea extract containing either 690 milligrams or 22 milligrams of catechins.

Study subjects who drank green tea extract lost more weight and experienced a significantly greater decrease in body mass index (BMI), waist size and total body fat. Not only that, levels of LDL or ‘bad’ cholesterol were also reduced in these subjects.

Green tea also appears to benefit patients with diabetes who have high blood pressure (BP) or hypertension. In a randomized clinical trial, 100 mildly hypertensive patients with diabetes were randomly given either sour tea or green tea. Interestingly, systolic and diastolic BP of both groups of patients were reduced by the end of the study.

Taken together, these results show that catechins lower risk for lifestyle-related diseases such as obesity and type 2 diabetes - while also reducing the side effects of diabetes, including high BP.

Based on previous studies, at least 4 cups of green tea a day are recommended for weight management along with a healthy diet and regular exercise. Green tea extract supplements are also available for people who don’t like drinking so much green tea every day.

Source:Benefits of Green Tea Catechins in Type 2 Diabetes.

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The Best Heart Health Supplement: COENZYME Q10

by Health News

The Best Heart Health Supplement: COENZYME Q10Coenzyme Q10 or CoQ10 is a vital nutrient and antioxidant made by your body that is needed for cell energy as well as heart, brain and muscle health.

CoQ10 also protects your cells from free radical damage and is particularly important for organs that need large amounts of oxygen, like your heart and brain. For example, clinical studies show that CoQ10 increases heart strength and improves its ability to pump blood.  

As you grow older, your body makes less CoQ10 along with lowered energy metabolism in your liver, heart and muscles. Some drugs may also deplete CoQ10 levels.

The main symptom of CoQ10 deficiency is feeling a lack of energy. Other symptoms include high blood pressure (BP), angina, stroke, irregular heart rate, leg weakness, muscle aches, loss of concentration and lowered immune function.

Statins - drugs that are widely prescribed to lower risk of heart disease via cholesterol and triglyceride reduction - are known to deplete CoQ10 levels. In fact, a common side effect of statins is muscle weakness and pain, most likely because of CoQ10 depletion.

Along with statins, drugs used to treat heart conditions, reduce high BP and manage blood sugar are known to lower CoQ10 levels.

In other words, if you take statins, beta blockers or diuretics for high BP you should find out how they might be affecting your CoQ10 levels and your heart health.

CoQ10 supplementation has been shown to benefit patients with diabetes by improving their heart function and healing diabetic ulcers on their feet. CoQ10 may also help to lower BP and LDL cholesterol levels.

In athletes, CoQ10 has been shown to reduce muscle fatigue and speed up recovery times, along with improving athletic performance. Studies have reported greater improvement in both anaerobic and aerobic exercise with CoQ10 supplementation.

CoQ10 is known to interfere with your body’s response to blood thinners such as warfarin and can decrease your insulin requirement, if you’re diabetic - so it is always a good idea to confer with your doctor if you are thinking of adding CoQ10 to your daily supplement routine.

Sources:

CoQ10, Your Heart’s Best Friend.

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High Blood Pressure: How Sleep Deprivation Affects your Health

by Institute for Vibrant Living

High Blood Pressure: How Sleep Deprivation Affects your HealthAccording to new research, having a stressful day after a poor night of sleep may raise your blood pressure (BP).

For example in one study, researchers recruited 20 healthy young adults and measured their BP at rest and then after a stressful task - in this case, giving an impromptu speech defending themselves for a supposed transgression, either running a stop sign or taking someone’s wallet.

A week later, after staying up all night, study participants returned to take the tests again. Systolic BP, the top number on a BP reading, climbed about 10 points higher when fatigued study subjects gave their speech, compared to subjects who spoke after a good night’s sleep.

This suggests that not getting enough sleep may lead to the development of cardiovascular disease. Previous studies have shown that not getting enough sleep can raise blood pressure, as can stress. But not many studies have examined what happens when sleep-deprived people also experience stress.

These results need to be replicated by larger studies - because not only is stress common nowadays, so is being sleep deprived - and one probably reinforces the other. For instance, if you’re experiencing a lot of stress, you are more likely to experience insomnia.

Another study looking at 331 healthy male medical students found that their BP when awake correlated negatively correlated with sleep duration.

According to the CDC, one in three Americans has high BP - a condition with few symptoms, often called the “silent killer” - because it can lead to strokes, heart attacks and heart failure, along with damaging the kidneys and other organs.

Further, nearly one in five Americans has uncontrolled hypertension - meaning that it is untreated or that that medications or other treatments have failed to bring it down.

In such a scenario, if someone is having difficulty with their BP being high, maybe getting six to seven hours of sleep daily is the way to lower their BP.

Other related articles:

Best Health Supplements for High Blood Pressure

Natural Heart Health: Making Sense of Blood Pressure Readings

High Blood Pressure Supplements Benefits

Why You Should Check Your Blood Pressure at Home

 

Source:

Sleep Deprivation and Blood Pressure (BP).

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What is Cholesterol?

by Institute for Vibrant Living

Did you know -  

  • Cholesterol is only a minor player in heart disease?
  • Cholesterol levels are a poor predictor of heart attacks?
  • Roughly 50% of all heart attacks happen to people with normal cholesterol?
  • Half the people with elevated cholesterol have healthy hearts?
  • Lowering cholesterol has an extremely limited benefit?

The case against cholesterol as ‘the’ underlying cause of heart disease or even as an important marker has been crumbling steadily for decades.

What is Cholesterol?

Consider the Lyon Diet-Heart Study:

In the 1990s, French researchers decided to test the effect of different diets on heart disease. They took two groups of men who had every imaginable risk factor. All of them had survived a heart attack. They had high cholesterol, they smoked, they didn’t exercise and they had high levels of stress.

Of these men, half were advised to eat the American Heart Association ‘prudent diet’ (low saturated fat and cholesterol), while the other half were advised to eat a Mediterranean diet high in fish, omega-3 fats, vegetables and monounsaturated fat like olive oil.

The study was stopped midway because the reduction in heart attacks in the Mediterranean group was so pronounced at 70% that the researchers decided it was unethical to continue!

Surprisingly, cholesterol levels in men who ate the Mediterranean diet did not change at all, and were just as high when the study was stopped as they were when the study began.

They simply stopped dying. Cholesterol had nothing to do with it.

So if cholesterol isn’t the cause of heart disease, what is?

The real causes of heart disease are inflammation and oxidative damage. Starting with small injuries to the vascular wall caused by anything from high blood pressure to toxins, oxidized (damaged) LDL-cholesterol particles enter the wall tissue.

As a result, the immune system sends inflammatory cytokines which create even more inflammation, which creates more oxidative damage in a vicious cycle that eventually results in atherosclerotic plaque formation and an increased risk for heart disease.

In other words, if there was no inflammation, there would be no plaques formed and no heart disease.

The other two major promoters of heart disease are stress and sugar. Stress releases hormones which harm artery walls and increase blood pressure.  Sugar, by far an even worse dietary danger than fat, is inflammatory on its own, but also contributes to insulin resistance and fat gain. More fat equals more inflammation.

In fact, fat cells are literally tiny hormone factories, spitting out inflammatory cytokines and increasing overall inflammation and arterial damage.

Given all of this information, here is a simple seven-point program you can follow to reduce your heart disease risk:

1.      Eat an anti-inflammatory diet.

2.      Reduce grains, starches, sugar and omega-6 fats from your diet as much as possible.

3.      Manage your stress through meditation, yoga or other lifestyle changes.

4.      Exercise regularly, for a minimum of 30 minutes daily 5 days a week.

5.      Drink alcohol only in moderation.

6.      Don’t smoke.

7.      Supplement your diet with high quality, proven antioxidants, vitamin C, coenzyme Q10 and omega-3 fats.