Diet may affect risk of sudden cardiac death

  • A study found that a diet high in added fats, fried foods, processed meats, and sugary drinks was associated with a greater risk of sudden cardiac death, while a Mediterranean diet was associated with a lower risk.
  • The findings provide evidence that adopting a healthier diet may decrease the risk of sudden cardiac death.

Diet is known to influence heart health. Experts recommend a diet low in sodium and saturated fat to reduce the risk of heart disease. A heart-healthy diet also includes plenty of vegetables, fruits, and whole grains. Research shows that the Mediterranean diet—full of fruits, vegetables, fish, cereals, and legumes, with little meat and dairy—may reduce the risk of heart disease.  

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Few studies have examined the relationship between overall diet and sudden cardiac death, a common cause of death in the United States. In sudden cardiac death, the heart abruptly stops beating, leading to death within an hour of symptoms. Small studies have suggested that the Mediterranean diet may lower the risk of sudden cardiac death.

A team led by Dr. James M. Shikany of the University of Alabama at Birmingham examined whether dietary patterns are associated with the risk of sudden cardiac death. The study was funded by NIH’s National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS), National Institute on Aging (NIA), and National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI). Results were published in the Journal of the American Heart Association on July 6, 2021.

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Weekend funnies …

Tony

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Water, Water Everywhere… Tufts

Hydration is essential for health, especially with outdoor temperatures high. Since water is necessary to deliver nutrients and oxygen to cells, aid digestion, control blood pressure, and regulate body temperature, getting enough fluids every day is essential to helping the body function properly.

Hydrate! While all kinds of beverages and many foods provide us with fluids, water is the best drink to keep us hydrated. There is no recommended daily intake level for water, as needs vary with many factors, including ambient temperature, activity level, and types of foods in the diet. Be aware that older adults are at an increased risk for dehydration because they may not sense the need for fluids in response to their bodies’ hydration state as well as they did when they were younger.

The commonly stated goal of drinking eight
(eight-ounce) cups of water a day has no firm scientific basis, but it is generally considered a reasonable goal. One way to tell if you’re getting enough fluid is to pay attention to your urine: dark urine indicates inadequate hydration.

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Water Choices: Bottled waters are now the number one beverage in the U.S. These products come at a cost—both financial and environmental—so knowing what you’re getting and weighing your options carefully is important.

Tap water from public water systems is regulated by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Routine testing of public water is required, and test results must be made available to the public. If your water comes from a well, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends having it tested once a year. Although U.S. drinking water is among the safest and most reliable in the world, it is not without controversy. Many people choose to use a whole house, under-sink, refrigerator, or pitcher-based filter system at home.

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Diabetes and dementia risk: More good reasons to keep blood sugar in check

There are many reasons to avoid getting diabetes, or to keep it controlled if you already have it: Higher risks for heart disease, stroke and for having a foot or leg amputation. But here’s another one: It’s a major risk factor for dementia.

While researchers are still investigating what causes that increased risk, one thing they do know is it’s linked to highs – and lows – in the body’s blood sugar levels.

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“Whether it’s Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes, glycemic control is very important” for maintaining good brain health, said Rachel Whitmer, chief of the division of epidemiology at University of California, Davis and associate director of the school’s Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center. “This is another motivation to have good control.”

Good management of blood glucose levels is one of seven lifestyle changes people can make to support better heart and brain health, called Life’s Simple 7 by the American Heart Association. It’s a step that could potentially help more than 34.2 million people in the U.S. living with diabetes.

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Picking Pastas – Tufts

The marketplace has seen an increase in pasta products made from seemingly more nutritious ingredients, such as whole wheat, legumes, or brown rice. But are these products really better (or even good) for health?

Pasta Basics: Traditionally, pasta is made from milled durum wheat. Processing of the wheat to make refined flour removes the bran and germ, leaving only the starchy endosperm. This process strips away most of the fiber as well as vitamins like niacin. In the U.S., the major vitamins found in whole wheat (niacin, riboflavin, and thiamine) as well as folate and the mineral iron must be added to all refined white flours.

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When wheat-based flour is kneaded with water, a gluten protein matrix forms around the starch particles and the dough becomes strong and stretchy. “This matrix may lead to slower digestion of the starch particles and slower release of glucose, and it may help you to feel fuller,” says Nicola M. McKeown, PhD, associate professor at the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy.

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Amazing Website Alert: The Deep Sea by Neal Fun

This is a wonderful entertaining and enlightening website. By all means check out the two links in the main paragraph.
Tony

Content Catnip

Designer and Code-Master Neal Agarwal has created and incredible range of interactive mini-sites.

One explains what your body has been up to since you were born. Another – and my personal favourite, is the Deep Sea. This is a scrolling deep-dive into ocean life and charts how deep each organism can go into Earth’s final frontier, the deep ocean. There are a lot of surprises and little-known facts about obscure ocean creatures you have never heard of. As well as tales of adventure from humans who dared to delve. Who knew a click-wheel on a mouse could feel so exploratory?!

Amazing Website Alert: The Deep Sea by Neal Fun

There are many other quirky interactive mini-websites on Neal’s website neal.fun

Neal Agarwal is an immensely talented designer and computer engineer. He graduated from Virginia Tech and is interested in creating interactive websites that combine storytelling, education and technology – in other words all of the good stuff…

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Improving sleep and other lifestyle factors keys to better brain health

Sleep is our body’s way of restoring its vital organs including the brain. But what happens when sleep is elusive over a long period of time? Research shows that the lack of consistent sleep can impact our brains in negative ways and increase our risk for Alzheimer’s and dementia.

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A research review in Nature Communications recently concluded that persistent short sleep durations of six hours or less at age 50, 60 and 70, as compared to a normal night’s sleep of seven hours, was associated with a 30% increase in dementia risk. The study looked at research that followed participants for 10 years or more.

So, what happens in our brains while we sleep? “Sleep is a restorative function,” explained Jeremy Pruzin, MD, a memory care expert at Banner Alzheimer’s Institute in Phoenix. “While we sleep the brain repairs synapses and clears substances, including the beta-amyloid protein associated with Alzheimer’s disease.”

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HIIT it! – Tufts

High-Intensity Interval Training has been growing in popularity, and research supports potential benefits for all ages. 

Physical activity is integral to good health. High-intensity interval training, or HIIT, is more time-efficient than traditional workouts, and research has shown it has many health benefits, including improving fitness, cardiovascular health, and insulin function, and helping with weight loss.

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What is HIIT? HIIT involves performing short, vigorous bursts of activity followed by low-intensity activity or rest. This cycle is repeated for a series of sets. The high-intensity activity should get one’s heart rate up to about 70 to 90 percent of maximum. For the low-intensity period, heart rate should be about 60 to 65 percent of maximum. (A quick estimate of your maximum heart rate is 220 minus your age.) On a stationary bike, for example, a HIIT workout could be 30 seconds of pedaling at maximum effort followed by two to three minutes of easy pedaling, repeated for three to five cycles. Activities and intervals can be adapted to an individual’s current fitness level. Any activity that gets one’s heart rate up, including walking/jogging, using an exercise machine, or performing jumping jacks, sit-ups, push-ups, or squats will work.

The standard physical activity recommendation of 150 minutes of moderate activity or 75 minutes of vigorous activity weekly for good health still stands. HIIT is a type of vigorous activity that has been recognized as a more efficient alternative to traditional moderate-intensity continuous training. With a physician’s approval, HIIT can be an option for all ages and fitness levels, including individuals who are currently sedentary, unfit, or living with a lifestyle-related disease like diabetes or high blood pressure.

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Weekend funnies …

Here we are in the third week of July 2021. I find it hard to believe that we have already sped through over half a year. Hope you have a pleasant July weekend planned.

If you enjoyed these, you can thank my brother Mike who sent them to me.

Tony

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Fermented-food diet increases microbiome diversity and lowers inflammation – Study

Stanford researchers discover that a 10-week diet high in fermented foods boosts microbiome diversity and improves immune responses.

A diet rich in fermented foods enhances the diversity of gut microbes and decreases molecular signs of inflammation, according to researchers at the Stanford School of Medicine.

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In a clinical trial, 36 healthy adults were randomly assigned to a 10-week diet that included either fermented or high-fiber foods. The two diets resulted in different effects on the gut microbiome and the immune system.

Eating foods such as yogurt, kefir, fermented cottage cheese, kimchi and other fermented vegetables, vegetable brine drinks, and kombucha tea led to an increase in overall microbial diversity, with stronger effects from larger servings. “This is a stunning finding,” said Justin Sonnenburg, PhD, an associate professor of microbiology and immunology. “It provides one of the first examples of how a simple change in diet can reproducibly remodel the microbiota across a cohort of healthy adults.”

In addition, four types of immune cells showed less activation in the fermented-food group. The levels of 19 inflammatory proteins measured in blood samples also decreased. One of these proteins, interleukin 6, has been linked to conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis, Type 2 diabetes and chronic stress.

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5-minute breathing workout lowers blood pressure as much as exercise, drugs

Working out just five minutes daily via a practice described as “strength training for your breathing muscles” lowers blood pressure and improves some measures of vascular health as well as, or even more than, aerobic exercise or medication, new CU Boulder research shows.

The study, published June 29 in the Journal of the American Heart Association, provides the strongest evidence yet that the ultra-time-efficient maneuver known as High-Resistance Inspiratory Muscle Strength Training (IMST) could play a key role in helping aging adults fend off cardiovascular disease — the nation’s leading killer.

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In the United States alone, 65% of adults over age 50 have above-normal blood pressure — putting them at greater risk of heart attack or stroke. Yet fewer than 40% meet recommended aerobic exercise guidelines.

“There are a lot of lifestyle strategies that we know can help people maintain cardiovascular health as they age. But the reality is, they take a lot of time and effort and can be expensive and hard for some people to access,” said lead author Daniel Craighead, an assistant research professor in the Department of Integrative Physiology. “IMST can be done in five minutes in your own home while you watch TV.”

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COVID-19 vaccination: Examining negative dominance on social media

Vaccine negativity and reluctance didn’t just emerge during the COVID-19 pandemic. In a recent study published in the Disaster Medicine and Public Health Preparedness journal, authors from Loyola University Maryland and Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health explored the appearance of negative dominance – a concept in which negative messages outweigh positive, solution-oriented messages in audiences’ perceptions – in the context of COVID-19 vaccine-related information and activity online.

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Prior research has looked at media coverage to identify vaccine concerns among the public and its impact on vaccine-related beliefs and behaviors, the spread of misinformation and fake news on the Internet, and the role of social media in aiding vaccine hesitancy, among others. Surprisingly, however, research to date has yet to explicitly explore negative dominance of vaccine-related information online using more recently developed tools for analyzing big data.

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Common medication used to reduce cholesterol levels may reduce COVID-19 severity

In a new study from University of California San Diego School of Medicine, researchers have confirmed that patients taking statin medications had a 41 percent lower risk of in-hospital death from COVID-19. The findings were published July 15, 2021 in PLOS ONE and expand upon prior research conducted at UC San Diego Health in 2020.

Statins are commonly used to reduce blood cholesterol levels by blocking liver enzymes responsible for making cholesterol. They are widely prescribed: The Centers for Disease Control estimates that 93 percent of patients who use a cholesterol-lowering drug use a statin.

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“When faced with this virus at the beginning of the pandemic, there was a lot of speculation surrounding certain medications that affect the body’s ACE2 receptor, including statins, and whether they may influence COVID-19 risk,” said Lori Daniels, MD, lead study author, professor and director of the Cardiovascular Intensive Care Unit at UC San Diego Health.

“At the time, we thought that statins may inhibit SARS-CoV-2 infection through their known anti-inflammatory effects and binding capabilities, which could potentially stop progression of the virus.”

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How to avoid running overuse injuries

The ubiquitous overuse injuries that nag runners may stem from an unlikely culprit: how far you lean forward.

Trunk flexion, the angle at which a runner bends forward from the hip, can range wildly–runners have self-reported angles of approximately -2 degrees to upward of 25. A new study from the University of Colorado Denver (CU Denver) found that greater trunk flexion has significant impact on stride length, joint movements, and ground reaction forces. How you lean may be one of the contributors to your knee pain, medial tibial stress syndrome, or back pain.

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“This was a pet peeve turned into a study,” said Anna Warrener, PhD, lead author and assistant professor of anthropology at CU Denver. Warrener worked on the initial research during her postdoc fellowship with Daniel Liberman, PhD, in the Department of Human Evolutionary Biology at Harvard University. “When [Lieberman] was out preparing for his marathons, he noticed other people leaning too far forward as they ran, which had so many implications for their lower limbs. Our study was built to find out what they were.”

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How to eat right and save money – AHA

You want to eat healthy. You need to save cash. Can you have it both ways?

Yes, experts say.

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“People think that healthy eating is an elite thing, that it’s something you can only do if you have lots of money, and lots of spare time, and all kinds of fancy equipment,” said Christine Hradek, a nutrition specialist at Iowa State University Extension and Outreach in Ames. “And really, that isn’t true.”

Here’s how to make it happen.

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Weekend funnies …

I hope you had a pleasant Bastille Day this week and a lovely weekend ahead.

Tony

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