Our bodies are, in fact, organic machines. We dwell inside them and operate them in society. Sometimes, we forget that our machines need proper fueling and maintenance. When that happens, our bodies, like regular machines, begin to break down. Because they are organic in some cases we can simply correct our bad maintenance habits and revive them with exercise and good nutrition. But decades of neglect are another story.
In your 20s, maybe you sometimes chose fast-food burgers and fries over healthier foods. Perhaps in the decades that followed you pursued a series of fad diets, questionable lifestyle choices, and too many days when you skipped your workout in favor of the couch.
You’re now repenting for the sins of the past, but the question is, can you undo the damage? Can you unclog clogged arteries (otherwise known as atherosclerosis) and reduce your risk of heart disease in the process? Continue reading
The subject of aging is truly a multi-faceted one. I know, at 77, I feel like I find new aspects of it revealed nearly every day. Following is a write up from Tufts Health and Nutrition Letter that contains some good, positive information. All bold face items are my emphasis.
It’s common to develop significantly stiffer arteries and high blood pressure as we age past our 50s. Healthy lifestyle factors may go a long way toward slowing this process. A new study published in Hypertension suggests healthy vascular (blood vessel) aging may be possible even in people 70 years and older.
“This study showed that regardless of age, following a healthy lifestyle and controlling cardiovascular risk factors translates to fewer adverse heart disease events,” says Alice H. Lichtenstein, DSc, director of Tufts’ HNRCA Cardiovascular Nutrition Laboratory, who was not involved in the study. “That’s very encouraging.”
Most prior studies have looked at associations between poor vascular health and increased risk of cardiovascular events, like heart attack and stroke. But this study, led by Teemu J. Niiranen, MD, a research fellow at Boston University School of Medicine, focused on people with healthier arteries at the start of the study. “We found that it’s possible to maintain the blood vessels of people in their 20s, even into old age, but it’s rare in the Western world,” he says. At age 50, about 30% of those studied had healthy vascular aging. Over age 70, only 1% of people had healthy arteries. Continue reading
As a 77 year old, I was heartened to learn that a lot of the damage expected by aging could be controlled by attention to the American Heart Association’s (AHA) seven steps in yesterday’s post.
- High blood pressure and increased blood vessel stiffness are often considered common parts of aging.
- Having healthy arteries into one’s 70s and beyond is challenging and depends on modifiable lifestyle factors, not necessarily genetics.
Having the blood vessels of a healthy 20-year-old into one’s 70s is possible but difficult in Western culture, according to new research in the American Heart Association’s journal Hypertension.
“For the most part, it’s not genetic factors that stiffen the body’s network of blood vessels during aging. Modifiable lifestyle factors – like those identified in the American Heart Association’s Life’s Simple 7 – are the leading culprits,” said study author Teemu J. Niiranen, M.D., research fellow at Boston University School of Medicine, Framingham Heart Study, Framingham, Massachusetts. Continue reading
I have talked about overweight and obesity statistics here repeatedly. By now, is there anyone who doesn’t know that 60 percent of us at overweight and 30 percent of us outright obese.
You can read chapter and verse on How Does Obesity Affect You? personally.
We have let ourselves go to the point that employers are now paying for it.
The Saturday edition of the Wall Street Journal talks about the costs in detail. “A 2011 Gallup survey estimated obese or overweight full-time U.S. workers miss an additional 450 million days of work each year, compared with healthy workers, resulting in more than $153 billion in lost productivity.”
Typically 20 percent of a company’s employees drive 80 percent of the health-care costs. and about 70 percent of the costs are related to chronic conditions resulting from lifestyle choices like overeating or sedentary behavior.
Companies, trying to get control of their rocketing healthcare costs, are fighting back. Last month CVS shocked some employees by asking for personal health metrics, like body fat, blood sugar, etc. or pay a $600 penalty. Michelin is adding as much as $1000 to health care costs of employees with high blood pressure or large waistlines.
After talking and writing about this for over three years, I wonder what it will take to get folks to do something about their personal health.
If you are reading this blog, perhaps that can be a first step. Check out How to Lose Weight – And Keep it Off.
Filed under arteries, blood pressure, cardiovascular risk, fat, health care costs, healthy eating, healthy living, heart, heart disease, heart problems, living longer, Weight
In my own search for alternative sources of quality protein to take the place of the artery-clogging red meat I have added chia seeds and hemp seeds for starters.
Dr. Oz has some further suggestions in his blog post Three Health Benefits of Nuts.
Some of the benefits he enumerates include:
“• The omega-3 fats in nuts, especially walnuts — which have six times as much as the next nearest nut — protect against heart disease.
• The fiber richness of nuts helps you lose weight. A small handful about 30 minutes before a mealtime fills you up enough to keep you from overeating.
• And (news flash) it turns out that these crunchy treats help tame type 2 diabetes.”
For some folks, the only downside of nuts is that their fats make them high in calories. A couple of good ways to include some nuts in your diet without knocking your calorie consumption out of the park is to find ways to add small quantities of them to your regular meals.
You can use them as a garnish on salads, adding protein and healthy fats without too many calories. Ditto your morning breakfast, I love walnuts on top of my oatmeal. Use your imagination and you can make some heart-healthy changes in your daily diet and boost your protein consumption, too.
Regular readers know that I ride my bike an average of 20 miles a day which covers a multitude of sins at the table. A 20 mile bike ride burns over 1000 calories a day, or about 50 percent more than the 2000 I need to maintain my 150 pound body weight.
Because of that 1000 calorie ‘buffer’ until recently I had been enjoying a Hershey’s with Almonds bar most evenings.
Here is the nutrition breakdown for that Hershey’s with Almonds bar:
Total Fat 14 grams
Saturated Fat 6 grams
Cholesterol 10 mg
Sodium 25 mg
Carbs 21 grams
Sugar 19 grams
Fiber 2 grams
Protein 4 grams
As you can see, this isn’t horrible as far as nutrition is concerned, particularly in view of the 1000 calorie buffer. But, six grams of saturated fat isn’t great and the 19 grams of sugar amounts to almost 5 teaspoons full (4.2 grams/tsp).
Filed under arterial plaque, arteries, biking, calories, cardio exercise, cholesterol, Exercise, fat, granola, heart, Weight
I always thought that boomers were busy running triathlons and skiing down the slopes these days. They are reported to have the longest life expectancy of any previous generation and exploit the latest medical technology, so why wouldn’t they be? I am talking about that 78 million Americans born between 1946 and 1964.
JAMA researchers found otherwise.
Alice Park writing in Time.com reports that boomers have “higher rates of hypertension, diabetes, obesity and high cholesterol than members of the previous generation.
Junk foods like these are part of the reason boomers are failing the most important test of all.
“The revelation comes from data in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES), a national snapshot of health measures and behaviors conducted by the U.S. government. Dr. Dana King, a professor in family medicine at West Virginia University School of Medicine and his colleagues compared baby boomers aged 46 years to 64 years between 2007 and 2010 to similar aged Americans in 1988 to 1994. Overall, only 13% of baby boomers rated their health as ‘excellent’ while nearly three times as many, 32%, of those in the previous generation considered themselves in excellent health.” Continue reading
Filed under aging, arterial plaque, arteries, baby boomers, blood pressure, body fat, calories, cancer, cardiovascular risk, childhood obesity, diabetes, Exercise, fast food, health, healthy eating, healthy living, heart, heart disease, heart problems, junk food, life challenges, living longer, Weight
Choose popcorn over potato chips for a heart-healthy snack, says WebMD.
As you can see from the illustration there are about a third of the calories in popcorn as potato chips, more fiber and significantly less fat. And that assumes you are eating only one serving of each. I remember the old potato chip ad, “You can’t eat just one.” A serving of potato chips comes out to about 10 chips. That’s not a lot and likely not satisfying. If it leads you back to the bag for more chips, that’s like doubling down on a bad bet.
You can eat a lot more popcorn than potato chips and not be doing your body any harm with extra calories or fats.
Also, with popcorn, make sure you pop it fresh. Be very wary of microwave brands. They often have lots of fats and calories inside that you don’t need. When I have popcorn, I make it fresh and splash a little soy sauce on it which eliminates the fats completely.
Ice cream can be a killer with its fats and sugar calories. WebMD has some good suggestions, here, too. They suggest sorbets, sherbets, light ice creams or frozen yogurts for a fraction of the fats and calories. As you can see from the illustration you are way ahead (weigh ahead?) with any of them.
As with potato chips single serving size for ice cream is ONE HALF CUP. I have never seen anyone serve themselves that small of a portion. So, again you run the risk of doubling down on a loser in terms of calories, fat and your general health. Choose wisely.
For more on this important topic, check out my Page – Snacking – the good, the bad and the ugly.
Reasons to think twice before you order chicken from the colonel …
Cooking with Kathy Man
Eating Southern-style foods may be linked to a higher risk of stroke, according to research presented at the American Stroke Association’s International Stroke Conference 2013.
In the first large-scale study on the relationship between Southern foods and stroke, researchers characterized a Southern diet by a high intake of foods such as fried chicken, fried fish, fried potatoes, bacon, ham, liver and gizzards, and sugary drinks such as sweet tea. In addition to being high in fat, fried foods tend to be heavily salted.
“We’ve got three major factors working together in the Southern-style diet to raise risks of cardiovascular disease: fatty foods are high in cholesterol, sugary drinks are linked to diabetes and salty foods lead to high blood pressure,” said Suzanne Judd, Ph.D., M.P.H., lead researcher and a nutritional epidemiologist at the University of Alabama Birmingham’s biostatistics department.
Previous research has shown that Southerners are about 20 percent more…
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Filed under arterial plaque, arteries, blood pressure, body fat, calories, chicken, childhood obesity, cholesterol, fast food, heart, heart disease, heart problems, southern diet, stroke, Weight
Not long ago a study published in the journal Athersclerosis reported that the more egg yolks a people ate the thicker their artery walls became. That indicates a higher risk of heart disease. Also, the effect was nearly as bad as from smoking cigarettes. The Egg Nutrition Center and American Egg Board voiced other ideas.
The incredible edible egg
Researchers measured the buildup of carotid plaque in the arteries of 1,231 subjects. The men and women in the study were all patients at cardiovascular health clinics. For comparison’s sake, the team also measured the carotid plaque buildup of smokers in the study.
Plaque buildup increased according to age – after age 40 in a fairly steady fashion. But among the 20 percent of participants who reported eating the most egg yolks – three or more per week – carotid plaque increased “exponentially,” according to the study. The buildup equaled about two-thirds of that seen among the heaviest smokers in the group.
Arterial plaque buildup is a major risk factor for heart attack and stroke; as plaque accumulates on artery walls, it narrows the space through which blood can pass, making the heart’s job of pumping more difficult. Moreover, plaque buildups can break away from the arterial wall, forming clots that can do terrible, even fatal, damage if they reach the heart or brain.
For the record, here is the nutritional breakdown of a large (56 gram) egg from SELFNutritionData:
Total Fat 6 grams
Saturated Fat 2 grams
Cholesterol 237 mg
Sodium 78 mg
Protein 7 grams
Filed under aging, arterial plaque, arteries, blood pressure, body fat, calories, eggs, Exercise, fast food, fat, portion size, protein, Weight
A milkshake with a slice of apple pie blended right in. A 3,000-calorie plate of pasta. A breakfast that includes deep-fried steak and pancakes (and hash browns and eggs and gravy and syrup). Obesity rates may show signs of leveling off, but it looks like America’s major restaurant chains are doing everything possible to reverse the trend, according to the nonprofit Center for Science in the Public Interest. The group unveils the latest “winners” of its Xtreme Eating Awards in the current issue of its Nutrition Action Healthletter.
“It’s as if IHOP, The Cheesecake Factory, Maggiano’s Little Italy, and other major restaurant chains are scientifically engineering these extreme meals with the express purpose of promoting obesity, diabetes, and heart disease,” said CSPI executive director Michael F. Jacobson. “You’d think that the size of their profits depended on their increasing the size of your pants.”
Most people wouldn’t sit down to eat a 12-piece bucket of Original Recipe KFC all by themselves, says CSPI. Yet The Cheesecake Factory somehow crams about that many calories into a single serving of its Crispy Chicken Costoletta—though the bucket of KFC has less than half the saturated fat, “only” two days’ worth as opposed to the four-and-a-half days’ worth in the costoletta. In fact, the Crispy Chicken Costoletta has more calories (2,610) than any steak, chop, or burger meal on The Cheesecake Factory’s famously oversized menu.
To put these numbers into context, a typical adult should consume about 2,000 calories and no more than 20 grams of saturated fat and 1,500 milligrams of sodium per day. The Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends consuming no more than six teaspoons of added sugars for women and nine teaspoons for men. The Xtreme Eating dis-honorees include:
Filed under arteries, blood pressure, body fat, calories, cholesterol, diabetes, fast food, fat, heart, heart problems, IHOP, Johnny Rockets, junk food, KFC, Maggiano's Little Italy, McDonald's, Olive Garden, portion control, portion size, Smoothie King, Snacking, sodium, soft drinks, sugar, The Cheesecake Factory, Uno Chicago, Weight
Most of the salt in your diet comes from foods that might not even taste salty, like bread, meat and dairy products, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC).
Salt is hidden in foods that you don’t expect to be salty. And the salt content of similar items can vary widely. Read nutrition and menu labels to compare sodium levels. (Sodium, which is listed on the Nutrition Facts panel, is the component of salt that raises blood pressure.)
You can read more about high blood pressure here: Some Steps for Keeping Blood Pressure in the Safety Zone, What is High Blood Pressure?.
Eating too much salt raises your blood pressure. Sadly, the salt shaker on your table is not the culprit, almost 80 percent of the salt is already in the food you buy, especially in processed and restaurant foods.
The CDC suggests small changes that can make a big difference in your salt consumption.
* Know your recommended limit for daily sodium intake. Most Americans should consume no more than 1,500 milligrams per day.
*Choose fresh fruits and vegetables and products labeled as “low sodium” or “no salt added.”
* Read the Nutrition Facts panel on the foods you buy, and choose products that are low in sodium.
*At restaurants ask for foods with low salt.
* Talk to your school, worksite, local grocer, and favorite restaurants about providing more lower- sodium options.
You can also read What Foods Hide High Sodium for more on hidden salt.
Some 68 million people in the U.S. suffer from high blood pressure, that’s one in three adults, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention CDC. High blood pressure increases the risk for heart disease and stroke, leading causes of death in the United States. High blood pressure is called the “silent killer” because it often has no warning signs or symptoms, and many people don’t realize they have it. That’s why it’s important to get your blood pressure checked regularly.
The good news is that you can take steps to prevent high blood pressure, or treat it if it is already high.
The CDC recommends the following lifestyle changes to prevent high blood pressure:
I am the biggest fan of Dr. Oz. Ever since I read YOU on a Diet back in 2006. He wrote it with Dr. Michael Roizin. There is a revised edition from 2009 that you can pick up on Amazon here for $6.98. I recommend it. Dr. Oz writes for the man on the street who wants to eat healthy and not spend a fortune in the bargain.
This week’s cover story is wistfully entitled Give (Frozen) Peas a Chance And Carrots Too. Love the word play on give peace a chance.
This week’s issue of Time Magazine
He opens the piece talking about how unsightly a block of frozen spinach looks coming out of the package. Doesn’t look very appetizing. Doesn’t compare with buying fresh organic leaf spinach grown in soil an hour ago in your locale. But it’s worth it because it is so much healthier than “the green ice from the supermarket. Right?”
“Wrong.” Dr. Oz writes, “Wrong. Nutritionally speaking, there is little difference between the farmer’s-market bounty and the humble brick from the freezer case. It’s true for many other supermarket foods too. And in my view, dispelling these myths–that boutique foods are good, supermarket foods are suspect and you have to spend a lot to eat well–is critical to improving our nation’s health. Organic food is great, it’s just not very democratic. As a food lover, I enjoy truffle oil, European cheeses and heirloom tomatoes as much as the next person. But as a doctor, I know that patients don’t always have the time, energy or budget to shop for artisanal ingredients and whip them into a meal.”
Write on, Dr. Oz!
Filed under arteries, blood pressure, body fat, cholesterol, Dr. Oz, fat, Fiber, general well-being, healthy eating, heart, heart problems, Weight
Full disclosure: I ate Ho Ho’s and Twinkies as a kid and loved them just like the other kids. But, I was a child and didn’t know any better. I’m not a kid any more and wouldn’t think of eating them now. We didn’t know better back in the 40’s and 50’s. My mom used to give us Wonder Bread slices slathered with butter and topped with sugar as a treat. My dentist safaried in Africa on that treat years later.
Let’s look closely at a package of Ho Ho’s. There are three cupcakes inside. I was amazed to see that the serving size is all three, the whole package. Usually, they break it down to a smaller number to reduce the caloric count. One serving of the Ho Ho’s yields 370 calories, according to Calorie Count.
If you don’t pay much attention to calories, let me explain. I weigh around 150 pounds and can consume 2100 calories a day to maintain that weight. The 370 calories in a serving of Ho Ho’s comes to nearly a quarter of my daily allowance of calories. That takes the place of almost an entire meal.
The three cupcakes contain 17 grams of fat of which 13 grams are saturated fat. That’s a mouthful, or should I say an artery full of fat. The government recommends that we not eat more than 21 grams of saturated fat in a day. This is more than half that amount in a single snack.
There are 30 mg of cholesterol which doesn’t seem too off-putting.
Some 220 mg of Sodium are high, but I have seen worse.
Total carbohydrates come to 54 grams. Okay.
Only one gram of fiber. Most of us are lacking in fiber intake. This snack doesn’t help. Adults need around 40 grams of fiber a day. Ho Ho’s leave us 39 grams short.
Sugars come to 42 grams. A teaspoon of sugar amounts to 4.2 grams, so this is 10 teaspoons of sugar. Gag much?
Lastly, there are two lonely grams of protein. The average adult needs over 50 grams a day. So, again, Ho Ho’s pretty much leave you at the starting gate when it comes to your need for protein, nature’s building blocks.
Filed under arteries, body fat, calories, cholesterol, fast food, heart problems, men and healthy eating, protein, Snacking, sugar, Weight