Tag Archives: heart health

Harvard says, ‘Nuts to you’ – for heart health

I am fortunate in that I like nuts in all manner and form. Always have. So, nuts are an integral part of my daily diet.

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Many people think of nuts as just another junk food snack. In reality, nuts are excellent sources of healthy fat, protein, and other healthful nutrients.

One surprising finding from nutrition research is that people who regularly eat nuts are less likely to have heart attacks or die from heart disease than those who rarely eat them. Several of the largest cohort studies, including the Adventist Study, the Iowa Women’s Health Study, the Nurses’ Health Study, and the Physicians’ Health Study have shown a consistent 30 percent to 50 percent lower risk of myocardial infarction, sudden cardiac death, or cardiovascular disease associated with eating nuts several times a week. In fact, the FDA now allows some nuts and foods made with them to carry this claim: “Eating a diet that includes one ounce of nuts daily can reduce your risk of heart disease.” Continue reading

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Cardio exercise strengthens both body and brain

With Thanksgiving looming, this is a great time to reaffirm our resolve to exercise regularly. OR, it is the ideal time to resolve to exercise regularly in the coming year and maybe begin to address physical and weight problems that we have neglected.

Regular readers know that I have posted numerous times on the value of exercise not only for our bodies, but also for our brains. On the top of this page is IMPORTANT FACTS ABOUT YOUR BRAIN.

If you click on that link you can find a page full of blog posts on the subject.

Our ancestors engaged in some serious cardio exercise just to get food.

Our ancestors engaged in some serious cardio exercise just to get food. No walking down a supermarket aisle for them.

And now, the New York Times joins in the fray with Gretchen Reynolds’s article Exercise and the Ever-Smarter Human Brain.
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Filed under aerobics, aging brain, brain, brain function, brain health, cardio exercise, cardiovascular health

Heart function linked to brain’s memory center – Study

This is fascinating and seems to bolster my thought that exercising the body benefits the brain a great deal. The concept of use it or lose it is widely known and accepted regarding physical development. It seems it also applies to mental makeup.  As above, so below.

Research by a team of Vanderbilt University Medical Center (VUMC) scientists suggests that older people whose hearts pump less blood have blood flow reductions in the temporal lobe regions of the brain, where Alzheimer’s pathology begins.

The brain, which accounts for only 2 percent of total body weight, typically receives 12 percent of blood flow from the heart — a level maintained by complex, automatic processes, which maintain consistent blood flow to the brain at all times.

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Angela Jefferson, Ph.D., director of the Vanderbilt Memory and Alzheimer’s Center, and colleagues investigated whether lower cardiac index (the amount of blood flowing out of the heart adjusted for body size) correlated with lower blood flow to the brain.

The purpose of the study was to better understand whether reductions in brain blood flow might explain clinical observations in prior research that have linked heart function to cognitive impairment, Alzheimer’s disease and dementia.

“We currently know a lot about how to prevent and medically manage many forms of heart disease, but we do not yet know how to prevent or treat Alzheimer’s disease,” Jefferson said. Continue reading

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Filed under aging brain, brain, brain function, Healthy brain, heart, heart health brain health, heart rate, Vanderbilt University

6 ways your pet can boost your health and well being – Medical News Today

As regular readers know, I am a dog lover . I have posted about my poodle, Gabi, a number of times. She accompanies me on about 5000 miles of bikes rides every year. So, I was very pleased to run across this item by Honor Whiteman on Medical News Today.

On arriving home after a long, stressful day at work, you are greeted at the door by an overexcited four-legged friend. It can’t fail to put a smile on your face. Pet ownership is undoubtedly one of the greatest pleasures in life, providing companionship and giggles galore. But the benefits do not end there; your pet could be doing wonders for your health and well-being.
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My intrepid little partner, Gabi, in her basket wearing her hat ready to ride.

The United States is a nation of animal lovers; more than 65 percent of households own a pet, with dogs and cats being the most popular choice.

It is no surprise that so many of us have a pet in our lives; not only are animals fantastic company, but they also teach us compassion and offer unconditional love.

As British novelist George Eliot once said, “Animals are such agreeable friends – they ask no questions; they pass no criticisms.”

Adding to pets’ indisputable charm is the wealth of benefits they offer for human health and well-being. We take a closer look at what these are.

1. Lower risk of allergies

Around 50 million people in the U.S. have nasal allergies, and pet dander is one of the most common triggers.With this in mind, it may come as a surprise that pets could actually lower the risk of developing allergies.

One study reported by Medical News Today in 2015 associated exposure to dogs and farm animals in early life with a lower risk of asthma development by school age.

More recent research published in the journal Microbiome found that children who were exposed to household pets prior to birth and up to 3 months after experienced changes in gut bacteria associated with childhood allergies. Continue reading

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Filed under allergies, biking, depression, Exercise, exercise benefits, heart, mental health, pets and well being, sleep

Good heart health in middle age improves/extends golden years – AHA

Eat less; move more; live longer remains the mantra of this blog. Now, according to the American Heart Association, the sooner you start, the better.

People with no major heart disease risk factors in middle age live longer and stay healthy far longer than others, according to a 40-year study reported in the American Heart Association’s journal Circulation.

“Good cardiovascular health in middle age delays the onset of many types of disease so that people live longer and spend a much smaller proportion of their lives with chronic illness,” said Norrina Allen, Ph.D., M.P.H., assistant professor of preventive medicine at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago.

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In the first study to analyze the impact of cardiovascular health in middle age on the duration of illness later in life, researchers examined data from the Chicago Health Association study, which did initial health assessments in the late 1960s/early 1970s and has followed participants on an ongoing basis using Medicare health records. Researchers determined how many participants had favorable factors: non-smokers, free of diabetes and normal weight, blood pressure, and cholesterol levels; versus those with elevated risk factors or high risk factors. Continue reading

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Physical activity provides big boost to seniors with heart disease – AHA

So often the answer to any health question comes back to exercise – physical activity. Eat less; move more; live longer remains the mantra of this blog. From the following, the American Heart Association (AHA) seems to agree.

  • Improving physical function among older adults with heart disease helps heart health and even the oldest have a better quality of life and greater independence.
  • Healthcare providers should emphasize cardiac rehabilitation when appropriate and provide individualized guidance on increasing daily physical activities for older patients with heart disease.

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Improving physical activity among older adults with heart disease benefits their heart health, independence and quality of life, according to a new American Heart Association scientific statement published in the American Heart Association journal Circulation.

Physical activity helps reduce heart disease symptoms for patients with heart failure, heart attacks and stroke, and it also helps to improve the age-related erosions of strength, balance, and reduces frailty that particularly affect older heart patients. It is important part of care for the growing population of older adults with heart disease.

“Many healthcare providers are focused only on the medical management of diseases, such as heart failure, heart attacks, valvular heart disease and strokes, without directly focusing on helping patients maximize their physical function,” said Daniel E. Forman, M.D., the geriatric cardiologist who chaired the American Heart Association panel that drafted the new statement. Continue reading

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Filed under American Heart Association, Exercise, exercise benefits, heart, heart disease, heart health brain health

More exercise, less weight cut heart attack risk – Study

Lifestyle patterns, including regular exercise and staying slim, are associated with a risk of overall heart failure but are more strongly associated with the heart failure subtype HFpEF, according to a study published today in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.

Before getting into the study, I want to reiterate the mantra of this blog: eat less; move more; live longer. Certainly words to live by.

Heart failure is a medical condition defined by the inability of the heart to meet the demands of the body, particularly during exertion. Heart failure with preserved ejection fraction (HFpEF) is a subtype of heart failure that involves the heart and other organs and is characterized a stiff heart muscle that is unable to fill adequately with blood, resulting in fluid backing up into the lungs and body.

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Heart failure with preserved ejection fraction accounts for up to 50 percent of heart failure cases and is associated with poor outcomes. It has also proven to be resistant to available therapies, leading to prevention being a critical part of controlling the growing burden of this disease.

“We consistently found an association between physical activity, BMI and overall heart failure risk,” said Jarett D. Berry, MD, associate professor in the department of internal medicine and clinical sciences and director of cardiac rehabilitation at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas, and the study’s senior author. “This was not unexpected, however the impact of these lifestyle factors on heart failure subtypes was quite different.”(my emphasis)

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Heart disease and brain health linked – Harvard

I have written time and again about the link between exercise and brain health. The Harvard Heart Letter has a nice post on how heart disease and brain health are tied together.

“Just like in the rest of your body, advancing years can take a toll on your brain function. Much of this slowing down is predictable and can be chalked up to normal aging. However, when thinking skills become increasingly fuzzy and forgetfulness gets to be a way of life, an early form of dementia known as mild cognitive impairment may be setting in,” so writes Julie Corliss, Executive Editor, Harvard Heart Letter.

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“Often, the first reaction is to attribute these changes to the beginning of Alzheimer’s disease. But blood flow problems may be to blame, as well. “An estimated one-third of all cases of dementia, including those identified as Alzheimer’s, can be attributed to vascular factors,” says Dr. Albert Hofman, chair of the department of epidemiology at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. Continue reading

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Filed under blood pressure, coronary heart disease, Exercise, exercise and brain health, exercise benefits, heart, heart disease, heart health brain health, stroke

Poor sleep may raise risk for irregular heart rhythms – AHA

Regular readers know that I feel strongly that sleep is one of the cornerstones of good health. You can check out my Page – How important is a good night’s sleep? for more details.

According to the American Heart Association (AHA):
• Poor sleep – even if you don’t have sleep apnea – may be linked to higher risks of developing an irregular heartbeat.
• In addition, getting less rapid-eye movement (REM) sleep may also be linked to higher atrial fibrillation risks.

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Disruptions in sleep may be raising your risks of an irregular heartbeat, known as atrial fibrillation (AF), according to preliminary research presented at the American Heart Association’s Scientific Sessions 2016. Continue reading

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Meat, high protein diet linked to heart failure in older women – AHA

I feel strongly that the mantra eat less; move more; live longer is worthwhile. It seems that the American Heart Association (AHA) has a particular focus on eating less meats. While not a vegetarian, I have found that nuts and seeds offer an excellent and tasty alternative protein source. (See links at end of post)

    •    Postmenopausal women who follow a high-protein diet could be at higher risk of heart failure, especially if most of their protein comes from meat.
    •    Researchers combined dietary self-reports with biomarkers to determine actual dietary protein intake as self-reporting alone is often inaccurate.  

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Women over the age of 50 who follow a high-protein diet could be at higher risk for heart failure, especially if much of their protein comes from meat, according to preliminary research presented at the American Heart Association’s Scientific Sessions 2016. Continue reading

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Coffee drinkers have better arteries – Tufts

Drinking three to five cups a day linked to lower risk of arterial plaque.

I enjoy coffee and have some every morning. I drink decaf because I don’t like to introduce unhealthy chemicals like caffeine into my system. That’s just me. I am not trying to proselytize here, just get the facts down, because the latest from the Tufts Health Letter interested me as a coffee drinker and blogger who covers health.

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“Scientists may now better understand at least one way in which coffee could help to protect against cardiovascular disease. A large new Korean study reports that people drinking three to five cups of coffee daily were 41% less likely to show signs of coronary artery calcium than non-coffee drinkers. This calcification is an early indicator of the artery-clogging plaques (atherosclerosis) that cause coronary artery disease, which afflicts nearly 16 million Americans.  Continue reading

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Vitamin D – Do you get enough?

Vitamin D is considered by some to be the rock star of the vitamin world. To read further on its benefits check out: Vitamin D and Cognitive Function, Vitamin D Deficiency May be Linked to Heart Disease, Vitamin D Deficiency May Compromise Immune Function, Calcium and Vitamin D Help Hormones Help Bones, Vitamin D Improves Mood and Blood Pressure in Women with Diabetes, Vitamin D and Your Body – Harvard, What are the ABC’s of Vitamins?

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Tony

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10 Health benefits of coconut water

The coconut tree must be one of the healthiest plants on the earth. I am such a believer in coconut oil that I have a Page – Coconut oil – Why you should include it in your diet devoted to it. Seems that coconut water also conveys health benefits. I use some of this every morning in my breakfast smoothie.

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Tony

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5 Tips to Loving Exercise … or at Least Not Hating it – AHA

On yesterday’s heart health infographic, one of the “Life’s 7 Simple Keys to Prevention” was Get Moving. Over 50 per cent of Americans do not get the recommended 150 minutes a week of moderate to vigorous physical activity. Can it be any wonder that health care costs rise every year when there are so many of us who fail to do the minimum to keep ourselves healthy?

The third question to ask on the infographic was, “Am I making an effort or making excuses?” Some 14 per cent of visitors to a recent American Heart Association (AHA) survey said that they did not like exercising.

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The AHA offers the following tips for those folks:

I thought I would pass them on. They quote Mercedes Carnethon, Ph.D., associate professor of preventive medicine at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine as the source.

1. Find exercise that suits you
If you are social, do something that engages you, a group exercise class, kickball team or walk with a group of friends. If solo is more your style, walking or jogging might be a better fit. Regular readers know I have found bike riding as my answer.

One last example that springs to my mind is dancing. Because I love music, I always think of dancing as a super way to get a body moving. You can take a class, or just put on some music and do it at home. You will still get the same benefit from moving.

2. Make it a habit
“Exercise can become addictive in a positive way,” said Dr. Carnethon, who is also an American Heart Association volunteer. “Once it becomes a habit, you’ll notice when you aren’t doing something.”

This is a great idea. I look forward to my rides and consider them a priority in my day.

3. Build exercise into your lifestyle
“The key is building activity into your lifestyle so it is not disruptive,” Dr. Carnethon said. If you aren’t near a gym, it may be harder to become a habit for you. There are lots of ways to fit exercise into your life without a large financial commitment. Borrow exercise videos from the library, or record an exercise program off TV. I know that YouTube has an amazing amount of videos available right on your computer on every subject imaginable, including any kind of exercise you could want. She suggests walking as a great option. All you need is a good pair of shoes. I second that in spades. Check out my Page – Why You Should Walk More for more info on the many benefits of walking. Don’t forget, walking is weight bearing exercise, so it is good for your bones, too.

4. Do bouts of exercise
It is all right to break up physical activity into smaller segments. The AHA recommends 30 minutes a day of exercise most days, but if that sounds overwhelming, try three 10-minute workout sessions.

Walk to work, or walk a block or two to the train/bus to work. Climb a few flights of stairs instead of taking the elevator all the way up. Going shopping, park farther from the store and walk to and from it. There are lots of ways you can build in walking into your life.

5. Keep going
If you miss a day or a workout, don’t sweat it. Everybody struggles at some point. Just get back on the exercise horse the next day. “It doesn’t take too long to get back on track,” Dr. Carnethon said. “It’s easy to make something a habit again. You will see same benefits before. Any little bit you can fit in will show benefits.”

A good example of this is my recent trip when I couldn’t ride my bike for five days. I wrote Good Eating Habits Die Hard in Las Vegas.

It’s a cliche to say, “Where there’s a will, there’s a way,” but it’s true, your good health is up to you.

Tony

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What Are Some Superfoods for Mind and Body? – Infographic

One of the things I like about this infographic is that it covers the whole being. It is not just weight loss, or muscle-building, but mind and body.

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Tony

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Eating Fibre After A Heart Attack May Prolong Life

How much fibre people ate before they had a heart attack did not affect how long they lived after a heart attack. But people who increased the amount of fibre they ate after a heart attack were less likely to die during the study than people who didn’t increase how much fibre they ate.

Cooking with Kathy Man

After having a heart attack, people who eat foods containing fibre, in particular cereal fibre, may live for longer than people who eat less fibre.

What do we know already?

A heart attack happens when the heart doesn’t get enough oxygen and part of it dies. This usually happens when one of the vessels that take blood and oxygen to the heart is suddenly blocked.

Heart attacks are medical emergencies, which need to be treated in hospital straight away. After a heart attack, making lifestyle changes can help some people to recover and live for longer.

A previous study of people who’d had a heart attack looked at whether those who ate more foods with a lot of fibre (such as beans and lentils, wholegrain cereals, oats, fruits and vegetables) lived for longer than people who ate less fibre. It suggested fibre wasn’t linked to how long people lived after…

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