Category Archives: Heart Disease

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The Benefits Of Playing A Musical Instrument At Any Age

Having the ability to play an instrument is a great gift; it also appears to improve your cognitive health in your later years, even if you’ve stopped playing according to a study in the journal Neuropsychology. We know music relieves stress and everyone recognizes that stress is terrible for both your physical and mental health. Beyond this, there’s plenty of science that supports the idea of music being good for you and there’s increasing interest among the medical community in keeping the brain as healthy and strong as the body.

The latest research in the area of music and the brain was conducted at the University of Kansas Medical Center and included 70 healthy (with similar fitness/education levels, and free of Alzheimer’s disease) adults who’d been recruited to participate. The subjects were from 60 to 83 years old and were broken into groups based on levels of musical experience from no musical training, one to nine years of music lessons, or at last 10 years studying a musical instrument.

Over half the subjects who had studied music were piano players, another quarter played woodwind instruments and the final quarter played string instruments, percussion or brass. The subjects were given a few cognitive tests, and not surprisingly, the musicians of the group performed better on these tests than those who had never studied or didn’t know how to read music.

When compared to the non-musicians of the study, those who had lots (10 years) of musical training had far higher scores on the cognitive testing. The benefits of musical training were still evident even in those who had stopped playing.

Intriguing that the brain function the team was measuring tends to go down with age.

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Fact: Poor Sleep Increases The Risk of Death/ Disease

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The Benefits Of Playing A Musical Instrument At Any Age Continued…

It may be that musical ability or learning stays with you and acts as a challenging mental activity that makes your brain sharper, more able to deal with the changes of aging. Learning an instrument takes years of study and practice, and might just create alternative connections in the brain that help to make up for cognitive declines that happen naturally as we get older.

But if you’re older, you can still get a number of health benefits from starting an instrument. Making music can lower your blood pressure, slow your heart rate, ease stress as well as anxiety and depression. There’s also more evidence than before that making music helps the immune response of the body.

As we’ve mentioned here recently, music has been used by therapists to help patients with dementia feel better. Music is familiar, evoking comfortable, happier memories. Music also has a close relationship with our unconscious emotions. It’s engaging and emotionally powerful and can have strong effects on the way we think, how we feel and even our physiology.

What’s great is that anyone, of any age or ability, can make music and get the benefit. You don’t have to be good or be a kid to take lessons. Musical study makes your brain work and this may be just the thing to help address the challenges of aging.

To your good health,

Mcability / Pixabay

Play The Game: Wear A Pedometer

Walking is one of the safest, most effective workouts there is, and we all know we should be doing more of it. But following through isn’t always easy though a new study may hold the key to helping people take more steps every day – wearing a pedometer. The research on the effectiveness of pedometers evaluated two different prescriptions for physical activity in older patients and appeared in the respected Annals of Family Medicine.

The study on walking included 330 non-active seniors (65+) living in New Zealand whose walking rates were tracked for over a year. At the start of the study, all the subjects were considered healthy enough to be active, but most said they actually got little exercise. The subjects were randomly assigned to either be given a pedometer or not and encouraged to follow the country’s “Green Prescription” for being active. The initiative is focused on trying to get people to do at least 30 minutes of moderately intense activity every day. Both groups also got a visit with a primary care physician and a total of 3 counseling sessions by phone over the following 12 weeks. All this was aimed at getting them up and moving.

At the end of the year, both groups had gotten more active. But, those who had been given the pedometers nearly doubled – 50 minutes vs. 28 minutes – their weekly time spent walking compared to those who hadn’t gotten the devices. The older adults got more active just by wearing these devices. They could check their progress during the day against goals for being active that they’d decided upon earlier.

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Play The Game : Wear A Pedometer Continued…

Also of note, while neither group lost weight, both groups did see big improvements in blood pressure.

Why did the pedometers work? According to study lead author Gregory Kolt, the head of the School of Science and Health at the University of Western Sydney in Australia, wearing these devices does let you see how active you are. And since they are both affordable and accessible, pedometers are likely to be a great addition to public health efforts to get people up and exercising.

Pedometers are able to sense your body motion and keep count of your footsteps. That number is converted into distance by knowing the typical length of your stride. Wearing one can be a great motivator that you can wear all the time, or just when you’re out for a walk.

When it comes to choosing a pedometer, investigate the different types (i.e. accelerometer, coiled spring or hairspring mechanism), think about what you want it to do (total daily steps, workout tracking) and how you’ll wear the device. Size and comfort are key, especially if you’re tracking total steps in a day. You want a secure clip mechanism so you don’t lose the pedometer and the display should be easily read without having to take off the device to do so. Most important of all, if there’s a reset button, be sure it’s in a place where you won’t hit it by accident during your regular activities. As you might expect, there are apps that work like pedometers, but like the device itself, they have their pluses and minuses.

Science knows that being inactive is responsible for many chronic health problems, which is why your health care team are always asking about activity level. Now we see that actively keeping track of your walking might get people to do more, without even realizing it.

To your good health,

geralt / Pixabay

Cut Off The Effects Of Psychological Stress

If you’re struggling under unrelenting psychological pressure, you have a new reason to try to find healthy ways to manage it. The health of your heart (not to mention your mind and the rest of your body too). While the question of psychological stress causing heart disease is still very much open to debate, everyone agrees that chronic stress is hard on your heart, the rest of your body and your mind.

A recent study out of Michigan Technological University sheds some light on the picture of stress and its effect on the heart. The work found that volunteers who ingested fish oil supplements daily for 8 weeks saw less of a reaction to stress in both their heart rate and sympathetic nervous system reactions than those who took olive oil supplements instead. Long story short, order the fish or think about fish oil supplements if you’re dealing with lots of mental stress. And who isn’t?

When you’re under psychological stress, the body goes through a series of physiological actions that all feed into your nervous and circulatory system. So your heart rate goes up, your blood pressure rises and the sympathetic nervous system, the controller of the “fight or flight” instinct, takes off. The body doesn’t see a difference between real stress (a sketchy character following you), and imagined stress (a presentation at work).

Here’s how stress hurts your heart in the short term:

- Increased heart rate.

- Increased rate of blood flow, upping blood pressure.

- Release of fatty acids into the blood for energy increases.

- Continued release of cortisol which impacts where fat is deposited in the body, mostly in the abdomen.

Study author Jason R. Carter, Ph.D. warns that over time this puts you at risk of high blood pressure, hardened arteries and even a shocking sudden cardiac death. Science doesn’t know for sure how much stress it takes to cause problems for the heart, but it is suspected of playing some role. You may have noticed in your own life that angry personalities, those who don’t handle stress well, appear more susceptible to negative health issues.

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Cut Off The Effects Of Psychological Stress Continued…

Over time, chronic, unending stress can do measurable damage to the heart…

- Higher heart rates over time could push the heart to take on an abnormal heart rhythm.

- Higher blood pressure over a long period brings a higher risk of heart disease and stroke.

- Higher cholesterol and triglycerides up the potential for your arteries to thicken with plaque, leading to coronary artery disease or even heart attack.

- Deposits of fat in the belly, the so-called “apple” shape, are one of the markers of metabolic syndrome and a risk factor for heart disease.

Carter suggests a daily dose of fish oil for those who are high strung, the so-called Type A personality, might be beneficial. You should discuss this with your own doctor before doing anything, and look for healthy ways to help manage that unending psychological stress. Listen to soothing music. Find humor in daily situations. Watch funny movies. Unload your worries to a loved one, close friend, clergy or even in writing, to keep private. The key is to do something to give your body a respite on some type of regular basis, even if just for a little while.

To your good health,

Older_adult_exercise_with_tin_can.

7 Factors That Influence Your Lifespan

We all want to live longer, better lives… here are some smart tips to help you reach that goal. It’s true that some things that affect lifespan are under the influence of genetics and how our mother behaved during pregnancy, still there are other factors that we can control that also have an impact on our chances of enjoying a long, healthy life. Let’s look at both.

Understand that much of the research into aging has been focused on the part played by telomeres, the protective tips at the end of chromosomes. They safeguard the end of the chromosome, preventing the loss of genetic information as cells divide. Every time this happens, the telomeres get shorter and eventually are so short they stop cells from dividing. This is how we age. Research has found that longer telomeres are linked to living longer, and can be inherited by the next generation.

Everyone knows that even before birth a child’s health is impacted by the lifestyle choices (good or bad) made by its mother. There’s much research that’s found if an expectant mother is highly stressed this can impact the baby, so that they are less capable of handling stress in their own lives. Heavy drinking during a pregnancy can bring on foetal alcohol syndrome, which often results in physical issues and lifelong learning disabilities in the child. Smoking also effects a baby’s development, and even the diet a pregnant woman eats can up her unborn child’s risk of obesity by making changes in the baby’s DNA.

What’s more, having a happy childhood may also boost your lifespan. One study found that those who were unhappy in their younger years had a higher risk of heart disease as adults. Getting outside as a child, spending time in natural sunlight, gives every child a key source of vitamin D. Today one in four kids are deficient in this nutrient, needed to build strong bones, by helping the body absorb calcium and phosphorus from the foods we eat.

No one disputes the many benefits of regular exercise to the body and mind. Exercise has a direct impact on how long you live because it ensures you get a healthier heart, while also boosting good mental health and offering an effective stress management technique that works on anxiety and depression too. Another key benefit of regular exercise is that it helps you reach (and keep yourself at) a healthy weight, which cuts the risk of diabetes. Weight bearing exercises are especially good for helping with bone density and offering protection against osteoporosis.

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7 Factors That Influence Your Lifespan Continued…

As we get older, the strong bones of our youth are no more. People start losing bone density in their mid 30s as a normal part of aging. The good news is that you can fight back against natural bone loss/weakening by eating a diet rich in calcium and exercising as often as you can. Exposure to natural sunlight is also crucial as this helps your body produce more vitamin D.

One key to longevity in terms of diet is to limit or avoid certain foods and drinks. You know the ones, those with lots of calories that are loaded with salt, simple carbs (sugars) or fat that taste great but also pack on the weight. Trans fats are particularly bad for you, raising the levels of “bad” LDL cholesterol and raising the risk of atherosclerosis, heart disease and even stroke. If you want to live longer, healthier, avoid these foods. Too much alcohol can also have serious consequences on your health – drinking more than is recommended over the long haul can cause damage to vital internal organs.

Smoking is also a well-known life shortener. Smokers have higher risk of over 50 serious, life altering health problems. Smoking is the cause of almost 90% of lung cancers, does damage to the heart and circulation, makes respiratory conditions worse and even effects fertility. If you want to live longer, stop smoking now.

Beyond eating right and exercising, drinking alcohol in moderation and not smoking, another key area that helps with longevity is to have friendships.

Research on loneliness has found that social isolation is linked to a higher rate of death in older adults. Loneliness may well prove to be the hidden, unacknowledged killer of older people. Research has also found that those who are married live longer than single adults do. The reason may be the improved social support networks
of spouses, which cuts down on the risk of isolation and loneliness.

To your good health,

succo / Pixabay

The Best Plant For Your Intake In Potassium

As the main ingredient in an American favorite, French fries, the white potato has something to boast about – beating out the banana in terms of potassium. A study released at the Experimental Biology 2013 annual meeting finds that consumption of white potatoes is tied to higher intake of potassium. For each added kilocalorie of these potatoes eaten there was a 1.6 mg increase in potassium for adults over 19 years old, a 1.7 mg increase for children and teens aged 2 to 18 years old. Gender, age, education and race/ethnicity were highly predictive of potassium intake, while income and body mass index were not.

A small white potato, with the skin, gives you 738 mg of potassium and 128 calories. By contrast, a large banana, a well-known potassium powerhouse has the same number of calories but only 487 mg of potassium. Surprise! Even with the skin off, the inside of the white potato is a fantastic source of potassium. One cup provides 477 mg of the nutrient.

Potassium is an electrolyte mineral, a key nutrient that most of us, an estimated 97% of Americans, don’t get enough of in our diets. It helps control blood pressure, key to keeping the heart healthy. Since the vast majority of adults will get high blood pressure sometime during their lifetime, getting enough potassium is vital to counter this. It’s also essential for a healthy skeletal system and regulating the actions of muscles and nerves too.

A diet that doesn’t have enough potassium brings plenty of problems to the body. When potassium is low, the body holds onto extra sodium, too much sodium brings up blood pressure. When you get enough potassium in the foods you eat, the body gets more efficient at getting rid of that extra sodium.

The 2010 Dietary Guidelines advisors agree that there is much evidence that higher intakes of potassium are linked to lower blood pressure in adults. Foods that have lots of potassium and are low in sodium may cut the risk of silent but dangerous high blood pressure and devastating stroke. White potatoes fit the bill; they have lots of potassium and are naturally low in salt, free of fat, saturated fats and cholesterol.

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Unfortunately, the most recent data from the well regarded National Health and
Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) from 2009-2010 examined by the team included
the nutrient intakes of children and adults. The authors found that intakes of
potassium, dietary fiber, calcium and vitamin D for these groups were all below
the recommended daily allowance or even the adequate intake levels called for
by the Institute of Medicine. This is a real world warning that kids, teens and
adults are not meeting dietary recommendations for important nutrients even in
a nation of abundance.

Some of the symptoms of potassium deficiency include confusion, irritability, muscle weakness, fatigue and heart disturbances. You might tire more easily during exercise. Too much potassium can be toxic and may bring on an irregular heartbeat or even heart attack. So long as you stick to dietary sources of this substance, your body will keep the balance of potassium within a tight, effective range.

The recommended daily allowance for potassium is 4,700 mg for adult men and women. Some other natural food sources of potassium, besides white potatoes and bananas, include sweet potatoes, orange juice, beet greens, white beans, dates, yogurt, tomatoes, raisins and clams.

To your good health,

geralt / Pixabay

Does Genes Control Your Health?

Just because an illness runs in your family does not mean you are doomed to be a patient yourself. Genes don’t control your destiny. Lifestyle choices can make a big impact on keeping your body healthy according to the experts. While there’s no doubt that some genes lead to disease, for most of us a healthy lifestyle will beat out any risk you inherit says cardiologist Donald Lloyd-Jones, MD who is chair of preventive medicine at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine.

Here’s how lifestyle changes can bring down your risk of disease…

For colon cancer, almost 25% of colon cancers happen in those who have some family history of disease, but in the rest of those who get the disease (the majority at 75%), genetics don’t appear to matter but lifestyle more likely plays a role. Doctors will advise you that you can dramatically lower colon cancer risk by eating little red/processed meat, exercising, keeping your weight in the healthy range, and drinking alcohol in moderation or not at all.

Beyond colon cancer, there are other forms of disease that are also influenced by the lifestyle choices we make each day. One good example is lung cancer where 80% to 90% of such cancers are brought on by smoking. Men who smoke are 23 times more likely to have lung cancer than nonsmoking men; women are 13 times more likely to be diagnosed with lung cancer than nonsmoking women. The longer you smoke and the more you smoke matter in terms of risk.

And while there are examples of patients who never smoked getting lung cancer, and a fortunate few who smoke and never get this disease, these are exceptions and not the rule. Odds are smoking will bring lung cancer into your life and the lives of your family and friends.

When it comes to heart disease, there are over 100 different genes that might play a small part in your risk according to researcher Lloyd-Jones, but the biggest factor is how you live and the choices you make. Based on his analysis of data from the Framingham Heart Study, that followed three generations of families, he found that…

” Family history accounted for 17% of heart disease risk

” Poor lifestyle choices, such as no exercise, account for 83% of heart disease risk

Clearly a heart healthy lifestyle can keep your heart going strong. What’s more, those who carry a gene strongly linked to heart disease can cut their risk down to normal by eating a diet that’s loaded with fruits and veggies according to research. If you have the gene but eat poorly, you’ll have double the normal risk of having a dangerous heart attack.

In terms of diabetes, the disease is impacted by a combination of lifestyle and genetics, with from 30% to as much as 70% of risk shaped by the genes you inherit. With the U.S. in the grips of an obesity epidemic that’s fueled by too much high calorie food and an inactive lifestyle, type 2 diabetes is on the rise.

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What’s more, exercise and controlling your weight can bring down your risk of diabetes. In an ongoing trial, researchers are looking at an intensive lifestyle intervention program that encompasses exercise, low calorie, nutritious food choices and loosing weight. The participants in the program have seen big improvements in their A1C levels. Blood pressure and cholesterol numbers also improved dramatically.

The good news is that the earlier you start making good lifestyle choices, the better. Researcher Lloyd-Jones and his team just finished a study on heart disease that examined lifestyle factors in those who were 25 years old. Checking in with the subjects 20 years later, the team saw that those who stuck with a healthy lifestyle into middle age were far less likely to have risk factors like high cholesterol or poor blood sugar control.

It’s never too late to start living healthy. Even in your 60s and 70s, making lifestyle changes brings dramatic reductions in risks of disease. Exercising and sticking to a healthy diet helps older people bring down their risk of heart disease and bone less. If you have heart disease, following these smart lifestyle choices can bring down the risk of future heart attacks by as much as 45%. These choices also cut the risk of cancer nearly in half.

To your good health,

PublicDomainPictures / Pixabay

Everyday Activities As Good As The Gym

Wondering which type of activity is best? There may be more benefit than anyone ever thought from short bursts of activity during the day if the findings of a new study in the American Journal of Health Promotion hold up. The research found that short bursts of activity, taking the stairs, vacuuming or raking leaves, walking the dog, during the day can be just as helpful as that trip to the gym for a more structured exercise regimen. For many of us, that’s good news.

The researchers examined a nationally representative sample of over 6,000 American adults and saw that an unstructured active lifestyle appeared just as effective as structured exercise in providing benefits to overall health, things like preventing high blood pressure, high cholesterol numbers and the cluster of risk factors known as metabolic syndrome that bring a higher risk of coronary artery disease, diabetes and stroke. In fact, the only area where the shorter bursts didn’t equal the benefits of sustained exercise was in body mass index.

As an example, those in the shorter exercise group who managed 30 minutes of activity in total per day had an 89% chance of NOT having metabolic syndrome. For the structured exercisers the risk was 87%.

What’s more, the team also found that a surprising 43% of adults who did short bursts of activity actually met the 30 minutes a day physical activity guidelines given by the federal government. Those one and two minutes of activity added up in terms of health. Study co-author Brad Cardinal who is a professor of exercise and sports science at Oregon State believes the findings of the work defy the laziness myth of American adults because it shows that lots of people achieved the recommended exercise guidelines. This is significantly more than the reported 10% of study subjects who said they exercised in a structured way.

The other author of the study, Paul Loprinzi who was a doctoral student at Oregon State University when he did the research, encourages us all to look for those everyday ways to be active… walk back and forth while on the phone, climb those stairs, walk anytime you can, use a push mower instead of a riding one, rake leaves. You might also try getting up (and not for a snack) during commercials and doing some sit-ups, push-ups or jumping jacks. At your child’s sporting events, use the half time break to walk about, stretch your legs and get your heart pumping.

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Are Your Genetics Keeping You Fat? (1 tip to change fast)

Ever heard the excuse “I’m overweight because of my genetics”?

Are several members of your family overweight and you just figured, you were stuck that way too? Well, I have great news. Recent studies reveal that being overweight has NOTHING to do with genetics and EVERYTHING to do with your lifestyle.

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Everyday Activities As Good As The Gym Continued…

The findings of the research are important because they address one of the most often cited barriers to getting more active – not having the time – by suggesting that adding activity into your everyday routine can bring you benefits, though probably won’t help with weight. This idea is certainly a more natural, more affordable, more flexible way to exercise.

Making being physically active a way of life is likely a smart strategy in terms of ongoing health. Be aware of the things that might entice you to sit, or be less active and avoid them as much as possible. Rather than focusing on getting that 30 minutes in one sitting… just get yourself moving for a minute or two and you’ll see a benefit to your health.

To your good health,

jarmoluk / Pixabay

They Have So Many Health Benefits!

They’re delicious… and nutritious… full of crunchy goodness; and where once they were considered too high calorie to be eaten regularly, people are taking a second look at nuts. This is likely the result of two new studies that have drawn attention to the benefits of nuts for control of blood sugar. Aside from this benefit, nuts have been associated with weight control and improving heart health. One study from 2013 found that eating nuts might even help you live longer.

The good news is that nuts are not linked to weight gain according to a team from Purdue University, which runs counter to lots of conventional diet wisdom out there. Yes, nuts do have lots of calories (one ounce has from 160 to 200 calories) as you’ve seen; they’re also loaded with other good for you nutrients. So if you eat them in moderation, watching your serving size, you can reap the benefits without taking in lots of extra calories.

In terms of diabetes, work appearing in Diabetes Care found that eating pistachios daily helps those at risk of developing diabetes
maintain control
over their blood sugar. Another study in PLOS One saw that tree nuts (including almonds, Brazil nuts, cashews, pecans) might help with blood sugar control in those who already have type 2 diabetes. Nuts have also been shown to improve insulin sensitivity, and this brings down the risk of diabetes.

If you’re wondering why so much of the research in the area is funded by the nut industry, the answer is simple. There’s too little government funding for this type of work, as is the case for many areas of research. The nut industry understands the health benefits of their product and is working hard to get the word out. Even though they give grants to researchers, the teams work independently and the studies are peer reviewed before they can appear in a journal.

Modern medicine has known for some time now that nuts are good
for the heart
. And the ability of the nut to bring down cholesterol is also well understood. The protein naturally in nuts helps to keep blood sugar stable, and the fiber helps with controlling your weight by helping you feel full after you eat. Of course the crunch value may also contribute to that feeling of being satisfied after eating a serving of nuts.

Continues below…


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Are Your Genetics Keeping You Fat? (1 tip to change fast)

Ever heard the excuse “I’m overweight because of my genetics”?

Are several members of your family overweight and you just figured, you were stuck that way too? Well, I have great news. Recent studies reveal that being overweight has NOTHING to do with genetics and EVERYTHING to do with your lifestyle.

BUT, if you make the wrong choices… well, you know how that ends.

Click through to find out how Dr Charles can make a difference for you in just 3 to 10 days.

click here to learn the 1 thing that makes a difference…
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Health Problems: Go For Nuts Continued…

All kinds of nuts are healthy, similar in protein content, fiber and fat. Even though nuts are about 80% fat, it’s good fat, the unsaturated kind. Some types of nuts, almonds for instance, are the best sources of vitamin E, cashews are a good source of magnesium and pistachios are full of the phytonutrients key to healthy eyes while also supplying plenty of magnesium, folate and vitamin E. Nuts even contain arginine, an amino acid that’s needed to create nitric oxide, a substances the body uses to relax blood vessels.

Your best bet is to eat a variety of nuts to get the most well rounded set of nutrients in their natural state. You get all the benefits and won’t be as likely to get bored with one taste.

One to (possibly for someone very active) two ounces a day is a smart limit to set. How many nuts that is depends on the nut in question, for almonds it’s 25, pistachios it’s 40; but only 17 macadamia nuts. Going unsalted is the best bet, but if this is too bland, you can try a sprinkle of cinnamon and broil, or add some rosemary and garlic to taste. You might want to add nuts to a salad or stir fry dish, rather than enjoying them atop a sundae. The good news is that any kind of nut can take the place of other, less healthy snacks. Just pay attention to how many you eat, perhaps give yourself the serving size and put the rest away, so you can’t overeat without thinking.

To your good health,

bykst / Pixabay

Bad News For The Instant Noodles Lovers

They’re affordable, tasty and easy to make… but eating lots of instant noodles can also bring some serious consequences to your health. In fact, a new study appearing in The Journal of Nutrition finds that eating lots of instant noodles may up the risk of a condition known as cardiometabolic syndrome that can lead to stroke, heart disease or diabetes.

Asian populations eat lots of instant noodles, so a Baylor University team relied on diet information taken from the Korean National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey IV (2007-2009) on 11,000 subjects ranging in age from 19 to 64 years old. The subjects reported what they ate, and the team then categorized the diet as either traditional or fast food focused. Traditional dietary pattern (TP) included lots of fish, rice, veggies, fruit and potatoes – while the fast food pattern (MP) had lots of meat, soda, fried and convenient foods… including those instant noodles so familiar to struggling college students everywhere.

It’s no surprise that the fast food eating pattern was linked to higher obesity rates and higher levels of cholesterol, just as the traditional dietary pattern was linked to normal blood pressure and a lower chance of being obese. Neither diet demonstrated a clear link to a risk of having cardiometabolic syndrome.

Here’s the thing… when the team looked at the data on instant noodle consumption they saw that eating the noodles at least two times a week was linked to a 68% higher incidence of metabolic syndrome for women, even after accounting for sodium intake, estrogen use and waist circumference. Eating these noodles one time a week brought at 26% higher prevalence of metabolic syndrome. The relationship held for leaner women who said they did more exercise, though it was not found in men.

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Bad News For The Instant Noodles Lovers Continued…

Researchers explain the increased risk as the result of all the calories, refined carbs, saturated fat and sodium in those instant noodles. Women may be especially susceptible to the negative effects due to hormones that impact a woman disproportionately, or metabolic differences. Another concern is the chemical BPA that’s in the styrofoam container used to package those instant noodles, a substance known to mess with the way hormones (particularly estrogen) send messages in the body.

There are limitations to the work. One being that the numbers from the nutrition survey didn’t account for serving size, only the number of times a given food was eaten. Still, the team is hoping that people become more aware of their food choices, and that some packaged foods may be just as bad for the body as fast food.

Also of note, the research has brought out feelings of wounded pride, stubborn resistance, even nationalism in South Koreans, who, it turns out, eat more instant noodles than anyone. They refuse to give up their noodles, and are trying to keep the dish healthy by adding veggies, taking supplements, using less seasoning and avoiding the soup. Others wonder if facilities in junk food loving America are capable of producing unbiased research on nutrition.

So as you consider buying instant noodles, at least recognize that this is not a healthy choice. You are purchasing a processed food, a food with unhealthy additives. If you just can’t break the instant noodle habit, consider not eating them every single day, and control the portion size. You might try making home cooked pasta – not as fast or affordable as the instant variety, but the time and effort are certainly worth it when you think about the nutrient value of the end product – the meal you are using to fuel your body.

To your good health,

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Lower Heart Disease As A Vegetarian

Today heart disease is the leading cause of death in the U.S. for both men and women… but here’s something you can do to tip the odds in your favor. A new UK study appearing in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition finds that those who follow a vegetarian diet are one third less likely to be hospitalized (or die) due to heart disease than those who eat meat and fish.

Earlier work in this area has suggested that those who don’t eat meat have fewer problems with their heart, but it still wasn’t clear if there were other factors (exercise, smoking habits) that might also be involved. Today the picture is clearer.

According to Francesca Crowe of the University of Oxford, who led the new research, there is something in the vegetarian diet that’s causing the lower risk of heart disease. She and her team tracked about 45,000 subjects living in England and Scotland who gave initial reports about what they ate, their lifestyle and general health during the 1990s. When the study began, almost a third said they were vegetarians who did not eat any meat or fish.

Over the study period, 11 to 12 years, 1,066 of the subjects were put in the hospital for heart disease, including having a heart attack, and 169 died from these events. After accounting for age, exercise and other health measures, the team saw that vegetarians were 32% less likely to have heart disease than meat eaters. When weight was made part of the equation, the effect dropped to just 28%.

Experts think that reduced heart disease risk was because of the lower cholesterol numbers and blood pressure readings among the vegetarians taking part in the research. Meat eating subjects had a total cholesterol of 222 mg/dL on average, and a systolic (top number) blood pressure of 134 mm Hg. This compared to 203 mg/dL total cholesterol and 131 mm Hg systolic blood pressure for the vegetarian subjects. The diastolic (bottom) number was similar for both groups.

Continues below…


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Lower Heart Disease As A Vegetarian Continued…

Crowe believes that the difference in total cholesterol numbers between the meat eaters and vegetarian subjects was about half of what you might see if you were to take a prescription statin drug. The drop in numbers is likely due to the lack of red meat, especially those choices that are high in saturated fat. Plus all those fruits and veggies are a natural source of fiber and other beneficial nutrients, and these could also play a role.

So, if you’re looking to reduce your risk of dangerous heart disease, one way might be to adopt a vegetarian diet. This is not a decision to enter into lightly. Talk with your doctor and to those who eat this way now. Be sure to plan carefully and eat a wide variety of foods to meet your body’s nutritional needs.

If you’re not quite ready to go full vegetarian, making a sincere effort to cut back on saturated fat will also make a difference – so limit butter, ice cream cheeses and meats, and you’ll be making a good start to lowering the amount of bad fats you’re taking in.

To your good health,