Mar
24
2018

Prevent Plugged Arteries

There are several ways to prevent plugged arteries, which will translate into less heart attacks and strokes. The message is simple: if you get less heart attacks and strokes, you will live longer. Below I am examining ways to prolong life by various ways to prevent plugged arteries.

You probably heard of plaque formation in the arteries. This is the process where a combination of fat, calcium, cholesterol and cell waste forms a deposit (plaque) under the lining of the arteries.

The end result is that the blood won’t be flowing freely through the affected arteries. This can cause a heart attack or a stroke. Essentially, this is the point where a clot forms in the narrowed passage of the artery. It is also the point, when the clinicians make a diagnosis of a heart attack or a stroke.

Let’s examine what leads to plaque formation in the arteries.

Trans fats

Trans fats are contained in fried foods like French fries, in margarines and other butter substitutes. As margarine is a common ingredient of cakes, cookies, pastries and pies, these are all bad news for our heart health. I consider them off limits. If you eat those foods, you build up plaque in your arteries, which leads to premature heart attacks and strokes.

Lack of exercise

It has been common knowledge for a long time that being sessile leads to premature hardening of the arteries. In the late 1800s to the early 1900s physical exercise was promoted in various countries around the world.

The latter part of the 20th century saw a renaissance of the fitness movement. It was trendy to go running, cycling, and swimming or working out at a gym. It is not only trendy but healthy: cardiologists support all of these sports to help people stay healthy and keep the arteries free from plaque formation.

Too many refined carbs

Sugar and processed foods, especially those with added sugar to improve flavor, have a direct relationship to heart attacks and strokes. It is known that sugar causes high LDL cholesterol and high triglycerides. In addition sugar also causes inflammation of the arterial walls, which causes plugged arteries. However, sugar is only part of the problem. Starchy foods like rice, noodles, cakes, cookies and other foods made with flour get broken down into sugar. Both lead to insulin production. And both lead to changes of the lining of the arterial walls.

In the 1980s and 1990s there was a school of thought that a low fat diet would be healthy in terms of heart attack and stroke prevention (the low fat/high carb diet). This turned out to be a nutritional disaster: the high carb content of such a diet was the problem. It led to weight gain, obesity and death.

Red meat is a problem

Several studies have documented that saturated fat from red meat is only part of the problem. The other part is carnitine, which is abundantly present in beef, pork, lamb and venison. But mortality of people eating unprocessed red meat is only marginally elevated. It is when people eat processed red meat that there is a significant rise in mortality from heart attacks and strokes. This study examined this. They found that gut bacteria were stimulated by red meat to produce substances that stimulate bacteria in your gut to secrete TMA and TMAO, which makes your platelets more sticky and contributes to plugging your arteries. This research paper from the Cleveland Clinic explains it in more detail.

What must I do to prevent plugged arteries?

Eat the right food

A Mediterranean diet is anti-inflammatory. It contains lots of vegetables, but little red meat. Fish and chicken that contain much less L-carnitine are more dominant in Mediterranean food. As mentioned above, you want to avoid trans fats. And you also want to avoid sugar and too many starchy foods. This includes sugar-sweetened beverages. Making these changes will keep your insulin levels in the normal range eliminating inflammation in your arteries. Avoid eating processed foods, because they contain food preservatives and lots of sugar that we want to avoid. Eat more unsaturated fats like avocados, walnuts, olives, trout, herring, and salmon. The last three contain marine-derived omega-3 fatty acids that are particularly helpful in preventing heart attacks and strokes by being anti-inflammatory and by elevating the protective HDL cholesterol. Drink lots of green or black tea, rooibos tea, or ginger tea. They contain antioxidants and bioflavonoids that prevent plugged arteries.

Regular exercise

Many publications have shown that regular physical exercise will lower blood pressure, condition your muscles including your heart and lower mortality.

Only 10 minutes of brisk walking every day reduced the death rate by 33% compared to those who did not exercise at all.

Regular physical exercise does not only prevent heart attacks and strokes, it also reduces the risk of getting another 35 chronic diseases, as the link shows.

Here are some common exercises: jogging, cycling, running, brisk walking, swimming, playing tennis and doing aerobics. All of them will strengthen your muscles and condition your heart and lungs.

Other ways to prevent plugged arteries

Smokers must quit smoking, as smoking has been identified as a major risk factor for heart attacks and strokes.

Exposure to prolonged stress is a factor that leads to hardening of arteries. Stress management is possible by counseling, by self-hypnosis, yoga, tai chi and other relaxation methods.

Risk factors associated with plugged arteries

We already have mentioned the risk factors that are associated with clogged arteries. But for clarity I would like to repeat the major risk factors here.

  • Smoking
  • High blood pressure
  • Elevated LDL cholesterol (the bad cholesterol)
  • Reduced HDL cholesterol (HDL is increasing with exercise)
  • Obesity (often associated by ingestion of too many carbs)
  • Insulin resistance and diabetes
  • Lack of exercise (too much sitting in front of the TV or doing computer work)
  • Unhealthy diet (Standard American diet instead of Mediterranean diet)
Prevent Plugged Arteries

Prevent Plugged Arteries

Conclusion

We often think that we have no input whether or not we get a heart attack or a stroke. This is completely wrong. If you adopt the solutions I have listed here, you can change things for the better. You will reduce your risk to get a heart attack or a stroke. Treat high blood pressure. Stop smoking. Cut out sugar and starchy foods to reduce triglycerides and LDL cholesterol. Exercise regularly and your HDL will protect you from heart attacks and strokes. Shed pounds, if you are obese by starting a Mediterranean diet and cutting out sugar. This will also improve your insulin resistance or diabetes. Start daily exercise as this reduces your risk of a heart attack or a stroke. In addition exercise reduces the risk of 35 chronic diseases that have also been mentioned in one of the links.

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Mar
03
2018

Foods That Can Protect You From Cancer

There are foods that can protect you from cancer. Generally speaking you want to remove cancer-producing substances from your diet. But diet is only part of your lifestyle that can contribute to cancer. I will list some of the more important dietary factors below and briefly also touch on important other factors.

Avoid burning your meat 

When you use the BBQ, avoid burning your meat. As a matter of fact it is a lot better to use a slow cooker at low heat, and cook the meat for a longer time. In this way you won’t create carcinogens, which are cancer-producing chemicals. Healthy Grilling Tips to Minimize Carcinogens in Your Food. This is particularly important for the red meats (like beef, lamb, bison or pork).

Sugar can cause cancer

You never thought that sugar and an overabundance of starchy foods can cause cancer, but they do. 5 Reasons Cancer and Sugar are Best Friends.  What is the reason for this? The answer is found in the metabolism of cancer cells. Cancer cells use 10- to 12-times more sugar for their metabolism than normal cells.  Over-consuming sugar is the worst thing a cancer patient can do. Replace sugar by stevia, which is a harmless sweetener. It does not lead to an insulin reaction. You need to avoid all other sugar substitutes as there are other health problems associated with them.

Avoid macaroni and cheese because of phthalates

Avoid macaroni and cheese: Phthalates are found in almost every sample of cheese powder used to manufacture macaroni and cheese. Phthalates can cause infertility and breast cancer. Toxic effects of the easily avoidable phthalates and parabens.

High fat diet

A high fat diet increases the risk for breast cancer: High-Fat Diet Increases Breast Cancer Risk, Study Finds. Limit your fat intake to about 10% of saturated fat. That is the recommendation of the FDA: New FDA Food Guidelines – Medical Articles by Dr. Ray. Increase your consumption of fish and seafood. Only one proviso: predator fish like shark, marlin, tilefish, swordfish and grouper are high in mercury. But wild salmon, sardines and oysters are low in mercury; so are shrimp and squid. Before You Buy Fish, Check This Mercury Level List.

Take high dose vitamin D3 supplements

In order to avoid cancer, take high dose vitamin D3 supplements to avoid cancer. Vitamin D3 in cancer prevention and therapy: the nutritional issue. Strong statistics exist showing that vitamin D3 is a powerful tool to lower your risk of developing cancer. Your family doctor should take a blood test called 25-hydroxy vitamin D level to monitor that you absorb enough vitamin D3. Some people absorb vitamin D3 slowly and fast absorbers absorb it more rapidly.  The only way how to find out how well your gut is absorbing vitamin D3, is by doing this blood test. It is now generally accepted that a good range of the 25-hydroxy vitamin D level is between 50 and 80 ng/ml.

Also curcumin 500 mg per day is good for cancer prevention. Turmeric | Cancer in general | Cancer Research UK.

Take enough fiber

Make sure you take enough fiber, which does not only reduce colorectal cancer, but also many other cancers. Foods for Cancer Prevention. North Americans are not consuming enough fiber. Vitamin D3 in cancer prevention and therapy: the nutritional issue.

Avoid processed meat

The World Health Organization has determined that processed meat is causing a lot of cancer. They labeled processed meat as a probable carcinogen. Processed meat causes colorectal cancer, pancreatic cancer and prostate cancer.

Moderate amounts of fruit and vegetables

Eat moderate amounts of fruit and vegetables. The claim in the past that fruit and vegetables would protect you from cancer is not as solid as it was thought of in the past. Newer research has shown that a basic intake of fruit and vegetables is needed for essential nutrients, but consuming more than that will NOT protect you from cancer. Fruit and vegetables and cancer risk. This is a case where eating more vegetables or fruit beyond a certain point will not do harm, but it will not protect you further from cancer.

Drink green tea or black tea

Drink green tea or black tea, sweetened with stevia for cancer prevention: Winter Beverages for Cancer Prevention. Green tea contains polyphenols and antioxidants. One of the antioxidants is called catechin, which prevents cell damage. The antioxidants help to prevent breast cancer, colorectal cancer and prostate cancer. In addition tea is heart healthy.

Avoid alcohol consumption 

Avoid alcohol consumption as much as possible to prevent cancer: Drinking Alcohol Really Does Raise Your Cancer Risk, Doctors Warn. We were indoctrinated by cardiologists that one glass of wine per day for women and two glasses of wine per day for men would be a prevention against heart attacks. But these relatively small amounts of alcohol do have an effect on causing cancer.  This British study showed that small amounts of alcohol indeed are cardioprotective. In contrast, these amounts and higher alcohol amounts can also cause cancer of the pharynx, larynx (voice box), esophagus, liver, breast, colon and pancreas.

Avoid too much red meat consumption

Beef, lamb and pork probably contribute to causing cancer according to the WHO. Use common sense, and eat more fish, chicken and turkey. Reduce your beef consumption. My grandmother said when I grew up in Germany that beef was a meal reserved for Sunday dinner only. The rest of the days we ate little in the way of meats, but lentils, beans, eggs or fish instead. Ask your grandmother, what she used to cook. Or ask your mother what she ate as a child.

Other lifestyle issues

Quit smoking, if you still do. This is by and large the biggest risk for developing lung cancer, throat cancer, esophageal cancer and pancreatic cancer. Watch your calorie intake: eat smaller meals more often. This way the production of your digestive juices will consume some calories and because you satisfied your hunger for foods, you will not gain weight. This will help prevent obesity and type 2 diabetes, both of which are established risks for developing cancer. Here is a review that shows you, which cancer types are caused by obesity: Obesity and Cancer . With regard to diabetes, there is a strong association with developing liver cancer, pancreas cancer and endometrial cancer (=uterine cancer). There is a lesser risk (only 1.2 to 1.5-fold) to develop colorectal cancer, breast cancer and bladder cancer. Diabetes and Cancer: A consensus report.

Pollution can also be a factor in causing cancer: How air pollution can cause cancer. If you can move to a less polluted city, do so.

Foods That Can Protect You From Cancer

Foods That Can Protect You From Cancer

Conclusion

As shown above there is strong evidence that certain foods can cause cancer. Others, including supplements like curcumin and vitamin D3, can help prevent cancer. If we avoid as many of the known cancer producing foods and eat more of the healthy foods that do not cause cancer, our cancer risk will decline significantly. In addition, if you quit smoking, avoid pollution as much as possible, reduce your alcohol intake and watch your calorie intake to prevent obesity and type 2 diabetes, you will move into the low-risk cancer group. We all need to work on this on an ongoing basis.

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Feb
10
2018

What To Do To Stop Eating Junk Food

Eating junk food is a favorite pastime in North America, so what to do to stop eating junk food? Everybody knows that it is not a good choice, and it is known that health problems have a connection to unhealthy eating habits. When you are used to eating junk food, your taste buds are accommodated to the inferior foods that you want to avoid. I would suggest you educate yourself first regarding what junk food is, and next compare it to healthy food. Junk food has additives and taste enhancers.

Monosodium glutamate

Monosodium glutamate is one additive that often is on the ingredient list of processed foods. This is not a harmless flavor enhancer. It belongs into the group of excitotoxins. The substance can destroy brain cells. It also has the potential to give you a nasty headache, especially if larger quantities are in the food. When we look for food, we do not want to get a headache or risk losing our memory down the road. I threw out all MSG containing foods in 2001. To make it challenging MSG comes under many disguised names: autolysed yeast, monosodium glutamate, textured protein, yeast food, sodium caseinate and others.

Read labels and exclude products with MSG in it. It is a good investment into your future without Alzheimer’s disease or other cognitive disorders.

Avoid refined sugar

Next you want to make sure that sugar is excluded from your diet; with this I mean refined sugar as well as sugar from processed foods. If you read food labels, you probably are aware of how much sugar manufacturers include in processed foods. It tastes pleasing, it is cheap and it makes people come back to buy more. But you as the consumer have a right to get rid of this as it causes your insulin level to increase, and on the long term paves the way to diseases such as diabetes, cardiovascular diseases (heart attacks and strokes), Alzheimer’s disease and others. As a result I do not buy anything with added sugar.

Use stevia instead of sugar

If I like to sweeten my coffee or yogurt, I can do it by adding a tiny bit of stevia, a natural plant sweetener. There are no calories, there is no insulin response, no worry about diabetes or Alzheimer’s, and no tooth decay either.

Cook more meals at home and avoid restaurants

The more you can cook at home, the easier it is to take your lunch salad along in a BPA free container. It is better for you, better for your health, and by actively avoiding junk outlets; restaurants will get the message and offer healthier food choices down the road. It is a process of years to change consumer habits. You will be the beneficiary. Here is an example how to order food in a restaurant, if you want to make healthy choices:

Eating out at a restaurant

What would you like for a drink?

The first thing the waiter will do is asking you what drinks you want to order. My answer is sparkling (or non-sparkling) mineral water. This establishes that I do not want to order alcoholic drinks or sugary sodas. They are empty calories; they are also overpriced. But if you really want to have a glass of red or white wine, make sure that you pick a good one and only one glass. Studies have shown that the resveratrol in it will prevent heart attacks, but too much of it undermines your liver and the healthy condition of your pancreas.

The main event

Next the waiter will come with bread and butter. It is best to skip these offerings. I just say: “Thank you, but I don’t eat bread or pasta”. As a matter of fact I usually tell the waiter when I order the mineral water that I do not want any bread. Waiters nowadays understand: no carbs! (The truth is that you do indeed eat carbs. Vegetables and fruit are low-density carbs!) It goes like a red line through the rest of the order. It starts when I order my meal: a bowl of salad as a starter is great, and next I order meat or fish with a side of vegetables. The waiter understands, and often restaurants will offer to substitute the pasta or potatoes with extra vegetables.

Dessert anybody?

After the meal the waiter will temptingly produce the dessert menu: any dessert today? The answer is a simple “no, not today”. After a filling meal nobody needs a dessert that is off the calorie Richter scale!

Usually this is the blueprint for me at a restaurant. With this approach you will avoid weight gain, but you will leave the restaurant satisfied. Unfortunately these days in most restaurants we do not have any choices yet with regard to organic food. More restaurants are starting to pay attention. Again, it is consumer habits that make a change!

At home the thought processes are very similar to eating out in a restaurant. You develop some discipline and stick to healthy foods. Avoid sugar, MSG, too many starchy foods and processed foods. Before you know it, it becomes a lifestyle that you take with you wherever you go.

Shopping for healthy foods

As we want to go out to restaurants less and eat at home more, it is important that I tell you how to shop. We want healthy food with no or a minimum of insecticide residues on vegetables or fruit. This is why it is important to buy a lot of organic vegetables and fruit.

Before you start shopping I suggest you look at your fridge critically. Cut out all refined sugar and starchy foods. So you go through the content of your fridge and look at all of the labels to assess what every food contains. I did exactly this in 2001 and 1/3 of the content of my fridge had to be thrown out, as it was incompatible with a sensible diet. Not to add any additional sugar was easy, but things like jams that have 45% to 50% of sugar in them had to be removed as well. Bread had to go and all soft drinks (=sugary drinks) had to go. It was quite an eye opener.

Maintenance of your no sugar program

In the meantime we shop at the periphery of a grocery store as follows.

Start at the deli: your low fat cheese varieties, roasted chicken or turkey breast or lean ham if you choose are all found here.
Go on to the meats: lean cuts of beef, pork, chicken, lamb will be found here.
Fish and seafood: salmon, sole, cod, halibut, trout, mussels, shrimp will be there to choose from.

Continue at the vegetarian section: tofu, tempeh and veggie burgers. It is debatable how valuable soy products really are. About 95% of the soy crop is genetically engineered, and textured soy protein has nothing to do with a “natural” product.
At the dairy section you will look for 1% milk, almond milk or pea protein milk, yogurt, low fat cottage cheese, and more low fat variety of cheeses.

More shopping

The bakery section is also at the periphery, but you will want to be very discerning, as these are products which offer not much more than dense carbohydrates, trans fats, and a lack of minerals. The dozen bagels will not offer you much nutritional bang for your buck!
Finally you will arrive at the produce department. You will likely go for all the green leaf choices like leaf lettuce, kale, chard, spinach, as well as the cabbage varieties (broccoli, green cabbage, sui choy, napa cabbage and cauliflower).

More shopping for the right foods

The other ones on your list are the intensely colored non- root vegetables like tomatoes, red and green peppers, also mushrooms, which are a power house of minerals, green beans, asparagus, as well as onions and garlic. You will also buy your fruit: apples, oranges, grapefruit and other citrus, pears, berries, and pineapple. You will go easy on mango, papaya, and banana because of their high sugar content.

The deep frozen section can be your best ally

Look for deep frozen vegetables, fruit, and fish as well as meats. As vegetables are quickly readied for the freezer, their vitamin content can be higher than that of a vegetable that has spent 8 days in transit from the field to the produce department. The deep frozen section also gives you access to a lot of variety. You’ll be able to enjoy some strawberries, even when they are not in season. Read the labels, as some fruit have been packaged with sugar syrup. Look for the varieties, where no sugar has been added. The frozen section also contains some highly processed items: deep-fried foods and dessert selections, which may not be an accessory to full health, but rather to an empty wallet.

Canned foods

Canned foods can be useful, as long as you are dealing with fruit that are canned in their juices and not in sugar syrup. The vegetables are less valuable in vitamins than their deep frozen counterparts. Watch out for varieties, where less salt is added. The label will tell you” low sodium”. With canned products it is also important to pay attention to the can. Many of the cans are lined with a BPH product, which is an immune disruptor. Look out for cans, where the label clearly states that they are “BPH free.”

Some more staple foods

You will not have to navigate all the aisles, except for your cleaning products and your cosmetics. There are some staples, which you will also require: olive oil, some olives, almonds or macadamia nuts (raw or dry roasted). The one cereal product, which is valuable, are coarse rolled oats and some pot barley. Both varieties carry a lot of fibre, which makes them very useful food staples. Avoid the “quick cooking” or “instant” oats. Due to the processing, the carbohydrates are absorbed a lot faster and consequently trigger a higher insulin response.

Shopping for drinks

You will wonder about drinks next. Having passed the colas, ginger ales and other sugar sodas you may eye the diet drinks. Beware of drinks sweetened with aspartame. There is increasing evidence that phenylalanine (brand names: Aspartame, NutraSweet and Sweet’N Low) is not a “harmless” sweetener. Newer research has shown that it can cause gastroesophageal reflux (=GERD) and migraine headaches.

Stevia, a sweetener from a South American plant, does not have harmful effects. It is safe to use as a sweetener and does not cause an insulin response. You are best served with mineral water, purified drinking water, herb teas, tea or coffee. Fruit juices do have vitamins and minerals, but they are high in sugar causing an insulin release.

No canned fruit juices

You would not really eat 3 large apples in one sitting. So why insist on drinking 8 oz. of apple juice? You’ll ingest all the sugar and forgo the fibre! You’ll also notice, that a lot of fruit juices have been mixed with sugar, water, artificial flavor, some color, and as an apology some vitamin C is often on the list of ingredients. They are appearing on the shelves as “a good source of vitamin C”. In reality we are dealing with flavored, colored sugar water. Use your own judgment, whether you want to spend your dollars on this selection!

Convenience and snack foods

In the aisle adjacent to the pop you will very likely encounter a huge selection of convenience and snack foods. They have several things in common: you have met them on TV, some will be high in starches and fat (chips), others will be high in starches, sugar, and fat (cookies, donuts, cream pastries), and we are dealing with trans fats. Do take time to read the listed ingredients, and then decide, whether you and those who eat in your household deserve nutritional garbage. You have now completed your round trip in the supermarket.

Summary of your round trip in the supermarket

To sum up the most important facts, remember the following:

  • Do most of your shopping at the periphery of the store.
  • Look for fresh products – the less processed, the better.
  • Read the ingredients on labels.
  • Stay away from nutri-garbage
  • Buy the majority of your fruit and vegetables as organic produce. There are exceptions like raspberries, blackberries, asparagus, avocado where the regular produce is clean. But strawberries, bell peppers, broccoli, celery, grapes, spinach and tomatoes are all part of the crop that has been sprayed. Beware of the “Dirty Dozen“!
What To Do To Stop Eating Junk Food

What To Do To Stop Eating Junk Food

Conclusion

When you cut out junk food and adopt healthy food habits , you will loose a few pounds, which is natural. The sugar and starchy food you cut out had calories that you are no longer consuming. This makes you loose some weight. But you will feel more energy, because you are feeding your body what it needs. You no longer get those hypoglycemic episodes that made you tired before. Essentially you switched from the Standard North American diet that includes junk food to a Mediterranean-type diet. This type of a diet has been found to be anti-inflammatory. It prevents arthritis, diabetes, heart attacks and strokes. It may also prevent some cancers, but various studies on cancer get different results. If you follow this type of a diet without junk food you will live a longer life and stay healthier.