Oct
12
2019

Naps For Heart Health

In an article published online Sept. 9, 2019 a Swiss research group mentions naps for heart health. Specifically, they observed 3462 subjects over 5.3 years. The ones who napped for 5 minutes to an hour once or twice per week had 48% less heart attacks, strokes or heart failure than those who did not take naps during the day. When the researchers constructed survival curves, people who did not nap had the worst survival curves. On the other hand, the persons who napped once or twice per week had the best survival curves. The ones who napped 3 to 5 times per week or 6 to 7 times per week were in between the other survival curves.

Naps for heart health with adrenal gland fatigue

Adrenal gland fatigue is one of the clinical conditions where we know that naps rebuild energy. This is a hormone weakness where the adrenal glands can have reduced hormone production. The location of our adrenal glands is right above the kidneys. These hormone glands have a circadian rhythm. The highest amount of adrenal gland hormones production occurs in the morning and there is a gradual decline throughout the day. Our meals (breakfast, lunch and dinner) as well as any snacks lead to mini peaks of the adrenal gland hormone production. If we get enough sleep, there is no excessive stress in our lives and we do not smoke or abuse alcohol and drugs, most people will not know that they have adrenal glands as they are quietly working in the background. However, your adrenal glands may function in the lower end of normal bordering to adrenal gland fatigue.

Power naps during the day can normalize your adrenal gland hormones

When you take a power nap during the day, your adrenal gland hormone production normalizes. This makes you feel good and energetic. Patients who have adrenal gland fatigue feel more energy when they remove sugar and refined carbs from their diet. They also feel more energy when they have small snacks halfway through the morning and afternoon. Vitamin C as a supplement is useful as it stabilizes adrenal gland hormone production.

Discussion of the Swiss research regarding naps for heart health

There was no medical explanation given regarding why napping prolongs life. But it is entirely possible that those people who unknowingly have borderline adrenal gland fatigue are responding to building up their adrenal gland production. We know from the literature that stress kills. It would make sense that if the ACTH/adrenal gland hormone system is functioning better, mortality would be reduced. From people in Spain that value their “siesta” during the early afternoon we know that they are doing something right. Their life expectancy was an impressive 82.83 years in 2016 compared to 78.69 years for the US average. 

Naps For Heart Health

Naps For Heart Health

Conclusion

A Swiss study observed 3462 subjects over 5.3 years. The ones who napped during the day for 5 minutes to an hour had 48% less heart attacks, strokes or heart failure than those who did not take naps during the day. This resulted in less mortality of those who napped during the day. The researchers had no explanation for this observation. When I reviewed the literature regarding adrenal gland fatigue, I was impressed by the fact that many borderline patients get help from power naps and snacks of food between meals. Their ACTH/cortisol production can normalize this way and they survive better. At this point we do not know for sure why a nap reduces heart attacks, strokes and heart failure. 

More about adrenal gland fatigue here.

Jul
13
2019

Replace Red Meat And Processed Red Meat

new study has shown that you can save lives when you replace red meat and processed red meat. The replacement was with fish, poultry or protein from vegetables. The study appeared in the British Medical Journal on June 12, 2019. It involved 53,553 women nurses and 27,916 male doctors in the United States and ran from 1986 to 2010. Every 4 years comprehensive diet sheets were compiled on each of the participants. Death rates of all of the clinical trial participants were also recorded. The amount of red meat or processed red meat servings, which the participants consumed per day was recorded. One serving of red meat is 3.5 ounces or 100 grams.

Results of the BMJ study

People consuming ½ a serving (50 grams) of red meat more per day over 8 years, had an increased mortality. It was increased by 9% over the following 8 years. Similarly, people consuming ½ a serving (50 grams) of processed red meat over 8 years, were in trouble. They had an increased mortality of 13% over the next 8 years. The researchers also found that when people ate less red meat and processed red meat, things normalized. Their mortality returned to a normal rate. Also, when people replaced red meat with fish, poultry and vegetables, the mortality figures went down as well.

Red meat consumption in the literature

The researchers reviewed the literature regarding disease risk and mortality with meat consumption. In particular, the researcher had an interest in increased red meat consumption and consumption of processed red meat. Other investigators mentioned that there was an increased risk of type 2 diabetes, colorectal cancer and other cancers.  In addition, cardiovascular disease and increased overall mortality were up with meat consumption. The worst variety of processed foods are bacon, hot dogs, and sausages. Certain lung diseases like chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and heart heart failure are directly related to consumption of red meat or processed red meat products. Hypertension also has a link to red meat consumption. Components of red processed meats such as saturated fats, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, preservatives and sodium can cause colorectal cancer and at the same time cause cardiovascular disease.

More details about the study

There were 8426 deaths among the nurses branch of the study. 3138 nurses died from cancer, 1774 from cardiovascular disease, 939 from neurodegenerative diseases, 751 from respiratory diseases, and 1824 from other causes. In the same time period (24 years) there were 5593 deaths among the males of the Health Professionals follow-up study. 1754 died from cardiovascular disease, 1754 from cancer. There were 434 deaths from respiratory diseases, 375 from neurodegenerative diseases, and 1276 from other causes.

Red meat consumption in women has decreased by 31% in the past 24 years. Men have cut back their red meat consumption by 11% in the same time period.

One subgroup of patients decreased their red meat consumption and replaced it with a higher intake of nuts, poultry (without skin), fish, dairy, eggs, whole grains and vegetables over 8 years. They had a lower death rate than the controls over the next 10 years.

Discussion of the BMJ study

The authors mentioned that a Japanese study found no increased mortality among 51,683 Japanese men and women eating red meat, poultry, processed meat and liver. There were 20,466 men and 31,217 women, aged 40-79 years. The study lasted for almost 16 years. There were 2685 deaths due 537 ischemic heart diseases and 1209 strokes. The investigators had traced how much meat the participants ate. They did not find any change in mortality up to 100 grams per day of beef or other meat consumption. I will discuss this further below.

Hormones and antibiotics may be partially responsible for higher mortality in the US

Dr. Valter Longo, professor of biological sciences at the University of Southern California and director of the USC Longevity Institute was not part of the study. He commented: “The lower or lack of association between red meat intake and mortality in other countries or areas of the world indicates that red meat may contribute to mortality in the United States by providing a high protein content but also because it may contain other factors that contribute to damage.“ He also questioned certain agricultural practices where hormones and antibiotics are in use in the raising of beef cattle in the US. This is not the case in Japan or Europe. He went on to say: “The reduced mortality, when red meat is replaced with fish, is consistent with this possibility since they contain generally similar levels of proteins”.

Use of antibiotics in cattle farming

The accepted practice of using antibiotics not only for treating infections, but also for accelerating growth in beef cattle has far-reaching ramifications.  The problem is that use of antibiotics in milk cows produces milk with antibiotic residues. In beef cattle antibiotic residue are also in the meat of these cows.

The question arose whether or not the use of antibiotics in cattle would possibly cause resistance to antibiotics in humans. This publication examines this question. It comes to the conclusion that the probability of resistant strains of bacteria in humans as a result of the feeding of antibiotics to cows in the US would be small. However, there is another aspect that only recently has gained attention. It is the change of the gut biome in humans as a result of antibiotic residues from the standard agricultural practices of raising cattle.

Change of the human gut biome

Meat eaters have raised TMAO blood levels

The human gut flora can change for various reasons. But once it has changed, it often stays in an altered state. It is a permanent change in bowel flora that can cause chemical reactions in the gut with the consumption of beef and eggs. Beef contains carnitine, which can lead to the production of TMAO (trimethylamine N-oxide). Egg yolk contains choline, which also raises TMAO levels in the blood.

In the following study 113 healthy men and women consumed either a meat diet (beef), white meat diet or protein from non-meat sources. After one month the beef group had triple the amount of TMAO in their blood compared to the other two diets. Interestingly, when the diets were switched the TMAO levels normalized again in the former beefeaters when consuming white meat or protein from non-meat sources.

Changed gut flora causes raised TMAO levels

The use of antibiotics as growth promoters in the US beef industry is the standard practice for raising beef. But this has led to antibiotic residues that are detectable in the laboratory. When a person eats beef that is contaminated with antibiotic residues, the bowel flora loses its diversity of bacteria in the gut. This leads to an accumulation of other bacteria that produce TMAO in the presence of beef or egg yolk and can cause cardiovascular disease on the one hand and cancer on the other. This happens over time.

Discussion

The answer as to why US beef is causing colorectal cancer and cardiovascular disease is directly related to the practice of using antibiotics as growth promoters. The use of antibiotics in the beef industry leads to a change in the gut flora in humans consuming this meat. Bacteria that can produce TMAO are now having the upper hand. In the US people produce more TMAO in response to beef consumption as the study mentioned has shown. The Japanese study cited above showed no sign of cardiovascular mortality when people consumed up to 100 gram (one serving) of meat per day over 16 years.

Antibiotics as growth promoters outlawed in Japan and Europe

The reason is that in Japan, as well as in Europe the use of antibiotics as growth promoters are illegal. When humans consume meat in Japan or Europe the original gut flora stays intact with no production of TMAO. Incidentally, the same is true for organic grass-fed meat in the US, which has no antibiotic residues in it. Recently there was a publication from Denmark that suggested to replace some of the beef consumption by low mercury fish.The authors of that study said that this will reduce mortality from cardiovascular disease.

Replace Red Meat And Processed Red Meat

Replace Red Meat And Processed Red Meat

Conclusion

A new study in the British Medical Journal showed that an increase in red meat consumption of only ½ serving per day for 8 years caused an increased mortality of 9% over the following 8 years. With regard to processed red meat the mortality was even bigger, namely 13%. The researchers replaced some of the meat with white chicken meat or vegetables and the mortality normalized.

In contrast, a Japanese study showed that there was no increase in cardiovascular disease with the consumption of up to 100 grams of beef or other meat products over 16 years.

Using antibiotics as growth promoters illegal in Japan and Europe

I pointed out before that there is literature explaining why there is a discrepancy: the beef industry in the US feeds the animals antibiotics as growth promoters. This changes the bowel flora in humans who eat the beef. The changed bacterial strains in the gut use carnitine from beef and make trimethylamine N-oxide (TMAO). This is a toxin that causes both cardiovascular disease and cancer. This explains why in the US beef is one of the culprits that causes heart attacks and colorectal cancer. In Japan this is not the case. Both Japan and Europe do not use antibiotics as growth promoters in the cattle industry as it is prohibited.

In the US it is likely safe to eat organic meats (beef, chicken) as these meats will not contain antibiotics. Due to the numerous additives in processed red meat, it is still a sensible idea to skip these products!

Jul
06
2019

Three Simple Steps Would Prevent Strokes And Heart Attacks

On June 10, 2019 researchers published a paper that stated that three simple steps would prevent strokes and heart attacks. Heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women. In the US about 610,000 people die of heart disease every year, which is about in every 4 deaths. Here are a few facts. First, there is the simple observation that patients do not control their high blood pressure enough to avoid a heart attack or stroke. Secondly, patients with high blood pressure need to restrict their salt intake, or they will develop heart attacks or strokes. Finally, patients need to avoid exposure to artificial trans fatty acids as this leads to direct damage of the lining of the arteries. Given enough time, this will cause heart attacks and strokes.

Impact of these three health measures

The researchers went to global data to obtain mean blood pressure readings for large populations. They also obtained data for sodium consumption and trans fatty acid intake this way. Data from pharmacies crosschecked the amount of dispensing of anti hypertensive medication prescribed by physicians. The authors used most recent Meta analyses for relative risk reduction for each intervention.

Treating hypertension aggressively in up to 70% of cases with high blood pressure would delay 39.4 million deaths over 25 years. At the same time reduction of salt intake by 30% would prevent 40 million deaths over 25 years. And finally, eliminating trans fatty acid would delay another 14.8 million deaths. A total of 94.2 million deaths would be prevented globally when all the three interventions are applied simultaneously.

The pathophysiology behind heart attacks and strokes

We need to understand why patients develop heart attacks and strokes. In the following I will explain this.

Elevated blood pressure

When blood pressure is high, the heart has to work overtime to pump the blood through the blood vessels. At the same time the higher pressure leads to inflammation of the lining of the arteries and LDL cholesterol and triglycerides are deposited underneath the lining of the arteries. This leads to blockage of the smaller arteries, which translates into heart attacks and strokes.

Consumption of too much salt

Consumption of too much salt, namely sodium intake of more than 2300 mg a per day, is considered high. It can cause high blood pressure, heart attacks, strokes and aneurysms (pouches of arteries that can rupture). Sodium intake of 1500mg or less is considered normal. When you exceed that number, the body will retain sodium and water, which increases the blood pressure. This accelerates the process of hardening of the arteries and eventually causes heart attacks or strokes.

Hydrogenated fatty acids or trans fats

Hydrogenated fatty acids or trans fats still make their way into the grocery shopping basket. They are present in baked goods, snacks like chips, creamer and margarines. Think of cakes and cookies, crackers, piecrust, potato chips, corn chips and microwave pop corn. Deep fried food is also full of trans fats (french fries, doughnuts, fried chicken). Trans fats can make their way into frozen pizza crusts, non-dairy coffee cream, canned biscuits and cinnamon rolls. Above all do not buy any form of margarine. Hydrogenated fatty acids affect the arteries directly by increasing the harmful LDL cholesterol and decreasing the protective HDL cholesterol. This accelerates hardening of the arteries, which in turn causes heart attacks and strokes. 

Discussion of “three simple steps would prevent strokes and heart attacks”

The positive impact that this new study could have on the survival of patients is phenomenal. Over 25 years almost 100 million lives would be saved from heart attacks and strokes, which would be an enormous achievement. We are talking about 25 cities of 4 million people each saved around the planet. The researchers say that this is doable, because there are pockets globally where excellent care has already been given to patients, they have followed them through 25 years or more and their mortality was significantly reduced. 

My own experience in general practice

In my own medical practice from 1978 to 1995 I introduced a recall for patients with high blood pressure to reduce their mortality. They came in every 3 months for a blood pressure check. On that occasion I reviewed their antihypertensive medicine and asked whether they took their blood pressure with their own blood pressure monitor at home. I stressed that home monitoring blood pressure would be the latest development and they should do it. Surprisingly, the majority of patients were compliant. Among the recall patients the heart attack and stroke rates were very low.

Adding low salt (less than 1500 mg of sodium per day) and cutting out all trans fats introduces a new dimension into heart attack and stroke prevention. As explained above all of this has a direct bearing on reducing hardening of the arteries. This in turn prevents deaths from heart attacks and strokes.

Three Simple Steps Would Prevent Strokes And Heart Attacks

Three Simple Steps Would Prevent Strokes And Heart Attacks

Conclusion

The paper I reviewed here has investigated the effects that three simple measures will have on the mortality of the world population over 25 years. Treating up to 70% of patients with high blood pressure aggressively would delay 39.4 million deaths over 25 years. At the same time reduction of salt intake by 30% would prevent 40 million deaths over 25 years. And finally, eliminating trans fatty acid would delay another 14.8 million deaths. Physicians could prevent a total of 94.2 million deaths globally when they encourage their patients to apply all the three interventions simultaneously.We know this works by preventing heart attacks and strokes.

Let’s hope that this will not only be talk, but that physicians will pass on this news to their patients and that patients will follow the advice.

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Jun
22
2019

Ultraprocessed Food Kills

The British Medical Journal published two papers that showed that ultraprocessed food kills. The first paper showed that highly processed food causes heart attacks and strokes. Another paper in the same journal showed that mortality is significantly increased when people consume highly processed food. Both papers were reviewed by CNN.

Food categories

Food questionnaires were administered over 24 hours every 2 years from every participant using the NOVA classification system.

There were 4 categories.

  • Category 1 consisted of “unprocessed or minimally processed” food. This included legumes, vegetables, fruits, milk, eggs, meats, poultry, fish and seafood, yogurt, grains and natural juice.
  • Next was category 2 of “processed ingredients”. This included salt, sugar, honey, olive oil, butter and lard.
  • Category 3 consisted of “processed foods“. This included breads, cheeses, beer, wine, and cured traditional ham and bacon.
  • Finally, category 4 consisted of “ultraprocessed foods”. This included sausages, flan, chorizo, mayonnaise, pizza, cookies, potato chips, chocolates candies, artificially sweetened beverages including whisky, gin and rum.

Study on cardiovascular risk

A study from France followed more than 105,000 people for 5.2 years. The participants filled out food questionnaires every 6 months. The foods consumed were classified according to the NOVA categories. The results showed that the men’s diet consisted to 17.6% of heavily processed foods while the diet of women consisted of 17.3% heavily processed food. Each 10% increment of highly processed food (called “ultraprocessed” food) had an association with 12% higher risk of cardiovascular disease, 13% more heart attacks and 11% more strokes. The researchers could also show that a decrease in ultraprocessed food was leading to less percentage of these diseases.

Mortality risk when consuming ultraprocessed food

A similar study involving close to 20,000 participants in Spain that had a long observation time of 15 years (from 1999 to 2014). The 4 food categories were as mentioned above.

A person eating more than 4 ultraprocessed items per day or more had a 62% increase of death rate in comparison to those who ate processed food less frequently. Each additional ultraprocessed food item added another 18% of mortality risk. Maira Bes-Rastrollo, professor of Preventive Medicine and Public Health at Universidad de Navarra, Medical School said: “These results are in agreement with other recent results based on populations in France and the United States. If all the different study results align, despite the separate research groups using dissimilar populations, diverse age ranges and different methodologies, then this lends support to a possible cause-effect relationship between ultraprocessed foods and poor health.”

Discussion

You may remember that your grandparents reminded you not to eat “junk food”. Often junk food is consisting of ultraprocessed foods. Both of these independent studies from France and from Spain have shown that there is a significant risk of heart attacks and strokes associated with the consumption of ultraprocessed foods. In addition, there is also a significant mortality risk when you consume ultraprocessed food. The key is to learn from this and cut down on processed foods; instead eat foods that are less processed and are wholesome for you. Eat vegetables, fruit, nuts and stay away from the grocery store’s shelves with processed foods.

Ultraprocessed Food Kills

Ultraprocessed Food Kills

Conclusion

What your grandparents used to tell you about processed foods is now available as two separate publications from the British Medical Journal. The less processed food you consume, the healthier your food intake is. You will enjoy better health. This is the simple message. Avoiding ultraprocessed food will help you to avoid heart disease, heart attacks and strokes. In addition you will have a longer life expectancy. It is up to us to translate these findings into reality for ourselves.

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May
26
2019

The Foods That Are Killing Us

There is an article in a CNN report talking about the foods that are killing us. This review is based on an article in the Lancet. The Lancet study was based on a global review of eating habits in 195 countries. The question in the study was which of 15 food items caused the diseases that killed people. The answer was surprising. There are either omissions or unhealthy components of foods that kill us. Here is a list of 12 food groups that are problematical.

A dozen foods that were found to be problematical in the global review

  • Diet high in sodium (4 grams per day, which is 86% above the optimal level)
  • Low intake of whole grains (only 23% of optimal levels)
  • Low fruit intake
  • Diet high in trans fatty acids
  • Low omega-3 fatty acid diet (due to low intake of sea food)
  • Diet low in calcium
  • Diet low in fiber
  • High intake of sugar beverages or sugary foods (49 grams of sugar per day)
  • Processed meat intake too high (4 grams per day, 90% more than optimal)
  • Red meat consumption too high (27 grams per day, 18% higher than optimal)
  • Nut and seed intake too low (only consuming 12% of desired amount)
  • Diet low in milk (16% of desired amount)

Each of these components or several of them in combination create deficiencies in us or overburden us to the point where we can get sick and disabled.

Different countries have different eating habits

Globally there were 11 million deaths found in 2017 and 255 million years of disability because of various dietary inadequacies.

Here is the lineup of the leading causes of death:

  • cardiovascular disease with 10 million deaths and 207 million years of disability.
  • Cancers caused 913,090 deaths and 20 million years of disability.
  • Type 2 diabetes caused 338,714 deaths and 24 million years of disability.

This was broken down into statistics for each of the contributory countries. Here I am only citing some pertinent data that shows the importance of balanced meals for a healthy life expectancy.

Different death rates in various countries

There were big differences in terms of cardiovascular disease deaths according to various regions. Central Asia had the highest death rate with 613 deaths per 100,000 people per year. In contrast the high-income Asia Pacific group had only a cardiovascular death rate of 68 per 100,000 people per year.

Cancer deaths were highest in East Asia with 41 deaths per 100,000 people. The lowest cancer rate was found in North Africa and the Middle East with 9 deaths per 100,000 people.

Among the 20 most populous countries Egypt had the highest diet-related deaths, namely 552 deaths per 100,000 people. On the other hand Japan had the lowest of all diet related deaths with 97 deaths per 100,000 people. 

Some highlights how unhealthy foods kill us

Globally people only eat 12% of the desirable amount of nuts and seeds. They only drink 13% of what they should consume in terms of milk. People worldwide eat 23% of the desirable amount of whole grains.

Nuts and seeds contain mono- and polyunsaturated fats and omega-3 fatty acids, which lower your risk of getting heart attacks and strokes.

Milk is a good source of calcium, protein, minerals and vitamins. However, milk, yogurt or cheese should be consumed as low fat varieties. Alternatively people who do not consume milk should look for protein carriers such as soy milk or pea milk.

If you eat nuts and vegetables you can largely compensate for low milk consumption. If you don’t get enough whole grains, you are missing a whole lot of nutrients. This makes you more vulnerable of getting cardiovascular disease, hypertension, type 2 diabetes, colon cancer, and obesity.

Other unhealthy foods can kill us

The WHO has labelled red meat and processed meat as being carcinogenic

Studies clearly showed a higher than normal rate of colorectal cancer in those who consumed larger amounts of red meat and/or sausages.

Sugar overconsumption

Sugar overconsumption leads to a variety of conditions. Weight gain with the development of obesity and type 2 diabetes are common when you eat too much sugar. But even cancer like colorectal cancer and pancreatic cancer is more common in people who overindulge in sugar or sugary drinks. Sugar consumption raises your triglyceride and LDL level. This will eventually lead to hardening of the arteries, heart attacks and strokes.

Gout develops with purine containing foods

Gout can be caused by consuming a lot of red meat combined with copious amounts of beer. This is how royalty in the Middle Ages suffered from gout attacks. Gout had the nickname of “Disease of the affluent.” Both beer and red meat contain a lot of purines, which the kidneys cannot handle. The uric acid crystals that precipitate around joints cause excruciating pains.

 What the global health study showed

Researchers of the global health study stated that improving the diet habits could potentially eliminate 1 in 5 deaths globally. Dietary risks for major diseases like heart attacks, strokes and cancer are independent from sex, age and socioeconomic status.

Three dietary factors stood out: too much salt, too little fruit and too little whole grain. These three items were responsible for 50% of diet-related deaths and 66% of “disability-adjusted life years”. The authors used this expression to describe how years of disability had their root in diet deficits (e.g. too little fruit) or overdoses of unhealthy food components (e.g. salt).

The leading dietary risk factors are too much salt, low whole grain, low fruit consumption, low vegetable intake and low omega-3 fatty acid consumption. On top of that come the previously established risks due to sugar overconsumption, excessive fat intake and consumption of red meat and processed meat.

Discussion of the meaning of these results

Deaths from heart attacks and strokes

We know for some time that high sugar and high starchy food intake cause elevated triglycerides and elevated LDL cholesterol. This leads to hardening of the arteries and eventually to strokes and heart attacks.

High sodium intake

Sodium intake of more than 2300 mg per day is considered high and can cause high blood pressure. heart attacks, strokes and aneurysms.

Eating not enough fruit

If you eat too little fruit, your system does not get enough vitamin C and other vitamins. Heart disease, cancer and anemia could develop from that.

Eating not enough vegetables

People who do not eat enough vegetables do not have enough antioxidants that protect them from free radicals. Free radicals are unstable chemicals that attack cells and DNA. Mutated cells can cause cancer. If you eat too little vegetables, you are at a higher risk of getting cancer. But there is another aspect of vegetables: phytonutrients protect from hardening of the arteries and blockages of heart and brain vessels. When someone does not eat enough vegetables, the risk for heart attacks and strokes is higher. Eating vegetables also protects you from diabetes and keeps the blood sugar more stable.

Not eating enough whole grain

Whole grain was identified as missing in a lot of people’s diet. When you incorporate whole grains into your food, you reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, hypertension, type 2 diabetes, colon cancer, and obesity.

There are vitamins, minerals, dietary fiber and lignans in whole grain. Other nutrients are beta-glucan, several phytochemicals, phytosterols, phytin, and sphingolipids. All of these are necessary to maintain good health.

Low omega-3 fatty acid consumption

Omega-3 fatty acids are important for healthy skin, brain development (neurodevelopment of children) and prevention of heart attacks. Omega-3 fatty acids reduce the risk of cancer because of their anti-inflammatory action and inhibition of cell growth factors. In one study rectal cancer showed a 21% reduction comparing the highest omega-3 fatty acid intake to the lowest intake of omega-3 fatty acids. Colon cancer showed no effect to omega-3 consumption, but breast cancer showed a reduction with omega-3 fatty acid supplementation. Researchers showed that omega-3 fatty acid supplementation can slow down dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. Protein deposits called amyloids were found less in the brain of patients with omega-3 fatty acid supplementation; in addition the brain volume was preserved more with the omega-3 supplement. Low omega-3 fatty acid consumption also has a detrimental effect on macular degeneration of the eyes and on joint pains of rheumatoid arthritis patients.

The Foods That Are Killing Us

The Foods That Are Killing Us

Conclusion

I have reviewed a global health study that described various risks that led to deaths from different diseases. It was noticeable that death and disability rates varied significantly according to different countries. The authors also looked into food habits and could pinpoint certain food deficiencies that caused diseases that prematurely disabled or killed people. I have described the various one-sided food habits that led to specific diseases.

What we should all learn from this complicated study is that we all can strive to eat more balanced meals. You want to eat a low sodium diet, eat enough fruit and vegetables, to which you add some nuts. Eat enough whole grains and add omega-3 fatty acids. This way the risk of getting cancer, cardiovascular diseases or other problems can be significantly reduced.

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Jan
05
2019

Health Benefits of Vitamin E Tocotrienols

Dr. Barrie Tan gave a talk about health benefits of vitamin E tocotrienols that I attended. This occurred at the 26th Anti-Aging Conference of the American Academy of Anti-Aging Medicine in Las Vegas (Dec. 13-15, 2018).

First of all, Dr. Tan stressed that there has been some confusion about vitamin E, as in the past the school of thought was that the main active ingredient of vitamin E would be alpha-tocopherol. Furthermore, many clinical trials with this ingredient go back to the 1960’s, which showed antioxidant activity. But further research revealed that there were many other tocopherols and isomers of tocotrienols. What is worse is that beneficial cardiovascular effects of the newer tocotrienols became null and void through traces of alpha-tocopherol in the mix.

Finally, this led to purer vitamin E production without alpha-tocopherol contamination. Recent clinical trials found that health benefits of vitamin E tocotrienols are linked to delta- and gamma-tocotrienols. They were many times more active in preventing heart attacks and strokes than former mixes of vitamin E.

Annatto derived tocotrienol

In 2002 scientists were able to extract pure tocotrienol without contamination of alpha-tocopherol from annatto. Prior to this vitamin E came from rice and the red palm fruit. But rice contained 50% of tocopherols, while the red palm fruit contained 25% of it.

Here are several sources of vitamin E. The components of tocopherols and tocotrienols vary depending on the source as follows.

Rice: 50% tocopherols (inactive or antagonistic), 15% alpha- and beta-tocotrienols (less active); 35% delta- and gamma-tocotrienols (most active).

Red palm fruit oil: 25% tocopherols, 25% alpha- and beta-tocotrienols, 50% delta- and gamma-tocotrienols.

Annatto: 90% delta tocotrienols and 10% gamma-tocotrienols.

Subsequent research was able to discern between the detrimental effect of alpha-tocopherol and the protecting effect of delta- and gamma-tocotrienols. Now the recommendation of Dr. Tan is to use only annatto-derived vitamin E to prevent heart attacks and strokes. He called annatto-derived vitamin E the vitamin E for the 21st century.

Tocopherol interfering with action of tocotrienols

Dr. Tan explained that alpha-tocopherol blocks absorption of tocotrienols from the gut. It also prevents storage of tocotrienols in liver and fatty tissue. By itself alpha-tocopherol leads to premature elimination of prescription drugs. It also increases blood pressure and cholesterol. What is worse is that alpha-tocopherol increases the risk of prostate cancer and glioblastoma in humans. It also decreases bone mass and increases LDL oxidation, which leads to accelerated hardening of the arteries.

Action of tocotrienols

In contrast to tocopherols, tocotrienols (particularly the delta and gamma isomers) have all the attributes that you want from vitamin E. It has the highest anti-oxidant properties among the tocotrienols. Delta- and gamma-tocotrienols accumulate in LDL cholesterol and in lipid-rich organs like the brain, heart, kidneys, lungs, spleen and skin. Abdominal adipose tissue from obesity also stores delta- and gamma-tocotrienols.

Tocotrienol’s antioxidant activity

When you use a vitamin E preparation consisting of only delta- and gamma-tocotrienols, the portion of vitamin E contained in cell membranes protects against oxidation. Vitamin E  also protects lipids from omega-3 supplements and lipids in foods and beverages from oxidation. Tocotrienols are about 50-fold more potent as antioxidants compared to tocopherols. Based on this information it is not by chance that the following statistics were the results of clinical trials.

Cholesterol lowering effect of vitamin E delta- and gamma-tocotrienols

Dr. Tan cited a 6-week placebo controlled clinical study where the anti-oxidant power was measured in terms of reduction of LDL and total cholesterol.

A group of elderly patients were divided into a subgroup that had normal levels of cholesterol and another subgroup with elevated lipid levels. After 6 weeks of taking a vitamin E preparation consisting of 90% delta tocotrienols and 10% gamma-tocotrienols the blood levels dropped as follows.

Hypercholesterolemic group:    LDL cholesterol    Triglycerides       CRP

                                                          20-28%                11-18%         31-48%

In healthy elderly patients the CRP still dropped 21-29%. Gamma-glutamyl transferase, a predictor for heart attacks dropped by 14-20%.

Another study on postmenopausal women for 12 weeks also showed beneficial effects of tocotrienols.

Hardening of arteries

Dr. Tan explained that hardening of arteries is due to a combination of factors. It is due to combined chronic inflammation and deposits of LDL cholesterol in the wall of the arteries. Studies have shown that monocyte adherence is the first step in fatty streak formation in arteries. Delta-tocotrienol is 60 times more powerful than alpha-tocopherol in inhibiting monocyte adherence. Gamma-tocotrienol is 30 times more powerful than alpha-tocopherol. This proves that taking a vitamin E preparation of 90% delta tocotrienols and 10% gamma-tocotrienols is the most advantageous vitamin E combination to take.

Health benefits of vitamin E tocotrienols include hardening of carotid artery

A 4-year study examined the effect of taking 240mg of tocotrienol-tocopherol supplementation. 88% of patients who took the vitamin E supplement showed improvement (regression of the carotid artery stenosis). Placebo patients deteriorated 60%, only 8% improved. In the 4th year of the study total cholesterol decreased by 14% and LDL cholesterol fell by 21%.

Health benefits of vitamin E tocotrienols include type 2 diabetes

Patients with type 2 diabetes received tocotrienols. Within 60 days of taking 250 mg of tocotrienols the serum total lipids were reduced by 23% and total cholesterol by 30%. The LDL cholesterol was reduced by 42%. Triglycerides were also lowered by 15-20%. C-reactive protein (CRP), a marker for inflammation was lowered between 35-60%.

Beneficial effects of tocotrienols on the eyes and skin

Tocotrienols have antioxidant effects on the eyes and skin. With regard to eye diseases glaucoma and cataracts are improving and macular degeneration in diabetics is responding as well.

The subcutaneous fatty tissue absorb tocotrienols well. Delta- and gamma-tocotrienol largely neutralize oxidative stress from UV light and ozone.

Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD)

This condition has a close association with obesity and the metabolic syndrome. The liver stores excessive fats. About 30-40% of US adults suffer from this disease. Researchers conducted a 12-week study with 71 NAFLD patients. It was randomized, double blind and placebo-controlled. After 12 weeks of supplementation with delta- and gamma-tocotrienol there was evidence of reduction of stress on the liver by improved liver enzymes. The ALT and AST enzymes were reduced by 15-16%. There was also an 11% reduction of triglycerides and 18% lowering of CRP, which indicates a reduction of inflammation. The fatty liver index score showed a decrease of 11%. This suggests that there was intrahepatic fat reduction. The group with delta- and gamma-tocotrienol supplements lost on average 9.7 pounds. Here is another study regarding non-alcoholic fatty liver disease and using tocotrienols.

Health Benefits of Vitamin E Tocotrienols

Health Benefits of Vitamin E Tocotrienols

Conclusion

Vitamin E supplementation is undergoing rejuvenation after research has established that it is delta- and gamma-tocotrienol that are the active antioxidants among the 10 or so tocopherol and tocotrienol isomers. The most active of them, delta- and gamma-tocotrienol, have excellent absorption in the gut and migrate through the blood stream to the lipid rich cells in the body. Key organs like the brain, heart, kidneys, lungs, spleen and skin accumulate vitamin E. Even the abdominal adipose tissue takes up vitamin E, which is beneficial when a person becomes obese or develops diabetes. Apart from lowering triglycerides, total and LDL cholesterol, vitamin E (delta- and gamma-tocotrienol) is also important for directly interfering with hardening of the arteries.

Vitamin E protecting skin, eyes and liver

Vitamin E also protects the skin and eyes against UV light. There can be a partial reversal of tissue damages. Finally, I pointed out that vitamin E can reverse non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD). It is important to leave out alpha-tocopherol, which is an older form of vitamin E that is cheaper to produce, but will interfere with the function of delta- and gamma-tocotrienol as explained. As I mentioned earlier, various vitamin E supplements are on the market. It is obvious that they are not equally beneficial.

I recommend you take about 125 mg of vitamin E in the form of delta- and gamma-tocotrienol every day. I take Annatto tocotrienols (Cardiovascular Research Ltd.) 1 softgel daily.

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Oct
27
2018

Four Diseases Cause Most Of The Deaths

Four diseases cause most of the deaths around the world: cancer, cardiovascular disease, chronic respiratory diseases and diabetes. This story is the news right now. 50% of the 193 UN member states that signed a treaty in 2015 are falling short of their promise. They wanted to reduce premature deaths from these diseases by 2030. But this is not happening as this story shows.

I like to review these 4 key diseases and what we can do ourselves about eliminating them. We cannot afford to wait for things to happen on a national level. Rather we need to go to the grass roots of every country and change the risk factors that cause these 4 diseases.

Cancer

First, cancer is a disease of older people, unless strong genetic factors are present. In this case even children can get leukemia, brain tumors and osteogenic sarcoma. In older people DNA mutations and DNA breaks happen more often as we age. On the other hand, if we diagnose cancer in stage 1 or 2 (in the early stages), it is quite often curable.

Oncoblot test, a cancer screening test

Probably one of the less known new criteria is the fact that there is a very sensitive cancer blood test, called the Oncoblot test (released about 4 years ago by the FDA). The latest screening test that came out of the human genome project is called the Oncoblot test. It screens for 25 of the most common cancers. And it is screening for ENOX2 proteins from cancer cells. It is a 1000 USD test in the US that health plans will not cover, but it will screen for more than 25 different common cancers 6 to 8 years before they would otherwise become clinically manifest.

If you discover cancer with this early blood test and you treat it right away, you have a good chance to live a few years longer. You may come down with another cancer down the road, but treat it early again, and you will still have a better life expectancy. Remember: four diseases cause most of the deaths, cancer is one of them!

Cardiovascular disease

Furthermore, people develop cardiovascular disease from poor eating habits and a lack of regular exercise. There are a few percentage points of people with familiar high cholesterol. These people need to see their family doctor for a prescription to lower cholesterol. But the majority of people will do well by changing their diet into a Mediterranean diet; lose weight until their body mass index reaches a value of 21 to 24. With this diet it is important to cut out all refined sugar and starchy foods. Regular exercise in a gym will also prevent hardening of the arteries. Chelation therapy has been shown in this study to help reduce hardening of arteries.

Diabetes patients have accelerated hardening of the arteries

We know from diabetic patients who have accelerated hardening of the arteries how devastating cardiovascular disease can be. Heart attacks, strokes, kidney failure, amputations of the lower leg and blindness are just some examples. Even patients who do not have diabetes can get these complications at an older age. The key is to think preventatively, change the diet, exercise regularly and you will lower all those risks. Remember: four diseases cause most of the deaths; cardiovascular diseases belong to that group and are a major player.

Chronic respiratory diseases

There are different reasons why a person may develop chronic respiratory disease. A common disease is chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). COPD often has a link to smoking heavily as a younger person. This is where the damage to the lung tissue has started. Exposure to cigarette smoke leads to loss of elastic tissue in the bronchial tubes. The lungs have a difficult time to exhale to get rid of the CO2. The end result is that your breaths are shallow and you can’t get enough oxygen, because the lung is already filled with air.

Asthma and COPD

Another disease is asthma. Nowadays physicians can treat this condition well with a corticosteroid inhaler and salbutamol. Salbutamol dilates the airways by relaxing the muscles of the bronchial tubes. The corticosteroid keeps the lining of the bronchial tubes thin, so that the air can move in and out of the lung.

If asthma is not treated properly there can be permanent damage to the airways and the clinical picture would look similar to COPD.

With end-stage COPD patients the only therapy the physician can offer is continuous oxygen flow treatment. With power failures these machines that supply oxygen will stop working. People need to make provisions to have a back-up generator. Again, we need to remember: four diseases cause most of the deaths. Chronic respiratory diseases belong to them.

Diabetes

Patients with type-2 diabetes (Type 2 DM) are usually older than 30 years of age.

That’s why they are called “mature onset diabetes” or “adult onset diabetes”. For several decades a patient may “incubate” diabetes and have one or more of the diabetes risk factors, such as high blood pressure, obesity, high cholesterol or high triglycerides, but have normal blood sugars.

Physicians have followed patients like this for several decades in the well known Framingham Heart Study and found that a high percentage of them do come down with type-2 diabetes later in life. In the past this time of incubation was termed “pre-diabetes”. Now we call it “syndrome of insulin resistance” or “metabolic syndrome”. Diabetes belongs to the group of diseases that are associated with chronic inflammation in the body.

Causes of type-2 diabetes

Type-2 diabetes often associates with other endocrinological diseases such as Cushing’s syndrome (an adrenal gland hyperactivity) or acromegaly (increased growth hormone production). In these diseases other hormones are tilting the hormone balance by counteracting insulin thus leading to a relative shortfall of insulin, which is another cause for type-2 diabetes. There is confusion among scientists regarding possible genetic reasons for type-2 diabetes. The environment or weight gain may trigger various genetic loci that exist. The syndrome of insulin resistance has shown some connections between hypertension, obesity and type-2 diabetes.

Death in diabetics usually comes from a heart attack, a massive stroke, but it may also come from systemic infections, called sepsis. Dr. Taylor from Newcastle University showed on 30 volunteers that 43% of diabetics could be cured by a diet of 600-700 calories for 8 weeks. The medical literature also knows that regular exercise is beneficial for diabetics. It cannot be overstressed that four diseases cause most of the deaths; diabetes belongs to them and is a major player.

Four Diseases Cause Most Of The Deaths

Four Diseases Cause Most Of The Deaths

Conclusion

Four diseases cause most of the deaths. They were the cause of death for several years. They are cancer, cardiovascular disease, chronic respiratory diseases and diabetes. The secret is to minimize the impact of each of these diseases. You can prevent chronic respiratory diseases by stopping to smoke and treating asthma properly. To treat cancer successfully one needs to diagnose it early and remove it surgically. With cardiovascular disease chelation therapy has shown a difference. Otherwise a regular exercise program and a Mediterranean diet, which has anti-inflammatory qualities, will help. Dr. Taylor from Newcastle University demonstrated that he can treat diabetes with a low calorie diet. Each one of us has a responsibility to do something about our diagnosed condition. We cannot wait for magic cures. We need to do what has known benefits. Hopefully with these short hints will help you to improve your health.

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Sep
29
2018

No Amount Of Alcohol Is Good

New research, more extensive than previous research has shown that no amount of alcohol is good.

This is completely against the widespread belief that moderate consumption of alcohol would prevent heart disease.

Specifically, previous research had shown the following: one glass of alcohol per day for women and 2 glasses of alcohol for men was reportedly make us live longer.

New research with larger population numbers

But a new study involving much larger population groups, all ages, and drinkers versus non-drinkers came to a different conclusion. It concluded that the previous recommendation was based on only heart attack rates, but excluded other causes of sudden death like heart failure, a rupture of the aorta (aneurysm), high blood pressure that kills (fatal hypertensive disease) and strokes. With the compilation of all these cardiovascular diseases, the statistics suddenly started to look different. Now even small amounts of alcohol killed. What is worse, there was clear evidence that binge drinkers have much worse survival statistics than moderate drinkers. When you drink according to the American Heart Association’s recommendation, you drink smaller amounts of alcohol daily.

Binge drinking

But many of us like to live it up on weekends or whenever there are friends over who also like a few drinks. This binge drinking habit lowers the life expectancy by an average of 10 years. It does so because the list of complications I mentioned above. In addition there are alcoholic liver cirrhosis, pancreatitis and various cancers that shorten your life.

Global health study

The funders of this global health study was the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and it looked at the burden that alcohol puts on 195 countries. The original study appeared in the Lancet. The combined study population was 28 million individuals. There were 649,000 cases of various deaths due to alcohol. Here is a summary of the abbreviated outcome of the global health study. As you can see from this, there is no safe level of alcohol consumption as even small amounts of alcohol over a long period of time lead to significant damage in the body. You can prevent heart attacks to a certain extent. But instead people die from a ruptured aorta, from strokes or from heart failure. The leading cause of death for men and women age 15 to 49 worldwide was alcohol. It accounted for almost 1 in 10 deaths.

Some alcohol-related statistics

The following were the observaions in the study.

  • Over 300 disabilities and diseases were directly related to alcohol consumption. The findings were collected in 195 countries, classified by age and sex. The data was gathered between 1990 and 2016.
  • Globally, 2.4 billion people drink alcohol. 25% are women who consume 0.73 drinks on average each day, 39% are men drinking 1.7 drinks a day.
  • Denmark, Norway and Germany drank the most alcohol globally.
  • For ages 50 and up the leading causes of death were: road injuries, suicides and tuberculosis.

More statistics

  • Most deaths caused by alcohol came from cardiovascular disease and cancer for all countries.
  • When you look only at drinkers, the standard recommendation of the American Heart Association regarding low alcohol consumption seems true. But the new study compared non-drinkers with drinkers. From this it is clear that even one drink a day has a risk of premature death.
  • At the age of 40 cutting down long-term alcohol use will add 1 to 2 years of life expectancy.
  • For all ages 2.8 million people die globally every year from alcohol related diseases.
  • Half of the world does not drink at all. This means that the ones, who drink, consume double as much as the statistics show.
  • Americans prefer beer. They drink about 27 gallons of beer, 2.6 gallons of wine and 2.2 gallons of spirits per adult/year.

Common clinical conditions from alcohol consumption

Binge drinking is the consumption of 5 drinks or more in an evening for men or 4 drinks for women. The CDC is concerned about binge drinking, because of its association with significant organ damages. There are 4 major concerns regarding these effects. Heart disease and cancer; diabetes; memory loss and appearance. In the following I will zero in on these alcohol-related conditions. 

Heart disease

As this article pointed out above, there is a very limited protective effect, but mostly in above 55-year-old women who drink in moderation (1 glass of alcohol; per day). They have some protection from developing heart attacks, because their LDL cholesterol gets lowered and their clotting system is influenced in positive ways. But 6% of breast cancer in women is due to the effect of alcohol consumption, which is a downfall. For both men and women binge drinking is what kills. Binge drinkers who drink more than 100 grams of alcohol per week (more than 7 drinks in the US) experience increased deaths. The causes are heart failure, strokes, fatal hypertensive disease and fatal aortic aneurysm, where the main artery bursts. Apart from that alcohol-related pancreatitis and liver cirrhosis can kill as well.

Cancer

A relatively new finding is that alcohol has a close relationship to causing various cancers. Alcohol weakens the immune system. Also, alcohol has a negative influence on the bacterial composition, the microbiome in our digestive tract, is. This can be a cause for colon cancer. Liver cancer, mouth cancer and breast cancer also has a direct relationship to increased alcohol consumption. Esophageal cancer and laryngeal cancer are also related to alcohol consumption.

Diabetes

Alcohol can stimulate the pancreas to release insulin, which may give you hypoglycemic attacks. As alcohol contains empty calories, over the course of several years alcohol consumption can add to your weight, causing obesity and type 2 diabetes. As diabetes has detrimental effects on the heart and blood vessels, this mixed with alcohol consumption, can worsen cardiovascular disease thus increasing the risk for heart attacks and strokes.

Memory loss

In the beginning of chronic alcohol consumption you may enjoy the relaxing effect of alcohol. This is merely the toxic effect of alcohol on brain cells. Alcohol has the effect of inhibiting brain cells, which makes you feel relaxed, super-sociable and even silly. In reality you are starting to loose control. After several years of this effect you are left with feelings of anxiety, depression and anger. This is when trouble starts to occur. People out of control are more likely to get into fights and get injured or killed. People can develop blackouts where they do not remember parts of the evening or an entire event. Memory loss is starting. The hippocampus is an important part of the brain that is involved in processing short- term memory into long-term memory. A form of dementia can occur that was brought on by chronic alcohol overconsumption.

Appearance

Alcohol dries out the skin cells and body cells. The face gets wrinkles. Your skin looks parched and gives you the appearance of a prematurely aged person. Alcohol can interfere with your sleep and when you have a lack of it you end up with dark circles around your eyes as well as puffy eyes. It does not make for a good picture, whether it happens inside the body or on your skin!

No Amount Of Alcohol Is Good

No Amount Of Alcohol Is Good

Conclusion

A new study that was larger and more comprehensive than any previous study has exposed the myth that one drink for women and two drinks for men would protect you from heart disease. It may protect you from heart attacks, but it definitely does nothing to protect you from other heart conditions. There is also sudden death from heart failure, a rupture of the aorta (aneurysm), high blood pressure that kills (fatal hypertensive disease) and stroke. When you factor all that in as well, even your low, moderate alcohol consumption has health risks. The global health study, funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation looked at the burden that alcohol puts on 195 countries. The combined study population was 28 million individuals.

Alcohol related deaths and diseases

649, 000 registered cases of various deaths occurred due to alcohol. This included deaths from traffic accidents, injuries, cancer, heart disease and suicide. This global study compared the life expectancy and disease frequencies of alcohol-consuming people with non-alcohol consuming people. It concluded that non-alcohol consuming people live on an average up to 10 years longer than their alcohol-consuming counterparts. No studies up to now have been that comprehensive. The results from twenty-eight million people speak for themselves, and the death statistics are clear. It is worthwhile to look at the details and draw your own conclusion.

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Sep
22
2018

The Best Foods For Your Heart

In the following I will describe 16 foods, which are the best foods for your heart. I will also comment as to why I believe they are best. This review is based on this article in “Medical News Today”.

But I have added many other comments to it.

Heart disease is still the number 1 killer. We need to change what we eat.

Vegetables

The regular intake of green leaf vegetables and cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, cauliflower and cabbage) has an association with the  preservation of cognitive function. In the Nurses’ Health Study starting in 1984 women were asked about their usual intake of a specified portion of food items, including 15 fruits and 28 vegetables. At a later date, between 1995 and 2001, researchers decided to ask the oldest participants (70 years and older) to participate in a cognitive function study. Two years later researchers repeated these tests.The main finding of the study is that women with the highest intake of green, leafy vegetables had the least decline in their cognitive function. The vegetable lovers, who consumed five serving of cruciferous vegetables, like broccoli, cabbage and cauliflower had less decline in their cognitive function. On the other hand the highest decline showed up in the group that averaged only 2 servings per week.

Asparagus

Asparagus is a source of fiber, folate, multiple vitamins and chromium. Chromium enhances the function of insulin to transport sugar into cells. Asparagus contains glutathione, a powerful antioxidant that neutralizes free radicals and carcinogens. It is said to help prevent lung cancers, larynx cancer, and bone, breast and colon cancers.

Berries

Berries like strawberries, raspberries, blackberries and blueberries are full of bioflavonoids. These are antioxidants, which prevent cardiovascular disease.

It is the anthocyanines, which prevent oxidation of LDL cholesterol. Berries also have bioflavonoids and reduce lipid formation in the blood. Berries contain fiber, folate, iron, calcium, vitamin A, and vitamin C.

Broccoli

This fiber rich vegetable helps to prevent hardening of the arteries. Broccoli and kale likely have preventative effects against colon cancer.

Chickpeas, beans, peas and lentils

Legumes or pulses are a great way to consume plant-derived protein. People who are on vegan diets should be eating them for a protein source. They also contain lots of fiber, vitamins and minerals. We know that they lower cholesterol, which prevents heart disease. Other healthy nutrients they contain are bioflavonoids, which have antioxidant properties and help prevent cardiovascular disease.

Dark chocolate

This is a food rich in antioxidants. Dark chocolate is chocolate with more than 70% cocoa content. Please note: “milk chocolate” is nothing better than candy and devoid of any health benefits. Dark chocolate increases the protective HDL cholesterol and prevents oxidation of LDL cholesterol. It is said to prevent atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries). Don’t exceed eating 1 to 2 oz. per day, as chocolate has some sugar in it and the fat content would be detrimental with higher consumption.

Chia seeds and flaxseeds

Chia seeds and flaxseeds are rich in omega-3 fatty acids in the form of α-linolenic acid (ALA). ALA reduces LDL cholesterol and it dissolves plaque in the arteries. ALA also reduces blood pressure to a certain degree. All of this helps reduce cardiovascular disease (heart attacks and strokes). Note that flaxseeds must be ground to powder to release the nutrients from its tough shell. Both chia and flaxseeds can be used as an egg replacement in vegan cooking.

Fish high in omega-3s

Omega-3 fatty acids are abundantly present in fish. It has plaque-reducing properties and also reduces the risk for abnormal heart beats. Overall this means less cardiovascular disease. The American Heart Association recommends a 3.5 oz. serving of fatty fish (salmon, mackerel, lake trout, herring or sardines) twice per week.

Coffee

A Brazilian study from 2018 showed that drinking 3 cups of coffee a day would stop coronary artery calcification. Many other studies have shown reduced mortality from heart attacks and strokes with increased coffee intake.

Green tea

Green tea is known to reduce blood pressure slightly and to reduce cholesterol. Both effects are beneficial for the cardiovascular system (prevents heart attacks and strokes). Green tea also prevents many cancers. Whatever we know about coffee consumption seems to also be true for green tea consumption.

Nuts

Nuts contain healthy fatty acids (omega-3). But they also contain fiber, protein, minerals, vitamins and antioxidants. Use them in desserts, in salads and as a quick food on the go. They are definitely healthier than protein bars.

Liver

Liver is one of the nutrient rich foods. It is rich in iron, phosphorus, vitamin A, folate, vitamin B12 and biotin.

Oatmeal

Oatmeal is rich in soluble fiber. It has been shown to lower LDL cholesterol and total cholesterol. This is important for prevention of heart disease.

Red wine (may be)

The bioflavonoids of red grapes have been the subject of much research. There is a dose-response curve showing a protective effect with regard to heart attacks and strokes with the consumption of  1 to 3 glasses of red wine per day. But unfortunately there is also a dose-response curve with respect to alcohol consumption and cancer causation. Personally, I take resveratrol from the health food store, 500 mg daily and consume white wine or red wine very rarely.

Tomatoes

There are a number of beneficial phytochemicals in tomatoes. Carotenoids like lycopene, lutein, zeaxanthine and beta-carotenes are helping to prevent prostate cancer and colon cancer. Potassium and folate are cardioprotective.

Spinach

Eating spinach regularly will provide you with magnesium, iron and bioflavonoids. Magnesium is good for a regular heart rhythm. The other nutrients are good for skin, bone and hair health.

Discussion

I have reviewed why these 16 foods are the best foods for your heart. We have seen that many foods that are rich in antioxidants are also cancer preventative. People who eat a Mediterranean diet will get these 16 foods, because their meals are balanced with nutrients. But if you eat a hamburger or a pizza you will not get balanced nutrients. The more one-sided your food intake, the more dangerous your lifestyle becomes. This is the problem with the Standard American diet (“SAD”). You need all of the components of the 16 foods described here. Junk food won’t do, as it consists only of empty calories.

The Best Foods For Your Heart

The Best Foods For Your Heart

Conclusion

It is useful to review healthy foods as was done above. Now it is a matter of including them in your daily food intake. If this is overwhelming you, start with baby steps. One or two healthy foods here or there are a good start. Increase this until you cover all the 16 foods mentioned. The more balanced your food intake is, the more antioxidant vitamins you will get. And the more heart disease and cancer prevention you will experience.

Apart from good, balanced nutrition we also need regular exercise for heart disease and cancer prevention. Go to a gym, go for a walk, climb some stairs. Get away from the computer and television. Together with best foods for your heart this will keep you healthier for longer.

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Aug
18
2018

Poor Diet Habits Can Cause Alzheimer’s

A new study from the Brock University in St. Catharine’s, Ont. showed that poor diet habits can cause Alzheimer’s. Specifically the risk for Alzheimer’s was a combination of high saturated fats in the diet in combination with too much sugar.

The third triggering factor was the normal aging process that also contributed to the development of Alzheimer’s.

The study showing that poor diet habits can cause Alzheimer’s

Master student Bradley Baranowski and PhD student Kirsten Bott conducted the experiments under the supervision of Assistant Professor of Health Sciences Rebecca MacPherson. The experimental group consisted of middle-aged mice that were observed for 13 weeks. They received a high-fat/high-sugar diet. The control group received a normal diet.

The experimental group with the high fat/high sugar diet was aging prematurely. They also showed elevated inflammatory markers, elevated insulin levels and cellular stress. Dr.MacPherson mentioned that the middle-aged mice would be comparable to humans aged 40 to 60. “[We’re] trying to see what the initiating signals are that can lead to progression of Alzheimer’s disease,” MacPherson said.

Lifestyle choices matter

“People often view Alzheimer’s disease as a genetic disease when in fact, genetic mutations leading to Alzheimer’s accounts for less than five per cent of cases,” Baranowski said in the press release. “This study highlights that our lifestyle choices matter and can potentially put us at risk of developing or progressing neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s.”

Other studies that support the concept that lifestyles matter

Over the years many other researchers have analyzed what factors contribute to getting Alzheimer’s. It probably is a combination of several factors.

Age

Age is one of the major risk factors. Most Alzheimer’s patients are above the age of 65. Above 65 the risk doubles every 5 years. By the time we are 85 our risk is 1/3 to get it.

Family history

If you have a parent, brother or sister who came down with Alzheimer’s, you have a higher risk of getting it.

Environmental factors

Often environmental factors like eating too much sugar or too much saturated fat are confused with family history factors. Nutritional habits in a family can be like a tradition. It may appear as if this is a family history of Alzheimer’s when in reality poor eating habits were passed on from generation to generation. A lot more research is necessary in this area.

History of Head injury

A history of a closed head injury carries with it a higher risk of Alzheimer’s later in life. We need to use seat belts in cars and helmets when bicycling. Avoid risky sports activities where you would sustain a traumatic brain injury.

Heart disease

There is a link between heart disease, diabetes, stroke, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and Alzheimer’s. When brain arteries get clogged, the brain deposits more beta-amyloid protein as plaques. This is a sign of early Alzheimer’s disease.

Older Latinos and older African Americans

Older Latinos have a 1 ½-times higher risk than older whites to get Alzheimer’s and dementia. On the other hand older African-Americans are 2-times more likely than older whites to come down with Alzheimer’s. The reason for this is not entirely clear. But a big factor likely is the cardiovascular risk that is higher in Latinos and African Americans. This translates into a higher risk for Alzheimer’s.

Prevention of Alzheimer’s disease

There are more publications that point out that Alzheimer’s disease is largely preventable by cutting out those factors that contribute to its development.

Here is a list of steps to follow in order to prevent Alzheimer’s disease.

  1. First of all treat diabetes, high blood pressure and obesity aggressively. This eliminates cardiovascular risk factors, which keeps the brain vessels open.
  2. Furthermore quit smoking. By preserving the cardiovascular system the brain stabilizes.
  3. Another important factor is physical activity: exercise daily! This maintains cardiopulmonary fitness. It also keeps your brain vessels open.
  4. Also, take care of your diet: eat balanced meals and avoid junk food. A Mediterranean diet or the MIND diet are examples of diets that help prevent Alzheimer’s. Note that these are low sugar and low saturated fat diets. This fits the initial observation that you read in the beginning of this blog. Mice on a high fat/high sugar diet showed premature aging and developed Alzheimer’s. Knowing this, it is good to do the opposite: cut out excessive saturated fats and sugar. Sugar increase LDL cholesterol and triglycerides, which leads to hardening of arteries.
  5. Mental stimulation is another important factor for preventing Alzheimer’s. With lifelong bilingualism there was a delay of about 4.5 years in onset of dementia. The ACTIVE study is in the link above. It showed that mental stimulation could indeed delay the onset of Alzheimer’s over a 10-year period. 
Poor Diet Habits Can Cause Alzheimer’s

Poor Diet Habits Can Cause Alzheimer’s

Conclusion

Above all, I cannot emphasize enough how important a healthy diet is for a healthy mind. The combination of an overabundance of saturated fats and refined sugar was found to be the cause of premature aging in mice. But likewise, we know from human trials that this also causes premature aging in humans and higher incidence of Alzheimer’s. As a result, it is logical to recommend a lower intake of saturated fat and to reduce sugar intake. It will prevent hardening of the arteries and slow down the development of Alzheimer’s.

But there are many other recommendations to avoid getting Alzheimer’s: quit smoking. Stay physically active by exercising daily. Use a Mediterranean diet or the MIND diet to prevent Alzheimer’s. Clinical trials with these diets have shown them to be effective. Treat diabetes, high blood pressure and obesity aggressively as this will stabilize your metabolism. As a result it also prevents Alzheimer’s. Finally, stimulate your brain every day by doing various activities. This forms new synaptic connections inside your brain and postpones Alzheimer’s from setting in as you age.

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