Category Archives: Wellness

Love your heart – don’t smoke

 

Among other things, smoking increases your risk of heart disease and blood clot formation, while decreasing the HDL or “good” cholesterol.  The best choice is to quit and avoid secondhand smoke whenever possible.

(Check some of my November articles about tips on tobacco cessation).

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Love your heart – know your numbers

 

The American Heart Association has identified the following 3 measurement as important risk indicators for heart disease:

  • Blood pressure.  Of the one in 3 adult Americans that have high blood pressure, 21% don’t know they even have it!  Know what your blood pressure is.  Keep track of it and maintain it at a level you and your doctor have discussed.  Pay particular attention to the 1st number (systolic blood pressure) as it indicates the amount of pressure placed on your arteries when your heart beats (as opposed to the bottom number, or diastolic blood pressure, when the heart is at rest).

For most Americans this means having the 3 sequential blood pressure readings with a systolic rating of less than 120 mm Hg and diastolic rating of less than 80 mm Hg.

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  • Blood cholesterol.  The most recent numbers from the AHA recommends that your total cholesterol should be below 200 mg per dL.  Consult with your doctor to see if you’re able to moderate your cholesterol levels naturally by eating foods full of heart healthy fats, lower in saturated fat and definitely trans fat-free.

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  • Blood glucose.  Though controllable, adults with diabetes are 2 to 4 times more likely to have heart disease or stroke than the adults without diabetes.  Your fasting blood glucose should be below 100 mg per dL of blood.  Ask your doctor for a quick blood glucose test to make sure you are within healthy range.

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Luckily following the other 4 steps in the simple 7 criteria will help to decrease all of these blood related numbers into a healthier range.

 

 

 

 

 

High body fat, not BMI, linked with higher death rate, study finds

~ From the Annals of Internal Medicine

Many health experts will tell you that being skinny is not necessarily healthy. Lending support to that argument, a new study finds that the thinnest people, similar to those who have the most body fat, have higher rates of death.

Unlike many previous studies, the researchers did not rely on BMI — which is a measure of weight that includes both fat and muscle — as a proxy for fat.

A small subset of the individuals in the study had both excess fat and low BMI because of inadequate muscle. “That’s a double whammy in terms of adverse effects on health,” Leslie said.

Overall the study found that the best survival was among individuals who had a BMI that put them in the overweight category and who were middle of the road in terms of total body fat.

The finding agrees with the so-called obesity paradox, said Dr. Carl Lavie, medical director of cardiac rehabilitation and prevention at the John Ochsner Heart & Vascular Institute in New Orleans, who was not involved in the research. The paradox, which has been described by previous studies, is that middle-aged and older adults who are overweight or even moderately obese have lower death rates than those in the normal weight range.

According to the study, the battle of the bulge is not the only war that should be waged. While doctors should still advise patients who have a very high BMI and high body fat to lose weight, they may also want to stress to underweight (“undermuscled”) patients the importance of maintaining fitness, Lavie said.

Getting regular exercise could also be important for individuals like the ones in the current study who are at risk of osteoporosis.

The study involved primarily white adults in Canada. It is possible that the relationship between BMI, body fat and mortality could be different in other populations, such as black and Hispanic people, although Lavie suspects that the same trends would exist.

Want to know where you fall?

Schedule your Body Composition Analysis today!

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Love Your Heart – Get Active

 The American Heart Association as well as the CDC and the American College of Sports Medicine guidelines all agree that getting at least 150 minutes per week of moderate exercise, or 75 minutes per week of vigorous exercise is a good way to keep your heart happy and healthy.  If you break it down, that’s less than 30 minutes a day!  (Note: if you’re just starting an exercise program or are pressed for time, research has shown that 3-10 minute exercise workout can have the same benefit on your health as one 30 minute session.  So… No excuses!)

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While 150 minutes of exercise per week may be adequate for heart health, further research has shown that at least 275 minutes per week is best for weight loss.  Here are some examples of moderate versus vigorous activity.

Moderate:

  • walking at a moderate or brisk pace of 3 to 4.5 mph on a level surface inside or outside such as:
    • walking to class, work or the store
    • walking for pleasure
    • walking the dog, walking as a break from work
  • bicycling 5 to 9 mph
  • yoga
  • ballroom or lying dancing
  • playing Frisbee
  • recreational swimming
  • canoeing or rafting or kayaking <4 mph
  • fishing while walking along the riverbank
  • playing on school playground equipment
  • light gardening and yardwork

Examples of Vigorous Activity

  • race walking and aerobic walking greater than 5 mph
  • jogging or running
  • backpacking uphill/mountain climbing/rockclimbing
  • bicycling more than 10 mph or bicycling on steep uphill terrain
  • high impact aerobic dancing
  • calisthenics (push-ups, pull ups, jumping rope) single tenant’s
  • most competitive sports (basketball, football, soccer, kickball) racquetball or squash
  • ice skating or speedskating/playing ice hockey
  • steady paced lapse
  • canoeing or rolling or kayaking 5 or more miles per hour gardening or yardwork that includes heavy or rabid shuffling
  • digging ditches
  • felling trees or pushing a nonmotorized lawnmower

There are lots of choices for you to get out get up and get active!  So, as Nike would say, just do it! 

Fight the effects of stress with Adaptogens

Article reprinted from: Mother Earth Living

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Stress
We all have it, we all complain about it, but we also all downplay the affect it has on our health and well-being. Small amounts of stress are motivating and propel us in a forward motion allowing us to be inspired and passionate. Large amounts of stress, such as family emergencies or financial burdens, are also a part of life and can’t always be avoided. Our body has an incredible ability to change how it functions under stress in order to protect us and then it quickly recovers from the event allowing us to rest and come back to a normal state of functioning. When stress goes on too long, and the body does not have a chance to recover, we begin to feel illness and dis-ease.

Adaptogens are an elite class of herbs that are superstars at helping the body to handle stress, recover from stress, and improve our stamina, focus, and vitality. These herbs are our “stress relief” herbs because of their ability to always bring the body back to a state of balance. If something

in the body is functioning in a hyper or hypo state, adaptogens bring these functions back in alignment.

For an herb to be classified as an adaptogen it needs to meet a few requirements:

  1. The herb must be non-toxic to the recipient.
  2. An adaptogen produces a non-specific response in the body- an increase in the power of resistance against multiple stressors including physical, chemical, or biological agents.
  3. An adaptogen has a normalizing influence on physiology, irrespective of the direction of change from physiological norms caused by the stressor.

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Many herbs meet some of these requirements, and have adaptogenic properties, but only a few are truly considered adaptogenic herbs. Here are a few adaptogens that I regularly use in practice:

  • Eleuthero (Eleutherococcus senticosus) is a mild adaptogen that enhances stamina and speeds recovery; excellent for athletes. It also enhances immune function and rebuilds white blood counts which is helpful for individuals recovering from serious immune depletions. This also a great herb for the “wired and tired” individual normally referred to as Type A personality.
  • Rhodiola (Rhodiola rosea) is an herb I use with people who suffer depression and depletions of the immune system. Rhodiola supports various endocrine glands and is useful for men and women who experience conditions related to glandular function deficiencies.
  • Astragalus (Astragalus membranaceus) has a protective energy that helps prevent illness. This herb is useful for people who get sick often and it also prevents immunosupression caused by chemotherapy. Astragalus enhances the inner strength of individuals receiving cancer therapies allowing them to respond better and to recover more quickly. Astragalus is also very useful for sweating conditions such as night sweats during menopause.
  • Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) is believed to give its users the stamina and strength of a stallion enhancing vigor and sexual prowess. Sign me up! Along with it’s use as an aphrodisiac it has endocrine system benefits specifically with the thyroid and adrenal glands. This herb is also useful for anxiety, fatigue, cloudy thinking and insomnia due to stress.
  • Licorice (Glycyrrhiza glabra) this herb is most useful for those with adrenal fatigue and insufficiency. I add this to formulas for people who wake up tired, feel exhausted throughout the day, and have elevated cortisol levels. This herb is also useful for inflammatory bowel conditions and ulcers. It is also a great synergistic herb, which means that it just makes other herbs work better when placed together in a formula. There is some concern about using this herb with those suffering from hypertension because of its ability to raise blood pressure.
  • Schisandra (Schisandra chinensis) Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) considers schisandra berries the “five flavors fruit” because each of the flavors are present in the berry (sweet, sour, bitter, pungent, and salty). Because it has all of the flavors it has benefits for the five yin organs: liver, kidneys, heart, lungs, and spleen.

There are many more adaptogenic herbs, I have just chosen to highlight the ones I regularly use in practice. Most individuals today are suffering from some type of stress-related condition so it is no surprise that adaptogenic herbs most always make it into one of their recommended herbal formulas. Choosing an adaptogen that is just right for your unique needs is important, although you will experience positive benefits from choosing any one of them.

Please ask if you have questions or want to know is an adaptogen is right for you.

ARTICLE WRITTEN BY: KRIS VAUGHAN

References:
Winston, D., Maimes, S. “Adaptogens:Herbs for Strength, Stamina, and Stress Relief” Healing Arts Press 2007

Hershoff ND, A., Rotelli ND, A. “Herbal Remedies” 2001

Sunscreen Chart

Use this clever infographic to help determine how much protection you need.

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Stress Less

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