Everyday Heart Health You know that exercise and a good diet can keep your heart healthy. But what else can you do to keep your ticker going strong? Incorporate these habits into your lifestyle and your heart health will be the best it can be for you.
- Eat healthy fats, NOT trans fats. We need fats in our diet, including saturated and polyunsaturated and unsaturated fats. One fat we don’t need is trans fat, which is known to increase your risk of developing heart disease or having a stroke over a lifetime. Trans fat clogs your arteries by raising your bad cholesterol levels and lowering your good cholesterol levels. By cutting them from your diet, you will improve the blood flow throughout your body. So, what are trans fats?
- Have good dental Hygiene. Practice good dental hygiene, especially flossing your teeth daily. Dental health is a good indication of overall health, including your heart, because those who have periodontal (gum) disease often have the same risk factors for heart disease. Studies continue on this issue, but many have shown that bacteria in the mouth involved in the development of gum disease can move into the bloodstream and cause an elevation in C-reactive protein, a marker for inflammation in the blood vessels. These changes may in turn, increase your risk of heart disease and stroke.
- Get enough sleep. We say this all of the time, but sleep is essential. If you don’t sleep enough, you may be at a higher risk for cardiovascular disease no matter your age or other health habits. One study looking at 3,000 adults over the age of 45 found that those who slept fewer than six hours per night were about twice as likely to have a stroke or heart attack as people who slept six to eight hours per night. Researchers believe sleeping too little causes disruptions in underlying health conditions and biological processes, including blood pressure and inflammation.
- Stand, do not sit. Sitting too long can cause overall problems with your health. Research suggests that staying seated for long periods of time is bad for your health no matter how much exercise you do. This is bad news for the many people who sit at sedentary jobs all day. Sitting for long periods of time (especially when traveling) increases your risk of deep vein thrombosis (a blood clot). Exercise, exercise, exercise!
- Avoid secondhand smoke like the plague. Studies show that the risk of developing heart disease is about 25 to 30 percent higher for people who are exposed to secondhand smoke at home or work. According to the American Heart Association, exposure to tobacco smoke contributes to about 34,000 premature heart disease deaths and 7,300 lung cancer deaths each year. And nonsmokers who have high blood pressure or high blood cholesterol have an even greater risk of developing heart disease when they’re exposed to secondhand smoke. This is because the chemicals emitted from cigarette smoke promote the development of plaque buildup in the arteries.
Yoga and your health. So many people do yoga, and they do it because it’s so great for your mind and body. It helps to keep the whole you healthy. The benefits of yoga provide both instant gratification and lasting transformation. In the fitness world, both are extremely important. Too much time with too few results can be incredibly discouraging, and monotonous routines week after week can lead to stagnation. Yoga can change your physical and mental capacity quickly, while preparing the mind and body for long-term health. Yoga is for everyone. Most yoga studios and local gyms offer yoga classes that are open to all generations and fitness levels. It’s exciting to enter a room full of young teens, athletes, middle-aged moms, older gentlemen, and even fitness buffs and body builders. Everyone can feel accepted and included and, unlike other sports or classes that focus on niche clients, yoga tends to offer open arms. Whether you like to say "Om" or you can’t stand the word “yogi”; whether you are 92, 53, or even 12, yoga can help you. Yoga helps you achieve overall health and wellness. Yoga is not just about working out, it’s about a healthy lifestyle. The practice of yoga allows students to find stillness in a world consumed with chaos. Peace and tranquility achieved through focused training appeals to everyone. Yoga’s deep breathing and meditation practices help foster an inner shift from to-do lists, kids and spouse’s needs, financial concerns, and relationship struggles to something a little bit bigger than the issues you face. Yoga helps relieve stress and declutters the mind, helping you to become more focused. Yoga helps you stay strong, promotes mobility and keeps you flexible. Yoga’s focus on strength training and flexibility is an incredible benefit to your body. The postures are meant to strengthen your body from the inside out, so you don’t just look good, you feel good, too. Each of the yoga poses is built to reinforce the muscles around the spine, the very center of your body, which is the core from which everything else operates. When the core is working properly, posture is improved, thus alleviating back, shoulder, and neck pain. Yoga builds muscle. Most yoga poses are held for five full breaths versus the usual one to three breaths. Muscles are challenged as the mind and body have to work together simultaneously to hold a position without giving up. Breathing, posing, moving, and increasing flexibility happen together at one time, which unearths a new level of discipline in your mind and body. There are so many benefits to yoga, more than listed above. But if you’re in shape and you can do it, fit yoga into your regular routine.
Tips for Healthy Aging You don’t have to be over 65 to care about how you age. Healthy aging is something that we should consider life-long. Being active, eating healthy, and getting enough sleep are just a few of the things we should consider when trying to stay healthy and age gracefully. cYou should also consider the following: Maintain your brain Keep your brain active at all stages of life. One in eight older adults (aged 65+) in the United States has Alzheimer's disease, and some cognitive decline is a normal part of aging. Studies have shown that a lifestyle that includes cognitive stimulation through active learning slows cognitive decline. Cultivate your relationships Twenty-eight percent of older adults live alone, and living alone is the strongest risk factor for loneliness. Common life changes in older adulthood, such as retirement, health issues, or the loss of a spouse, may lead to social isolation. Adults who engage in meaningful community activities like volunteer work report feeling healthier and less depressed. Tips: Join a planning committee, volunteer, take a trip with friends, play cards at your local senior center, or join a book club. Remember that participating in activities should be fun, not stressful! Live an active lifestyle Regular exercise is one of the greatest keys to physical and mental wellbeing. Living an active life will help you stay fit enough to maintain your independence to go where you want to and perform your own activities. Regular exercise may prevent or even provide relief from many common chronic conditions, including heart disease, diabetes, depression, and arthritis, to name a few. Get enough sleep Humans can go longer without food than without sleep. Older adults need just as much sleep as younger adults – seven to nine hours per night – but often get much less. Lack of sleep can cause depression, irritability, increased fall risk, and memory problems. Reduce stress As we age, our stressors change and so does our ability to deal with stress. Long-term stress can damage brain cells and lead to depression. Stress may also cause memory loss, fatigue, and decreased ability to fight off and recover from infection. In fact, it is estimated that more than 90% of illness is either caused or complicated by stress. Take charge of your health Most of our health is not controlled by the health care system but by our own actions, our environment, our genes, and social factors. In addition, physicians are not perfect; medical errors do happen. The more patients participate in their own health care, the more satisfied they tend to be with the care they receive. Keep your health in check and make sure to consider these great tips for healthy aging.
Is red meat good or bad for your health? Red meat contains numerous vitamins and minerals that are essential for a healthy, balanced diet. In recent years, however, its reputation has been severely blemished, with studies suggesting that red meat intake can increase the risk of cancer and other diseases. But is it really that bad for us? For many households, it is considered a food staple, with some of us consuming beef, lamb, and pork in different variations on a daily basis. Then what is the harm? When it comes to your intake, cancer has been the most published health implication. In October 2015, the World Health Organization (WHO) published a report concluding that it is "probably carcinogenic to humans," meaning that there is some evidence that it can increase the risk of cancer. Additionally, the WHO concluded that processed meats - defined as "meat that has been transformed through salting, curing, fermentation, smoking, or other processes to enhance flavor or improve preservation" - is "carcinogenic to humans," meaning that there is sufficient evidence that processed meat intake increases cancer risk. We’ve also read studies on red meat and heart disease, kidney disease, gout and other diseases. But despite the evidence, red meat in moderation or every once and awhile is not a problem. You will always want to have a balanced diet that includes unlimited amounts of vegetables, but adding in red meat here and there is not a problem. Everything in moderation!
Mold Exposure and Your Health. Spring often brings wet crawl spaces, and flooded basements. Each of those problems can bring mold. But how does mold affect your health? Keep reading and find out. According to the Centers for Disease Control, exposure to damp and moldy environments may cause a variety of health effects, or none at all. Some people are sensitive to molds. For these people, molds can cause nasal stuffiness, throat irritation, coughing or wheezing, eye irritation, or, in some cases, skin irritation. People with mold allergies may have more severe reactions. Immune-compromised people and people with chronic lung illnesses, such as obstructive lung disease, may get serious infections in their lungs when they are exposed to mold. These people should stay away from areas that are likely to have mold. In 2004 the Institute of Medicine (IOM) found there was sufficient evidence to link indoor exposure to mold with upper respiratory tract symptoms, cough, and wheeze in otherwise healthy people; with asthma symptoms in people with asthma; and with hypersensitivity pneumonitis in individuals susceptible to that immune-mediated condition. The IOM also found limited or suggestive evidence linking indoor mold exposure and respiratory illness in otherwise healthy children. In addition, in 2004 the IOM found sufficient evidence to link exposure to damp indoor environments in general to upper respiratory tract symptoms, cough, and wheeze in otherwise healthy people and with asthma symptoms in people with asthma. The IOM also found limited or suggestive evidence linking exposure to damp indoor environments in general to shortness of breath, to respiratory illness in otherwise healthy children and to potential development of asthma in susceptible individuals. In 2009, the World Health Organization issued additional guidance, the WHO Guidelines for Indoor Air Quality: Dampness and Mold. Other recent studies have suggested a potential link of early mold exposure to development of asthma in some children, particularly among children who may be genetically susceptible to asthma development, and that selected interventions that improve housing conditions can reduce morbidity from asthma and respiratory allergies, but more research is needed in this regard. If you have mold in your home, or are exposed to it in other areas such as a compost pile, cut grass or wood piles, it’s important that you are avoid breathing in mold in these areas to help keep your lungs healthy. Still have questions about mold and your health? Ask your doctor.
Water. It’s vital to our existence. We all know it is important, and we all know we should be doing it. But do we know why? For starters, did you know water makes up 90 percent of brain weight? It also makes up 60 percent of your body weight. Adequate hydration is essential for your body to function. If that isn’t enough to convince you to drink more, here are five fantastic reasons water is important to your health:
- It helps weight loss. Water helps you feel full longer, without adding any additional calories. Drinking it or eating foods with a high water content can be a big help in managing your weight
- It aids in digestion. It aids in constipation and other abdominal issues, especially those suffering from irritable bowel syndrome. It helps to move the digestive process along and through the system.
- It boots energy. It delivers important nutrients to all of our cells, especially muscle cells, postponing muscle fatigue
- It hydrates skin. Forget expensive creams and cure-alls, water is the best defense against aging and wrinkles in the skin.
- It detoxifies. Moves toxins through your system faster, and optimizes kidney function. Inadequate hydration means inadequate kidney function.
Help your teen sleep better According to recent studies, forty-three percent of parents say their teens struggle to fall asleep — or wake up and can’t get back to sleep. Help your teen sleep better with the following tips: Maintain a regular sleep schedule Keeping a sleep schedule within an hour of what’s usual helps keep the circadian rhythm in check. Sleeping in hours later than normal on the weekends and during school breaks makes it even more difficult to switch back — and can lead to more tiredness and grogginess. “Catch-up” sleep is also unlikely to make up for the full amount of sleep debt accrued over a week, and we don’t believe it’s as restorative to the body. Discourage afternoon naps Even though they may provide more sleep short term, naps make it harder to fall asleep at night. They also break up sleep, which means lower quality of sleep and fewer benefits. If this is a habit, do everything you can to quit naps for a week to make it easier to not nap going forward. Ban electronics from the bedroom Not being able to stay off electronics — including social media and cell phones — was the top reason polled parents cited for their teens’ sleep troubles. Some research indicates that the light exposure from screens also disrupts traditional cues sent to the brain to wind down. That’s why I recommend physically removing the device. Charge phones elsewhere Make it a family rule to charge all devices in a parent’s bedroom or another isolated space to reduce temptation at bedtime. Many teens I’ve seen in my own practice actually describe a sense of relief when their parents limit phone use because it takes away some of that pressure to keep up with social news and what their peers are up to. Stick to sleep-friendly bedtime routines In addition to banning electronics, limit other distractions in the bedroom. All stimulation should be minimized. Keep lights low and active pets out of the bedroom. We discourage using music or sound machines to help with sleep because they may actually keep the brain stimulated. Realize sleep isn’t instant We don’t expect people to fall asleep right away. It can take half an hour for someone to truly fall asleep. Have your teen follow a routine that helps them de-stress and wind down to get their body into sleep mode and send the right signals to the brain that it’s time to snooze (e.g., bath, reading, bed). Consult a health provider Sometimes an underlying medical issue, such as depression or sleep apnea, may be causing sleep trouble. If a teen continues to have problems falling asleep or is waking up multiple times at night despite healthy sleep hygiene habits, speak to a sleep specialist. Call us if you have additional information. We can help.
Healthy living for the new year It’s a new year, help be a healthier you. Here are some simple rules for getting back on track. Eat Your Fruit and Veggies! What does this mean? Avoid processed foods and eat foods in their natural state. Vegetables and fruits are filled with antioxidants, phytonutrients, vitamins and minerals. These are the items you need to support a healthy body. Eating a wide variety of different-colored fruits and veggies is always a healthy choice. When you look at your plate make sure 80% is fresh or lightly cooked vegetables. Minimize Processed Food Intake. Foods that are processed usually come in a box or bag and have a long shelf life. These include things like crackers, chips, cookies, cereals, and cake mixes, and they have little to no water content. Processed foods can contain unhealthy fats (see next). Eat Healthy Fats. Avocado, coconut oil, olives, nuts, seeds, unheated olive and flax oil, clean salmon, and nuts are all items that include healthy fats. Healthy fats are important for providing energy, healthy cell membranes, and hormone balance. Stay away from margarine, vegetable shortening, fried foods, and anything with “partially hydrogenated” oil listed in the ingredients. Make Your Meals with Love. Sharing meals and making them with love will not only allow you to take time to connect offline, with those you love, but also allows you to see exactly what you are eating/cooking. Create community and connection with your family and friends by getting creative with healthy recipes that inspire conversation and nourish those you care about. Drink Water! Drink 8 glasses of filtered water a day. Our body is about 60% water; drinking enough water maintains fluid balance, which transports nutrients, regulates body temperature and digests food. Dehydration lowers energy levels and brain function. Proper hydration also promotes healthy bowel movements, keeps our skin clear and flushes toxins. You can infuse your water with fresh herbs, fruit, or a dash of honey for sweetness. Eat with the Seasons. Buying produce from farmers markets is a great way to see what’s fresh and seasonal in your area. In the cooler months, eat more warming foods like soups, hot teas, and warming spices like cinnamon, pepper, and garlic. In the warmer months, eat more cooling foods like fresh green juices, salads and ingredients like lettuce, cucumbers, watermelon and cooling spices like peppermint, fennel, and cilantro. Do Not Overeat. Overeating can result in symptoms such as fatigue, slow metabolism, water retention, loose stool and a feeling of heaviness. Try not to overload your plate with large portions. Make sure vegetables take up the largest percentage when possible. Have a happy, healthy New Year!
There are benefits of Dry January to your health. Dry January is a term used for ditching alcohol in the first month of the new year. Many people celebrate as an annual tradition and mini-detox from the overindulgence during the holidays. Whatever reason you’re taking part in “Dry January” the benefits are great for your health. There's absolutely nothing wrong with abstaining from or limiting your alcohol intake. Excessive drinking and binge drinking can lead to several negative health effects, including weight gain, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and can put you at risk for other health risks. Taking one month off from drinking may not turn back the clock, but it will help you learn where your body is in relation to alcohol and can help your overall health and wellbeing. If you’re starting your Dry January alcohol hiatus, consider taking a look at how much you actually consume when not abstaining and how it can positively affect your health. If you're having several drinks a week, one of the main benefits of dry January could be a decrease in your overall calories, since a standard drink typically has around 150 calories. If you're trying to lose weight, cutting alcohol is one way to do it without compromising any of the fuel and nutrients your body needs. Alcohol contributes calories but doesn't make us feel more satisfied—it often amps up hunger. Also, since alcohol has a dehydrating effect, it can also contribute to bloating, judgement impairment,and could lead you to make poor food choices contributing to weight gain. If you’re feeling the need to clear your mind, focus and improve your sleep and digestion, avoiding alcohol can help you feel more energetic and stay motivated. It can help you get your workouts in and stick to overall healthy eating habits. And the fact that you're not going to the bar can lead to sleeping more, getting up at a decent hour and skipping fewer workouts. Your immune system can also improve with the absence of alcohol. When it comes to your immune system, positive health habits may be more influential than just abstaining from alcohol. Too much alcohol can acutely suppress immune function making you more vulnerable to pathogens, while chronic drinking can lead to inflammatory reactions throughout the body. Additionally, while there isn't data to suggest that ditching booze can protect you from the flu, it's reasonable to assume that drinking less, sleeping more and exercising more can all have a positive influence on your immune system. Dry January will give your liver a break, decreasing the metabolic stress that alcohol puts on the liver. Approximately half of all liver disease deaths are from alcoholic liver disease. As long as you don't use Dry January as an excuse to drink however much you want the other 11 months of the year, it will have positive impacts on most parts of your life and can help improve your health for months to come. Check in with yourself before your first February toast and see if you can keep the momentum for the remainder of 2019.
The amazing effects pets have on mental health. Studies are continually showing that pets aren’t just fun to have around the house – there is health-boosting power among our furry, scaly or feathered friends. Everything from increasing activity to making you happier, pets have a wonderful impact on your psyche. It’s no surprise that owning a pet – particularly a dog – makes you more active, but the list of health benefits that come with that might surprise. Older adults who own a dog have a lower body mass index, make fewer visits to the doctor and do more exercise. Research also shows that the stronger your bond with your pooch, the more likely you are to walk, and spend longer walking. With all those walks, pets tend to be good for your heart too. The American Heart Association undertook a study about how owning pets affects your chance of developing cardiovascular disease, including conditions that affect your heart and blood, such as stroke or coronary heart disease. Researchers found that having a pet – a dog, in particular – is probably associated with reducing your chances of developing CVD, though they were careful not to overstate this. In a follow-up study researchers again looked at how having a dog or cat affected your health, and this time felines came up trumps. They found that having a cat is associated with a reduced chance of dying from cardiovascular disease, especially strokes. This shows that it’s not just the exercise associated with having a pet that helps you – the stress relief and companionship also have very physical benefits. Pets make you more sociable. Even though you might feel grumpy sometimes and think you like quiet, humans are social animals. It’s important for our physical and mental health to have contact with other people – and our four-legged friends are a brilliant way to get you talking. Pets increase the number of off-chance chats you have and help people trust you and are brilliant ice-breakers. Social isolation is a huge health problem, particularly for the elderly. In fact, social isolation can increase your chances of dying early. So, what may seem like a trivial chat over the garden wall when looking for your cat or in the park when walking your dog, can be hugely significant for your mental and physical health. Pets stop loneliness. It’s not just that pets help you build a wider social network – many people have pets as companions. They make you happy, give you a routine and are great company – all of which adds your quality of life and boosts your everyday mental health. Pets reduce your stress. If you want to try and control your stress levels, go and chat to your pet. Studies have shown that pet owners reacted less to stress – and recovered from it much quicker – when their pets were present. Another study took 48 people with high blood pressure and high stress jobs. Researchers measured how they responded to stress before the test. Then, some of them bought a pet and six months later researchers again measured their response to stress. The results were interesting: after 6 months pet owners had less of a physical response to stress compared with those who didn’t have a four-legged friend. Pets are great. And a lot of them need homes. Help out a pet (adopt!) while helping to improve your mental health.