Tag: diet

prevent heart disease

Prevent Heart Disease: Ways Less Often Discussed

February is a great time to focus on the heart.

Earlier in the month, we marked Valentine’s Day – a time to celebrate love, be kind to others and be kind to ourselves. We get to connect and reflect on feelings within the heart. However, it is also a great time to literally reflect on your physical heart and its wellbeing. In fact, February is officially Heart Health Month.

Did you know that heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States?

It affects both men and women…and thankfully it can be prevented! There are the obvious ways to prevent heart disease: don’t smoke, eat an anti-inflammatory low grain diet, with plenty of fruits and vegetables and exercise. Is there more you can do? I’d like to explore some of the less talked about ways to prevent heart disease.

Start by looking at the word disease. Break that word down and it is dis-ease. In other words, NOT ease. So at least a part of heart disease is related to not being in a state of ease. Stress plays a huge role in heart disease, often causing an increase blood pressure, irregular heart rhythms and increased levels of adrenaline and cortisol. So start with managing your stress as the first step to prevent heart disease.

 

Stress Reducers

Meditation

Remember meditation is not a one-time activity. It takes practice. No one tries it once and achieves a state of clear-minded calmness. Try downloading a guided meditation app. Start with a short, 5-minute guided meditation and go from there. Daily practice can lower blood pressure, improve mood and reduce damaging stress hormones in the body.

 

Biofeedback

Another alternative to meditation is biofeedback. Biofeedback is the process of gaining greater awareness of physiological functions by using instruments that provide information on the activity of those same systems, with a goal of being able to manipulate them at will. I love the products from Heart Math Institute. They have a device called the EmWave which helps to raise your awareness of when you are in a stressful state. The technology then helps you to shift back into a more relaxed and content state. The company has similar technologies as a phone app that couple with an ear sensor.

 

Yoga

Yoga is a great way to relieve stress through centeredness, focus and calming breath work.

 

RELATED: Ten Wonderful Ways Yoga Improves Your Health 

 

Slowing down  

The reality is that the world is on fast forward these days. But just because things seem to happen at lightning speed these days does not mean that you have to keep up that pace. Plan some time to relax for a bit every single day, no matter how busy you are. Give yourself permission to say no when you want or sense that you need to say no.

 

Be true to your heart  

People are simply less stressed and more resilient when they are living their life congruent with their own values. When our actions are in alignment with our authentic selves – our purpose and values – life just seems less stressful even when there are challenges. Keep this in mind.

 

Nutritional Considerations

prevent heart diseaseReduce sugar

In a study published in Journal of the American Medical Association Internal Medicine in January 2014, researchers found that the odds of dying from heart disease rose in tandem with the percentage of sugar in one’s diet. This was regardless of a person’s age, sex, physical activity level and body-mass index (a measure of weight).

My advice is to avoid the obvious worst offenders! We hear a lot about what we should eat, but do you realize the true damage occurring when you make poor choices? Know the worst offenders and steer clear of them.

 

Stay hydrated

It probably seems like I think hydration is the answer for every health issue. The truth is, it impacts a great deal of our health. Staying hydrated allows the heart to pump the blood through the vessels more easily, allows the heart muscles to work more efficiently and reduces the risk of heart attack and stroke.

 

Drink red wine

A single glass of red wine each day will give you a good dose of resveratrol, which lowers cholesterol, reduces risk of blood clots and prevents damage to blood vessels. One glass is enough to gain benefits – but keep it to one glass most days.

 

Supplements

Finally, we can’t talk about heart disease prevention without at least mentioning supplements. There are many great ones you can take for heart health, but I have narrowed it down to what I would consider the top three most important.

  1. CoQ10 – Take 200 mg daily if you are over 50 years of age or on a statin drug. Otherwise, take 100 mg. The heart is constantly working and never takes a break as long as you are living. This requires a lot of energy for the heart muscles. CoQ10 is critical for the mitochondria in the heart muscle cells to make energy so they can keep working. As you age, you are less able to make CoQ10. Statin drugs deplete your CoQ10.  
  2. Omega 3’s – Omega 3’s turn down your inflammatory pathways. Since inflammation is tied to all chronic diseases of aging including plaquing of the arteries, high blood pressure and high cholesterol, Omega 3’s are just what the doctor ordered in lowering the risk of heart disease. Eat plenty of Omega 3-packed fish too! To learn if you are deficient in Omega 3, we can test you.
  3. Magnesium –  This supplement lowers blood pressure, helps the heart to beat more regularly and improves sleep. It is a great distress-type of nutrient.

I hope this blog has helped you to zero in on a least a few strategies to prevent heart disease! Be kind to yourself and have a great February.

Dr. Sharman

 

antioxidant superfoods

15 Antioxidant superfoods (and why you should eat them)

Have you ever heard the phrase “food is medicine”?

Well, food CAN be medicine. We each need a variety of vitamins, minerals, good fats, enzymes, proteins and antioxidants from foods. These essential nutrients from foods allow our body to stay healthy and fight. They can help us fend off illness and slow the development of chronic conditions of aging. Certain foods, called Superfoods, are especially unique in that they are packed with a large amount and variety of these healthy nutrient building blocks.

Everyone can reap the benefits when they make these antioxidant superfoods a part of their regular diet. Read up on them when you can…but in the meantime, here are my top 15 superfoods with the reasons you should be eating them:

 

Blueberries

Blueberries are low in calories and high in nutrients and a great source of fiber…and who doesn’t need more fiber in their diet? They are high in vitamins K and C and antioxidants known as anthocyanins, which have been associated with improving memory and brain function as well as reducing risk cancer. Blueberries also turn down your inflammatory pathways. Studies show blueberries may reduce risk of heart disease and cancer and even improve memory!

 

Kale

On the whole, Americans don’t consume enough green leafy vegetables. People can benefit from eating more salads but kale is an exceptionally nutritious leafy option – so be sure to throw some in your salad. It can also be sautéed and served as a side vegetable. Kale has more antioxidants than most other fruits and veggies, has all essential amino acids and is a good source of fiber, iron and calcium.

 

Cabbage

Cabbage contains a large amount of indoles, which have been shown to reduce risk of cancer. It also stimulates the immune system. Remember the anthocyanins from the blueberries? Well, if you go for the red cabbage, you’ll also get a dose of those anthocyanins.

 

Broccoli

Cruciferous vegetables are known for their health benefits but broccoli contains more Vitamin C and folate than the others. Broccoli has several anti-cancer compounds and is a great source of fiber.

 

Chia

Did you know that chia seeds have more essential fatty acids than any known plant? They are a great source of Omega 3 fatty acids, which lower inflammation. Chia seeds also contain the important minerals magnesium, potassium, calcium and iron.

 

Turmeric 

Turmeric has amazing anti-inflammatory effects, can regulate blood sugar and regulate immune function. Although turmeric is full of minerals, it’s most powerful healing ingredient is curcumin.

 

antioxidant superfoodsGreen Tea

There is a simple reason drinking green tea is an ancient tradition that has stood the test of time. It is full of antioxidants and phytochemicals that fight cancer. Today, you’ll find green tea baked into foods, in smoothies and of course, in a traditional hot cup of tea.

 

Almonds

Did you know that almonds have more nutrients than any other nut? They are a great source of fiber and magnesium, potassium, calcium and iron. Almonds also contain vitamin E, a known antioxidant. The combination of monounsaturated fat and fiber in almonds has been shown to reduce cholesterol.  Finally, almonds are a blood sugar stabilizer because they contain a good balance of carbohydrate, protein and fat leading to a very slow rise in blood sugar. See why almonds made the superfood list?!

 

Mushrooms

This one may surprise you. Mushrooms have been used in Chinese healing for years and can help prevent cancer – particularly Reishi and Chaga varieties. Eating mushrooms regularly can help reduce blood pressure and cholesterol.

 

Avocados

Everyone is crazy for avocados these days…and for excellent reasons! Avocados are full of good fats and can help reduce heart disease, cancer and diabetes. Like almonds, they are good blood sugar stabilizers. They are also known to assist in blood and tissue regeneration. And they happen to taste fantastic!

 

Salmon, Sardines or Anchovies

These three fish are packed with omega 3 fatty acids, which turn down inflammatory pathways and slow or prevent chronic conditions of aging such as, diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, high cholesterol, Alzheimer’s and autoimmune illnesses. Omega 3s are vital for proper brain function and even for mood regulation. Most Americans are low in Omega 3s and are too high in Omega 6, keeping them systemically inflamed. This is so important to reverse, that we actually test Omega 6/Omega 3 ratios using our Brainspan test.

Note: Stay away from farm raised salmon, as it has many toxins, and look for wild caught Alaskan salmon.

 

RELATED: How to easily know your Omega-3 Fatty Acid Levels

 

Eggs

Eggs have more protein than any other food source…and they can be incorporated into your diet in so many easy ways. They contain a variety of necessary amino acids, and the yolks contain choline, which is important for brain function and is protective of the heart.

 

antioxidant superfoodsPomegranates

Pomegranates and their juice have been known for their anti-aging and cancer-reducing properties. They are #1 in antioxidants of all the fruit.  And pomegranates have even more antioxidants than green tea!

 

Garlic

First, garlic reduces cholesterol. Second, because it is strongly antiviral and antibacterial, it also boosts immune function and helps to fight off infection. Finally, garlic can help detoxify the body of heavy metals. Who knew it could do more than ward off vampires?!

 

Maca

If you haven’t heard of maca, you’re not alone. Maca is a Peruvian root that packs a protein punch, is full of vitamins B1, B2, C and E and contains calcium, magnesium, potassium, phosphorus, sulfur, sodium and iron. What makes maca so different from many other superfoods is that it is an adaptogen. This means it affects the body’s hormones in ways that help build stamina and endurance, deal with the effects of stress, improve sexual health and positively affect mood. Ask your local grocer to start carrying maca!

 

Dark chocolate and red wine

I’ve paired these together because everyone needs a little indulgence! Whether it is chocolate, red wine or both, these have great health benefits if eaten and drank in moderation. Dark chocolate (70 percent or higher) is anti-inflammatory, which helps to reduce pain. It contains both antioxidants and magnesium and can elevate your mood.  Red wine reduces blood clots, raises HDL (the good cholesterol) and contains the antioxidant resveratrol.

 

Are you ready to head to the grocery store and shop for some superfoods?

This is just a sample of the antioxidant superfoods out there that will provide the building blocks to keep you healthy, slow aging, reduce inflammation and prevent disease. Include a variety of these healthy whole foods in your diet – by themselves, in smoothies or as part of a recipe. Have fun and feel better by knowing what these superfoods can do for you!

Want even more superfoods? Dr. Mercola has a great list.

 

Dr. Sharman

 

Featured Photo by Brooke Lark on Unsplash