Fountain of Youth:Co-enzyme Q10
Co-enzyme Q10 or CoQ10 is an extremely important nutrient that every cell in your body must have in order to produce energy. Although present in food, CoQ10 is not considered a vitamin because the body is able to make it from raw materials contained in food.
Nevertheless, the body often cannot make enough for optimal functioning and therefore CoQ10 supplements may be very helpful. Because CoQ10 is involved in basic energy production by every cell in the body, optimal amounts can be beneficial for a wide variety of complaints, symptoms and diseases. To give you a brief idea about what types of complaints or disorders I am referring to, Co Q10 has been used successfully for periodontal disease, high blood pressure, congestive heart failure, angina pectoris of the heart, cardiomyopathy of the heart, protection of the heart from the damaging effects of the chemotherapeutic drug Adriamycin, immune disorders such as AIDS and most recently cancer.
Levels of CoQ drop with age and are lower in people with heart disease. In fact, the more severe the heart disease, the lower CoQ levels are thought to be. Moreover, some commonly prescribed medications, such as lovastatin prescribed for high cholesterol, and beta-blockers, such as propranolol for high blood pressure and angina, can lower CoQ levels in the body as well.CoQ10 also helps preserve vitamin E, which is thought to prevent oxidation of cholesterol. People who take these medications should consult with a healthcare provider to see if CoQ supplementation is advisable.
Supplemental CoQ may help raise the body's reserves that have dropped due to age, illness, or medications. Although CoQ has been promoted as a wonder supplement for everything from increasing endurance to reversing aging, it holds the most promise for the heart. It appears to be especially helpful in treating heart-muscle disorders (cardiomyopathy) and congestive heart failure, disease in which the heart is unable to pump out enough blood. This results in blood collecting in the lungs and pooling in the legs and other body tissue. Studies indicate that CoQ may also lower high blood pressure, steady an erratic heartbeat, lessen attacks of angina, and reduce the formation of blood clots, a major cause of heart attacks and strokes. Some people with Raynaud's disease-reduced circulation to the hands and feet- report that CoQ lessens symptoms.
CoQ is also a powerful antioxidant and may help prevent free-radical damage to tissues throughout the body. There is also some evidence that it may slow the progression of such nerve disorders as Parkinson's disease. Several well-regarded studies indicate that adding CoQ supplements to the conventional regimen for treating cardiomyopathy andcongestive heart failure show more improvement than with medication alone. In a study involving more than 2,500 heart patients in Italy, 80 percent experienced reduced symptoms (shortness of breath, swelling of the legs and feet, difficulty sleeping) after three months of taking CoQ. It is also a standard treatment of congestive heart failure in Japan. In any event, CoQ should not be taken as a substitute for prescribed medication to treat heart failure or any other cardiovascular disease, and if you do take it as part of an overall treatment program, be sure to tell your doctor that you are using it.
Though claims abound concerning CoQ's ability to slow aging, reduce fatigue and improve the quality of life for AIDS patients, promote healing of periodontal disease, and even aid weight loss, more study is needed to document whether it really works in these disorders.
Vitamins That Make You Beautiful with Glowing Skin
If you want a complexion that is beautiful and glows, take your vitamins. Sometimes that means popping a vitamin pill, sometimes it means eating the right food, and sometimes it means buying the right creams. But the first step is to understand which vitamins work for which skin conditions.
If your skin has been feeling scaly and dry, then theres a possibility that you might be lacking in Vitamin A. Individuals who are suffering from acne are also encouraged to take plenty of Vitamin A or apply products that are derivatives of the vitamin. Since Vitamin A also helps the skin rebuild tissues, it is also an essential vitamin when it comes to healing scrapes, wounds or dealing with wrinkles.
Vitamin E is perhaps the most well-known vitamin that is essential for healthy skin. This is because Vitamin E is an effective antioxidant that helps fight free radicals in your body. Free radicals are caused by a number of factors such as smoking, pollution and sun exposure. Free radicals are one of the major causes of premature skin aging. As a result, Vitamin E can be an important anti-aging nutrient key to beautiful skin.
B Vitamins should also be added to your diet if you wish to achieve healthy skin. Vitamin B1, for instance, boosts circulation in the body and gives your skin a certain glow. If you're a woman taking birth control pills then you are at risk of Vitamin B1 deficiency. Egg yolks, nuts and raisins are great sources of Vitamin B1. Niacin of Vitamin B3 helps your skin receive plenty of oxygen, which prevents development of acne among other benefits. Niacin-rich foods include tomatoes, broccoli and carrots.
Vitamin C is also an effective antioxidant. This means that it can help you battle the signs of skin aging. Mop up the free radicals that trigger wrinkling, sagging, and other aging changes. Vitamin C also helps smooth and firm skin and fade brown spots.
Vitamin C stimulates the production of collagen in your skin. Collagen is the protein responsible for making your skin supple. So if you wish to retain beautiful, smooth and youthful skin then Vitamin C can help. Most fruits are good sources of Vitamin C.
A healthy diet can be a fountain of youth for our skin. Eat well and your skin will be moist, clear, and glowing. Eat poorly and it will be dry, pale, scaly, or oily. In addition to taking regular vitamins A,B,C, E every second or third day, use this as your grocery list for beautiful, glowing, youthful skin.
Orange Juice and Strawberries
All it takes is the vitamin C in one daily glass of O.J. or a bowl of strawberries to build collagen to give your skin strength and elasticity. Some people depending on genetics may require more.
Wheat Germ and Milk
Sprinkle wheat germ on your oatmeal or bake it in muffins to prevent your skin from becoming dry and flaky, as well as oily. Other foods that work well are whole grains and milk--all of which are packed with vitamin B.
Broccoli, Green Beans, Sweet Potatoes, and Carrots
Think green and orange! Veggies and fruits that are this color contain just what you need to prevent premature wrinkling or bumpy skin that looks and feels like sandpaper.
Spinach, Tomatoes, Cantaloupe, and Grapefruit
Reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles without expensive lotions and creams by eating foods such as these that are packed with antioxidant nutrients, including vitamins C and E and beta carotene.
Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate! Drink six to eight glasses of water every day to keep your skin moist and your oil glands functioning properly.
Vegetable Oils, Safflower Oil, Nuts, Avocados, and Seeds
Need to heal damaged skin? You need the linoleic acid found in these foods. So when you're cooking dinner, try to use one or more of these ingredients. Don't use too much! They're also high in fat and that raises your risk of skin cancer.
Whole Grain Breads, Cereals, Beans, and Peas
Avoid processed foods and eat nature's bounty to make your skin glow, look healthy, and keep that youthful appearance.
Sometimes food isn't enough to heal your skin, and you need special creams or lotions. Creams made with vitamin K can help erase the dark circles under your eyes, according to American Academy of Dermatology. Vitamin K can also be used in cream form to treat bruising on the face following dermatological procedures, such as laser treatment for spider veins. In addition, niacin (vitamin B3) is showing promise for use in over-the-counter anti-aging products.
The Body Builder :Coral Calcium and 73 Coral Minerals
Full Spectrum Source of Minerals :Coral Calcium contains every mineral, in similar proportion, found in the human body. This is vitally important because some trace minerals are entirely missing from our food and supplements, yet these minerals occur in the human body for a reason. The human body functions synergistically: the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. Every mineral has a crucial role to play in the human anatomy.
For every mineral there are several other minerals that must be present in the proper amount and in turn, those minerals must have other minerals present, or the mineral will not do the job required by the human body. Supplementing the diet with Coral Calcium may help keep all mineral levels up and each and every mineral in balance. Coral exists in a natural balance
Coral Calcium is specially formulated for optimal assimilation because minerals, especially calcium, can be very difficult to get into the blood stream. No matter how much calcium or minerals we take, they won't do any good if they don't get into the blood.The body absorbs coral calcium better than other calcium supplements in the market mostly due to the trace minerals also found in coral. The calcium content of coral calcium ranges from 24% to 38% and is composed primarily of calcium carbonate. Ninety-eight percent of people over age 60 are totally calcium-deficient meaning, they are not consuming enough calcium to sustain current bone density.
Coral minerals are naturally ionized (nature's smallest form, 1000 times smaller than colloidal) allowing for almost total bioavailability. Coral Calcium includes a blend of minerals, vitamin D (which must be present for absorption to occur), hydrochloric acid (HCL or stomach acid) for enhanced assimilation and malic acid (from apples) to prevent calcium from clumping, which can cause gas and constipation.
Coral reefs are endangered and disappearing fast. Coral Calcium protects reefs by only using fossilized coral from above sea level. Some companies harvest the live reef, others collect dead coral by dredging under and around the reef. Scientists warn that any tampering with the reef is damaging.
Fossilized stony coral minerals from Okinawa are uncontaminated and not harvested from polluted seawater. The coral is taken from the land where the ocean used to be, over 2000 years ago.
Zeus's Lightning Bolts vs. Diabetes
Diabetes is a chronic disease and is a leading cause of death by disease. There is no cure for diabetes, but there are options both with lifestyle changes and natural medicine that can help treat the symptoms.
There are two main types of diabetes. Type I or insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus (IDDM) occurs when the pancreas can no longer produce any insulin. It occurs most often in children and young adults. Type I diabetes affects about 10% of diabetes suffers with the other 90% having Type II or non-insulin dependent diabetes (NIDDM). Type II diabetes occurs when the pancreas does not produce enough insulin or when the body does not effectively use the insulin. Obesity and sedentary lifestyles are the main causes of insulin resistance. However, non-obese people may develop Type II diabetes, proving that obesity is not the sole cause.
Changes in lifestyle including diet are key for preventing Type II diabetes. Tight blood sugar control is essential, which is done through diet and exercise. Consuming a balanced diet of carbohydrate, protein and good fat can stimulate weight loss, and keep blood sugar within a healthy range. Exercise is also beneficial, helping to lower blood sugar levels and making insulin work better, and exercise aids in weight loss at the same time, improving overall health. Weight loss often results in major improvements in blood sugar control in patients with Type II diabetes.
People with diabetes are at risk for developing complications; therefore it is very important to monitor blood glucose levels, keep within a healthy body weight, and consume a healthy diet to help prevent or delay the onset of complications. However, approximately 40% of diabetics will develop complications due to the disease. There are three main categories of possible complications:
Microvascular complications-small blood vessel damage. These include impairment of loss of vision due to damaged blood vessels in the eyes; nephropathy, disease to the kidney due to blood vessel damage; and neuropathy, nerve damage. Macrovascular complications-large blood vessel damage. This includes cardiac problems and hypertension. Other complications-including infections of mouth, gums, and urinary tract; impotence; and pregnancy complications.
All complications of diabetes are serious; however, neuropathy nerve damage caused by a prolonged imbalance in blood glucose levels affects 40-50% of people with diabetes. Symptoms of neuropathy include numbness and sometimes pain in the hands, feet, or legs. This affects internal organs such as the digestive tract, heart, and sexual organs leading to symptoms such as diarrhea, constipation, indigestion, dizziness, and bladder infections. Neuropathy can also lead to impotence, which afflicts approximately 9% of all diabetic men. In severe forms, neuropathy can lead to lower limb amputations, and is the leading cause of all non-accident related amputations. Lower extremity amputation is eleven times more frequent for people with diabetes than people without diabetes.
No pharmaceutical treatment exists for diabetic neuropathy. While diet and exercise are important for diabetes, physicians recommend close monitoring of blood sugar levels as the best way to prevent complications. In theory, close blood sugar monitoring is the best way to prevent the onset of neuropathy, but in practice it is very difficult for diabetics to achieve.
There is hope for improving the symptoms of neuropathy. Certain natural products have been proven successful in moderating the effects of diabetes and neuropathy. Essential fatty acids, or good fats such as gamma-linolenic acid (GLA), are an important factor contributing to prevention and improvement of neuropathy. Antioxidants such as alpha-lipoic acid have proven synergistic effects with GLA in the treatment of neuropathy. Other supplements like agaricus mushroom, beta-carotene, chromium, flaxseed, ginseng, and glucomannan have shown success in helping in the control of diabetes improving quality of life.
In the last 20 years, research with both animals and humans has demonstrated the value of GLA. GLA is a naturally occurring fatty acid found in borage, evening primrose oil, and black currant oil. A healthy body can convert linolenic acid (LA) found in many processed foods, margarines, and vegetable oils to GLA. The body can then use GLA for building nerve structure. The metabolites of GLA are required for healthy nerve function; however with diabetes, the initial conversion of dietary LA to GLA is often impaired. The result is a lower level of GLA and its metabolites in the tissues. The key to improving diabetes and neuropathy is to restore GLA to normal levels through dietary supplementation.
Now laboratory research indicates that recovery pf patients may be even more complete when GLA is used in conjunction with anti-oxidants. Alpha-lipoic acid is a powerful anti-oxidant found in foods such as potatoes, red meat, and spinach. It plays an important role in the body's ability to bourn blood sugar, thus helping to sustain normal blood sugar levels. An animal study combining GLA with alpha-lipoic acid showed great improvements in motor skills and blood flow deficits associated with neuropathy.
To get the GLA you need, the best source is borage oil containing up to 24% GLA. Evening primrose oil (8-10% GLA ) and black currant oil (15-17%) are other sources, but because of the higher concentration of GLA in borage oil, a patient will have to consume fewer capsules.
By making modifications to diet and lifestyle, and by incorporating good fat such as GLA and anti-oxidants such as alpha-lipoic acid, preventing diabetes and its complications of neuropathy, cardiac problems, and hypertension is possible.
Nutrients to support the Immune System
Do you get one or two colds a year, have cold sores breaking out, feel tired all the time or have sore itchy joints? These are only a few of the symptoms seen in people with immune system problems. Your immune system is the body's internal army. It fights bacteria, parasites and viruses and regulates many other systems in the body. When it is not operating at peak performance you get sick. Stress, inadequate nutrition, not enough sleep and environmental toxins cause our immune system to fail us. A good diet and certain nutritional supplements can quickly fix a poor functioning immune system.
The following are key nutrients that are important for immunity and health:
Vitamin A deficiency will make you prone to infections, allowing viruses to flourish and cause colds and the flu. Wounds and stomach ulcer will not heal quickly.Not only does Vitamin A strengthen "entry points" into the human body, such as mucous membranes, the lining of the eyes, respiratory, urinary and intestinal tracts, it is also essential for the lymphocytes, or white blood cells, that fight infection once in the body.
Vitamin C has important antiviral, antibacterial and anticancer properties. Only nine percent of North Americans get adequate vitamin C in their diet everyday.Not only is vitamin C a well-known component of your immune system, it is also necessary for collagen, the main structural protein found in connective tissue. A healthy dose of vitamin C will protect your body from infection and maintain healthy bones and teeth, as well as quicken the body's ability to repair wounds.
Vitamin E, along with vitamin C and selenium, increased our resistance to infections and protects us against the damaging effects of stress. It also reduces inflation in joints and muscles.Vitamin E has an oxygen-sparing effect on heart muscle, strengthens and regulates the heartbeat and has the ability to destroy and prevent blood clots. Evan and Wilfred Shute found that vitamin E drastically limits the amount of scar tissue that develops during the healing process and improves the integrity of the endothelium cells in the walls of veins and arteries. Shute also used it successfully to treat the symptoms of angina, thrombosis, atherosclerosis, phlebitis and claudication (limping).
Vitamin B6 with B complex is essential for maintaining optimal hormone levels and a healthy nervous system. Without vitamin B6 the immune system is like an army without weapons, waiting for attacker to descend. Vitamin B6 plays an important role in refurbishing the immune system of human body to the required level. This helps human body to withstand a number of infections, which easily victimize body in the absence of this important vitamin.
Magnesium is required for over 300 enzymatic reaction in the body and it effectively reduces pain and swelling for those with fibromyalgia and osteoarthritis. Magnesium has been shown to benefit your blood pressure and help prevent sudden cardiac arrest, heart attack, and stroke.Magnesium also plays a role in your body's detoxification processes and therefore is important for helping to prevent damage from environmental chemicals, heavy metals and other toxins. Even glutathione, your body's most powerful antioxidant that has even been called "the master antioxidant," requires magnesium for its synthesis.
Zinc truly is the most important immune mineral with powerful antibacterial and antiviral action. Zinc increases the size of the thymus gland, the conductor of the immune orchestra. Without a healthy thymus the immune system is powerless.
Selenium deficiency may be one of the causes of cancer. It was found that women who lived in areas where soil selenium levels were poor had higher rates of breast cancer per capita. Selenium is also needed to fight off bacteria and viruses.
Coenzyme Q10 has been found to halt tumors, and has antibacterial and antiviral properties. By the time we are 50 years old, our coenzyme Q10 levels are half what they were in our twenties. Q10 is also essential to a healthy heart.
Reduced L-Glutathione, a potent antioxidant is the regenerator of immune cells and the most valuable detoxifying agent. Low levels are associated with early death and viral infections. Optimal levels control insulin, halt inflammatory process, detoxify alcohol, eliminate carcinogens, and keep cholesterol from oxidizing.
Alpha Lipoc Acid, another potent antioxidant, is a more effective detoxifier that vitamin C or vitamin E. It is well researched for the treatment of diabetes as it improves insulin sensitivity. Lipoic Acid also inhibits the ability of viruses to replicate.Not only is alpha lipoic acid able to neutralize free radicals, it is also able to recycle or regenerate several other important antioxidants, including vitamin C and glutathione. When an antioxidant scavenges a free radical, it becomes oxidized in the process and is not able to scavenge additional free radicals until is has been reduced. The reduced form of alpha lipoic acid, dihydro-lipoic acid, is able to reduce the oxidized antioxidants, enabling them to be useful again.
Urinary Tract Infections and the Power of Cranberry
We have all been down this road before, and the symptoms are hard to mistake: a burning sensation when you urinate, frequent urination in small amounts, and lower abdominal and back pain. You have a urinary tract infection, and the discomfort is agonizing. By some estimates, as many as 50 million cases of urinary tract infections are treated annually. Health-care providers have relied primarily upon antibiotics to treat urinary tract infections. However, increasing concern about bacterial resistance to antibiotics and rising interest in alternative medicine has prompted doctors and researchers to seek new treatments.
Recent studies suggest that cranberry long reputed to have antibacterial properties, may have the potential to prevent or heal these painful infections. German researchers in the 1840s were examining the connection between European cranberry species and urinary tract infections. They found that the urine of people who ate cranberries contained a chemical called hippuric acid. Today, researchers are again addressing the relationship between cranberries and a healthy urinary tract. This time they are focusing on cranberry's potential to keep bacteria from attaching to urinary tract walls.
Tamms-Horsfall glycoprotein, a natural substance present in the urine of some individuals, has the ability to attach itself to the bacteria and inhibit them from attaching to the bladder wall. Individuals with enough Tamms-Horsfall glycoprotein are unlikely to get a urinary tract infection. However, those who lack or have low levels of this natural substance are more susceptible. In 1994, researchers at Weber State University in Utah discovered that cranberry contains a substance similar in activity to the Tamms-Horsfall glycoprotein. Much like natural glycoprotein, the substance can inhibit the attachment of bacteria to the bladder wall. In tests where cranberry was added to a petri dish along with bacteria and bladder cells, the addition of the cranberry substance kept the bacteria from attaching to bladder cells.
Our bodies do have natural barriers against urinary tract infections. In men,the urethra is up to 10 inches long with natural bends, both of which make it difficult for bacteria to reach the bladder. In females, the perineum helps prevent bacteria from entering the urethra. Females are at a disadvantage, however, because the perineum can be damaged or irritated by tight clothing, intercourse, poor hygiene, or bubble baths, and thus allow bacteria to make their way to the bladder. In addition, the female urethra is only 2 inches long and straight, making it easy for bacteria to reach the bladder. Females also are more likely than males to get a second urinary tract infection, and within as little as two weeks of the first flare-up.
Cranberry also may be effective for patients who have difficult emptying their bladder, such as men with enlarged prostates or patients with neurologic abnormalities including stroke or spina bifida. When urine remains in the bladder, bacteria have a greater chance of attaching to the bladder lining.
If you enjoy the flavor of cranberry juice, one way to obtain its benefits is to drink two to three glasses a day. Most cranberry juice or cocktails contain between 10 and 20 percent cranberry. Although the benefits of drinking cranberry juice outweigh the negative effects of the sugar it contains, for people who are concerned about sugar, such as diabetics, sugar-free juice is available. If you don't find the cranberry flavor appealing or you require a higher cranberry concentration, many health-food stores carry concentrated cranberry capsules.
If You Want Healthier Hair....
Healthy hair requires a healthy diet. Hair typically grows a half-inch each month. Restrict your calories too much, and your hair growth will slow. It could even fall out. Hair needs a nutrient-rich supply of blood to the follicles to grow and be its healthy best. Here's a quick test from InStyle magazine to tell if your hair is healthy: Stretch a strand of hair by the root when it's wet. Tug gently. If it stretches about 30 percent of its length before it breaks, it's healthy. If it snaps instantly, it's damaged.
Eating a healthy, well-balanced diet with the following nutrients is one of the best things you can do for your hair:
Omega-3 fatty acids:Salmon, mackerel, halibut, sardines, herring, flaxseeds, flaxseed oil, canola oil, soybeans, soybean oil, pumpkin seeds, pumpkin seed oil, walnuts, and walnut oil.
Zinc:Oysters, cereal, Alaskan King crab, the dark meat of turkey, cashews, sunflower seeds, spinach, kidney beans, and tofu.
Vitamin B-6:Bananas, salmon, light meat of chicken, sweet potato with the skin, cod, watermelon, and spinach.
Vitamin B-12:Cereal, top round steak, canned tuna packed in water, flounder, turkey breast, fruit-flavored yogurt, skim milk, and mozzarella cheese.
Selenium:Baked potatoes with the skin, roasted pork loin, eggs, top sirloin, turkey breast, wheat germ, whole wheat bread, and cashews.
Other healthy hair diet tips:
- Drink lots of water (8 to 10 glasses a day) to hydrate your body and keep your hair silky and shiny.
- Eat lots of fruits and veggies and stay away from processed foods.
- Take a multivitamin daily.
Zinc - The Thymus Booster
The thymus gland is like a commander of a very large army. Without a healthy thymus, the immune system just cant accomplish its job. Not enough T cells will mature to go out and fight the invaders. Zinc is the most mineral to the thymus gland. So important, in fact that even if you have a small or poorly functioning thymus, zinc supplements can reverse dysfunction and rejuvenate this gland. A deficiency can result in poor growth as seen in children, small testes, anorexia, slow would healing, delayed puberty and skin problems.
Zinc deficiency causes a reduction in T cells, natural killer cells and thymic hormone. Supplementation with zinc increased the ability of immune cells to digest and eliminate bacteria.
Zinc is especially important for men. The prostate gland is very rich in zinc and every time a man ejaculates he loses zinc. Fifteen milligrams of zinc per day for every sexual active man could prevent prostate problems later in life.
Women who experience hair loss around menopause should also add zinc to supplement program. Often it only takes a few weeks to notice that your hair has stopped falling out and over time the hair will become thicker.
Causes of Zinc Deficiency
- Vegetarian diets (phytates in plant foods inhibits zinc)
- Low red meat consumption
- Little or no seafood consumption
- Dieting, especially high carbohydrate diets
- Copper toxicity
- Low stomach acid
- Digestive disorders
- Aging, especially if you are over 45
Sign of Zinc Deficiency
- White spots on your fingernails
- Lack of appetite
- Hair loss
- Poor wounds healing
- Skin breakouts.
One of the leading causes of death in North America is cardiovascular disease. Its treatment represents a major cost to our health care system.
Cardiovascular disease is caused by a narrowing of the arteries to vital body organs. When this narrowing occurs in the coronary arteries - the ones that supply the heart - it is called Coronary Heart Disease (CHD). Narrowing is due to atherosclerosis, which is caused when fibrous tissue and lipids (fats), particularly cholesterol, build up on artery walls. Blood clotting occurs more readily on these surfaces. When only narrowing exists, chest pain (angina) may occur with exertion - a possible warning sign of heart attack. When a blood clot forms in the narrowed coronary arteries, a blockage can occur and a heart attack is possible.
What encourages these cholesterol laden deposits to form on artery walls? Many experts believe that once an artery is injured, the repair process that follows leads to the formation of atheroschlerotic lesions. The rate at which atherosclerosis develops is also determined, in part, by the level of lipids in the blood and their interplay with other risk factors for CHD.
One of the most important factors affecting the development of atheroschlerosis is cholesterol concentration in the blood. Various studies show an increased risk of CHD with elevated levels of blood cholesterol. The risk diminishes as blood cholesterol levels decrease.
What is Cholesterol?
Cholesterol is a necessary component of human cells. It is a waxy fat-like substance found in all animal derived foods, particularly eggs, organ meats, meat, fish and dairy products. The human liver is capable of making cholesterol from excess calories, especially from dietary fat. Dietary fat, particularly saturated fat, is the source of elevated levels of blood cholesterol for most people. Food derived from plants is free of cholesterol, and most plants are low in saturated fats although there are a few exceptions like avocados, macadamia nuts, cashew nuts, palm and coconut oils. Animal fats are largely saturated and are solid at room temperature. On the other hand, unsaturated fats like canola, corn, olive and safflower oils, are liquid at room temperature.
Most saturated fats, regardless of their source increase blood cholesterol. Cholesterol in the blood is surrounded by a protein cover called lipoprotein. Blood cholesterol has three components:
- LDL Low-Density Lipoprotein
- HDL High-Density Lipoprotein
- VLDL Very Low-Density Lipoprotein
Most cholesterol circulates in the blood as LDL, also known as the 'bad cholesterol'. LDL cholesterol promotes atherosclerosis by transporting cholesterol into the artery wall while HDL (the 'good cholesterol'), is thought to transport cholesterol out of the artery wall. Therefore, high LDL cholesterol and low HDL cholesterol are risk factors for Coronary Heart Disease. Other lipid particles are also factors in the development of atherosclerosis.
Risk Factors that contribute to atherosclerosis include:
- High blood cholesterol
- Hypertension (high blood pressure)
- Cigarette smoking
- Sedentary lifestyle
- Family history of Coronary Heart Disease
It is important to remember that elevated blood cholesterol levels must be accompanied by two or more additional risk factors to be considered at high risk for cardiovascular disease. Although some people have high blood cholesterol due to their genetics, most high levels can be traced to diet and lifestyle.
Changes in lifestyle can make a difference in blood cholesterol levels. The challenge is how best to introduce ourselves to a healthier way of living to bring out this change. Lifestyle patterns and living habits develop over many years; therefore, meaningful change will likely take some time to occur.
General Principles That Can Be Applied to the Process of Change
- Set specific goals; make a contract with yourself and a friend or your doctor
- Establish a lifestyle pattern first, then build change within the pattern
- Monitor the rate of change - all or nothing seldom works
- Lifestyle is a choice - changes to lifestyle are made by choice
- The new lifestyle should feel as routine as gettng dressed in the morning
- Once the process of change has started, gradually fine tune your goals
- Prioritize the risk factors mentioned earlier and develop your own strategy for change
Diet & Exercise
Examine the fat content in your diet closely. Of all the components needing change in diet, the most important is the fat content - all fat. It is essential to reduce the intake of fat from all sources. No more than 30% of our energy intake should come from fat. Keep in mind that 1 gram of fat contains more than twice the calories of 1 gram of carbohydrate or protein. Dieticians and other health care practitioners can help you create a well balanced diet.
Moving to low fat foods can be achieved over time. The choices you make when purchasing dairy products, for example, are a good beginning. Low fat products such as skim or 1% milk, skim milk-based products such as cheese and low fat yogurt are good choices. A graded approach to lowering your fat intake may work best: if you are drinking homogenized milk now, switch to 2% milk for a while, then to 1% and finally to skim milk.
We are creatures of habit and most of us tend to reuse our meal recipes. Examine your recipes closely to determine their fat conent. Often only slight changes are required to significantly reduce the fat content in these recipes. There are also many great low fat cookbooks that can help make your diet changes easier and more enjoyable.
Another way to lower your dietary fat intake is to look for the hidden fats in baked goods, ice cream, and processed foods and meats, and make tradeoffs between food items. For example, a switch from whole milk to skim milk (250ml serving) will drop 60 calories or 7.7 grams of fat from your diet. Replace 20 french fries with one baked potato and a teaspoonsful of margarine, and you'll reduce your fat intake by 44 calories or 5.7 grams. Regular Italian salad dressing (15ml) traded-off for a low-cal variety can drop the fat content by 7.7 grams or 70 calories.
Exercise is also a vital component to lowering blood cholesterol. Developing an exercise program that becomes a regular part of your lifestyle is essential to maintaining good blood cholesterol levels. A walking regime is an easy way to start and, of course, the price is right!
The blood cholesterol response to lifestyle, dietary, and exercise changes is variable and highly individualized, but is usually noticeable in a few weeks. Once you've set your goals, it's important to get support (and even participation!) from your family, so the gradual dietary change will become long lasting. Occasionally, even with the best of intentions, many people fail to bring real change over the long term. It is important to remember that real change occurs slowly, and is often accompanied by setbacks along the way. Don't become discouraged. Stay motivated and don't lose sight of your goals. Your good health is worth the effort.
High Blood Pressure
High blood pressure, also known as hypertension, is not a disease, but is a risk factor for cardiovascular disease. Other risk factors for cardiovascular disease include diabetes, high cholesterol levels, obesity, smoking, family history of heart disease, age, and being male. Some of these risk factors cannot be changed; therefore it is important to modify the factors you can change in order to reduce the risk of strokes and heart attacks.
Blood pressure readings consist of two numbers: systolic and diastolic. Systolic, the higher number, is the pressure against the walls of the arteries when the heart contracts and pumps blood through the body. Diastolic pressure, the lower number, is the pressure between pumps when the heart is resting. The America Heart Association defines mild-high blood pressure as greater than 140/90mmHg (millimeters of mercury), moderate-high blood pressure as greater than 160/100mmHg, and very severe as greater than 210/120mmHg. Your blood pressure varies throughout the day. For instance, it becomes elevated when you exercise, which is normal. It is only when your blood pressure is consistently elevated that there is cause for concern.
In 90% of cases, the cause of high blood pressure is unknown. This is called essential hypertension. Some factors associated with high blood pressure include genetics, age, stress, obesity, smoking, high salt diet, excessive alcohol intake and a sedentary lifestyle.
High blood pressure usually develops slowly over many years with no noticeable symptoms. It is sometimes referred to as the 'silent killer' because of its insidious onset. The symptoms below may be caused by high blood pressure but may also have other causes. See your doctor if you experience any of the following:
- dizzy spells
- chest pain
- unexplained vision changes
- frequent headaches
- ankle swelling
Your blood pressure has to be very high before symptoms such as dizziness, headaches or racing heartbeat appear. It is very important to check your blood pressure regularly to help prevent these symptoms from occuring.
Why Is It Harmful?
High blood pressure increases the risk of serious health problems, particularly strokes and heart attacks. Long term high blood pressure can result in the bursting of a blood vessel, which occurs most often in the brain where small arteries can develop weak spots. The weak spot - known as an aneurysm - can burst, cause bleeding into the brain tissue, and cause a stroke.
High blood pressure can damage the delicate lining of the arteries and make it easier for cholesterol to deposit and form plaques. These plaques can break off and block the blood flow, which can cause a heart attack. High blood pressure also makes the heart work harder, which makes its walls thicker and the blood vessels that supply the heart cannot keep up. This results in chest pain from coronary artery disease.
Over the long term, high blood pressure can damage the kidneys in two ways: by damaging the small vessels in the kidney and by damaging the glomerulus's (the filter mechanism). The small blood vessels in the eye can also be affected by high blood pressure, leading to loss of vision.
Controlling High Blood Pressure
High blood pressure can be controlled through lifestyle modification and with medication. If your doctor has prescribed medication for your high blood pressure, it is very important to follow the instructions exactly, even if you feel you don't have symptoms.
Try the following tips for controlling your blood pressure:
- maintain a healthy weight
- avoid excess salt
- exercise at least three times per week
- practice stress management techniques
- be moderate with alcohol intake
- eat more fresh fruits and vegetables (follow the Canada Food Guide)
- abstain from smoking
- have your blood pressure checked regularly
Some Facts About Blood Pressure
Regular exercise (30 minutes, 3 times per week) can lower blood pressure by about 5mmHg.
Smoking one cigarette increases blood pressure by 5-10mmHg for 30 minutes; a pack a day smoker will increases their average daily blood pressure by 5mmHg.
Excessive salt intake can aggravate high blood pressure by causing water retention, which makes your heart work harder than it should. The recommended salt intake is 2400mg per day; but beware: many packaged foods have high salt content and the average person unknowingly consumes 4000-6000mg daily.