300813 Diet, obesity and your heart health

Diet, obesity and your heart health

What you eat has a definite role in how healthy your heart is. Too much salt is a major dietary failure in our society.

One habit that can help to reduce your risk of hypertension and stroke is to cut back on your sodium intake (this means you, Dad and Joyce). The recommended daily limit is 1500 milligrams for anyone over 50, all Blacks and anyone with hypertension, diabetes, or kidney disease, which in our country is almost everyone with one of these diseases. Fifteen hundred mg is about two thirds of a teaspoon of salt. If you don’t have one of the aforementioned diseases then aim for less than 2300 mg per day.

This should not be a hard task to accomplish but in order to do so you do have to cut back on processed foods, restaurant meals, and especially fast food meals. The more salt you use on your food, the faster your body becomes accustomed to it and the more you need to satisfy that salt craving. Simply keeping track of your cholesterol blood sugar and diet is not the total picture of maintaining your heart health. Exercise and weight control also have a role.

Aerobic exercise, 30 to 40 minutes a day, helps reduce the risk of developing a cardiovascular disease. It is a proven fact that physical fitness will reduce your risks. Even though most everybody knows this, almost half of American women are not doing any exercise at all. This sad state of affairs could change by simply starting to walk a few minutes each day.

Taking your child or your dog out for a walk will help not only you but also your child and dog. Probably the most important thing about exercising is it shows your child that you care about yourself and you are demonstrating healthy choices by modeling healthy behavior for them. In addition, it helps to control your weight.

Being obese with a BMI greater than or equal to 30 places you at a greater risk for cardiovascular disease, hypertension, and diabetes. If over the years you found that you have been gaining weight, now is the time to start cutting back on your calories and adding some exercise to your daily health plan.

Current research has found that being overweight but not obese, does not seem to raise your risk of dying from cardiovascular disease. This is particularly true if you are over 70 years of age. However, the same research is finding that if you are overweight it increases your chances of becoming obese. While it is true that exercise can help with your weight loss plan, it still may take more than 30 minutes a day of moderate exercise to achieve your goals.

210813 Healthy steps to protect a woman’s heart

Healthy steps to protect a woman’s heart

Cardiovascular disease is not specific to just older men and women; it strikes women as young as or younger than fifty-four. Even though the gap between men and women still favors the men having a heart attack, women are starting to catch up.

Whereas heart attacks in men under fifty-four have continued to decrease, women’s have been gradually rising. This is more than likely due to the rising diabetes and obesity rate in women.

There is a light at the end of this morbid tunnel since there are steps that you can take to lessen your risk of having a heart attack.

Smoking kills. So, if you smoke, stop it.

Every smoker knows stopping is easier said than done. Therefore, if you have smoked a long time, it is in your best interest to seek medical assistance to stop. Smoking destroys your heart, lungs, and virtually all of your internal organs, not to mention those who are near you.

There is not one piece of smoking that is good for you. Every cigarette you smoke is harmful. There are no safe smokes.

About two thirds of all heart attacks are due to smoking! And, the risk you take rises every single time you have a smoke.

It may take several years for the effects of smoking to dissipate but as soon as you stop, your body begins the healing process of reducing the harmful effects to your cardiovascular system. Because smoking is so hard on your body, it is essential that you keep track of your blood pressure and keep it under control.

Before going further let’s start with a review of what these two numbers mean.

The top number, systolic, is the high point where your heart contracts and diastolic, the bottom number is the pressure in your arteries between heartbeats while it is at rest.

The numbers that follow represent different categories of risk. The higher your numbers are the more risk you have for a life altering cardiovascular event such as a stroke, aneurysm, heart attack….

  • Normal blood pressure is a systolic reading of less than 120 with a diastolic reading less than 80. This reading is normally indicated 120/80.
  • Pre-hypertension systolic numbers are 122-139 and diastolic of 80 to 89.
  • Stage I hypertension is 140 to 159 for the systolic and 90-99 for the diastolic reading.
  • Stage II, the most serious hypertension, has systolic readings of 160 or higher with diastolic readings of a 100 and above.

More black women have hypertension than white women and they begin developing it almost ten years earlier.

Blood pressure changes, even small ones up or down, will have a direct effect on your risk for a cardiovascular problem. Minor or major changes in your diet, depending on what your diet currently is can help you prevent pre-hypertension from morphing into stage I or stage II hypertension. Losing as little as 10% of your current body weight, if you are overweight, will often times improve these readings dramatically.

010713 Physical activity guidelines and the benefits of walking

Physical activity guidelines and the benefits of walking

The Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) recommends at least two and a half hours of strength training per week working muscle groups such as the shoulders, chest, upper back, lower back, legs, and abdominal muscles. And two and a half hours of moderate aerobic activity spread throughout the week. Exercise time is decreased if the intensity is higher. In this case, DHHS recommends one hour and fifteen minutes of vigorous aerobic activity, again spread throughout the week.

You will note there are no weekend warrior (meaning someone who tries to get all of their exercise time in on one day) recommendations here. Those who try to cram it all in on one-day or over two days frequently end up injured.

If you are not able to set aside 30 minutes each day, then do your exercises in 10-minute bursts over the course of the day.

Participating in a daily regimen of physical activity not only enhances your heart, lungs, and circulatory systems it also eases the pain of arthritis.

This may sound counterintuitive to the arthritis sufferer but the physical act of moving the joints keeps the synovial fluid, the transparent, viscid fluid secreted by the synovial membrane and found in joint cavities, bursae, and tendon sheaths, of the joints equally spread throughout them.

Walking can help you attain and maintain a healthy weight, which is important because numerous studies have found a link between obesity and cancer of the colon, esophagus, kidneys, the breast in postmenopausal women, and the uterus.

Physical activity can also reduce your risk of coronary artery disease, improve the efficiency of your cardiovascular system and boost the high-density lipoproteins (HDL) cholesterol and can even help manage or prevent high blood pressure. As a side note, losing excess fat weight also has the tendency to lower your blood pressure numbers and make you feel better about yourself.

Fighting depression can be a lifelong task but scientists find that physical activity can be a useful addition to pharmacology and therapy for treating depression. If you are depressed, see someone and get help. Physical activity helps ease the stress of the day, helps cut back on anxiety, helps you sleep better, and boosts your spirits for facing the day.

Walking, as well as other physical activity can help prevent the risk of type II diabetes. Additionally physical activity may also make it possible to decrease the amount of insulin or other types of medications you may be taking to control your diabetes. It goes without saying, but I am going to say it anyway, see your Doctor before altering your medication.

Osteoporosis is a scary term for those with the diagnosis. Walking puts a load on the bones, which in turn causes them to become stronger, which in the long-term may well prevent fractures. Physical activity combined with a diet rich in calcium and vitamin D may help prevent or slow the progression of osteoporosis.


There are many good reasons to exercise and probably 100 times that many excuses for not exercising. The decision is up to you as to whether not you take advantage of the opportunities to exercise and thereby improve your health or simply sit around and complain about it.

170413 Lower your blood pressure

Lower your blood pressure

High blood pressure is often referred to as the silent killer because its effects are rarely felt until the disease has progressed to a dangerous level.

Here is a list of four things that you can do to potentially lower your blood pressure.

If you weigh too much, lose weight.

Look at yourself in the mirror. Can you see the fat hanging off your stomach and sides? Can you pinch more of an inch on your sides? If so, you need to lose weight. Can you see your toes? If not, you need to lose weight. Is your body mass index in the obese range? If so, lose weight.

With a 10% reduction in your weight, you may notice reductions in your blood pressure numbers.

Start becoming more physically active.

If your prime source of entertainment is watching TV, working on the computer, or socializing at the local tavern then it is time to get off your butt and get moving. Being physically active goes hand-in-hand with losing weight and they each complement one another.

Reduce eating foods that are high in salt and sodium.

Began with an inventory of the foods in your house. Look at the labels. Are they high in sodium? Do you have stacks of potato chips in the cupboards? Is there bacon and sausage in your refrigerator?

You can reduce the salt you eat by cooking your own food and not adding salt when you eat at the table. Canned vegetables, according to their labels, contain an overly high amount of sodium. You can eliminate much of this by rinsing the vegetables before you cook them. This removes much of the salty juices that contribute to the high salt content of the food.

Cut back on the alcohol you drink.

Alcohol lowers your inhibitions and generally, when you are drinking, you are with friends socializing and eating crap food. More than likely the food you eat during these times contains a lot of fat and salt.

If you already have high blood pressure and are taking medications, do not stop these medications until you talk with your doctor.

311212 The metabolic syndrome and what it means to your health

The metabolic syndrome and what it means to your health

The metabolic syndrome is the name given by the medical profession to a group of health risks having a strong potential to increase the risk of diabetes and heart disease. These unhealthy conditions are for the most part avoidable simply by eating less and getting more exercise.

The five components of the syndrome are:

  • A waist that is larger than 35 inches in women and 40 inches in men. Some men may be at risk even if their waist is greater than 37-39 inches.
  • Low cholesterol readings of the good HDL. Women should have numbers under 50 and men should have their numbers under 40.

Higher than normal, but not necessarily high numbers in the following categories:

  • Systolic blood pressure of 130 or higher and a diastolic reading of 85 or higher.
  • Fasting blood sugar count of 110 or higher
  • Tested triglycerides of 150 or above after fasting.

According to the doctors, a person with three or more of these five categories raises their risk of becoming diabetic and developing heart disease.

The research specialists believe the root cause of this syndrome is an inefficient insulin response.

The metabolic syndrome is the consequence of our body being ineffective in processing fats and sugars. The research shows that belly fat creates increased inflammation and a greater risk of heart disease in those with big bellies. These fat cells also release a product that can drive up blood pressure by reducing the blood vessels ability to relax between strokes. Additional problems with belly fat cells occur because they generate proteins that increase the process of insulin resistance.

In case you are wondering what the term insulin resistance means here is a brief explanation.

The hormone insulin makes it possible to remove glucose, also known as blood sugar, from the blood stream and put into the muscle tissues. The muscle uses this as energy for movement. If too much glucose is in the blood stream it is stored as fat. Therefore, the term insulin resistance means the body is having a hard time delivering the glucose to the muscle tissues (insulin resistance) so the amount of blood sugar rises in the blood stream.

The cause is the waist is too big! Our bellies are too fat, too large, too much over the belt, hanging out too far, you can call it whatever you want to, but the fact remains we are a nation of too much fat. And it is all in the wrong place.

This problem exists because we eat too much and we don’t exercise enough

Over the past two and a half months, I have been steadily losing weight, from 221 to 205, due in part to paying careful attention to when I my appetite is satisfied.

No longer am I following the vortex eating style of my youth. I still eat fast but not as long as I used to do. Now it is more controlled, at least enough to where my wife isn’t eating alone for ten minutes while I sit there waiting for her to finish.

The time I spend exercising has not changed. The diet has. It is a truism you cannot exercise your way to lower muscle mass if you eat everything in sight. This weight loss has lowered my blood pressure systolic numbers by 25-30 points and diastolic by 20. Those doctors and scientists are right when they talk about the link between weight and blood pressure.

The literature is in unison when it discusses the connection between weight loss and blood pressure numbers. I found that when my weight dropped below 208 my blood pressure dramatically dropped into below normal ranges. I want to see what they are at 200-205.

Will there be another drop?