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Heart Health: The Importance of Clean Arteries

Keeping your heart healthy is vital for overall health. One way to ensure heart health is to keep blockages away. Cleaning your arteries will help prevent blockages, which can result in atherosclerosis, diabetes, high blood pressure, and stroke.

heart health

Heart disease produces cholesterol plaque which begins on the walls of the arteries. Over time, these plaques grow and slowly block the flow of blood in the arteries. Even worse, they can suddenly rupture, which in turn causes a blood clot to form over the rupture. This clot can cause a stroke, heart attack or other health condition.

Why You need to Clean Your Arteries

Blocked arteries that are caused by the buildup of plaque and blood clots are the primary cause of death in the US. You can prevent the formation of cholesterol plaque by reducing cholesterol and other risk factors. It may even help in reversing plaque buildup.

A process known as atherosclerosis forms cholesterol plaque which hardens the arteries due to inflammation. Painless and progressive, this process slowly and silently grows plaque, resulting in blocked arteries, which then puts blood flow at risk.

The cholesterol plaque formed through atherosclerosis is the common cause of strokes, heart attacks, and peripheral arterial disease, which are conditions that make up cardiovascular disease. The three main kinds of cardiovascular disease caused by cholesterol plaques are:

  • Coronary artery disease: When the cholesterol plaque in the arteries is stable, there may be either no symptoms or there may be chest pain which is known as angina. When the plaque suddenly ruptures and blood clots form, it can result in blocked arteries and when this happens, the muscles in the heart die. This is known as a heart attack, or myocardial infarction.
  • Cerebrovascular disease: Cholesterol plaque can rupture in one of the arteries in the brain. A stroke can occur, which in turn can lead to permanent brain damage. Blockages can also result in transient ischemic attacks or TIAs. They have symptoms that are similar to those of a stroke. However, they are temporary and do not cause permanent brain damage. However, if you experience a TIA, your risk of a subsequent stroke increases significantly, making medical attention and care highly important.
  • Peripheral arterial disease: When the arteries in the leg get blocked, walking can be painful and wound healing becomes poor due to poor blood circulation. Severe peripheral arterial disease may make amputations necessary.

Foods to Clean the Arteries

If you are striving to maintain or restore your health, you should keep in mind that there are many foods that can help in unclogging arteries, reduce inflammation, and lower high blood pressure, including:

Asparagus: This is one of the best vegetables to help clean arteries. Asparagus is rich in minerals, fiber and vitamins K, B1, B2, C, and E, among many others. It helps lower blood pressure and also prevents blood clots.

  • Broccoli: This is another vegetable packed with Vitamin K, which is known for preventing hardening of the arteries, or calcification. Loaded with antioxidants, fiber and vitamins, broccoli can help prevent LDL cholesterol oxidization, regulate blood pressure and reduce stress that may result in tears, and consequently plaque buildup, in the walls of the arteries.
  • Chia seeds: The alpha linolenic acid and fiber in these seeds can help clean arteries by normalizing blood pressure, lowering triglycerides, reducing LDL cholesterol, and increasing HCL cholesterol.
  • Cinnamon: This spice can help lower cholesterol levels and clear and prevent the buildup of plaque. Cinnamon has loads of antioxidants that protect from oxidation, thus maintaining heart health.
  • Cold-water fish: Rich in healthy fats, cold-water fish such as mackerel, salmon, sardines, and tuna can help in clearing the arteries. Eating these fish twice a week can help in reducing inflammation and plaque buildup, which can result in heart disease.

You may not be able to look in the mirror or hop on the scales to check your arteries and your weight may be ideal, but this does not necessarily mean that your arteries are clean. It is vital to keep them clear so eat the right foods and prevent plaque buildup to prevent serious illnesses and keep your heart healthy and happy.

Good Health Rule #1: Eat Real Food

You know that a fruit is a healthier snack than a bag of potato chips, but how do you change the way you eat in a big way and eat real food all (or most) of the time? One of the basic rules of good health is to eat real food. When you live by this rule, you reduce exposure to the hundreds of chemicals that are added to processed foods.

There is a list of foods that are packed with health-promoting compounds such as antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals that are known to play a role in a person’s longevity. When you replace processed foods with real foods, it can make a tremendous difference in your overall health and weight, and ultimately, determine how long you live.

What is Real Food?

Real food includes the following:

  • Unprocessed, whole, and unrefined foods
  • Grass-fed, pasture-raised, or wild animal products and fish
  • Local, organic, and seasonal foods

Unprocessed, Whole, and Unrefined

You need to remember – if something comes in a bag or a box, keep it away! Refined food has toxins that destroy health – processed soy products, white sugar and high-fructose corn syrup, white flour and industrial seed oils. It has also brought chemical preservatives and additives, some with negative effects that are known and some with those that are still unknown.

New research is showing all the harm that new processed foods cause almost on a daily basis. A recent study demonstrated that emulsifiers that are used in packaged foods like ice cream, mayonnaise, bread, etc. increase leaky gut and cause a chain of autoimmune and inflammatory disease.

Another study showed that consuming diet soda causes kidney damage and increases your risk of stroke. To avoid the harm that processed and refined foods cause, a good general rule is “if something comes in a bag or a box, do not eat it.”

Pasture-Raised, Wild Animal Products, and Fish

There have been a number of studies that compare the nutrient content of pasture-raised (PR) and grain-fed animal products (CAFO, or confinement animal feeding operations). PR animal products are significantly superior to CAFO in two ways – their fatty acid profile is better and they have higher levels of vitamins and other micronutrients.

Studies have also shown that consumption of standard farmed salmon, which are raised on diets high in omega 6, increases blood levels of inflammatory chemicals that are connected to raised risk of Alzheimer’s, diabetes, cancer, and cardiovascular disease. Wild salmon also contains 4 times the Vitamin D found in farmed ones.

 Local, Organic, and Seasonal

On average, organic plant foods contain 25 percent higher concentrations of eleven nutrients than other conventional produce. They tend to be particularly higher in polyphenols and antioxidants such as quercetin and vitamins C and E.

With local, organic, and seasonal foods, you make sure that you consume foods that have more nutrients and fewer chemicals. Organic produce is grown without herbicides, pesticides, and other harmful chemicals that have been shown to be the cause of many health problems especially in children and other vulnerable populations. Research has found that children that are exposed to organophosphate pesticides found in conventional produce are likely to develop ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder).

As you can see, there are many benefits to eating real food. You get all the vital nutrients that your body needs and keep harmful chemicals far away from your body. With only real food in your daily diet, you ensure that you eat healthy and live healthy.

When you choose your foods, be sure to choose the foods your body wants, not just your brain.

Can Eating Fish Help Prevent Alzheimer’s Disease?

fish

Alzheimer’s disease is a progressive brain disease that slowly destroys cognitive and memory skills. The National Institute on Aging reports that there are about 5.1 million people in the US with Alzheimer’s, for which there is no cure. However studies have suggested that eating certain types of fish have helped ward off and slow down the effects of the disease. While there aren’t any definitive answers, science is getting closer and closer to cracking the case. Here’s what the research suggests:

Fish Oil Supplements and Alzheimer’s 

Many people take fish oil supplements to keep their heart healthy, and now there is some evidence that it may help improve brain health as well. According to researchers, fish oil supplements may have an impact on parts of the brain that are critical for memory and thinking.

The study’s research team conducted memory tests on participants, 117 of whom were given fish oil supplements. The tests were given periodically over the next 3 years. It was found that participants who were taking the supplements had higher overall scores on memory and thinking tests than those who were not taking them. The fish oil supplements seem to benefit those who did not carry APOE-E4, a gene that increases the risk for Alzheimer’s.

Additionally, the study found that participants who were taking fish oils had larger brains than those who were not, particularly the hippocampus and the cerebral cortex which are structures of the brain critical for thinking and memory. A larger brain shows that a person has better cognitive health while shrinkage of the brain has been connected to Alzheimer’s. These benefits also applied to participants who did not carry the APOE-E4 gene.

In another small study conducted on people with mild cognitive impairment (MCI), a memory loss disorder that may precede Alzheimer’s disease, it was found that fish oil and antioxidant supplements helped reduce the build-up of amyloid-beta protein and brain inflammation. According to researchers, one of the best ways to prevent Alzheimer’s disease is to prevent MCI.

Baked or Broiled Fish for Alzheimer’s Disease 

According to a recent study, eating fish has many benefits for the brain. A University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine research has found that eating baked or broiled fish at least once a week can be good for the brain regardless of how much omega-3 fatty acid is in the fish.

MRI results showed that eating fish cooked in these ways can help preserve gray matter volume in brain areas that are at risk of Alzheimer’s disease. Gray matter volume plays a vital role in brain health. The health of the brain is maintained when this volume is higher. On the other hand, when gray matter volume decreases, it is an indication that brain cells are shrinking.

According to researchers, eating baked or broiled fish once a week helps in promoting stronger neurons in the gray matter by enlarging them and making them healthier. With just a simple lifestyle choice, the brain’s resistance to this disease increases and also lowers the risk of Alzheimer’s significantly. On the other hand, eating fried fish did not show an increase in brain volume or any protection against cognitive decline.

The Joy of Feeding the Less Fortunate

When it comes to hunger, we often identify it with developing nations in Asia and sub-Saharan region. It is unimaginable for us to even comprehend that a great nation like the US too has its share of hunger. Unfortunately, we tend to ignore or overlook this harsh truth. Now, you have a chance to do something about the hunger that is spreading its tentacles. With the economy faring so poorly and people losing jobs, America too has kids and adults going to bed hungry. You can make a difference by discovering the joy of feeding the less fortunate.

The Thrill of Feeding Others

When you see someone hungry, it is heart-wrenching, especially if that someone is a child. It is not just about assuaging your feelings of guilt or indulging in some holiday generosity. This feeling goes beyond this superficial feeling and actions. When you truly make an effort to feed someone less fortunate than you, you will feel physically and emotionally good and happy.

Self Esteem: If you feed a homeless person, you will be able to see with your own eyes how grateful the person is. The result of giving food to the hungry is visible for you to see. This automatically makes us feel good about ourselves and works wonders with our self-esteem and self-confidence.

Emotional Well-being: Most of us mistakenly associate material wealth with emotional wellbeing. On the contrary, it is a selfless deed that evokes a true sense of happiness. When you share your plate with someone less fortunate, be it a neighbor or family member, your brain will react by releasing the feel-good hormones, also known as endorphins.

This release occurs because you see the positive result of your action and your brain is tuned to react in such situations. You can drive away depression and the blues with this one simple gesture and feel emotionally fulfilled and satisfied. After all, you do not have to be a Christian to do good things for someone in need.

Feeling Fulfilled: True happiness comes from feeling grateful for what you have and being able to spread joy without expecting anything in return. Most of us spend a lifetime learning this. You can experience fulfillment in the truest sense by returning something to the community. Material wealth can always be earned, but enjoying a feeling of fulfillment and gratification is possible only when you do something for others. Start volunteering in your neighborhood soup kitchen or foodbank and see how happy that makes you.

America wastes a lot of food which makes its way to landfills. Don’t let this happen. Do your bit to reduce food waste and learn the joy of sharing your food with someone less fortunate than you. Once you discover the joy of feeding the less fortunate, you will wonder why you never thought of this simple task before. It is a sure shot way to achieving happiness that cannot be expressed in words.

4 Everyday Activities that Burn Calories

Exercise is a vital part of life; it helps keep the body healthy and active. There are many times, however, when your hectic routine does not allow you to get in a decent workout. Missing out on your daily dose of fitness can mess up your mental and physical health and as a result, you can start to feel depressed, stressed and even anxious.

Luckily, there is something you can do about this. You can use everyday activities to burn up your calories. Here’s how:

1. Clean Your House

Pick a day out of the week to clean your home and get down to business. Don’t leave a single spot. Clean every inch of those floors until they sparkle. Get down on your hands and knees if you have to. Mop the floors, dust the ceiling, and scrub the kitchen sink and everything in the bathroom. Intense cleaning that makes you sweat should be enough to burn a minimum of 330 calories per hour. You can take breaks in between but make sure they are short (90 seconds just to catch your breath).

2. Grocery Shopping

An hour of pushing your grocery cart around the supermarket should help you burn 243 calories. Take your time getting to know the different aisles as you push our cart along. Also, try and bag your own groceries, push your cart out to your car in the parking lot, load your vehicle with your grocery bags and walk the cart back too. Once you get home, make two trips if you have to from your car to your kitchen. It adds to calories burned!

3. Do Your Own Gardening

You can mow your lawn and burn up to 334 calories if you do it for an hour. Raking the leaves can burn 300 calories per hour. But make sure you do it properly. Spread your legs and put your back into it. Simply tending to your garden, pruning, and watering your plants can help you lose about 334 calories. And you can show a little generosity to your neighbors by doing their yard. If you do this neighborly act of kindness, you can burn twice as many calories.

4. Take a Stroll

If you work long hours, use your lunch break to take a stroll. Try heading to the park if you can. Otherwise walk through the office and take the stairs. You can start all the way from the topmost floor and walk down and back up again. If you can, sneak in a walk on our way home. Or play with the kids out in the yard.

There are many things you do every day that could help you lose a couple of pounds. All you need is a little bit of intensity and determination.

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