Sunday, May 13, 2012
High Blood Pressure: Lower Your Blood Pressure And Reduce Your Risk Of Stroke, Diabetes And Heart Disease
High blood pressure, or hypertension, is one of today's major medical problems. Two out of ten people in the UK need treatment for it - yet conventional medicine often resorts to drugs that, effectively, make your condition worse! Doctors recognise only about 5 per cent of hypertension cases as being linked to a specific cause, such as kidney disease. The other 95 per cent are labelled as 'essential hypertension', meaning that the cause is unknown.
High blood pressure, or hypertension, is one of today's major medical problems. Two out of ten people in the UK need treatment for it - yet conventional medicine often resorts to drugs that, effectively, make your condition worse!
Doctors recognise only about 5 per cent of hypertension cases as being linked to a specific cause, such as kidney disease. The other 95 per cent are labelled as 'essential hypertension', meaning that the cause is unknown.
Hypertension is diagnosed when a person's blood pressure is higher than the normal range for their age, which is usually a measurement above 140/90. Blood pressure is expressed as the systolic pressure (when your heart is contracting) over the diastolic pressure (when your heart relaxes).
Often, there are no symptoms of hypertension. Some people experience headaches, nosebleeds or blurred vision, but most only find out they have the condition when they have their blood pressure taken. High blood pressure should never be ignored, however, as it is associated with an increased risk of heart disease and stroke.
High Blood Pressure: Dehydration is the biggest factor in hypertension - diuretic drugs just make it worse!
Conventional medicine treats hypertension with drugs, which generally fall into three categories: beta-blockers (which reduce your heartbeat), vasodilators (which open up your blood vessels) and diuretics (which remove water from your body). All of these drugs have unpleasant side-effects, however, ranging from muscle aches and fatigue to loss of taste and nausea. And some can even aggravate the underlying problem over time - plunging you into a downward spiral of increasing use of medications, with no prospect of a real cure.
In looking for the causes of 'essential hypertension', conventional research has generally ignored the roles of water intake and nutrition. Blood pressure results from a balance between two factors: how hard your heart is pumping (cardiac output) and how easily plasma can diffuse out of your capillaries (peripheral resistance). Most people with hypertension have a normal cardiac output but increased peripheral resistance (Brit. Med. J. 322:912-916, 2001). The most likely cause of this is dehydration.
When you are dehydrated, the volume of blood in your body falls. But a water rationing system keeps your essential organs well supplied, by shutting down the capillaries supplying your muscles and skin. This increases your peripheral resistance. In addition, production of histamine, a hormone-like substance, increases, which causes your blood vessels to narrow. Both of these effects increase your blood pressure and can turn into a chronic problem if water intake is not increased. Yet modern medicine often treats this condition with diuretic drugs, which cause further dehydration!
Losing just 9lb in weight could bring your blood pressure down to normal!
The other major factor is nutrition. Blood pressure regulation is reliant on many essential nutrients, like potassium, magnesium, calcium, essential fatty acids and vitamin C - so it is important you're not deficient in them. The risk of hypertension is also increased in people who smoke, drink alcohol, are obese or who suffer from insulin resistance.
Natural treatments for hypertension can be as effective as prescription drugs, without the harmful side-effects. First, it's important to ensure that you get a reliable blood pressure reading done. Many measurements are artificially high because of the 'white coat effect' (anxiety about seeing your doctor). So try to relax before you have your blood pressure taken, and ask for it to be checked again in a day or two, if the reading is high.
Then, start to take control of your own blood pressure by drinking plenty of water - at least two litres a day. If you need to lose weight, follow a healthy, low-carbohydrate diet, such as that set out in Dr Atkins New Diet Revolution. Reducing weight by just 9lb has been found to bring blood pressure readings down to normal (Am. J. Clin. Nutr. 63 (3, Suppl.): 423S-425S, 1996).
Cutting out sugar and reducing carbohydrates will also help to prevent insulin resistance and diabetes, two significant risk factors for hypertension.
High Blood Pressure: Eat your greens - and your blood pressure will drop
Because vegetarians have lower rates of hypertension than meat eaters, it used to be thought that meat consumption causes high blood pressure. But tests have shown that eating meat, eggs or fat has little effect (Nutrition Reviews 47(10): 291-300, 1989). The difference comes from the amount of green vegetables and fruit eaten, because of their high content of potassium, magnesium, vitamin C and fibre - which can lower blood pressure (Lancet ii:742-3, 1983).
The right balance of sodium and potassium is vital for regulating blood pressure. So limit your salt intake and eat more potassium-rich foods, such as leafy green vegetables, bananas and sunflower seeds. In tests, restricting potassium intake for just nine days led to an average four-point increase in blood pressure (New England J. Med. 329(18): 1177-82, 1989).
Magnesium is also crucial, and is found in dark green vegetables, nuts and figs. A low magnesium intake correlated most closely with high blood pressure when the diets of 615 men were analysed (Am. J. Clin. Nutr. 45(2): 469-75, 1987). The vitamin C in fruit and vegetables is another powerful preventive - research shows that hypertension and strokes occur most frequently in people who eat the least vitamin C (J. Hypertens. 12: 1071-75, 1990).
High Blood Pressure: Celery, garlic and oily fish - nature's blood pressure regulators
Eat plenty of celery. The chemical that gives celery its distinctive smell - 3-n-butyl phthalide - lowers blood pressure by reducing stress hormones. Garlic and onions can also reduce blood pressure, because they contain adenosine, a natural vasodilator (a substance that widens your blood vessels) (Brit. J. Clin. Pract. Suppl. 44(8): 3-6, 1990).
The essential fatty acids found in oily fish, are as effective in lowering blood pressure as beta-blocker drugs! Four ounces of mackerel or salmon, three times a week, can be all that is needed to eliminate the need for anti-hypertensive medication (New England J. Med. 320(16): 1037-43, 1989).
Olive oil also reduces blood pressure - according to one study, just two teaspoons a day reduced blood pressure on average by 5 points (Clin. Exp. Hypertens. 3: 27-28, 1981).
High Blood Pressure: Nutritional supplements can bring your blood pressure tumbling down
Taking a daily dose of 6 grams of the amino acid, taurine, can dramatically lower your systolic pressure by nine points in just seven days! (Circulation 75(3): 525-32, 1987).
Co-enzyme Q10 is often deficient in people with hypertension, which makes it an extremely effective dietary supplement (J. Mol. Med. 2: 431-60, 1977).
Take 60 to 120mg a day. The herb Ginkgo biloba is known to increase blood flow by dilating blood vessels. Take 250mg as a standardised extract, to help bring your blood pressure down.
Follow a combination of these natural measures to beat hypertension and reduce, or eliminate, your need for prescription drugs. However, do not stop taking any existing medication without consulting with your doctor first. Exercise also plays a vital role - by placing additional demands on your muscles, it increases the blood flow to them, which opens up your capillaries and lowers your 'peripheral resistance'.
High Blood Pressure: Natural Nutrients To Reduce Your Cholesterol
There are plenty of other natural solutions that can help you reduce a high cholesterol level too:
Dietary fibre will lock up the cholesterol in your bile salts, so that it is not reabsorbed, and will remove it in your stools. Raw salad leaves, broccoli and 'GG-Bran' crispbreads are suitable low-carbohydrate sources of fibre.
Lecithin emulsifies cholesterol and isolates
it from the walls of your arteries so that it can't stick to them. Take two tablespoons of lecithin granules daily.
Essential fatty acids, omega-6 from borage oil and omega-3 from fish oils (or linseed oil if you prefer), control cholesterol production, reduce your risk of blood clots, lower blood pressure and keep your arteries supple. Take 1,500 mg of each daily.
Niacin is one of the most effective cholesterol-lowering nutrients, outperforming many prescription medications (Medical Hypotheses 32:21-28, 1990; Eur, J. Clin. Pharmacol. 40(suppl.):49-51, 1991). It also reduces blood fat levels and the risk of clot formation. Take 100 to 500 mg daily. Using the inositol hexanicotinate form will reduce the possibility of liver toxicity. Always take a high-dose vitamin-B complex supplement at the same time.
Chromium reduces blood fat and cholesterol levels, and blood pressure. It also stabilises blood sugar levels and helps correct insulin resistance. 200 to 400 mcg daily is usually enough, but you may need up to 1,000 mcg if you are diabetic.
Pantethine, a derivative of pantothenic acid, plays a pivotal role in cholesterol metabolism. In one study, 900 mg a day caused a 32 per cent drop in blood fats and a 21 per cent drop in LDL, while HDL levels rose by 23 per cent (Clinical Therapeutics 8(5):537-45, 1986). Take 500 to 1,000 mg a day.
We can't live without water!
Saturday, May 12, 2012
Yin-Yang Foods that Make You Feel Better
Did you know that in traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), it’s not just the nutrients in a food but also the “hot” and “cold” of certain foods that can make you feel better? And it has nothing to do with the temperature at which they are served!
Here’s why: According to TCM, each food has an energetic property of yin or yang. These are thought of as complimentary pairs that are constantly shifting in relationship to one another. Easy ways to think about it: Yin is to yang as night is to day…quiet is to busy…and cold is to hot. It is believed that we absorb yin (cold) or yang (hot) energy from the foods we eat—and that medical conditions are manifestations of these yin-yang imbalances. What this means: We can heal ourselves by correcting our imbalances with the appropriate yin-yang foods. To find out more about this approach to healing, our editors spoke to Laurie Steelsmith, ND, author of Natural Choices for Women’s Health (Three Rivers), who practices naturopathic medicine and TCM in Honolulu. Here’s how she explains it…
THE HOT AND COLD OF FOOD
The warming and cooling properties of a food have less to do with actual temperature, cooking temperature, spiciness or even individual ingredients—and more to do with the food’s balance and contrast among ingredients and the effect of these on the body when the food is ingested. TCM categorizes foods as cold, cooling, neutral, warming and hot. As explained above, yin is related to cold foods and yang to hot foods.
STAYING IN BALANCE
The concept of yin and yang was introduced by Confucius in his five classic works, the I Ching. The philosophy states that imbalances in the life force (qi) cause illness and unhappiness. Hence, by adjusting your diet you can regain equilibrium.
Using yin-yang foods to gain equilibrium is not an exact science. There is no one percentage or quantity of yin-yang foods to eat. Instead, the patient is told to focus on mainly eating foods that support his yin/yang needs.
Common health conditions and their imbalances include…
Conditions affected by too much heat (yang) in the body:
High blood pressure, skin rash, hot flashes.
Consume: Cool or cold foods that promote yin energy.
Conditions arising from too much cold (yin) in the body: Fatigue, depression, muscle ache, stuffy nose, cough with clear white phlegm, fluid retention.
Consume: Warm or hot foods that promote yang energy.
Conditions that alternatively arise from too much cold or heat in the body: Constipation, heart disease, diabetes, arthritis, asthma, headache.
Consume: Some conditions are helped by either hot or cold foods. Take constipation, for example. If you have dry, hard stools, then you have yin-deficient constipation and need more moisture/yin foods. If you have yang-deficient constipation with wetter stools, then you may need more yang foods. The treatment for the conditions mentioned here depends on your own symptoms. A holistic doctor can help you determine whether you will be helped by yin or yang foods.
The yin-yang value of some foods…
You can balance the yin-yang property of your food by adding “cold” spices and foods to warm or hot foods and vice versa.
Yang foods (hot): Cayenne pepper, dried ginger, soybean oil, cinnamon, black pepper, chili powder, horseradish, lamb, trout and whole green or red peppers.
Yang foods (warming): Cherries, coconut, lemons, raspberries, cauliflower, mustard greens, onion, coffee, garlic, fresh ginger, chestnuts, pumpkin seeds, walnuts, chicken, shrimp, mussels, lobster, turkey, yogurt, butter.
Yin foods (cooling): Apples, bananas, pears, strawberries, broccoli, cabbage, eggplant, spinach, Swiss chard, celery, soybeans, buckwheat, sesame oil.
Yin foods (cold): Papaya, watermelon, grapefruit, tomatoes, asparagus, cucumbers, summer squash, romaine lettuce, seaweed, barley, tofu.
Neutral foods: Neutral foods are believed to be nourishing to everyone—and don’t increase the yin or yang balance in the body. Neutral foods include apricots, figs, pineapple, beets, cabbage, carrots, olives, pumpkin, string beans, yams, eggs, oats, almonds, peas, peanuts, rice, beef, oysters, pork, whitefish, salmon, sardines, herring and saffron.
Thursday, May 10, 2012
John: What do you get when you cross an octopus with an alarm clock?
Jake: I don’t know.
John: A clock with 8 hands or an octopus that’s really ticked off.
From Round Table email
Have a great day!
Sunday, May 06, 2012
Reverse the Aging Process with This Simple Secret
You already know that exercise can strengthen your muscles, bones and ligaments. You know that it can make your heart and lungs grow stronger. And it can also increase your energy and improve your sex life.
But what if just a few days of exercise each week could increase the size of your brain... repair and restore your organs at a cellular level... and even reverse the aging process?
Well, recent research shows that it could. In fact, Canadian scientists believe they've discovered the fountain of youth...
The study comes from Dr. Mark Tarnopolsky, a professor at McMaster University School of Medicine in Hamilton, Ontario. He holds a PhD in cell biology and metabolism. In 2008 alone, he had over 30 peer-reviewed papers published. Much of his research focuses on the adaptations your muscles make to stress, exercise, and mitochondrial dysfunction. And his primary focus is on the effects of aging.
His research, published in the latest edition of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, shows that exercise prevents premature aging.
The findings have been welcomed by the medical community. In fact, his team was given a standing ovation when they presented their findings at a medical conference.
Sedentary Lifestyle Leads to Rapid Aging
The study was three years in the making. Dr. Tarnopolsky and his team studied a group of mice - ones with similar biology to humans. Just like aging people, these mice lose their hair as they age. They experience hearing loss, cataracts and enlarged hearts. Their brains and muscles also shrink with age.
The researchers began each experiment when the mice were three months old. That's about 20 in human years. Each experiment ended when the mice were eight months old - late 60s in human years.
The researchers split the mice into equal groups. One group lived a sedentary life. The other group was forced to run on treadmills for 45 minutes, three times a week.
The final results were startling. The sedentary mice showed all the normal signs of aging. Their fur went grey. They started to go bald. Muscles atrophied and bones calcified. Eventually, they all died.
"We could see mice with grey fur and osteoporosis hunched up in the cage," says Dr. Tarnopolsky.
How to Slow - and Even Reverse - the Effects of Aging
On the other hand, the mice that exercised three times a week remained young. Their fur was shiny. Their muscles remained firm and strong. They continued to be healthy and active. They also remained sexually productive and energetic.
"The littermate controls were running around bright-eyed and bushy-tailed," says Dr. Tarnopolsky. "They had beautiful fur and showing every part of the body being protected. I think that says wow! This is good for me. Not just my muscles, but everything."
The American College of Sports Medicine agrees. According to an independent study, "There is much evidence that a moderate amount of exercise is needed for the maintenance of functional integrity of the cardiovascular system, muscles, bones, and ligaments."
But there's something even more startling in Dr. Tarnopolsky's results...
The exercise didn't just slow aging. It actually reversed it.
"The brain was atrophic in the non-runners," says Dr. Tarnopolsky. "But it was back to normal size in the runners."
The Simple Key to Staying Healthy Longer
Dr. Tarnopolsky's team focused on the mitochondria. This is the energy-producing "power plant" found in the cytoplasm of every cell.
The purpose of the mitochondria is to convert the energy you get from food into a form that your cells can use. Among other things, that energy is used by the body to repair tissue and organs when they break down. That makes the mitochondria critical to the aging process.
But as we age, the mitochondrial DNA mutates.
This leads to a steady decline in tissue and organ function. As that happens, we start to see the physical signs of aging - grey hair, balding and a reduction in energy and muscle mass. We also become less fertile.
But Dr. Tarnopolsky and his team found that exercise somehow restores the mitochondrial DNA. In some cases, it actually strengthened it. That's why the aging process appeared to be reversed in the active mice.
"What this really shows," says Dr. Tarnopolsky, "is that exercise doesn't just affect your heart and muscle. It has a potent systemic effect. What's coming out of your muscle is having an effect on all organs in your body."
15 Minutes a Day to Feeling Vibrant and Youthful
This study, along with many others, demonstrates that many of the changes that we attribute to "aging" are really caused by inactivity and a lack of vigorous exercise.
And keep in mind, you don't have to be a marathon runner to enjoy the benefits. In fact, the research shows that the greatest anti-aging benefits come from short duration, high intensity exercise. And of course, any exercise is better than no exercise.
"This study clearly shows that we can get closer to the fountain of youth if we start when we're young and do moderate exercise our whole life," says Dr. Tarnopolsky. But he also points out that it's never too late to start. "We know that exercise has benefits even when humans start over the age of 65."
That's good news for everyone. If you start late, you can gradually reverse damage at the cellular level. And if you start young, you can enjoy a lifetime of benefits.
You can begin reversing the damage right now. If you haven't exercised in a long time, begin by walking for 10 or 15 minutes a day at a gentle pace and then build from there.
Remember, age is only a number. Your true age is how old you feel.
Exercise is just one of the all-natural, drug-free tactics you can use to slow the aging process.
From NHD Health Watch email
Use it or lose it!
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