Monthly Archives: July 2014

Weird Disease Warning Signs

We all know that high blood pressure, diabetes, and cancer can kill us. But do we really know when and if we have it? Do we really know the major warning signs? If we pay attention to the warning signs and see the forest for the trees, you can use these as cues of what’s really going on and get in on prevention early on. You can catch it before it really gets bad. Here are a few unusual and often missed signs of heart disease that you can catch early on.

  1. Male Pattern Baldness

    Yes, we often think of it as an issue of simple appearance. However, male pattern baldness could come from a loss of circulation, which could be related to heart disease. In the Archives of Internal Medicine, Dr Alvarez says that heart disease may cause a lack of circulation to the hair follicles. Of course, genetics do play a significant role in hair loss, as does stress. Some patients who have male pattern baldness may smoke, have hypertension, or a genetic predisposition relating to heart disease.

    This doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t be aware of the risk. Pay attention. Know your family’s history of both types of issues, and this can help you to really take a hard look at your personal risk. Even if it’s just high cholesterol running in your family, you could stop smoking.

  2. Snoring and Sleep Apnea

    These types of health problems (and I realize snoring is typically just seen as being annoying) can cause your heart to have more problems. Emory University in Atlanta hosted a study that showed that obstructed airways in people with sleep apnea or snoring caused a higher risk of cardiovascular disease. It may go both ways. The reduced oxygen may aggravate heart disease, or it could be caused by heart disease.

    To address this, prevent sleep issues now. Especially if you are experiencing sleep apnea, you have the opportunity to get in on addressing it early. Sleep-disordered breathing typically occurs decades before it’s diagnosed, and decades before signs of cardiovascular disease events. according to Dr. Alvarez. If you have these types of issues, take a sleep test and get medical help early on.

  3. Migraine Headaches

    If you have migraine headaches, you may also find yourself suffering from heart pain. Women who experience migraines with visual or sensory disturbance at least once monthly are actually twice as likely to develop problems with heart disease according to a study published by the American Academy of Neurology in June. Dr. Alvarez believes that vascular abnormalities are to blame for both, and if you find one, you are likely to find another.

  4. Eating And Drinking Plastic

    Think about all of the bottles that say that they don’t have BPA. That’s for a reason. According to a study conducted at the University of Cincinnati, BPA found in hard plastic containers actually can produce a chemical that’s much like estrogen. It can then raise your risk for heart disease in women. According to Dr. Alvarez, BPA could create too much estrogen or block the effects of its benefits.

    Instead, try replacing your plastic food containers and water bottles with stainless steel, glass, or ceramic containers. At the very least, never heat your plastic containers as it can release more BPA.

  5. Marital Stress and Frequent Arguments

    A bad marriage is bad for more than just your daily happiness. It’s also bad for your heart. A bad relationship may actually put a woman at risk for a real broken heart. A study at the University of Utah found that women suffering marital strife were at risk for heart disease issues. Men were not affected the same way interestingly. Women’s hearts are very different than men’s hearts in terms of circulation and receptors they have for certain hormones. Marital counseling might be worth more than just your marriage.

  6. Sexual Dysfunction

    Sexual dysfunction may signal decreased blood circulation in your heart. This may be the last thing you’re thinking about when looking to get intimate, but performance is probably more in the forefront. If you want better sex and a better heart, you might want to get this checked out for both those reasons. Again, If you have dysfunction in one circulatory area you have it in others. As it turns out, exercise can be pretty good for your heart and your libido, as can help from your doctor.

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Health Benefits of Dark Chocolate

Scientists have been saying for a while now that chocolate has various health benefits. Of course, they’re not talking about that yummy milk chocolate or chocolate chip cookies, or even hot chocolate. They’re talking about dark chocolate, or more preferably the cocoa bean, which sadly, doesn’t taste like the chocolate we think of at all. Still, it does have the mood boosting benefits, and it is also packed with plenty of healthy antioxidants.

Sadly, the reality is that we will likely never find out that sugary desserts are good for us. This chocolate is a little bit different, but at the same point, it still gives us some hope.

If you want the health benefits, look for chocolate that has 70% or greater cocoa content. If you see this, you can get going on eating some of that chocolate, maybe even on a daily basis. If you go with milk chocolate for example, you will find that any health benefits will be outweighed by the extra sugar and fat that gets added. Regardless, there are some major benefits of cocoa beans that you shouldn’t look past:

The Anti-Inflammatory Benefits of Chocolate

There is research suggesting that chocolate comes with healthy anti-inflammatory benefits. Chocolate provides healthy flavanols, which can lead the blood vessels to dilate, ultimately improving blood pressure.

Chocolate Has Healthy Antioxidants

Chocolate in its purest form comes with plenty of healthy antioxidants. It can help your body to repair itself while simultaneously fighting potentially harmful free radicals, which as you may have noticed, can cause arterial plaque buildup as well as quite a few other major health problems.

There are various debates about antioxidants, but what we do know is that they may have some heart health benefits, and they may fight free radicals that could age you at a faster rate. Other popular sources of healthy antioxidants that you might think of include quite a few healthy fruits and vegetables.

Chocolate May Help To Reduce Your Risk of Heart Attack

Research at John Hopkins has looked extensively into the effect of dark chocolate on blood platelet aggregation, showing that it could reduce those. This reduces the likelihood of blot clots, thereby reducing the risk of heart attacks.

Health Insurers Are Putting the Spotlight On Diabetics

Diabetics, your insurance company is looking at you. This wouldn’t be the first time. In the past, some insurance companies have done anything and everything they can to avoid diabetic clients. The treatments are expensive, and in many cases, diabetes is seen as being linked to obesity, which is partly personal responsibility. They are looking at diabetics who aren’t necessarily taking their medications or following their diet like they should.

Insurance companies may start calling you if you don’t pick up your prescriptions or miss appointments. They may even arrange transportation for you to get to the doctor’s office, sending nurses over on house calls to avoid more costly complications in the long run that would cost your insurance company more.

Prior to the Affordable Care Act, insurance companies were allowed to refuse diabetics service due to pre-existing conditions. However, as you may have heard, the new law stops them from doing this or charging more, which makes early intervention essential to maintain the bottom line.

For the majority of people with Type 2 diabetes, they can prevent complications and side effects by maintaining a healthy diet plan and controlling blood sugar levels while exercising and watching their weight according to Dr. Sam Nussbaum, former endocrinologist at Harvard’s Massachusetts General Hospital and executive vice president for the insurer WellPoint. Conversely, if patients ignore the signs and symptoms, it can cause severe complications, such as amputations and even death. Experts say that diabetes is the leading cause of heart disease, strokes, kidney failure, and loss of vision. They say that even a healthy diabetic patient can cost insurers $5000 a year.

Nussbaum says, But if you let any of those long-term, difficult complications develop, then you’re talking $100,000 plus.

Approximately 26 million Americans experience problems with diabetes, and 2/3 are also overweight or obese. 8% of Americans are estimated to have problems with diabetes, and insurers estimate at least 7.5 million of their clients will have diabetes under the new law.

In line with the law and to control costs, WellPoint started bringing diabetic client into a 6 week program last fall. They started workshops in Atlanta, Indianapolis, and St Louis to teach patients how to monitor blood sugar levels, find emotional support, and everything in between.

Kathy English, a former nurse heading up the program says, You’re talking about an improved quality of life, but a lot less expenses related to chronic conditions that develop later….hypertension, end stage renal disease, lots of different conditions.

Is Stress Causing Your Headache?

Whether it’s all over tension headaches or localized migraines, when you experience more stress, studies have suggested that you will also suffer more and more frequent headaches. A study in Germany followed subjects for 2 years, tracking stress levels, headache types, and headache regularity with 500 adult subjects. If they were to report more stress, they also reported more headaches according to the study. The scale given was 0 to 100, and they found that every 10 point increase in stress led to a 6% increase in headaches.

However, this is still early. The exact links between stress and headaches aren’t 100% clear according to coauthor Sara Schramm MD of the University Hospital of Duisburg-Essen University. According to Schramm, the actual causes of headaches may be much more complex, and there’s no simple answer. The good news in a way is that the connection definitely does exist.

Schramm has recommended stress lowering techniques such as yoga and meditation to prevent future issues with unnecessary headaches.

Internet Nutrition Myths That Won’t Go Away

The Internet has burst onto the scene, giving us all sorts of information, both good and bad. Sometimes, you can find a wealth of valuable information for studies, research, school projects, etc. Other times, you get a bunch of myths that, because they’re online, and of course the Internet is always honest, we just can’t get rid of. Even if they were correct at one time, but science has since proven them wrong, we still have them sticking around. Here are just a few of the big ones I’ve heard for a while:

  1. Microwaves Destroy Essential Nutrients

    It’s a common idea, and with all of the ideas about how many harmful chemicals microwaves put out, it’s not all that surprising. Research has shown that there is little to no difference between microwaved foods and foods cooked in other ways. Microwaving may even help some foods to maintain their nutrients when steaming.

    When you are heating your food, you may see some nutrient depletion in general, but they are generally nutrients that aren’t heat stable, such as vitamin C for example. Many nutrients are also considered to be water soluble, which means they could leach into other liquids. If you want to maintain nutrient density, avoid high temperatures in cooking, don’t over-cook, and try to avoid using water or liquid, or use as little as possible.

  2. Cancer Cells Feed On Sugar

    It’s a nice thought, and something that seems so simple, but it’s not true. It has spread under the name of: Cancer Update From John Hopkins. It goes through one of those infamous chain letters, and there are actually many better ways of avoiding or treating cancer such as chemotherapy, radiation, or surgery. This chain letter came about in 2007, and ever since then, the National Cancer Institute and American Cancer Society have been fighting this fire.

    The only connection that sugars have to cancer is that greater amounts of sugar can contribute to obesity, which can be a factor in obesity and weight gain. The National Cancer Institute and American Cancer Society recommend a healthy diet plan that is rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and other healthy foods that also sometimes have natural sugars. They recommend staying away from things like extra sodas, desserts, and other unhealthy foods.

  3. Vegetarian Diets Can Change Your Body Chemistry And Make You Skinnier

    They tell you that vegetarian diets lead to your body being more alkaline, which helps you to lose weight. That sounds good and all, but it’s not true. We all understand the basics of alkaline versus acidity, and the pH of 7 is neutral. The truth is that yes, many foods eaten by meat eaters can be unhealthy, and vegetarians in general tend to lean more towards fruits and vegetables, but it depends on the one. If you’re eating nothing but pasta and donuts, is it vegetarian? Sure. But is it healthy and something that will help you to lose weight? That’s a big fat no.

    To change the pH level in your body is difficult, if not near impossible for a reason. Too much alkaline or too much acidity could do quite a bit of damage in a short period, and your body is excellent at maintaining its own homeostasis. Your stomach has to maintain the right acid level to break down foods while your blood is tightly regulated to prevent things like kidney failure. If what you eat had that big an impact on your pH level in your body, most of us would be dead by now.

  4. You Need To Cleanse And Detox Your Body

    Dr Google and Surgeon Bing love to tell you about all of the special detox diets you can follow to get rid of that long black string of goop that is stuck in your GI tract. They tell you that you can flush out your body, rest your GI tract, or cleanse your liver. In fact, there are even some chiropractors that will stick a hose up your butt and supposedly do it for you. The fact that many celebrities and trainers also promote it doesn’t help.

    Despite all the popularity and hype, there is nothing that actually proves or sustains that any of this is true. There is nothing to suggest that starving yourself and making yourself miserable is the pathway to true health. In fact, many suggest that if you drink enough water, that has enough of a cleansing effect on its own. The GI tract, kidneys, and liver are all efficient at cleansing your body. That’s why when one of those organs fails, you have to have serious medical intervention. The weight that many people do actually lose is water weight, and it can be gained back just as quickly. Your best bet is actually to practice a healthy diet and exercise plan and get plenty of sleep.

  5. Canola Oil Comes From The Toxic Rapeseed Plant

    Canola oil is actually made of the crushed seeds of canola plants, not rapeseeds. Yes, they are cousin species, but they have distinctly different nutritional profiles. Rapeseed oil has high levels of erucic acid, which has been linked to heart disease and has been banned in the US.

    Canola is NOT a common workaround. Canola oil has less than 2% erucic acid, meaning it’s not even close to toxic. Canola oil is also one of the most heart-healthy oils with less saturated fat and more omega-3 fatty acids than vegetable oil.

  6. Sea Salt Is Healthier Than Table Salt

    If you see the marketing for sea salt, you will see all sorts of health benefits promised. You will also see that there are various colors, each of which supposedly has special benefits of their own. It’s all advertising though. Regular table salt and gourmet sea salt may come at different prices, but it has the same amount of sodium, which is about 2300mg per teaspoon. As far as other nutrients supposedly found in gourmet sea salt, they don’t really have anything to be excited about. The differences are minimal at best. It may look nice, but it’s not nutritionally superior in any sense of the word.

  7. Negative Calorie Foods

    Negative calorie foods are popular, because you get foods like grapes that are extremely low calorie. Then they tell you that your body needs to use more calories than you get from a bundle of grapes to digest it, making it a negative calorie food. When they figure out the calories in foods, scientists take out the amount of calories you would need to burn it. So when you take that out, you are just doubling the number on one effect. They are low calorie, but there is no such thing as a negative calorie food.

What To Do When You Have Eaten Too Much Sugar

So you’ve cut back on your sugar, trying to do right by your diet, but then you overdo it. You binge on the sugar, and there’s no going back. Of course, don’t panic. One day of eating too much sugar is one day, and you can simply get over that hump and move on. Unfortunately, a number of people end up panicking and letting it ruin their entire diet.

If you have gone on a sugar binge, it’s easy to want a quick fix, and I’m sorry to say, there’s no easy way to undo that kind of damage. It’s not like salt where you can balance it out with more water. For one thing, sugar actually comes with calories that absorb quite quickly into the bloodstream. This can lead to sudden spikes in your blood sugar levels, leading to side effects that may not be so pleasant, depending partially on the person.

The one time when more sugar is not necessarily a bad thing is during intense, sustained exercise. When you’re beating it out, you need to have a quick and lasting energy source. So a mix of sugar for the immediate, and protein for long term energy, is essential.

That aside, if you’re basically healthy and following the basic rules of dieting, you can get away with the occasional sugar binge. Just keep it in line and controlled, and make sure it’s not a daily thing.

Signs You’re Not Getting Enough Fiber

It’s no secret that getting enough fiber can make you healthier, help you to prevent problems, even help you to lose weight while staying regular. Yet, despite all of the media about it, most people just don’t get enough. Women are supposed to get about 25 grams of fiber per day, but most get only 15 grams, according to Keri Gans, a dietitian in New York City and author of The Small Change Diet.The better question is, how can you tell if you are getting enough fiber? Here are a few ways you can tell that you might need more:

  • You’re Constipated

    If you are not going to the bathroom at least once a day, chances are you aren’t getting enough fiber. Most assume that constipation is a sure sign that you are lacking, but fiber is an extreme scenario. In other words, if you aren’t going regularly, you are not getting enough fiber.

  • You Have High Cholesterol

    If you find that you have high cholesterol, you may not be getting enough fiber. Fiber can help to lower and control your cholesterol levels, thereby protecting your heart health. If you don’t get enough fiber, you will find that the cholesterol won’t leave your body as effectively, which could explain higher cholesterol levels.

  • You Get Hungry Quickly

    If you are hungry within 45 minutes to an hour after meals, you may not be getting enough fiber. Fiber digests more slowly than other foods, and it can also get you full faster while keeping you full longer. If you want to lose weight, one of the best things that you can do for yourself is get more fiber. So if you find that you are hungry too quickly, you most likely didn’t get enough fiber, at least in that meal.