Cardiovascular

now browsing by category

Without our heart, we die, so why do people insult our heart with poor nutrition?

 

Improve cholesterol levels and blood vessel function by eating the right amount of blueberries

Reproduced from original article:
www.naturalhealth365.com/blueberries-metabolic-syndrome-3322.html

by:  

blueberries(NaturalHealth365) Metabolic syndrome makes the “who’s who list” of bad health conditions, yet most people remain uneducated about its details.  This “syndrome” significantly increases your risk of potentially serious chronic health problems like cardiovascular disease, including a heart attack or stroke.

Fortunately, as is usually the case with good nutrition, it turns out that reducing the impact of metabolic syndrome is just one of the many benefits of eating the right amount of blueberries, on a regular basis.

For example, a 2019 study from The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition offers great incentive to eat more of this delicious fruit if you or anyone you know wants to improve heart health or is living with metabolic syndrome risk factors, including a large waist circumference, high cholesterol, insulin resistance, high blood pressure, and high blood sugar.

Can you really defeat metabolic syndrome by eating more blueberries?

Researchers of the study split 115 overweight and obese adults with metabolic syndrome (mostly older males) into one of three groups: Group 1 ate 1 cup (150 g) of blueberries per day, Group 2 ate 1/2 a cup (75 g) of blueberries per day, and group three had a placebo. There was an impressive 94.1% compliance with the food intake over the course of 6 months.

The “dietarily achievable” servings of blueberries actually came in a freeze-dried and powdered form, but the authors were so hopeful about their findings they still advised “blueberries should be included in dietary strategies to reduce individual and population [cardiovascular disease] risk.”

Do NOT ignore the health dangers linked to toxic indoor air.  These chemicals – the ‘off-gassing’ of paints, mattresses, carpets and other home/office building materials – increase your risk of headaches, dementia, heart disease and cancer.

Get the BEST indoor air purification system – at the LOWEST price, exclusively for NaturalHealth365 readers.  I, personally use this system in my home AND office.  Click HERE to order now – before the sale ends.

Here’s why…
While just half a cup per day didn’t correlate with any beneficial biomarker improvements, the researchers found that eating 1 cup of blueberries per day yielded significant improvements in cholesterol levels, blood vessel function, and underlying nitric oxide activity – which helps blood vessels relax and plays a big role in regulating blood pressure.

All of these correlated with improvements in underlying metabolic syndrome and a predicted 12 to 15 reduction in cardiovascular risk.

This is consistent with other research pointing to beneficial health effects correlated with blueberries, including improved heart and brain health and better blood sugar control (although in this study, the insulin resistance for these participants remained unchanged – maybe not surprising, since the authors didn’t impose many limits on the participants’ diets overall, but only prior to baseline, interim, and 6-month assessments).

Wow!  Discover the impressive nutrient profile of just one serving of this delicious fruit

1 cup of blueberries (about 148 grams) boasts 3.6 grams of fiber and tons of other nutrients like vitamin K1 (28 mcg per cup), vitamin C (14.1 mcg per cup), manganese, copper, vitamin E, and vitamin B6.

Blueberries are also a potent source of flavanoids – plant nutrients with powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Researchers believe flavanoids are one of the major heart healthy benefits of blueberries.

Blueberries are especially rich in a type of flavanoid called anthocyanin, which give blueberries its dark purplish blue color.  Just 1 cup of blueberries contains an impressive 400 mg of flavonoids.  Of course, always choose organic varieties to avoid the consumption of unwanted chemicals.

So, sprinkle some on salads, yogurt, or oatmeal, eat by the handful, or pair with nuts and dark chocolate. The choices are endless! If you can, opt for wild and/or locally sourced blueberries whenever possible, as these have a higher flavanoids profile than conventionally grown versions.

Sources for this article include:

Healthline.com
NYTimes.com
Academic.oup.com
NIH.gov
Livescience.com
NIH.gov

New Study Sheds Light on Stroke Recovery


Reproduced from original article:
https://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2020/03/05/stroke-recovery.aspx

Analysis by Dr. Joseph Mercola     
March 05, 2020

Honey Reduces Risk of Heart Disease

© 30th January 2020 GreenMedInfo LLC. This work is reproduced and distributed with the permission of GreenMedInfo LLC. Want to learn more from GreenMedInfo? Sign up for the newsletter here www.greenmedinfo.com/greenmed/newsletter
Reproduced from original article:
www.greenmedinfo.com/blog/honey-reduces-risk-heart-disease

Got a sweet tooth that you just can’t squash? Relax! Nature has provided a healthy way to satisfy your sugar cravings. Put down the toxic white stuff and pick up a jar of pure, raw honey. Your heart will thank you for it

In a cooperative effort between researchers at the medical sciences departments of Iran’s Isfahan University and Mashhad University, honey has been shown to aid the body in healthy processing of fats by decreasing the overall amount of cholesterol and fats in the bloodstream.[i] The study was published in August 2018 in the journal of the European Society for Clinical Nutrition and Metabolism (ESPEN), Clinical Nutrition ESPEN.

Researchers were inspired by previous studies that demonstrated honey’s beneficial effects on cardiovascular disease symptoms. Their chief aim was to investigate whether the effect of honey consumption on overall lipids in the blood was markedly different than the effects of sucrose, or table sugar, on the blood lipid profiles of 60 young, healthy male subjects.

Good Fats Are Key to Heart Health

A lipid profile, also called a coronary risk panel, is a blood test that measures total blood triglycerides including high-density lipoproteins (HDL), often referred to as “good cholesterol,” and low-density lipoproteins (LDL), commonly known as “bad cholesterol.” In truth, there is only one “type” of cholesterol, a molecule that is incapable of dissolving in blood. In order to transport cholesterol to the various cells throughout the body, lipoproteins such as LDLs and HDLs act as cholesterol carriers.

LDLs may have earned their bad reputation due to the fact that, once they have deposited their cholesterol load, they become small enough to burrow into the linings of arteries where they can oxidize, resulting in damaging inflammation. Conversely, one of HDLs functions is to carry anti-oxidative enzymes to cells where they may help neutralize potential harm done by depleted LDLs’ oxidation.

The blood lipid profile is a primary screening tool for assessing an individual’s risk of developing coronary heart disease. The word “lipids” refers to fats and fat-like substances that are key regulators of cellular activity, such as the energetic functions of your body.[ii]

The effectiveness of this cellular transport system is dependent on having the right amount of healthy fats in your bloodstream. If an imbalance occurs, excess cholesterol may get deposited into the walls of blood vessels, eventually leading to atherosclerosis, or hardening of the arteries, that can cause heart attack and stroke due to blocked blood flow to the heart and brain.[iii]

In the focus study, 60 male subjects between the ages of 18 and 30 were randomly recruited and assigned into one of two groups: honey (experimental) and sucrose (control). Participants were included in the study if they were healthy, non-athletic and a non-smoker. Participants were excluded if they already consumed a large amount of honey in their daily life, took any sort of medication or had recently undergone major diet and lifestyle changes.

Body mass index (BMI) was measured and participants’ physical activity was self-reported via the International Physical Activity Questionnaire (IPAQ), a survey that assesses walking time, moderate and vigorous physical activities and time spent sitting throughout a typical week.

The experimental group received 70 grams of natural honey per day, while the control group received 70 grams of sucrose per day for a period of six weeks. Fasting lipid profile, including total cholesterol, HDL cholesterol, LDL and triacylglycerol, was determined for each subject at the beginning of the trial (baseline) via a 5-milliliter blood sample, which was collected in the morning after a 12-hour fasting period.

The lab tests were repeated after the six-week intervention period was complete. All 60 participants successfully completed the trial, and in the final analysis confounding variables including age, physical activity and some nutrient intake were adjusted.

Honey Improves Cholesterol While Table Sugar Is Toxic

Participants’ baseline measurements for fasting blood sugar, systolic blood pressure and diastolic blood pressure were not different between the honey and sucrose groups, indicating that there were no significant pre-existing differences between the groups at the beginning of the study. After the final blood lipid profiles were produced, researchers compiled the following findings:

  • Consumption of honey decreased total cholesterol and LDL and increased the presence of HDL in the blood.
  • Consumption of sucrose had the inverse effect, increasing total cholesterol and significantly raising LDL levels, while decreasing HDL in the blood.

In summary, total cholesterol significantly decreased in the honey group compared with the beginning of the trial, while total cholesterol increased in sucrose group. LDL cholesterol was decreased by honey consumption and increased by sugar intake. Honey also increased HDL cholesterol in the blood, while sucrose decreased the presence of this healthy fat.

The main finding of this study, noted researchers, was “the ability of natural honey to modulate some of the risk factors of cardiovascular disease.” According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), heart disease is the leading cause of death in the U.S. with one person dying from cardiovascular disease every 37 seconds.[iv] Researchers called for further clinical trials to confirm their promising results.

Honey: Nature’s Oldest Health Food

Honey has an unprecedented history of use as a food and medicament, stemming back as far as recorded history. It has been found in ancient Egyptian tombs, still perfectly preserved, and in cave art dating back some 8,000 years.[v] Honey contains many active biological constituents including polyphenols, nutritionally dense phytochemicals that have antioxidant properties.[vi]

Many studies have confirmed that polyphenols provide a protective effect against diseases such as heart disease, cancer, diabetes, arterial diseases and more.[vii] There are over 200 abstracts on GreenMedInfo.com extolling the numerous health benefits of consuming pure, raw honeyBecome a member today to access our in-depth research tools and learn more about how honey is one of nature’s most miraculous foods.


References

[i] The effect of honey consumption compared with sucrose on lipid profile in young healthy subjects (randomized clinical trial). Rasad H, Entezari MH, Ghadiri E, Mahaki B, Pahlavani N. Clin Nutr ESPEN. 2018 Aug;26:8-12. doi: 10.1016/j.clnesp.2018.04.016. PMID: 29908688

[ii] American Association for Clinical Chemistry, Lab Tests Online.org, Tests, Lipid panel https://labtestsonline.org/tests/lipid-panel

[iii] American Association for Clinical Chemistry, Lab Tests Online.org, Tests, Lipid panel https://labtestsonline.org/tests/lipid-panel

[iv] CDC, Heart disease, Facts https://www.cdc.gov/heartdisease/facts.htm

[v] Heathmont Honey, Bees, Honey history, https://www.heathmonthoney.com.au/bees/HoneyHistory.htm

[vi] Beneficial roles of honey polyphenols against some human degenerative diseases: A review.  Md Sakib Hossen, Pharmacol Rep. 2017 Dec;69(6):1194-1205. Epub 2017 Jul 4. PMID: 29128800

[vii] Beneficial roles of honey polyphenols against some human degenerative diseases: A review.  Md Sakib Hossen, Pharmacol Rep. 2017 Dec;69(6):1194-1205. Epub 2017 Jul 4. PMID: 29128800

Disclaimer: This article is not intended to provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Views expressed here do not necessarily reflect those of GreenMedInfo or its staff.

Breaking NEWS: Vaccine-like injection touted as better than statins for “preventing” heart disease

Reproduced from original article:
www.naturalhealth365.com/heart-disease-injection-3276.html
by:  | 2nd February 2020

heart-disease-shot(NaturalHealth365) We’ve reported on the dangers of statins many times on NaturalHealth365.  From mood dysfunction to memory loss, the world’s top-selling drug – prescribed to lower blood cholesterol in the hopes of managing or preventing heart disease – comes with many questionable side effects. Now, doctors in the United Kingdom are rushing to test a new cholesterol-lowering drug – only this one is a pricey injection.The new “heart jab” is supposed to work like a vaccine. It contains a drug called inclisiran, and the National Health Service (NHS) of Britain seems extremely hopeful about its potential impact on patients’ heart health. But is it safe long-term?

So-called “wonder jab” alleged to slash cholesterol levels is expensive and lacks support from long-term data

Inclisiran is from a class of drugs called PCSK9 inhibitors. PCSK9 inhibitors – including alirocumab (Praluent) and evolocumab (Repatha) – are very new to the British health market. They allegedly work by blocking the action of an enzyme called PCSK9; by inhibiting this enzyme, the liver can remove “lousy” LDL cholesterol from the blood more quickly.

Unlike alirocumab and evolocumab, however – which require a once or bi-monthly injection – inclisiran reportedly only needs to be injected once or twice per year. The drug works by turning off genes which normally make the PCSK9 enzyme. Reported side effects include back pain, aching muscles, diarrhea, headache, and fatigue.

Prior research on the drug revealed that inclisiran can decrease cholesterol by as much as 50 percent. Now, researchers, drug manufacturers, and the NHS seem so excited about this “wonder jab” that the NHS gave the green light for a new trial in Britain involving 40,000 middle-aged men and women who are taking statins and still have high cholesterol.

The very hopeful researchers claim that rolling out this drug onto the market could prevent as many as 55,000 heart attacks and strokes in the coming decade. Unfortunately, there are several valid points of contention with this new drug, and with the new trial that’s been shuttled so quickly down the pipeline:

Do NOT ignore the health dangers linked to toxic indoor air.  These chemicals – the ‘off-gassing’ of paints, mattresses, carpets and other home/office building materials – increase your risk of headaches, dementia, heart disease and cancer.

Get the BEST indoor air purification system – at the LOWEST price, exclusively for NaturalHealth365 readers.  I, personally use this system in my home AND office.  Click HERE to order now – before the sale ends.

  • No one knows whether inclisiran and the other PCSK9 inhibitors are safe long-term.
  • Inclisiran is about 100 times as expensive as statin drugs.
  • The PCSK9 enzyme is involved in multiple bodily processes – and nobody yet knows what kind of widespread consequences there will be, if any, of shutting the enzyme down.
  • Inclisiran does appear to reduce cholesterol levels – but there’s no proof it reduces the risk of heart disease.
  • It’s not entirely clear that improving your cholesterol levels is the key to improving heart health anyway! Several recent papers provide evidence which challenges the long-held belief that high cholesterol is a risk factor for heart disease. In fact, the true culprit appears to be chronic inflammation – which is something that inclisiran doesn’t influence.

Prevent heart disease and improve your heart health with these 5 nutrients

Does the world really need another expensive drug, anyway? If you’re of the millions of people around the world diagnosed with or at risk for heart disease, then be sure you’re getting these five nutrients into your diet regularly:

As we’ve previously reported, these and other nutrients work synergistically to optimize heart health. Studies show that these nutrients (from both food and supplements) decrease many risk factors associated with heart disease, including systemic inflammation, endothelial dysfunction, heart failure, atherosclerosis, and high blood pressure.

So before asking your doctor about the latest and “greatest” drugs, try evaluating your plate, first – a move that many health experts are urging the public to do.

Sources for this article include:

Yahoo.com
CDC.gov
Dailymail.co.uk
AJMC.com
BMJ.com
NaturalHealth365.com
NIH.gov

Protect your heart health with quercetin

Reproduced from original article:
www.naturalhealth365.com/heart-health-blood-pressure-3300.html

heart-health(NaturalHealth365) Flavonoids – compounds found in certain fruits and vegetables – are known for their ability to protect us from toxins, environmental radiation and (ultimately) the oxidative damage that causes disease.  Over the past decade, one flavonoid in particular has been studied for its immune-boosting, heart health and anti-aging benefits, with multiple studies showing quercetin’s ability to increase life span.Recently, a new meta-analysis dug into the incredible heart benefits of quercetin, finding that supplementation was effective at lowering blood pressure.  But, beyond that, it also offers a number of other health benefits that lower the risk of heart disease, such as reducing excessive amounts of cholesterol and reducing the risk of atherosclerosis.

Why quercetin is crucial to heart health

Evidence continues to accumulate showing that eating more foods that contain quercetin or adding a quality supplement to your diet can offer a wide range of health benefits.

In a meta-analysis published in Nutrition Reviews, researchers concluded that quercetin is effective at lowering blood pressure. After pooling results, they found that taking quercetin was associated with an average 2.86 mmHG reduction in patients’ diastolic blood pressure and a 3.09 mmHG reduction in their systolic blood pressure. Not only did it help reduce blood pressure across pooled results, it did so without causing unwanted side effects, as well.

In addition, other studies have backed up this recent conclusion.  While some studies found that taking high amounts of quercetin helped reduce blood pressure, others discovered that even taking lower levels of its supplemental form could result in improved blood pressure numbers.

Researchers believe that it works by reducing the “stickiness” of platelets and helping artery linings stay healthy, keeping them relaxed to reduce pressure and improve overall blood flow.

Do NOT ignore the health dangers linked to toxic indoor air.  These chemicals – the ‘off-gassing’ of paints, mattresses, carpets and other home/office building materials – increase your risk of headaches, dementia, heart disease and cancer.

Get the BEST indoor air purification system – at the LOWEST price, exclusively for NaturalHealth365 readers.  I, personally use this system in my home AND office.  Click HERE to order now – before the sale ends.

More great news about the health benefits of quercetin

One study showed that in men between the ages of 65 and 84, those who had the highest intake of flavonoids like quercetin were 68% less likely to die from heart disease than those who had the lowest intake. Similar studies have backed up the idea that quercetin offers dramatic cardiovascular protection.

One study on quercetin’s impact on cholesterol found that taking 100 mg of the supplement daily significantly improved cholesterol levels, and it also improved blood sugar – which is another risk factor for heart disease. A larger study found that quercetin not only reduce “bad” cholesterol, it increased the levels of “good” (HDL) cholesterol.

To reap the heart health benefits of quercetin, you can add more foods to your diet that contain this flavonoid or take a supplement. Foods that contain quercetin include deeply colored vegetables, dark leafy greens, legumes, cocoa, green tea, olive oil, deeply colored berries, and beans.

However, if you’re considering a quercetin supplement and you’re already on blood thinners, it’s essential to discuss this with your integrative physician.

Sources for this article include:

LifeExtension.com
LifeExtension.com
NaturalHealth365.com

Daily Aspirin — Healthy or Harmful?


Reproduced from original article:
https://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2020/02/17/daily-aspirin.aspx

Analysis by Dr. Joseph Mercola     
daily aspirin

STORY AT-A-GLANCE

  • Prophylactic aspirin use in adults over the age of 70 is potentially harmful, primarily due to the increased risk of bleeding in this age group. Long-term low-dose aspirin therapy nearly doubles your risk for gastrointestinal bleeding
  • In adults younger than 40, there is insufficient evidence to judge the risk-benefit ratio of routine aspirin for the primary prevention of heart disease
  • While daily aspirin is still recommended for people with heart disease to lower the risk of another heart attack or stroke, previous studies have cast doubt on the effectiveness of this approach as well
  • You may be able to achieve the same kind of cardiovascular protection by donating blood. The bleeding caused by aspirin may be part of why it lowers your risk of heart attack and stroke, as bleeding will lower your iron level. People taking seven aspirins per week have been shown to have 25% lower mean serum ferritin than nonusers
  • Other aspirin alternatives include nattokinase and lumbrokinase, both of which are potent thrombolytics, comparable to aspirin without the serious side effects. They break down blood clots and reduce the risk of serious clotting by dissolving excess fibrin, improving circulation and decreasing blood viscosity

In decades past, a daily low-dose aspirin regimen was frequently recommended as a primary prevention strategy against heart disease. However, the evidence in support of it was rather weak, and kept getting weaker as time went on.

I stopped recommending daily “baby aspirin” use for the prevention of heart disease over two decades ago, due to the growing evidence of harmful side effects.

The primary justification for a daily aspirin regimen has been that it inhibits prostaglandin production,1 thereby decreasing your blood’s ability to form dangerous clots. However, in more recent years, most public health authorities have reversed their stance on the practice of using aspirin for primary prevention.

‘Baby’ Aspirin No Longer Recommended as Primary Prevention

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration reversed its position on daily low-dose aspirin as primary prevention for heart disease in 2014,2 citing clearly established side effects — including dangerous brain and stomach bleeding — and a lack of clear benefit for patients who have never had a heart attack, stroke or cardiovascular disease.

In 2019, the American Heart Association (AHA) and American College of Cardiology updated their clinical guidelines on the primary prevention of cardiovascular disease,3 spelling out many of the controversial findings on prophylactic aspirin use.

Importantly, studies have found that prophylactic aspirin use in adults over the age of 70 is potentially harmful, primarily due to the increased risk of bleeding in this age group. As noted in one 2009 paper,4 long-term low-dose aspirin therapy nearly doubles your risk for gastrointestinal bleeding.

Older people are, of course, more likely to be at high risk for heart disease, and thus more likely to be put on aspirin therapy. In younger adults, the risks are less clear-cut.

As noted in the AHA guideline, in adults younger than 40, “there is insufficient evidence to judge the risk-benefit ratio of routine aspirin for the primary prevention of atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease.”5

That said, the conventional recommendation to avoid a daily aspirin regimen only applies to primary prevention of heart disease in those with no history of heart problems, or those with low or moderate risk for heart disease. As reported by the AHA:6

“The new recommendation doesn’t apply to people who already have had a stroke or heart attack, or who have undergone bypass surgery or a procedure to insert a stent in their coronary arteries.

These individuals already have cardiovascular disease and should continue to take low-dose aspirin daily, or as recommended by their health care provider, to prevent another occurrence …”

Is Aspirin Regimen Safe for Heart Disease Patients?

While daily low-dose aspirin continues to be recommended for patients who already have heart disease, there’s evidence suggesting it may not be an ideal solution for them either.

For example, the WASH (warfarin/aspirin study in heart failure) study7 published in 2004 — which assessed the risks and benefits of aspirin and the blood thinner warfarin in heart failure patients — found those who received aspirin treatment (300 mg/day) actually had the worst cardiac outcomes, including worsening heart failure. According to the authors, there was “no evidence that aspirin is effective or safe in patients with heart failure.”

Similarly, a 2010 study8 found older heart disease patients who had a prior history of aspirin use had more comorbidities and a higher risk of recurrent heart attack than those who had not been on aspirin therapy.

Aspirin has also not been proven safe or effective for diabetics, who are at increased risk for heart disease and therefore likely to be put on an aspirin regimen.

For example, a 2009 meta-analysis9 of six studies found no clear evidence that aspirin is effective in preventing cardiovascular events in people with diabetes, although men may derive some benefit.

Another 2009 study10 that examined the effects of aspirin therapy in diabetic patients found it “significantly increased mortality in diabetic patients without cardiovascular disease from 17% at age 50 years to 29% at age 85 years.”

On the other hand, it did lower mortality in elderly diabetic patients who also had cardiovascular disease. A meta-analysis11 published in 2010 also concluded aspirin did not reduce the heart attack risk in diabetic individuals.

Advertisement

Click here to find out why 5G wireless is NOT harmless


Why Phlebotomy May Be a Better Option Than Aspirin Therapy

While the benefits of low-dose aspirin may outweigh the risks for some people, I believe you may be able to achieve similar cardiovascular protection by doing therapeutic phlebotomies.

There’s evidence to suggest that the bleeding caused by aspirin may in fact be part of why it lowers your risk of heart attack and stroke, as bleeding will lower your iron level. Aspirin’s ability to lower inflammation may be another factor at play.

As shown in a 2001 study,12 people taking seven aspirins per week had 25% lower mean serum ferritin than nonusers. The effect was most marked in diseased subjects, compared to healthy ones. As explained by the authors:

“Atherosclerosis, a primary cause of myocardial infarction (MI), is an inflammatory disease. Aspirin use lowers risk of MI, probably through antithrombotic and anti-inflammatory effects.

Because serum ferritin (SF) can be elevated spuriously by inflammation, reported associations between elevated SF, used as an indicator of iron stores, and heart disease could be confounded by occult inflammation and aspirin use if they affect SF independently of iron status …

Aspirin use is associated with lower SF. We suggest this effect results from possible increased occult blood loss and a cytokine-mediated effect on SF in subjects with inflammation, infection, or liver disease.”

Most people, physicians included, fail to appreciate that — aside from blood loss, including menstruation — the body has no significant way to excrete excess iron. There are very minor amounts lost through normal bodily processes, but not enough to move the needle on overall iron levels.

Between supplementation, fortification and the iron that occurs naturally in foods, it’s very easy to end up with excessive levels. In fact, most adult men and postmenopausal women are at risk for excess iron and need regular blood testing for ferritin.

Excessive iron causes significant oxidative stress, catalyzing the formation of excessive free radicals that damage your cellular and mitochondrial membranes, proteins and DNA. It is a potent contributor to increased risks of cancers, heart disease and neurodegenerative diseases. You can learn more about the ins and outs of excess iron in “Why Managing Your Iron Level Is Crucial to Your Health.”

While dangerous, iron overload is easy and inexpensive to treat. All you really need to do is monitor your serum ferritin and/or gamma-glutamyl transpeptidase (GGT) levels, avoid iron supplements, and be sure to donate blood on a regular basis.

By doing this, you can avoid serious health problems, and donating blood is a far safer way to lower your iron stores than taking aspirin and losing blood via internal bleeding.

Aspirin Linked to Lower Risk of Death

Interestingly, a 2019 study13 found prophylactic aspirin use may lower the risk of all-cause cancer, gastrointestinal (GI) cancer and colorectal cancer mortality among older adults.

The study included 146,152 individuals with a mean age of 66.3 years who participated in the Prostate, Lung, Colorectal, and Ovarian Cancer Screening Trial. The median follow-up time was 12.5 years. Those taking aspirin at least three times a week had a:

  • 19% lower risk of death from all causes
  • 15% lower risk of death from any cancer
  • 25% lower risk of death from GI cancer
  • 29% lower risk of death from colorectal cancer

Having a higher body mass index (BMI between 25 and 29.9) lowered these percentages by 1%, with the exception of colorectal cancer. In this group, colorectal cancer death decreased by 34%.

No observable benefit of aspirin use was found in underweight individuals (BMI below 20), which led the researchers to hypothesize that “the efficacy of aspirin as a cancer preventive agent may be associated with BMI,”14 although this theory needs to be confirmed in future studies. The authors also warn that prophylactic aspirin therapy for cancer prevention would need to be weighed against the increased risk of bleeding.

Other Health Risks Associated With Long-Term Aspirin Use

Overall, there’s a lot of evidence against long-term daily aspirin therapy. The risk of internal bleeding is one significant concern, which is further magnified if you’re taking antidepressants or blood thinning medications such as Plavix.

Using aspirin in combination with SSRI antidepressants has been shown to increase your risk of abnormal bleeding by 42%, compared to those taking aspirin alone,15 and taking aspirin (325 mg/day) with Plavix has been shown to nearly double your risk of major hemorrhage and significantly increase your risk of death, while not affecting your risk of recurrent stroke to any significant degree.16

Aside from damaging your gastrointestinal tract,17,18 routine aspirin use has also been linked to an increased risk for cataracts,19 neovascular (wet) macular degeneration,20 tinnitus21 and hearing loss in men.22

Nattokinase Reduces Clot Formation Without Side Effects

Aside from donating blood to lower your iron level (provided it’s elevated), nattokinase is another far safer alternative to a daily aspirin regimen. Nattokinase, produced by the bacteria Bacillus subtilis during the fermentation of soybeans to produce natto,23 is a strong thrombolytic,24 comparable to aspirin without the serious side effects.

It’s been shown to break down blood clots and reduce the risk of serious clotting25 by dissolving excess fibrin in your blood vessels,26 improving circulation and decreasing blood viscosity. These effects can also help reduce high blood pressure.27

As noted in a 2018 paper,28 nattokinase appears to be a promising alternative in the prevention and treatment of cardiovascular diseases, and has been linked to a reduction in cardiovascular disease mortality.

Lumbrokinase Is Even Better Than Nattokinase

Yet another alternative is lumbrokinase, a complex fibrinolytic enzyme extracted from earthworms. Like nattokinase, lumbrokinase boosts circulatory health by reducing blood viscosity, reducing blood clotting factor activity and degrading fibrin, which is a key factor in clot formation.29,30

Some researchers have suggested lumbrokinase could be used “as secondary prevention after acute thrombosis,” such as heart attacks and stroke.31 A 2008 study32 that explored “the mechanisms involved in the anti-ischemic action of lumbrokinase (LK) in the brain,” found it protected against cerebral ischemia via several mechanisms and pathways. As explained by the authors:

“These data indicated that the anti-ischemic activity of LK was due to its anti-platelet activity by elevating cAMP level and attenuating the calcium release from calcium stores, the anti-thrombosis action due to inhibiting of ICAM-1 expression, and the anti-apoptotic effect due to the activation of JAK1/STAT1 pathway.”

A 2009 pilot study33 that used lumbrokinase in patients with coronary artery disease and stable angina found it improved angina symptoms in 40% of patients and lowered the summed stress score by 29% (the summed stress score is a risk indicator for a cardiac event over the next 12 months34). According to the authors, “Oral lumbrokinase improves regional myocardial perfusion in patients with stable angina.”

Boosting Mitochondrial Biogenesis With Ginger

© 18th January 2020 GreenMedInfo LLC. This work is reproduced and distributed with the permission of GreenMedInfo LLC. Want to learn more from GreenMedInfo? Sign up for the newsletter here www.greenmedinfo.com/greenmed/newsletter
Reproduced from original article:
www.greenmedinfo.com/blog/boosting-mitochondrial-biogenesis-ginger

Posted on: January 18th 2020 at 4:00 pm
Disclaimer: This article is not intended to provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Views expressed here do not necessarily reflect those of GreenMedInfo or its staff.

Is the Mediterranean Diet the Best Diet on the Planet?

© 28th January 2020 GreenMedInfo LLC. This work is reproduced and distributed with the permission of GreenMedInfo LLC. Want to learn more from GreenMedInfo? Sign up for the newsletter here www.greenmedinfo.com/greenmed/newsletter
Reproduced from original article:
https://www.greenmedinfo.com/blog/mediterranean-diet-best-diet-planet

Posted on: Tuesday, January 28th 2020 at 1:15 pm

The Mediterranean Diet has been rated as the healthiest diet on the planet three years in a row, and as the meals are simple to prepare and truly delicious, it has also been ranked as the easiest diet to follow long term

The diet itself is based upon the eating habits of people living around the Mediterranean Sea: Spain, France, Italy, Greece, and Turkey, as well as middle eastern and northern African countries.

What these cuisines have in common is the consumption of fresh, seasonal, whole foods featuring vegetablesfruitsbeansnutsherbs and spices; the predominate use of extra-virgin olive oil instead of butter, margarine, or vegetable oils; moderate amounts of seafood and poultry; and the moderate consumption of red wine. What the Mediterranean diet specifically has avoided is processed foods, sugar, sweeteners, and artificial flavors. Red meats are rarely on the menu or are used sparingly to flavor a dish.

Overall, a Mediterranean eating plan is extremely versatile. You can follow a vegetarian version very easily. You can skip breakfast and include partial intermittent fasting and benefit from ketosis several mornings per week. And as I’ll expand upon shortly, you can also limit the glycemic load (sugar-load) to enhance blood sugar control and weight loss.

For 2020, The US News and World Report rated the Mediterranean diet as:

  • The best diet overall
  • The best diabetes diet
  • The best diet for healthy eating
  • The best plant-based diet
  • The easiest diet to follow

It won similar awards in 2018 and 2019. These honors should not be too surprising, as Mediterranean countries have some of the longest life spans on the planet and they have lower rates of heart disease, diabetes, memory loss, cancer, and obesity than nearly all other western countries. The people of Spain, who follow the Mediterranean diet perhaps the closest, have the longest lifespan and the best health of any country in the Western world, and are anticipated to surpass Japan for longest lived country on the planet by 2030.

Considering all these benefits, I felt compelled to write a book, The Mediterranean Method, to help promote this eating plan and to make it simple to follow. The research included reading nearly 1,000 scientific journal articles, plus, my wife Nicole and I bought a sailboat in Europe with the goal to evaluate the food, lifestyle, and health habits of people living on the Mediterranean Sea. We spent 10 months sailing from Spain to Turkey during the spring and summers of 2018 and 2019. We followed the coastline along Spain, France, Corsica, western Italy, across to Greece and through the Cyclade Islands, and on to Turkey. We visited small ports, food markets, mom and pop family run restaurants, and searched for regional recipes that were easy to prepare, delicious, and healthy. What was amazing was how inexpensive and delicious the food was. And how opinionated locals were about how to prepare a dish within each region. Whether one worked in a food market, at a gas station, or drove a taxi, everyone cared about what ingredients went into local dishes and how they were prepared.

Let’s look more closely at the top three health benefits from following a Mediterranean Diet:

  • Better Weight Control
  • Reverse and Prevent Heart Disease
  • Improve Cognitive Function and Prevent Memory Loss

Better Weight Control

In 2016, Dr. Joseph Mancini and his colleagues evaluated five randomized weight-loss trials with more than 1,000 subjects on various dietary regimens including low-fat, low-carb, and Mediterranean. These subjects were followed for at least 12 months, a meaningful length of time given most people lose weight in the short term and regain it later. The research found that the Mediterranean Diet was more effective than the low-fat diet, and equally as effective as a low-carb diet over the long-term. What’s more, they concluded that those following the Mediterranean Diet not only lost weight, but they had the best improvements in lipid and metabolic profile. The typical weight loss ranged from 10 to 22 pounds lost throughout the 12-months.

Preventing Heart Disease

Heart disease remains the #1 killer for men and women, even though studies have shown we can prevent 90 percent of heart disease with the right lifestyle changes–our biggest challenge is finding a diet and lifestyle that people are willing to follow long-term.

In 2003, the Greek EPIC trial showed that the closer subjects followed a Mediterranean eating plan, the lower their rate of cardiovascular events. Subsequent studies have shown that the closer people living outside the Mediterranean follow this same diet, the less heart disease and longer life they enjoy.

Then in 2018, the large-scale landmark PREDIMED study with over 7,000 subjects published in The New England Journal of Medicine affirmed the cardiovascular-fighting reputation of the Mediterranean Diet; those who followed a Mediterranean diet and added extra nuts or olive oil had 30% fewer events than those following a low-fat diet.

Data published from my own clinic has shown that in patients who follow a low-glycemic version of a Mediterranean diet, the average person shrinks their artery plaque load over time (measured with carotid ultrasound testing), and amazingly, hundreds of our patients had more than a 10% regression in their arterial plaque load over an average of 2-3 years.

Enhancing Cognition and Preventing Memory Loss

The most expensive disease in the U.S. and most western countries is dementia; recent estimates are that the total bill to treat it exceeds $278 billion per year. More startling is that the rates of memory loss and Alzheimer’s disease are predicted to double over the next 15 years.

Yet, just as we can prevent most cases or heart disease, there is now growing evidence that we can also prevent dementia and cognitive decline with the right lifestyle changes. PREDIMED researchers tracked the impact on cognition of the dietary interventions over 6.5 years on over 500 participants and controlled for multiple lifestyle and health factors. Those randomized to a low-fat diet had lower overall cognitive scores and more progression to dementia than those in the Mediterranean diet group.

Many other studies have also shown cognitive improvement and/or reduced cognitive impairment with following a Mediterranean diet, including the FINGER trial, Three-City study in France, the Chicago Health and Aging Project (CHAP), and in a group of more than 1,200 Puerto Rican adults living in the U.S.

Data published from my own clinic confirmed that the closer a person follows these dietary recommendations, the better their brain processing speed and cognitive scores, results which have continued over 12 years of follow up.

Myths Regarding a Mediterranean Diet

Despite the many health benefits of this eating plan, and the delicious food it provides, there are several misunderstandings that threaten to eliminate these benefits. Let’s clarify several right now, dealing with the top six myths.

MYTH #1. YOU CAN EAT ALL THE HEALTHY FOOD YOU WANT

There’s no need to put a hard limit on daily servings of vegetables (you won’t overdo it because you’ll naturally fill up on fiber), but it is possible, for instance, to overeat walnuts or almond butter, or use too much olive oil, particularly if you’re dipping pieces of bread into it.

MYTH #2. EATING MEDITERRANEAN MEANS EATING PASTA, BREAD AND PIZZA

You can easily overdo the portion size, even with whole grains. When you see grains and cereals on the Mediterranean diet, this doesn’t mean a giant platter of pasta, unlimited bread (even if it’s organic and whole grain), or bowls of rice (even if it’s brown rice). It’s important to control your portions of grains and cereals, and as you’ll read in a moment, of all the food components listed in the Mediterranean diet, whole grains provide the least health benefit.

Further, when you grind a grain into flour, such as bread, that processed grain has a much higher glycemic load (sugar load) than the same amount of whole grain. If we want healthy blood sugar control, we all need to limit or avoid even whole grain products that are processed into flour—such as bread, crackers, cake, and pancakes.

MYTH #3. EATING SEAFOOD ON OCCASION WILL BENEFIT YOUR HEART

Eating fish merely a few times a month won’t yield the disease-fighting benefits of the Mediterranean diet, particularly for the heart and brain. Because of the benefits from consuming long chain omega-3 fats that are found only in seafood, aim to eat seafood at least twice a week–preferably three to five times per week. Seafood includes fish, shellfish, and seaweed.

If you are vegetarian, or avoid fish and shellfish for other reasons, plan to either eat seaweed several times per week, as in a cup portion of seaweed salad, or take a seaweed DHA supplement daily.

MYTH #4. ALL CHEESES (AND YOGURTS) ARE CREATED EQUAL

Treating pasteurized cheese as a go-to food–compared, for example, with raw, probiotic-rich and vitamin K2-loaded camembert–is a mistake. The same goes for yogurt and kefir. Many of my patients are shocked when I explain that fruit-flavored yogurt has more sugar than ice cream. As with so many components of the Mediterranean diet, when choosing your foods, simple and unsweetened is best.

If you avoid dairy products, you still need some source of probiotic food source, which can easily be obtained by using coconut yogurt sources, and other pickled foods, such as sauerkraut, olives, capers, and Asian foods such as miso and kombucha.

MYTH #5. YOU CAN SKIP THE BEANS

Don’t miss out on this fiber-packed superfood that is one of the best foods for controlling blood sugar, and it’s the #1 all-time top food for blocking disease-causing oxidation. They are also loaded with fiber, protein, B vitamins, and calcium. In Mediterranean cuisine, beans are the healthy foundation for countless meals and are used often as a side dish as well.

However, 10% of people appear to be lectin intolerant–they develop major gastrointestinal symptoms when they consume beans. The process of soaking (so called sprouting) appears to help, but if you have a lectin intolerance, just like any food intolerance, then avoid beans.

MYTH #6. YOU CAN USE EXTRA-VIRGIN OLIVE OIL FOR ALL YOUR COOKING NEEDS

Don’t use extra-virgin olive oil for high-heat cooking, or even medium-high heat. Once it reaches 400ºF–its smoke point, the maximum temperature it can reach before it breaks down and becomes a damaged fat–extra-virgin olive oil starts losing nutritional value, not to mention its complex and delicate flavors. For medium-high heat cooking, use avocado and/or almond oil) instead.

Save flavorful extra-virgin olive oil for drizzling over foods, making dressings, and for low or medium heat cooking.

Adapting the Mediterranean Diet to the 21st Century

Despite all these clear health benefits, there are some limitations related to the Mediterranean diet that should be applied to living in the 21st century.

First, the original Mediterranean diet was followed by farmers, fisherman, and herders–men and women who were physically active for 6 to 10 hours per day. Very few can achieve this much movement today. We therefore need to modify an eating plan with a lower glycemic load to match our activity level.

Second, studies that have evaluated the Mediterranean diet have also assessed what components of the traditional eating plan had the most and least health benefit. Results from the EPIC trial showed that consuming vegetables, fruit, beans, nuts, and olive oil provided the greatest benefit, and eating whole grains provided the least–likely related to their glycemic load.

A more recent study, The EPIC Greek Cohort study, published in 2012, analyzed adherence to a Mediterranean Diet, and glycemic load intake. It concluded that those who adhered to a Mediterranean Diet and had the lowest glycemic load intake had the best health benefits of all. And if the subjects were overweight, the benefits of following a low-glycemic load version of a Mediterranean Diet were even greater.

This low-glycemic version has the added advantage of appealing to many people who have already shifted towards a low-carb and/or Paleo eating plan, and switching from a low-carb to a Mediterranean diet will usually increase their nutrient dramatically.

Beyond Food

Though there are many proven benefits to following a low-glycemic version of a Mediterranean diet, the health benefits of the Mediterranean lifestyle are not solely limited to food intake. Mediterranean people are more active than we are in the U.S., they spend more time walking and cycling to work and for daily shopping, and they spend more time outdoors and with nature.

How they eat is important as well. They enjoy long, leisurely meals typically with friends and family, which fosters close social connections, which is likely related to the fact that they have lower rates of anxiety and depression than are found in the U.S.

Summary

Let me share my version of the food and lifestyle pyramid of a low-glycemic Mediterranean diet, adapted from my book, The Mediterranean Method.

The pyramid’s foundation is the lifestyle, which features activity, social interaction, cooking, and mindful-leisurely eating.

Foods and beverages that are consumed daily include vegetables, fruits, beans, nuts, olive oil, herbs and spices, yogurt, dark chocolate, and water, with moderate intake of red wine and coffee or tea. Seafood, poultry, eggs, and other probiotic-rich dairy products are on the menu several times a week, although a vegetarian or vegan version without animal protein is very feasible. Whole grains are also an option, although served in small portions (and gluten free as needed).

Unlike many diets that are popular today, notice that almost no real foods are completely banned–for a special occasion, you can still enjoy special treats that fit the affair–the key is that you limit them to a special event, and that you eat real, unprocessed food.

The Mediterranean Diet is not just a short-term eating plan. It has been followed for centuries, generation after generation, tested in numerous long-term clinical studies, and been found to be the best diet on the planet for long term adherence and for healthy eating. The food is delicious, generally simple and easy to prepare, and the ingredients can be found at your local grocery store. This is an eating plan that truly combines proven health benefits with delicious food–no other diet can embrace the saying as well–To Your Health & Bon Appétit!

Disclaimer: This article is not intended to provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Views expressed here do not necessarily reflect those of GreenMedInfo or its staff.

What Your Heart Rate Variability Tells You About Your Health


Reproduced from original article:
https://fitness.mercola.com/sites/fitness/archive/2020/02/14/heart-rate-variability.aspx

Analysis by Dr. Joseph Mercola     

heart rate variability

STORY AT-A-GLANCE

  • Your heart rate variability (HRV) is a measure of the variations in time elapsed between your heartbeats, and is representative of your heart’s ability to respond to physiological and environmental stressors
  • A healthy heart rhythm is not perfectly even. When your heartrate is monotonously regular, your HRV will be low. Low HRV is associated with autonomic nervous system (ANS) impairment, which reduces your body’s ability to cope with stressors
  • When your HRV is high, the intervals between heartbeats is large and irregular, and this is an indication of augmented resilience against stress. High HRV is also indicative of greater cardiovascular fitness
  • Research shows the parasympathetic activity of patients with ischemic heart disease is one-third lower, on average, than that of a healthy individual, and low HRV is a strong and independent predictor of mortality after an acute myocardial infarction
  • High blood pressure, smoking, diabetes and stress decrease your parasympathetic activity, thus raising your risk of a cardiac event. Factors that upregulate your parasympathetic nervous system and protect your heart include dietary nitrates that stimulate nitric oxide production and foods or supplements that stimulate acetylcholine production, such as eggs and other choline-rich foods

Your heart rate variability (HRV) is a measure of the variations in time elapsed between your heartbeats, and is representative of your heart’s ability to respond to physiological and environmental stress stimuli.1,2,3,4,5

Contrary to what might seem logical at first glance, a healthy heart rhythm is not perfectly even. When your heartrate is “monotonously regular,” your HRV will be low. Low HRV is associated with autonomic nervous system (ANS) impairment,6 which reduces your body’s ability to cope with stressors, be they internal or external.

As such, HRV is a good stress indicator. When your HRV is high, the intervals between heartbeats is “large and irregular,” and this is an indication of augmented resilience against stress.7 High HRV is also indicative of greater cardiovascular fitness.8

Some experts now believe HRV may actually be one of the most important biomarkers of cardiovascular health, even more so than standard testing like cholesterol, C-reactive protein and even blood pressure.9

Indeed, as detailed in Dr. Thomas Cowan’s guest article about the real cause of heart attacks, published in 2014, increasing our understanding of the role of the autonomic nervous system in the development of ischemia (inadequate blood flow to the heart) — and how we can use HRV as a measure of risk — could revolutionize the prevention and treatment of heart disease. We’re inching ever closer to that as time goes on.

HRV and Your Autonomic Nervous System

As you probably know, you have two distinct nervous systems:

  1. The central nervous system (CNS), which controls conscious muscle and nerve functions
  2. The autonomic nervous system (ANS), which controls the unconscious function of your internal organs

Your ANS is crucial for optimal health, as it controls things like breathing, heart rate, sweating, digestion and the general functioning of your internal organs. If your ANS is dysfunctional or blocked, you’re bound to experience health problems.

There are any number of factors that can cause your ANS to not function properly. Examples include but are not limited to the following. To determine whether one or more of the factors listed below are affecting your ANS, you would perform a stress or challenge test to see how the suspected factor affects your HRV.

Food allergies Psychological and/or spiritual issues
Dehydration Heavy metal toxicity
Nutritional deficiencies Infections
Geopathic field stress Electromagnetic field stress
Structural problems Scars
Synthetic clothing, underwire bras and jewelry such as glasses and watches Pesticide and herbicide exposure
Prosthetics Visual problems

ANS Imbalance May Be a Key Factor in Your Heart Disease

Your ANS is further divided into two branches, namely your:

1.Sympathetic nervous system (SNS) — This system, also known as “fight or flight,” is centered in your adrenal medulla and uses adrenaline to ready your body for action in response to perceived threat. A series of biochemical responses are thus triggered, including glycolytic pathways that accelerate the breakdown of glucose for a rapid energy boost.

2.Parasympathetic nervous system (PNS) — This branch, known as the “rest and digest” arm of the ANS (relaxation response), is centered in your adrenal cortex. Its chemical mediators include acetylcholine, nitric oxide and cyclic guanosine monophosphate (cGMP).

Your PNS plays a central role in alleviating the stress response.10 When your HRV is low and your PNS is inhibited, you’re more vulnerable to the detrimental effects of future stress.11

Your vagus nerve, which is part of the parasympathetic chain, modulates your heart activity, slowing your heartbeat and relaxing your heart when your PNS is activated. When your SNS is activated, your vagus nerve will accelerate your heartbeat and cause constriction in your heart muscle.

When you’re healthy, these two branches of your ANS — the SNS and PNS — are well-balanced yet in a “ready” state. According to Cowan, an imbalance in your SNS and PNS is responsible for the vast majority of heart disease.

Advertisement

Click here to be among the first to get a copy of EMF*D


HRV Measures Your ANS Status

By monitoring your HRV, you can get a clear idea of your ANS status in real time. Again, the reason for this is because your ANS controls your heart rhythm. Research12 published in 2004 shows the parasympathetic activity of patients with ischemic heart disease is one-third lower, on average, than that of a healthy individual. As explained in the abstract:13

“About three quarters of myocardial ischemic events are triggered by the autonomic nervous system. The pathognomonic constellation is a combination of an almost complete withdrawal of tonic vagal activity with increased sympathetic activity.

The reduction of tonic vagal activity, which is characteristic for ischemic heart disease, and the acute withdrawal of vagal drive preceding the onset of ischemia are not dependent on coronary artery disease.

In this paper, the pathophysiological steps that lead from sympathetic-parasympathetic imbalance to myocardial ischemia shall be discussed. A considerable increase of aerobic glycolysis within the myocardium as a result of the autonomic imbalance is of special importance in this process.”

As a general rule, the worse your ischemia is, the lower your parasympathetic activity will be.14 As noted in the 2004 study above, a vast majority of ischemic events are preceded by a drastic reduction in parasympathetic activity in conjunction with increased sympathetic activity, brought on by strenuous physical activity or emotional shock, for example.15

In stark contrast, people with normal parasympathetic activity who experience an abrupt increase in sympathetic activity do not suffer from ischemia.

So, to summarize, in order for you to have a heart attack, you must experience both a drastic decrease in parasympathetic activity and an increase in sympathetic activity. In the absence of those two simultaneous factors, you’re unlikely to have a heart attack.

Vagus Flow Nearly Stops Before and During Ischemic Events

This flies in the face of conventional thought that says heart attacks are simply the result of one or more blocked arteries. But as noted in the 2004 study above, “the acute withdrawal of vagal drive preceding the onset of ischemia are not dependent on coronary artery disease.” In other words, your likelihood of having a heart attack is not dependent on having blocked arteries.

Instead, your heart attack risk is primarily dependent on the functioning of your ANS. Studies have also shown your risk of actually dying from a heart attack is significantly increased if your HRV is low. In fact, low HRV has been shown to be a “strong and independent predictor of mortality after an acute myocardial infarction.”16

An earlier study17 by the same author, this one published in 1997, looked at the role of ANS activity before and during transient ischemic events, using HRV measurements. As noted in this paper:

“With two exceptions, all ischemic episodes were preceded by an acute almost complete suppression of respiratory sinus arrhythmia. During the entire ischemic episode, HRV stayed at this reduced level, and preceding the end of the ischemia, it increased again.

This suppression of intrinsic heart period variations reflects an almost complete withdrawal of modulated vagal outflow immediately before and during ischemic episodes.”

The take-home message here is that while we all experience times of excess sympathetic activity (fight-or-flight mode), thanks to the stresses of daily life, shocks to your system only become dangerous to your health when your parasympathetic activity (relaxation response) is suppressed for a long period of time.

Factors that decrease vagal activity include high blood pressure, smoking and diabetes, while physical and emotional stress decrease your parasympathetic activity.18 All of these factors, then, contribute to heart problems and raise your risk of a cardiac event.

On the flip-side, factors that upregulate your PNS include dietary nitrates that stimulate nitric oxide production and foods or supplements that stimulate acetylcholine production, such as eggs and other choline-rich foods.19

HRV as an Objective Indicator of Stress and Mental Health

HRV does more than measure and predict your heart health, though. As explained in a review paper20 published in Psychiatry Investigation in 2019, SNS hyperactivation caused by chronic stress can cause “physical, psychological, and behavioral abnormalities,” and HRV can be used as a psychological stress indicator and an objective assessment tool of mental health.

The paper reviews 37 publications where HRV reactivity was used as an objective psychological stress measure. According to the authors:21

“In most studies, HRV variables changed in response to stress induced by various methods. The most frequently reported factor associated with variation in HRV variables was low parasympathetic activity …

Neuroimaging studies suggested that HRV may be linked to cortical regions (e.g., the ventromedial prefrontal cortex) that are involved in stressful situation appraisal.”

The Three-Stage Stress Response Model in Clinical Practice

The Psychiatry Investigation paper also presents a three-stage stress response model, and explains how HRV can be used in a clinical setting to assess a patient’s overall health and disease risk:22

“The first stage is the ‘alarm reaction stage,’ in which the body reacts to a stressor with the fight-or-flight response and activates the SNS. The second stage is the ‘resistance stage,’ in which the body adapts to the stressor. During this stage, the PNS restores many physiological functions to normal, while the body focuses its resources against the stressor.

Although the outward appearance of the organism seems normal, blood glucose, cortisol, and adrenalin levels remain elevated. If a stressor continues beyond the body’s capacity to cope, the organism exhausts its resources, making it susceptible to disease or death. This ‘exhaustion stage’ is reached when the acquired adaptation or resistance is lost.

When assessing the severity of a patient’s stress level in a clinical setting, HRV results should be interpreted with this three-stage process in mind. At each stage, stress causes changes in physiological function, which are reflected in HRV changes.

Due to the variety of potential stressors and individual stress responses, it is essential to understand the overall autonomic context and examine a patient’s medical and psychological history when interpreting the relationship between HRV and stress.”

HRV and Inflammation

Your HRV can also give you an idea of your inflammation levels. Inflammation, of course, is a hallmark of cardiovascular disease, but most other chronic diseases involve elevated inflammation levels as well. As noted in a 2013 review paper in Frontiers of Physiology:23

“Many experimental and clinical studies have confirmed a continuous cross-talk between both sympathetic and parasympathetic branches of autonomic nervous system and inflammatory response, in different clinical scenarios.

In cardiovascular diseases, inflammation has been proven to play a pivotal role in disease progression, pathogenesis and resolution.

A few clinical studies have assessed the possible inter-relation between neuro-autonomic output, estimated with heart rate variability analysis, which is the variability of R-R in the electrocardiogram, and different inflammatory biomarkers, in patients suffering from stable or unstable coronary artery disease (CAD) and heart failure.

Moreover, different indices derived from heart rate signals’ processing, have been proven to correlate strongly with severity of heart disease and predict final outcome.”

As explained in this paper, both the SNS and PNS are powerful modulators of inflammation. When the two are properly balanced, they promote an anti-inflammatory landscape.

HRV and Your Overall Health

Low HRV has been linked to a range of diseases, either by promoting inflammation or via other mechanisms. It’s also been shown to be a reliable predictor of disease progression.24

Diabetes, for example, is a risk factor for heart disease and stroke, and being able to detect the early signs of complications can go a long way toward lowering your risk of death. HRV can be a valuable tool in this regard.

As reported in a 2018 paper,25 “A systematic review of those with diabetes concluded that HRV can help to predict cardiac morbidity and mortality, and that it can be used at an early stage to indicate the future risk of complications.”

This paper also points out that “a reduction in HRV predicts macrovascular disease, for example carotid artery atherosclerosis,” and “is associated with a significantly increased risk of death from cardiovascular disease.”

Interestingly, the authors also review a number of studies looking at how various foods and diets affect your HRV, concluding that tracking your HRV may be a helpful tool “when examining the impact of what we eat.”

How to Check Your HRV

So, how do you check your HRV? Harvard University offers the following suggestions:26

“The gold standard is to analyze a long strip of an electrocardiogram … But over the past few years, several companies have launched apps and heart rate monitors that do something similar.

The accuracy of these methods is still under scrutiny, but … the technology is improving substantially … The easiest and cheapest way to check HRV is to buy a chest strap heart monitor … and download a free app (Elite HRV is a good one) to analyze the data.

The chest strap monitor tends to be more accurate than wrist or finger devices. Check your HRV in the mornings after you wake up, a few times a week, and track for changes as you incorporate healthier interventions.”

Keep in mind that using a chest strap heart monitor in combination with a cellphone app exposes you to Bluetooth EMF frequencies, which makes it less than optimal.

The HRV4Training app27,28 claims to accurately calculate HRV even without an external sensor or chest strap (although it can also be integrated with Apple Watch and the Oura ring), and has research29 that backs it up. With this app, you can simply use your phone camera to get a measure of your HRV.

By collecting your HRV data at different times over the course of weeks, you can start to get a picture of how your body responds to stress, and identify the activities or situations that raise and lower it.

It’s also really useful for athletes, as it can tell you whether you’ve sufficiently recovered or are pushing yourself too hard. A high HRV is a sign that your body is handling the stress well, whereas a low HRV indicates your body is under stress, which can make you more prone to ill health if you keep pushing.

How to Improve Your HRV

If your HRV is consistently subpar, don’t fret. There are many ways to improve your HRV, and most are inexpensive or free. Strategies that can improve your HRV include:30,31

Rest and sleep Mindfulness and other forms of meditation
Exercise Green tea
Avoiding procrastination Avoiding excess work and extensive commutes, and minimize work-related stress
Practicing forgiveness Yoga
Music Breathing exercises
Spending time outdoors, in nature Optimizing your omega-3 level

 

Candida

Written by Brenton Wight, Health Researcher, LeanMachine
Copyright © Brenton Wight, LeanMachine
Updated 31st January 2020

Candida albicans, also known as Yeast infections, Fungal infections, Mycosis and Thrush

Almost everyone has Candida in their bodies. For most of us, it causes no problems.
But if our immune system is compromised by antibiotics, poor diet, sleep deprivation or other factors, candida can grow uncontrollably.
Each of us has about 70 to 100 or more trillion bacteria in our bodies, weighing between 1 and 2kg, or over 3% of our total body weight.
Most of them good, but some are bad – really bad, like yeast, parasites and other organisms, and most of the time we don’t know they are even there.
If we are healthy with a good diet, our immune system and the good bugs keeps the bad bugs under control. We can never eliminate them, but we can keep them at levels where they can’t do too much harm.
75% of our immune system is in the gut – our trillions of good bacteria is our second, but most important line of defence against unwelcome invaders.
Our first line of defence is in the mouth, and this is where our good bacteria first start to knock out the bad guys, and this is why sugar should be banned from our diet, as sugar keeps the bad bugs fed well.
Healthy gut flora keeps candida under control, because in it’s normal state, Candida is a relatively weak fungal type bug.
Unfortunately, under some conditions, Candida can transform into dangerous mutations, changing to an aggressive bug which can cause systemic (throughout the entire body) destruction.
Candida is very common, and very dangerous.
75% of women, and many men, suffer from Candida in some form at some stage, from minor symptoms including rashes, increased PMS issues and bad breath, to severe conditions like IBS (irritable bowel syndrome), depression, joint pain, and chronic fatigue syndrome.
A Candida problem can be a host of apparently unrelated chronic symptoms which refuse to go away, regardless of treatments, and a course of antibiotics only makes things much worse.

Mainstream Medicine Mistakes

In the 1980’s links were found between candida, chronic fatigue, chronic pain problems and fibromyalgia-type symptoms.
Mainstream health professionals have little idea how to diagnose, let alone treat Candida issues, and those who do attempt to treat Candida use dangerous medications which often exacerbate the situation by destroying our good bacteria, leaving us defenseless against the bad guys.
Creams, oils, lotions, etc are only marginally effective on the skin where applied, and cannot resolve systemic, body-wide infestations.
The “nuke it” approach, with powerful anti-fungal prescription medications, can work temporarily, but Candida is smart enough to disguise itself and eventually develop resistance to the medication.
Drugs used for other purposes such as antibiotics, cortisone therapy, immune-suppressants, even birth control pills can start a Candida infestation explosion.
Candida critters are very smart.
Classified as a fungus, but are in fact part plant, part animal, part bacteria, part parasite, and able to reproduce themselves either sexually (with a mate) or asexually (by themselves), and by re-arranging their own chromosomes, can alter their shape and forms to adapt to the environment and ensure survival.
No surprise that with these attributes, it can be very difficult to dispose of yeast infections!

How Candida Works

In the normal, relatively harmless yeast form, under the microscope, Candida looks like a small white egg, with a smooth and consistent shape and living in our gut.
Candida feeds on the food we eat and normally keeps to itself, but under some conditions, it mutates into a monster super-fungus, multiplying rapidly to colonise in every possible part of the body.
In some areas it can double the colony size every hour, so before long it runs rampant, destroying everything in it’s path.
The best way to start this happening is to feed it it’s favourite food – sugar!

Candida Symptoms

  • White coating on the tongue
  • Development of food sensitivities
  • Aches and pains without a known cause
  • Bloating, constipation or diarrhea
  • Persistent fatigue
  • Dry or other skin problems
  • Vaginitis (inflammation of the female genital area)
  • Breathing problems

Mutated Forms

The mutated form called mycelial-form of Candida grows rhixoids, which are elongated, finger-like tentacles that tunnel, bore and burrow their way through our gut walls, where they enter the blood vessels, to be transported everywhere in the body, blooming to a systemic infection.
They now appear anywhere – heart, eyes, kidneys, liver, lungs and even the brain. A yeast infection is not just a minor annoyance causing a little itching – this is a warning sign that some insidious thing is happening.
Like tree roots which can crack, lift and eventually destroy pavement, Candida does the same thing to our bodies as it mutates into the dangerous super-fungus form. Apart from entering the blood through the cracks in our gut and spreading, another opportunity is now “opened up” – many other undesirable things now enter our blood stream through these cracks; things which should normally stay in our gut: Bacteria, toxins, undigested food, milk, etc.

A short note about Milk

This is a good reason why no-one should ever drink homogenised milk, as the fat globules in homogenised milk are ten times smaller than un-homogenised milk, easily entering the blood through the tiniest holes in the gut.
When undigested milk enters the bloodstream directly through a “leaky gut”, the body’s own immune system recognises this as a unwanted invader and attempts to destroy it. From that time on, the immune system remembers this pattern, and we then have a milk allergy.
Leaky gut is the main culprit for the rapid rise in allergies we have seen in the last few decades, as we are now allergic to every food that passes directly into the blood.
We can find unhomogenised milk at all good supermarkets if we look hard enough, but none of the major brands make it.
Sure we have to shake the container to mix the cream, but that is a small price to pay for our better health, and I should also mention that we should never buy low-fat or skim milk, as all of the nutrients, including CLA (Conjugated Linoleic Acid) and Omega-7, have been lost with the cream.
The “Low Fat” advertising is a gimmick. We lose weight more effectively with full-cream milk compared to low-fat milk.
Milk also contains lactose. Like most other things ending in “ose”, lactose is a sugar, and sugar feeds candida (and cancers).
Again, milk fills a complete chapter in my upcoming book, so I’ll leave a summary: Most people do better without milk, have less allergies without milk, lose more weight without milk, have stronger bones without milk, but if you have to have milk, FULL-CREAM and UN-HOMOGENISED milk is the only reasonably healthy milk to buy, and if you can get it straight from the cow (NON-PASTEURISED), even better.

Candida Waste Products

Candida overgrowth can make us feel sick, tired, plain lousy, and can make us drunk from inside out!
As yeast dies as part of it’s natural life cycle, acetaldehyde is released. This is a toxin which the liver converts to ethanol, the same hangover-causing chemical produced by high consumption of alcohol, so Candida sufferers often feel like they have a hangover without drinking a drop of alcohol, because they have an alcohol factory in their own body.
Another problem, as if we don’t have enough problems already, is “Candida Poo”, which is the 79 distinct toxins and waste by-products released as part of the Candida lifecycle. It’s bad enough that we feed all parasites, but we have to clean up and dispose of their waste and toxic elements as well as recover from the damage and disease they cause!
Candida infestation can continue growing, producing more acetaldehyde, causing our blood alcohol level to rise enough to cause symptoms such as impaired thinking, lack of concentration, irritability, depression, brain fog, slowed reflexes, fatigue and other signs of excess alcohol.
In this state, red blood cells have trouble flowing into small capillaries, aggravating migraine headaches, fatigue, muscle aches, slowing healing.
At the same time, white blood cells have reduced ability to fight infection, often causing allergies, rashes, acne and even further inhibiting of healing processes.
Like the way bread rises from yeast because of carbon dioxide released from carbohydrate fermentation, Candida builds up carbon dioxide in the intestine, resulting in excess gas, bloating, and yet another waste product for the over-taxed body to dispose of.

The Real Candida Cause

Can we defeat this little terror? Of course we can, but we must get back to basics to eliminate problems once and for all.
Why do we get Candida in the first place? Everyone has Candida, because we can’t help consuming it from food, water and the environment, but the reason it develops is because our body gets out of balance, and our immune system gets compromised, allowing immediate, almost uncontrollable flourishing of Candida.
We cannot destroy Candida completely without killing ourselves, so our only real, long-lasting solution is to re-balance the body, restore the immune system, and let the body’s own natural defenses do their job.
If we have bad breath, rashes, fatigue, trouble concentrating, brain fog, strange allergies, weird pains or anything we can’t explain, it could be a sign that something is out of whack, allowing Candida to get out of control, and even if the problem is not Candida, correcting the balance and immune system of the body is the first step to recovery from any sickness.

Candida and Cancer

New research is now finding a link between Candida infections and Cancer. While billions of dollars are being spent on cancer research, cancer cases are increasing, now overtaking cardiovascular issues as a leading cause of death. LeanMachine suggests that staying Candida free is the first step in staying Cancer free. Like most modern diseases, prevention is the key, then requiring no cure.

The Cure

We must create an environment which is good for nourishment of the body, but bad for Candida. By following these guidelines, we will remain Candida free, and also reduce the risk of Cancer, Diabetes, Alzheimer’s, and most other “modern” diseases.

  • Eliminate all sugar from the diet. The natural sweetener Xylitol is OK as it is a 5-carbon sugar alcohol, and despite it’s misleading name (it is technically neither a sugar, nor an alcohol), it will not feed Candida, and has far less insulin-spiking effect. Other alternatives are Erythritol and Stevia, with virtually zero insulin spiking. Avoid all artificial sweeteners. In the long term, lose the sweet-tooth altogether
  • Change to an alkaline-forming diet, as acids cause Candida and other parasites to thrive. See my Alkaline Diet Article
  • Avoid yeast in all forms. All grain/flour based products will acidify and aggravate our bodies, and are usually made with yeast, the best food for Candida. No more bread, cakes, biscuits, muffins, etc. Tough for some people but you will thank me a few weeks! Excess weight will slowly disappear, while digestion, health and energy will all improve, and the holes in the gut caused by flour products will begin to heal
  • Keep cool and dry, wear well-ventilated clothing and live in a well-ventilated house. Candida loves sugar, warmth and moisture. Avoid artificial fibres in clothing. Keep to natural fibres like cotton, bamboo or wool. Before buying any clothing, give it a sniff. Any trace of a chemical smell? Leave it in the store
  • Never take antibiotics unless there is a severe, life-threatening situation. Antibiotics encourage Candida and other harmful organisms by destroying their natural enemies (the good bacteria)
  • Reduce carbohydrate intake, as all carbs feed Candida. This means potatoes, pasta, grains, cereals, breads, cakes, etc. A healthy body requires NONE of these “foods”. There is NO medical condition such as “Carbohydrate Deficiency” as the body can make all the carbs it needs from breaking down protein
  • Take liver detox supplements such as Milk Thistle
  • Add some parsley to each meal. Easy to grow yourself in a pot, and available at the greengrocer or supermarket
  • Take a supplement containing Pau D’Arco or Candida Support
  • The main ingredient in Pau d’Arco is beta-lapachone, also a potent catalyst for NADH (Reduced Nicotinamide Adenine Dinucleotide, or NAD+ or CoEnzyme E1), important for mitochondria, the energy components of every cell in the body and as a sensor for stress and disease
  • Also consider Pumpkin Seed Oil for more parasite protection
  • Most kitchens have cloves in the spice rack. Add them to everything to help control Candida and other parasites, and add a great flavour at the same time
  • Berberine has anti-inflammatory, immune-enhancing, anti-microbial properties against bacteria, protozoa, and fungi. Berberine’s action against Candida pathogens is stronger than prescription antibiotics commonly used
  • Echinacea is also of benefit in building the immune system
  • Aloe contains a mucopolysaccharide with strong immune properties and also benefits the mitochondria
  • Take a probiotic supplement such as Acidophilus or at least eat some yogurt every day to help re-build the good gut flora
  • Try to use a probiotic that includes a FOS (fructo-oligosaccharides), a pre-biotic that enhances functionality of gut flora, included in Acidophilus above
  • Fermented foods – sauerkraut, etc are a good source of probiotics, generally much more than available in supplements
  • Eat more high-fibre foods like chia seeds, preferably containing over 40 grams of fibre daily
  • Or take a daily fibre supplement containing Psyllium to improve regularity, keep things moving through the colon, improve internal cleansing and reduce risk of colon cancer. Can help relieve constipation, but because it increases bulk with both soluble and insoluble fibre, may also help with diarrhoea
  • Eat some garlic every day, or at least onions or shallots, but if the taste and odour is not to your liking, then try Odorless Garlic
  • To help cleanse the blood and the liver, eat Chlorophyll-rich foods (Green leafy vegetables) every day, or take Chlorophyll supplements. The molecular structure of Chlorophyll and Haemoglobin appear identical, apart from one small difference: Haemoglobin has a central iron atom (making blood red), while Chlorophyll has a central magnesium atom (making plants green)
  • Coconut Oil contains Caprylic Acid, along with capric acid and lauric acid, MCT (Medium Chain Triglycerides) that help defeat candida as it is a natural anti-fungal, anti-viral and anti-bacterial product, and also helps lose weight, as MCT’s go straight to the liver to be burned as fuel and cannot be stored as fat
  • Avoid antibiotics, steroid hormones and oral contraceptives, as they alter the gut bacteria, increasing risk of candida changing into an invasive form
  • Avoid antibiotics in food such as from animals raised in concentrated animal feeding operations which are fed antibiotics to counteract bad sanitation and to boost growth. Ask for “grass fed” or “pasture raised” meat, and limit meat consumption (acidic) in favour of plant foods (alkaline)
  • Get more good sleep, more exercise and an alkaline, sugar-free diet, but never consume food or drink with aspartame or other artificial sweeteners, which destroy good gut bacteria. Stevia is a better natural choice and has anti-cancer properties
  • Treat the partners of infected patients, even if there are no symptoms, as they can also be carrying abnormally large amounts of Candida, potentially leading to constant cross-infections
  • Continue treatment until all symptoms have disappeared, plus a further 2 weeks, which destroys eggs laid by the previous generation

Drug Therapy

There are some prescription drugs which can help if all of the above fails and the condition is serious:

  • Nystatin, an antifungal, available as tablets or a powder, and fairly benign with few side effects.
  • Diflucan, an antibiotic if all else fails

LeanMachine Online Supplements: Health Supplements

Updated: 31st January 2020.   Copyright © 1999-2020 Brenton Wight – Lean Machine