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Tuesday
Jun242014

A Good Reason to Keep Your Cool

Losing your temper can raise your risk of a heart attack or stroke within hours after your meltdown. A review and analysis of nine studies conducted between 1966 and 2013 found that within two hours of an angry outburst, the risk of a heart attack or acute coronary syndrome (which means heart attack or angina) increased nearly five-fold. The analysis also suggested the risk of stroke increased nearly four-fold, as did the risk of ventricular arrhythmia, a dangerous heart rhythm disorder. The researchers reported that the risk was highest among people who often lost their temper and also had existing risk factors for heart problems. While the individual risk of having a coronary event after an angry blowup is generally pretty low, the investigators wrote that among people who get angry more often, five outbursts a day would lead to approximately 158 extra heart attacks per 10,000 people per year among those at low risk, and 657 extra heart attacks among those at high risk.

Sources:
Elizabeth Mostofsky et al,  “Outbursts of anger as a trigger of acute cardiovascular events: a systematic review and meta-analysis,” European Heart Journal, DOI: 10.1093/eurheartj/ehu033, published online 3 March 2014

Monday
Jun232014

Eat Fish, Improve Cholesterol

Researchers in Finland have found that eating salmon and other oily fish three or four times a week positively changes HDL, the “good” cholesterol that protects against heart disease. Eating lots of oily fish is associated with increased numbers of larger-sized HDL particles. That’s a desirable change, since large HDL particles are the most effective at sweeping up deposits of cholesterol that build up on artery walls and raise the risk of heart attack. The study participants ate fatty fish such as salmon, rainbow trout and herring prepared without butter or cream. The study didn’t reveal whether participants who ate low-fat fish had similar benefits, but the researchers noted that other studies have suggested that eating low-fat fish can help control blood pressure.

My take? This study gives us new insight into how eating oily fish affects HDL and benefits health, and it confirms that to get those benefits you have to eat fish frequently – three or four times a week. Epidemiology shows us that populations eating fish regularly have increased longevity and experience less chronic disease than populations that do not include fish as part of their traditional diets. Fish provides high-quality protein without the saturated fat present in meat and poultry. Wild salmon, mackerel, herring, sardines and bluefish are all rich in the omega-3 fatty acids needed for optimum health.

Eating Anti-Inflammatory Made Simple
Take the guesswork out of a healthful diet with Dr. Weil on Healthy Aging. Our shopping and eating guides, over 300 recipes, tips and videos follow Dr. Weil's recommended anti-inflammatory principles for promoting better health, from head to toe. See what it's about - start your free trial today and save 30% when you join!

Sources:
Maria Lankinen et al “Effects of Whole Grain, Fish and Bilberries on Serum Metabolic Profile and Lipid Transfer Protein Activities: A Randomized Trial (Sysdimet)”, PLOS One DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0090352

Friday
Jun202014

What’s Your Typical Reaction to Unexpected Pain? (Poll)

A recent Q&A discussed swearing after experiencing pain: Can Swearing Lessen Pain? Check out the article and let us know your typical reaction when you experience pain.

Thursday
Jun192014

Hold the Bacon…and the Fries

The iconic elements of fast food, bacon and French fries have long been vilified, and new research suggests that chemicals formed in foods cooked at high heat, called advanced glycation end products (AGEs), may set you up for memory and cognition problems later in life. We have known for some time that AGEs are linked to inflammation and premature cell aging. The latest on their harmful effects comes from a study enrolling 93 adults over age 60, showing that insulin resistance and cognitive issues were more common among those with high blood levels of AGEs than they were among study participants with low levels of these compounds. In addition, mice given a diet of foods high in AGEs had increased levels of beta amyloid plaques in their brains compared to mice fed foods with lower AGEs. Earlier research has shown that diets high in saturated fats have also been linked to the build up of these plaques, which are a hallmark of Alzheimer’s disease. What we don’t know yet is whether giving up bacon and fries - and burgers and fried chicken - can prevent or reverse the course of dementia.

Sources:
Helen Vlassara et al, “Oral glycotoxins are a modifiable cause of dementia and the metabolic syndrome in mice and humans,” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, DOI10.1073/pnas.1316013111

Wednesday
Jun182014

Protect Yourself from Stress (Video)

Dr. Weil discusses the harmful effects of stress and how they can raise cortisol levels in the body. One effective method of reducing stress is to recognize stressors in everyday life and to quell them before they become unmanageable. Another method of reducing stress is to practice breathing exercises - a simple yet effective method of lowering heart rate and blood pressure while focusing on the body.

Learn more about breathing exercises.

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Tuesday
Jun172014

Sprouted Garlic’s Surprising Benefits

Don’t trash garlic that has begun to sprout – new research suggests that it may have more health benefits than fresh garlic. We know that the antioxidant effects of garlic can influence health in many positive ways - it has been used traditionally to address high blood pressure, and can help protect against heart disease. It has also found some utility in treating earaches, benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH), chronic fatigue syndrome, and diabetes. Historically, it was prized for it usefulness in colds and flu to boost the immune system, and has even been used to treat skin infections. The discovery that sprouted garlic may have more antioxidant potential than fresh bulbs comes from researchers in Korea who noted that sprouted beans and grains often have increased antioxidant activity and wondered if the same is true of garlic. After controlling the ripening conditions, they reported that garlic sprouted for five days had more measurable antioxidant effects than younger fresher bulbs, and that the sprouted variety has different metabolites, suggesting that it also makes different substances than fresh garlic. In lab tests, the research team found that extracts from sprouted garlic protected cells in a lab dish from oxidative damage and suggested that sprouting “may be a useful way to improve the antioxidant potential of garlic.”

Sources:
Joon-Sang Kim et al, “Garlic Sprouting Is Associated with Increased Antioxidant Activity and Concomitant Changes in the Metabolite Profile” Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, DOI: 10.1021/jf500603v

Monday
Jun162014

Good News About a Vegetarian Diet

In addition to its other health benefits, you might be able to lower your blood pressure a bit by following a vegetarian diet. That news follows an analysis of 39 studies by Japanese researchers looking at blood pressure measurements of vegetarians v. meat eaters. Overall, blood pressure among the vegetarians was “significantly lower” than that of those who eat meat. Investigators reported that the difference between people on vegetarian and non-vegetarian diets averaged five to seven millimeters of mercury - usually rendered as mm/Hg - for systolic blood pressure (the top number) and two to five mm/Hg for the diastolic (bottom) number. The researchers concluded that even these modest drops in blood pressure could reduce the risk of heart attack by nine percent and the risk of stroke by 14 percent if sustained over time. The Japanese study team noted that no differences were seen between the various sub-types of vegetarian diets – whether vegan or diets that allowed dairy products and eggs or even those that also allow fish. The study didn’t identify specific foods or nutrients in the diets that could be responsible for the lower blood pressure seen, but noted that vegetarian diets in general tend to be lower in sodium and higher in potassium and plant proteins.

My take? I’m not surprised that this review found that a vegetarian diet seems to help reduce high blood pressure. The DASH diet, which I recommend for people with hypertension, is heavy on vegetables and fruit and very light on meat. To help keep blood pressure in the normal range I suggest eating eight to 10 servings of vegetables and fruit per day, and limiting animal protein. For those who are salt sensitive or have a family history of hypertension, cutting salt consumption to about one teaspoon a day may help control your blood pressure. Incorporating garlic in your diet may be beneficial as well, since it has a modest effect on blood pressure, potentially helping to relax blood vessels. I also suggest consuming four to five servings of nuts, seeds and dry beans per week (the equivalent to two tablespoons of nuts or seeds, or 1/2 cup cooked dried beans). Include at least three servings of fish a week, emphasizing cold-water fish such as wild Alaskan salmon and sardines, which are rich in omega-3 fatty acids. Consider fish-oil supplements if you cannot get enough omega-3-rich foods. I also suggest taking calcium and magnesium since inadequate intake of both has been associated with high blood pressure. Women should get between 1,000 and 1,200 mg of calcium a day from all sources, while men need no more than 500-600 mg daily from all sources and probably do not need to supplement. In addition, take vitamin C, which has been shown to lower blood pressure in people with mild to moderate hypertension.

Eating Anti-Inflammatory Made Simple
Take the guesswork out of a healthful diet with Dr. Weil on Healthy Aging. Our shopping and eating guides, over 300 recipes, tips and videos follow Dr. Weil's recommended anti-inflammatory principles for promoting better health, from head to toe. See what it's about - start your free trial today and save 30% when you join!

Sources:
Yoko Yokoyama et al, “Vegetarian Diets and Blood Pressure: A Meta-analysis,” JAMA Internal Medicine, doi:10.1001/jamainternmed.2013.14547

Friday
Jun132014

What Starchy Foods Do You Prefer? (Poll)

A recent Q&A discussed resistance starch and the role it plays in digestive health: Is Resistant Starch Good for You? Check out the article and let us know which starchy food your prefer most.

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