Hormones and the heart

In the eyes of holistic physicians, hormones are the “fountain of youth” in the human body. Their job is to regulate the functions of different tissues and organs as well as blood pressure control, reproductive function, body mass, immune function, cognitive performance, how we deal with stress and so much more. Hormones are chemical messengers that are released from one area of the body to communicate a signal in another area.

The hormonal “orchestra” must stay in balance in order for the tissues that they regulate to function optimally and stay in harmony. When hormones become depleted or imbalanced (from aging, stress, pollutants, lifestyle) we begin to experience serious health issues.

While the majority of information about hormonal health tends to focus on reproductive function and conditions associated with PMS, menopause and andropause, other areas of the body are just as greatly affected.

The heart is one organ that hormone balance has a direct effect upon. Newer research is exploring how inadequate hormone levels negatively affect heart health, and how achieving hormone balance can offset this. (more…)

Proof That These Foods Could Protect Against Heart Disease

A new study has found that eating more fruit and vegetables translates into a lower risk of dying from heart disease. This is a significant point, as heart disease is the world’s leading cause of death. So hit the fruit and vegetable aisle of the supermarket and find items that will protect your heart and help prolong your life.

The study is published online in the “European Heart Journal.”

The data, which come from the “European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition” (EPIC), show that people who ate at least eight portions of fruit and vegetables a day had a 22% lower risk of dying from heart disease than those eating fewer than three portions a day. One portion was defined as weighing 80 grams — or, one small banana, a medium apple, or a small carrot.

The information comes from more than 300,000 people in eight different European countries. Among them, 1,636 died of heart disease. It shows a four percent lower risk of dying from ischemic heart disease (IHD) for each extra fruit or vegetable eaten past two a day. For example, someone eating five portions a day has a four percent lower risk of dying from heart disease than someone eating four portions a day.

IHD is a disease involving reduced blood supply to the heart. It can lead to angina, heart attack, or heart failure.

The study lasted from 1992 to 2000, spread across 10 countries. Participants were between 40 and 85 years of age. They were tracked for an average of nearly eight and a half years. It found that the average intake of fruit and vegetables was five portions a day.

While the study is limited in some ways, there is one main message to cull from it: People who regularly eat multiple fruit and vegetable servings each day have added protection against dying from the world’s leading cause of death. A reduction of 22%, as mentioned earlier, is “huge” according to the researchers.

 

By Victor Marchione, M.D. on 02/01/2011

Olive oil and raw green diet lower systemic infection and improve cardiovascular health

Systemic inflammation is a significant factor known to accelerate the aging process and is an underlying mechanism behind most chronic illnesses including cardiovascular disease and metabolic syndrome. Low grade inflammation increases body temperature and initiates degradation of the delicate endothelial lining of the vascular system. This process is known to cause metabolic instability and is linked with the proliferation of heart disease, diabetes, cancer and dementia. Polyphenols from extra virgin olive oil have been shown to significantly reduce the expression of genes that trigger systemic inflammation and can be used along with natural diet to lower the risks from cardiovascular disease.

Olive Oil and Greens Lower Risk of Heart Disease by More Than 40% (more…)

Resveratrol at the ready for fighting heart disease

A few years back, researchers decided that resveratrol was the secret ingredient in red wine that was responsible for the so-called “French paradox.” Not only could it protect the heart from oxidized fat, resveratrol also appeared to reduce platelet aggregation and increase blood flow. The problem was, no one knew how much resveratrol was needed to create these heart-healthy changes … until now.

New research conducted at the University of South Australia suggests that taking a daily resveratrol supplement can rapidly improve vascular function and lead to better heart health.  (more…)

Rye Bread Enriched with Plant Sterols Effects Cholesterol Levels

Cholesterol is a waxy, fat-like substance that occurs naturally in all parts of the body. The body needs some cholesterol to work properly. But if there is too much cholesterol in the blood, it can stick to the walls of the arteries. This is called plaque. Plaque can the arteries or even block them. High levels of cholesterol in the blood can increase the risk of heart disease. Cholesterol levels tend to rise with age. There are usually no signs or symptoms that indicate high blood cholesterol, but it can be detected with a blood test. Chances of having high cholestesterol would include if family members have it, being overweight or eating a lot of fatty foods. (more…)

A Nutty Way to Prevent Diabetes

Researchers have found that eating more almonds helps prevent type 2 diabetes and heart disease. It does so by improving your insulin sensitivity and lowering levels of LDL (“bad”) cholesterol.

About 16 million Americans are today believed to have “prediabetes.” This is a condition that is a precursor to type 2 diabetes. By 2020, half all Americans are expected to have either prediabetes or type 2 diabetes. Because of this, nutritional approaches to prevention are essential.

A new study has found that almonds are one way to improve your insulin sensitivity and lower LDL (“bad”) cholesterol in people with prediabetes.

Researchers looked at the effects of consuming an almond-enriched diet on factors linked to the progression of type 2 diabetes and heart disease. It included 65 adults with prediabetes, average age 54. They either received a control diet (15%-20% calories from protein, 10% total energy from saturated fat, 60%-70% from carbohydrate and monounsaturated fatty acids and cholesterol) or a diet that ensured that 20% of the calories came from almonds.

The study lasted four months. Those people eating almonds showed significantly improved LDL-cholesterol levels and measures of insulin sensitivity. Both are huge risk factors for heart disease and type 2 diabetes.

Nutrients in almonds, such as fiber and unsaturated fat, have been shown to help reduce LDL-cholesterol levels, increase insulin sensitivity and increase beta-cell function, all of which can help to prevent the development of type 2 diabetes and reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease. These explain why the almond group in the study experienced such health benefits.

There is a growing body of evidence tying almonds to a healthy heart and cardiovascular system. But this new study adds something: it shows that almonds might help reduce your risk of certain chronic diseases through their nutrient composition. Almonds offer 3.5 grams of fiber, 13 grams of unsaturated fat and only one gram of saturated fat per one-ounce serving.

It is another promising sign that, for people with risk factors for chronic diseases, such as type 2 diabetes and heart disease, dietary changes may help to improve factors that play a potential role in the disease development.

If you are concerned about the fat content of almonds, know on one hand that at least it is largely healthy fats. But you can aim to incorporate a healthy handful of almonds each day to get this desired effect. Make sure they are the unsalted variety.

By Victor Marchione, M.D. on 01/21/2011

Statins: They still dont work

If your doc is pushing cholesterol meds, it’s time to push back–because yet another new study finds they just don’t work.

The researchers behind it even say their study proves that cholesterol isn’t the best predictor of heart risk.

But since up to 75 percent of all heart attacks happen to people with normal cholesterol levels, the only surprise here is that this is somehow considered a groundbreaking discovery. (more…)