My Plantcentric Journey

Posts tagged ‘cholesterol’

Thirty Days, Thirty Reasons, Thirty Ways: Go Vegetarian In October!

Kathy Stevens

Founder and director, Catskill Animal Sanctuary

So on Monday, October 1, is World Vegetarian Day–the kickoff for Vegetarian Awareness Month than runs throughout October. If you’ve been toying with the idea of going vegetarian, then let me be your cheerleader, and let the following lists inform and inspire! Good luck…and please share your journey!

A Reason a Day to Go Vegetarian
1. Because there are thousands of reasons to go vegetarian (only room for 30 here), and only two not to: 1. because you’re afraid to try something new 2. because you don’t know what to eat. Thousands of reasons outweigh two, don’t they?

2. Because if you want to get healthy, you should start with food! Replace cancer-causing, fat, pesticide and hormone-laced meats with cancer-preventing, anti-inflammatory, cholesterol lowering foods like apples, broccoli, blueberries, carrots, flax, garlic, leafy greens, nuts and sweet potatoes.

3. Because vegetarians are about 40% less likely to develop cancer than meat eaters.

4. Because our meat and dairy-centric diet is woefully lacking in health-giving fiber, contained only in plant-based foods. A minimum of 35 grams per day is recommended; the typical American consumes only 12.

5. Because four out of five Americans with cardiovascular disease who switch to a healthy (low-fat, whole foods) vegetarian diet reverse their symptoms completely.

6. The news gets better. Heart and blood-vessel diseases, diabetes, and of course obesity are preventable for 95% of us if we follow a healthy vegan diet, exercise, and manage stress.

7. Because I’ll bet you agree with Dean Ornish, one of the researchers who proved statement #4: “I don’t understand why asking people to eat a well-balanced vegetarian diet is considered drastic while it is medically conservative to cut people open or put them on powerful cholesterol-lowering drugs.”

8. Because humans are the only species that drinks the milk of another species, and that fact alone should give you pause. Think about it for a moment. Isn’t it logical that cow’s milk is designed to feed baby cows? When ingested by humans, cow’s milk is linked to constipation, allergies, obesity, acne, childhood diabetes, and much more. It’s chock full of cholesterol (plant foods have none), and likely filled with antibiotics, growth hormones, and pesticides.

9. Because of pink slime. PERIOD.

10. Because 70% of our antibiotics are fed to livestock. Doesn’t that scare you…just a little?

11. Because we are going to run out of food if we keep growing most of it to feed animals, who in turn feed far fewer peoplepeople than if we grew the food to feed directly to people. (One can feed 16 to 20 vegetarians with the same amount of natural resources as a single meat eater.)

12. In 2006, the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) concluded that worldwide livestock farming generates 18% of the planet’s greenhouse gas emissions — compared with 13% generated by all transportation combined. In 2009, however, WorldWatch Institute reported that the more accurate figure may be as high as 51%. Our diet is cooking our planet.

13. Because along with hundreds of scientists and many major media, the head of the U.N.’s Nobel Prize-winning panel on climate change urged people to cut back on meat to combat climate change.

14. Because it takes over 2,500 gallons of water to produce a pound of beef, vs. 49 gallons to produce a pound of apples. We’re using so much water for beef production that many leading environmentalists are predicting that Kansas, Oklahoma, Nebraska, Colorado, and New Mexico will soon be virtually uninhabitable. Why? We’re taking 13 trillion gallons of water per year from theOgallala aquifer, the largest body of fresh water on earth. Its water is left from the melted glaciers of the last Ice Age. Once the water is gone, it’s gone.

15. Because vast bodies of water like the Chesapeake Bay are becoming toxic waste sites. Due to massive algae blooms from chicken and dairy factories that line the Eastern Shore, only ten percent of the Bay has enough oxygen in the summer. It’s so depleted that animals leap from the water to breathe. We humans have given their desperate act the ironic name of “jubilee.”

16. Because 75% of our topsoil has been depleted primarily due to growing animals to feed people. It takes 500 years to replace one inch of topsoil–the stuff that food grows in. “A nation that destroys its soil destroys itself,” said Franklin D. Roosevelt.

17. Because there are no septic systems on factory farms. Americans eat around 9 billion animal each year: that makes for a lot of poop. Some manure goes directly into waterways, and some is stored in giant pits called “lagoons.” When they leech, crack, or overflow, feces goes directly into our rivers, streams, lakes…and our drinking water.

18. Because chickens, cows, and pigs aren’t fed what they’re designed to eat. They’re fed what’s cheap and what makes them grow incredibly fast. Some of what they eat is rendered animals – the boiled and ground up remains of dead and diseased animals, including roadkill and euthanized pets.

19. Because in ways that truly matter, we are all the same. Think about it. Whether human or non-human animal, we all seek happiness and pleasure, we all try to avoid pain and suffering. We all have rich and complex emotional lives.

20. Because when folks sneak into chicken and turkey factories, here’s what they see: gas masks hanging inside buildings in which the animals lived, the lack of anything resembling farm life–not a single window to let in fresh air, not a tiny patch of earth. Dead and dying animals…lots of them: the bruised and bloodied ones, the ones struggling for air, the deformed ones, the ones covered in sores. As Jonathan Saffran Foer writes, “the power brokers of factory farming know that their business model depends on people not being able to see (or hear about) what they do.”

21. Because of “flip-over syndrome.” It’s the term used by the poultry industry to describe sudden death. Forced to grow more quickly than their bodies can handle, about five percent of chickens die this way prior to their predetermined death sentence at 42 days.

22. Because terms like humanely-raised, free-range, and all-natural are…um…bullshit. Sorry. Utterly meaningless. The definitions are ludicrous and the industries regulate themselves.

23. Because brain scientists have recently acknowledged that most animals are conscious and aware in the same way that humans are, and confirmed that virtually all animals have at least some degree of sentience — even bees, according to Christof Koch in his Huffington Post blog, “Consciousness is Everywhere.”

24. Because of the hundreds of moments we’ve witnessed at Catskill Animal Sanctuary: pigs laughing, sheep protecting other species, turkeys cuddling up in our laps to fall asleep, tender friendships among goats and chickens.

25. Because it’s plain and simply wrong for a newborn animal to be ripped from its mother, terrified and hungry, and driven into a crowded pen with other terrified babies, purchased and slaughtered immediately or caged in darkness for four months, then slaughtered. (Veal).

26. Because here’s one of many examples of why switching to fish doesn’t help. During the process of fishing for tuna, 150 other species are routinely killed and thrown back into the ocean. Among them are great white sharks, swordfish, sea horses, bluefish, albatross, gulls, bottlenose dolphins, harbor porpoises, killer whales, pilot whales, humpback whales, loggerhead turtles.

27. Because unless we reverse course, there will soon be no more edible fish in our mighty, majestic oceans.

28. Because I’ve barely scratched the surface here in depicting how animals suffer under our modern agribusiness system. I haven’t even mentioned pigs, who, like the rest, suffer mightily.

29. Because my guess is that you try hard to be a good human being, yet as a carnivore, you unwittingly subject hundreds of living beings each year to a level of suffering that you wouldn’t wish upon the vilest human being you could conjure up.

30. Because in the time that it took me to write this article, the USDA reports that almost 1 million chickens, 28,526 turkeys, 23,027 pigs and many thousands more animals — animals brain scientists have just said are conscious and aware, just like humans — were killed to feed us.

Reeling? GOOD! Here are 30 ways to get started on your vegan journey!

1. Wanna learn about this lifestyle? Order the Physician’s Committee for Responsible Medicine’svegetarian starter kit,
2. or download a veg starter kit from Mercy For Animals.
3. PCRM even helps pregnant women take care of themselves—and the baby!
4. And they help parents get the diet thing right from the beginning!
Oprah to the rescue! From her ‘Vegan Starter Kit’ website, here are:
5. Three weeks of what to eat 3x/day,
6. answers to lots of questions you probably have,
7. a pretty awesome shopping list,
8. and vegan alternatives to everyday foods.
9. No matter where you live or travel, Happy Cow will help you locate somewhere good to eat!
10. So will VegGuide!
11. Pam Rice’s fabulous publication, 101 Reasons Why I’m a Vegetarian, will inform and inspire (thanks to Pam for supplying some of the information in my lists!)
12. Think your favorite chain restaurant won’t have food for you? Think again! Moe’s, Subway, Cheesecake Factory, Olive Garden, California Pizza Kitchen, PF Changs, and Taco Bell have several options; some, like Moe’s, have lots! Even Burger King has a veggie buger. Go here to see for yourself.
13. If you live in New York City, Westchester, or most of the Hudson Valley, Healthy Gourmet to Go will deliver your meals for the week. And they’re good!
14. Let Colleen Patrick-Goudreau’s books help you get cookin’!
15. On a budget? No problem! Veg diets don’t have to be expensive.
16. If you navigate life via your iphone/ipad, download helpful apps!
17. Ellen (as in DeGeneres) offers a short list of films to rock your world and inspire you onward.
18. To her list, I’d add Peaceable KingdomThe WitnessSuperSize Me,
19. Let’s not forget Catskill Animal Sanctuary. Our GO VEG page answers your questions and gives you and helpful resources. My first book, Where the Blind Horse Sings, will help you see farm animals from a whole new perspective, as will a weekend visit. Finally, meet great folks and hone your skills at a CAS vegan cooking class! Sign up early: they sell out fast!
20. As soon as you check out kriscarr.com, you’ll be hooked. Betcha.
21. Shop for products from food to clothes at Vegan Essentials and Pangea online.
22. Need some hand-holding or some know-how? You can still access PCRM’s 21-day VeganKickstart Program. (It’s even offered in Spanish!)
23. Here are some more replacements for your current — I MEAN FORMER — dairy and meat choices. (Many items are available in your local grocery or health food store).
24. Explore what various religions have to say about animal cruelty.
25. Follow CAS on Twitter for vegan recipes and breaking animal agriculture news.
26. For inspiration, education, shopping and so much more, read GirlieGirl Army and Our Hen House. And check out Our Hen House’s award-winning podcast!
27. For fun and good vegan gossip: Ecorazzi.
28. Relax at night with your copy of VegNews–celebrate your new life!
29. Attend an animal welfare conference or an animal rights conference to meet like-minded people. Or google “vegan meet-up” where you live.
30. Take your journey one day at a time, and remember that every step you take towards a vegan lifestyle is a powerful step in the right direction!

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This Esselstyn Guy Knows His Stuff image

Why Not Just Take a Pill and Eat What You Want?

diabetesI’ve heard this asked many times.  Well, two new studies just came out in  the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA).  Read on:

Pharmageddon: America’s Top Selling Drug Cause Diabetes

From:  http://drhyman.com/blog/conditions/pharmageddon-americas-top-selling-drug-cause-diabetes/

by 

IF ALL DOCTORS followed the latest cholesterol treatment guidelines, and all their patients took their prescribed statin medication, there would be 3.5 million more diabetics in America.  But wait! There is another pill (injection actually) that has been shown to reduce the risk of diabetes. And it’s only about $50,000 per year per patient.  Let’s see 3.5 million times $50,000. What does that bring us to?

Pharmageddon!

We are stuck in an absurd cultural habit of thinking that medication will save us from lifestyle and social diseases.

Two separate studies in today’s issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) underscore that we have come to the end of an era of being saved by medication.  Antibiotics and vaccines were a huge advance in medicine in the 20thcentury.  But the single pill for the single ill just doesn’t work for 21st century chronic diseases like heart disease and diabetes.

Statins cause Diabetes

The latest cholesterol guidelines (ATP III) increased the number of Americans who should take statin therapy from 13 to 40 million.  Those additional 27 million are ones without heart disease, but who have high cholesterol.  This type of treatment is called primary prevention.  I have extensively reviewed the research on using statins to prevent heart attacks in people who never had them.  The data is weak and shows no benefit, except the Jupiter trial, which ONLY showed benefit if patients also had inflammation (high C-reactive protein), not just high cholesterol or LDL.   If you just had an elevated cholesterol, statins didn’t help.

I have previously written about research that showed that statins increase the risk of diabetes. This latest study examined five major clinical trials on statins including 32,752 non-diabetics over 4.9 years.  During the study period 2,749 patients (or 8.4 percent) developed diabetes.  Those on the highest doses of statins (which are increasingly prescribed by physicians) were at the highest risk of developing diabetes.

While there was a slight overall reduction in risk of heart attacks in the patients treated with statins, the authors found that you have to treat 155 people for one year to prevent just one heart attack or death. If a doctor had to prescribe antibiotics to 155 people to cure just one patient of pneumonia we would think that antibiotics weren’t very good medication.  But that is exactly the “number needed to treat” to prevent just one cardiac event.  On top of that for every 498 people treated, one more person would become diabetic.  If these drugs were not the top selling drugs in history we might accept a small risk, but if we treated everyone who “needed” them, we would have over 3.5 million more diabetics in America.

Using statins may be an acceptable risk if there was no other treatment for heart disease.  And we spend over $100 billon a year on angioplasties (which don’t benefit 95% of people receiving them), and cardiac bypasses (which reduce the risk of death in only 3% of people who receive them), while ignoring that heart disease is a lifestyle and social disease that requireslifestyle medicine and a social cure which would prevent over 90% of all heart disease.

Immune Suppressing Medication Prevents Diabetes

In another study of nearly 14,000 patients, published in today’s issue of JAMA, researchers from Harvard found that those treated with powerful immune suppressing medications (TNF alpha blockers like Remicade or Enbrel), reduced their risk of getting diabetes.

Sounds great. We have an explosion of diabetes.  By 2020 one in two Americans will either have pre-diabetes or diabetes.  The authors said “there is evidence suggesting a possible role for … immunosuppression in diabetes prevention”. But the side effects of these drugs are overwhelming infection, increased cancer risk and death.  And they cost about $50,000 per year per patient. Were the authors serious about using these drugs for diabetes, another lifestyle and social disease?

Yes diabetes is an inflammatory disease. And yes, reducing inflammation can prevent and even reverse diabetes.  But it won’t be by taking aspirin, Advil, or some high-powered immune suppressing, toxic, expensive medication.  The major cause of inflammation is our processed, high sugar, low fiber, fast food, junk food, calorie-dense, nutrient poor industrial diet and our couch potato lifestyle.  A plant based, whole foods, real food diet without sugar and flour in pharmacologic doses along with anti-inflammatory omega 3 fats and a good dose of exercise can dramatically reduce the risk of and even reverse heart disease and diabetes. And they cost a lot less.

Last week a study in JAMA found that the risk of diabetes, heart attacks and death increased significantly with more than 2 hours of television watching per day.  The average American spends seven to nine hours in front a screen every day.  We have a social problem, a host of chronic diseases driven by a food industry and screen dominated culture and the breakdown of communities.  Cooking real food takes a bit more time, but people spend more time watching cooking shows on television that actually cooking.

The answer to our exploding health care costs and burgeoning chronic disease is not going to be found at the bottom of a pill bottle, but at the end of our forks and the soles of our shoes.  Please save us from Pharmageddon.

Avatar of Dr Mark Hyman

About Dr Mark Hyman

MARK HYMAN, MD is dedicated to identifying and addressing the root causes of chronic illnessthrough a groundbreaking whole-systems medicine approach called Functional Medicine. He is a family physician, a five-time New York Times bestselling author, and an international leader in his field. Through his private practice, education efforts, writing, research, and advocacy, he empowers others to stop managing symptoms and start treating the underlying causes of illness, thereby tackling our chronic-disease epidemic. More about Dr. Hyman .

Wondering About a Vegan Diet? Infographic

How Food Affects High Triglycerides Joy Bauer Food Cures

For those diagnosed with high triglycerides, it’s important to take action to lower your levels and improve your heart health.

High Triglycerides, Food Cures

Triglyceride is just a fancy word for fat — the fat in our bodies is stored in the form of triglycerides. Triglycerides are found in foods and manufactured in our bodies. Normal triglyceride levels are defined as less than 150 mg/dL; 150 to 199 is considered borderline high; 200 to 499 is high; and 500 or higher is officially called very high. To me, anything over 150 is a red flag indicating my client needs to take immediate steps to get the situation under control.

High triglyceride levels make blood thicker and stickier, which means that it is more likely to form clots. Studies have shown that triglyceride levels are associated with increased risks of cardiovascular disease and stroke — in both men and women — alone or in combination with other risk factors (high triglycerides combined with high LDL cholesterol can be a particularly deadly combination). For example, in one ground–breaking study, high triglycerides alone increased the risk of cardiovascular disease by 14 percent in men, and by 37 percent in women. But when the test subjects also had low HDL cholesterol (that’s the good cholesterol) and other risk factors, high triglycerides increased the risk of disease by 32 percent in men and 76 percent in women.

Fortunately, triglycerides can often be easily controlled with several diet and lifestyle changes — many of the same changes that I outlined in my High Blood Pressure and High Cholesterol sections.

What Factors Can Increase Triglycerides?

As with cholesterol, eating too much of the wrong kinds of fats will raise your blood triglycerides. Therefore, it’s important to restrict the amounts of saturated fats and trans fats you allow into your diet. Triglyceride levels can also shoot up after eating foods that are high in carbohydrates or after drinking alcohol. That’s why triglyceride blood tests require an overnight fast. If you have elevated triglycerides, it’s especially important to avoid sugary and refined carbohydrates, including sugar, honey, and other sweeteners, soda and other sugary drinks, candy, baked goods, and anything made with white (refined or enriched) flour, including white bread, rolls, cereals, buns, pastries, regular pasta, and white rice. You’ll also want to limit dried fruit and fruit juice since they’re dense in simple sugar. All of these low–quality carbs cause a sudden rise in insulin, which may lead to a spike in triglycerides.

Triglycerides can also become elevated as a reaction to having diabetes, hypothyroidism, or kidney disease. As with most other heart–related factors, being overweight and inactive also contribute to abnormal triglycerides. And unfortunately, some people have a genetic predisposition that causes them to manufacture way too much triglycerides on their own, no matter how carefully they eat.

How Can You Lower Your Triglyceride Levels?

If you are diagnosed with high triglycerides, it’s important to take action. There are several things you can do to help lower your triglyceride levels and improve your heart health:

  1. Lose weight if you are overweight. There is a clear correlation between obesity and high triglycerides — the heavier people are, the higher their triglyceride levels are likely to be. The good news is that losing weight can significantly lower triglycerides. In a large study of individuals with type 2 diabetes, those assigned to the “lifestyle intervention group” — which involved counseling, a low–calorie meal plan, and customized exercise program — lost 8.6% of their body weight and lowered their triglyceride levels by more than 16%. If you’re overweight, find a weight loss plan that works for you and commit to shedding the pounds and getting healthier.
  2. Reduce the amount of saturated fat and trans fat in your diet. Start by avoiding or dramatically limiting butter, cream cheese, lard, sour cream, doughnuts, cakes, cookies, candy bars, regular ice cream, fried foods, pizza, cheese sauce, cream–based sauces and salad dressings, high–fat meats (including fatty hamburgers, bologna, pepperoni, sausage, bacon, salami, pastrami, spareribs, and hot dogs), high–fat cuts of beef and pork, and whole-milk dairy products. Other ways to cut back:
    • Choose lean meats only (including skinless chicken and turkey, lean beef, lean pork), fish, and reduced–fat or fat–free dairy products. Experiment with adding whole soy foods to your diet. Although soy itself may not reduce risk of heart disease, it replaces hazardous animal fats with healthier proteins. Choose high–quality soy foods, such as tofu, tempeh, soy milk, and edamame (whole soybeans).
    • Always remove skin from poultry.
    • Prepare foods by baking, roasting, broiling, boiling, poaching, steaming, grilling, or stir–frying in vegetable oil.
    • Most stick margarines contain trans fats, and trans fats are also found in some packaged baked goods, potato chips, snack foods, fried foods, and fast food that use or create hydrogenated oils. (All food labels must now list the amount of trans fats, right after the amount of saturated fats — good news for consumers. As a result, many food companies have now reformulated their products to be trans fat free…many, but not all! So it’s still just as important to read labels and make sure the packaged foods you buy don’t contain trans fats.) If you use margarine, purchase soft-tub margarine spreads that contain 0 grams trans fats and don’t list any partially hydrogenated oils in the ingredients list. By substituting olive oil or vegetable oil for trans fats in just 2 percent of your daily calories, you can reduce your risk of heart disease by 53 percent. There is no safe amount of trans fats, so try to keep them as far from your plate as possible.
  3. Avoid foods that are concentrated in sugar (even dried fruit and fruit juice). Sugary foods can elevate triglyceride levels in the blood, so keep them to a bare minimum.
  4. Swap out refined carbohydrates for whole grains. Refined carbohydrates — like white rice, regular pasta, and anything made with white or “enriched” flour (including white bread, rolls, cereals, buns, and crackers) — raise blood sugar and insulin levels more than fiber-rich whole grains. Higher insulin levels, in turn, can lead to a higher rise in triglycerides after a meal. So, make the switch to whole wheat bread, whole grain pasta, brown or wild rice, and whole grain versions of cereals, crackers, and other bread products. However, it’s important to know that individuals with high triglycerides should moderate even their intake of high–quality starches (since all starches raise blood sugar) — I recommend 1 to 2 servings per meal.
  5. Cut way back on alcohol. If you have high triglycerides, alcohol should be considered a rare treat — if you indulge at all, since even small amounts of alcohol can dramatically increase triglyceride levels.
  6. Incorporate omega-3 fats. Heart–healthy fish oils are especially rich in omega–3 fatty acids. In multiple studies over the past two decades, people who ate diets high in omega–3s had 30 to 40 percent reductions in heart disease. Although we don’t yet know why fish oil works so well, there are several possibilities. Omega–3s seem to reduce inflammation, reduce high blood pressure, decrease triglycerides, raise HDL cholesterol, and make blood thinner and less sticky so it is less likely to clot. It’s as close to a food prescription for heart health as it gets. If you have high triglycerides, I recommend eating at least three servings of one of the omega–3–rich fish every week (fatty fish is the most concentrated food form of omega three fats). If you cannot manage to eat that much fish, speak with your physician about taking fish oil capsules, which offer similar benefits.The best foods for omega–3 fatty acids include wild salmon (fresh, canned), herring, mackerel (not king), sardines, anchovies, rainbow trout, and Pacific oysters. Non-fish sources of omega–3 fats include omega–3–fortified eggs, ground flaxseed, chia seeds, walnuts, butternuts (white walnuts), seaweed, walnut oil, canola oil, and soybeans.
  7. Quit smoking. Smoking causes inflammation, not just in your lungs, but throughout your body. Inflammation can contribute to atherosclerosis, blood clots, and risk of heart attack. Smoking makes all heart health indicators worse. If you have high cholesterol, high triglycerides, or high blood pressure, smoking magnifies the danger.
  8. Become more physically active. Even moderate exercise can help improve cholesterol, triglycerides, and blood pressure. Aerobic exercise seems to be able to stop the sharp rise of triglycerides after eating, perhaps because of a decrease in the amount of triglyceride released by the liver, or because active muscle clears triglycerides out of the blood stream more quickly than inactive muscle. If you haven’t exercised regularly (or at all) for years, I recommend starting slowly, by walking at an easy pace for 15 minutes a day. Then, as you feel more comfortable, increase the amount. Your ultimate goal should be at least 30 minutes of moderate physical activity, at least five days a week.

Learn more about Food Cures for high triglycerides.

http://www.joybauer.com/high-triglycerides/about-high-triglycerides.aspx

Preventing Heart Disease – At Any Age American Heart Association

You’re never too young— or too old — to take care of your heart.

Multi-Generational Family Outdoor Portrait

 

Preventing heart disease (and allcardiovascular diseases) means making smart choices now that will pay off the rest of your life.

Lack of exercise, a poor diet and other bad habits can take their toll over the years. Anyone at any age can benefit from simple steps to keep their heart healthy during each decade of life. Here’s how:

All Age Groups
No matter what your age, everyone can benefit from a healthy diet and adequate physical activity.

  • Choose a healthy eating plan.  The food you eat can decrease your risk of heart disease and stroke.  Choose foods low in saturated fat, trans fatcholesterolsodium and added sugars and sweeteners.  As part of a healthy diet, eat plenty of fruits and vegetablesfiber-rich whole grainsfish (preferably oily fish — at least twice per week), nuts, legumes and seeds.  Also try eating some meals without meat.  Select fat-free and low-fat dairy products and lean meats and poultry (skinless).  Limit sugar-sweetened beverages.
  • Be physically active.  You can slowly work up to at least 2½ hours (150 minutes) of moderate-intensity aerobic physical activity (like brisk walking) every week or an hour and 15 minutes (75 minutes) of vigorous intensity aerobic physical activity (such as jogging or running) or a combination of both every week. Additionally, on two or more days a week you need muscle-strengthening activities that work all major muscle groups (legs, hips, back, abdomen, chest shoulders and arms).

In Your 20s
Getting smart about your heart early on puts you far ahead of the curve. The things you do — and don’t — are a tell-tale sign of how long and how well you’re going to live, said Richard Stein, M.D. “There’s no one I know who said: ‘I felt better being sedentary. I felt better eating a terrible diet,’” said Stein, a cardiologist and professor of medicine at New York University School of Medicine. “All these things actually make you feel better while they help you.”

  • Find a doctor and have regular wellness exams. Healthy people need doctors, too. Establishing a relationship with a physician means you can start heart-health screenings now. Talk to your doctor about your diet, lifestyle and checking your blood pressurecholesterolheart ratebody mass index and waist circumference. You may also need your blood sugar checked if you are pregnant, overweight or havediabetes. Knowing where your numbers stand early makes it easier to spot a possible change in the future.
  • Be physically active. It’s a lot easier to be active and stay active if you start at a young age. “If you’re accustomed to physical activity, you’ll sustain it,” Dr. Stein said. Keep your workout routine interesting by mixing it up and finding new motivators.
  • Don’t smoke and avoid secondhand smoke. If you picked up smoking as a teen, it’s time to quit smoking. Even exposure to secondhand smoke poses a serious health hazard. Nonsmokers are up to 30 percent more likely to develop heart disease or lung cancer from secondhand smoke exposure at home or work, according to a U.S. Surgeon General report.

In Your 30s
Juggling family and career leaves many adults with little time to worry about their hearts. Here are some ways to balance all three.

  • Make heart-healthy living a family affair. Create and sustain heart-healthy habits in your kids and you’ll reap the benefits, too. Spend less time on the couch and more time on the move. Explore a nearby park on foot or bike. Shoot some hoops or walk the dog. Plant a vegetable and fruit garden together in the yard, and invite your kids into the kitchen to help cook.
  • Know your family history. Shake your family tree to learn about heart health. Having a relative with heart disease increases your risk, especially if the relative is a parent or sibling. That means you need to focus on risk factors you can control by maintaining a healthy weight, exercising regularly, not smoking and eating right. Also, keep your doctor informed about any heart problems you learn about in your family.
  • Tame your stress. Long-term stress causes an increase in heart rate and blood pressure that may damage the artery walls. Learning stress management techniques benefits your body and your quality of life. Try deep breathing exercises and find time each day to do something you enjoy. Giving back through volunteering also does wonders for knocking out stress.

In Your 40s
If heart health hasn’t been a priority, don’t worry. Healthy choices you make now can strengthen your heart for the long haul. Understand why you need to make lifestyle changes and have the confidence to make them. Then, tackle them one at a time. “Each success makes you more confident to take on the next one,” said Dr. Stein, who is also an American Heart Association volunteer.

  • Watch your weight. In your 40s, your metabolism starts slowing down. But you can avoid weight gain by following a heart-healthy diet and getting plenty of exercise. The trick is to find a workout routine you enjoy. If you need motivation to get moving, find a workout buddy or join American Heart Association Walking Paths and Walking Clubs.
  • Have your blood sugar level checked. In addition to blood pressure checks and other heart-health screenings, you should have a fasting blood glucose test by the time you’re 45. This first test serves as a baseline for future tests, which you should have every three years. Testing may be done earlier or more often if you are overweight, diabetic or at risk for becoming diabetic.
  • Don’t brush off snoring. Listen to your sleeping partner’s complaints about your snoring. One in five adults has at least mild sleep apnea, a condition that causes pauses in breathing during sleep. If not properly treated, sleep apnea can contribute to high blood pressure, heart disease and stroke.

In Your 50s
Unlike the emergence of wrinkles and gray hair, what you can’t see as you get older is the impact aging has on your heart. So starting in the 50s, you need to take extra steps.

In Your 60s+
With age comes an increased risk for heart disease. Your blood pressure, cholesterol and other heart-related numbers tend to rise. Watching your numbers closely and managing any health problems that arise — along with the requisite healthy eating and exercise — can help you live longer and better.

  • Have an ankle-brachial index test. Starting in your 60s, an ankle-brachial index test should be done every one to two years as part of a physical exam. The test assesses the pulses in the feet to help diagnoseperipheral artery disease (PAD), a lesser-known cardiovascular disease in which plaque builds up in the leg arteries.
  • Watch your weight. Your body burns fewer calories as you get older. Excess weight causes your heart to work harder and increases the risk for heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes and high cholesterol. Exercising regularly and eating smaller portions of nutrient-rich foods may help you maintain a healthy weight.
  • Learn the warning signs of a heart attack and stroke. Heart attack symptoms in women can be different than men. Knowing when you’re having a heart attack or stroke means you’re more likely to get immediate help. Quick treatment can save your life and prevent serious disability.

http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/Conditions/More/MyHeartandStrokeNews/Preventing-Heart-Disease—At-Any-Age_UCM_442925_Article.jsp

Cholesterol Dr. Caldwell B. Esselstyn, Jr.

Dr. Caldwell B. Esselstyn, Jr.: “Cholesterol is a white, waxy substance that is not found in plants — only in animals.  It is an essential component of the membrane that coats all our cells, and it is the basic ingredient of sex hormones.  Our bodies need cholesterol, and they manufacture it on their own.  We do not need to eat it.  But we do, when we consume meat, poultry, fish, and other animal-based foods, such as dairy products and eggs.  In doing so, we take on excess amounts of the substance.  What’s more, eating fat [even as added oil] causes the body itself to manufacture excessive amounts of cholesterol, which explains why vegetetarians who eat oil, butter, cheese, milk, ice cream, glazed doughnuts, and French pastry develop coronary disease despite their avoidance of meat.”- Dr. Esselstyn

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