My Plantcentric Journey

Posts tagged ‘stroke’

Fish Oil Supplements No Help to Heart or Brain

Two new studies found that omega-3 supplements, often sold in the form of fish oil, do not improve the health of the brain or heart.

After following more than 12,500 type 2 diabetes patients over the age of 50 for an average of 6.2 years, researchers saw no difference in heart health between those taking an omega-3 supplement versus a placebo. Diabetes patients are two to four times more likely to suffer from heart disease or a stroke, compared with people without diabetes. Another recent meta-analysis came to the same conclusion for people with a history of heart problems.

Additionally, in a new review looking at omega-3 supplementation for brain health, researchers found no link between omega-3 supplements and the prevention or improvement of dementia.

Bosch J, Gerstein HC, Diaz R, et al. n–3 fatty Acids and cardiovascular outcomes in patients with dysglycemia. N Engl J Med. Published online June 11, 2012.

Kwak SM, Myung SK, Lee YJ. Efficacy of omega-3 fatty acid supplements (eicosapentaenoic acid and docosahexaenoic acid) in the secondary prevention of cardiovascular disease: a meta-analysis of randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trials. Arch Intern Med. Published ahead of print, April 9, 2012.

Dangour AD, Andreeva VA, Sydenham E, Uauy R. Omega 3 fatty acids and cognitive health in older people. Br J Nutr.2012;107:S152-S158.

For information about nutrition and health, please visit www.pcrm.org/.

Mercury Testing Recommended Before Pregnancy

Recent testing of mercury concentrations in three national brands of canned tuna found that “55% of all tuna examined was above the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s safety level for human consumption.” And the problem appears to be getting worse. Previous studies on canned tuna, in 1993 and 2004, showed concerning levels of mercury contamination, but not as bad as it is now. See my profile of the paper in my 2-min. videoWhich brand of tuna has the most mercury?

Given the average level of mercury pollution found in canned tuna, researchers suggest that your average 9 year old would exceed the EPA limit even if they only ate a can of tuna every 6 weeks! They conclude: “These results indicate that stricter regulation of the canned tuna industry is necessary to ensure the safety of sensitive populations such as pregnant women, infants, and children.”

Some question whether the federal safety limits are even sufficiently protective. A recent review from researchers at Harvard and elsewhere on the adverse effects of mercury in fish proposed that the exposure limits set in the United States should be cut in half. Already, current regulations in the United States allow up to 10 times as much mercury in fish as the EPA limit allows, and so our fish is allowed to have 20 times more mercury than may be considered safe.

Because the EPA safety limit on mercury in fish may not sufficiently protect pregnant women in the United States, a recommendation has been put forth that fish-eating women may want to get tested for mercury before considering getting pregnant. It’s a simple test. Since mercury basically contaminates our whole body, all they need is a hair sample. See more details in my 2-min. video Hair Testing for Mercury Before Consider Pregnancy.

Studies on children of the neurobehavioral toxicity of mercury suggest that no level of mercury exposure can truly be considered safe, but pressure from the fish industry may be preventing safety limits from dropping further. In my video Nerves of Mercury I profile a famous study published in the Journal of Pediatrics showing brain damage in adolescents at below the mercury limits placed on fish in this country. As one former EPA toxicologist told theWall Street Journal, “They really consider the fish industry to be their clients, rather than the U.S. public.”

Mercury is not just a problem for children. Mercury and other toxic pollutants in fish is thought to be why the consumption of dark fish (such as salmon, swordfish, bluefish, mackerel, and sardines) may increase one’s risk of atrial fibrillation, an irregularity of heart beat rhythm associated with stroke, dementia, heart failure, and a shortened lifespan. See my 2-min. video Red Fish, White Fish; Dark Fish, Atrial Fibrillation. Also check out Fish Fog, which discusses the link between fish consumption and neurobehavioral abnormalities in adults. For more information on industrial pollutants in fish, see Xenoestrogens & Sperm Counts and Fish Intake Biomarker.

There are also natural toxins that can bioaccumulate up the aquatic food chain. See my 2-min. video Amnesic Seafood Poisoning about a rare toxin called domoic acid. It can turn up in tuna and other seafood and can cause anterograde amnesia, the loss of short-term memory popularized in the movie Memento. Even drugs can build up in fish. In my 1-min. video A Fine Kettle of Fluoxetine, I follow up on my earlier video Prozac Residues in Fish about the occurrence of pharmaceuticals and personal care products in fish fillets.

For more on canned tuna specifically, see Carcinogenic PutrescineThe Effect of Canned Tuna on Future Wages,Amalgam Fillings vs. Canned Tuna, and Mercury in Vaccinations vs. Tuna.

Fish aren’t the only source of toxic heavy metals, though. Mercury has been found in both high fructose corn syrup-containing products (see Mercury in Corn Syrup?) and Ayurvedic dietary supplements (Get the Lead Out).

-Michael Greger, M.D.

http://nutritionfacts.org/2012/07/27/mercury-testing-recommended-before-pregnancy/?utm_source=NutritionFacts.org&utm_campaign=01e5f60041-RSS_BLOG_DAILY&utm_medium=email

Image credit: veer66 / Flickr

Drinking Just 1 Can Soda/Day Increases Your Chance of What? Cleveland Clinic

Do You Drink Soda Every Day?http://bit.ly/MbmW7m You may want to reconsider!

Cooking With Legumes

cooking legumes

Today’s the day.  Today’s the day that I’m finally going to do something with those dried Adzuki beans I just had to get after hearing all about the health benefits of them on the Dr. Oz Show.  http://www.sharecare.com/question/health-benefits-eating-adzuki-beans  Problem is, they have to be soaked, and I’ve never had luck soaking beans.  They always end up being hard.

So, before I started, I needed directions and found this info from Dr. Weil.  Such great information I just had to share.

From Andrew Weil, MD.

Legumes, like whole grains, are a low-glycemic-index food and an important part of the Anti-Inflammatory Food Pyramid. They are rich in vitamins, minerals and fiber; delicious if prepared properly; and among the most inexpensive foods you can buy – the ultimate refutation of the notion that “you have to be rich to eat healthy.”

Legumes are the seeds of the plants in the Fabaceae family – a family that includes beans, lentils, soybeans, peas, peanuts, and even alfalfa and clover. They are exceptionally healthy foods for humans and animals, with the added bonus of being excellent for the environment: their roots fix nitrogen in the soil, reducing the need for petroleum-based fertilizers.

Legumes in the diet usually refers to pulses – the edible seeds of annual leguminous plants that are harvested dry for consumption. In other words, these are the dry beans and lentils you can find in the bulk bins of any natural food store.

Beans and lentils are rich in folic acidmagnesiumpotassium, B vitamins, complex carbohydrates and soluble fiber, and, at 20-25% protein by weight, are a go-to for vegetarians and vegans.

The American Diabetes Association, the American Heart Association and the American Cancer Society all recommend legumes as one of the most important food groups for disease prevention and optimal health. Due to their blend of fiber, protein and nutrients, legumes aid in blood sugar regulation more than almost any other food group, a key quality for diabetics and those concerned with maintaining stable insulin response.

Legumes are also heart-healthy; their high fiber content lowers cholesterol and triglyceride (blood fat) levels. A study of over 15,000 middle-aged men across the U.S., Europe and Japan for 25 years found the consumption of legumes was associated with an 82% reduction in risk of death from heart disease. Most varieties of beans and lentils are also high in folate, a vitamin that helps prevent the build-up of the amino acid homocysteine – elevated levels of which are a major risk factor for heart attack and stroke.

Cheap, healthful, versatile and delicious, there’s a reason pulses like beans and lentils are a staple  throughout the world. Whether you enjoy them as dips and spreads like hummus, paired with nutritious whole grains such as the ever-popular beans and rice, or merely to bulk up soups, stews and salads, they deserve a prominent place in your anti-inflammatory kitchen!

General tips on cooking with legumes:
This guide is for cooking dried legumes from scratch, which is by far the most inexpensive, fresh and tasty  way to enjoy them. However, canned beans can be a good choice in a pinch. If you opt for canned, look for varieties that do not contain chemical preservatives, and be sure to rinse them thoroughly to remove excess sodium that may have been included in the canning liquid.

Some dried beans such as black, navy and kidney beans are found in typical supermarkets, but you will have better luck finding more obscure beans, such as adzuki beans and unique lentil varieties at your local natural foods store or ethnic market. For all dried legumes:

  • Opt for organic varieties from the bulk bins of health food stores whenever possible – they have higher turnover rates, which improves the likelihood of freshness.
  • Store in airtight containers in a cool, dry place that is not in direct sunlight. Generally, if done properly, they can be stored up to one year.
  • Before preparing, it is advisable to spread them out on a light surface to check for and remove any small stones, spoiled beans or other debris. Then, place in a strainer and rinse under cool water.

Almost all legumes – split peas and lentils being the exceptions – should be soaked prior to cooking. Soaking improves digestibility and decreases cooking time. Place rinsed, dried beans in a pot and add water until it is roughly three inches above the beans. Cover the pot and place in the refrigerator for at least one hour for small beans, six hours or overnight for larger varieties. Then drain the soaking water – don’t use it for cooking, as it’s full of difficult-to-digest starches that can cause flatulence and other digestive woes.

The instructions in the list below are for stovetop preparation in a pot. But you can also use a pressure cooker for most of these beans, which can reduce cooking times by up to 80 percent. See the instructions that were included with your cooker for details on the amount of liquid needed and cooking times.

You can also cook your legumes in vegetable stock instead of water for added flavor, but do not add any salt or acidic ingredients like tomatoes or lemon juice – either will toughen the beans and greatly increase cooking time. As a general rule, wait until beans are done or nearly done cooking before seasoning.

To further reduce the gas-producing properties of beans, add a large strip of dried kombu seaweed to the pot of beans and water prior to boiling. Remove the kombu once cooking is finished. You can find kombu in your local natural foods store or in ethnic markets. Adding a slice or two of ginger or some fennel or cumin seeds can also help. Additionally, skimming and discarding the foam during boiling is also an effective means of gas reduction.

To cook: Refill the pot with fresh, cold water for cooking (three cups per cup of soaked beans is a good general rule, but optimal amounts for each legume variety are provided). Bring to a boil in a pot with a lid. Once boiling, reduce to a simmer, tilt the lid slightly to allow steam to escape, and leave to cook for the designated time. Beans are done when they are tender; though if you desire an even softer texture (useful for some recipes that call for mashed beans) simply cook them longer. Try these legumes as part of a healthy diet plan:

http://www.drweil.com/drw/u/ART03206/Cooking-With-Legumes.html

Do You Know Your Neck Size? Sleep Apnea and Heart Disease, Stroke

Woman With Sleep Apnea

You know about taking your measurements for clothing.  And you may have heard about waist size for health.  (From  Dr. Oz:   Half of men and 70% of women in the United States between the ages of 50 and 79 have waist sizes that indicate obesity. Too much of a waist can lead to heart disease, diabetes and even cancer. That’s because excess abdominal, or omentum, fat pumps out toxic chemicals that not only keep you fat but also cause inflammation that poisons your organs, especially your liver.

To maintain optimal health, your ideal waist size should be less than half your height. For the average 5’ 4” woman, waist size should measure 32 inches or less. The waist of an average 5’ 10” man should measure 35 inches or less. Use a tape measure and wrap it around your natural waist, which is not at your belt but above your hips.    http://www.doctoroz.com/videos/health-tests-could-save-your-life?page=3#copy )

But, have you ever thought of measuring your neck?  It’s very important to keep it under 17″ for men and 16″ for women.

Taken from Dr. Oz:

What Are The Signs and Symptoms of Sleep Apnea?

  • Daytime sleepiness
  • Loud snoring at night
  • Interruptions in nighttime breathing
  • Abrupt awakenings followed by shortness of breath
  • Acid reflux
  • Frequent nighttime urination
  • Headaches
  • Memory loss
  • Large neck size (over 17 inches for men and 16 for women)

Taken from The American Heart Association:

Plain old snoring can get a little annoying, especially for someone listening to it. But when a snorer repeatedly stops breathing for brief moments, it can lead to cardiovascular problems and potentially be life-threatening.

It’s a condition known as sleep apnea, in which the person may experience pauses in breathing five to 30 times per hour or more during sleep. These episodes wake the sleeper as he or she gasps for air. It prevents restful sleep and is associated with high blood pressure,arrhythmiastroke and heart failure.

Heart disease is the leading cause of death in America, and stroke is the No. 4 cause and a leading cause of disability. High blood pressure is a major risk factor for both.

“The evidence is very strong for the relationship between sleep apnea and hypertension and cardiovascular disease generally, so people really need to know that,” said Donna Arnett, Ph.D., chair and professor of epidemiology at the School of Public Health at the University of Alabama at Birmingham and the incoming president of the American Heart Association.

A Common Problem
One in five adults suffers from at least mild sleep apnea, and it afflicts more men than women, Dr. Arnett said. The most common type is obstructive sleep apnea in which weight on the upper chest and neck contributes to blocking the flow of air. (Another type, called central sleep apnea, is far less prevalent.)

Obstructive sleep apnea is associated with obesity, which is also a major risk factor for heart disease and stroke. Besides obesity contributing to sleep apnea, sleep deprivation caused by sleep apnea can, in an ongoing unhealthy cycle, lead to further obesity, Dr. Arnett explained.

Listen to Those Snoring Complaints
Often a roommate or sleeping partner of someone with sleep apnea notices it. “It’s really hard to detect if you live alone, unless you go through a sleep study,” Dr. Arnett said. People with sleep apnea may be more tired during the day, she said, and therefore prone to accidents or falling asleep.

Dr. Arnett told of her own family’s experience with sleep apnea. She accompanied her 73-year-old mother, Lela Arnett, on a trip to Germany and heard her make loud snorts during the night.

It got so noisy that Donna Arnett ended up sleeping in the hotel room’s bathroom with the door closed. It turns out her mother had sleep apnea and severe hypertension. Her mother knew she sometimes awoke when she took big breaths, but she didn’t realize the severity of what was happening.

Getting Proper Treatment
Woman With Sleep Apnea
Through treatment known as continuous positive airway pressure, or CPAP, her mother’s blood pressure stabilized. The CPAP device involves wearing a mask while sleeping.

It keeps air pressure in the breathing passages so they don’t close down. Some patients have bad reactions to the masks, Dr. Arnett said, but their design has evolved significantly, making it easier to find a suitable one.

In a sleep study, doctors count pauses in breathing to determine whether the patient has mild sleep apnea, characterized by five to 15 episodes per hour; moderate sleep apnea, defined by 15 to 30 per hour; or severe sleep apnea, meaning more than 30 each hour.

It’s certainly possible to have simple, loud snoring without sleep apnea. But with regular snoring, the person continues to inhale and exhale.

With sleep apnea, the sleeping person tends to have periods when he or she stops breathing and nothing can be heard. The good news is treatment that keeps the breathing passages open and oxygen flowing can yield fast results, Dr. Arnett said. “Blood pressure comes down really quite quickly.”

Learn more:

From:  http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/Conditions/More/MyHeartandStrokeNews/Sleep-Apnea-and-Heart-Disease-Stroke_UCM_441857_Article.jsp#.T-9TtzplC_U.gmail

‘Dallas’ Star Larry Hagman: Vegan to Help Battle Cancer. Why Wait?

'Dallas' star Larry Hagman reflecs on vegan diet and how it's changed his life for the better

After being diagnosed with cancer in 2011, Hagman changed his diet to a meatless one to help him in the battle. He is now cancer free.”

Once again a celebrity has changed their diet to a vegan one after being diagnosed with a life threatening illness.  The fact is that a vegan diet may help them survive.  My question is, “Why wait until you get sick?”

“The dietary changes that have helped my patients over the past twenty years can help you, too. They can actually make you immune to heart attacks. And there is considerable evidence that they have benefits far beyond coronary artery disease. If you eat to save your heart, you eat to save yourself from other diseases of nutritional extravagance: from strokes, hypertension, obesity, osteoporosis, adult-onset diabetes, and possibly senile mental impairment, as well. You gain protection from a host of other ailments that have been linked to dietary factors, including impotence and cancers of the breast, prostate, colon, rectum, uterus, and ovaries. And if you are eating for good health in this way, here’s a side benefit you might not have expected: for the rest of your life, you will never again have to count calories or worry about your weight.”  http://www.heartattackproof.com/excerpt.htm

Larry Hagman is known for his role as J.R. Ewing on the popular hit series “Dallas,” but he recently became a fan favorite when he turned vegan. Let’s just say the actor doesn’t miss meat one bit.

After being diagnosed with cancer in 2011, Hagman changed his diet to a meatless one to help him in the battle. He is now cancer free.

In a recent interview, Hagman reflected on his vegan journey, “After the first couple of months, I didn’t miss anything. I’ve lost 30 pounds; I feel better and have more energy. I’m doing good. Working at 80 is kind of nice.”

Back in January the 80-year-old discussed his transition, “The first thing I did when I was diagnosed was to turn vegan. Now I live on fresh vegetable drinks which taste like c**p but which I firmly believe have helped me get through this thing.”

To fully commit to his vegan diet, he hired an organic chef, purchased an industrial sized juicer and took part in strength training, all to stay strong.

The legendary actor noted he wasn’t sure he would stay 100 percent vegan, “I’ve become a bit of a vegan nut but I believe it’s kept me strong. I will probably reintroduce fish and eggs in a couple of weeks but meat is gone forever, and so is milk. I don’t want those hormones and steroids in my body.”

Hagman’s new eating habits have done his body good, and based on his most recent comments, it seems that nearly 6 months later, he’s still fully vegan.

If you want to see Hagman’s portrayal of J.R. you can catch him on TNT’s revival of “Dallas” this Wednesday at 9 p.m. EST.

BY ALLYSON KOERNER JUNE 11, 2012

Photo Credit: Phil Stafford / Shutterstock.com

http://www.ecorazzi.com/2012/06/11/dallas-star-larry-hagman-reflects-on-vegan-diet/

New Documentary: Heal Your Self

Take a look at this trailer for a new documentary about people who’ve healed themselves through diet and positive lifestyle changes.  It looks good.

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