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5 Foods That Can Trigger a Stroke

By Melanie Haiken, Caring.com

Few things feel more terrifying and random than a stroke, which can strike without warning. And fear of stroke — when a blood vessel in or leading to the brain bursts or is blocked by a blood clot, starving brain cells of oxygen and nutrients — is well founded. After all, stroke is the number-three killer in the U.S., affecting more than 700,000 people each year. Here are five foods that cause the damage that leads to stroke.

1. Crackers, chips, and store-bought pastries and baked goods

Muffins, doughnuts, chips, crackers, and many other baked goods are high in trans fats, which are hydrogenated oils popular with commercial bakeries because they stay solid at room temperature, so the products don’t require refrigeration. Also listed on labels as “partially hydrogenated” or hydrogenated oils, trans fats are found in all kinds of snack foods, frozen foods, and baked goods, including salad dressings, microwave popcorn, stuffing mixes, frozen tater tots and French fries, cake mixes, and whipped toppings. They’re also what makes margarine stay in a solid cube. The worst offenders are fried fast foods such as onion rings, French fries, and fried chicken.

Why it’s bad

For years scientists have known trans fats are dangerous artery-blockers, upping the concentrations of lipids and bad cholesterol in the blood and lowering good cholesterol. Now we can add stroke to the list of dangers. This year researchers at the University of North Carolina found that women who ate 7 grams of trans fat each day — about the amount in two doughnuts or half a serving of French fries — had 30 percent more strokes (the ischemic type, caused by blocked blood flow to the brain) than women who ate just 1 gram a day. Another recent study, also in women, found that trans fats promoted inflammation and higher levels of C-reactive protein, which have been linked to an increased risk of diabetesheart disease, and stroke.

What to do

Aim to limit trans fats to no more than 1 or 2 grams a day — and preferably none. Avoid fast-food French fries and other fried menu items and study packaged food labels closely. Even better, bake your own cookies, cakes, and other snacks. When you can’t, search out “health-food” alternative snacks, such as Terra brand potato chips and traditional whole grain crackers such as those made by Finn, Wasa, AkMak, Ryvita, and Lavasch.

2. Smoked and processed meats

Whether your weakness is pastrami, sausage, hot dogs, bacon, or a smoked turkey sandwich, the word from the experts is: Watch out.

Why it’s bad

Smoked and processed meats are nasty contributors to stroke risk in two ways: The preserving processes leave them packed with sodium, but even worse are the preservatives used to keep processed meats from going bad. Sodium nitrate and nitrite have been shown by researchers to directly damage blood vessels, causing arteries to harden and narrow. And of course damaged, overly narrow blood vessels are exactly what you don’t want if you fear stroke.

Many studies have linked processed meats to coronary artery disease (CAD); one meta-analysis in the journal Circulation calculated a 42-percent increase in coronary heart disease for those who eat one serving of processed meat a day. Stroke is not the only concern for salami fans; cancer journals have reported numerous studies in the past few years showing that consumption of cured and smoked meats is linked with increased risk of diabetes and higher incidences of numerous types of cancer, including leukemia.

What to do

If a smoked turkey or ham sandwich is your lunch of choice, try to vary your diet, switching to tuna, peanut butter, or other choices several days a week. Or cook turkey and chicken yourself and slice it thin for sandwiches.

3. Diet soda

Although replacing sugary drinks with diet soda seems like a smart solution for keeping weight down — a heart-healthy goal — it turns out diet soda is likely a major bad guy when it comes to stroke.

Why it’s bad

People who drink a diet soda a day may up their stroke risk by 48 percent. A Columbia University study presented at the American Stroke Association’s 2011 International Stroke Conference followed 2,500 people ages 40 and older and found that daily diet soda drinkers had 60 percent more strokes, heart attacks, and coronary artery disease than those who didn’t drink diet soda. Researchers don’t know exactly how diet soda ups stroke risk — and are following up with further studies — but nutritionists are cautioning anyone concerned about stroke to cut out diet soda pop.

What to do

Substitute more water for soda in your daily diet. It’s the healthiest thirst-quencher by far, researchers say. If you don’t like water, try lemonade, iced tea, or juice.

4. Red meat

This winter, when the respected journal Stroke published a study showing that women who consumed a large portion of red meat each day had a 42-percent higher incidence of stroke, it got nutrition experts talking. The information that red meat, with its high saturated fat content, isn’t healthy for those looking to prevent heart disease and stroke wasn’t exactly news. But the percentage increase (almost 50 percent!) was both startling and solid; the researchers arrived at their finding after following 35,000 Swedish women for ten years.

Why it’s bad

Researchers have long known that the saturated fat in red meat raises the risk of stroke and heart disease by gradually clogging arteries with a buildup of protein plaques. Now it turns out that hemoglobin, the ingredient that gives red meat its high iron content, may pose a specific danger when it comes to stroke. Researchers are investigating whether blood becomes thicker and more viscous as a result of the consumption of so-called heme iron, specifically upping the chance of strokes.

What to do

Aim to substitute more poultry — particularly white meat — and fish, which are low in heme iron, for red meat. Also, choose the heart-healthiest sources of protein whenever you can, especially beans, legumes, nuts, tofu, and nonfat dairy.

5. Canned soup and prepared foods

Whether it’s canned soup, canned spaghetti, or healthy-sounding frozen dinners, prepared foods and mixes rely on sodium to increase flavor and make processed foods taste fresher. Canned soup is cited by nutritionists as the worst offender; one can of canned chicken noodle soup contains more than 1,100 mg of sodium, while many other varieties, from clam chowder to simple tomato, have between 450 and 800 mg per serving. Compare that to the American Heart and Stroke Association’s recommendation of less than1,500 mg of sodium daily and you’ll see the problem. In fact, a nutritionist-led campaign, the National Salt Reduction Initiative, calls on food companies to reduce the salt content in canned soup and other products by 20 percent in the next two years.

Why it’s bad

Salt, or sodium as it’s called on food labels, directly affects stroke risk. In one recent study, people who consumed more than 4,000 mg of sodium daily had more than double the risk of stroke compared to those who ate 2,000 mg or less. Yet the Centers for Disease Control estimate that most Americans eat close to 3,500 mg of sodium per day. Studies show that sodium raises blood pressure, the primary causative factor for stroke. And be warned: Sodium wears many tricky disguises, which allow it to hide in all sorts of foods that we don’t necessarily think of as salty. Some common, safe-sounding ingredients that really mean salt:

  • Baking soda
  • Baking powder
  • MSG (monosodium glutamate)
  • Disodium phosphate
  • Sodium alginate
What to do

Make your own homemade soups and entrees, then freeze individual serving-sized portions. Buy low-sodium varieties, but read labels carefully, since not all products marked “low sodium” live up to that promise.

Akilah M. El, N.D. is a Naturopathic Doctor and certified Master Herbalist with a private practice in Atlanta Georgia and Berlin Germany. Join Dr Akilah El on Facebook and Twitter

For More Health Tips Like This Check Out Our Health Tips Page

Ten Health Benefits of Watermelon

The Health Benefits of Watermelon

Watermelon is a natural source of most powerful antioxidants provided by nature. It is a good source of the antioxidant vitamins C and A to protect us from diseases. It reduces the risk of dehydration.

Summer and watermelon are inseparable. Watermelons are found almost everywhere in the world. Although we can find watermelons in our markets throughout the year, the season for watermelon is the summer when they are sweet and of the best quality. No other fruit can we find so crunchy and thirst quenching like watermelon.

HEALTH BENEFITS OF WATERMELON

  1. The health benefits of watermelon are really great. No matter how it is sliced, it is packed with some of the most important antioxidants found in nature.
  2. It is an excellent source of vitamin C and a very good source of vitamin A, particularly through its concentration of beta-carotene.
  3. The beautiful red watermelon is also a source of the potent carotene antioxidant which is called lycopene. These antioxidants travel throughout the body neutralizing free radicals. Free radicals are substances in the body that can cause much damage to us. They are able to oxidize cholesterol, making it stick to blood vessel walls and thicken them which can lead to hearty attack or stroke. The lycopene which gives fruits the attractive red color that we find in watermelon can help reduce the risks of prostate cancer.
  4. It is a surprising fact that watermelon is the only fruit that contains higher concentrations of lycopene than any other fresh fruit or vegetable.
  5. Watermelon is a fruit that is rich in electrolytes sodium and potassium that we lose through our perspiration.
  6. Watermelon is rich in the B vitamins necessary for energy production. Food experts recommend watermelon as a very good source of vitamin B6 and a good source of vitamin B1 and magnesium. Because of its higher water content approximately ninety percent and calorie value it is ranked more valuable than other fruits.
  7. Watermelon has a special cooling effect and is exceptionally high in citrulline, an amino acid that our bodies use to make another amino acid, arginine, which is used in the urea cycle to remove ammonia from the body.
  8. The antioxidants help reducing the severity of asthma. It also reduces the risk of colon cancer, asthma, heart disease, rheumatoid arthritis, and prostate cancer.
  9. Watermelon is a good source of thiamin, potassium and magnesium which protect our body from so many diseases.
  10. Watermelon is fat free but helps energy production. It protects against macular degeneration.
  11. Watermelon is also considered a natural viagra. Check our recent entry about this subject by clicking here on this link. https://docakilah.wordpress.com/2011/06/24/watermelon-a-natural-viagra/
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Akilah M. El, N.D. is a Naturopathic Doctor and certified Master Herbalist with a private practice in Atlanta Georgia and Berlin Germany. Join Dr Akilah El on Facebook and Twitter

For More Health Tips Like This Check Out Our Health Tips Page

Sitting All Day Is Worse For You Than You Might Think

Yes, exercise is good for you. This we know. Heaps of evidence point to the countless benefits of regular physical activity. Federal health officials recommend at least 30 minutes of moderate exercise, like brisk walking, every day.

Studies show that when you adhere to an exercise regimen, you can improve your cardiovascular health, lower blood pressure and improve metabolism and levels of cholesterol and triglycerides. You can reduce diabetes risk and the risk of certain cancers. And, finally, exercise can help you maintain a healthy weight, which can boost all of these benefits even more.

But now, researchers are beginning to suspect that even if you engage in regular exercise daily, it may not be enough to counteract the effects of too much sitting during the rest of the day.

Epidemiologist Steven Blair, a professor of public health at the University of South Carolina, has spent 40 years investigating physical activity and health.

“Let’s say you do 30 minutes of walking five days a week (as recommended by federal health officials), and let’s say you sleep for eight hours,” Blair says. “Well, that still leaves 15.5 hours” in the day.

Many of us, he points out, have sedentary jobs and engage in sedentary activities after work, like watching television or sitting around a dinner table talking. When you add it all up, Blair says, “it’s a lot more sitting than moving.”

Blair recently headed a study at the University of South Carolina that looked at adult men and their risk of dying from heart disease. He calculated how much time the men spent sitting — in their cars, at their desks, in front of the TV.

“Those who were sitting more were substantially more likely to die,” Blair says.

Specifically, he found that men who reported more than 23 hours a week of sedentary activity had a 64 percent greater risk of dying from heart disease than those who reported less than 11 hours a week of sedentary activity. And many of these men routinely exercised. Blair says scientists are just beginning to learn about the risks of a mostly sedentary day.

“If you’re sitting, your muscles are not contracting, perhaps except to type. But the big muscles, like in your legs and back, are sitting there pretty quietly,” Blair says. And because the major muscles aren’t moving, metabolism slows down.

“We’re finding that people who sit more have less desirable levels” of cholesterol, blood sugar, triglycerides and even waist size, he says, which increases the risk of diabetes, heart disease and a number of health problems.

‘Our Body Just Kind Of Goes Into Shutdown’

Dr. Toni Yancey, a professor in the health services department and co-director of the Kaiser Permanente Center for Health Equity at the University of California, Los Angeles, has worked for years on developing programs to motivate people to get up and move.

“We just aren’t really structured to be sitting for such long periods of time, and when we do that, our body just kind of goes into shutdown,” Yancey says.

She recommends routine breaks during a full day of sitting. Her book, Instant Recess: Building a Fit Nation 10 Minutes at a Time, offers readers a guide to integrating such activity into the corporate boardroom, school classroom and even at sporting events.

But even if your work site doesn’t engage in routine hourly breaks, there are things individuals can do at their desks to break up a day of inactivity and get moving, even if just for a few minutes. Yancey recommends a few minutes of movement every hour.

And she suggests sitting on an exercise ball instead of a desk chair, adding that it helps strengthen the core while improving balance and flexibility. It also requires more energy, so a few calories will be burned.

It may not sound like much, but an Australian study found that these types of mini-breaks, just one minute long throughout the day, can actually make a difference. You can simply stand up, dance about, wiggle around, take a few steps back and forth, march in place. These simple movements can help lower blood sugar, triglycerides, cholesterol and waist size.

“If there’s a fountain of youth, it is probably physical activity,” says Yancey, noting that research has shown benefits to every organ system in the body.

“So the problem isn’t whether it’s a good idea,” she says. “The problem is how to get people to do more of it.”

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Akilah M. El, N.D. is a Naturopathic Doctor and board-certified Master Herbalist with a private practice in Atlanta Georgia and Berlin Germany. Join Dr Akilah El on Facebook and Twitter 

For More Health Tips Like This Check Out Our Health Tips Page

Couch Potatoes Have Higher Risk of Having A Heart Attack After Sex

Sex and exercise can trigger heart attacks in older people who don’t get much of either, a new analysis finds. The risk is low, but it’s a good reminder that slackers should change their exercise habits gradually, especially in middle age.

People who exercise regularly have a much smaller risk of having a heart attack immediately after sexual or physical activity, said lead author Dr. Issa Dahabreh of Tufts Medical Center in Boston.

“It would be really bad if someone thought our paper means people should not exercise,” Dahabreh said. “If anything, it’s the opposite.”

The analysis, appearing in Wednesday’s Journal of the American Medical Association, combined results from 14 studies involving more than 6,000 patients.

The studies involved only people who’d had heart attacks or had died suddenly from a heart problem. The studies looked at what the people were doing during the hour or two before their heart attacks and compared that to the same people’s activity on normal days with no major heart problems.

That study design is used to try to answer the question, “Why did the heart attack occur now?”

Physical activity and sex increased the risk of heart attack by a factor of about three, according to the analysis of the pooled results. Exercise increased the risk of sudden cardiac death by nearly five times. The researchers didn’t find a triggering relationship between sex and sudden cardiac death, that is, a sudden death from a heart problem.

The risk for any one person is extremely low.

“If you were to follow 10,000 people for a year and if they all decided to increase their physical activity by an hour a week, you could expect to see two to three more heart attacks,” Dahabreh said.

That risk is offset for most people by the benefits of exercise. The more frequently people exercise, in general, the less risk they have of exercise or sex triggering a heart attack.

Most of the patients in the studies were in their late 50s and early 60s, but the findings are a cautionary tale for people in any age group who are slowing down.

Exercise might even be considered cross-training for sex, said Mercedes Carnethon, a heart disease researcher at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine, who wasn’t involved in the research.

“Engaging in regular physical activity is a requirement for maintaining a long, safe, healthy sex life,” Carnethon said.

“If this isn’t more motivation for people to maintain some degree of physical activity, I’m not sure what is,” Carnethon said. “Get out and walk. Do something.”

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www.HealingPowerHour.com

 

Water and Weight Loss

Drinking Water for Weight Loss

Some people trying to control their weight drink bottles of diet sodas each day. Often these beverages contain caffeine, which is a diuretic causing the body to excrete water. In fact the net result may be dehydration. So if you are a heavy diet-soda drinker, and you recognise these symptoms of dehyration, you may be able to improve your health by simply drinking 6 to 8 glasses of pure, fresh water a day!

1. Headache.
The most common symptom is headaches. A major function of water is to
flush toxins from the body. Your brain is 75% water, so even being
slightly dehydrated can cause headaches.

2. Poor concentration/fatigue.
If you body can’t get rid of the toxins it will struggle and you will
feel less energetic as your body diverts energy to deal with the toxins.

3. Constipation.Drinking Water for Weight Loss - Dr Akilah El
Your body will divert water to more essential functions and as a
result your stools will be harder and more difficult to expel.

4. Reduced urine output or dark urine.
Did you know that up to 200 litres of water is passed through your
kidneys daily? Without a fresh supply of water for the kidneys to
filter waste products out of the blood, your urine will become darker.

5. Furry tongue or bad breath.
If you don’t have enough water passing through the mouth to wash away
food particles, bacteria can proliferate and result in that furry
feeling or bad breath.

6. Skin.
Your skin should feel elastic. When you pinch the skin on the back of
your hand it should snap back instantly.

 

For more tips and information about weight loss and weight loss programs go to our website http://www.celestialhealing.net/celestialservicepage.htm