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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

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The Health Benefits of Aloe Vera Gel and Juice

Health benefits of aloe vera gel are abundant and we can maximize our experience by supplementing this healthy, non-tasty-nectar with other healthful components.

Aloe vera is a very convenient product that is available in many topical creams, ointments, as long as it is produced from stabilized aloe vera leaf ‘s gel.

Stabilization is the process that allows aloe to keep nearly 100% of all the ingredients intact by the oxidation until the moment we consume it.

Some of the most outstanding benefits of aloe are related to cicatrization. The substance in the aloe plant is conducive to regenerating and this is particularly effective for the skin. Topical solutions that contain high-conciseness pure aloe vera gel are naturally healthful for the surface of the skin for many reasons.

Skin readily absorbs aloe because one of many aloe’s components, Lignin has the ability to penetrate all three human skin layers (epidermis, dermis, hypodermis) and convey the health benefits of aloe vera gel. As well as, composition of the plant is much like the composition of the human body. The similarities make the gels and creams containing stabilized aloe vera gel more compatible with skin and organism than many other products.

Aloe Vera Juice

Thе health benefits οf aloe vera juice hаνе long bееn known. It hаѕ bееn used historically аѕ a soothing balm, applied externally fοr cuts, scrapes аnd burns. Modern uses οf aloe vera аrе extensive.

Thе health benefits οf aloe vera taken internally include: improved circulation, regulation οf blood pressure, promotes healing οf bones аnd joints, strengthens thе immune system, defends thе body against bacteria, heals internal tissue dаmаgе, heals ulcers, improves аnd even eliminates constipation, blood sugar regulation, аnd reduces itchiness іn psoriasis helping іt tο heal.
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Drinking two tο four ounces a day іѕ аll thаt іѕ required tο gain thе many benefits οf aloe vera juice. If уου drink іt daily, aloe vera саn aid уουr digestion, improve уουr circulation аnd detoxify уουr body аnd cleanse уουr colon.
Thе detoxification properties οf aloe vera juice аlѕο act tο detoxify уουr blood stream. If уου hаνе intestinal οr stomach problems іt саn hеlр уουr digestive tract tο work smoothly.
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Aloe vera аlѕο helps tο dilate thе capillaries аnd support cell growth, thereby improving circulation.
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One οf thе mοѕt іmрοrtаnt health benefits οf aloe vera juice іѕ іtѕ operation аѕ аn anti-bacterial аnd anti-fungal agent, helping tο prevent thе onset οf disease іn thе body. Thus, taking aloe vera juice daily helps tο maintain gοοd health аnd provide a sense οf wellbeing аnd energy.

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Supplementary Nutritional Health Benefits of Aloe Vera

Supplementary nutritional qualities in the aloe plant are wondrous and we can enjoy the effects on our skin, digestive system, external appearance and our energy levels. Aloe contains over 75 nutrients, among other 20 minerals, 12 vitamins and 18 amino acids, including 7 of the 8 that our body have to take them solely from food. Aloe vera juice is ideal for maintaining a healthy digestive tract. This element is naturally detoxifying, allowing nutrients to be readily absorbed.

Topical care is another great benefit of using aloe vera skin care products. Many people use this component to relief symptoms of skin conditions like psoriasis and eczema.

The solution is ideal for the first care of burns, minor traumas, abrasions, skin irritation and it can help skin recover faster, without inelegant, ugly scars after minor surgery.

Aloe is a natural anti-infectious that has been used to relief peptic ulcers. Results are readily apparent inside and out. People take aloe vera to boost their immunity to bacteria, disease and illnesses.

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For a list of other herbs and their benefits please visit our herbal directory here – http://www.celestialhealing.net/herbal_guide.htm

Happiness and Optimistic Attitudes Important in Preventing Breast Cancer

Want to lower your risk of getting breast cancer? Recent research in Israel published in the British journal BMC Cancer has given us one more thing to take note of.

Breast Cancer Statistics

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, after non-melanoma skin cancer, cancer of the breast is the next one which most commonly afflicts American women. In 2004 alone, over 185,000 women and more than 1,800 men were diagnosed with the disease, while almost 41,000 women and 362 men actually died because of breast cancer.

Overall, in that year, breast cancer was the number five killer of American women, while being their number two cancer killer. For Hispanic women, breast cancer was also the type of cancer which caused the most deaths.

These numbers do not make for good reading at all. What actually causes breast cancer, and what can we do to stave it off?

Possible Causes of Breast Cancer

Those who are familiar with natural health and healing will know that breast cancer, like all other forms of cancer, can be prevented and even treated using powerful dietary and lifestyle choices, such as consuming enough fiber, exercising regularly, as well as getting enough sunshine and vitamin D.

What is also clear is that breast cancer, again like all forms of cancer, is a multi-factorial disease which needs to be tackled from various angles.

Recent research at the Ben-Gurion University of the Negev in Israel has given us one more piece of the jigsaw – it seems that happiness and optimistic attitudes may reduce one’s risk of contracting the disease. On the flip side, adverse life events may increase one’s susceptibility to it.

Details of the Study

For the study, 622 women aged between 25 and 45 were asked about their life experiences, and researchers then assessed their levels of optimism, happiness, anxiety and depression before diagnosis. This information was then used to draw a link between life events, psychological distress and the occurrence of breast cancer. Of the participants, 255 were breast cancer patients, while the other 367 had never had cancer.

According to Professor Ronit Peled, the leader of the study, its findings “showed a clear link between outlook and risk of breast cancer, with optimists 25 percent less likely to have developed the disease”.

On the other hand, women who had been through two or more traumatic events in their lives had a 62 percent higher risk of contracting the disease.

The Emotion-Health Connection

Generally speaking, there have been other studies which have drawn a link between positive mental and emotional states and better health. For example, some studies have shown that positive emotions cause the body to produce more immune cells, while negative ones have the effect of suppressing one’s immune system.

But exactly and specifically how attitudes contribute to health, is something which we cannot say we know very well. One theory is that the body’s immune system is influenced by brain chemistry, which is in turn affected by one’s emotional experiences.

“The mechanism in which the central nervous, hormonal and immune systems interact and how behaviour and external events modulate these three systems is not fully understood,” said Peled. “The relationship between happiness and health should be examined in future studies and relevant preventative initiatives should be developed.”

One thing we do know, though, is that emotions such as happiness, stress, anger, anxiety and fear affect the human at a biochemical level. In other words, when our emotions change, our bodies also become chemically different.

What Next For Us

One thing that must be noted about the study is that the women were in fact interviewed after their cancer diagnosis, could very well affect their recollection of their emotional state in the past. When a person is going through a crisis, it would perhaps be a natural tendency to view events in the past more negatively.

Despite this, and although the “how” is still uncertain, Peled is convinced that the link between emotional events and health exists. He feels that “we can carefully say that experiencing more than one severe and/or mild to moderate life event is a risk factor for breast cancer among young women. On the other hand, a general feeling of happiness and optimism can play a protective role”.

According to him, young women who have gone through a number of adverse life events should be identified as being ‘at-risk’ for breast cancer and then be treated as necessary.

Most of us wish to find a specific solution for every health problem. The truth is, many degenerative diseases, and most certainly cancer, have their roots in multiple causes. That being the case, many factors would contribute to one’s risk profile, and a multi-pronged approach in preventing and dealing with the disease is almost always necessary.

What we now know, being happy and optimistic forms are an important part of such an approach.

And if you have been through some tough events in life, you may want to seek some help to address unresolved issues, either through professional counseling or otherwise. Leaving these issues lingering would just be adding more ammunition to the potential cancer time bomb.

Article by: Reuben Chow

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For more tips on relieving emotional stress or depression please visit our Emotional Wellness Page or click on this link http://www.celestialhealing.net/emotional_stress_therapy.htm

6 Deadly Dangers of Hot Tubs

As over hundreds of guests recently learned after a dip in the Playboy Mansion’s hot tub, there’s nothing viruses and bacteria love more than warm H2O.

By Korin Miller

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If the idea of a long soak in a steaming hot tub conjures up sigh-inducing images of relaxation and romance, we’re about to, uh, burst your bubble. “People don’t realize it, but a hot tub can be a breeding ground for infections ranging from skin issues to STDs,” says New York internist Holly Phillips. Don’t submerge your bod into one this summer until you read this.

Bugged Out

Yes, hot tubs are chlorinated, but if they aren’t properly maintained, the chemicals won’t kill off all the teeming bacteria that love to call them home. The heat doesn’t fry them either, says hot-tub expert Brenda Murr, member of the American Pool and Spa Professionals retail council. “Bacteria grow even faster in warm water,” she says.

The most common side effect of soaking is pseudomonas folliculitis, a skin infection that produces itchy, bright red bumps. It usually clears up on its own in 10 days or less—a good thing considering that it’s resistant to many antibiotics, according to Albert Lefkovits, a dermatologist in New York City.

Then there are the bacteria that cause toxic shock syndrome (the life-threatening infection tampon boxes warn about). They can get in a tub if another person who has soaked before you carries them and enter your body through a small cut or scrape. Getting toxic shock syndrome from a tub is rare, says Dr. Phillips, but it does happen.

Other possible perils include heat stroke and heat exhaustion from being in one too long (just 10 to 15 minutes is recommended), says Lara McKenzie, PhD. Add alcohol and you’re at greater risk of both, as the warm water gets you tipsy and dehydrated more quickly.

You can even become seriously injured from getting your hair caught in a drain. In a 2009 study on hot-tub injuries, 49 such cases— some of them fatal—were found over a 16-year period.

New legislation was passed in 2007 that requires all public tubs (not just new ones) to have safer drain covers installed that greatly reduce the likelihood that your mane will become entangled, but it’s hard to enforce.

Proximity Effect

There are more unexpected danger zones. Bacteria can live in a tub’s pipes, says Dr. Phillips, and when the jets turn on, air bubbles rise to the surface, burst, and shoot bacteria into the air. Breathing in the bugs can lead to anything from a bad cough to Legionnaires’ disease, a rare but potentially deadly form of pneumonia. (This was the same bacteria that was found in the Playboy Mansion tub earlier this week, leaving 123 people sick).

Think you’d be safe as long as you just sit and watch from the sidelines? Nope. If someone with herpes recently sat on the edge and you take their place, you possibly could contract the virus, even through a bathing suit, says Dr. Lefkovits. The risks are lower than if you’d had unprotected sex, but consider this: Roughly 1 in 6 people from ages 14 to 49 has genital herpes, and the virus loves to live in warm, damp areas like, yes, the rim of a hot tub.

Safer Soaking

You don’t have to swear off hot tubs forever. Just steer clear of high-traffic tubs, like the ones at hotels, gyms, and spas. “The more people in a tub, the higher your risk for getting sick,” says Dr. Phillips. Even in a friend’s hot tub, don’t dunk your head underwater or (sorry) get busy. Both ramp up the odds of infection.

Addicted to being massaged all over by those hot-water jets? Maybe it’s time to invest in your own Jacuzzi bathtub.

As Seen on TV

We know you wouldn’t fall for rumors like these, but we have to set the record straight on a couple of ridiculous claims we saw on our favorite shows.

The Heat Kills Sperm Instantly (Jersey Shore)

Nope—the temperatures aren’t high enough. You can still get pregnant if you have intercourse in a tub without protection.

Sperm can swim from one person to the next. (Glee)

Sperm can’t survive for more than a few seconds in hot, chlorinated water.

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People with fewer teeth prone to die of heart disease: study

STOCKHOLM (AFP) – People with dented smiles run a far greater risk of dying of heart disease than those who still have all their pearly whites, a Swedish researcher said Monday.

“Cardiovascular disease and in particular coronary heart disease is closely related to the number of teeth” that a person has left, Anders Holmlund told AFP, explaining the results of a Swedish study to be published in the Journal of Periodontology.

“A person with fewer than 10 of their own teeth has a seven times higher risk for death by coronary heart disease than a person of the same age and of the same sex with more than 25 teeth left,” Holmlund said.

Although many studies published in the past 15 years have showed a link between oral health and cardiovascular disease, Holmlund’s study shows a direct relationship between cardiovascular disease and the number of teeth in a person’s mouth.

The study, conducted with colleagues Gunnar Holm and Lars Lind, surveyed 7,674 women and men, most suffering from periodontal disease, for an average of 12 years, and examined the cause of death of the 629 people who died during the period.

For 299 of the subjects, the cause of death was cardiovascular disease.

The theory connecting teeth numbers and heart disease, Holmlund explained, maintains that “infections in the mouth and around the teeth can spill over to the systemic circulation system and cause a low graded chronic inflammation,” which is known to be a risk factor for heart attacks and other cardiovascular episodes.

The number of natural teeth a person had left “could reflect how much chronic inflammation one has been exposed to in a lifetime,” he added.

The study had been limited by the fact that it had not been possible to adjust the results for socio-economic factors and to fully adjust them according to other cardiovascular risk factors, he acknowledged.

Heart disease is the number one killer worldwide, claiming upward of 17 million lives every year according to the World Health Organization.

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