Heart Health: Potassium Good, Sodium Bad...

Salt’s a bad guy! Dr. Fuhrman says consuming salt boosts stroke risk and previous studies show sodium leads to hypertension, i.e. high blood pressure. Even sea salt is a bad idea. When he was on Studio 10 TV in St. Petersburg, Florida, this past November, Dr. Fuhrman explained the supposed health benefits of sea salt don’t out weigh the negatives.

And now, a new study in Archives of Internal Medicine claims high sodium intake and low potassium consumption increases heart disease risk by 24%. Scientists collected data from 2275 participants, ages 30 to 54, with pre-hypertension. After examining urine excretion, researchers determined those people peeing out more sodium and less potassium were more likely to develop cardiovascular disease; from FoodNavigator-USA.

Fruits and vegetables are packed with a myriad of nutrients and vitamins. And foods like strawberries and plums are excellent sources of potassium. So, go buy some!

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Way More Americans Could Go on Statins!

Pretty soon, 11.2 million more people could be put on cholesterol-lowering medications. A new study in Cardiovascular Quality and Outcomes reveals statins, such as Crestor and Lipitor, can lower heart attack and stroke risk by 44%. Currently, 33.5 million older Americans, with high cholesterol and hypertension, take statins. However, authors of the new study, called JUPITER, believe 44.7 million people now fit the criteria for statin therapy, meaning more and more prescriptions; HealthDay News reports.

Not all news on statins is good! Just last week, research came out linking statins, like the aforementioned Crestor and Lipitor, with rare eye disorders, including eyelid-droop and double-vision. That means 11.2 million more people will have googly eyes!

I guess it’s easier to prescribe pills and meds, than fruits and vegetables, which naturally reverse and prevent high cholesterol and heart disease.

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Pollution Linked to Arrhythmia and Scientists Get the Lead Out

A new study in the European Heart Journal claims patients with implantable heart defibrillators are at greater risk of ventricular arrhythmia, a potentially fatal heart rhythm, when exposed to air pollution. Of the 211 participants observed for 33 months, researchers determined 73 patients had rapid abnormal heart rhythm due to pollution; Reuters investigates.

In related in news, researchers from South Korea may have figured out how to remove dangerous metals, like lead, from people’s blood. Appearing in Angewandte Chemie International Edition, scientists claim magnetic fields can fish out harmful metals from the bloodstream. High lead levels can cause anemia and brain damage; via Reuters.

And chemical contaminants, specifically pesticides, are actually causing fewer male births in both animals and humans.

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Research Questions Traditional Heart-Risk Assessments

Two new studies, one in the American Journal of Roentgenology and the other in the British Medical Journal, cast doubt on the long-established Framingham Risk Score for evaluating cardiovascular disease. The Framingham score assesses risk based on age, gender, total blood cholesterol, HDL, smoking, blood pressure and taking blood pressure medication. The first study did not accurately predict risk for a group of 1,653 people with no history of heart disease and the second revealed the Framingham score did no better than chance in predicting the 108 deaths; HealthDay News reports.

Okay, I admit, this report made me woozy, way over my head! So I asked Dr. Fuhrman about it. Here’s what he had to say:

Medical studies are clouded when they only look at the symptoms of unhealthy behavior such as high cholesterol and high blood pressure. These easily measurable numbers correlate with unhealthful lifestyle and diet-style, but they could reflect past habits, not present ones, plus they are not the sole cause of heart attacks.

These numbers do not incorporate other more critical factors such as diet-style and exercise tolerance and body weight. So if one person had higher cholesterol but was eating significantly healthier and exercising more, they might be at significantly lower risk than a person with a lower cholesterol and blood pressure, but with more intravascular and cellular oxidative stress from their low nutrient diet.

Hopefully that clears it up for you. Now, in other heart-related news, a recent report showed even a little extra belly fat can increase cardiovascular risk. And, in attempt to curb his own heart troubles and those of his city, Chicago’s health commissioner is encouraging everyone to go vegetarian!

Like Dr. Fuhrman says, a vegetable-based diet is the best way to aggressively reverse heart disease!

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Instant Coffee is Far Out, Causes Hallucinations...

Old hippies and frat boys will love this. A new study in Personality and Individual Differences claims people drinking 7 or more cups of instant coffee a day were 3 times more likely to hallucinate; psychotic experiences such as seeing ghosts and hearing voices. However, experts have their doubts, but, and this is really freaky, according to the report, 3% of people regularly hear voices; via BBC News.

Now, if hallucinating wasn’t bad enough! Previous research reveals daily coffee intake can actually shrink women’s breasts, 3 cups of coffee per day resulted in an average breast size 17% smaller than women who drank under 3 cups a day. Going insane and small boobies, sounds like a nightmare!

And other dangers of coffee, i.e. caffeine, consumption include heightened risk of osteoporosis, miscarriage and heart disease. So, is that morning pick-me-up really worth it? Probably not.

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Chicago's Health Chief Says No Meat!

The windy city is well known for big beefy “Da Bears” fans, but Chicago Health Commissioner, Dr. Terry Mason, wants all Chicagoans to kick the deep dish pizza and go vegetarian. This January, Dr. Mason, a practicing urologist, won’t eat any meat. Dr. Mason, who has high cholesterol and had a coronary stent implanted in 2005, hopes his example will encourage others, especially African-Americans, who have a high rate of hypertension and high cholesterol, to cut harmful fatty foods; The Chicago Tribune reports.

Kudos to Dr. Mason! Lots of cool people have gone veggie. And who’s cooler than Batman! That’s right, the dark knight himself, Christian Bale, is a vegetarian. Even Batman knows fruits and vegetables offer excellent protection against cancer and heart disease reversal.

And switching to a vegetable-based diet is good for the planet too. Meat and other animal products strain the environment and require vast amounts of natural resources to produce, unlike fruits and vegetables which are far less taxing. So eat your veggies, lots of them!

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Young Adults Don't Take Heart Risks Seriously...

You might not realize it. But heart disease starts early, i.e. childhood. According to Dr. Fuhrman, lifetime cholesterol levels are affected by the food choices we make as kids. In fact, for many people, even if they adopt a healthy plant-based diet later on, they still might not obtain as favorable cholesterol levels as they would have had, had they started eat healthfully as a young person.

And now, new research in Circulation claims young Americans who are told they have low risk of heart disease, could have a high lifetime risk. The study examined people under the age of 50, determining that individuals who had low risk of heart trouble over the next 10 years, already had damage to their arteries that might cause problems in the future, 91% of the participants had risk of heart disease; Reuters investigates.

Actually, previous reports have show heart disease begins developing in men during adolescence and the American Heart Association recently revealed obese kids can have middle-aged arteries. Now despite the benefits of eating fruits and veggies for you heart, some researchers recommend giving kids statins instead. Eek!

More Obese Americans than Overweight Americans

Well, its official, we’re doomed! According to the National Center for Health Statistics, the number of obese Americans now outweighs the total number of overweight people, 34% of Americans are obese, compared to 32.7% of people who are overweight. In 2005-2006, researchers say one-third of Americans were obese, a startling 72 million people, and the prevalence of obesity has more than doubled since 1980, however the trend of overweight has remained stable during that time; via Reuters.

We shouldn’t be proud of this milestone, especially since obesity has been linked to poor health and migraines, cancer, thyroid inflammation and other diseases. So, based on this research, we’ve got a wave, scratch that, a tsunami of sick people on the horizon.

But, oddly enough, a recent study actually claims obesity protects against heart disease. It’s cuckoo!

Cut Back Meat, Save the Planet...

You shouldn’t eat a lot of meat. It’ll boost your risk of heart attack, cancer and other diseases. But the rearing of livestock also beats up the environment, polluting water supplies and generating huge amounts of greenhouse gases. That’s why many scientists are scrambling to repurpose cattle emissions, i.e. cow farts, burps and poop, into sources of energy, specifically methane fuel.

Now, those systems cost money and might not always be practical. So here’s a simpler solution, don’t eat as much meat! It doesn’t mean you have to go vegetarian, vegan or even flexitarian, but some experts insist if Americans cut meat consumption from 12 ounces per capita to only 3.1 ounces per day, roughly the size of a deck of cards, we’ll slow global climate change; Fresh Greens explains.

Not a bad idea. Especially when you consider Dr. Fuhrman’s food pyramid, he recommends eating foods like meat and dairy very infrequently.

Via Serious Eats.

Walking Fights Age-Related Weight Gain

Walking just a half an hour each day might help keep you from packing on the pounds as you get older. The research, appearing in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition examined 5,000 men and women, ages 18 to 30, for 15 years, revealing those who walked 30 minutes a day reduced weight gain by 1 pound. The results also found those who exercised more during their middle adult years were more likely to maintain their weight as they got older; WebMD reports.

It can’t get much easier than walking. Heck, it’s what we evolved to do! But a lot of us are too busy with work and don’t have the time to walk around for a half an hour. So try taking the stairs instead, it’s been proven to improve heart health. And simple stretches at your desk can keep the blood following too.

Now, if you can, get running! A previous study showed runners actually live longer.

Via CalorieLab.
 

More Americans Have Multiple Chronic Conditions

A new study in Health Affairs claims more Americans have multiple chronic illnesses than ever before. The percentage of people with 3 or more chronic illnesses rose from 13% in 1996 to 22% in 2005 for ages 45 to 64. It increased 45% for ages 65 to 79, jumped 54% for individuals older than 80 and among all ages, figures went up 6% from 1996. And data reveals the number of Americans with 1 chronic condition, like cancer, diabetes, high cholesterol and heart failure, was 41% in 1996 but rose to 44% in 2005. Obesity and inactivity are being blamed; Reuters reports.

And these maladies are hitting us in the wallet too. On average, obesity and it’s sequelae cost the United States more than $100 billion a year and physicians and hospitals usually fail to make a long term impact on the health of their patients, which is evident when you consider a recent report revealing 24 million Americans have type-2 diabetes, a risk factor for many chronic diseases, up 3 million since 2005.

Fruits and Veggies Tied to Breast Cancer Survival

A new study in the Journal of Clinical Oncology reveals women with early-stage breast cancer may live longer if they adopt a diet rich in fruits, vegetables and whole grains, and avoid things like red meat and refined foods. Researchers followed 1,901 women diagnosed with breast cancer for 8 years and found those maintaining a healthy diet had a lower overall death rate than those eating a Western diet, i.e. lots of processed meat, high-fat dairy and white bread. This trend held up even when other factors were considered, like tumor size and smoking; Reuters reports.

Actually, previous research, also in the Journal of Clinical Oncology, claims breast cancer survivors who eat more than 5 servings of fruits and vegetables a day are less likely to develop recurring tumors. And pectin, a compound found naturally in citrus fruits and used in jams, has been shown to inhibit the growth of proteins responsible for cancer progression.

The powerful phytonutrients in fruits and vegetables have anti-aging effects, promote cardiovascular health and also lower the risk of other cancers, like prostate and pancreatic cancer. And a recent reported linked fruits and vegetables with reduced risk of colon cancer too.

Smoking Ban Cuts Heart Attacks

In 2003, the town of Pueblo, Colorado passed a municipal law making work environments and public places smoke-free. Since that time, heart attacks have dropped by more than 40%. The CDC tracked hospitalizations for heart attacks and found in the 18 months before the ban there were 399 hospital admissions in Pueblo, but in a year and a half following the ban, heart attack admissions dropped to 237, a 41% decline; Reuters investigates.

Refreshing to hear, because just a year ago a report revealed the U.S. Congress was not doing enough to curb smoking. Saying many states are failing to take anti-smoking action, but meanwhile cigarette companies continue to spend billions to market tobacco products.

Promoting smoke-free initiatives can also save billions. This summer research by the Center for Tobacco Control Research and Education showed that California saved $86 billion in healthcare costs, by investing a scant $1.8 billion in anti-smoking programs.

Diabetes Still Slamming the U.S.

Type-2 diabetes continues to wreak havoc in the United States. An estimated 24 million Americans have diabetes, up more than 3 million since 2005. This staggering figure also means increased incidences of heart disease, stroke, blindness, amputations, kidney disease, nervous system damage and other diabetes-related complications. Not surprising, experts cite weight-loss and lifestyle changes, such as exercise and healthy diet, as the best ways to stave off type-2 diabetes; HealthDay News reports.

Don’t be 24 million and one. A vegetable-based nutrient-dense diet not only prevents type-2 diabetes, but can reverse the effects of the disease. Many of Dr. Fuhrman’s patients actually kick their need for insulin! Wholesome foods, like green vegetables, beans, eggplant, tomatoes, mushrooms, onions, garlic, raw nuts and seeds are the perfect medicine against type-2 diabetes.

In other diabetes news, recent reports show cancer is more lethal in diabetics and eating eggs boost diabetes-risk.